In the firearms world, the reality of things can be very different than what most people know. This is true across the board in everything ranging from gun design to actual application. A great example of this is concealed carry. There are thousands of hours of video, social media pontifications and blogs about the best rig or position for concealed carry. The problem many times is that the discussions rarely flirt with reality. “EDC Pocket Dump” pictures show people with their pistol of choice, a knife, a flashlight, a backup gun, three magazines, a blender, their mom’s birth certificate and a Starbucks gift card. When in reality most people can barely manage to stow their handgun. Add to this the fact most demonstrations of drawing from concealed are performed with simply a t-shirt. The real world is a cruel place and if you are going to carry you need to do so in a practical way. There are many considerations you must weigh. One specific area I see people wrestle with is concealed carry in cold weather. Jack Frost can ruin your sexy speed draw techniques because there is going to be more clothes between you and your blaster. With that being said, let’s look at some considerations and tips for carrying in the cold.
When I bring this topic up in class and ask people how they can adapt their concealed carry for cold weather, there is the inevitable class jokester that says, “Move to Arizona.” Well, while that is one answer, we should probably look for more practical things to consider. First up, you need to balance access with concealment. One thing I see quite often as cold weather comes in is a growth in the number of people carrying outside the waistband. It can be more comfortable than IWB but brings its’ own set of challenges. While it works for a quick trip to the market where your jacket never comes off, it’s impractical if you are going to carry all day and be in and out of cold weather gear. A better solution is to make sure your regular rig is easily accessible while wearing a bulky jacket or other cold weather gear. Mobility becomes an issue, as jackets get thicker. You can look like the stay puff marshmallow man trying to wrestle your gun out if you don’t plan ahead. This is especially true with backup guns. It’s 7° outside, you have a bulky jacket on, gloves, long underwear and a scarf. Your backup gun is on your ankle in a sexy leather rig with lamb’s wool. Yeah…let me know how that draw works out for you. The point of this is simple. Put your gun where you can get it and practice getting it out.
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A better solution is to make sure your regular rig is easily accessible while wearing a bulky jacket or other cold weather gear.
One thing specifically you can do is practice clearing your cold weather garments in order to get to your gun. This is where reality and theory often end up in a cage match. If you can’t quickly and smoothly clear your garment to access your gun you will need to fix one of two things — the position of your rig, or the clothes you are wearing in cold weather. When you are wearing a full-sized, zipped-up jacket, I encourage people to use both hands to expose the gun. Grab the bottom of the jacket with one hand on either side of your rig and pull it straight up. Pull it high as to completely expose the gun. Now, with your strong hand, index your gun while your support hand continues to hold the jacket out of the way. Using one hand to get the gun usually ends up with fumbling and takes way too much precious time. If your jacket does not allow this clearing motion, you need to change jackets or modify your carry position. Do not “just get by” with what you have.
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While working on your draw is important, you may consider changing your cold weather gear as well. Recently, I came across a solid solution for those who have to wear cold weather gear for prolonged periods of time. The Adder System from BERNE apparel is pretty ingenious. They have modified their jackets and vests to hold your EDC gear in easy to access pockets. These pockets are designed to break open and allow you a quick presentation of your weapon. The design is benign in appearance, yet allows for speedy access to your handgun or other EDC items. While there are a few EDC-centric clothing options out there, this is the first I have found to be a dedicated outer garment that doesn’t shout “I’m carrying a gun so shoot me first” category.
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One other thing I see in cold weather scenarios is people dropping their guns into the pockets of their coats. There is an upside to this in that you do not raise suspicion by having your hands in your pockets in cold weather. You must, however, have a holster or trigger guard for your gun in this method. Additionally, you should not put anything else besides your gun in that pocket. Ever see your mother fishing through her purse looking for her phone? Yeah, don’t be that person with a pocket pistol. There is also a danger that loose items can interfere with the operation of the gun or make it go off when you don’t want it to.
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Lastly, I would not suggest, but tell you to practice in your cold weather gear. It takes a bit of gun yoga at times to clear your arctic outerwear to get your gun. It can be a challenge, and if you are serious about concealed carry, you need to master it. I don’t mean to sound like a curmudgeon, but there are sacrifices that must be made if you are going to carry a gun. A gun is supposed to be comforting…not comfortable. I have a good friend who has carried a full-size gun on her small frame and she never whined once about comfort. Cold weather gives us a bit more of a challenge with CCW, but if you are serious about personal protection, it will be a welcome challenge that will make you better in the long run.
For more information on the Echo One Jacket, visit: www.bernedirect.com
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