There is a lot to think about when you choose to carry concealed, everything from dealing public restrooms to choosing gun safes and ammo types. For those who carry every day, these topics are constantly being revisited and habits are constantly being revised. Whether we’re just starting to carry or we’ve been carrying for years there are questions we can ask ourselves that can help to make our lives easier and safer and make the concealed carry lifestyle that much better.
Watches, Bracelets and Rings
Taking watches, bracelets and rings off at the range is a good idea. They can get caught, come loose, fall off, cause distraction or even pain. While we don’t have that option everday, and it’s not practical to forego all accessory, paying attention to how you wear your jewelry and how it might affect your firearm handling could save your life one day. Practicing during dry fire with your accessories in place can help you realize any potentially dangerous items that may get caught or cause other problems on the draw.
If you need to draw your gun, is your watch going to come loose? Will your bracelet restrict your forearm muscles in a way that could be potentially painful? Do you need to position your fingers around the giant diamond on your engagement ring? Could any of your accessories catch on a jacket zipper or belt loop during the draw?
Purses, Backpacks, Fanny Packs and Off-the-Body Carry
While off-the-body carry should always be a last resort, as it leaves the gun in a vulnerable position to be lost or stolen, there are a lot of options available for it and it does make concealing a firearm much easier. Concealed carry purses are one of the most popular options for women new to carrying.
If you consider off-the-body carry a necessity, make sure that you have the right tools for the job. Guns should always be holstered, most off-the-body carry bags that are specifically designed to carry firearms have a universal built-in holster. If you’re going to carry in an off-the-body bag and don’t have one designed for the job, you can use a pocket holster or similar, but ensure that your gun is stored in a separate compartment of the bag.
If your gun is in a pocket holster in your bag, how can you get it out? How do you need to carry your purse for a safe, effective draw? How can you quickly get into your backpack in the case of an emergency to safely retrieve your gun? Are the straps on your off-the-body carry item sturdy enough that it can’t be easily stolen off your shoulders or waist?
Jackets, Sweatshirts and Outer-Layers
With the weather warming up, there is the obvious problem of having to take off your cover garment, especially if you carry outside-the-waistband in winter months. But what about those cold spring days where you leave your jacket or coat on?
If your jacket is zipped or buttoned up to keep the heat in, then be aware of how you plan to draw with it on. This is especially important with long coats that won’t allow you to pull the jacket up and reach under for the draw.
How you choose to layer may affect how you choose to carry. Different carry positions will allow easier access to the gun depending on how your outer layers are situated. For example, if it’s a chilly day and you end up wearing a longer coat that is buttoned or zipped up, pocket or ankle carry options may be explored.
What kind of outer layers do you have, and how will they affect your draw while wearing them? Are your coats designed for concealed carry or pocket carry? How effective is your draw when you’re wearing warmer clothes?
The Bottom Shelf
One thing to consider, especially if you are carrying on the beltline, is how that will affect you if you need to bend forward or lean forward. For example, if you’re grocery shopping and need to get an item on the bottom shelf. Even if you choose to squat down to grab something, you’re still leaning forward, which will cause a lot of carry set ups to print significantly.
You can use a friend or a mirror to practice at home. Look at how you sit, lean forward and go through regular motions that you might use throughout the day. If any severe printing occurs, consider how you might change the movement to avoid it.
If you keep your back straighter when squatting down, does the gun print less? Can you use another cover garment during situations where you might have to be leaning forward, such as at the grocery store?
Elevators pose a unique risk for a concealed carry permit holder. It’s fairly common knowledge that the closed environment means any necessary shots will especially be loud, but it also means you don’t know what’s beyond the sheet metal of the elevator. The other problem is that, if there are innocent bystanders in the elevator, people get packed in and there’s a lot higher chance of someone standing behind whoever you’re trying to defend yourself from. There are a lot of things that could go wrong in an elevator, ones that would lead you to need to defend yourself in ways that could put yourself or other people at risk.
How would you handle a confrontation in a crowded elevator? Do you carry other defensive options and could any of them be employed in this situation?
Cell Phone, Keys and Wallet
We have items that we carry with us on a daily basis. The most common include a cell phone, keys and wallet. While it may not be difficult to store these around a gun, it may prove more of a problem to store them around a gun in a way that the gun stays concealed while keeping the items in a spot that is easy to access. Storing your wallet in a back pocket is great, until you reach for it and have to pull your shirt up to where your holster is.
It’s especially inconvenient to have to worry about these items as they are used so frequently. If you are having troubles with this, you have to decide whether you should rethink where you carry your commonly used items or where you carry your gun. Carrying a gun is definitely a lifestyle that needs to be adjusted to, there’s no reason to make it more difficult by causing yourself daily inconveniences.
Do you have any problems accessing items you commonly use while carrying your firearm? Do you have to change where you carry those items to accommodate your gun?
Originally published in the April 2013 issue of GunUp the Magazine.