Whether You Carry Concealed in the Weather!
Just this week I was a participant in a radio talk show here in Utah. The show is named “Gun Talk” on AM 630 and a good friend of mine was the special regular guest. When I called in, the question was posed: “What is different about carrying your firearm in cold weather?” This had become more of a concern as I rehearsed accessing my carry gun from one of the SIG-Tac farm coats I was given as a gift, and discovered the length of time it took to get the gun in hand and ready for engagement. I had carried a revolver in the left breast pocket, which is reached by punching your hand through the hook-and-loop closures. I was carrying as I normally do and had added this mode of pocket carry to check weight and balance and when in an appropriate place, access. I discovered that it carried well, did not shift position, was well hidden by the thick fabric and did not affect my sense of balance. These were positive factors. On the negative side, it took TIME to get my hand in correct position, poke through the Velcro closures and get a firing grip on the revolver.
As this was discussed on the radio program, my friend noted another factor I remembered as soon as he brought it up: the hook-and-loop opens up with a very loud ripping sound. That raises the issue of discreet access. The negatives now out-weighed the positives. We determined that another gun in a pocket holster would be a better first access choice, with the back-up in the chest pocket area. We also decided I could carry three: one in my regular position, one in the front hand pocket in an appropriate pocket holster and the last in the concealed chest pocket. The host noted that seemed like “a lot of hardware.” I pointed out that Utah Concealed Firearm permits do not limit how many you can carry. I then shared one of my favorite quotes from Clint Smith who operates Thunder Ranch in Oregon: “One is none, two is one, three is better.” We further discussed the need to adapt to the seasons and practice access.
Often we are wearing multiple layers of clothing that can hamper presentation of the defensive firearm. If you carry inside or outside the waistband, clearing the covering garment is harder when it is thicker or you are wearing more than one layer. This requires practice and also takes longer. Here is where the pocket-carry position shines. You can have your hand on the weapon, and no one knows! Many in law enforcement use this technique in colder weather or even in warm weather in situations such as traffic stops. The firearm should not snag, be able to be fired from the pocket if necessary and be more resistant to pocket junk like lint. The natural candidate would be one of the many hammerless or shrouded hammer revolvers that are available from a number of manufacturers. My personal choice is a Smith and Wesson Model 642 Airweight loaded with factory 38 special hollow points specifically developed for use in short barrel revolvers. I recently added a Crimson Trace laser set of stocks. The laser dot is adjusted to appear just over the front sight at about 20 feet. My thought process here is that if I am knocked to the ground and can’t get a good sight picture, at close range the bullet will go where the red dot is on the attacker. It was very handy to have it in the front left pocket of my tuxedo pants riding in a Kramer horsehide pocket holster when my wife and I were confronted by a group of four tweekers on the campus of a local university after we had performed in a concert. They were waiting by our vehicle. Our awareness of their presence, and my ready posture defused a potentially deadly situation. The whole time my hand rested comfortably on the stocks the Model 642. It was a comfort to know I had the means if necessary, to defend my wife and myself. To quote Clint Smith once more, “A gun is comforting…not comfortable.”
The needed thought, research and practice involved in cold season carry is something each person should consider and proceed with carefully. Be sure to include reloads, flashlights, a cel phone and what ever else you would normally carry in your self-defense kit. In practicing access and rehearsing reloads, use a dummy or a multiple-checked EMPTY firearm. Remove the ammunition to prevent negligent discharges while practicing! Just because it is cold does not mean criminals will not target you. Don’t delude yourself that you won’t need your defensive tool kit due to a drop in temperature. Walt Rauch, writing in an article in Combat Handguns titled “Practice to be Street-Ready” said the following: “…it is all too easy to listen to the naysayers and believe that the chances of needing a handgun for self-defense are so remote and compromises made are unimportant; that you’ll still be able to be effective if such a need should ever arise.” Well, hope is not ability and in this case it is simply an excuse or a way to rationalize not bothering to practice when so dressed. I suggest and compromise.
Try to allow a few minutes of your time for a draw and cover exercise and practice reholstering or so concealing the drawn gun so that it is not in your hand.” He then goes on to review the prevention of negligent discharges while practicing the needed skills. He also emphasizes the need to make sure the carry gun is reloaded before venturing out the door! He notes he has on occasion started out the door with the safe and UN-loaded carry gun. I’ve met several people during training sessions, who did not reload afterwards, or came with the gun not loaded. To avoid this, take the extra few seconds to make sure the tool is ready for use.
Another issue that I’ve noted recently is discussing problems with off-body carry. Purses have been noted to present particular difficulties. When checking out some side-access carry purses, I found a person could not remove the handgun due to the constriction of the entry point when the hand had a firing grip on the gun. Best to test this in advance before purchase, with an unloaded or dummy firearm. It all comes down to checking and practicing before carrying.
The discussion on the talk show was hopefully, informative and educational to the listeners. I learned and reconfirmed several ideas about cold season carry. Enjoy the time of year. Do not let your awareness falter due to too much hot chocolate! Evil never takes holidays and may have targeted you and yours. Stay prepared as wolves don’t hibernate!