Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you felt it was important to have your concealed carry handgun but you weren’t able to because of challenging limitations? Maybe it was some kind of athletic endeavor that limited you. Or it could be that a required wardrobe was holding you back. Maybe it was a combination of both. The fact is that we all at some point and time face these kinds of situations and we have to find some way to deal with it. Sometimes the answer is to simply leave the gun behind as the benefits of not having the gun outweigh the risks of not having it. Other times we need to look at alternate carry methods so that we can find a way to have our defensive handgun in challenging situations.
Today we are going to take a look at how to carry concealed in challenging circumstances.
Don’t forget to register for Defensive Revolver Fundamentals with Grant Cunningham. When you get to the end of the post you will see why I think training with a revolver is important if you carry concealed in difficult circumstances. Click for more details.
Recently I received a great concealed carry question from Steve. Although his question is very specific the concepts can be applied to many different situations when it comes to concealed carry.
Here is Steve’s question:
I really enjoy the podcast I recently found it and have now listened to all the episodes. I recently began riding a mountain bike again after many years off. I have found that my traditional IWB carry method does not lend itself to riding. I was wondering if you had any recommendations or experience with a belly band or the Safe Packer from Wilderness products. I do not like the idea of off body carry so am leaning more toward the belly band. Anyway thanks for your time and the show.
First of all, thanks for the feedback Steve. Writing, recording and posting a podcast is a lot of work and feedback from listeners really is what keeps content from Safety Solutions Academy. I’ll talk more about that at the end of the podcast, but for now, thank you!
Steve’s question is a timely one considering that this video of a May 31st MTB Gunpoint Robbery was posted and made its rounds on the internet. The robbery took place in South Africa, but it isn’t unrealistic to think that the same thing could happen just about anywhere there are bikers, bikes, dirt and dirt bags.
Steve asks some great questions and brings up some excellent points regarding concealed carry so let’s go ahead and dive in.
Decision 1: On body or off body concealed carry?
When it comes to carrying a concealed handgun I am right with Steve in the concept that on body carry tends to be a better option than off body carry. When we separate our handgun from our body we introduce a lack of control that can create challenges for us that in general outweigh the positives that come along with off body carry.
Off body carry has two main positives:
- Reduction of wardrobe restrictions
You may have heard the trite comment that your concealed carry handgun is supposed to be comforting not comfortable. As always with this type of cliché there is some truth to the matter. The unfortunate realization that many people reach through a lack of understanding is that having a handgun on your body can at time be uncomfortable and the only solution they have been exposed to is the idea of getting the gun off the body into some kind of bag that keeps the gun away from the body. As a result people carry off body.
Another issue that many people solve with off body carry is the issue they have with an inconsistent wardrobe. Many men and most women have a wardrobe that varies from day to day and even from one time of day to another. Belt loops, waist lines, shirts, pockets vary from situation to situation and from one article of clothing to the next. Again, a common solution is to simply put the gun into an accessory bag and not worry about the clothing at all.
The problem with these solutions is that off body carry has its problems.
Off body carry has several issues:
- Lack of consistency
- Ease of separation from your concealed carry handgun
- Public gun handling
When we separate our concealed carry handgun from our body with some type of an off body carry method we make a strong sacrifice in consistency. If we think about carry in a bag for instance, the dynamic of accessing our firearm is grossly different if the bag is moved from our left shoulder to our right shoulder. Now you have your gun in a different location. Do you have to draw it from an odd angle or even with your other hand? Put that same bag in the child carrier of a shopping cart and now you have another variation in your presentation from the bag. Put it on the passenger seat of your truck and it changes again. Having a different technique for every situation means more time between when we realize we need our gun and when we actually put rounds on the threat.
The removal of the gun from the body also creates a physical distance that varies and can cause issues. Plain and simple, if your bag isn’t within your reach you are no longer carrying concealed. If you leave your bag in the car while you pump gas or make a quick run into the Circle K, you do not have you defensive handgun. Not having your handgun can be a problem. Having your handgun taken can also be an issue. When your concealed handgun is in a bag, in a vehicle or on a bike and the bag, vehicle or bike is a target of theft your handgun may be a collateral loss of that theft. That is a loss with some potentially serious consequences. This is a real disadvantage of off body carry.
A third issue with some off body carry methods is the potential for administrative gun handling when transitioning between on body and off body carry. This scenario is one you might encounter if you carry your concealed handgun in a holster mounted in your vehicle or in a bag mounted to your bicycle. If you want to transition the handgun to your body then the gun may be exposed. This has two potential issues. First, your concealed handgun may no longer be concealed. This has both tactical and practical issues depending on your local laws. Second, anytime we handle our handgun administratively we open ourselves up to the potential for problems that range from developing bad habits to cranking off a round when we don’t need to. Both are considered poor form.
After all these negatives I will say that off body carry is the solution in some situations. In my experience however, those situations are few and far between and I rarely see off body carry executed well.
On body carry can be a challenge for some folks but with recent developments in concealed carry options we can apply the off body carry advantages to on body carry and find the best of both worlds.
On body carry increases consistency, it keeps our handgun with us more often and reduces gun handling to only times when we actually need to access the gun to defend ourselves.
Advantages of on body carry:
- Maintain control of the handgun
- Minimizes administrative gun handling
Decision 2: What type of holster?
The key to on body carry is the holster. Finding the right holster for you application makes all the difference. I think Steve is on the right track with his suggestion of a belly band.
I don’t currently have the need for a carry method like a belly band as I rarely have wardrobe restrictions and as a result I don’t have a lot of experience with belly bands. I do however have students that use belly bands extensively. So keep in mind that the majority of what I share will be second hand information. But again, we are talking about big concepts and supporting principles here not rocket science. If you take some time to apply logic and reason to your decision making process you will be able to reach some logical conclusions. Always keep in mind that you will need to test these suggestions out for you and your situation!
You can see an excellent overview of the Crossbreed Modular belly band here:
When it comes to carrying a handgun concealed there are some jobs that our holster must do for it to be efficient:
- Carry the gun safely.
- Carry the gun securely.
- Carry the gun accessibly.
- Conceal the handgun.
- Re holstering.
The above tasks can be a challenge in every day conditions. Add in more difficult environments like mountain biking and we are really taxing our gear.
Let’s look at each one individually so we can understand what they are all about.
Safety – Really this comes down to two things that apply no matter how or where you plan to carry your gun:
First, you need to select a holster that completely covers the trigger area of the gun. Remember, it is the trigger that typically initiates the process that allows your gun to fire. In modern handguns, except if the gun Is broken it should not fire unless the trigger has been activated. If we cover the trigger guard of the gun completely we make it very difficult if not impossible to fire the gun.
The second issue that surrounds safety is that we need to be selecting a holster that is designed specifically for the gun we are carrying. Just because you gun fits in a size “Q” holster doesn’t mean that is a good choice. When a holster is specifically designed for the model gun that we carry we can have some confidence that the holster itself can’t activate the trigger as the gun is holstered. With generic holsters there is just no way to know for sure how the holster is going to interact with the gun.
Security – Simply put, your gun needs to stay where you put it until you move it. When you put it in the holster it needs to stay in the holster until you intentionally draw it. The holster needs to stay in place as well. When you twist the holster must twist. When you turn the holster needs to turn. If you end up upside down your holster should be upside down as well and your gun better be in it.
This is a big issue with consistency. If your holster is always in the same place you will always know where your gun is.
Accessibility really deals with can you get your gun out of the holster when you need to. Take the time to think about the positions you regularly find yourself in. Can you access from your holster and your chosen carry location when you are in those positions. If you spend the majority of your time seated at a desk carry in the small of your back probably doesn’t make much sense.
Concealment – Does your holster help you hide your gun? You need to consider your carry location and style of dress when you select your holster. A strong side hip outside the waist band paddle holster might physically work in your exercise clothes, but a holster that protrudes from your hip is going to tend to print through fitted work out garb.
Re-holstering – Can you re-holster your handgun with one hand when it is time to put your gun away. Select a holster with a stiff mouth. No, not you, you can smile when you are holster shopping. The holster itself needs to have a stiff opening that stays open when the gun is removed even if the holster is being pressed or squeezed. You may only have one hand available when you need to re-holster and even if you have two hands, there isn’t any good reason for extra parts to be lingering around the sharp end of your pistol.
The Bottom Line:
So all that is left for us to do is apply these concepts to a mountain biker and when we do that logically, it leads us to the belly band as the probable best option.
When we look at a belly band holster from a quality manufacturer like Crossbreed, we find that it meets all of the requirements that we have set forth for a good holster. Because the belly band relies in clothing for cover only and not security it fits well with the kind of clothing cyclists tend to wear when engaged in their pastime.
I think the belly band style holsters really work out a lot of concealed carry issues that people have been looking for answers to.
The mountain biking problem that Steve brought up isn’t that different from someone wanting to carry when they run or engage in most exercisiy type activities. What about those that wear scrubs but want to carry at work or to and from. Same general clothing issue as bikers in that there is little support for the gun. It also deals nicely with the challenge that many women face on a daily basis. No belt or clothing with odd waistlines or simply a different style each day. The belly band could offer a consistent solution for folks in lots of these situations.
Some Mountain Bike Specific Thoughts
- Consider carrying midline on the front of your body
- Look at how mountain bikers fall most often and consider that when you decide to carry your handgun.
- Understand that the attack against you may be initiated by knocking you off of your bike.
- Consider a revolver
- Sweat, dust, mud and muck. Need I say more?
- Modern semis are very reliable under reasonable conditions.
- Under dirty conditions I still believe the revolver has the edge.
- Consider medical training and gear
- Being prepared to prevail in a violent attack is smart because the consequences are dire
- I have seen a lot of wrecked people as a result of cycling accidents it is by far the more likely circumstance. Don’t ignore it because it’s less sexy.
Not sure what I mean? Check out this video.