Friday, September 25, 2009

Carry Gun Redux

Some thoughts related to the previous post...the key to a carry gun is having a gun you're willing to carry. Sounds pretty simply, doesn't it? The reason that it's harder in the Real World than in the previous sentence is that the decision to carry a gun is often made on a purely intellectual level with very little thought given to the Real World issues — the carry system to be used (which is a whole other discussion on the person's physical make-up, level of fitness, etc.), the way the person is required to dress on a daily basis, the person's level of expertise with guns in general, the specific gun to be carried and the carry system, daily transit time in in automobiles and/or mass transit, time available for training, shooting and tactical practice, perceived and actual threat level for the people involved, home and family situations that impact the potential CCW carrier, local, regional, state and federal laws that apply in the person's area, and on and on.

I once wrote an article for SHOTGUN NEWS that was titled "I Carry a Gun; Maybe You Shouldn't," the gist of which was that if you failed to look at all the issues surrounding concealed carry in advance, you're likely to end up one of those thousands of people who leave their carry gun in a drawer at home, because it's a pain in the butt to strap the thing on.

I think it's fair to list several of the myths about concealed carry, weapons choice, carry systems, etc., and see if we can poke some holes in them:

MYTH: I need to carry a larger caliber gun because of the higher potential for a one-shot stop.
REALITY: One-shot stops are the province of rifles, not handguns. Given that fact, the question becomes how quickly can you place multiple shots in the "kill" zone? Forget a .45 ACP — I know people who can run an S&W .500 Magnum loaded with mid-range loads like a staple gun, but the real question is, can you? Assuming multiple shots are going to be necessary in a self-defense situation. how quickly can you deliver those shots with your caliber of choice? Faster is better.

MYTH: I'm going to change the way I dress to accommodate my gun/carry system of choice.
REALITY: No, you're not, because for most people the way they dress on a daily basis is a function of their external lives rather than personal choice. In other words, we dress the way we need to dress for our workplaces and our perceived need to be accepted within our social strata, and it is EXTREMELY hard to change within those contexts. Secondly, we have the whole issue of an "installed base" — we already own lots of clothes, and replacing them is often a lot of money. What often happens is the new CCW carrier ends up with 2 Hawaiian shirts and a pair of 5.11 "tactical" cargo pants that eventually join the gun in staying at home.

MYTH: Everyone knows an IWB is the best carry system for most people.
REALITY: I would add, "for most people who look like Clint Smith or Ed Stock." Not most people who look like me, or my Sweetie (who has a waist and breasts) or 80% of the rest of the country.

MYTH: Anything else "everybody knows..."
• On a bet I once walked through the middle of a police convention wearing a front-mounted fanny pack sagging from a big gun in it...nobody even gave it a second glance.
• A photographer's vest doesn't scream "gun," it screams "tasteless," which is just fine with me.
• Mouseguns bad? Better a mousegun than no gun...I have Real World experience on this point.

There's lots of others, but I gotta go to work!


Unknown said...

Don't forget, your situation changes, too.

When I changed jobs, my daily dress, commute and physical demands changed (as did how state law affected my carry).

I also went from a small, low-exposure job behind locked doors to a much larger, more public position in a field where violence is common.

My oft-used holsters had to be replaced with more appropriate methods, and I had to reevaluate my EDC as well.

One upside, the changes forced me to place new emphasis on non-boomer responses.

Due to legal ramifications, I won't say if I still carry everyday, but I will say I feel prepared and equipped.

That said, I'd still feel better with my AR under my desk...

Anonymous said...

Excellant article.

I did make a small change of buying all new pants one waist size large to have room for a FIST IWB holster.

When I got two new suits I had the tailor measure with the holster on.

Mathew Paust said...

Fortunately, I got used to the baggy, slightly unkempt look in my career as a newspaper reporter. We even had an inside joke that if you bought a new suit you had to sleep in it for a week or two before wearing it on the job.

I've not had to upgrade since I retired, and I still look natural in untucked shirts and pants with big, bulging pockets. A notebook over the cheek opposite my wallet often conceals...well, you catch the drift. For formal events, my photog's vest hangs with the familiarity of a second skin.

I sometimes even carry a camera.

John said...

Wait... can we go back to the "I'm going to change the way I dress to accommodate my gun..." part? Granted, I do switch between a couple of photographer's vests (as I am a photographer, too -- convenient that) and I also have some large flannel shirts. But what should somebody consider for clothing for, say, those pesky people who prefer an IWB?

Unknown said...

I agree. Besides the training one should undertake, a person should also consider ALL the ramifications of beginning to carry. Carrying all the time if you are going to do it all. The possible embarrassment/exposure if you accidently "print" or show the gun. Family issues, i.e. young children and how to carry, when you're carrying them. Clothes to buy, clothes not to buy. The list can go on and on. Far more than just strapping a gun on and heading out the door.

clark myers said...

From the secret bunker drop down to Filson in Cherry Creek - at the price their vests better scream quiet taste.

Myself I buy 5.11 vests in discontinued colors and patterns to wear over my Hawaiian shirts. Alessi makes lovely Italian leather fashion accessories though.

Anonymous said...

I think I pretty much agree with everthing you said.

My biggest pet peeve is the advice to "dress around the gun". If proper work attire is a pair of kakis and a tucked in shirt how in hell do you dress around a 1911?

A S&W Centennial Airweight, front pocket carry, is my all the time gun.

Unknown said... seems to me that the 642 is the perfect carry gun for me in my physical state with my bad back and such.

It disappears in my pocket.

Salty said...

I have two I carry regularly, S&W Bodyguard, and 45 Colt Bond Arms. Sometimes one , sometimes the other. Mostly front pocket, sometimes book bag. The key is one is always with me.

Anonymous said...

Very thoughtfull post on fitness. It should be very much helpfull

Karim - Mind Power

Haji said...

Size certainly has it's advantages. I'm big enough that a Glock 19 and a Peters Custom Holsters Hold Fast IWB rig disappears with just shorts and t-shirts. Others are probably not so fortunate, but if that didn't work, I'd do what did. Carrying is a commitment, and it sucks. It sucks to carry a reload, too, but I always do. I'm just not willing to do the alternative, because having less tools to defend me and mine sucks most of all.

Unknown said...

My uncle has carried a Bond Arms derringer since he retired from the sheriff's dept some years ago. He carries it while walking in the evening.

The most he's ever done with it was to shoot at a dog pack that was bothering him one evening. I think the birdshot settled one of the dogs' hash, and the rest ran off.

The most compromise I can see myself making in terms of shirtsleeves and no jacket concealment might me a PF-9 Kel Tec. For some reason I can't seem to find one to buy around here.

seeker_two said...

Another myth: No one in their right mind would carry a gun in a shoulder/ankle/Smartcarry-style holster....

You do if the situation warrants's better than having to go home to get your gun out of the sock drawer....

Unknown said...

Ive worn a galco shoulder rig off and on ever since I got my glock 19. Its not a lot of fun in summer though because I sweat a great deal.

Chas said...

Since that holster holsters best that holsters least, I use Barami grips and no holster. It's a one-stop solution that doesn't result in a cardboard box full of holsters that didn't work out. Mr. Jay Frame is a real small guy - he disappears real easy.
I always wear my shirt outside my pants, BDU style, gun or no gun. Only a fool tucks his shirt into his pants and makes it clear that he doesn't have a weapon at his waist - why communicate that information to every bad guy you meet?
Hawaiian shirts? Maybe that's what folks wear in Rolocado when they're sunning themselves under the palm trees while watching the elk graze, but it sounds like bad advice. There are plenty of tasteful shirts for sale at the mall. Get one that looks boring enough to not stand out in a crowd.