Whether you're shopping for your first carry system (a carry system is defined as a gun plus holster), or are looking for something newer, easier, or just different than what you have been wearing, price, quality, and carry style are a few factors to consider. But Accessibility, Concealment, and Comfort are probably the three biggest factors to weigh when considering the holster part of your carry system.
ACCESSIBILITY — how quickly you can get to your gun — is a far more important than the type of gun you carry. Provided you keep control of your firearm, you can’t get to your gun too quickly. When shopping for a carry system, look for a combination that gives you rapid, efficient, controlled and instinctive presentation. That could be an inside-the-waistband (IWB) or outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster positioned on your hip, your center line (a.k.a., “appendix carry”) or your ankle. It might also be a pocket carry holster. Or a holster inside a specially-made garment. There are also options for off-body carry (e.g., in a purse or briefcase), but quick accessibility might be compromised if your firearm is not directly on your body. Of course, not every carry system is suitable for every person, given body shape, dress, skills, etc. The only way you’re going to know what works for you is to try it. Wearing the clothes you are likely to wear when you’re carrying, try as many different types of holsters as you can with your safety-checked firearm.
CONCEALMENT. Plenty of gun people say “concealed means concealed" and in no want do they want anyone to know they’re carrying a gun. If that’s you, choose a carry system that hides your gun without “printing” (revealing itself by making an impression on the cover garment). Again, it’s a process of trial and error, using various carry system with your normal clothes. All your clothes. You may have different clothing for different occasions that require different carry systems. A scrub-wearing medical professional with an ankle holster may switch to an IWB holster when wearing casual clothes. Women wear dresses, skirts, shorts and pants; all of which may require a different carry system.
COMFORT. Do you believe that conceal carrying a gun should be comforting but won't be comfortable? You want BOTH. If your carry system isn’t comfy to wear, there’s less of a chance you’ll wear it consistently. The only way to know if a carry system truly will be comfortable all day, through a range of activities (driving, walking the dog, shopping, sitting at a desk, working in the yard, carrying a kid, etc.) is to try it. And try it again. And again. It may take lots of experiementation before you'll be able to wear any outfit while concealing effectively and comfortably, but it’s worth the trial and error to figure it out.
Mark Walters, host of Armed American Radio, says if you are going to carry “Carry on, carry often, and carry everywhere!” If you have made the decision to conceal carry, do you have an EDC (Every Day Carry) Kit prepared and ready to go? If you're wondering what should be in your Kit, here is some advice from Kevin Michalowski, editor of Concealed Carry magazine:
• Firearm of your choice
• A holster for your firearm
• Spare ammo so you can shoot repeatedly to stop an attacker; your goal is not to kill them but to stop their aggressive actions so you can get away. It has been proven that it may take 3 or 4 or 5 or even more shots to stop an attacker, especially someone jacked up on drugs. And you could be facing multiple attackers, too
• Alternative weapon such as pepper spray that will give you some distance and allow you to get away; expect some over-spray and never use in a crowded room
• High intensity pocket flashlight can take away a would-be attacker's element of surprise if you spot them first and shine a light in their direction
• First aid kit for a gunshot wound in case you or a loved one gets shot
• Cell phone to call 911 and get law enforcement and/or medical help coming your way in an emergency
Many people disagree about having an EDC. Some say that carrying all these things shows your intent to be aggressive. For example, if you shoot an attacker and must later face a judge and jury for your actions, will having had these items make YOU appear the aggressor? Will it seem you left the house that day "looking for a fight" or wanting to use lethal force? Will the jury consider the fact that you had less than lethal options on your person that you could have used instead of a firearm?
Some experts say that pepper spray gives a huge false sense of security when dealing with bad guys intent on causing you bodily harm or worse. Some insist pepper spray should only be used by those who are trained to use it properly. An alternative to pepper spray might be a small knife.
Probably the best advice anyone can give regardless if you are carrying or not is to be aware of your surroundings. Stay alert. Next best piece of advice is to be trained. Learn how to properly use what you carry, or do not carry it, firearm included.
If you live in states such as Arizona, Vermont, Alaska, and parts of Wyoming where you don't need a permit, you just carry a gun, and you don't want to travel outside your state with your firearm, you probably don't pay much attention to reciprocity laws. For the rest of us, however, it's good to know that Republican senators are supporting legislation that would allow people with state-issued permits for concealed weapons to use the permits in other states with concealed-carry laws.
The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2014, introduced Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, would require states to respect other states' permits much in the way each state respects the drivers' licenses of those who are not residents. "Second Amendment rights shouldn't stop at the state line," said Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, of Mississippi, a co-sponsor of the legislation. "It makes sense to allow law-abiding gun owners to take their concealed-permit privileges with them to states that also allow concealed-carry permits."
Right now, there is such a patchwork of laws across state lines and it's very frustrating and time consuming to keep them all straight. For example, if you live in Wisconsin but drive to Tennessee with your firearm, you are committing a felony by traveling through Illinois with your gun. This just seems plain silly. Why should anyone have to give up their rights to self-defense simply by driving through another state?
Nationwide, an estimated 8 million to 10 million citizens legally carry guns, a jump from about 20 years ago, when the figure was less than 1 million. As the number of people seeking concealed-carry permits continues to rise across the states, lawmakers are seeking a national standard that is enforced much like drivers' license laws. Some groups oppose such national measures. It's not that they wouldn't love for concealed-weapons permits to have reciprocity in all states, but some fear that if the federal government enters this jurisdiction, it may well be able to regulate this jurisdiction and prescribe regulations on people who have a permit, forcing such a tremendous amount of training or liability insurance and all kinds of other pains and horrors. Good point.
By and large, the vast majority of people who apply for a concealed-carry permit and who are carrying a firearm legally are not the people who are going to be committing crimes with a firearm— whether in the state where they live or a state they would drive to or through. The aim of responsible Americans who own guns is to level the playing field. In the unlikely event that they are attacked, they can meet force with force.
Have you ever left your car door or the front door to your house unlocked, even for a brief time, because you trusted the security of your small town? Have you ever been so engrossed in watching your kids at the park that you never even saw that guy sitting on the nearby bench? What about when you've had to run into the convenience store for a quick minute and never focused on anything except where to grab the milk or diapers?
Everyone knows that "bad" people can be found everywhere—big cities and small towns. We all know that bad things can and do happen unexpectedly, even to good people. And we know that it's nearly impossibly to be on guard 365 days a year. But the absolute biggest mistake we can make is thinking that the things we read in the paper and the things we see on the news won't happen to us. The the six most dangerous words on the planet just might be: It will never happen to ME.
It's understandable that we all would rather give in to a false sense of security that sometimes lulls us, instead of keeping in mind that bad things can and do happen. And they can happen to YOU. But as responsibly armed Americans, we must train ourselves to adopt the combat mindset, to ignore the little voice in our head that tells us it's okay to leave our guns at home. A wise man once said, "There is no safety in denial."
Don't wait for a wake-up call―or worse―to shake you out of your comfort zone. Don't let down your guard. Instead of thinking it will never happen to me, instead think "It might happen to me. And if it does, I'll be ready!" Carrying a concealed weapon is one of the easiest ways to change the equation―to be prepared for the moment someone threatens you or the ones you love
Since the tragedies took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut (December 2012) and at Century movie theater in Aurora, Colorado (July 2012), there has been a significant increase in the number of concealed carry permit applications. Although you often don’t hear about these types of increases until a major event occurs, such bumps in the number of gun sales, background checks and applications for concealed carry permits have been on the rise for years. Before Barack Obama was elected in 2008, there was a strong rise in gun sales simply due to the fear that new gun legislation would be passed during his presidency.
Following major mass shooting incidents, such as Sandy Hook, the Virginia Tech Massacre (April 2007), Columbine High School (April 1999 in Columbine, Colorado) gun sales have increased. It would seem that the emotional reaction towards purchasing guns and obtaining concealed carry permits during these tragic times reflects the tendency of Americans to be quite protective of their 2nd Amendment rights. It appears that the right to bear arms is important, but perhaps not acted upon until there is a perceived threat to limit its scope. These rises have occurred despite some cities and states instituting new gun control legislation.
While the Second Amendment guarantees the rights of citizens to protect themselves with the use of firearms, it has not stopped many cities and states from trying to pass more legislation to restrict the ability of citizens to buy weapons. In fact, the reaction against such legislation in Colorado has been quite strong and more people are banding together to help protect their Constitutional rights to carry legal firearms. The reaction has not been limited to Colorado, as other states also have seen a rise in the purchase of legal firearms.
Today, many thousands of law-abiding citizens have concealed carry permits and carry a firearm for their personal protection. Rules and regulation vary by state, but in order to get a concealed carry permit anywhere, a thorough background check is completed. Most violent incidents occur without immediate police protection around, so having a weapon for self-defense can save a life or prevent a bad situation from escalating. Deciding to conceal carry is a very personal choice. Whether it’s having a weapon in your holster at all times to defend yourself or your loved ones if need be, or you just want the ability to carry a firearm as guaranteed by the Constitution, more and more men and women are opting to apply for a concealed carry permit. To view each state’s concealed weapons permit information click here.
The other day a friend called me to ask for some pointers on how to improve his shooting accuracy.
“That depends,” I told him. “What kind of gun will you be shooting?”
“A handgun,” he responded.
“It still depends. Will it be for target practice or tactical? Drawn from a concealed carry holster or while on the move? Are you using a sight or a laser?”
The point I was making is that there are so many variables when it comes to shooting that each situation is different.
1. Take a deep breath. This will be especially handy if you’ve been running or on the move. Take a deep breath to calm yourself. At the bottom of your exhale, hold your breath—only for a second— and take the shot. If you wait too long, you’ll begin to wobble. Practice doing this a few times to get a feel for the rhythm of your breathing.
2. Steady as she goes. Keeping your gun steady is a must. Depending on the situation and location, such being out in the field, you can use a tree branch or rock if they are available. Our lean against a wall or doorframe if inside a building.
3. Stay focused. Focus on the front sight. The human eye isn’t capable of focusing both near and far at the same time so your best bet is to line up the sights with your target but keep a keen eye on the front sight.
4. Leave a fingerprint. Aim your index finger at this article right now and pull it like a trigger. Do you see how it angles first to the left and then to the right if you are right handed? Using the pad of your finger and gently drawing the trigger straight back reduces movement.
5. The element of surprise. DON’T anticipate the kick. Let the gunshot surprise you. Hand your buddy a gun with three rounds in it and tell him you’ve loaded five. Watch to see how much he flinches on the fourth shot. This takes practice but will tremendously improve your accuracy .
There are many other shooting tips, but nothing takes the place of practice. Practice these tips until they are part of your normal shooting routine, and always handle firearms safely.