“Concealed carry” is a term that is tossed about rather loosely when discussing firearms, self-defense, or other Second Amendment issues in public forums. Yet even with the rapid growth of concealed carry permit applications in the United States, little thought is given to the intended meaning of the word “concealed” once training is completed.
In his article “Depths of Concealment: How Deep is Too Deep?” at USConcealedCarry.com, author George Harris provides the definition used in reference to firearms:
“Concealment relevant to firearms or other weapons simply means carrying a weapon in a manner in which only the person carrying knows what, where, and even if he or she is carrying.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Basically, concealment is a series of compromises. It begins with your choice of weapon. Options such as weight, size, and print must be taken into consideration as does practicality. A deeply concealed weapon that is inaccessible when you need it defeats the purpose.
Accessibility should be the primary consideration regarding levels of concealment. Unfortunately, everyday attire can often cause retrieval issues when trying to draw the weapon. In an ideal scenario, the weapon should be accessible with either hand, but in most of the common concealment locations such as the inside-the-waistband holsters, ambidextrous drawing is next to impossible.
For women, the problem is very much the same, if not worse. Designers have managed to incorporate holsters into the fabric of bras, corsets, and other undergarments that, while definitely achieve deep concealment, are problematic for practical use once a woman is fully dressed. There are some women’s apparel options that have magnetic or Velcro fasteners that cut back on the time it takes to draw the weapon.
The button overlap is also more of an issue with female clothing. Menswear generally buttons with a left over right overlap, which favors right-handed access and draw. Female blouses and dresses are the opposite, which favors a left-handed draw. Given that only about 10 percent of the population is left-handed, this puts women at a disadvantage for these types of concealment options.
For waistband and apron holsters, the problem is more one of printing and comfort. Generally, clothing worn with these items should be 2 sizes larger. This would help reduce any chafing and the larger sizes allow the material to fall away from your body and your gun.
Normal men’s trousers make it almost impossible to carry a gun in the pocket without a noticeable print, although there are some brands that have looser pockets and there are some really tiny guns on the market now. But the best solution is to purchase pants with extra material in the pockets, specifically tailored for concealed carry. For women wearing skirts or dresses, thigh holsters are a reasonable option with fairly easy access.
Ankle holsters provide reasonable concealment and access options since most people aren’t looking there, but they aren’t particularly comfortable. Boot holsters where the gun is tucked inside the boot gives two layers of concealment and a little more comfort to the wearer.
In the end, concealment options vary widely and are dependent on many variables including clothing, climate, and potential threat. These factors aren’t always the same, so it’s important to have a flexible mindset and make the best decision each day to protect yourself and your loved ones.
One of the basic tenets of Concealed Carry Weapons training is that the first objective should be to avoid a confrontation whenever possible. Firearms training centers on the idea that drawing and firing your handgun should always be done as a last resort and when you’re in fear for your life or that of a loved one.
Although the odds are very small that you’ll ever become involved in a gunfight, being prepared for the unexpected is the best way to increase the odds of survival.
There are many classes taught throughout the country that train students in a variety of close combat techniques involving handguns, knives, batons, and martial arts.
But in reality, the first thing you should do if you find yourself staring down the barrel of a handgun is to start moving. A moving target has several advantages as author and U.S. Concealed Carry editor Kevin Michalowski points out in his article “Are You Learning to Move?” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“Movement takes you out of the line of attack. Movement forces the attacker to react to your movement. The more you move, the more you put yourself in control of the situation by forcing the attacker to react.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Not only will moving make you a harder target to hit, but it may surprise your attacker enough to give you a tactical advantage. The perpetrator most likely didn’t expect you to be armed or expect to have to bring down a moving target that’s shooting back. If you’re lucky, the attacker will panic and leave. But if not, at least your actions have forced your adversary to go on the defensive and take the time to reformulate his plan of action.
Try to find a range that incorporates movement drills into their instructional programs. If none are available, then it’s a simple matter to practice movement as a part of dry fire training at home. Even a few minutes a day can build muscle memory that will significantly increase your reaction time in a confrontation.
A keen sense of situational awareness will help you identify and avoid potentially dangerous situations. But if you do find yourself in a gunfight, remember to keep moving and keep fighting.
Anyone who has gone through the process of obtaining a concealed carry weapons permit has heard the lecture about the importance of training. Unfortunately for many, training becomes an afterthought rather than a priority as soon as they leave the class with their freshly printed certificate of completion.
Without training, muscle memory disappears and reaction time dwindles to the point of being dangerous. There are several reasons why training is so easily put off.
The first is the time factor. In today’s busy world, very few people have the spare time to dedicate the needed hours to range training. The other big reason for procrastinating is money. The cost of ammunition isn’t cheap and range fees add up quickly as well.
The range is the ideal place to build up basic skills as a beginning shooter and learn more advanced techniques as your competency increases. But during the mundane interim training periods where you’re honing your technique, there’s another way to improve form that will save you time and money — dry training.
Dry training involves going through the routine of drawing, aiming and firing, but without the firing pin hitting the hammer. “Snap caps” are also made for this purpose, which are basically dummy cartridges designed to cushion the blow of the hammer and/or firing pin. This allows for an endless number of practice rounds without the expense of live ammo. Another advantage is that dry training can be accomplished in just about any setting so that you can actually simulate a close quarters encounter in the comfort of your own home.
Author and U.S. Concealed Carry Magazine editor Kevin Michalowski describes other advantages to dry fire training in his article “Range Time vs. Dry Fire…and Why?” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“With dry training, you can (and should) practice hundreds of perfect draws that include elements like a big step to the side to get you off the X and a verbal challenge to turn bystanders into witnesses.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
By practicing with various scenarios, dry fire training allows you to get away from the rote routine of draw, fire, shoot, and gives you the opportunity to assess your surroundings and make better decisions before opening fire on a potentially unarmed citizen.
No amount of training will completely prepare you for a real-life attack, but through a combination of range training and dry-fire training, your odds of surviving an attack will dramatically increase.
It’s no secret that the concealed carry community is one of the hottest and fastest growing markets in the United States. Increased instability and threats from abroad combined with violent gang activity and desperate drug addicts at home are certainly part of the reason for why people are choosing to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Naturally, all of those guns flying off the shelves need to be holstered somewhere and as a result, holster sales are following the same skyrocketing trajectory as handguns.
For many years, holsters were basically dedicated to one carry position, which depending on the type of weapon, could result in wardrobe adjustments and an increased level of discomfort especially in the appendix position.
But now, CrossBreed Holsters has introduced a product that gives concealed carry shooters more options. Author Scott W. Wagner describes the Freedom Carry in his article “CrossBreed Freedom Carry IWB Holster” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“Capable of being used in appendix, cross-draw, and strong-side carry in the 3-5 o’clock position, the Freedom Carry is basically a reduced-size SuperTuck holster with the leather backing cut away to support only one locking clip.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Appendix carry is one of the most efficient positions for weapon placement for a couple reasons. First, the gun’s proximity to the hand allows for a very quick draw. The closeness of the hands is also a deterrent to any “gun grabbers.” The scaled-down backing design is what gives the Freedom Carry the flexibility to be comfortable in the appendix position.
In addition to the diversity of carry positions, the CrossBreed Freedom Carry can also be canted into several different angles besides the straight draw position through the use of an adjustable clip. The bulk of the holster is shaped with Kydex to fit your specific weapon. It is held in place via friction with no retention strap, so it’s a good idea to employ the safety when using it in the appendix position.
The Freedom Carry can be worn with the shirt tucked or untucked. With the shirt in, the only visible part of the holster is the clip, which can easily be covered by a cell phone. The overall comfort of the Freedom Carry was high, especially if worn against a t-shirt. Even without the t-shirt, there is enough cowhide in the design to keep the gun from rubbing against any skin area.
CrossBreed has continued its reputation for quality with the Freedom Carry holster. When ordering, you can request your holster be molded to accept weapons with accessories such as lights, lasers, and sights. It is available in black cowhide, tan cowhide, or natural tan horsehide and comes with CrossBreed’s standard lifetime warranty. MSRP on the Freedom Carry is $64.50.
Gun owners in general and concealed carry permit holders in particular are generally vigilant people when it comes to personal and home defense planning, but those plans change radically when you decide that a family vacation in the back country is a good idea.
Any trip off the beaten path requires a different mindset than taking the family to the movies.
Although situational awareness is still paramount, the focal points are different. The likelihood of being confronted and robbed while in the great outdoors is slim.
An attack by any number of large animals that roam the more remote areas of national parks, forests, and Bureau of Land Management properties is more likely.
Unfortunately, firearm regulations in these areas can be tricky. A 2010 federal law makes it legal to carry firearms in national parks as long as it doesn’t infringe on local or state laws and although it may be legal to carry the weapon, likely isn’t legal to discharge it.
National park websites now have links to the applicable state firearm laws for their respective states. International borders such as the Boundary Waters area on the U.S.-Canada border create even more confusion as regulations can vary at different entry points.
The same is true to a lesser extent on U.S. federal lands, as author Tom Watson explains in his article “Backcountry Backup: Defending Your Life and Property” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“In the case where a portion of two or more states [lie] within a park boundary, it is up to each individual to check the status of laws in each of those particular states.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Although the passing of the 2010 law has generated considerable debate, there has been no indication of consequences in either direction. Between 2012 and 2013, minor criminal incidents in federal lands dropped from 113,000 to 105,000. Firearm use or lack thereof was not indicated in the reports.
There has been at least one incident of isolated campers being terrorized by gun-toting marauders. The incident occurred in 2007 before the federal law was passed and is still a topic of debate today whether the outcome would have been different if the campers had been armed.
Large carnivorous animals are a legitimate concern anytime you venture into their territory, but the chances of being killed by one are remote. For instance, in a 25-year period in Alaska, a total of 90 bears were killed either in self-defense or to protect property, amounting to less than 4 bears per year. However, 6 people were killed by bears from 1985 to 1996. Alaska regulations now require people to remain at least 50 yards from bears, although the bears are probably not familiar with the law.
For those who feel more comfortable carrying a firearm as a large animal deterrent, the recommended calibers are .40 handguns and .44 Magnum revolvers or shotguns. Bear spray is also extremely effective. Before you head to the outback with a weapon, make sure you are comfortable and skilled enough with it to potentially face off with a large man-eater looking for food or defending his territory.
One of the most significant and effective tools introduced to law enforcement around the turn of the century has been the Taser. The Taser is an electroshock weapon that fires two small dart-like electrodes into the attacker with the intended purpose of disabling him through “neuromuscular incapacitation.”
The original Taser used gunpowder to fire the darts and was declared to be a firearm by the ATF bureau. Current models use compressed nitrogen cartridges to fire electrically charged darts into the attacker from a distance of up to 15 feet.
Despite its success as a firearm alternative, the Taser does have several limitations with one being the steep learning curve, especially if you aren’t in law enforcement where training is ongoing. Author Dan Stahlnecker explains some of the issues with Tasers in his article “Taser Tactics: Four Simple Rules” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“The Taser isn’t an end -all bodyguard. It won’t do all the work for you. You still have a part to play in the action. To this end, I offer you four rules of effective Taser usage.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Many people who are newly armed with a Taser suddenly feel a false sense of bravado. They know that they possess the power to incapacitate someone without killing them. Unfortunately, these same people often fail to realize that while their attacker may be down, they definitely aren’t out.
The Taser is a temporary stop-gap that gives you precious time to get away, not time to observe how long it takes the thug to recover and renew the attack. Some late model Tasers are now equipped with up to three charges, but even with the backup bolts, the first rule and main objective should still be to get far away from your attacker as quickly as possible.
If someone threatens you, using a Taser to protect yourself shouldn’t be a defensive move expected by the attacker. It should come as a complete surprise, which gives you a significant tactical advantage in the ensuing melee. Achieving the advantage of surprise also means that it shouldn’t be public knowledge that you carry a Taser.
When you purchase a firearm and obtain a concealed carry permit, it is assumed that you’ll spend time at the range honing your skills, yet new Taser owners often follow a completely different track. They either assume there’s nothing to learn, or worse, they assume operating the Taser will be self-explanatory when needed.
Both of these mindsets will get you into deep trouble and possibly killed. Read the instructions, watch the DVD, and measure out the 15 feet so you have some type of mental baseline. You may want to waste one cartridge by firing a test shot just to see the effect.
And like your firearm, if you don’t have it when you need it, it’s worthless. Obviously, some areas are more crime-ridden than others, but criminals are smart enough to figure out that so-called “safe havens” are often easy soft targets. In neighborhoods more prone to crime, keep the Taser in hand. For other settings, keep it easily accessible. Remember, the ultimate goal is to get back to Rule 1.
If you aren’t comfortable carrying a firearm or prefer to exhaust other options first, a Taser could be a solid option for you. For those who carry daily, it makes a potent backup. If you’re serious about packing a Taser, prices range from about $400 for the compact Taser Pulse to $1,400 for the double-barrel X2-Defender.
Twenty years ago, the notion that someone would carefully devise a plan to enter a church fully armed with intent to gun down the innocents within would have been practically unthinkable. It’s only in the post-911 age of terrorism that places of worship have become fair game.
Historically, the church has been viewed as a safe place or sanctuary dating back to ancient times.
By the 4th century, the right to sanctuary had been formalized by the early Christians. The churches offered sanctuary mostly to criminals for hundreds of years until being abolished during 1540 as part of the Reformation. The Catholic Church was the lone exception, keeping the sanctuary option as part of its Code of Canon Law until 1983.
It’s a sad commentary on modern times when churches can no longer be considered a safe haven, but it doesn’t mean that pastors and their congregations are powerless to protect themselves. Author and United States Concealed Carry Association Magazine editor Kevin Michalowski explains the mentality that is taking hold in the nation’s churches in his article “Carry Your Gun in Church? Hell Yes!” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“I cannot tell you the number of church groups that have reached out to the USCCA for help and guidance defending their congregations and ensuring those who would defend the flock are also protected from the legal system.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
By its very nature, carrying concealed in church requires due diligence beyond what permit holders practice every day. The pistol must remain absolutely concealed at all times. Becoming the center of attention for all the wrong reasons at church will undoubtedly bring down more restrictions for everyone, but may make for a different kind of sermon the following Sunday.
As most permit holders are aware, having a home defense plan is an integral part of anyone’s overall defensive preparations. Your expertise and training could prove invaluable to your congregation. If you are comfortable enough to talk to any of the congregation members or clergy, you can approach them about discussing some security options.
Even without the assistance of the congregation or clergy, there are steps you can take to better protect yourself and your family. Do not sit near the rear of the church, as this is most likely where any attacker would enter, and stay away from the seats closest to the center aisle to give yourself time to react. Be aware of other entrances/exits that could be used as an escape route.
Whatever action you decide to take, remember that the shooter will most likely be dead or gone by the time first responders arrive.