Concealed Carry permit applications are turned in by the millions each year and show no signs of slowing down, but getting the permit to carry a concealed weapon should only be the first step in an ongoing process that should last as long as you own a firearm. Training is the key to being able to react effectively when confronted with a potentially violent situation.
Most shooters associate training with spending time at the range to improve accuracy, doing dry-fire practice at home, or learning self-defense techniques.
While all of these activities are necessary, one critical training area is often overlooked: the ability to draw quickly and effectively from concealment. Concealed Carry Magazine editor Kevin Michalowski explains the importance of the draw in his article “Tips for Clearing Cover Garments” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“It may sound easy enough, but when time is of the essence and your nerves are trying to take control, you could find yourself fumbling about and getting tangled up in your shirt, coat, or other cover garment.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
There are several tips that make drawing from concealment more effective. One of the simplest yet most important is to wear your typical concealed carry attire while practicing at the range. If your usual garb is loose-fitting, untucked shirts with an IWB holster, the process is fairly straightforward. Use your non-firing hand to reach across and lift the hem of your shirt while drawing and aiming at the attacker with your shooting hand at the same time.
The situation becomes more complicated if your daily carry apparel includes clothing with buttons, zippers, snaps, or other accoutrements. Button-down sweaters and similar items are best left unbuttoned, allowing for quick access to the concealed firearm.
For zippers, add a split-ring key holder to the zipper, giving you a firm finger handle to pull. Lift the jacket with the non-firing hand while unzipping and then drawing with the opposite hand. Snaps require a decisive motion where the left hand lifts the jacket near the snaps and the right hand pulls the jacket open, making sure the hands are positioned so that the bottom snaps open.
These techniques can be practiced anywhere and are fairly easy to master. Naturally, practicing at the range with live fire and targets is better than standing in front of a mirror. If you have access to a range with pop-up targets, it will provide the most realistic scenario to practice your concealed carry drawing techniques.
Anyone who’s ever seen a customized pistol realizes right away that it’s a significant step up from the factory-issued model. Having a handgun tailored to your own personal defense system is a lofty goal, but unfortunately, there are a few obstacles standing in your way. When a lawyer gets a case involving a modified weapon, it’s like feeding chum to a piranha.
As author Kevin Michalowski explains in his article “Customizing Your Defensive Pistol” at USConcealedCarry.com, anytime you or anyone else shoots someone, there is going to be a lawsuit whether there’s a customized weapon or not. Michalowski lists two rules to help keep the legal sharks at bay in shooting cases:
“To ensure that you don’t give an aggressive anti-gun attorney any MORE reason to go after you, just make sure that you don’t make any modifications to the safety mechanisms or the factory trigger settings on your firearm.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Disabling or eliminating safety measures installed by the manufacturer is a recipe for disaster and will make your attorney’s job much more difficult when the prosecuting attorney charges you with gross negligence.
On the other hand, hiring a competent gunsmith to smooth out a trigger pull without changing the pull-weight should garner you brownie points since you have, in essence, made the gun more accurate and thus, safer. However, the prosecutor may counter with evidence that you created a more deadly weapon by customizing it with a hair trigger. The debate can go on ad nauseum, but the important thing to remember is to stay within the parameters of the law when you start customizing your firearm.
Tampering with safety features incorporated into a gun’s design by the manufacturer is obviously going to play a major role in any lawsuit or investigation following a shooting. Yet other customizations are much less likely to be noticed and if they are, they can be considered as additional safety measures.
For instance, a beveled magazine well on the 1911A1 acts as a sort of funnel where the mag is inserted, helping to guide the mag into the pistol for a faster reload under stress, which will result in safer shooting. Other examples of customizations that make the shooting environment safer include improving the magazine release or slide stop lever, adding new grips, or improving sights.
An old sports adage states that “the best defense is a good offense.” Tweaking your piece with a couple of customizations will bolster your confidence and make you a safer shooter. You can take that to court.
The right to carry a firearm is constitutionally protected, but it should not be one that is taken lightly. A concealed carry permit gives the holder a tremendous responsibility and training programs reiterate that guns are a weapon of last resort rather than devices to be used to make threats with. A personal defense plan should allow for the use of defensive alternatives in potentially threatening situations before deadly force becomes a consideration.
In his article “Six Defensive, Emergency Rescue Tools That Could Save Your Life” at USConcealedCarry.com, author Bruce N. Eimer explains the importance of having more than one option:
“Similarly, only a crazy person would use a firearm to repel a low level threat when less-than-lethal force (e.g., a verbal warning, pepper spray, a hand strike, a knee to the groin, a big stick) is all that may be necessary to take care of it.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Although there are a host of possible tools and weapons to choose from, there are essentially six basic pieces of equipment that should be part of everyone’s home and/or personal defense plan.
One that is often underestimated is a dependable, sturdy flashlight. Criminals avoid well-lit areas, so carrying your personal lighting system makes you less vulnerable. In addition to locating and identifying any potential threats, a flashlight can also disorient an attacker and allow you to escape. In a worst case scenario, a flashlight can even be used as an impact weapon.
A second necessity is at least one backup magazine for your everyday carry piece. Magazine failures are a major cause of misfires and during an actual confrontation, it is much easier to switch out the mag than it is to take precious seconds to try and solve the problem. As a general rule, it is always better to have more ammo than less.
Pepper spray is another weapon alternative that should be in every carry kit. Pepper spray is the first line of defense when a situation escalates beyond words. In most cases, it will temporarily disable the attacker and give you time to escape. Most importantly, it won’t kill anyone.
A knife is another defensive option that can be employed before opting for deadly force, especially in close encounters. A blade wound in most cases will not be fatal, but will certainly give cause for an attacker to hesitate, and in many cases, cause them to flee the scene completely.
Cell phones aren’t generally considered weapons, but they are an important part of any personal defense plan without a doubt. If you feel like trouble is afoot, a pre-emptive 911 call will alert authorities to your location even if you are unable to talk at the time. The boys in blue will be en route to potentially save your life, or at least arrest the bad guys.
The Ayoob D-Jammer is the sixth tool that should be in any personal defense kit. It is a small, pencil-shaped device made of sturdy metal. Its main purpose is to remove barrel obstructions or jammed casings from a revolver. However it is also useful as a baton weapon, similar to the Kubotan or Persuader. Another advantage is that its unobtrusive appearance on your keyring may not cause any issues at airport security.
Although some of these items may seem awkward or out-of-place at first, it won’t be long before you feel naked leaving home without any of these emergency tools.
As more citizens obtain concealed carry permits, their power as a group entity has also burgeoned. Many states are currently in the process of relaxing firearm carry laws, thanks in part to lobbying efforts by concealed carry partisans.
Yet in spite of this progress, there are still many venues which view the Second Amendment from a different perspective and choose to either ban guns altogether or impose negative consequences on those who choose to exercise their constitutional rights.
These gun-free environments aren’t those mandated by law to be without weapons, but rather the job, restaurant, or family member whose obstinance forces those who carry daily into a dilemma.
People are forced to relinquish a right guaranteed by the constitution or take a chance and hope not to be discovered. Carrying a weapon in these situations won’t get you arrested, but it may get your fired, banned, or disowned.
Assuming you’re going to press forward and exercise your rights, what’s the best method for deep concealed carry? In his article “Deep Cover: Extreme Concealment When You Need It” at USConcealedCarry.com, author Rich Grassi explains why there is no one preferred deep concealed carry method:
“My usual methods of carry included ankle holsters, pocket holsters, a belly band-style holster, and shoulder holsters. I found the pocket the easiest from which to draw, followed by the belly band and the ankle holster.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
The pocket holster is the easiest to access from deep concealment. However if you are going to be seated or driving for any length of time, the ankle holster actually becomes very accessible by simply bringing the knee up. The type of weapon you choose for your deep concealment carry will naturally affect your holster options.
One traditional firearm that has been carried for decades as a deep concealment option is the five-shot snub-nosed revolver. These guns are lightweight, dependable, and powerful, but they’re a handful to shoot accurately.
The advent of the micro semi-automatic handguns gave concealed carry permit holders another alternative for deep concealment. These tiny pistols are now manufactured by virtually every firearms producer and give shooters an added advantage for deep concealment by essentially eliminating printing issues with weapons that are generally less than an inch thick.
Another method uncommonly used methods in deep concealment situations is the neck holster, designed for miniscule guns like the Kel-Tec P-32, which chambers 7 .32 ACP rounds. Basically, the neck holster is a tiny holster attached to a necklace chain that rests under your shirt and is easily accessible.
When carrying in deep concealment, it’s important to know that your gun will be reliable if you need it. Use the best ammo you can afford for these pocket rockets to avoid misfires and jams in critical situations.
Making the decision to carry or not carry in certain environments is never easy. But carrying in deep concealment mode is one way to continue to exercise your Second Amendment rights.