With the rise in civil unrest (and since you need to protect yourself anyway), more people than ever are choosing to carry concealed. Now that colder weather is coming, carrying concealed gets a little easier than in the summer, and gun owners have more options on how they want to carry.
So what's the best way to pack heat in the cold?
While it is a matter of personal preference, gun owners typically carry smaller guns under light shirts and shorts in summer months. With cooler weather sweeping across the nation, concealing a gun and spare mag gets much easier. More layers and bulges easily cover the grip of your carry gun, the part most guilty of printing.
But there's more to winter concealed carry than just extra cover!
Conventional wisdom says you should always carry the same gun for consistency. That same conventional wisdom also sometimes says you should carry the gun with the highest capacity possible, just in case.
In the cooler and winter months, you can do whichever you choose. If you feel more comfortable carrying your summer gun because it’s what you always carry, go for it! There’s nothing wrong with that. If you want to change it up and carry that full-framed behemoth that’s been sitting in your safe for the past six months because it holds 18 rounds of pure stopping power but prints under a t-shirt like a walrus, awesome!
Either way, be sure you are comfortable with how it works and keep it in a good, quality holster.
Carrying in the winter has pros and cons. The good news is you can conceal that bigger gun more easily. The bad news is now you have extra layers to deal with when drawing and reholstering. Thankfully, by following a few key tips, you can make winter carry easier and safer!
Get used to the new gun. If you’re switching guns, spend some time at the range getting acquainted or reacquainted with the new carry. Even if you’ve owned it for years, it’s probably been a while since you shot it, much less carried it, so put some rounds downrange, practice reloads, and renew your relationship.
There are tons of drills you can perform to up your proficiency. For instance, load your primary and one spare mag with only one round each, load and fire the first mag so the slide locks back, and do a quick reload to get back into the fight. Rinse and repeat. This is a drill you can do again with your summer gun when the weather warms back up.
Practice your draw wearing the extra layers. Clearing a jacket or coat is different from a t-shirt. Even if you appendix carry, clearing can involve a sideways motion instead of an upwards clear because your jacket is zipped vertically, requiring a side sweep to free the gun. Work on this new motion to commit it to muscle memory.
Work on reholstering. Just like pulling the gun out will be slightly different, so will putting it away, a critical skill in both practice and a defensive shooting where you need to stow your gun before the police arrive so they won’t think you’re the bad guy. Can you clear your jacket and reholster one-handed? You need to. Work on it until you can.
Carry with an open front. It’s hard to get to your gun through a zipped jacket. If possible, in even the chilliest conditions, try to keep your jacket unzipped for quicker access.
Don the gloves. Remember, you might not have bare hands when the fight comes to you in the cold. Good guns have a large enough trigger guard to let you shoot with gloves, but do you practice that way? Go out on a cold day with your gloves on and put a few rounds downrange, drawing from the holster you plan to carry so you get the feel of fighting in the cold.
One advantage of cold weather carry is that it's much easier to conceal an OWB holster, but to be sure it stays hidden, find one that snugs the gun up against your body and looks natural under even the lightest jackets. Again, it's important to practice drawing and shooting from whatever holster you choose to carry in cooler weather.
Whether you continue to carry your summer gun all year round or switch it up by carrying a larger winter gun, be sure you’re ready by following these tips and carrying in a quality holster secured with a good gun belt!
The fight is real. Be ready.
David Workman is an avid gun guy and a contributing writer to several major gun publications. In addition to being an NRA-certified RSO, David trains new shooters on basic handgun skills and CCW requirements and is a strong advocate for training as much as you possibly can. “Real life shootouts don’t happen at a box range.”
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