While carrying a concealed handgun, there are many things you need to be mindful of. Here are five things you definitely don't want to do while concealed carrying.
I have been carrying concealed handguns for going on twenty years now. While that may not make me an expert in the eyes of some, I sure have learned a lot through experience during my concealed carry tenure. Carrying a concealed handgun is a massively personal experience; gear, guns, calibers, and techniques that work for me may be completely unacceptable for you. Therefore, this article won't delve into "best guns" or "best holster" debates - there's plenty of that elsewhere for you to enjoy. Instead, let's look at some things you SHOULDN'T do while carrying concealed.
Fidget and Adjust
Carrying and trying to hide a big hunk of unnaturally-shaped metal on your body isn't easy. Nor is it usually comfortable 100% of the time. A badly designed or inappropriate holster, a gun with sharp edges or lots of accessories (RMR, light, oversized levers/safeties, grip stippling, etc.), and/or a poorly thought-out wardrobe won't help your cause.
It never fails: you'll be out in public with your hidden pistol, and it'll start to hurt, pinch or become viciously uncomfortable. Don't cave to the urges and start fiddling with your pistol where you are! Head to a restroom with a stall or lockable door and collect yourself. Adjust your payload to where it's comfortable again while you're out of public (and security camera) view. If a private restroom isn't available, your car might be a good spot to adjust your gear. Just remember: how things fit while you're sitting down will be drastically different from how they fit standing up! This is especially applicable to inside the waistband (IWB) holsters.
You don't want to stick out or act suspiciously with a hidden item on your waistline; this may arouse suspicion. The gun may still be concealed, but you're broadcasting to people in the know that you're carrying. Let discretion play the better part of valor, and get your setup positioned correctly in private.
Worry that someone will "make" you
You're carrying a concealed pistol in public, and it's likely printing if you move or position your body just right. It happens, especially in lighter summer clothing. Paranoia may set in that someone is going to spot your gun and cause a problem for you. How can you avoid this?
First, dress appropriately without standing out. Design your wardrobe around your gun. Maybe wear a T-shirt one size too large if you're carrying on the waistband. Consider a vest or or untucked button-up shirt with a pattern to break up the outline of your pistol. Consider an inside-the-waistband holster; these tuck the gun in much closer to your body and make concealment easier.
Second, STOP WORRYING. CALM DOWN. The general public isn't geared towards looking for guns on other people's bodies. Chances are, they'll be too wrapped up in their own lives or have their faces buried in a smartphone anyway. If someone does spot your gun, likely it'll be another concealed carrier or law enforcement - and neither are likely to raise a stink if you're not acting suspiciously or nervous. So, as the phrase goes, Keep calm and carry on.
Wear a crappy belt
If you're carrying your gun on the waist, your belt is arguably the most important piece of gear for carrying that gun. Get a belt that's designed as a gun belt. Don't cheap out and buy a $12 Wal-mart special belt.. and DEFINITELY don't wear dress belts! Neither of these belts are designed to be cinched tightly to your body...and certainly not designed to resist the vertical forces imposed during an aggressive pistol draw. Early in my concealed carry career, I was at the local sandpit practicing my draw from concealment. I had a Bianchi #5 holster with a 1" el-cheapo dress belt. Going for a determined draw, I was surprised when I presented the pistol to find that the holster had stayed with the gun! My snazzy reversible brown-on-one-side,-black-on-the-other dress belt had pulled out of the buckle, leaving me with a less than desirable shooting setup. Never again did I make that mistake.
There are lots of great gunbelt makers out there. I prefer leather belts so I can wear the belt with most clothing, even business attire. My favorite is the Magpul Tejas El Original 1 1/2" belt , but there are other great options. Plan on spending $75-100 on a good gun belt. It'll last forever if you care for it, and ensure your gun and holster separate when you absolutely need them to.
Be belligerent or aggressive
This should be a no-brainer, but sadly I know people who think otherwise. In most states, you have a duty to try everything you can to retreat from a threat before using lethal force. I have spoken to some that think the gun is the final word in an argument, so there's no need to back away from anything. Don't be that guy. Here in my home state of Maine, if I perpetuate a fight towards an aggressor and things escalate to the point where I need to use my pistol to save my life, I am at fault because I didn't deescalate or disengage from the confrontation. Know your laws, keep out of areas that have a higher probability of danger, and definitely don't pick fights. Common sense and knowledge are always your best friends when carrying a gun.
Not carry a non-lethal option
If possible, always carry a non-lethal deterrent. Most situations don't require a nuclear option, and can be solved handily by non-lethals such as pepper spray or a kubaton. A belligerent town drunk or an aggressive dog will likely back down rapidly after a snootful of OC spray is delivered without prejudice to the nose, eyes, and kisser. Plus, it's a lot easier to tell the nice responding officer why you used pepper spray on a family's German Shepard instead of filling it full of 124-grain Gold Dots.
Something else to consider - if you use a non-lethal weapon first, but still your situation escalates to the point where you must use your concealed handgun in self-defense, you likely look much better in front of a jury when you show that you tried every option available before you used your handgun.
Again, you need to know know your local laws about usage, but non-lethal deterrents are a great tool to have to help you avoid the psychological and financial nightmare of having to shoot somebody...even in righteous self-defense.
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