7 tips for summer weather concealed carry

by Sean Maloney, Esq.

The weather is warming and it’s time to switch to summer methods of concealed carry.

For some, it’s not a big deal. You may carry the same way all year long. For others, the shorts and T-shirts are coming out, and concealment will become more of a challenge.

Here are some methods of warm weather concealed carry. These could be helpful if you dress to stay cool but still want to stay armed.

1. Wear lose clothing. It’s been years since my children informed me that “you don’t tuck your shirt in, Dad.” Far be it from me to question the wisdom of teenagers and current style. By wearing loose fitting, baggy clothes, concealed carry becomes both simple and stylish. Oversized T-shirts, Polo, and Oxford style shirts drape effortlessly over your firearm of choice.

2. Switch to inside the waistband (IWB). Inside the waistband is my preferred method of carry, so for me there is no change. However, many friends of mine carry outside the waistband (OWB). Simply switching from OWB to IWB is often all it takes, without even downsizing the gun.

3. Carry a smaller firearm. I can hear some people cringing as I write this. But it’s better to discreetly carry a smaller firearm than not to carry at all. If you can’t wear your standard concealed carry firearm because of summer dress, don’t resort to wearing a jacket in 90 degree heat. Just downsize.

With today’s .380 and 9mm calibers, light polymer or alloy frames, small pistols and revolvers made specifically for carry, more choices are available than ever before. In addition, today’s self defense ammo is of much higher quality than ever before.

Remember, practice, practice, practice, with an unloaded firearm first. No matter how good you are with your primary firearm, your warm weather secondary firearm requires a totally different presentation and aim.

4. Try pocket carry. A gun in the pocket can be every bit as lethal for self defense as your primary firearm. I constantly remind my students that there is “no such thing as a little .38.” As long as you pick a suitable firearm, with a functional pocket holster, you’re all set for whatever life throws at you.

Once again, practice, practice, practice. Pocket carry presents a greater challenge when it’s time to draw than holster carry.

One more thing. Reserve that pocket for your firearm only. There is nothing more embarrassing, or fatal, then drawing your cell phone in self defense.

5. Use a fanny pack. Yes, a fanny pack screams concealed carry geek. But sometimes, it’s your only option. Try it once and you might find it’s what you’ve been looking for. In tourist settings, you will blend right in. And in any setting, the only people likely to know you’re carrying are fellow concealed carry advocates.

6. Open carry. With the introduction of legal concealed carry in nearly every state, open carry is not my choice in most situations. However, some of my friends regularly chose to open carry. And for those times when concealed carry is not an option, open carry is a simple solution. Just be sure to use a holster with the appropriate level of retention for wherever you’ll be. Urban and suburban areas generally call for a higher level of retention than rural areas.

Of course, check the local laws first, because in some states open carry is forbidden. And even when open carry is legal, you should consider the reaction some people may have to seeing a gun and the possibility that you could have negative reactions from police.

7. Go for deep concealment. Your choices for deep concealment seem almost endless these days, including belly bands, appendix carry pouches, and bra holsters. Some of these methods require you to get past clothing used as cover, which makes drawing more difficult. But assuming you practice and feel comfortable that you can draw effectively in a high-stress situation, these are all additional options to consider.

Whether you change your method of carry for one day or the entire season, remember the importance of becoming familiar with your method of carry. Practice with an unloaded firearm and work out all the kinks in your draw stroke. It has to become second nature.

In a life-or-death situation, you won’t have time to think. You’ll have about 1.5 seconds and will have to depend on muscle memory to deploy your weapon properly.

A smaller firearm, for example, has a smaller grip and a shorter distance between the front and rear sight, making it more difficult to score accurate hits. Dry fire practice is essential. Remember, all it takes is a little time and effort to build muscle memory with your secondary firearm or alternate method of carry. You’re not starting from scratch. You’re simply building on your existing skills to create a new skill set with different equipment.