There are a ton of resources out there for anyone looking to get the most out of carrying a concealed handgun. Reviews for the newest carry pistols, holsters, and gadgets are always popular, and there are plenty of training schools and shooting sports to help you hone your skills. We like all of that stuff as much as the next guy, but we also recognize that while it’s fun to talk about gear, training, and shooting techniques, it’s not always practical for everyone to immediately put that stuff into action.
So if you’re not sitting on a ton of cash and free time, rather than tell you “tough luck”, we’re passing along a few easy, practical concealed carry tips that you can use now. These are the kind of seemingly obvious aspects of concealed carry that probably got a brief mention in your carry permit class, but you may not have given them any serious thought since then. So if time and money (or maybe winter weather) are keeping you away from the range, these reminders can still help you maximize the potential of your self-defense readiness.
Check out our video below for an explanation and demonstration of today’s tips. The rest of the post provides some additional details and links to resources for further reading.
(Pro Tip: Every Lucky Gunner Lounge video has a closed captioning icon in the top left corner in case you don’t want to hear me yap through the whole thing.)
Three Free and Fast Concealed Carry Tips
1. Weekly Inspection and Function Check
The video shows how to do a quick function check of your carry gun every week, but just in case you’re wondering “is this really necessary?”, take a look at this post from a few weeks ago. The revolver shown there had been carried around for days even though it was completely non-functional. The problem was internal, and would only have been made apparent by attempting to fire or dry-fire the gun. There are also plenty of reported cases of carry guns with corrosion damage from sweat, or pocket lint that could obstruct the action or barrel of a carry gun.
Even if your gun handles the neglect with no ill effects, what about the holster? A worn out holster may not hold the gun securely, or could even cause an accidental discharge. Ammo isn’t safe from wear and tear, either. A round that is repeatedly chambered and cleared day after day will start to exhibit problems, too. Check for bullet setback and deformation of the rim and case body.
There are plenty of resources online if you need a checklist for inspecting your carry gun’s basic mechanical function. Add to any of these lists a simple visual inspection of the firearm’s exterior to spot-check for dirt, debris, corrosion, or broken parts. It doesn’t take much to develop a fairly quick but comprehensive inspection routine. Performing this check regularly will reveal the vast majority of issues that could potentially disable your gun at the worst possible moment.
If you ever have to defend yourself, there’s a really good chance you won’t see the danger coming, and will have literally just one or two seconds to react. What happens if you’re taken off guard, and need to draw your gun while quickly backing away from an attacker, pushed up against a wall, knocked to the ground, or sitting in a cramped booth at a restaurant? Does the draw stroke that you practice at the range from a relaxed standing position still work in these scenarios? How accessible would your gun be if an attacker’s first move was to step out from behind a parked car and shove you to the ground while you’re carrying an armful of grocery bags? These are the kind of situations when we’re most vulnerable and look like easy targets, so they’re the first kind of situations to consider when contemplating the viability of a given concealed carry method.
One of the best ways to counter the disadvantage of this kind of vulnerability is through practicing the draw stroke from various unconventional positions on a regular basis, both at the range and through dry-fire drills. But even if that’s too time consuming for you, at the very least you can spend some mental energy on contemplating the different body positions you might end up in when you have to draw.
I’m not suggesting you allow your everyday life to be consumed by contemplating every possible “what if” that comes to mind, because you’ll never be able to plan for every contingency. On the other hand, if you spend the majority of the day sitting down, for example, and your carry gun is in a holster behind your hip that you can’t reach when you’re in a chair, maybe it’s time to think about how you might work around that. Oftentimes, a solution is as simple as changing the direction you face your chair, but it could also mean a complete re-thinking of your carry method and gear. It just depends on your specific situation.
The important point is to at least give a little thought to the “what ifs” to uncover the most obvious flaws in your self-defense plans. There’s always more you can do to become better prepared, but this mental exercise requires very little effort compared to the potential benefits of the “I never thought of that!” moments.
3. Maximize Capacity
Most people I talk to who carry every day seem to favor carrying a small gun the majority of the time. They may occasionally pack something like a Glock 19 or a 1911, but more common are sub-compact, single-stack semi-autos. With such limited capacity available in these guns, it’s really surprising to hear that many of these folks don’t top off their magazines after loading their gun for carry. If you’re stuck with only seven or eight rounds in the magazine, it just makes sense to endure the few extra seconds it takes to eject the magazine after you load the chamber, and fill the mag back up to full capacity to give you that +1 in your low-capacity pistol.
The best stats we have available suggest that, regardless of caliber, an average of 2-3 handgun rounds to a vital area are required to incapacitate an attacker. On top of that, it’s estimated that most people are only about 50% as accurate under the stress of combat as they are on the range. And that’s one of the more optimistic figures you’ll run into. So let’s suppose the magazine in your pistol has a six-round capacity and you don’t bother topping it off after you chamber a round. If you’re attacked and It takes three shots to stop the bad guy, you’re leaving exactly zero room for a “below average” kind of day for marksmanship. Oh yeah, and what if there are two bad guys?
I know not everyone can or will always carry a gun with higher capacity. I personally carry small guns sometimes myself. But it’s a calculated risk, and I know I’m making a compromise by doing so in order to carry a gun I can effectively and comfortably conceal. I certainly don’t want to compromise any further by failing to load the one extra round my gun can hold just because I couldn’t spare the extra second or two. Loading the extra round doesn’t cost anything in comfort or concealability — all I lose is a little time. There is simply no logic to the mentality that says, “I can’t conceal a gun with a 15 round mag, so I might as well just stick this 7-rounder in my gun and be done with it”. Eight is still a lot less than 15, but it might be the one extra round that makes all the difference in the world.
One quick word of caution: This is all assuming that your gun does not exhibit any reliability issues when loaded to +1 capacity. Make sure you test this at the range, and don’t carry +1 if it causes your pistol to experience any malfunctions that it would not have otherwise.
Any Concealed Carry Tips We Missed?
Have you been carrying a while and have some other strategies that are both free/cheap and quick to implement? If so, sound off in the comments below, and maybe we’ll mention it in a future post.