In the second installment of our pocket pistol series, we’re looking at the concept of the underwear gun — a pistol you can carry even when you’re in nothing but your skivvies! Why would you need a gun like that? The answer is in the video below, or you can scroll down and real the full transcript.
If you missed part one of this series, you should probably go back and watch that one first.
Last week, we started our series about using small caliber pocket-sized handguns for self-defense. I mentioned some of situations where our only option for concealed carry might be a so-called mouse gun. Things like health issues or dress code restrictions can make it difficult or even impossible to carry a larger pistol. Today, I want to talk about one more useful role for pocket-sized handguns, and that is the concept of the underwear gun.
It’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek term that some people have used to refer to a gun that is so convenient to carry that you can have it on you even if you’re dressed in nothing but your underwear. For a lot of people, that might be the same gun they carry all day anyway, but for those of us who usually carry something larger, it’s nice to have an option like this. You could also call it a pajama gun, a gym shorts gun, a lounge-around the house gun, or my favorite term, a “rule one gun” because the first rule of a gun fight is to bring a gun — any gun.
I know some people who strap on a full-size pistol the minute they wake up and get dressed in the morning and that gun stays on their hip all day until moments before they get in bed and go to sleep. That’s great if you can pull that off but it’s not realistic for most people, myself included. My typical carry gun for the last several years has been some kind of compact 9mm. With a high-quality holster and belt, that’s usually pretty comfortable for me for most of the day. But I usually reach a point after about 10 or 12 hours when I just can’t wait to get that thing off. A lot of people feel the same way about their shoes or a necktie. They might have been wearing those things every day for years, but the instant they get home from work, the shoes and the tie have to come off before they can relax.
Even if carrying a larger gun every waking hour doesn’t usually bother you, I’m willing to bet at some point, you’re going to want to do some kind of activity that is incompatible with carrying that gun. Maybe it’s yard work, or chores around the house, or going to the gym, or getting down on the floor to play with your kids or your dog. You might find it difficult to do some of those things with 30 to 40 ounces of steel and plastic strapped to your belt, if you’re even wearing a belt.
For most of these situations, we are at home, and the typical solution is to just put away the carry gun and forget about it. If I need it, it’s in the quick-access safe by the nightstand, or wherever I’ve got it stored. We usually feel safer in our home, and statistically speaking, our risk of being attacked usually is lower inside the home than it is outside the home. But we all know that violent home invasion is still a lot more common than we would like and just because we have a gun under the roof somewhere doesn’t mean that we are prepared to deal with a potential threat.
One of the contributors to our blog, Detective Spencer Blue, has shared a story about the first murder investigation he worked on. The victim was shot dead in the front doorway of his home dressed only in his boxer shorts. When the police searched this guy’s house, they found something like 30 firearms. Some of them were hidden around the house and some of them were just laying out in the open. But none of them did the guy any good because he didn’t have one with him when he needed it.
Now, I don’t want to imply that carrying a gun in your house is the solution to every potential home security threat. In the past, I’ve been a big advocate of having a layered home security plan that might include things like good exterior lighting, reinforced locks, or alarm systems. I don’t think planning shooting anyone on your property you don’t recognize counts as a home defense strategy. Deadly force should be an absolute last resort. So, for example, the guy in this story could possibly have avoided trouble if he had simply been more careful about who he opened the door for. At the same time, similar incidents are not all that uncommon. Spencer, himself, has worked on multiple cases where the victim of a home invasion had guns stashed somewhere in the house, but couldn’t get to them in time for it to make any difference.
So, whether we’re at home or we’re out doing something that precludes carrying a more capable firearm, a rule one gun allows us to be physically comfortable and it doesn’t limit what activities we can engage in, but we still have the ability to immediately respond to a serious threat.
I don’t have any specific firearm models in mind to recommend for this role because the kinds of guns and carry methods that make a good a rule one gun are going to vary a lot from person to person. What has worked best for my situation is usually some kind of ultra lightweight J-frame revolver. At home, I carry it in a Phlster City Special holster. When I go running and I’m not wearing a belt, I carry the same gun in a SmartCarry holster, which is kind of like a flat fanny pack that goes inside your waistband. I’ll talk about both of those holsters in more detail later on in our pocket pistol series.
There are a few reasons I like J-frames that might not apply to everyone. First of all, I shoot them relatively well. I’m very comfortable with double action triggers, and actually prefer them over most other action types. For running, I have found that every ounce matters, and I want as light a gun as possible. Most of the really small semi-autos don’t have a lot of grip area to grab onto and that really compromises my access to the gun, particularly with a SmartCarry type holster. But I can get a J-frame that weighs just 12 or 13 ounces loaded and it still has a substantial grip and it sits at an angle that makes it easier for me to get my hand on it.
I’m pretty happy with that setup and that may or may not make sense for you. If you don’t know what kind of gear makes sense for you, keep following our pocket pistol series and we will try to help you figure that out.