Summertime Concealed Carry
Article first appeared at American Rifleman.
In the 1988 film “Biloxi Blues,” a young World War II Army recruit played by Matthew Broderick is going through summertime training in Mississippi. Being from New York City, he is amazed by the temperature. “Man it’s hot. It’s like Africa hot. Tarzan couldn’t take this kind of hot.” Of course Tarzan deals with the heat by wearing a loincloth, which would likely make any sort of concealed carry problematic.
The fact remains that when the mercury rises, sane people adapt their clothing choices. Most of us probably aren’t going the loincloth route, but shorts and a T-shirt seem reasonable. The thing to consider is that the gun-and-holster combination you were used to carrying while wearing a jacket, suit or sweatshirt may not work with lighter attire.
I personally don’t care how hot it gets; going without a gun is not an option. There have been several occasions which found me without a gun during a time I very much wished I had one. Fortunately I came to no harm but was left with a distinct dislike for feeling helpless.
Fortunately, for those who live in the jurisdictions where a law-abiding citizen can carry, there are a lot of options when it comes to summertime carry. The priority is to keep your firearm concealed and avoid unwanted attention. Most of us already carry something smaller than a full-size handgun to help achieve this goal. Smaller handguns are not only easier to conceal but also weigh less and make carry a bit more comfortable.
If you are definitely going to be wearing less clothing, you may want to downsize your carry gun even more. Pocket pistols offer the maximum amount of concealability, especially the pocket .380s paired off with a suitable pocket holster. DeSantis and Uncle Mike’s make some good, solid pocket holsters in different sizes. The advantage to this type of holster is that you can grip your gun and prepare for a very fast draw if trouble seems likely without arousing any suspicion since it looks like you have your hands in your pocket.
And if you prefer something other than a .380 ACP pistol, for just a slight uptick in size, pocket pistols are available in larger calibers. Pocket holsters are not limited to semi-autos however, and there are several that will fit small frame revolvers as well. Some are also designed to accommodate guns with lasers attached. The squared-off design of pocket holsters prevents the gun shape from printing through pants material and, even if it does, it could be explained away as a wallet. Pocket holsters also all feature some type of tacky polymer or rubber material on the exterior so the holster stays in your pocket when the gun is drawn.
If you prefer, you can use your standard waistband holster. Just make sure you have a light garment to keep it concealed-this may prove difficult or too hot to wear in the summer. One option I like for waistband carry that provides total concealment with no covering garment is the Sneaky Pete Holsters “Cell Phone” case. It has the appearance of a leather cell phone case but provides instant access to a small-size pistol.
Another popular option is to use an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster. With the gun and holster riding inside the pants, only the grip of the gun is exposed, keeping it mostly concealed. The gun also rides much closer to the body, helping to prevent printing against clothing and revealing the gun. Still, it is advisable to wear a loose covering that is long enough to keep the gun concealed when you raise your arms or won’t print when you bend over.
Inside-the-waistband carry requires clothing a bit larger than normal. It is a good idea to purchase pants that have a slightly looser fit to accommodate for the room the gun takes up. Also required are loose covering garments such as button shirts or T-shirts one size larger. Several manufacturers sell short-sleeve button shirts with extra room and access flaps to provide for quick access.
The next decision is between tucked and untucked. In many settings, walking around with an untucked shirt is not appropriate, especially in professional settings. Fortunately many holster manufacturers have developed tuckable IWB holsters. These feature extended clips that leave a deep gap between the top of the clip that goes outside the belt and the bottom of the clip that attaches to the holster.
You can tuck your shirt over the gun and into the clip. From the outside all that is visible is the belt clip. Of course, manufacturers have also devised clips that fit between your pants and your belt, which exposes only the small portion that hooks onto the belt.
It may also be a good idea to wear an undershirt with waistband or IWB carry, as this will help keep sweat off your gun and help prevent chaffing. Some IWB holsters, such as those from Crossbreed have extended backings that protect the gun from you, and you from the gun, so you don’t have to wear an undershirt if you don’t want to.
Keep in mind that this is going to slow down your draw as you will need to pull your shirt out of your pants to access your gun. Re-holstering won’t be any easier, as you will need to find a discreet place where you can tuck your shirt back into your pants.
A bellyband holster, basically an elastic band with a pocket, is another option for deep concealment with crossdraw carry. You only have to undo a few buttons on your shirt to gain access, or rip them if in a hurry.
With most small-concealed carry guns, you end up sacrificing ammunition capacity for size and weight. This makes it all the more important to try and carry a spare magazine or speed strip for a revolver. Spare magazines and speed strips can be carried loose, but the preferable way is in a separate pocket away from keys, change and other junk. I prefer speed strips over speedloaders because they lay flat in my pocket and still provide a fast revolver reload. Several manufacturers also produce small single stack magazine holders for waistband carry. Since these are fairly innocuous it is less necessary to keep them concealed.
The truly prepared individual will need to keep gun and spare ammo concealed, and carry a cell phone to call for help, a pocket knife, a small high output flashlight and if possible some sort of self-defense spray. All of these items are available in smaller versions for summertime carry. Remember to stay cool and safe no matter what the weather.