For more than a decade, I’ve carried concealed and competed in area matches. Now I’m an instructor.
As a practitioner and teacher of concealed carry and gun handling, there are a handful of errors that don’t surprise me anymore. Some, I made myself and now witness others doing the same.
This article is an attempt to help others learn from typical mistakes of new concealed carriers.
1. Choosing a gun that’s too complicated.
I tend to agree with a comment made in a class I took earlier this year with Rob Pincus of Personal Defense Network: “It’s 2017. You should have a gun that goes bang without you having to do anything but press the trigger.”
His comment was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the sentiment is valid. Safety is the result of observance of muzzle-and-finger discipline first, and a good holster that covers the trigger guard second. In light of the handful of drop-safe manufacturing issues in recent years, selecting a model with a solid reputation in that department earns a place on the safety checklist, too.
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In that high-stress moment that the gun is carried to address, the ability of the mind to tell the fingers to do things like disengage a safety lever is greatly diminished. Likewise, many people commit accuracy errors on that initial long trigger pull that is the correct firing procedure on a double/single action handgun. The KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle should apply when choosing a lifesaving product.
This advice will make some fans of certain platforms scoff. I love my 1911 as much as the next person, but I’ve also tested myself with it in competition and have experienced a couple moments in which my finger “forgot” to disengage the safety lever. Lesson learned.
2. Blowing the bank on the first holster.
It’ll likely be necessary to experiment with various methods of carry before settling on one that suits your lifestyle. That holster that had great reviews in the magazine, or was praised by a friend who carries, and perhaps cost over $100, may not suit your daily habits.
What does “suit your lifestyle” mean? It means the gun/holster setup must be comfortable enough to wear for the typical hours you spend doing things typical for your day. Examples: people who have to bend from the waist a lot will find “printing” of the gun to be a problem if they carry inside the waistband, behind the midline. Women who wear dresses may find that carrying on-body means choosing a gun that’s much smaller than what they’d prefer, as models that fit comfortably and safely in thigh or bra holsters are limited.
Retention of the gun in the holster is a consideration. If your job involves climbing trees or on and off roofs, for example, the ability of the holster to not allow the gun to slide out without your help is critical. Velcro is a popular retention device, but is noisy—a potential risk in some situations.
Above all, the holster must prevent penetration of the trigger guard by any outside object, whether the gun is worn on the body or off. Choices abound; it’s wise to keep an open mind and try several rigs until you find one that’s ideal for you.
3. Yakking about your armed status.
It’s very tempting to talk about your gun, choice of holster, licensure and experiences as a concealed carrier, especially in the workplace. A few workplaces nurture a culture friendly to self-protection; many more do not. Conversations, even among trusted friends or coworkers, can increase your risk for burglary when inside-circle stories about firearms are inevitably shared outside of that circle. A staggering number of people have a close relative who is substance-dependent and possibly motivated to steal.
Likewise, boasting about your armed status via gun stickers or catchy sayings stuck on your car or front lawn also may increase the likelihood of a car or home burglary when you’re not around. In a recent survey of Oregon inmates convicted of burglary, signs like “due to the price of ammo, don’t expect a warning shot” repelled about half of would-be burglars. Others reported they view such signs as an advertisement of where to snatch guns when the homeowner is away.
Braggadocio should be reserved for supportive circles, and not T-shirts, public social media posts, or even the interior of your AR-15’s dust cover. Unfortunately, wearing or otherwise promoting somewhat tongue-in-cheek statements, the kind about self-defense commonly found in gun-owner circles, are often cited as legal evidence the gun owner was looking for a fight. While gun owners should not have to kowtow to the whims of anti-gunners, the fact is, public statements about gun use may well be used to your detriment in court.
These three “mistakes” will surely not meet with agreement of everyone. I hope it gives readers who are new to, or in their first years of daily carry, food for thought as they navigate decisions about defensive living.
What mistakes would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below: