Down here, in America’s Deep South, we have the prettiest girls and friendliest gun laws in the nation, especially for concealed carry. However, we pay for it every summer with triple-digit temperatures and humidity adequate to allow you to tear off a chunk of air and gnaw it. In such an environment, it just isn’t practical to gird up with a bunch of extraneous clothing intended to conceal the latest, greatest pocket howitzer.
After several decades of hot weather experience under my belt, I’ve gotten pretty good at packing heat underneath nothing more than shorts and a T-shirt. With warm weather just a few months away, it seemed a good time to explore the subject.
Carrying a lethal weapon for personal defense in a concealed carry situation is no sophomoric pursuit. If you choose to assume responsibility for your security, you should do it right. That means a little research into the gear, (you’re obviously doing that already) and enough practice to become proficient.
Just like tying your shoes, typing on a keyboard or sinking a putt, presenting and firing a handgun accurately and well require muscle memory. That means repetition. If your circumstances are such that you will be using different weapons or techniques for different circumstances, you should practice with each until they become second nature.
THE ART OF THREAT ASSESSMENT
Life is all about playing the odds.
Statistics perfuse modern medicine, my day job. Common things occur commonly. This means you can typically apply a spot of rational logic and at least estimate what life might most likely bring you on any given day. As regards concealed carry, this means a threat assessment.
I live in the geographic middle of no place. If I am walking up the hill to check the mail, my potential threats might include feral dogs or the errant opportunistic bandit. If I am taking my gorgeous bride out on a date, my possible hazards might include an armed robber or, lamentably, the archetypal lone psychotic lunatic with a death wish. If I have business in the city, muggers, terrorists or comparable ilk might be the threat du jour. Each circumstance demands a customized approach.
THREAT LEVEL “GREEN”
For that slog out to the mailbox, I want a gun that is just grab and go. I don’t want to have to gird my loins with gun leather or fire up my lumbago. For convenient, painless, around-the-farm utility carry, I opt for a North American Arms mini-revolver.
North American Arms guns are, in a word, adorable. The smallest of the lot launch .22 Shorts. They are too small for normal human hands and too underpowered for serious social applications. However, my NAA .22 Short micro-gun does look pretty awesome hanging on the wall of the gun room next to the Desert Eagle. By contrast, the bigger brother in .22 Magnum is a legitimate defensive tool not always conducive to concealed carry clothing.
My gun has interchangeable cylinders. .22 LR is for practice; .22 Magnum is for real. I fit my piece with a pivoting grip that covers the trigger when stowed. I can extend the grip and deploy the gun one handed in a matter of seconds. The little pistol is single action only, and there are notches between the rounds in the cylinder that allow the hammer to rest safely in the relaxed position. The gun is not terribly accurate beyond bad breath range, but if your target is lurking a football field away, you should have brought a different tool. When stoked with Winchester PDX1 Defender personal defense loads, the .22 Magnum will reliably bring the pain.
A properly stoked NAA revolver rides comfortably loose in your pocket so you literally don’t know it is there. No defensive firearm solution is more comfortable. You don’t get a whole lot of stopping power, relatively speaking, but the NAA revolver lets you pack heat comfortably in anything more substantial than a loincloth.
For a quick jaunt up the hill to check the mail, a North American Arms mini-revolver is plug-and-play. With a pivoting handgrip, the gun is safe to tote, quick to fetch and easy to run. The grip deploys one-handed during the draw stroke (with a spot of practice).
THREAT LEVEL “YELLOW”
For the quick errand into town or an informal meal with my spouse, I want something with a bit more power even in a concealed carry getup. This usually means a .380 ACP pocket pistol. I have seen several miscreants shot (and a couple killed) with the .380 ACP. However, if you want quick incapacitation, you will need a good gun, good ammo and proper shot placement.
If you pack a semiautomatic pistol loose in your pocket—a controversial practice, to say the least—you’ll need to keep the chamber empty and practice charging the gun on the draw stroke. I once saw an unfortunate gentleman in an urban emergency room who was fumbling in his right front pocket for his cigarettes and inadvertently touched off his pocket pistol. The round narrowly missed his manhood and ended up inside the joint capsule of his left knee. He was not a happy gangbanger when the orthopedists had to fish that bullet out of his knee. Among tales of concealed carry woes, don’t be that guy.
A more civilized option is a pocket holster from Remora Holsters. These nifty rigs are sticky on the outside and smooth on the inside. They keep your weapon properly oriented for easy access, shield the triggers against accidental discharge and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. I use a Remora pocket holster to pack my .380 ACP Glock 42 with a Lasermax micro tactical light. This setup will fill your entire front pocket but provides some remarkable low-light tactical capability in exchange for a trivial penalty in weight and bulk.
I once met a gentleman who carried a .380 ACP Colt Mustang in Condition 1 (a round in the chamber, hammer back and safety on) loose in his right front pocket. Even now, thinking about that makes my skin crawl. He hasn’t shot himself yet; but for goodness’ sake, please use sound judgement. Always balance tactical proficiency against safety. Regardless of how you carry, practice drawing and firing in this state until you get good at it. A lot is riding on this. Your accident rate has got to be exactly zero.
The Glock G42 in .380ACP packs six rounds in its box magazine and rides comfortably in a Remora pocket holster. With practice, the draw is smooth and fast. And with a Lasermax light module installed, this tiny pocket pistol actually offers some remarkably capable low-light performance.
THREAT LEVEL “RED”
There are times you will inevitably have to wander into the sorts of places where the “wild things” are. That could simply mean heading into the city on business. When I toiled at an inner-city hospital, it meant just driving into work every day—frequently with the sounds of gunfire detectable above the sound of my car radio. Regardless, when the odds of encountering the world’s parasitic bottom feeders are highest, you’ll want to be properly prepared. This means a decent gun kept readily accessible in your concealed carry outfit.
The Tru-Spec 24-7 series Short Sleeve Concealed Carry Shirt is a multipurpose piece of carry gear built into a form-fitting sport garment. The shirt is 85 percent polyester and 15 percent spandex for that tight fit made popular by today’s generation of modern sportswear. Bilateral, mesh-reinforced pockets accommodate right- or left-handed users and help mask your weapon’s profile.
The shirt is designed for small- to medium-framed weapons, but it can manage full-sized service pistols, as well. The shirt carries your handgun on one side, offset on the other by spare magazines, electronics or a modest first aid kit. The shirt incorporates TRU-DRI moisture-wicking technology, flat-lock seams to mitigate chafing and a robust design that distributes weight across the shoulders.
In hot areas, the 24-7 Short Sleeve Concealed Carry Shirt still needs a bulky cover shirt. This can be a loose, open-front collared shirt with either long or short sleeves. I typically go out with a long-sleeved shirt on top, even in sweltering weather, just for the sun protection.
An Alien Gear IWB holster, along with some oversized shorts and a decent belt, allows you to pack a full-sized service pistol underneath shorts and a T-shirt. The holster will ride against your bare skin, but its neoprene construction protects both the gun and your sensitive anatomy.
LOW-LIGHT POCKET POWER
No other single individual in modern times has shaped the tactical handgun world more than Gaston Glock. His utilitarian sidearms introduced the planet to the polymer pistol frame and striker-fired trigger. Now, deep into the Information Age, Glock handguns are available in myriad shapes, sizes and calibers.
Glock was a bit late hopping aboard the .380ACP pocket pistol train, but its G42 shrinks all that is good about full-sized Glock service pistols to something that will ride comfortably in your pocket. The magazine holds six rounds, and the trigger is the same 5.5-pound Safe Action mechanism found on other standard Glock pistols.
Lasermax built its business around serious laser and illumination accessories for tactical firearms. This company’s guide rod lasers replace the guide rods of your favorite tactical pistols at literally no penalty in weight and bulk. The white light module these lasers produce for the G42 wraps around the gun as if it were born there.
The Lasermax G42 weapon light melts around the host pistol to dissolve any pesky corners. It sports a recoil-proof, 115-lumen LED white light that is selectable between “constant on” and “strobe” functions. The intuitive tap on/tap off switch is easy to use, even when stressed, and the light uses powerful lithium CR-2 batteries. The resulting combination offers room-clearing, low-light flexibility—all in a package that will ride comfortably inside the front pocket of your jeans.
If you are serious about survival, you should also be serious about fitness. You need not be a world-class marathon runner, but if you are 100 pounds overweight, you will likely keel over from a coronary in a crisis before you can get to your weapon out of its concealed carry holster anyway. If this describes you, then push away from the table, get some exercise and take care of yourself. It is much easier to hide a gun on a thin frame than on a fat one.
Just because it is hot outside doesn’t mean you can’t stay prickly. Think through possible scenarios, pick the right gun and gear, and practice until you can be serious with it. Then just kick back and enjoy some warm, sunny weather—secure in the fact that you can protect yourself and your family, come what may
Alien Gear Holsters (208) 215-2046
Crossbreed Holsters (888) 732-5011
Glock, Inc. (770) 432-1202
LaserMax (800) 527-3703
North American Arms (801) 821-5783
Remora Holster Store (239) 434-7200
Tru Spec (844) 256-8435
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the March 2017 print issue of American Survival Guide.