New to Concealed Carry - The Essentials You Should Know
There are a number of things to be aware of before you strap that gun on and walk around town.
Selecting a realistic size Every Day Carry (EDC) gun.
You are going to want a smaller sub-compact firearm to comfortably conceal carry every day.
It’s not uncommon for someones first firearm purchase to be a full size gun. Full size guns typically have a 5” - 6” barrel and hold anywhere from 12-18 rounds of ammo. These firearms are a common first purchase due to their size, weight and feel in the holder’s hands.
A full size gun is great to shoot and are often preferred when at the range. However they are not fantastic guns to carry in terms of comfort and concealment.
While a full size gun is great for home protection it is usually difficult to conceal and conceal comfortably.
Typically concealed carry guns are best when they are a compact size or smaller. Compact firearms are usually about a 4” barrel.
Most concealed carry holders will recommend a sub-compact, those are also the most popular firearms to carry every day. At roughly 3” in barrel length and a lot of options for single stack (making your gun thinner) these are a great option for a comfortable all day carry.
You’d be surprised how well these firearms shoot, and how accurate you will be with just a few fun trips to the range.
What to consider when selecting a caliber weapon to carry.
It sounds obvious but hitting your target is the number one thing to consider when selecting which caliber you want your firearm to be. As obvious as that is time and time again people simply go for the biggest bullet because they know it usually has the most “stopping power”.
While stopping power is important accuracy will trump it every time.
A small .45 caliber weapon takes more practice to become accurate than a small .380. The .45 will usually have more of a kick-back when fired and hitting a moving target running at you under stress is going to be even more difficult.
Many professionals carry a 9mm with good quality ammo because it is the best of both worlds, it has great stopping power and a lot less kick than a .40 or .45.
That means you are far more likely to hit your target under stress.
Know the law
First and foremost make sure you are legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon. Simply because you live in a state that is open carry does not mean you are allowed to conceal a firearm.
Most states require a CCW license to conceal carry. You also need to see if there is anything to be aware of in your state concerning concealed carry as not every city or county has the same laws.
You especially need to know, even if you have a CCW, what the reciprocity laws are between state lines. Many states have different laws and if you are traveling outside of your licensed state you may inadvertently break a law you are unaware of.
Finally always have your CCW license with you if you are carrying. If you get pulled over without a drivers license you may get a $5 fine if the officer wants to fine you. If you are in a situation where you need to produce your CCW license and are unable to do so you may be facing criminal charges. Always keep your CCW license with you, and just to be safe it’s a good idea to have a photo of it saved in your phone as well.
Which ammo to carry
Full metal jackets are for the range, good quality hollow-points are for your personal protection and should be in your carry weapon. Professionals may feel a difference but most people can not distinguish shooting a full metal jacket vs a hollow point that are the same grain and caliber.
When you are at the range shoot the full metal jackets (or similar) to get more bang for your practicing buck. Then when you’re leaving the range put the hollow-points back in the firearm for your personal protection as they will have far superior stopping power over the range ammo.
That Designer or Department Store Belt Will Not Work
A good quality belt is imperative to conceal carry. Belts are not a common thing people spend time on when deciding which one to purchase. However when you conceal carry a quality CCW heavy-duty gun belt is just as important as your holster selection.
With a standard belt you’ll find the biggest problems are wear, lack of anchoring, and an impediment to your draw. If you are adding a 3-6 pound weapon onto a thin and typically cheaply imported and constructed belt, it will break the belt down even faster. Most notice their belt starts to fall apart in 4-6 months. Then that $20 belt becomes a regular purchase two or three times a year.
A quality gun belt will easily last you 5 to 15 years even with a loaded firearm on it.
In addition to longevity a quality gun belt will help with your draw. You want your firearm to stay firmly close to your body at all times. A standard belt will quickly sag leaving your firearm hanging away from your body.
Also, when it is time to draw the gun needs to leave the holster immediately. That can’t happen as easily or as quickly if a sagging belt is coming up with the holster as the firearm is trying to be drawn. A quality heavy-duty gun belt will act as a strong anchor when drawing your firearm from the holster, ensuring you have a consistent and fast draw every time.
Practice your Draw
Every day people go to the range to perfect their aim with their firearm. But many forget that the aim of your firearm is only as good as you first being able to get it out of the holster.
Drawing a weapon under stress needs to be second nature and nothing but muscle memory. You should not be spending that split second wondering where you holstered your firearm and how you’re currently dressed. Many people fail under stress simply getting their firearm out of their holster. Typically because they don’t get their clothing out of the way first.
It is best to practice your draw randomly throughout the week while at home. You should always practice with the firearm unloaded. From a resting state pick a spot on the wall and immediately draw the firearm to see where your aim lines up. This helps maintain your muscle memory for your draw and your aim.
Practice at the range
Shooting is a sport and millions of people enjoy it. It can also save your life. There aren’t a lot of activities you can do for fun that enhance your safety and security. Going to the range should be a regular occurrence. We know schedules can get hectic and budgets need to be kept so realistically if you are able to go to the range once a month you’re doing more than most. A few hours at the range can be a great night out for at or under a hundred bucks.
Be aware of unsafe holsters
One of the most important aspects of your every day carry is selecting a holster. It is imperative that a holster has safety feature in it, and nothing is more important than covering that trigger guard. If you have access to the trigger while the gun is fully holstered don’t buy that holster. Not only is this exposing the trigger during your every day wear, increasing your risk of an accidental discharge, it is also a safety hazard when you are drawing under stress.
Never Ever, Ever put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to destroy the thing you are aiming at. Even if you are picking up an unloaded firearm or even a fake toy gun you should never have your finger on the trigger. This creates poor muscle memory and means in a stressful situation you will likely pull the trigger before hitting your target, possibly at yourself or someone near the perpetrator.
Wear appropriate clothing
Many holsters are difficult to conceal and require larger, baggier clothing. Wear your holster around the house the first day you have it to make sure your shirts aren’t accidentally going over your the holster exposing the grip of the firearm. This happens often just from moving around or standing up from a seated position. A lot of below-waistband style holsters such as the G2 concealed carry holster (shameless plug) prevent this so you can wear your normal clothing rather than having to dress around your gun.
Being Armed doesn’t mean you Shouldn’t Avoid Danger
Yes, it is nice to know that you are armed and feel confident walking down that dark alley. No, you shouldn’t walk down that dark alley just because you’re armed. If there’s another way without danger that is always the best route. Carry every day, be confident, but be smart.