One of the things that has always irked me is that most concealed carry gear, clothing, and training, as well as articles you read on the subject, is based on the assumption that we all live in a sissy climate like California. By contrast, I live where there’s real weather – I recall a few recent years where it was minus 20 during the day for a couple weeks at a time (colder at night). Now that’s not pleasant, and I’m absolutely green with envy at those Californians (at least weather-wise), but it’s reality for most of us. (OTOH, we get 95-degrees/95% humidity here for a couple weeks, too, which I probably hate more.)
Friend Marcus Wynne lives in Minneapolis now. Look at the screen shot of his local weather from a few days ago, and then look at his selfie from that morning below that.
This is reality. In an effort to un-metrosexual, un-Californicate and generally go all Dr. Phil (“Let’s get real!) on this concealed carry thing, I asked Marcus for his thoughts on carrying concealed in such dystopian climes. I’ve edited his response (in italics) below. My own comments follow in plain text.
Selection of weapon. Given that any weapon you carry is going to have to either be staged in an outer layer or got to from beneath several layers, consider carefully your choice of weapon and holster. If you have to dig through multiple layers of clothing, or conceal in an outer pocket, and present while wearing gloves the advantages of a double-action snub nosed revolver, or a DA/SA semi-auto with a heavy first pull will become apparent. A single action weapon or a striker fired weapon is exponentially more likely to experience a ND if you are a) drawing under stress or duress (like after being slugged) b) from beneath multiple layers that can foul or catch a trigger c) being fired from, through or beneath multiple layers d) while wearing gloves. If you do choose to carry your striker fired or lighter trigger pull weapon, do so in a holster, and stage a smaller weapons like a snub nosed revolver in an outer pocket or on your outer layer.
Holsters, etc: Extreme cold and bulky layers is where the much maligned shoulder holster shines for keeping your striker fired pistol or cool dude 1911 handy and safe. A quality shoulder holster can be worn beneath an outer layer jacket, and accessed more easily by zipping down, or staging down, the front zipper, than doing a tug up and clearing of your waistband when wearing multiple layers. You can keep your coat on in some places, or you could stage your gun underneath your second layer as well (like under a blazer, worn beneath an overcoat). Yes, that’s two layers to dive down through, but if you’re smart you’ll have a little snub nose in your outer layer pocket, and a small holster in your pants pocket to stage it into if you take your coat off (visit the restroom, stage your weapon, then go check your coat).
Clothing considerations: if you’re outside in this kind of cold, you’re likely wearing gloves. Practice shooting with your cold weather gloves. In very serious cold, I wear “lobster mitts” designed for cross country skiers — keeps your index finger and thumb free from your other fingers. Consider how you stage your weapons. The utility and flexibility of two j-frames, with a waistband holster, pocket holster, and/or ankle holster shines in these circumstances: you can have one in each outer coat pocket; when you go inside a restaurant or theater where you need to shed your outer layer, go first into the restroom and put one j-frame in your pocket, the other in your waistband or ankle or other pants pocket. When you leave, get your coat, visit the bathroom, stage your guns back into your outer pockets. Now, before somebody starts bleating BAD!! GUN HANDLING IN PUBLIC!!! BAD!! — if you can’t be trusted you safely stage two double action snub nosed revolvers from your holsters into capacious pockets while in a toilet stall, you shouldn’t be carrying weapons. If you go with your main belt gun, conceal it under your second layer and have an accessible outer layer gun to be staged as above. Remember to have a pocket holster or ankle holster to stash your second outer layer gun in; leaving a gun in your coat in the coat-check or hanging on a peg is irresponsible.
Other miscelleneous weapons: small short bladed knives are the cool kids choice for going with pistols/revolvers. I like them too, been carrying and using them for over 57 years. However, trying to stab/slash your way through multiple layers of clothing is pretty damn hard especially if you never have tried or tested your blade live. If you’re going with a small blade, a) test it on layers (there’s a reason homeless people and other street types wear layers and its not just for warmth, it’s also poor man’s body armor in an environment where stabbing via screwdriver, nail, knife, spike, shiv is common), b) train your targeting — most exposed targets for a knife at close quarters in cold are the face, eyes, the space above and below where most scarfs cover, groin, inner leg. That’s where the “armor” is thinnest. Make sure you got enough blade to make it work. The very short knives of 2-3 inches you have to really work to get through in an effective fashion those kind of layers, so go where the layers ain’t, or test and see how little effect “pressure cuts” have with short blades in those contexts. A four-inch blade is only slightly larger but really helps penetration but only if you square up and drive it home.
Environmental/awareness considerations: Multiple head layers with ski goggles, multiple body layers, gloves, etc. — these affect your situational awareness significantly.
- Extreme cold inhibits blood flow; if you get cold you get less smart. You notice less as well. In general you have less efficient cognitive processing the colder you get.
- You just can’t see as much if you are bundled up around your eyes and/or you wear goggles. Peripheral vision suffers
- You can’t hear as well if you’ve got multiple layers over your ears, which you need or they will freeze.
- General mobility is hindered by heavy clothes and often heavy boots/shoes
- The environment itself will cause you problems — ice and snow covered sidewalks are unstable platforms for grappling, punching, any kind of fast evasive or counter-attack movement. Bad guys who are out in the cold are aware of this, and one tactic I’ve seen is to follow people till they slow down on icy patches — they’re focused on their feet. The BGs come up on their blind side and just push them down – don’t even need to hit them, just push or tug them and down they go.
Criminal patterns: Oh the bad guys are out. Recent things in our weather: people being jacked for warm coats, especially designer ones. Homeless or drug users breaking into homes, exterior porches, garages for temporary shelter in cold or to shoot up and nod for awhile. The push down on ice. Hitting people at bus stops when everyone is huddled up and looking straight ahead and not behind them. All the classic team tactics of separating and distracting. So having an outer pocket with one hand on a weapon in cold weather is a fine practice and deterrent.
My comments now.
First, everything’s a compromise. Really bad weather significantly disadvantages you – you simply aren’t as aware or capable as those pretty dudes in California in their tight muscle shirts. Your job is to do a reasonable job of compensating, not to make things perfect.
Second, reduced awareness is your main enemy. Not much to say here except recognize this and ramp up your vigilance, especially around ice, crowds, etc.
Third – pocket carry shines here, as Marcus indicates. This is why God gave us snubbys. Marcus and I disagree about gloved shooting, though. Mainly I simply can’t shoot with gloves. If the gloves are so thin that I can get my finger inside the trigger guard, then they are too thin to provide any warmth. Further, even if I could manage to get my gloved finger in the trigger guard, I’d have so little trigger time with them on that it wouldn’t be safe or reliable. Also, I just don’t feel the gun well with gloves. So, I simply either have my ungloved hand on the gun in my pocket, or alternately, as part of my drawstroke, I simple grasp the glove finger ends of my right glove with my gloved left hand while I withdraw my right hand from the glove – it adds maybe .20 seconds to an already slow pocket-draw. Or if I need to unglove in order to get my hand on a pocketed gun, that’s not hard to do discreetly. Marcus responds that I simply don’t train enough with gloved shooting, which is certainly true, but frankly few people do and my workarounds seem prudent to me.
Fourth – knives. Like Marcus, I like knives. But they are extremely, extremely unlikely to be needed. The reason I kinda approve of the current craze for carrying one center-line on your belt is that a) it recognizes the possibility of a physical encounter, and b) it encourages you to train for one, but not because I see any real possibility of needing one. Plus, accessing one from the belt center line while bundled up is…unlikely. Pocket carry with a tether-line? Sure, if you want. But I’d rather see you carry OC in a pocket – for legal defenseability, and it’s much more likely to be needed.
If you like these kind of random tips consider supporting Marcus’ fiction career by taking advantage of his current book(s) promotion: One new book, one free book, one book on sale.
The new book incorporates lots of tactical tips in the actions of the characters in gunfights, weapons carriage and selection. Buy here: WYLDE BOOKS 1-3 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/912989
The free book is considered a classic in terms of understanding the deep psychology of high order practitioners of professional violence. Here: NO OTHER OPTION https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/56252
The book on sale combines excellent tactical tips with a high “woo woo” factor. Here: WARRIOR IN THE SHADOWS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/538353
On Smashwords you can download these books as .mobi files to read with the Kindle app or on any Kindle device, as well as in PDF and all other e-book formats. Sign up is free and they don’t spam you.