Summertime! And the Carrying is Harder
As much as we love to shed our heavy coats, shake off the winter and early springtime chill, and throw on shorts and tees to fend off the summer heat, there was one advantage of wearing all those extra clothes: easier concealed carry. With hot weather comes a mindset shift as we think about how to conceal a gun while wearing a whole lot less. It presents a challenge. What are the options?
There are two main concerns with summertime carry: printing (which is a concern all the time, but more so with thinner shirts) and how to carry the gun when you’re wearing shorts. Let’s tackle them in that order.
Obviously, you can’t wear a jacket or other heavy overgarment when it’s 100 degrees outside. Not only will you look like someone up to no good, but you’ll also sweat to death. But you can wear an unbuttoned button-down shirt over a t-shirt, look like a regular person enjoying the warmer weather, and cover your gun. The key here is that the over shirt should have at least a mild pattern to break up the outline of the gun underneath. Also, it’s a good idea to sew a tiny bit of weight into the hem of the shirt – not much, just enough to keep it from blowing open in the breeze, revealing your gun.
If you’re not into the unbuttoned shirt look, try t-shirts or polos that are one size too big. The extra girth around the midsection will help drape over the gun, and the added length will help keep it covered when you sit or move around.
A point of pride for many concealed carriers is the size of their gun. While it sounds cool to say you can conceal a Glock 17 or another large frame in the summer, and it’s nice to have the added rounds in the bigger gun, reality says that’s a pretty tough challenge. And though conventional wisdom might encourage carrying the same gun all year long – for familiarity and consistency – the fact is it’s harder to conceal a big gun in the summer, when there’s less material to hide it. Carrying a smaller gun might be the most practical (albeit ego-busting) solution. Find the gun that best suits your summertime carry needs and then gear up and train up so you can carry safely.
Carrying the Gun
Experienced carriers know it’s easier to conceal with an IWB than an OWB. That’s not to say you can’t conceal in the summer with an OWB; it just takes a lot more planning and a really skinny holster. But all that aside, how do you keep a gun attached to you regardless of OWB or IWB when you’re wearing shorts?
If you wear jeans or tactical pants all summer, this won’t change much from the fall and winter. Your EDC setup will look the same. But if you wear shorts – especially athletic shorts – you’ll need to do a bit more planning ahead. Will you have a belt? If so, it should be a dedicated gun belt, either leather or thick nylon or an unconventional material, just like in the winter. Leather is a great option in cooler months but can cause a real problem when you sweat. (This holds for both leather belts and leather holsters.) Thick nylon is often a better option if you’re prone to excessive sweat, as it will hold its shape better when wet.
If your shorts are beltless, consider a belly band or other holster that doesn’t require a belt to stay attached to your shorts. These work great for going to the gym or out for a run, too.
Another option is to carry off-body. This certainly broadens your wardrobe selection, but it also poses its unique challenges.
First, you’ll need a bag equipped to carry a gun, complete with a holster that completely covers the trigger and trigger guard so the gun won’t accidentally fire while buried in the bag or when you reach in to draw. One great solution is a Kydex holster affixed to a hook-and-loop backer that won’t move around inside the compartment, so your gun is exactly where you need it if the situation merits deadly action.
Second, you must maintain control of your bag at all times. No exceptions. You have to know where your bag is – preferably on your body – every moment. Never let your bag get out of reach and certainly never let it get out of sight. If you do, now the bad guy not only has your bag – with wallet, keys, ID, etc. – but also your gun. Congratulations, you’re now unarmed.
Summer Carry for Women
Woman have a distinct advantage over men when it comes to summer carry. First of all, women who carry consistently have likely studied the best way to do so all year long and found a single way that works through all four seasons. Thanks to extensive use of belly bands, yoga pants with built-in carry pouches, and bra holsters, women’s needs don’t change much in warmer weather. You’re probably good to go all year long. If you’re a woman who prefers off-body carry, you’ve probably figured out the best way to carry in your purse or backpack. So the good news for women is summer carry requires very little, if any, adjustment. Keep doing what works for you already.
Just Do It
Hot weather carry is easy with the right gear and some extra planning. Don’t let your lighter wardrobe stop you from protecting yourself and the ones you love. ~ David Workman, Propper International