Have Gun, Will Travel

In addition to being a Western TV series in the late 1950's, "Have Gun, Will Travel" describes many of us today. This isn't new for gun folks, but it may have become more complicated with the state of current affairs relative to mobs, riots, and general unrest. I have some ideas on that.

First, make the commitment to take at least one firearm with you when you travel. We all know that the police won't be there when you need protection. Your safety depends on you. You are, in fact, your own first responder.

First, make sure you know the laws where you will be traveling. Your concealed carry permit may be honored in many states, but don't assume. Go to Hand Gun Law (CLICK HERE) to verify. Drill down to details. Your state may offer more than one type of carry permit, and some states may not honor all options. For instance, some states will not honor a Checkout the newSpringfield Armory XD-M Elite for carrying while you travel.lifetime permit from another state. Check on it.

How to Carry

On your person is always best. If you must get out of your car or truck in a hurry, you'll have your gun with you if it is attached to you -- think holster. Think of how you can carry and still draw. I like the 3:00 O'Clock belt carry. I practice drawing while sitting behind the steering wheel. Try this method: (Assuming the handgun is on your right side), slap your belly with your left hand and slide it UNDER the shoulder harness. Use your left hand to release the buckle on the shoulder/lap belt. Draw with your right hand, but DO NOT POINT THE MUZZLE AT YOUR LEGS when you move the muzzle to the driver's side window. Place the slide of the pistol against the outside of the steering wheel and slide it up and over the wheel as a way to keep the muzzle away from your legs.

For a full or midsize pistol such as the XD series from Springfield Armory, a belt holster works great. Some experienced travelers favor an ankle holster (in place of or in addition to a belt gun). A micro compact like the Hellcat sits comfortably in an ankle holster.  A right-handed shooter puts the pistol on the inside of the left ankle, and now you can draw by bringing your foot up a bit and reaching down for the handgun.

Serious trainers and gunnies now often travel with an AR-15 pistol. I don't know about you, but if I were faced with a dozen or more loonies trying to break out the windows of my car and drag me and my family into the street, I'd sure like the power and capacity of something like the Saint Victor AR pistol. This may sound strange, but having shot from inside cars during training, I think I'd keep a pair of electronic ear muffs in the center console and put them on if it looked like I might get assaulted by such a mob.

Now, let's talk security. You simply cannot leave firearms in your vehicle -- certainly not overnight. Even if you have a number of guns (as I often do), you have to take them into the hotel. Thieves target cars in hotel parking lots. PRO TIP: Don't use cases which look like gun cases. A soft case that looks like it holds an AR-15 is just going to tip off a hotel employee, who may inform you the company has a no-guns policy. I take a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" approach, and there's no need to invite additional scrutiny. Use deceptive camouflage by putting stickers on your hard cases proclaiming your affiliation with surfboards, guitars, etc.

On the issue of hard cases, understand that when traveling through a state which doesn't honor your permit, you may be legal with the gun loose in your car, but you may have to lock it up in order to be legal. It's up to you to know the laws and to comply.

One more thought: Caliber. For protection from human predators, I'm comfortable with 9mm and larger. Travel might take you to places where you add in four-legged predators. This summer I'm spending my time in the West, and I routinely carry a 10mm auto. Last year I bought the XD in 10mm. It shoots great, but I'll admit it's pretty big, and with you fill the magazine with 15 rounds, it's a bit heavy. Not bad with a good holster and belt, but I find myself gravitating back to the 1911 platform. The RO Elite Operator or TRP Operator Springfields shoot like a dream. When they first came out we had Springfield Armory RO Operator is a great option when looking to carry when traveling. a ball shooting with Rob Leatham at ranges up to 300 yards with them. Why? Because we had the room, the guns, and the ammo, and someone asked, "What if?" That was enough. A 10mm with deep-penetrating ammo is a good option for bear protection. I carry mine loaded with one type of ammo (depending on where I will be), but I carry two extra mags on my belt. They have different types of ammo. Options.

Travel is generally safe, just like everything else we do. Well, it is until it isn't, and there won't be much warning.  Get training (consider a vehicle defense course), have your gun with you all the time, know the laws, secure your guns when not in your immediate control, and be willing to go out of your way to avoid places where you think you'll be more likely to need a gun for protection. ~ Tom

Tom Gresham
Author, outdoorsman, gun rights activist, and firearms enthusiast for more than five decades, Tom Gresham hosts Tom Gresham's Gun Talk, the first nationally-syndicated radio show about guns and the shooting sports, and is also the producer and co-host of the Guns & Gear, GunVenture and First Person Defender television series.