Is it a good idea to rotate your carry gun? Or should you stick with the same flavor every day?
Many believe you should rotate your carry gun based on the season or the situation. For example, during the winter months, when you typically wear one or two outer layers such as a vest and a coat, this will allow most folks to easier conceal a larger handgun. When spring comes, you’re typically still wearing a coat and the same can be said for the fall. It’s the summertime that makes concealing a large, or sometimes any, handgun harder. Often, when the weather is hot, some will transition to a smaller handgun in order to make carrying easier and more comfortable.
Is that a good idea?
It could be argued that carrying different handguns at different times isn’t a good idea because when you need to employ that handgun the action needs to be, well, almost instinctive.
There’s some logic to support this. If you carry a full-size 1911 from the fall through the spring, and then switch to a Diamondback DB9 during the summer, under the stress of a violent encounter you might fumble with the grip of the smaller handgun or possibly forget to disengage the safety on the larger. Either could be disastrous.
On the other hand, if you insist on carrying your full-size 1911 during the summer, you might have to wear extra clothing and be uncomfortable—or even look out of place. And, too, you might forego the carrying of that big pistol during times of oppressive heat to be more comfortable. None of this is good, and all of this can be more complicated due to the lifestyle you live.
If for every workday you wear a suit, the concealment of any handgun is made easier, as long as you leave that suit jacket on. Few of us have such a uniformed attire we adhere to on an all-day—every day—basis. There will be times during our professional and personal lives where we’ll be dressed in a way that makes the concealment of a large handgun, and sometimes any handgun, near impossible. Because of this, many have more than one handgun they rely on for concealed carry.
For example, let’s say you picked up one of the new Springfield Armory SA-35 pistols and it’s become your daily carry handgun. However, you like to run around the neighborhood or through the park each evening after work. A fanny pack is a great concealment device for athletic endeavors, but not only will you struggle to find one large enough for the SA-35, having 2-plus pounds bouncing on your waist as your jog around the lake is almost as uncomfortable as the fat you’re trying to lose.
Training Trumps All
Of course, the key to relying on different handguns and carry methods is training. Not only should you be making frequent visits to the range with every handgun you might be carrying concealed, but you should also be spending time practicing drawing that handgun from the holster or fanny pack you’ll be carrying it in. If you decide you must use a handgun to save your life, the first thing you must do is get that handgun out and into the fight.
Imagine carrying a Glock 17 inside the waistband all winter and spring, and then two days after switching to a Ruger LCP in an ankle holster for early summer carry, you’re confronted with a threat. Will you instinctively know where to reach for your handgun, and will you instinctively realize the different mechanics of employing that different handgun?
I’m not against using different carry guns because I realize that different situations call for different answers. However, I do believe there are some ways you can simplify these answers to keep application under stress as uncomplicated as possible.
For starters, avoid relying on carry guns that are vastly different. For example, if you’re going to most frequently carry a Glock 19, inside the waistband, then it would make sense to have a smaller Glock, such as a G26 or G43, for when deeper concealment is needed. If you carry a 1911 or Hi-Power most often, then select a smaller handgun that also has a manual thumb safety.
The other thing you can do is limit the ways you carry a handgun. There are a lot of options here that include inside the waistband, appendix carry, outside the waistband, cross-draw, shoulder holsters, pocket carry, ankle carry and fanny packs. Pick two or three methods you can employ based on the season, the situation and the gun, and stick with them. Find good holsters that allow for comfort and concealment and avoid the temptation to change anything unless the circumstances absolutely demand it.
And, of course—most importantly—train and practice.
If you can make it through from fall to spring until you must transition to a different handgun, when you do so, spend some extra time working with that handgun on the range and from the holster. If you must switch more frequently, each day or every time you gear up, take the time to conduct some presentations—in a safe place with an unloaded gun of course—from your carry mode with the handgun you will be carrying. This only takes a couple minutes, but it allows you to better wrap your brain around the method in which you will go about armed. In fact, this is a good practice every time you put on your gun.
Simple Is Always Better
Ideally, we’d all be better served if we could always carry the same gun, in the same way, all the time. With some of the new ultra-compact pistols like the S&W CSX, this is becoming a more realistic option. Many of the ultra-compact pistols of today are chambered for the 9mm and are small enough to easily conceal, even when you’re not dressed for a blizzard.
For those who feel more comfortable carrying a fighting-size pistol when they can, it’s an unrealistic expectation. It’s nice to fantasize that we’re a highly trained, John Wick-like weapon, who is intimately familiar with every firearm and wickedly lethal with its employment. None of us are that guy.
The simpler you keep your carry rotation, the better.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2022 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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