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Concealed Carry Tips for this Holiday Season

Brace yourselves because winter is coming, and with it comes the holiday season, a magical time of festivities, special dinners and observances, and ample time spent at family gatherings. (Which is disgusting.) However, the holidays and the winter season bring with them the requisite adjustment needed for concealed carry in winter.

There are also some additional things to bear in mind for the holiday season regarding concealed carry beyond the practicalities of winter carry.

Here's what you should know about concealed carry during the holidays.

Concealed Carry Practice Should Include Drawing From Under Layers

Concealed carry practice at an indoor range, drawing from an OWB holster that you use for range work isn't without value. After all, you are getting the mechanics of drawing the pistol, presenting, getting the sight picture and then firing.

But where that kind of practice starts to fall short is that once winter enters the picture, most people are going to have additional layers to deal with. You'll have at least a winter coat, if not additional layers underneath it, which is something to be aware of when it comes to wintertime concealed carry.

That means you need to practice drawing from under multiple layers.

Shooting ranges can vary widely. Some are fairly casual, others are heavily regimented with range officers to deal with and the whole nine yards. Some allow drawing from a holster, some don't and this applies equally to indoor and outdoor ranges.

Public ranges don't have as many rules, and certainly don't have any ROs that you'll have to deal with...but they also won't have any amenities to speak of. You have to pack everything in and out.

In any case, you need to be at a range that allows for drawing from a holster. Just as with any other shooting technique, you should start slow and build up toward a faster draw. Remember: slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.

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Concealed Carry During Festivities

Another aspect of concealed carry during the holiday season is what to do during the various dinners, parties, get-togethers and other festivities.

At home, it's your choice. Many would consider a best practice is to keep a holstered handgun on you at all times. However, if you like to hang up your gun when you get home, a possibly alternative is to store your concealed carry gun in an easily-accessible location in a holster mount.

A decent holster mount can securely hold a gun in a hidden location with a bit of creativity. Just remember to keep it well out of the reach of little ones.

Naturally, if you're going to keep your gun on you, you'll need to carry in such a way that makes it possible to sit down while still wearing the gun and holster. You'll need to experiment with your carry rig to find what that is for you; some people do just fine carrying in the 2 o'clock position with an appendix carry holster and others need a traditional IWB somewhere further to the rear on the waistline. Whatever works best for you is what you should do.

If going to someone else's house, you should be aware of how they feel about guns and/or concealed carry.

If you know that you and your concealed pistol aren't welcome, then consider either leaving the gun in the car or possibly not attending.

Additionally, there's the topic of holiday cheers, meaning knocking back a few belts. Guns and alcohol don't mix, ever. If you're going to having a few glasses of mulled wine, a few beers or a stiff eggnog or two (and a high-test eggnog is a dandy libation) then your pistol needs to be off your person, whether you're at home or at a friend's house.

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Winter Carry Gun vs. Summer Carry Gun

Having a winter carry gun for the colder months and a summer carry gun for the warmer months is a fairly common practice. After all, variety is the spice of life and if anything it's a wonderful excuse to buy another gun!

There are two common purposes.

First, many people use the extra layers of wintertime and thus greater capacity for concealment as a means to carry a favored full-size pistol.

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This is when many people bring out their Glock 17, H&K VP9, 4-in S&W or - for the most discerning of people, brimming with good character and virtues - Government frame 1911 for use as a carry gun.

The other reason is that many believe sizing up in caliber is advantageous in winter time. The idea being that the extra layers pose extra barriers and therefore, a bigger bullet is called for.

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Is it?

Not necessarily. Additional layers of clothing can slow a bullet down a bit, which is why a lot of people in the past switch from, say, a compact 9x19mm or .38 Special snubby to their .45, .357 Magnum or 10mm in the winter.

The truth is that if you carry a quality hollowpoint, an extra layer of clothing or two isn't going to make a whole lot of difference. That said, if you have a favored pistol that you want to carry when you have the opportunity, go ahead. A lot of people do, so there's nothing wrong with that at all.

Switch To OWB Holster For Easier Concealment

There are likely a number of people out there who conceal with an IWB holster because it's the most reliable way to conceal a handgun, but would a wear an OWB holster if given the choice. During the winter months, concealment with an OWB holster is much easier than during the warmer months. After all, having more layers and outerwear can easily hide an OWB holster.

One may find that concealment is easier, as OWB holsters are often far easier to put on and take off than IWB holsters are. There are a great many OWB holster designs that are very easy to conceal, some with merely jeans and a t-shirt, but many require some sort of outerwear to effectively conceal.

There may be some experimentation required to dial your carry set-up in just right, but many people relish the easier concealment during cold weather.

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About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.