For Everything There Is A Season: Having A Winter Gun and Summer Gun
A fairly well-known practice within the concealed carry community is to have a winter gun and a summer gun. The idea is that winter brings more layers, which makes concealing a larger pistol easier AND may require a bigger bullet to penetrate the target. Conversely, summer requires dressing in fewer layers and thus a smaller pistol is required for easier concealment and ease of carry.
Diversity, after all, is a beautiful thing.
If you're going to carry a summer gun and then a winter carry pistol, there are few different things to look for in each, as well as in carry gear.
Choosing A Summer Gun
Living in an area that truly gets all four seasons or experiences significant heat in the summer basically mandates a smaller pistol for carry during that time of the year, as well as choosing appropriate carry gear - such as a neoprene-backed IWB holster - for hotter temperatures.
The fact is that summertime carry faces certain challenges that have to be overcome. The biggest are:
- Printing: a mere T-shirt or polo will print a full-size or large compact like crazy
- Sweating: a holster inside the waistband is going to make you sweat
That means choosing a pistol that can be concealed more easily. Naturally, subcompacts and micro pistols reign supreme for summertime carry. Additionally, carry gear has to be carefully selected for comfort. Leather holsters are wonderful, but in the sweltering heat they don't breathe well at all. This can create a hotspot against the skin.
Holsters, especially IWB holsters, should be as lightweight for comfort, but should also be as sweatproof as possible. Neoprene and other soft backings work well in this application. This is for comfort but is also to keep your firearm dry. Sweat is corrosive, and rust and other damage can occur if your firearm is exposed to sweat, with blued steel being the most susceptible.
Choosing A Concealed Carry Pistol For Summer Carry
When selecting a summer concealed carry pistol, there are certain attributes that you want to look for.
First, it has to be small enough to be easily concealed. Full-size pistols, being 7 or more inches in length, 5 or more inches in height, 1 inches or more in width and 3 or more pounds in weight fully loaded, are not very practical. Many compact pistols, even the venerable Glock 19, aren't the most conducive to summer concealment either, as compacts are often not much smaller than full-size pistols. In fact, some "compacts" are issued as duty weapons by police departments and militaries worldwide, while being marketed as concealed carry pistols in the U.S. market.
This isn't to say compact pistols like the Glock 19, CZ 75 Compact, Officer 1911 pistols and so on can't be serviceable carry guns in summer; they can. However, they aren't as easy to carry as smaller pistols like the Glock 26, Glock 43, Smith and Wesson Shield, Sig P938, snub-nose .38 Special revolvers and other examples.
Less weight means greater easier carrying, and smaller dimensions make for easier concealment. Subcompacts can be easily concealed with a t-shirt and are more comfortable to carry.
It's also a good idea to select a firearm with a polymer or light alloy frame. The typical compact puts 2 to 3 pounds on the belt; a subcompact saves an additional half-pound or full pound of weight on size along; selecting a polymer frame pistol for summer carry saves even more.
Polymer frames are also less susceptible to rust and other sweat damage, whereas blued steel guns need far more assiduous care. Cerakote or other coatings are likewise preferable for the same reasons.
Also consider texture and shape. Summertime carry is typically inside the waistband, and you should select a gun that won't dig into your side. Ideally, you'll select as streamlined and comfortable a gun to carry as possible.
Brace Yourselves: Winter Carry Is Coming
A lot of people love winter carry, as it allows them to carry a beloved full-size pistol and conceal it far more easily than would be possible during much of the rest of the year.
Plenty of people out there wear a small 9mm, .380 or .38 Special in spring and summer, and a Government 1911 during the winter. Other popular guns for this type of carry include the Beretta 92, Sig P226, most other Sig Sauers because they're almost all huge, Browning Hi-Power, CZ-75, the full-size Glocks (plenty more than just the 17), and even some mid-size revolvers such as Smith and Wesson K-frames like the Combat Magnum Model 66 or Model 69, Ruger GP100 and so on.
Additional layers reduce printing, and longer garments allow for concealed carry with OWB holsters. Granted, some OWB holsters - particularly those of high-riding design - can be concealed year round provided a compact enough pistol and longer shirt hem (it can be a godsend in summer months) but winter carry can see some people switch to OWB carry exclusively as the easier concealment can mean a more comfortable carry method is feasible whilst remaining concealed.
Choosing A Winter Carry Pistol
There are certainly some things a person should bear in mind when considering a winter carry pistol.
First, a more powerful pistol may be warranted. Winter clothing is thicker and heavier for everyone; this can require deeper penetration from carry ammo. Many 9mm +P loads are perfectly sufficient, but some people prefer to switch to a .40 S&W, .45 ACP or .357 Magnum during the cold months.
Selecting a pistol and holster is easier; pick anything that can carry comfortably and conceal with your winter wardrobe.Believe it or not, some people look forward to winter for precisely this reason.
However, there are certain considerations that should be paid some attention. If you live in an area with heavy precipitation in wintertime, a polymer frame, rust-proof alloy (stainless steel for instance) or coating (such as Cerakote) is a good idea to avoid damage from moisture. All-metal guns can also get cold against the skin.
Also, do you wear gloves often? If so, select a pistol that you can fire wearing gloves. In fact, try to fire your pistol wearing the gloves you normally wear. Is it easy? Then you have a good setup for winter carry in that regard. If not, consider a different pair of gloves.
Another good idea is to consider that your fingers may get cold and may not function as well as they do whilst warm. Therefore, the manual of arms should not be too complex for you. Some shooters are fine with Beretta 92 controls or 1911 controls in any condition and train enough to be proficient with them. Other shooters work best with Glock-style controls and should stick with those. Others still prefer a double/single action revolver or DAO revolver and should carry those instead.
It's definitely a viable practice to have dedicated winter and summer guns, as many do. It also means one may have to buy several pistols for carry, and diversity - as we know - is just a beautiful thing.
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.