Winter’s onset presents some obstacles, responsibilities, and opportunities with respect to our everyday carry of firearms and other EDC gear. Cooler weather means wearing more layers, heavier clothing, and perhaps even gloves. These changes in turn mean that you’ll likely find it …different clearing clothing, getting to a concealed weapon, bringing your firearm into the fight, running your gun, and performing other actions like magazine reloads and malfunction clearing. Even re-holstering can be more difficult and more dangerous with winter clothing.
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Since concealed-carry responsibility requires that you’re safe and competent doing all of these things in everyday clothing, when your everyday clothing changes significantly so should your training.
For example, I practice practical manipulations every week at the gun range. Living in Texas, this means that I’m almost always in pants and a t-shirt. When winter does finally arrive here and I change to layers of shirts or a jacket—or both—my manipulations from concealment become far less fluid and take on an air of clumsiness for the first couple of weeks. I eventually regain competence, but it takes practice.
Surely it is not uncommon among all concealed carriers that with new, heavier layers of clothing over a pistol and spare magazines, those well-drilled mechanics become more involved processes. Clearing clothing may go from a 1-handed operation to a 2-handed endeavor. Where once we knew instinctively how to and where to grab to clear clothing, we may now fumble and miss a layer; making the go-signal-to-first-shot from concealment go from 1 or 2 seconds to 3 or 4 seconds or more. Those are seconds in which our lives or the lives of our loved ones could be lost during a defensive situation.
Gloves are particularly disruptive to pistol manipulations. Wearing gloves, you lose some tactile sensation so you may have to visually confirm what you could otherwise simply feel. Gloves can affect your grip and draw from the holster. Gloves can interfere with the manipulation of controls, like safety and slide lock levers. If you have to reload, gloves can get pinched and prevent proper magazine seating. Often, a gloved finger will not easily fit into the trigger guard of a pistol, and may not fit at all for some subcompacts.
How does your winter clothing specifically affect your abilities and manipulations? How do you know?
It stands to reason that if we may have to fight in winter clothing, we must train in winter clothing. If you sometimes wear gloves, train in gloves. If you wear multiple layers, train in layers. If you wear a heavy coat, train in a heavy coat. When you do, you may find that you must reevaluate your choice of carry position, carry method, garment-clearing method, or the style and thickness of your gloves. You may even have to reevaluate the pistol you carry. In short, what works for jeans and a t-shirt may not work for a jacket and gloves or for a heavy coat.
You can try out gloved shooting at any indoor range, but training from concealment is crucial. It’s always best if you engage in live-fire practice from concealment on a regular basis. If you have no access to a practical gun range where you can do so, practice at home with a blue gun of the same make and model as your carry gun. You might even remove all live ammo from the room and load magazines with dummy rounds for in-home manipulation practice. But do practice from concealment.
It’s pretty simple: if you don’t train in winter clothing, you’re not well-prepared to defend yourself or your family during the winter months.
Winter EDC Opportunities
Despite its potential limitations and complications, you may find that winter clothing affords you some interesting and even advisable augmentations to your EDC kit. For example:
Bulkier clothing may allow you to carry a larger caliber weapon.
If you’re otherwise relegated to a tiny .380 subcompact for concealed carry, you might be able to carry a single-stack 9mm or possibly even a double-stack 9mm in winter. It’s not a bad idea anyway, because a .380 is the minimum recommended defensive round, but winter’s heavy clothing can present challenges for this small-caliber round. A 9mm choice is likely the winter’s minimum-advisable caliber.
Bulkier clothing might allow you to carry a larger pistol of the same caliber.
You can even gain a benefit without changing calibers because if you normally carry a short subcompact, winter clothing might allow you to change to a compact or full-size model of the same caliber. Why? A larger frame and longer slide often allows for better weapon control and accuracy. These issues become even more important if you’re wearing gloves.
More pockets might allow for more medical EDC supplies.
If you normally just carry a tourniquet with your EDC kit (the minimum every concealed carrier should have with them), the extra pockets of a jacket or layers might allow you to comfortably add an IFAK (individual first-aid kit), with things like a chest seal or two, an NPA (nasopharyngeal airway), a pressure bandage, clotting agent, or other useful supplies. Of course if you’re going to carry these things, make sure you know how to properly and effectively use them.
One more thing…
Because the end of the year is a good time to mark significant dates, it might be a good time to think about your loaded magazines of carry ammo. If you don’t otherwise cycle through your EDC ammo during the year, winter is perhaps a good time to select a date to change out your EDC ammunition loaded into your gun magazine and EDC spares. Shoot up your loaded EDC magazines and replace with newly-purchased ammo. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with year-old ammunition, but daily carry does things to your gun and to your magazines. Lint, grit, and other foreign matter can accumulate and affect functionality, so it’s a good idea to empty, inspect, clean, and reload your EDC magazines at least once a year. And more often is better.
Our concealed defensive carry is in large measure governed by the clothes we wear. Don’t let winter’s cold weather serve as a means to render you incompetent or defenseless. If you carry concealed, make sure you’re 100% functional for all sorts of defensive manipulations—including 1-handed manipulations—in all of the different kinds of winter clothing you wear.
Train in your everyday clothing with your everyday kit. Stay safe, stay vigilant, have a wonderful Christmas, and kickoff 2017 everyday carry in a competent and responsible way!
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Photo by Soldatnytt.