If further incentive is needed to justify concealed everyday carry, consider the fact that in 2017, the United States employed 670,279 full-time law enforcement officers to police 324,459,463 citizens. That’s roughly 1 law enforcement officer per 484 residents. Statistically speaking, it is physically impossible for law enforcement officers to prevent every crime and to protect every citizen, that’s undeniable. I’m assuming this is why 17.25 million concealed weapons permits have been issued in the United States with millions more openly carrying and carrying concealed in states that don’t require permits.
Self Defense Food for Thought: Should you focus more on physical self-defense tactics, hand-to-hand or combat training in lieu of carrying a concealed firearm? Physical training is a viable option and one that a lot of folks prefer. In all reality, the notion that a perpetrator will always stay at a safe distance and allow you to freely draw your sidearm is false. In most cases, there is physical contact, the aggressor is breathing down your neck, it’s intense and often, there is some sort of struggle. I’m not suggesting that you have to get a Black Belt in Taekwondo or become a Jiu-Jitsu master to effectively defend yourself. Then again, I do recommend some understanding and training in the basics of close-quarters fighting. If all goes as planned, this skill will allow you to achieve distance from the assailant and possibly get away from them entirely without drawing your firearm. Nonetheless, don’t kid yourself, self-defense courses are tough, some might may suggest that they are grueling, and they require dedication, plus a tremendous amount of time and money in order to become skilled and proficient. Odds are, fingers crossed, all that time and money spent will never be put to use. However, if a crisis would ever arise, you could draw upon that critical training and use it to potentially thwart off an attack and/or, quite possibly, save your life. Aside from teaching physical skills, the great part about self-defense courses are that they teach awareness, avoidance and how to keep your mind and body in check, plus how to grapple with a lethal threat and what steps are necessary to successfully overcome it. To inquire about self-defense, close-quarters fighting courses in your area, I highly recommend dropping by your local police or sheriff department and picking their brains. Chances are, one of the local law enforcement agents in your area knows of a qualified instructor or is one themselves.
Whether or not you decide to add hand-to-hand combat training to your arsenal of self-defense practices is solely up to you and there isn’t a right or wrong option, it’s an individual decision. However, regardless of the negative coverage and news about firearms you find everywhere today, the reality is that millions of Americans choose to legally carry a firearm every day with self-defense as their primary motivation. Studies estimate that there are more than 1-million instances each year of defensive use of guns, where victims are able to protect themselves at home, work or elsewhere with their sidearm. A firearm can serve as an equalizer across the board – men, women, elderly, those with disabilities or physical limitations – carrying a firearm gives potential victims the opportunity to protect themselves. If you are one of the 17.25 million concealed carry permit holders who choose to carry every day, then you are consciously choosing to make certain concessions that most aren’t aware of, first and foremost is weight. Typically, I carry a Smith & Wesson .40 M&P Shield and extra mag that when fully loaded with a capacity of 13+1 with Federal Premium Hydra-Shok Deep tops the scale at just under 2 pounds 12.5 ounces. While that doesn’t seem like much weight, during vigorous activity, long walks, bike rides, hot days, etc., the additional weight will most certainly be felt. That’s why selecting the right holster and style of carrying that best fits your lifestyle is mandatory. Comfort is key for everyday carry and if you’re not comfortable 24/7 when going about your business strapped, you’ll have a tendency to not carry as much. Eric Rice, Operations and Sales Manager for Sticky Holsters, says if you bought a firearm and don’t wear it because you find it too cumbersome, you won’t have it when you need it. Eric further elaborates by saying, if your gun/holster combo is uncomfortable and you’re always messing with it, much like an itchy tag, then that behavior can alert everyone around you to the fact that you are carrying, defeating the idea of “concealed” carry. Hence, be scrutinizing in your firearm choice and holster. Be 100% certain it’s the ideal frame size, weight, color, etc., for maximum concealability and comfort, and I guarantee you’ll be more apt to carry it daily.
How do you select the correct concealed carry position for you? To begin, “Around the Clock Carry” refers to positions around your waistband similar to a clock face where concealed carry is most advantageous. Example positions include: 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 o’clock. For instance, if you were carrying in the small of your back, you would be carrying in the 6 o’clock position. Now, for carrying, there are two main ways of going about it, outside the waistband (OWB) or inside the waistband (IWB). IWB is the most common practice for concealed carry and is what I prefer. When carrying IWB, your pants, shirt or jacket help hide the firearm you are concealing and further let you carry in multiple positions including appendix, 1 o’clock, which is ideal for quick draws. The position in which you carry will be dictated by the size of your firearm. If you prefer carrying a large frame 1911, appendix carry will not be comfortable for sitting, bending over or squatting, but in the 5 or 6 o’clock position it would be. Personally, I have several firearms of ranging calibers that I carry in various positions, and they coincide with my duties that day – low activity office work or physical outdoor work. If this isn’t an option for you or your budget, select a caliber that’s a decent middle of the road fit and will accommodate any activity or task at hand that both you and your significant other can properly and effectively shoot. A decent caliber to consider is a .38 Special. Predominantly, the .38 Special comes as a revolver and their fewer moving parts make them popular as there is less to go wrong or malfunction. If you’re concerned with velocity, you could step up to a .357 that shoots the same bullet as the .38 Special, but due to the velocity of the .357, it’s an even heftier threat neutralizer. The downside is that revolvers don’t have as much ammunition capacity and aren’t as quick and easy to reload. That’s where the 9mm is ideal for men and women of all shapes and sizes. Interestingly enough, the 9mm generates 66 percent of a .45 Auto’s recoil, but delivers 96 percent of its kinetic energy and 69 percent of its momentum. That’s some serious yet manageable firepower. Ultimately, what folks need to understand, is that caliber size, kinetic energy, and velocity all translate to better stopping power. Bullets make perpetrators bleed and the more they bleed and hurt, the quicker they’ll stop the attack. As aforementioned, my Smith & Wesson .40 M&P Shield is a wonderful all-day carry caliber and size for me, but I’m a slim/thick at 6-foot and 225 pounds. So, what works for me won’t necessarily be the case for a lady such as my wife that’s a bubbly little 5-foot 4-inch beauty. The .40 S&W was born out of necessity to offer more firepower than the 9mm could offer, but with less recoil and more capacity than that of the .45. While the .40 S&W was once a popular caliber beloved by law enforcement, that is now a thing of the past as the highly effective 9mm has gained the spotlight.
Moving on to holsters, roughly two years ago I was introduced to Sticky Holsters, a 100% American made company that offers an extensive line of quality holsters, mag pouches, belt sliders, wallets, cell phone holders and numerous other accessories for convenient everyday carry. The outside skin of a Sticky Holster isn’t categorically “Sticky” as implied in its name, but rather a grippy non-slip material like the sole of a shoe and when friction or compression is applied, it will stick to just about anything. Moving inward, Sticky Holsters feature closed-cell foam and a smooth interior lining that affords its user a quick and effortless draw, all the while the “Sticky” material keeps the holster in place and from moving. Most generally, I carry IWB and since Sticky Holsters don’t require clips or belts to be secured, the weight of the holster and firearm is better distributed and won’t cause your pants to sag or awkwardly pull. Another feature I like about Sticky Holsters is that since they don’t have clips or loops, their holsters can be carried in any position you choose. You can go from pocket carry, to appendix, etc., with the same holster with no issue. If I’m not carrying IWB, I prefer ankle carry with the use of Sticky Holsters’ Anklebiter system. Normally, to ankle carry, a specialized holster would be needed, but with Sticky Holsters’ Anklebiter system, it allows me to use any of my Sticky Holsters. In essence, the Anklebiter is a Velcro wrap that accommodates your Sticky Holster and allows you to adjust the height of your carry, plus the cant, and will not slip or bind up. Now, to be fully concealed during ankle carry, jeans or full-length pants of some sort are a necessity, but this option does free up your shirt choice. Sticky Holsters also makes a Travel Mount, a pouch that can be mounted on your nightstand, in the center console of your truck, on your boat or any other hard surface where you want to be able to dock your firearm. It affords you the ability to transfer your firearm from your person to the Travel Mount while still in its Sticky Holster. A Velcro strap holds your firearm securely and prevents it from falling out.
Statistics show that in 80% of cases where guns where used for self-defense, the defender used a concealed handgun and ¼ of those situations occurred in places away from the defender’s home. So, while it’s unlikely you’ll ever have to draw your firearm to protect yourself or those you love, the ability to carry concealed provides an important tool in being able to do just that if a situation were to arise. If you aren’t already carrying on a regular basis, then single out a sidearm that fits your hand, one that you can handle proficiently and accurately shoot. Choose a caliber that has a capacity you’re comfortable with and leaves you feeling secure in the fact that you could confront an issue with it. Lastly, the caliber you choose needs to be easily concealed, comfortable and realistic to carry all day. Spend time wearing your gun in different positions and finding the most comfortable and effective position for you. Do yourself a favor and order a Sticky Holster for your concealed carry sidearm. Then, head to the range with a plethora of self-defense ammunition offerings and learn what cartridge delivers the best balance of power and speed. I found the desired results I was looking for in terms of performance from Federal’s Hydra-Shok Deep, that’s available in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 Auto. All three cartridges penetrate between 14 to 16 inches, expand a minimum of 1.5 times their original diameter and retain at least 99 percent of their initial weight. Remember, it all boils down to caliber, cartridge, effective holsters, outstanding ammunition, following the rules, safely carrying, a positive mindset and knowing that you’ll only become a better marksman with practice and experience at the range. Please research your local and state laws and know the ins and outs before carrying concealed.