We've been chatting a lot about cold weather gear this Winter season. But one thing we haven't talked specifically about is an awesome option that Winter weather brings to us who practice CCDW (Concealed Carry [of a] Deadly Weapon). And that is - We're able to pack a big mama jama of a handgun, if we so desire.
So today I'm going to chat about some reasons why this would be a good idea and how you can pull it off...
Why carry a full size pistol?
Let's start off with why you would want to carry a full size pistol as your concealed carry weapon. Specifically, in the winter time.
1) Heavy clothing vs. your guns capacity:
During winter weather, people are bundled up a lot more. Their wardrobes consist of heavy fabrics, thick jackets and multiple layers. This doesn't just go for the good guys either. B]ad guys are wearing more/thicker clothing as well. So, if a threat arises and you are forced to take action against it - You will likely need more rounds in your gun to take care of the threat. Penetration will not be as easy as if the threat were wearing a thin tee shirt. So it's likely that it will take 1-3 shots more.
Generally speaking, carrying a full size handgun ensures that you will have more ammunition in your magazine. For instance, my Sig P938 carries 7 in the magazine. While my Smith & Wesson M&P9 carries 17. So, the larger frame definitely offers some benefits here.
Have you ever tried handling your concealed carry pistol in the winter, with cold hands or gloves on? It's not an easy task. And that is exaggerated by a small pistol, with delicate controls and a small trigger guard.
A full size gun however, has beefier controls, a bigger slide, a more wide-open trigger guard and will allow you to manipulate it a lot better with winter gloves on (or cold/less dexterous hands). Not to mention shoot-ability...When your hands are shaking from nerves and the cold, you will appreciate how much easier a full size gun is to shoot accurately.
A lot of pocket guns (or as I call them "summer guns") are chambered for 380ACP, and some in 9mm at their maximum. While full size guns are almost always chambered in 9mm at their minimum. By bumping up to a full size handgun you're allowing yourself to step into a different world of calibers such as: 357 Magnum, 45ACP, 40S&W, 44 Magnum and a lot more. These calibers have a lot more energy than their smaller centerfire family members and will cause a lot more harm at impact.
This bump in caliber during winter/cold weather is a huge benefit as you can imagine. I personally carry nothing less than a 9mm in the winter.
4) Honestly...Why Not (it's a great time to practice carrying a full size):
Winter is in all honesty one of those times that packing a full size gun is a "why not?". Going back to the heavy clothing here.
Heavy clothing acts as a wonderful concealment option to hide our large guns (concealed carry license/local laws applying). So, if you've ever wanted to get into carrying a full size gun, now is the perfect time to get used to doing so. Printing & flashing your gun will be less of a threat with your heavier clothing.
How can I carry a full size pistol?
Figuring out how you can best carry a gun is as unique as the prints on your fingers. No two people are going to enjoy carrying the same pistol, in the same holster, with the same belt and pair of pants. So, experiment and find what works best for you. Below are some general recommendations on the topic though:
1) Pick the right holster:
I've mentioned this before on our blog. But i'll echo it here. Make sure you pick the right holster for YOU. And don't pick one solely based on price (whether that means super expensive, or super cheap). Or because "Tacticool Magazine" says you should (I don't know if that's a real magazine, but you get my point).
Here are some quick tips i'd recommend to you while holster shopping:
- Go to your local gun shop and try on as many holsters as you can, or as they'll allow you. See how they feel in the position you plan on wearing it. If it's uncomfortable, put it back on the shelf...you won't end up wearing it.
- Buy a holster that is fitted for your make & model. Don't buy a universal holster unless it's the N82 Tactical "Original" holster. I'm not soliciting this brand....But that is honestly the only "universal" fit holster that I've ever had luck with. And I actually carry in them everyday (I have one for my Sig 938 and one that fits my VP9, Sig 2022 & M&P9 full size).
- Ensure your holster is going to be safe and that it will hold your gun securely.
- Do not buy a holster because of the price, as I mentioned above. Going back to my N82 Holster....It was $30-40 if my memory serves correctly. That's really cheap for a holster. So don't discredit a cheap holster as being junk. But on the same token don't only buy something because it's cheap. And just the same, if a holster is expensive it doesn't mean that it's automatically amazing.
2) Using winter clothing to your advantage:
Carrying a full size pistol in the summer time can be achieved, but it's not an ideal time of the year to try and start carrying one.
Testing the waters of carrying a full size pistol during the cold weather when you're wearing a heavy jacket, flannels and/or fleeces is a great time to start. You'll learn how much the grip sticks out on your gun, how you can and cannot move with it on, how to position your holster and so on.
Winter clothing is a lot more forgiving to us concealed carriers than thin summer clothing.
3) Get a good belt:
Having a good/thick gun belt to carry the load of your concealed carry weapon (along with all of your other everyday carry gear) is essential. I can't stress this one enough. If you don't have a good belt, your pants will slide down all day and you'll be forced to readjust them constantly.
Remember...Comfort will keep your carrying. If it's uncomfortable, you'll leave it at home.
4) Pick the right pants:
This is another biggie. Having the right pants will make conceal carrying a large pistol a lot more pleasant as well. I would recommend buying your pants a 1/2 size or size up if you plan on carrying inside the waistband. Otherwise, they'll be too snug once your firearm is tucked inside.
Additionally, ensure the pants you choose have a thick enough waistband to carry the weight of your holster, belt, firearm and anything else you choose to weigh it down with.
The belt loops are the final biggie for me. It's important to try your chosen holster with your pants and ensure it clips or slides in at a comfortable spot on your belt line. Some belt loops are clearly not designed for a holster to be accommodated, because they are placed at all of the wrong areas.
I hope this article gives you some motivation to get in the safe and drag out a larger pistol this winter. And I hope there were some valuable/insightful tips from my successes in conceal carrying a full size gun as well.
As always when carrying a deadly weapon:
Stay safe, responsible, aware and pray you never have to use it!
Wanna share some of your thoughts?
We always love hearing from you guys & gals! So drop us a comment below if you practice conceal carrying with a full size pistol. What are some tips & tricks that you've learned that make carrying such a large gun more manageable and comfortable. And we'd also love to hear what your Winter Gun is!
(My current winter gun is an HK VP9 LE or my Smith & Wesson M&P 9...Loaded up with Speer Gold Dot 124gr. Hollow Points)