Many of us look forward to the summer months. Summer means camping, hiking, travel and vacation. But day to day life and the danger we wish to be prepared to face makes the summer months a bit more difficult.
As a peace officer, I knew that violent crime spiked in the warmer months. Tempers flare more easily when you are sweating and overheated.
While an armed citizen must keep his cool, there are toughs and bullies that cannot. Burglary and robbery rates are higher in the summer months.
Just the same, we wish to be well-armed. Carrying isn’t just about the gun or the holster. As an example, the pistol’s grips make a difference in summer carry.
Recently I began wearing my Springfield Operator in an IWB holster beneath a pulled out sport shirt. By the end of the day my back felt lacerated.
I appreciate the shredder-type grips for their combination of adhesion and abrasion — they delivered plenty of abrasion all right — to the small of my back.
I had never worn the Springfield without a T-shirt. It made a difference. It is best to wear a T-shirt under the classic pulled-out sport shirt for concealed carry during summertime.
Some can, some can’t adapt. Let’s look at the most important considerations.
Holsters for Summer Carry
It is important to note that some tacky rubber or G10 handgun grips are nice when firing the handgun, but the pebbly surface may snag on clothing when the piece is carried concealed.
Take this into consideration.
Primary holster materials are leather, fabric and kydex. The hybrid holster features a supple, leather backing and a kydex holster component.
The hybrid such as the Galco KingTuk is comfortable. I find few standard Kydex holsters comfortable. They are hard against the body. There are exceptions and much depends on the design.
Hard, molded leather holsters are often not as comfortable, depending on the body type, when worn under a pulled-out shirt.
The new breed of breathable fabric with a softer surface against the body works wonders. So do the specially-designed minimalist leather holsters such as the Galco SkyOps.
The standard belt holster demands attention to detail, but the problem isn’t as difficult as finding a good concealment holster for summer carry. Some holsters may become a chafing nuisance.
The rigidity appreciated in a belt scabbard is a drawback in concealed carry.
When a holster is carried inside the pants — and nothing else really works well for summer carry, save for the inside-the-waistband holster — a softer, more forgiving material is needed.
As long as the holster mouth is reinforced, this will work well.
The Importance of Draw Angle
Holster attachment to the belt is critical. Some time ago as a peace officer, I made one of the few draws I have made under attack.
The holster carried a Ruger P94 .40 S&W pistol and used body compression and folded over the pants and belt. It conformed to the outline of the handgun over time.
The holster worked alright in practice sessions, but when I grabbed the pistol with a hard death grip and yanked, both the pistol and the holster came out of the waistband.
Thank goodness the holster was propelled away from the gun during the draw and a single shot solved the problem. I threw the holster away. The holster company is thankfully out of business.
It was comfortable, but not well-suited to tactical duty. Some holsters rely on body compression (pressure from the body keeps the rig and handgun secured) and during the draw, as the holster clears leather, they shift.
This is bad news. Some holsters are sensitive to draw angle. The N82 holster demands practice at the proper draw angle in the kydex and plastic variants, and so do a number of hard, molded leather holsters.
What About Sweat?
A proper concealed carry holster will fit tight against the body. Perspiration is a consideration. Not only will the handgun rust, in some cases the holster is affected.
I have changed the color of leather holsters while working long shifts with a handgun carried in an IWB holster. A black finish works better for most of us.
(I often order tan or brown finish based on personal preference and because they make better images.)
I have seen handguns rust from close contact with the body. A holster that offsets the handgun from the body and uses a sweatguard as part of the holster design is a big plus.
The Belly Band Option
One summer carry solution is a belly band. The cheap ones become a chafing aggravation and will be thrown away after a day or two.
The Galco Wrap-Around is well-designed of good material and offers plenty of adjustment. You may choose strong side, appendix or crossdraw carry with the Wrap-Around.
The handgun is held so close to the body, the draw may be compromised and re-holstering is more difficult, but nothing quite works for many of us like a belly band.
Wearing a T-shirt or at least using talcum powder around the area the belly band contacts is a big help.
The material used in the Wrap-Around is extremely well-thought-out and more comfortable than anything else I am aware of.
Clothing for Summer Carry
Clothing choice is important. The shirt cannot be so thin that the handgun is visible or prints easily. (Printing is an outline of the handgun against covering garments.)
Lightweight, breathable fabric is important. I have been plagued with skin cancer and, while I won the fight, I must wear long-sleeve shirts and a wide-brimmed hat during the summer months to avoid recurrence.
So my clothing choices are important on many levels. Some polo shirts flow over the gun handle, others seem to hang and rest right on the handgun.
This is a drawback, and you may have to try several styles to find the right choice. Generally, I consider the innermost clothing layer protection for my body and the outer layer concealment for the handgun.
Concealed carry may be stylish, but this isn’t the primary concern. I simply do not wish to stick out in the crowd.
All About the Draw
If you have chosen a middle-size handgun such as the GLOCK 19 9mm or CZ P-10 pistol, you have chosen well. You may need a number of holsters for viable carry if you live in a true four-season climate.
A belt holster under a jacket is the fastest draw for winter carry. The IWB compromises the draw to an extent, by placing the handle closer to the body.
The draw is further compromised by going to the next step, a tuckable holster or a belly band. Just the same, in some cases these options allow concealing a handgun when no other option would.
We are able to summer carry a 9mm handgun in deep concealment when a more casual choice in holsters would force us to carry much smaller handguns. .32 and .380 ACP handguns are far less effective and offer a smaller grip on the draw.
There are too many compromises inherent in such choices. I prefer to do more research and spend the time, money and training effort to obtain superior concealment gear and deploy a suitable handgun.
Other Carry Options
During the summer months, I sometimes move to an appendix-type holster. The Galco Wrap-Around belly band allows moving the handgun to appendix carry.
It is among a very few rigs suitable for behind the back, appendix and crossdraw carry, an excellent design feature. Light covering garments may not drape over the handgun properly when worn in the six o’clock position.
On the other hand, most of us have a little extra in the belly region to cause a drape of the garment over the handgun.
If you are in excellent shape, the chest is wider than the belly and this results in a natural draping of the garment over the belt.
Appendix carry demands trigger discipline, but then all carry modes do. Appendix carry is more natural for carrying close to the body than crossdraw for most shooters.
Another option that some find works well is the reverse draw. The handgun is worn with the grip as if it were a left-hand draw for a left-handed shooter, but the handgun is closer to the dominant side.
Some feel that this allows greater concealment with a handgun that has a larger grip frame.
The draw is executed with a bent wrist and the handgun muzzle is rotated away from the body taking care not to cover the body with the muzzle. This is a variation of the cavalry draw.
I recommend against this draw for most of us, but a number of experienced shooters have adopted the technique.
When summer arrives and we are ready to have fun, don’t forget that the need for personal defense is a more serious concern during the summer months.
Think ahead and choose your summer carry gear carefully.
As an example, if you wear a long-bill hat to keep the sun off of your eyes, be certain to understand how the bill may obstruct vision as you go into the typical chin-tucked firing stance.
What is your summer carry? How do you prefer to carry? Let us know in the comments section below!