During a recent class, we discussed some tragic accidents involving concealed carry. I’m not sure they could have been avoided, but hopefully folks can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
When Baggy is Bad
One of the problems we see in our Concealed Carry classes occurs when students are attempting to re-holster. The concealment garments loosens and gets funneled into the holster’s mouth prior to the pistol re-holstering. The concealment garment gets shoved further into the holster applying pressure to all parts of the gun, to include the trigger. One of the most important features you look for in a holster is protecting the trigger and trigger guard has sufficient protection. In other words, while the pistol is holstered no object can gain access to the trigger. While you might have chosen an excellent holster that meets this objective, shoving a piece of your concealment garment into the holster as you re-holster will override your efforts.
No One is Exempt
You don’t have to be practicing from concealed to experience this issue. In fact, we brief in the beginning of all our classes the aspect of re-holstering must be conducted in a safe and controlled manner. Insure there is no foreign objects near the mouth of the holster. The most common culprit is the bottom hem of your shirt, but other items to keep an eye out for are drawstring hems & zipper pulls. In fact, I have a good friend who experienced a negligent discharge as a result of a zipper pull. Crazy stuff can happen so be safe and in control. Next, observe the re-holstering process. Look down to ensure there is no foreign object near the mouth of the holster. As you gently re-holster be on the lookout for any resistance. If you feel more resistance than normal…STOP! Identify what is causing the resistance, address the issue and carry on.
There is No Prize for the Fastest Re-holster
If you find yourself in a real world situation consider the fact you will be highly stressed, these procedures will help ensure when you re-hoster you do so safely. Before you re-holster ensure the scene is safe or the target is secure. Once you have completed all scans consider performing some ammunition management, after you complete that final step slowly, very slowly re-holster. Yes, I do suggest you observe the process, but keep things in perspective. The reason you are re-holstering is either you are being relieved, there is no longer a lethal threat or you are off the proverbial “X”. If you have any reason to believe there was still a threat to your safety then you wouldn’t be re-holstering. So, in this case, taking your eyes off your battle space to safely re-holster is the tactical imperative.
Protect the Trigger
For those who carry “off body” I first strongly encourage you to reconsider. I realize it is more difficult for women to carry concealed and this is an option for them. During our Concealed Carry Combatives classes we see so many off body ideas go the way of the dinosaur. If you carry off body I strongly encourage the trigger still be protected. That means light sheaths or in some cases a minimalist holster. I love the Vanguard 2 from Raven Concealment and use them more times than I can count. In the case of “off body” I would affix the holster to an anchor point so when I obtain my firing grip and retrieve the pistol from my off body concealment it separates from the holster on the drawstroke.
It is easy to second guess what happened in these events, but I am more inclined to remind folks of proper concealment protocol. Always re-holster safely and under control.
11 thoughts on “The Perils of Concealed Carry”
The biggest advice is to re-holster very slowly. You don’t win gunfights with speed re-holstering.
Also, being very careful of using your non-trigger hand for assisting in re-holstering and not muzzling yourself.
All of this can be practiced dry.
Great points, thanks!
Another thing you can do if you find yourself in a situation where off-body carry is what you are stuck with is to use a holster with a fairly high sweat guard on it. That can interfere with a complete grip on the pistol sometimes, but for off-body carry it lets you grab the pistol and use the thumb of your firing hand to push the holster off the weapon. I have an Incog IWB holster with the belt clip removed that I use with my M&P 2.0 for that purpose. As you say, though, you need to have a way of accessing the gun with just one hand. If you don’t have the holster tethered to something immovable, then you need to be capable of pushing the holster off the gun. If you do end up using two hands, you have to be extremely careful not to stick your other hand in front of the muzzle when reaching to grab the holster and pull it free.
Thanks, that is a good suggestion. Holsters are a good alternative, they have been used for years.
Over several years, the subject of unintended actuation of a trigger has become a common topic. We’ve all seen videos and read articles on the subject. For years I’ve carried Glocks because they don’t have safety’s and it’s one less thing to think about when presenting a firearm. However, the introduction of the Glock “Thing” to prevent accidents while re-holstering makes me ask if manual safety’s have a very proper place on firearms if just for the purpose of enhanced safety when re-holstering.
Maybe the Army is correct in choosing a Sig P320 with a safety.
That’s a good point, safety is sometimes and afterthought. While an external safety is an extra precaution, it cannot replace protocol and awareness.
Great points Jeff. I was in. Class once (during the fall) when the instructor went down the line to check garments before we started the class. A number of people were wearing fleece pullovers with the elastic drawstrings at the 3 o’clock position. He pulled out his knife and promptly cut them off. His point was made! BTW I’m not a fan of the vanguard style minimalist holster. No way to make a stealth draw of your handgun from that holster. It “clicks” on and therefore requires a tug to “click” off.
Thanks, it is good to know others are concerned and be proactive.
This is once instance where the DA/SA guns really have an edge. By being able to place a thumb behind the hammer you can tell almost immediately if there is an issue. Not that it negates the need to be careful and use proper procedure when re holstering but I can say I’ve never been worried about having a ND while using a DA/SA weapon.
I hear what you are saying, but I wouldn’t justify carrying a DA/SA because I want to avoid an AD.
So Jeff, if you were to create an idiot proof system for reholstering safely, what elements would it employ?