As the summer arrives and the thermometer begins to climb, many people abandon their commitment to defense and switch to what they call “summer carry”. I have spoken to people who in the cooler months, carry a full size pistol, two extra magazines, a flashlight, a folding knife and OC spray. In the summer, the same person carries a 25 or 32 caliber semi auto pistol (mouse guns) in their pocket with nothing else. Now, I am not advocating walking around in 90 degree weather with a tactical vest and 30 pounds of gear, but the fact is crime rates increase when the weather gets warmer. This means you are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime during the warmer months and we, as a people tend to jettison our defensive equipment and carry inadequate tools for staying safe. This month we will take a look and what we really need to carry and how to go about that in the summer.
Carry Enough Gun
To determine what size gun we need to carry for defense, we need to understand what the purpose of that gun is. The purpose of a gun is to fire a bullet. When a bullet hits a threat, it causes massive trauma and blood loss. The trauma to the internal organs and blood loss stops the body from functioning. Therefore a bullet stops the threat, not the gun and in most cases the faster and larger that bullet is, the faster it can stop that threat.
The argument of what caliber is best suited defense is one that you will rarely get ten people in a room to agree with. I don’t want to engage in that argument today, but rather discuss what the smallest acceptable caliber is. My opinion is that you should try to at least carry a .38 or 9mm firearm. There has been a lot of progress in making new defensive ammo making rounds like the .380 ACP a more viable option, but that progress simultaneously makes the larger rounds better too, so I still feel like you should stay at, or above the .38 or 9mm range.
In addition to the tried and true .38 or .357 snubbies on the market, almost all auto manufactures have released smaller, thinner autos very suitable for concealed carry.
Hide that gun well
Summer time apparel doesn’t lend itself well for concealing anything. The trick is picking clothing to suit your carry needs, not adapting your carry needs to suit your clothing. In a perfect world, strong side carry still is number one. Most defensive shooters have trained the most for that form of carry and it can be difficult to switch under pressure. With the use of a quality in the waistband (IWB) holster can conceal a full sized pistol under something as lightweight of a polo shirt. Pocket carry is another option that works well, but if you choose to carry that way, use a pocket holster and you need to practice drawing from your pocket hundreds of times, especially from non standard positions such as seated a car. Fanny packs have had a long, love/hate relationship with defensive shooters and I am no different. They conceal a firearm in plain view and provide for very fast access to it and extra magazines if you train with them. On the flip side, they are not in style, so they can indicate to a trained eye that you are carrying a gun. They also can move around a lot in a struggle making it hard to get to your gun. Whatever you choose, train, train, train, train, then go train some more. Point made?
Carry an additional ammo source
Off-duty police officer Kenneth Hammond was the officer who is credited with saving many lives by engaging the shooter at the Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake City Utah in 2007. While prepared with a concealed firearm, he did not have extra ammo. If the responding officers didn’t arrive quickly or if he had a serious malfunction, the story may have had an even more tragic ending.
Is very easy to slip an extra magazine or speed strip in your support side pocket. Many holster makers sell in the pocket magazine carriers. These are a great idea because they keep the magazine from printing on the outside of your pants and they keep the magazine oriented in the right position.
Carry a light always
In addition to warm weather, the criminal element also tends to enjoy the cloak of darkness. The powerful stream of bright light from a flashlight is not only handy in indentifying a threat, it can’t disorient attackers and in many cases scare them away. Flashlights indicate preparedness and criminals don’t usually like dealing with prepared people.
Another important reason to carry a light is for navigation. After 9/11 and other disasters, I recall hearing accounts of people trying to use their cell phones to find their way out of blacked out buildings and mazes of cubical. While in a pinch, a cell phone would work, I would rather get out fast with a handheld light.
Years ago, it would be impossible to carry a powerful light along with you always. Today, LED technology has permitted us to small but incredibly powerful lights clipped to the side of our pocket. Be sure to buy a quality light, as you would be surprised how much of a beating a light will take during daily use.
The Cutting edge
Although they are very capable, I usually do not consider a folding knife a defensive tool. I carry one every day because they save lives. Knives can be used for a myriad of purposed such as cutting yourself or someone else free from trapped clothing, or seatbelts. Prying, scraping and so on. The fact that it can be used as a last ditch defensive tool is a bonus. They are small enough that that can be carried easily. If you carry a knife for protection, as always we suggest training for it and with it. We have a great course from a guest instructor; Michael de Bethencourt called Essentials fo the Defensive Folding Knife. To find out more about this course and others click here.
In conclusion, I agree that the summer is for barbeques, nice walks around the city or parks and fun with friends, but understand the criminal element is gearing up for the season, don’t compromise your defensive readiness just because is it a nice day out. Carry light, but carry smart & stay safe.