Carrying in the Cold

I was puzzled by Miguel’s question here, since cold weather usually makes carry easier for this Yankee:

OK, so how the heck do you carry up North? Grant you we don’t have the clothes so we work on the 17 layers of Hawaiian shirts and Guayaberas to achieve insulation, WalMart has been smart enough to import long johns from other stores and it is a problem to be wearing 6 pairs of socks with flip flops or sandals. This bulkiness leaves very little room for the regular carry gear I use.

Oh hell, I’ll freeze.  I’ll practice dry firing with stuffed oven mittens a bit later.

For you southern folks who may not experience extreme cold very often, the trick is to get a good, versatile winter coat. A winter coat hides the gun on your hip much more effectively than a light jacket or a shirt. Coats also tend to have more pockets for things like flashlights, OC, blades and spare magazines. Accessibility is achieved by wearing a thick enough outer shirt that you can leave the coat open. If you zip the coat up, obviously accessibility becomes a problem. If it does get so cold that you have to bundle up, a pocket gun with a decent pocket holster in the outside pocket of a coat jacket works well. Some people even like a snubby in a jacket pocket because you can fire it straight through the pocket, though I don’t know how you’d practice that, so I’ve never considered doing it.

If you carry a Glock like I do, with the right kind of gloves, you can shoot just fine and still keep your hands warm. You won’t have as much feel for your grip or the trigger, so it takes some practice. It can be done though. I don’t look forward to winter, but I do look forward to having more flexibility in terms of carry that a winter coat brings you.

6 thoughts on “Carrying in the Cold”

  1. The total lack of practice with gloves has been the crux for me. The lack of regular feel makes me fell unsafe as hell with a gun.
    Much appreciated advice sir. Thanks.

  2. My background: born near Buffalo, grew up in Ohio, college near Cleveland and I now live in Kentucky. At the local pistol match two days ago I was comfortable in a t-shirt while the locals were worrying about frostbite. Suffice to say, I like it cold and I’m used to much worse than KY can throw at me.

    What you wear doesn’t matter as much as practicing with what you wear. Practice handling your weapon with gloves on. Practice drawing with a coat and your weapon, lifting up a heavy coat is little different from lifting a shirt. When you practice you’ll learn that snaps and buttons will break free while zippers require a lift. You’ll find out that you can actually handle your stuff with what you have on. Start slow with an empty weapon then move up to live fire.

    Waterproof and windproof gloves do more than insulated gloves. They’re thinner and will let you manipulate your tools while still keeping you warm. Unless you have to have your hands out of your pockets for long periods, put more value on water and wind protection.

    Dress in layers. A wicking skin layer (I like capilene from Patagonia) then a long-john layer then a sweatshirt or fleece then a coat. Way better than a massive bulky overcoat over normal clothes.

    Make sure your extra layers either aren’t in the way or can get out of your way. This may mean carrying some stuff in your pockets just to let it swing clear.

    Again practice practice practice.

    When the hot weather rolls around I’ll ask you all how to conceal a 1911 when wearing a Speedo and a Hawaiian shirt.

  3. One advantage of cold weather is that you can conceal considerably larger guns. For example, with my winter parka on, my S&W 629 .44 Magnum with the 6.5″ barrel is now a concealable firearm. A good winter parka also makes it possible to carry not just tiny pocket pistols, but even fairly large handguns. (My Browning Hi-Power fits, although it is a bit awkward, and requires gloves or watch cap in the same pocket to prevent printing.)

    Of course, larger pistols can’t be drawn from a pocket quickly. Also, you absolutely do not want to carry a gun that can be easily fired by something getting in the triggerguard (which is my biggest objection to the otherwise splendid Glock design). Single action pistols should be carried hammer down, or in a holster that covers almost everything. I do not have enough confidence that an external safety won’t be knocked off safe while running.

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