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Seven tips for summer concealed carry for CCW permit holders

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As much of the country continues to bake under record high temps many concealed carry permit holders are struggling to keep cool while staying armed.

The problem is that, for many people, the hotter it gets, the fewer clothes are worn. For example, a CCW setup that works with long pants and a light jacket can become untenable when shorts and a T-shirt are worn instead.

With that in mind, here are some tips for summer concealed carry:

1. Go inside the waistband (IWB) – In some cases a simple switch from an outside the waistband (OWB) holster to an inside the waistband (IWB) holster can be enough to continue to hide the gun. This makes trying an IWB holster a logical first step for anyone who had been carrying OWB before downsizing the gun. If you aren’t wearing a belt, try a good-quality clip-on IWB. I prefer the Alessi Talon holster for this role.

2. Wear looser clothes – If you wear an un-tucked casual shirt, try going up one size from normal. The extra fabric will often drape enough to hide a gun worn at the waist. This works especially well when combined with an IWB holster. Some options include T-shirts, Polo shirts, and, if your fashion sense (or lack thereof) allows, Hawaiian shirts (What I call “Gunwriter camo.”)

3. Carry a smaller gun – As the saying goes, a small gun you have when you need it is better than a big gun at home in the safe. If you can’t find a way to carry your normal gun, it’s better to downsize to an easier to conceal handgun rather than not carry at all. Polymer or stainless steel guns are especially good choices for summer carry as they are more sweat and rust resistant than traditional blued steel guns. The new breed of compact .380 ACP and 9mm pistols, along with lightweight alloy or polymer revolvers, provide more choices in this category than ever before.

4. Try pocket carry – As I discussed in my article, “Five tips for pocket carry,” a gun in the pocket can be an effective self-defense tool. Make sure to always use a pocket holster and read my article for more tips on this carry mode.

5. Use a fanny pack – While many people consider fanny packs to be a crime against fashion, they can be an effective way to hide a gun, and often will allow concealment of a larger pistol than other methods. If you go this route use a pack designed specifically for concealed carry that keeps the gun secure while allowing for (relatively) quick access. Note that fanny pack carry can work especially well in tourist areas where fanny packs are more common.

6. Go deep – Deep concealment options sacrifice ease of access for more secure concealment. Many of these work well with warm weather clothes. Some options include bellybands, the Thunderwear or Smart Carry designs, and the Flashbang bra holster for women. These methods do make it slower and more difficult to draw. Make sure to practice with a (double-checked) unloaded gun first.

7. Open carry – Sometimes the best way to best way to carry a gun is not to hide it as all. By open carrying a handgun you can continue to carry an effective defensive handgun without the compromises required for concealment. If you open carry use a quality holster and consider a holster with active retention features.

Before you decide to open carry make sure you understand the laws in your area. For example, in Michigan, any handgun carried into a vehicle is automatically considered to be “concealed,” even if carried openly. This means that a Michigan Concealed Pistol License is ALWAYS required to carry a handgun in your vehicle. Other jurisdictions may have other laws that apply to open carry, or open carry may be banned outright. Make sure you understand the laws anywhere you open carry.

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Make sure to read my other articles on concealed carry tips:

Advice to new concealed carry permit holders

Advice to new CCW holders: Part 2 - Carry like a pro

Five tips for CCW pocket carry

Winter concealed carry tips for CCW permit holders

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