The number of people who are “carrying concealed” is rapidly growing each day. No longer are ex-law enforcement, military and hardcore shooting enthusiasts the only ones who are pursuing the appropriate concealed carry licensing. Whether this is from the sense that the world is getting more dangerous, or that people are just “waking up” to their God-given rights, more than ever before a wider range of people are legally carrying concealed firearms.
This newer audience of gun-toting enthusiasts often does not come with the depth and breadth of “gun background” in order to fully understand the nuances when carrying concealed. One such bit of knowledge is how to properly break in new gear. “New gear” means anything related to carrying concealed that where changes are made. These changes could affect 1)the shooter, 2) the access to the weapon or 3) the shooter’s natural dynamic.
This blog post presents the protocol I use when I introduce new “carry gear”.
Carrying concealed is not a “sport”. Each of us has a different reason for doing it. Ultimately, we would and should only use our concealed carry status in a life or death situation. We cannot be fumbling around or trying to figure out “new gear” in a moment when our lives depend on it.
When we introduce new gear, we are able to change old habits and ways when interacting with concealed carry components. Many guns, such as a Glock, require zero other interaction with the gun to carry “one in the spout” safely. Whereas a 1911-style gun (with a hammer and safety) requires manual interaction in order to carry safely. This means that several new habits have to be acquired. Similarly, should you move more aggressively, a gun that sits deep in your carry holster is less likely to accidentally go flying across the room than one that sits shallower in the holster.
Whenever we make a change, we make some imbalances (temporary) in our habits with the gear. Therefore, in order to use the proper safe and ready “carry posture”, we need to break-in the new gear safely. We have to build new habits and become completely familiar with the new gear as part of the whole system.
First the caveat… This is my system and it is not the only system for breaking in new gear. I would, however, dare to say it is a reasonable guideline. If you are totally new to guns or are uncomfortable with them, then save the rest of the blog for later. First, please find a “gun coach” who will help you become baselined in “gun-ology”. This will allow you to get into a comfortable state with your gun.
A piece of wisdom: when you hold, shoot or interact with your gun and you do not feel reasonably competent, then you should not carry concealed. When handling your gun and you still feel discomfort at the thought of using it… YOU SHOULD NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, CARRY CONCEALED!!
Again, I advise you to find a coach to help you become comfortable with your gun.
Now the warning… This method of breaking in a gun takes time and puts your “carry” posture in a less than “high alert” posture. If you are a person at high risk, then you may need to modify this method in order to keep your posture at “high alert” during times when you are most vulnerable. Ways that you can do this are:
- Work through all of the steps under non-risk scenarios while continuing to use the old gear during high risk scenarios.
- Stage all of the recommended steps and techniques outlined under controlled circumstances (training events). Do so while not changing out the old gear during normal circumstances (that includes the high risk scenarios).
Understand that taking either of these steps, there will still be a “conversion moment.” This is the point where old gear goes away and new gear is activated. It is during this time that you are at the greatest risk. Try to attempt this conversion at a point in time where you are in low risk scenarios.
The following are ways that I break-in new carry gear to ensure that I am safely and competently carrying:
- Gear train-up – The first thing that I do with new gear is to train-up thoroughly. Note: during this period I am not under any circumstances “carrying” this new piece of gear in a real world scenario. When it is a new gun, I do my break-in and train-up on the nuances of the gun. If modifications need to be made, then I make the modifications and retrain-up. If it is a holster, I will take it to a range, or even better take it to an IDPA match, and shoot tactically (drawing and shooting). I will learn how it fits on my pants, what things I need to change (maybe the keys need to go into the other pocket?), etc. Just shooting a magazine through a gun or walking around the house for a few hours with a holster is NOT equivalent to learning the gun. By the way, DO NOT forget to RTFM (READ THE FREAKING MANUAL).
- Initial system familiarization period – After I train-up on new gear, I have a period (two days to a week) of “initial system training. ” During “safe” times (at home lounging around), I put all of the “carry system” components together as they would be under normal circumstances and wear it around. The gun is not loaded during this period… period! During this time is when you begin to realize the nuances to the total system – you may need to go figure out these nuances. Let’s say the gun sits higher on your body. You may need to find a holster that rides lower. The position in which you normally carried may not work anymore and you will have to change that position. There will be several new issues that arise. In discovering them, you may need to go back to Step 1 and re-train, especially when changing holsters (new gear) and/or changing your carry position.
- Carry break-in period – After I train-up and have my initial system familiarization period, I then have a period of “carry break-in”. During this phase, I “carry” as I normally would carry. There is one exception – there is no bullet in the chamber (assuming the carry pistol is a semi-automatic). If it is a revolver, then I would carry as normal. The purpose of this period is to go through normal carry activities ensuring no other issues that crop-up. “Normal” activities involve getting in and out of cars, doing work activities that involve aggressive movements or arming and disarming as you go to places where carrying is not permitted. I do this without a round in a semi-auto chamber to minimize any UD/DAD, especially as I move through activities that I have not attempted. Personally, I tend to do this for two to four weeks. It can take that long to cycle through all types of alternative scenarios that one may encounter.
After working through each of these phases, I feel it is safe to carry “hot”. I know that I have properly worked up my gear to enable me to use it safely.
Remember: each mistake that a “carrier” makes reflects on all of us. It is your sole responsibility, which comes with the right to carry, to know you are safe and capable. Anyone (no matter how experienced or competent of a “gun bunny” you think you are) who takes new gear and walks out the door in a full “go” carry posture is a fool. Even the simplest change to your system can become a life or death situation to you or others.
“Carrying” is not just a buy-and-go proposition. It requires muscle-memory and flawless knowledge to be able to use the complete system in moments of severe circumstances. Whether you use the protocol outlined here or some other, always know that you are carrying safely and competently.