Okay. You went to class, watched the videos, took the test, gone to the range, and been to the gun store. Now have your fresh State Issued Concealed Carry License. Add that to your shiny new carry firearm, fancy holster, and 18 rounds of Super Hot Elephant Defense Triple +P rounds loaded up and you’re ready to roll. You figured out how to strap the thing on your belt, put on your khaki photographer’s “concealment vest” and are headed out the door to start your daily routine. However, today you are ready to take on at least 15 attackers IF necessary.
On your first day, you’ll learn a few things about Every Day Carry (EDC). First, it’s a pain in the ass. Literally. Second, the thing is HEAVY. You’ll even ask yourself if maybe some “lighter loads” wouldn’t weigh you down as much. Third, you get snagged on the seatbelt countless times getting in and out of your vehicle. And then, you’ll start to wonder if people are staring at you and ask yourself a couple of questions. Do they know I’m carrying? Am I just being paranoid?
Without fail, you’ll have some interesting thoughts running through your head the first few days and weeks of EDC. We’ve all been there. Don’t worry though, you’ll get used to it. Like many things in life, it takes a little adjusting to get used to your new lifestyle. Yes, it will feel a bit uncomfortable at first and you will get paranoid on occasion. All of this is very normal and healthy. Heightened awareness is an essential skill to develop as you now carry. Being lackadaisical about your new responsibility would be, well, irresponsible to say the least. If you ever get to the point where you forget that you are carrying, you should leave your gun at home in the safe. Speaking of safes, you do have a safe don’t you? If not, stop reading this article and go buy one right now.
Adjusting your lifestyle
There are a few little secrets that are not covered in your CCW class, nor in any of the High Speed Low Drag Tactical Operator classes. These little things are actually very important. Most of us figure them out on our own, or you can learn from someone else’s mistakes.
First off, finding the right combination of “carry gun + holster + holster position” is a magic little triangle that no one can really teach you. It’s kind of like learning to ride a bicycle. You can watch a video, read an instruction manual, or watch your friends do it. However ,the only way to learn how to ride a bike is to get on it, fall down a few times, skin your knee, and figure it out for yourself.
We all have different body types and clothing preferences so not every “carry gun + holster + holster position” will work for every person. To that point, feel free to adjust your precise carry position and try it for a couple of days before you decide if you like it or not. There will be some trial and error here. When I joined a shooting club in Virginia many years ago, my mentor handed be a box of holsters. I asked what the box was for and he replied, “We all have a half-dozen extras that we have tried and did not like for whatever reason. Save yourself a few bucks and try each one for a week.” If you don’t have a shooting mentor with a box of old holsters, it’s time to make a new friend and meet one.
Picture this awkward moment. You arrive at your friend’s house for a swanky dinner party and the gracious hostess greets you at the front door. She leans in with a friendly air kiss and a hug, then GASP! She exclaims, “What the hell is that? Are you bringing a GUN into my house? Are you insane?!? We have children!! HONEY, call the POLICE!!”
Drama you say? In my first year of EDC many years ago, I went to a company awards banquet. I walked on stage to accept an award, I was caught unaware and hugged by a co-worker who grabbed my Colt 1911 Gold Cup (cocked and locked) and asked me what the hell is that? Thankfully, I was quick on my toes and took a step back. I pulled back my suit jacket back slightly to reveal a cell phone in a hard case that was just in front of the weapon on my hip. She looked confused for a second, but her eyes saw the phone and she relaxed. Don’t let this happen to you.
You can still hug, but there is a sneaky move. YOU need to initiate the lean in. When doing so, put your strong side (weapon side) hand under their arm and on their hip. You will need to practice this move, and maybe get yourself some ballroom dancing lessons as the start position is the same. Again, the best defense here is awareness. You typically know when someone is going to get friendly with you so be aware of it and smoothly protect your side. You don’t need to slap their hand if they reach in, just gracefully slip under it.
When Nature Calls
The next awkward situation you will eventually find yourself in will be answering the call of nature in a public place. This happens to all of us. As unsavory as it is, we all will face this and sometimes every day. Your first decision is WHERE to do your business. If a private restroom is not available and you’re forced to used a public one, the best move is the handicap stall. I like the extra room, plus they usually have their own sink.
Here is your next dilemma. You need to pull your pants down, but you have an extra three plus pounds of steel, plastic, and lead on your belt. What to do? First off, I highly recommend that you DO NOT stand anywhere near the toilet. At United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) matches, all competitors wear their unloaded guns on their belt until it is their time to shoot. This means you wear it the entire day. Every Match Director has a story about one knucklehead who dropped their $4,000 custom gun in a port-a-potty. And no, there is no easy way to get it out. Please don’t be that guy.
Depending on the setup, I like to draw and place my firearm on the sink. Since I will finish my business with washing my hands, I know I will not forget it. Don’t laugh, but a highly trained Federal Air Marshal left her duty weapon in a stall on the secure side of a major airport. All flights were shut down for hours when she realized the grave mistake. Needless to say, she is probably no longer protecting the friendly skies. I like the sink as long as it has a secure edge.
My second choice is the toilet paper dispenser, if it has a flat top. The worst case scenario here is having your gun fall off and go spinning out of control only to wind up two stalls down. Picture yourself dashing out of your stall, pants around your ankles, waddling at high-speed with your wedding tackle flapping in the breeze and having to ask the guy in the next stall if you can have your loaded gun back? This is very awkward scenario we all want to avoid.
No sink? No flat top toilet paper dispenser? Another sneaky move it just to set it down in your drawers. Yes, you read that right. Nobody said that EDC was going to be pretty or easy. However, this option keeps your weapon within reach and you’re highly unlikely to forget it.
Another advantage of using the handicap stall if one is available, is that it gives you room to put your act back together. Once you have done your business, you’ll need to reholster and get situated. Most big guys like me find this awkward and a cumbersome process in a tiny stall. It’s also a great opportunity to take a minute and use the mirror and do a little “Quality Assurance” and confirm that I’m not printing (gun visible through my shirt). Not to mention, it also gives me a chance to make sure I don’t have any toilet paper trailing from my shoe.
There are numerous situations where EDC adds a layer of complexity to life. However, with a little thought and practice it becomes second nature. The biggest thing is that you spend time carrying your side arm. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t drop your gun in the toilet!