By Zebulon Pike
With record numbers of Americans participating in distance running, it follows that the POTG, not all of whom are OFWGs, would also be running. Concealed carry while running long distances is difficult and results in a drawer full of holsters used once. I have found a way that works, carrying a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380 in a PistolWear PT-2. I hope other runners can learn from my experience . . .
I started running seven years ago as part of a plan to lose weight. I didn’t expect to like it, but I lost 30 pounds and kept running, finishing 10 marathons since. I run about 15 miles per week, although some training weeks will see that many miles in a single run.
The most important thing I’ve learned about distance running: details matter. A frayed shirt seam rubbing on the soft skin under the arm turns into agony after a dozen miles. Arm swing too low magnifies fatigue at marathon distances. Toenails a fraction of a millimeter too long means bloody bruises and painful turf toe.
This is a point that non-runners won’t understand. You know who you are—if you do run, it’s in cargo shorts, leather belt, and cotton t-shirt. So if a frayed seam can cause problems, imagine what a heavy gun bouncing on your body mile after mile will do.
Those who would chide me for carrying “only” a .380 when I run should try running 20+ miles with a concealed, full-size handgun strapped anywhere on the body. It will be an unpleasant, if not downright painful experience. You will appreciate any savings in size and weight.
Figure 1 shows my choices. The .380 balances ballistics with pain-free carry and concealability under thin running clothes. The XDs .45 is a second, more powerful choice, but the extra size and 10.2 ounces really makes a difference when the miles add up.
Now, how to carry it?
I ruled-out shoulder carry (such as Kangaroo Carry). There was significant bounce unless the straps were tightened so much they constricted breathing. And it got drenched in sweat. I tried a Belly Band, and this actually worked OK for about 5 miles. After that, exposed parts of the grip and slide would rub my skin raw. The grip would print on thin, white shirts, a necessity for summer running. And it got drenched in sweat.
An IWB holster at 4 o’clock didn’t work. The hip motion of running made the gun bounce noticeably. Plus, a heavy belt chafes and sticks out noticeably under running clothes. And it also got drenched in sweat. OWB on a Fuel Belt was problematic, too. Even when I could fit a gun between the water bottles, concealability was non-existent without super long shirts.
Finally I settled on the Pistol Wear PT-2. The gun rides just below the waistline in a horizontal attitude. It’s enclosed to keep moisture away and undetectable under my running clothes. It’s quick to put on, with a helpful snap system. The BodyGuard .380 doesn’t bounce or move in the PT-2. I have run hundreds of miles with this rig, including runs of as many as 18 miles and it’s by far the best method.
This photo shows how all the gear fits into the PT-2 system. The iPhone rides in the 8 o’clock position on my hip, with the cord run under the back of my shirt where it won’t interfere with the drawstroke. It’s also a convenient place for ID, cash, and keys. Note the snaps under the reload pouch. Unlike with a belly band, I don’t have to fiddle with Velcro each time I gear up.
There are two downsides, though. First, the draw stroke is complicated. The PT-2 is a pouch, requiring lots of practice to get the hand in the right place. After much practice both stationary and moving, I found it easier if the plastic insert and magnetic clasp that come on the PT-2 are removed. Second, the PT-2 precludes me from using a Fuel Belt. I loved running with my Fuel Belt, but it simply doesn’t work with the PT-2. Now if I must bring water and food, I use a CamelBak Marathoner.
This shows how the entire rig disappears even under running clothes. The top of the pouch is just above the waistline, blending in with the black shorts in case my shirt rides up. I enjoy the irony of wearing a Chicago Marathon shirt while carrying.
Allow me to address what I expect the criticisms of this rig might be from the Armed Intelligentsia:
Caliber wars: Yes, the .380 is a light caliber. As for a bigger gun, you can get away with anything for a mile or so. If you claim to be a long-distance runner (half marathons and greater) and carry a full-size gun properly concealed under light running clothes without it rubbing your skin raw, well, I just don’t believe it.
Safety: I place nothing else in with the gun. The gun doesn’t move inside the pouch. If I cause a ND in the pouch, the gun is pointed to the left and slightly down, away from the body (unlike a belly band) with no more risk of a leg strike than if it was on my hip.
Situational awareness: You noticed my iPhone earbuds, eh? I keep the volume low enough to hear all but the stealthiest of operators. Plus, I usually run with my eyes open.
Running: Some may comment that running is dangerous for my knees, back, heart, whatever. Thanks for your concern. I’m happy to report that I’ve had no injuries thanks to good coaching (running club) and moderation. Most POTG could stand to lose some weight and increase exercise, whether it is running or not. Plus, concealed carry with any kind of rig is easier when there is less of you to love.