Back to School: Carry Options for Students At Campus Carry Universities
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For the last two weeks, college students across America have headed back to school. Cars packed to the gills with stuff have unloaded into dorms and apartments. In addition to all the mini fridges, Xboxes, and hot plates, some of those students also have carry licenses. Even better, more states now allow licensed students to carry on college campuses. For those students, we bring you some carry options to consider.

First and foremost, stealth remains the primary concern. The first rule of concealed carry is don’t talk about the fact that you concealed carry. While the laws may allow armed self-defense, rest assured that plenty of one’s fellow students and virtually no faculty members will keep an open mind about armed self-defense.

Back to School: Carry Options for Students At Campus Carry Universities

With this in mind, a small carry pistol will probably serve campus carriers best while remaining utterly undetected by others. I love the Ruger LCP-II .380 pistol in this role.  Need another reason to consider the LCP-II aside from its great trigger, light weight and compact size?  Its price:  in the low- to mid-$200s.  When loaded with Precision One XTP hollow-points (or other XTP loads), it provides good penetration and consistent expansion.

Use a little sight paint to on the front sight blade in your favorite neon color for faster acquisition. Once you’ve done that, you will have yourself a great, deep-concealment companion. At the same time, with a little pocket “holster” (like the $20 DeSantis Nemesis pictured below) to break up the pistol’s outline, you can discretely carry it in a cargo or pants pocket and no one will know.

Back to School: Carry Options for Students At Campus Carry Universities

If you feel a little under-armed with a .380 Auto, take a look at the new SIG P365 9mm. With 10+1 (or 12+1 with the slightly longer magazine) rounds, you’ll have plenty of 9mm bubble gum to get out most bad situations. Yes, it weighs slightly more than an LCP-II and isn’t as pocketable, but it still runs on an impressively petite frame.

The gun comes with night sights standard along with a great trigger. Additionally, it fits small- to medium-sized paws very nicely. Earlier this year I ran it through its paces and firmly believe the P365 stands as today’s best general carry CCW gun.

Back to School: Carry Options for Students At Campus Carry Universities

You will probably need to carry this pistol or similar sized handguns on your belt. Of course, you’ll need to dress around the gun. Think deep concealment. Nobody should see outlines of a gun when you sit or bend over. But then again, college students are not known for tucked in shirts or formal clothing.

Campus environments run friendly to guys’ loose-fitting casual wear. Obviously, with a tuckable holster and a tucked-in shirt, one or more of those tell-tale belt clips will still remain exposed for trained eyes to catch.

Ladies, do not despair. You too can discretely carry on the waist and still wear cute clothes. Can Can Concealment has a number of “hip hugger” holsters that will make that Ruger LCP-II or similar pistol virtually disappear. Yes, even while wearing yoga pants or snug jeans.

Back to School: Carry Options for Students At Campus Carry Universities

Obviously the Ruger LCP pistol (above left) conceals better than the revolver.

While not ideal, off-body carry stands as another option for college students. Better man-purses, satchels or messenger bags will have several compartments. A licensed carrier can pick a compartment and dedicate it to a pistol or a revolver for ultra-discrete carry. Ideally, use an insert like a DeSantis Bag Packer (below, about $20) to hold the gun oriented correctly.

Back to School: Carry Options for Students At Campus Carry Universities

Of course, the risk of off-body carry is losing the gun to theft of the bag. However, proper care and common sense lowers that risk dramatically.

Again, practice stealth when it comes to off-body carry. Avoid anything firearm-branded, camo patterns or anything that remotely looks military. In other words, choose LL Bean-branded gear over Smith & Wesson. 5.11 makes very good stuff, but if you want to remain completely under the radar, choose carefully.

Back to School: Carry Options for Students At Campus Carry Universities

If you practice off-body carry in a backpack or satchel of some sort, a revolver might serve as a better choice. Why? Because a revolver will fire pretty reliably from inside that pocket, purse or bag if need be. On the other hand, most semi-autos will hang up and require a malfunction clearing drill after that first shot when fired from tight compartments.

With off body carry, one can access the firearm and gain a good firing grip in a potential critical incident without anyone knowing – including the bad guy(s). At average self-defense distances of nine feet or less, one can make good hits from a purse, pocket or bag.

Buy a purse or bag or two for a few bucks at the local Goodwill store and try it at the range. It really works.

Later, if you see things about to go sideways, you can reach into that pocket while clutching your pack, grab hold of your pistola and even point it at a potential threat. And should things really go south, you can give the bad guy the biggest surprise of his life.

Of course, if the situation resolves itself amicably, then zip up that compartment and go about your business. Nobody will ever know.

Back to School: Carry Options for Students At Campus Carry Universities

Because dollars count for college students, the Taurus Model 85 series .38 Special provides a lot of bang for not a lot of bucks.  The .38 Special round has stopped bad people with evil in their hearts for about 100 years now. With modern bullet engineering, they just keep getting better.

Greg Elifritz of Active Response Training recommends three loads for snub-nosed .38 revolvers.

  1. Speer Gold Dot 135 grain Hollowpoint (13.1″ penetration and expansion to .56 in bare gelatin)
  2. Winchester Ranger 130 grain Bonded Hollowpoint (12.75″ penetration and expansion to .56 in bare gelatin)
  3. Corbon DPX 110 grain copper Hollowpoint (13″ penetration and expansion to .52 in bare gelatin)

Meanwhile, Ruger’s LCR is a great little pistol. And Smith & Wesson has a whole slew of great J-frames. But they all fetch about double or triple the price of a Taurus 85. If you have budget constraints, get the Taurus 85 in your favorite configuration. It will serve you well at an affordable price.

Also, revolvers tend to shoot more reliably than semi-autos. Not only that, but for novices, 5- and 6-shooters are easy to use. For 150 years, revolvers have served as the original point-and-click interface.

Just because you attend a college or university doesn’t mean you have to leave your self-defense at home. Many states now allow campus carry for those who can lawfully carry.  We always recommend carrying everywhere you can legally do so!

Remember, the only thing that stops bad people with evil in their hearts is a good guy with a gun.



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  1. I hear the conceal conceal conceal part, and I get it, but in college don’t just hide your pro gun beliefs, even if the anti 1st/2nd amendment crowd is particularly vocal. You can be an influencer of ideas rather than avoiding the topic.

    Do invite your friends or others you meet, or even those you see marching around at anti gun protests to come shooting with you. Maybe join or start a campus carry club.

    And, I might add, be a responsible carrier, don’t do stupid things with your gun that end with you on the news in a mug shot (like show your gun off to friends and point your “unloaded” gun at them and negligently kill them). Or party hard with your pistol.

  2. The times have changed for sure. Back when I was in college (said, of course in a crusty OFWG voice), I was planning to leave my apartment unoccupied for a vacation, and didn’t want to leave my Trooper Mk 4 at risk for theft. I just asked one of my geology profs if he could lock it up in his secure, on-campus storage. Problem solved! He admired the gun, too.

  3. Even though I do agree with campus-carry, or just ‘carrying’ in general, I am not a big fan of discussing my survival tool(s), firearm or not, *with anyone*. I toss questions (hopefully anonymously), to the places I practice/train, but quite frankly, I am not the least bit interested in discussing firearms with anyone not already in the mix.

    Only potential issue I see with campus carry is, who is partaking in the consumption of alcohol, legalized Marijuana or self-medicating –while armed? Not only students, this means *everyone* on campus.

    Loose lips may sink your ship. The only possible person(s) you should reveal your carry status to is whom ever is required by law, the person who maintains your tool of choice and the moron for which you need to defend yourself against.

    I’ll go stand in the corner

    • “Only potential issue I see with campus carry is, who is partaking in the consumption of alcohol, legalized Marijuana or self-medicating –while armed?”

      What does that have to do with campus carry? This is a matter of marginality. That is, what changes at the margin? What changes just by the addition of campus carry, holding all else equal? Nothing.

      With rare exception, we’re talking about students age 21+, which as a practical matter means this doesn’t even really apply to traditional undergraduates. Drunks and druggies typically would have flunked out by senior year, anyway. So we’re really talking more about graduate students, law/med school students, and non-traditional older students (read: parents, ex-military, degree completing students). These are by far some of the most responsible people in our society.

      Even the undergraduates carrying aren’t really changing anything by carrying on campus. These same people would be carrying even off campus, were campus carry illegal, and we know that licensed concealed carriers are among the most law abiding demographic out there. They’re even better than police, by some accounts.

      So at the margin, nothing really changes by allowing already-demonstrated responsible people to carry on campus. The image of “Animal House” with machine guns just doesn’t reflect the reality of campus carry. We’ve had many years of experience at schools across multiple states and the blood in the classrooms predictions have never come true.

  4. Dear God. Not the Taurus. The 642 is selling for cheap recently and the shrouded hammer is perfect for not getting hung up in a bag. No reason not to go that route. Hell I recently saw one for about $350 with a laser grip. I paid $600 for that combo a few years ago.

    • People rag on Taurus, but I think that a lot of the criticism is undeserved. I bought a Taurus 85GRC back in ’99 and have put many hundreds of rounds through it over the years. Only thing wrong with it is that it doesn’t like reloads of any kind, not even “factory” reloads; something about very tight tolerances requires that I use fresh factory ammo only. As long as I used that, never any problems.

      Other than hanging up sometimes with reloads, the only other issue I had with it was just this last March, after giving it a thorough cleaning and some dry firing to work in a bit of oil, a screw came out of the frame along with a spring and the cylinder fell off. Took it to a local gunsmith and he put it back together good as new in five minutes, no charge.

      It can be surprisingly accurate for what it is. I put florescent paint on the sights and in broad daylight, when I can get a good sight picture, I’ve hit pop cans with it at 25 yards, no kidding.

      A friend of mine has a Taurus Judge for home defense. Beautiful weapon; shot it myself when we were at the range the other day. I would not hesitate to recommend that for anyone as a home defense option or car/woods gun.

  5. Why do people actually trust the P365? Cool yours may be flawless through the first 500 rounds. Have people not heard about how many people have experienced dead triggers or broken firing pins with the newest Sig offering?

    • No model of gun is perfect. It’s a mechanical device and they fail once in a blue moon. Over tens of millions of rounds fired in a P365 and there have been a tiny handful of gun breakages.

      Frankly, the typical user is more likely to have an ammunition failure than a broken gun malfunction.

      So that’s why people trust the SigP365.


    • The very first run had some issues which they’ve fixed. It’s a genuinely great pistol- just make sure it has the factory tritium sights, which they switched to after the last issues were ironed out.

  6. @ Michael says: August 27, 2018 at 17:52,

    You Sir, are forcing criminal behavior on my part, I am stealing the above post of yours and using it to its fullest!

    Thank You, signed: ANONNYMOUS\criminal

  7. Meh, I just carry my USP at IWB at 4 o’clock like always. Swap to a G19 on certain days but same carry method. While I don’t like “switching it up” or carrying a “smaller gun” some days when I ride a bicycle across campus it just works better.

    Black Arch Ace 1 Gen 2 holsters for both guns.

    Colorado gets something spot the fuck on and campus carry, as well as the rules/laws that go along with it are one of those things.

    Only thing I changed this year was I swapped out my old knife for a MicroTech Ultratech OTF auto knife since auto knives are now legal in Colorado.

  8. Campus carry is legal in my state. Some times I CC three guns on campus just because I know it would utterly horrify the leftists that surround me.

    My first time around many years back I had a HK91 in my dorm room. Ahhh college.

  9. It would have been nice if the article listed at least a few of the colleges where concealed carry is legal.

  10. You can spend $80 on a name brand belly band, or $20 on an belly band, which functions the same, but doesn’t have a fancy website. I like the belly band for really deep concealment with a small pistol.

    I personally carry a Sig P238 in a DeSantis Nemesis when I need DEEP concealment – you can either carry it in your pocket or “mexican carry” if you also have a belt – the grippy material will cling between your skin and your pants assuming you tighten the belt – this is fine for running to the store.

    If I’m going somewhere and it needs to stay super concealed, then I break out the belly band and wear it low on my hips at about the same level as my skinny jeans, because I’m a pumpkin spice soy latte drinking millenial.

  11. John! Please! An LCR is not a pistol! If I have to learn all this new crap, so do you. A pistol has only one chamber. An LCR is a revolver, or a handgun, but not a pistol. Nanny-nanny-boo-boo!

  12. In 2007, shortly after Kansas passed the first version revised of KSA 75-7c I attended K-State “empty holster protest.” There were many students and professors with empty holsters on campus and attending the demonstrations. I was not currently an active college student at K-State or Wichita State.
    My holster was concealed and not empty.
    Maybe there are too many snonflakes of all ages on some college camps, but don’t assume that all teachers are insane and suicidal. Many are armed and will stand their ground on campus. Kansas amended the state’s Bill of Rights Art 4 to clarify the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right to self-defense and any other lawful purpose. Kansas a Constitutional Carry State and has SYG, Castle Doctrine and protection from arrest and civil suits.

  13. I compared carry laws state by state and students in many states are now forbidden to carry guns on campus. Especially after recent events with shootings and deaths. Arizona laws allow guns only when a program has been approved by the school. I wrote a comparison paper contrasting Arizona and California laws.

  14. The coronavirus outbreak has brought significant disruptions to everyday life, and children are experiencing them especially deeply. While returning to school will be exciting and exciting for many students, other children will feel anxious and fearful. I wrote an essay on this topic with the service specialists –


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