Courtesy Alien Gear Holsters
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Some people change their concealed carry gun with the seasons. Should you do the same?

Some folks insist that the bulkier clothing of fall and winter requires sizing up to a bigger gun and/or a bigger caliber. Or at least a harder-hitting personal defense load. That M&P Shield or GLOCK 43 should be changed, these people say, to something like an M&P Compact, a GLOCK 19, or better yet a Government-size 1911 in .45 ACP, as God and John Moses Browning (which is basically redundant) intended.

Not only that, according to conventional wisdom, you should also use a winter carry load. Instead of that standard-pressure JHP, you need a +P load for better penetration through those layers of clothing or a different design, such as a Lehigh Extreme Penetrator projectile.

Is all that true? Should you?

You can if you want to, but you don’t actually have to for the most part.

There are some circumstances in which this old wisdom, which wasn’t invalid back in the day, still actually applies.

Okay, so this goes back to a time when Members Only jackets were all the rage and it was acceptable to listen to Peter Cetera. (Just kidding; it was never acceptable to listen to Peter Cetera. Now carve Slayer into your forearm and read on.)

Back in those days, the standard hollow point design was the old cup and core hollow point. That was a hard jacket around a soft lead core, with minimal (if any) bonding of the two components.

When entering fleshy tissue, the jacket of those rounds can fragment and peel off as expansion occurs. If you ever watch ammunition testing videos, you’ll see some of the more classic JHP loadings such as Remington Golden Saber or green and white box JHP do this while more modern bonded hollow point ammunition – such as Speer Gold Dot or Federal HST – does not.

Why is this important?

Back in the day, those bullet designs had a tendency to clog with clothing when police shot suspects or armed civilians defended themselves. It also become clear that larger caliber rounds, especially .45 ACP, had sufficient mass to keep going to acceptable depths of penetration, whereas 9mm (especially standard-pressure 9mm) did not.

This was part and parcel to the FBI’s ammunition tests in the wake of the 1986 Miami shootout and that whole 10mm/.40 S&W saga that most of us have heard enough of by now already. Therefore, the done thing was to carry 9mm in the warmer parts of the year and level up to .45 ACP, 10mm, .40 S&W or .357 Magnum when people start wearing more clothes.

Don’t believe me? Watch some Paul Harrell videos; he tests ammunition with a meat target wrapped in plenty of layers of clothing. It turns out even cheap JHP like 9mm Winchester White Box and Remington green and white box JHP are darned effective.

So, this sojourn into the weeds now comes full circle by saying if you carry quality, modern defensive ammunition, the change of seasons (and attire) is not a problem. Modern JHP and other types of self-defense ammunition are tested for penetration through multiple barriers, and many ammunition manufacturers use the FBI testing protocol for developing their practical ammo. In fact, many quality modern loads of .380 ACP will still be fine through a jacket and a few shirts.

Therefore, you don’t really have to change what you carry in terms of caliber if you carry quality ammunition. If you feel that you need to, maybe change from standard pressure to +P ammunition (assuming your carry gun is rated for it), but the truth is you don’t really need to.

However, there is one other instance in which you definitely WILL want to level up to a different gun.

Much of the United States doesn’t really have four distinct seasons; they have summer followed by slightly less summer. Those folks in the Southeast and a lot of the Southwest pretty much can skip this part. In those areas that DO experience all four seasons, you’ll probably have to wear gloves for a few months out of the year.

Your typical subcompact polymer striker-fired pistol may not have sufficient clearance inside the trigger guard for you to get a gloved finger on the trigger. Maybe you’ll be fine, but I wouldn’t be. I can shoot an M&P Shield just fine with my naked hand, but if I wear a glove thicker than, say, a golf glove, it’s a non-starter. I can shoot my carry gun fine with most gloves outside of my ski gloves.


What you’ll want to do is grab your typical pair of winter gloves, put them on and try it out with your usual concealed carry pistol (which has been cleared of all ammunition, of course). If you can’t easily get your trigger finger on the bang switch, then you have a problem.

In that case, you’ll want to either switch to carrying a bigger gun that allows sufficient gloved digit clearance or find yourself some thinner gloves.

Leather driving gloves aren’t a bad choice or – if you can get them – military surplus D3 leather gloves, though those are getting a little harder to find these days. Leather gloves of this sort offer good-enough protection against the cold, but are usually thin enough to get inside the trigger guard. They also look good, and it won’t kill you to have a little class for crying out loud.

So no, you don’t really need to switch to a bigger gun with the seasons. Unless, of course, you want to. Or you have to.

Fall, after all, is the perfect season for a 1911 in a high-ride OWB under a flannel shirt.

Disagree? Just came here to vent? Agree with me that Will Ferrell movies just aren’t that funny? Sound off in the comments.

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  1. I change them daily some times.
    Ti double action 41mag for my exercise carry.
    Old beat up Glock 23 that I can’t hurt any more for doing work
    SR1911 when I want something better looking.

    I have carried all three on the same day more then once.
    Plus others sometimes.

    • Indeed, I need to get a mouse gun for when I’m running. When I’m in the gym, not such an issue since I can just take a ‘pistol’ rifle with me. Joys of a personal gym.

  2. I go the other way.

    Summer I use off-body carry of G32 in a very well equipped Maxipedition Fatboy pack.

    In the winter, I conceal a very well customized G43 in my SCOTTeVEST jacket and vests.

    The water bottle strap in the right pocket is PERFECT for holding the gun in a stable position WHILE PROTECTING THE TRIGGER from negligent discharge. The spare mag fits perfectly in the left pocket internal coin pocket’.

    I can draw and hit head sized targets from concealment in 2 second at 10 yds. ALL DAY LONG.

    I hope my new P365 works here too. Haven’t rec’d it yet from PSA.

    • That’s nice. The academy I get my instruction from considers anything slower than 1.5 seconds a fail. So you’d fail in my dojo.

  3. Hey, Sam Hoober, my wife and I have been together since the mid ’80s. Our “first song” is one of Peter Cetera’s. You can pound sand for your lack of appreciation of the decade.

    • My warm weather carry is a Sig P320 Compact loaded with Hornady Critical Duty 124gr +P in an AIWB holster, while my cold weather carry is a Sig P320 Compact loaded with Hornady Critical Duty 124gr +P in an AIWB holster. Same gun, same ammo, same holster, same carry position, every day of the year

      • @rudukai13 – Thanks for the assist!

        My warm weather carry is a Sig P320 Sub-Compact (grip frame) loaded with Federal HST 230gr in an IWB holster, while my cold weather carry is a Sig P320 Carry (grip frame) loaded with Federal HST 230gr +P in an IWB holster. Same gun, same ammo, same holster, same carry position, every day of the year.

  4. I love my .45 but it doesn’t hide well so it stays at home most of the year. Soon as the temperature drops enough to permit the bulk of a coat it goes into the shoulder rig and one of the 9’s gets relegated to BUG status. Nothing really tactical about it. It’s more about the comfort of shoulder holster carry and the fact I like the heft of the bigger gun. Plus it’s nice to have options.

  5. I don’t change it up. Except in winter I stick my Taurus 709 in my bigazz coat. Same gun though. +100 for the Paul Harrell reference. I carry Sig 124gr because of him.

  6. “Should You Change Your Concealed Carry Gun With The Seasons?”

    I guess one could if they were inclined, but I carry the same gun, the same way, everytime I leave my property…no surprises for me…

  7. My Sneaky Pete keeps my Glock 43 accessible in all seasons. I rarely wear a coat; layers with a light jacket unless it gets down into the teens. My “it is really cold” coat only comes to my waist, so even then, my holster is un-obstructed. Gloves are another story. My snow-clearing gloves are definately not gun-friendly. My daily wear winter gloves are, but, shamefully, I have not practiced with them. I need to fix that.

  8. Peter Cetera rocked when Chicago ruled. I still have some of their albums.
    And you are correct, Will Ferrell sucks.

    Oh, and no.

  9. Penetration schmenetration. For me it’s a matter of concealment.

    I can carry a full size pistol during the Northeast winter. Those heavy clothes make for perfect concealment. In the summer, I have to go small or go home.

    • Exactly.
      If I could carry my 19X year round, I would.
      Bless you if you can but I can’t pull off concealing that pistol in the Summer.

  10. Exactly who are these “some people”/”some folks”?

    Are they related to “you people”?

  11. did you get paid for this…?

    if yes – you are stealing money

    if no – you were still overpaid

  12. I do but both are Glocks.
    G48 for warmer weather and early Fall.
    19X for Winter or when I’m wearing a coat.

    • That makes sense. My CCW instructor suggests that to his class of students wanting to qualify several different guns, I.e. snubnose, G19, Shield, 1911. For me it got to a point where I only carry glock 19 or a shield, rarely the Sig or Ruger LC or XD.

  13. No. Just no.

    Your carry gun is not a fashion accessory or a conversation piece with friends.

    Even guns with the exact same manual of arms can be problematic because of differences in size or carry position (which is another rant.)

    Quit playing around. Get serious!

    Carry one thing.
    Master its use.

    Collect all the range toys your want.

    • ^^ Super triple turbo titanium this ^^

      Your EDC is for function, not fashion. Do not ever show it off. Train with it regularly. Have fun with your toys at the range or desert.

  14. My philosophy is to carry about as much gun as I can given the circumstances, keeping in mind that I conceal carry and like to keep it that way. There are times when all I carry is a .380 but in less hot weather I see no reason to do so. When it gets cold enough to wear an outer garment I’ll usually have either a .45 or a .357 depending on if I’m in a rural or urban environment. That said, I don’t feel outgunned carrying my P365. All of them have better triggers and sight radiuses than my .380.

    Ultimately, having a gun puts you way ahead of the pack in terms of defending yourself. I’m guessing I’ll ‘probably’ never have to draw my firearm while conceal carrying. If I do, I’ll probably not have to fire it. If I do, I’ll probably not have to fire more than a few rounds and the caliber is unlikely to make a difference of life or death. There’s a lot of long odds coming into play to say that one gun will make a difference over another (unless you live in Chicago, Baltimore, etc).

    So “should you”? If you want, sure.

  15. My responses:


    Ferrel movies tend to be funnier than Jim Carrey movies*, but that’s not saying very much, when you get right down to it.

    *Except for The Cable Guy. I love that one, for some reason.

    I liked the Peter Cetera joke, but the punchline would have been punchier if you’d picked a band that wasn’t as awful as Cetera. Slayer = “trying too hard” (see also: ICP and Slipknot) 😉

  16. Nope. Weather makes no difference how I carry. I carry my P229 .40 appendix summer, winter even swimming! Yes it really went for a swim once, accidentally. Just like a cartoon, I pointed my gun down and water poured out the barrel. That was an “Oh fu—” moment.

  17. Summer: Sig P365 M/S w/ 1x 12rnd mag; Cor-bon 115 DPX +P

    Spring/Winter/Fall: G19 w/ 3 magazines; 1 mag of Cor-bon 80gr Glaser Blue +P (or Cor-bon 100gr Urban Response +P when temps dip below 32F), 1 mag of Hornady Critical Duty 135gr, and 1 mag of good ole’ M39/b.

    Side notes: I hate summers and Dallas is starting to suck too. Can’t wait to be back in Tennessee f/t…

  18. I don’t change what I carry so much with season, but how I have to dress for where I have to go.
    75% of the time Walther PPS M2 at 3:30 to 4 or pocket carry LCP 25% of the time.

  19. I’m outdoors more this time of year so I carry a better MM for critters as well as people. I also tend to be wearing heavier clothing so, uh, maybe?

  20. Sig 938 in spring summer, sig nightmare fall winter. One of the few advantages of living in the cold and snow:)

  21. I switch from a 1911 patterned pistol to a striker fired pistol when the daily high temperature falls below freezing. The reason is “feel.” When you wear winter gloves you lose your sense of touch which makes manipulating a safety and that short 1911 trigger problematic. So, sometime between mid November and Christmas I switch from an EMP to my full size APX. It turns out that the APX is perfect for my parka. The holster fits snuggly into the oversized breast pocket for a perfect crossdraw configuration. A smaller pistol would get lost in the pocket.

  22. Nope.

    But I think a lot of people view the need for more garments as an opportunity to carry a bigger gun. Because they can…….I get that.

    Down here, winter means a wind breaker and occasionally a jacket. But when I go in someplace, I take it off to keep from sweating like a sumbitch.

    So I pretty much carry what I always carry….LCP, LCR, Glock 43, Glock 48 or some combination.

    If I lived in yankee land….again……I think I’d carry the same thing….cause I took off my jacket when I went inside when I lived there.

    And some of the new bullet designs dont expand that well in FBI tests…..check out the Lucky Gunner lab tests.

  23. Not really a weather/seasonal thing for me so much as it is about where I am going and what I am doing. Often a full size gun is not doable. Often a Kel-Tec P3AT .380 in my pocket is all I can do.

    When circumstances allow I still carry the pocket gun but add a Ruger SR9 to the belt holster.

  24. I switch between 3 different carry guns, manual of arms be damned. I’ve been using and carrying so many different guns my whole life that manual of arms doesn’t apply to me. And I’d be willing to bet a case of beer on that trip to the range to prove it.

  25. Good article but the progression is backwards. Ideally, we all would love to carry a full size handgun for the obvious reasons. Cold weather drives heavier and longer upper body clothing enabling you to carry full size discreetly.

    It is when we shed those layers in summer, full size handguns loose their compatibility with lighter and less clothing unless you wear a suit jacket or the foolish safari vest all day, Lol. This leads most CC’ers to compromise and downsize the handgun to various sizes, which may drive a caliber change to get more capacity or better recoil control on small grip light guns. You pick you bottom line between gun and attire. IMHO

  26. It’s always a compromise. If it weren’t, you would change your carry gun based on the threat level, not the weather. The threat level is probably greater in the warmer months unless you’re a gay black actor in Chicago.

  27. tshirt summer all small single stack, crossbreed hybrid.
    now we gots a long sleeve t over, maybe flannelette, the higher riding full leather (r.grizzle).
    sweatshirts and jackets i’m back to crossbreed but with double stack.

    anchorman is on my shortlist of funnies.

    and all the voices for chicago were great. but the 80’s gave tons. descendants for the win.

  28. The gun community can be it’s own enemy from time to time. I see the logic behind having just one gun that you train with so it’s the same all of the time. That said, if someone is getting excited about shooting and they want to carry whatever new gun they buy, telling them that they’re dumb and unprepared may ruin that excitement. More than that, if there’s a million DGUs per year and only 10K shots fired, that’s a 99% chance of never even pulling the trigger. Better by a hundred million miles to rotate carry than to not carry at all.

    I usually carry the same gun (CZ75 Compact) therefore I train with it more than any other gun. That said, I will sometimes wear an OWB leather holster with an old S&W 681 if I’m out in the woods and sometimes I’ll wear an old Milsurp in an old Milsurp holster like a Makarov if I’m going to the range with a group of friends (because I’m a hipster).

  29. This only works in the south, but I recommend just changing your outer shirt rather than the weapon. A T-shirt with an unbuttoned “button” shirt over it (untucked) will cover up almost anything if you IWB carry under the T-shirt. Black, white, and nice clothing for winter when its not a sweating contest… blue and not as nice shirts in the summer, when its miserable.

  30. I wear a suit every day so if I want to conceal a full sized 1911 in the summer, it’s not a problem.

    Colder weather just means I also put a BUG revolver in the pocket of my overcoat.

  31. I totally agree with you, Will Ferrell movies aren’t funny. But, hey! He makes more money than I ever did, so more power to him. Just ain’t none of it my money.

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