Back in the day, bad guys carried concealed weapons. Good guys wore their guns on their hips. Why wouldn’t they? Moms Demanding Action for Gun Sense in America see open carry as a combination of fantasy vigilantism and implied aggression. In truth, it’s a combination of social responsibility and personal deterrence. And, now, an effective way to “normalize” your natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms – by bringing that right into plain sight. Meanwhile, in Texas and elsewhere, concealed carry is the only option. Which has one major, potentially fatal disadvantage. . .
It’s harder to draw a weapon from concealment than it is from open carry.
Now we could argue about the inherent trade-offs between the two carry styles. Concealed carry offers the element of surprise. Open carry creates deterrence. Open carry might make an attacker more violent in the initial assault. Concealed carry’s element of surprise may come too late in the game to make any difference. Open carry might inspire a gun grab. Concealed carry might result in a botched draw.
Yes, there is that. The single, most important variable for anyone carrying a concealed firearm for personal self-defense is the speed and efficacy of their draw. Generally speaking, the gunfighter who lands hits on target first wins. Period. To win that battle, a concealed carrier must to be able to bring his or her pistol to bear quickly and effectively.
Unless you’ve tried drawing from concealment in a realistic drill – wearing the clothes you normally wear in the manner which you wear them while drawing your firearm under pressure (facing a simulated threat in a non-sterile environment) – you have no idea how easy it is to screw-up your draw. Badly. Your gun can get hung-up on your shirt, pants or coat. Your grip can become ineffective. You can forget to switch your safety off (despite having done it thousands of times). I’ve seen people drop their guns.
The good news: you don’t need a gun range to practice your draw from concealment. Just make your gun safe at home, holster that bad boy and practice your draw – moving while you draw (even if it’s a few steps). This may sound obsessive – my daughter calls it “showing off” – but I carry my main everyday carry gun (EDC) holstered around the house and draw from concealment a few dozen times throughout the day. [Note: I perform this drill with the pistol unloaded and safety-checked. I always aim in a safe direction. I do not dry fire after I draw.]
If you can get to a gun range where you can practice drawing from concealment and firing, do it. (Don’t forget to practice drawing and not firing.) Wear the same clothes you wear in the real world. If you have a variety of clothing styles (suit, casual wear, cold weather gear) and holsters (outside-the-waistband, inside-the-waistband, ankle) for a selection of guns (GLOCK 19, 1911, Kahr PM-9), practice with all of them. This is especially true for women, obvs.
And then . . .
Practice your draw from concealment during force-on-force training. Nothing short of the real deal can show you the true strengths and weaknesses of your carry methods. Nothing. That said, FoF facilities usually offer a limited selection of Simunition or Man Marker equipped firearms and holster styles, which may or may not provide an approximation of your EDC and carry rig. Discuss this with them in advance.
Given the fact that most (but not all) gunfights follow the 3-3-3 template – three yards, three seconds, three shots – practicing your draw from concealment is the most important form of firearms training you can do. The more you do it, the more you can concentrate on tactics and strategy. But that’s a story for another day.