In the gun world, different types of shooters favor particular types of firearms. The same general principle applies to cyclists. Given the wide variety of riders and bicycles, there’s no simple solution for bicycle carry. A pistol-packing cyclist must balance ease of access against retention, consider concealment vs. caliber, and calculate gun size in relation to weight. In some states, open carry makes bicycle carry a relatively easy proposition. Until it doesn’t. So I’ve been investigating concealed bicycle carry. Here are the four basic types of cycling and my recommendations for each . . .
1. Casual/recreational riders
Casual/recreational cyclists ride slowly on paved pathways for short times and distances. They wear pretty much the same clothes they’d wear while walking. They’re the cycling equivalent of people who go to the range once in a blue moon.
The simple advice for these cyclists: carry on as per normal. If a CCW system works when you stroll it’ll work when you bike.
Saying that, “naked” pocket carry can be problematic; a small gun can work its way up your pocket while riding, fall and then skitter on the pavement. Also, it’s damn near impossible to pull a gun from your pocket while riding. Yes, while riding. Think escape and evade.
While an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster is a lot more useful and discreet, many CCW licensees (especially OFWGs) have trouble sitting comfortably wearing an IWB holster. That may be doubly true when bicycling. Obviously, the further around your body you position your IWB holster the more comfortable it’s likely to be on a bike.
An outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster with a baggy shirt can be an ideal bicycle carry set-up: comfortable, accessible and discreet. If you go for OWB, make sure the gun is completely secure in the holster. There’s no jolt quite like hitting a pothole at speed. Also, bicycles crash, sometime spectacularly. Best to “wake up” with your gun on your person.
At the same time, the gun shouldn’t be too tight in the holster, lest you struggle to remove it when you needed. Retention systems can be particularly tricky to operate on the move.
Practice (a.k.a. “situational familiarity) is the key. Unload and safety check your weapon in a discreet location. Then draw and shoot on the move. You’ll soon see that one-handed shooting practice a priority for anyone who chooses bicycle carry.
2. Commuter/transportation riders
These riders are experienced and fit. They wear anything from work clothes (including suits) to lycra. They’re like the shooters who go to the range on a regular basis with high-end, well-maintained firepower.
If you bicycle in your normal clothes, carry on as above. If you wear lycra/jersey, you’re best off carrying in a pack. There are a number of excellent solutions, like the Drop Leg Motorcycle Scooter ATV Enduro Dirt Pit Bike Cycling Fanny Pack Waist Belt Bag above.
Road racers/road race wannabes
Think Tour de France and Lance Armstrong: riders wearing brightly colored, tight-fitting garments atop bikes that weigh as much a toothpick. Road racers are like shooters who compete on a regular basis with hugely expensive, extensively modified “race guns.”
Hard-core cyclists typically pay $1 per gram of weight lost on a bike. A “real” roadie would no more add 1000 grams of gun/holster than jump on a Schwinn Hollywood. If road racers are about security, they usually count on their mount’s speed and stealth to avoid or escape a lethal threat. After that, it’s pepper spray, useful for both dogs and two-legged predators.
If road racers carry, they pack the smallest, lightest and let’s face it sexiest gun available. The biggest issue they fail to consider: sweat. Depending on a rider’s chemistry, sweat can be almost as corrosive as battery acid. Polymer guns are a godsend, but they must be maintained and tested religiously.
For OWB, a road racer’s well advised to use a nylon belt (e.g. the Wilderness Frequent Flyer), a Kydex holster and, again, a plastic corrosion resistant gun. Fanny pack? You’re kidding, right?
Given the forces involved, a fanny pack is the ideal solution for mountain bike carry. It offers easy access to hydration and armed self-defense. There are a lot of choices, including packs made for the job. But it really is a case of try before you buy.
Your gun should fit the pack perfectly: tight but not too tight. Ideally, it should be a pack you can open with one hand while riding (see: fumbling above) and have a separate compartment so that you don’t struggle to draw when push comes to shove.
While a fanny pack enables a larger gun, remember that the more weight you carry in the pack, the more likely it is that the pack will bounce around. Strapping it down might solve one problem while creating another.
If you don’t carry a fanny pack, a gun belt under a jersey with an OWB holster will git ‘er done. I carry a Glock 17 in this manner with no difficulty at all, and it’s pretty comfortable. Bike cops carry on a belt all day long. Although they can do so without getting pulled over . . .
Bicycling is a terrific way to stay in shape. Staying in shape is a terrific way to stay alive, both in terms of staving-off obesity-related conditions and having the strength and endurance to survive a gunfight. Both on and off your bike.