When we think about concealed carry, we think about our preference in guns and holsters, ammunition selection, ancillary gear such as flash lights, OC and the like. In addition, we think about clothing choices, back-up guns, and maybe a little about tactics. Rarely do we give much thought to weapon retention as it relates to carrying concealed. We will take a brief look at some considerations related to weapon retention that may help the reader in the future when the subject arises.
Weapon retention simply means maintaining possession and control of your concealed carry handgun(s) at all times during confrontation, physical activity, or just living everyday life. Considerations should be given to the carry location, type of holster used, clothing and anticipated activity while carrying concealed, with both accessibility and retention in mind. It is possible to secure the weapon so well that only limited circumstances would allow availability. That being said, having a gun but not being able to get to it when we need it is worse than not having one at all. There is a fine line between having your gun accessible and ensuring retention; but with a little thought and application, a viable compromise can be found.
One of the first steps to ensure weapon retention is exercising effective concealment. If you are the only one that knows that you have a gun on your person, then there is little likelihood of having the gun removed from its carry location by another person. The clothes that we wear need to afford adequate concealability without attracting attention to ourselves. That should start with wearing something that is contemporary in style while matching the prevailing weather conditions. Wearing clothes that don’t match in either type or color, or wearing a rain jacket on a warm sunny day is sure to attract the attention of the most oblivious observer. Balance of the carried equipment is important as well, in the way our clothes fit on our bodies. Too much weight on one side or the other of a pocket carry will cause the garment to hang at an odd angle or swing asymmetrically during movement which may attract the attention of the astute observer. Carrying in a location that requires constant touching or checking is a dead giveaway to the casual observer that you are in possession of some equipment that isn’t a regular part of your everyday wear. No matter what or where you carry, your gauge is to look and act as if you had nothing but your hands and good looks to fend off an attacker. Blending with the rest of the population is a good thing, especially when carrying concealed.
The ever-popular fanny pack attracts attention by itself, but if it is black, you may as well have a flashing sign attached to it reading “gun on board”. Conversely, if the waist pouch color is hot pink or day glow orange, it screams to all but the blind, “look at me”. Most fanny packs are secured around the carrier by a light belt with a quick release buckle and little else. Any self-respecting purse snatcher could have the whole thing and be gone in the blink of an eye. If a waist pouch is your choice of carry medium, make sure that it is attached to a sturdy belt for extra retention and support along with the standard strap.
Off body carry locations such as purses, document bags, or brief cases, while convenient, pose the problem of temporary detachment or total loss of control through separation of the weapon from the owner. Theft of neglected or unattended carry bags is of primary concern. However, situations as simple as answering the call of nature and leaving the object of protection at the scene of relief happen more often than we care to admit. Constant vigilance in the awareness of where our concealed carry weapon is located at all times is paramount, especially if the potential of inadvertent separation exists.
When carrying more than one gun, particularly in dissimilar locations, retention may be compromised in a physical attack. As an example, if a pistol is carried in the area of the waist and a back-up is carried on the ankle, which one do you protect in the event of attack by multiple assailants? Conversely, when carrying dissimilar weapons (knife and a gun) on the same side in close proximity, which one is deployed and what is the plan for retaining the other? Food for thought.
There are no hard and fast answers as each individual has his or her own priorities and parameters. The more information we have, and the more consideration we give, the more effective we can be in accomplishing the mission–the mission of carrying concealed, undetected, with retention, in our everyday way of living life.