As the weather shifts, it is inevitable, conversations will shift to “How do you carry? What do you carry?” etc… But are those the proper questions to be asking?
You may have heard it said, “Beware the man who only owns one gun. He probably knows how to use it.” I shall put it another way. The person who carries multiple different guns or changes where they carry their gun is probably doing themselves a disservice.
I’ve heard people say and read on the internet forums, where people will shoulder carry in the winter but hip carry in the summer. Their reasoning is their coat is too long to hip carry, but this is flawed logic. In a high-stress situation, when your life may be on the line, reflex and instinct takes over. Not only is it possible, but it is highly likely you’ll first reach for that firearm in the location you’ve trained and practiced the most.
So, imagine you first go to your hip because this muscle memory has been burned into your neural pathways, but the firearm is in your jacket, under your armpit. That’s going to cost you some time… Time you might not have. Second matter in a gunfight, when the average gunfight is usually over within seconds. Another way to put it, seconds can be the difference between life and death.
What if it’s hot and now you’re pocket carrying? The same principle as above applies. It’s highly likely you’ll reach first for where you’ve trained the most. Give yourself every advantage. If you are going to switch up the location or your carry your gun, which I generally do not recommend to most people, put in a thousand dry fire reps making it muscle memory. And, when you switch back next season you’ll need to do the same.
However, we also hear people talking about changing gun size, saying, “It’s easier to conceal a larger gun in the winter.” or “It’s harder to conceal a gun during the summer.” These arguments are valid obviously, but it could perhaps make more sense to choose your clothing based on your gun type, not choosing your gun type based on your clothing.
The potential problem with changing your carry gun can arise when the controls of the gun change. If you normally carry and train with a striker-fired pistol and now you’re carrying a 1911, bad things can happen. In a life and death situation, if you haven’t trained to always disengage the manual thumb safety as part of your firearm presentation, you’re not going to think about it until maybe it’s too late.
Though, it’s probably not the end of the world if you were to swap between the Glock 19 and the Glock 43 since the guns and the controls are so similar. The Glock 43 is pretty much just a slightly shrunken 19. If you were to throw a revolver into the mix, now your grip is changing, and muscle memory again is out the window.
Do yourself a favor and try to limit the potentials for Murphy to rear his ugly head. Murphy’s law says, “what can go wrong, will go wrong”. In a life and death situation, give yourself the best chance for survival. Allow the reflexive portions of your brain to take over, so your actions become instinctual. Don’t fight the body’s natural systems for dealing with a high-stress situation. If you have to stop and think about the motions your body will take when you’ve already decided now is the time to draw your gun or press the trigger, maybe that isn’t such a good thing to your survival. Once the decision to defend your life with your gun has been made, the motions your body should be reflexive.
My mantra is same gun, same location, same mode of readiness, always. I will choose my clothing, year-round, based on the fact that I will be carrying a compact striker fire handgun on my hip at approximately 3 o’clock. I don’t wear coats, I wear jackets. Or if I do wear coats I don’t zip them up allowing easy access to my gun. I buy my T-shirts slightly longer for spring and summer carry, so there is less chance I print. I have chosen to wear the holster in such a way that the grip of the gun disappears above my hip. The Point? In a high-stress situation, I favor muscle memory and consistency and I’m doing everything to allow for that regardless of the season.
Of course, there is no one size fits all solutions, and sometimes exceptions need to be made for every rule. Just, do everything in your power to set yourself up for success. If you have no choice but to adjust what you carry or how you carry; Do what you need to do to build that necessary muscle memory. Take a Defensive Pistol training class or get involved in competition so you can justify your gear and/or carry decisions.