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Editor’s Note: The following article was originally published in Issue 11 of CONCEALMENT, and appears here in its entirety with permission. For more articles on guns, training, and gear, go to RECOILweb.com.
Figuring out ways to carry concealed can be intimidating in and of itself, but add an activity, like running, and many people opt to go unarmed. The easy option is to not carry the gun, but you don’t have to sacrifice safety for comfort. In this article, we lay out several options for carrying while running, hiking, walking, or working out.
In the event of an attack, you are immediately on the defensive. An attacker relies on the element of surprise, and he/she has the advantage from the start. In reality, you’ll probably never even need to pull your gun out, but the security of having it can give you peace of mind. If you have to draw your gun, an attacker will likely retreat. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology found that criminals run 55.5 percent of the time when faced with a gun.
There are plenty of non-lethal self-defense products marketed toward runners, and they’re a step in the right direction. But they have their flaws. Products that alert others nearby with a loud sound or ping law enforcement via an app put your life in someone else’s hands. Sharp rings or handheld weapons could deter an attacker if you end up in a hand-to-hand altercation, but if the attacker has a gun, you lose. Pepper spray is a viable option, but there have been plenty of published incidents where an attacker can fight through the pepper spray. In our last issue of CONCEALMENT, Chuck Haggard gave an in-depth how-to on using pepper spray. Check out RECOILweb.com for his lesson on “How to Pepper Spray.”
Making the conscious decision to be prepared is always better than ignoring possible dangers. And if there’s an escalation of force, having a weapon may give you the upper hand when confronted with violence, or it will at least even the odds, allowing you to end a confrontation in your favor.
Finding a comfortable way to carry concealed is imperative because you shouldn’t be reminded of the gun with every step you take. It should rest securely and not thump or flop around. And the weight of the carry option should be distributed evenly to prevent unnecessary fatigue or soreness. To determine how to carry, first consider which activity you’ll be doing. With more physical movement, more retention is needed.
Concealed carry options at chest level keep the gun high and easily accessible, but they’re not as discreet. Hill People Gear’s Kit Bag can play double duty, carrying the gun and other small items. The weight of the Kit Bag is evenly distributed with a mesh H-harness across your back. If you plan to run with this bag, we recommend you also purchase the Stabilizer Strap to prevent the bag from pounding against your chest.
Black Point Tactical’s Outback Chest System is a minimalist chest-carry option. This would not be a concealed option unless you wear a jacket or vest over the holster. The Outback Chest System is so lightweight that it’s easy to forget you’re wearing it. The kydex holster keeps the gun secure, but just like other chest-carry options, it’ll thump around unless you tighten down the straps when you run.
Most people carry their pistol on their waist. But running shorts don’t have belt loops, and using a standard inside-the-waistband holster causes sagging. Fanny packs are an option and have been around for a long time, but some of us are adamantly opposed to them because — aside from screaming, “There’s a gun in here!” — they’re innately dorky. Internal belts are one of the best options for carrying during physical activities and truly keep your goods concealed. Most bellyband-style holsters are stretchy and provide several options for stuffing other items into the pockets. For example, you can carry your pistol, backup magazine, knife, cell phone, and ID card.
Not all bellybands are created equal, though. Some are as simple as a double layer elastic strip with Velcro. But the Sport Belt by Can Can Concealment has features that make it one of the best options as a bellyband. Grippy strips on the top and bottom inside the belt hold it in place, and the belt is contour-cut, with the top being slightly shorter than the bottom. The holster pockets are slanted for better seating of the gun, and sewn in at the bottom of those pockets is a small magnet to further secure the gun in place. We ran, jumped, rode a bike, and even did cartwheels with the Sport Belt, and the gun stayed in place.
Concealment clothing is another option. There are shirts that tuck away a pistol under your arm, and pants that have an extra layer in the waistband to make a gun pocket. Undertech Undercover makes the widest variety of concealment clothing. We’ve used their leggings and shorts. Newer Undertech Undercover designs include a retention strap, which the company shows placed over the backstrap. We found that carrying it as the company’s images suggest results in a slow, awkward draw. You either have to use your support hand to move the strap or incorporate moving the strap with your dominant hand into your drawstroke routine.
Instead, we put the retention strap over the back of the slide so that it wouldn’t interfere with getting a positive grip on the pistol during the draw. The downside to concealment clothing is that you’re stuck with whatever position and cant the manufacturer determined for gun placement. Concealment clothing is pricier, and you’ll likely want to wash it after each wear, so its versatility is more limited compared to options that go under or over clothing.
Responsible gun owners understand the importance of training with their weapon for proficiency. A gun is no good if you don’t know how to use it effectively. The same is true for your holster. If you can’t get the pistol out of the holster, you’re screwed. When you get the holster you’ll use during physical activities, practice drawing your gun from it. Just like any new holster, there’ll be a learning curve until you can consistently draw your weapon.
The way you choose to carry is as personal as the handgun you select. Each holster has to fit your needs and continue to meet your expectations. Explore ways to be actively armed so that you don’t have to forego safety in the name of exercise.