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Carrying in the Dog Days of Summer


I just got back from running errands in 88-plus-degree heat. Can’t say that I like it much anymore. My idea of a perfect summer day is 75 degrees and no humidity (something we don’t come by often in Ohio).

Carrying comfortably in the “dog days of summer” is difficult sometimes. What was a comfortable carry gun and method in the winter might not be so comfortable in the summer.

This Year’s Reality

2020 is an unprecedented time in American history. Because of certain troubling circumstances, a smaller, limited-capacity arm such as the five-shot .38 Special snub-nosed revolver may no longer be the best choice for a summer carry gun. A somewhat larger, higher-capacity arm is the order of the day this summer.

High-Capacity Compact/Micro 9mms

While a full-sized, high-capacity pistol might provide the best level of protection, it isn’t as comfortable to carry in hot weather. A lightweight 9mm mid-capacity (10- to 12-round magazine) pistol strikes an ideal balance between comfort and capability. Here are three that I like:

  1. SCCY CPX-2 9mm
    I’ve owned my SCCY CPX-2 for around eight years and really like it. It is double-action and striker-fired, has a 10-round magazine capacity and weighs 15 ounces. It is a bit larger than the modern micro high-capacity pistols. Stick with the nitride slide for the ultimate rust protection. MSRP is $269.99.
  2. SIG Sauer P365 9mm
    This revolutionary striker-fired pistol introduced the micro hi-cap 9mm to the market. The excellent trigger makes it very accurate. Several variants are available, including an XL version with a 12-round magazine. The P365 weighs 17.8 ounces. Price is $500.
  3. Springfield Armory Hellcat
    The Hellcat, with its 11+1 capacity, is billed as the world’s highest-capacity micro 9mm. It is striker-fired, with a superb trigger that has a Glock-style safety lever. Weight is 18.3 ounces. Its Tritium sight system is the best of the breed. 

Summer Carry Methods

When it’s “dog days” hot, I’ve found that neither inside-the-waistband nor outside-the-waistband carry is very comfortable. That’s especially so when you are out for extended periods of time, such as while visiting a fair, carnival or picnic. When it’s 90 degrees or more, wearing an undershirt under a T-shirt to protect the skin can be unbearable.

I have worn a waist/fanny pack for daily summer carry for some 35 years now. Comfort level is extremely good, and with the pack positioned on your front, access to your firearm while in a vehicle is also easy. What’s nice is that most packs will allow you to also carry a less-lethal force option in one of the additional compartments.

One of the most versatile waist packs on the market is the 5.11 Tactical Rapid Waist Pack 3L. It is also capable of cross-body carry and can be attached to 5.11 Rapid Packs. I like the mesh backing that helps keep it cool against the body. MSRP is $39.99.

A dedicated sling pack is another option. This rides over the shoulder and keeps the weight of a heavier gun off of your hip yet still allows easy access to your handgun. Though it is not as convenient to wear while driving, it’s very discreet (especially if you have small children, as parents often carry extra loads). Most can also accommodate your less-lethal devices.

A great example of the sling pack is the Voodoo Tactical Discreet Sling Bag. It has multiple compartments for gear, including a hydration pocket. Three subdued color choices are available. MSRP is $119.95.

For those who want to carry an AR-15 modern pistol to really enhance defensive needs, check out the Vertx Gamut 2.0 Backpack. It not only accommodates these larger guns but also has a pocket for an armor plate. MSRP is $214.99.

Wrap Up

Summer weather carry has always presented a unique set of challenges. This year, challenges involve more than just the heat. Now more than ever, it is critical to be fully prepared. Hopefully the guns and gear I suggested will help you to be ready.


SIG Sauer:
Springfield Armory:
511 Tactical:
Voodoo Tactical:

About Scott W. Wagner

Scott W. Wagner has been a law enforcement officer since 1980, working undercover in liquor and narcotics investigations and as a member, sniper and assistant team leader of a SWAT team. He currently works as a patrol sergeant. He is a police firearms instructor, certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun. Scott also works as a criminal justice professor and police academy commander.

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