Most civilians don’t lose control of their guns at the hands of some criminal. After all, most typically carry concealed. Instead, they are more likely to drop them while getting out of cars or running up the stairs. Sometimes, carriers may simply leave the guns in their vehicles where criminals can easily steal them.

A surprising number of people have left their guns in public bathrooms. Be smart. Establish a bathroom routine that works for you, then follow it religiously. The alternative can be both embarrassing and potentially costly.

A detective friend of mine once meekly admitted that his J-frame snubby slid out of his holster in a restaurant booth! As he was leaving, he noted the empty holster and raced back inside just as a busboy was about to clean the table.

Controlling Your Firearm Is About Security

Holsters are classified as Level 0 (no intermediate step before draw), Level I (a single step required before draw), Level II (two steps before draw) and so forth. Most civilians carry a Level I, usually an open-top belt-slide holster, either an outside-the-waistband (OWB) or an inside-the-waistband (IWB) version.

Whichever you choose, find a holster that holds the gun securely. Most open-top (Level I) holsters are either snugly fitted to a specific gun and/or have an adjustment screw for increasing the tension.

Police officers are often mandated a Level I or Level II model by their departments. There are reasons for this. Records show that police officers are far more likely to have their guns grabbed by suspects than we civilians are.

This shouldn’t be surprising. After all, they carry their guns on the outside of their clothing, fully visible. They also do things you and I don’t (or at least shouldn’t). Cops chase suspects, which often leads to “down in the dirt” wrestling matches, where things can go terribly wrong. Some officers have even been shot with their own guns.

Retention Is About More Than Holsters

A good holster can be undermined by a belt that is too soft or too loose. Spend the money for one that keeps your firearm upright and snug against your body. I know, some work or lifestyle situations require unusual carry techniques. But in general, a sturdy belt and quality holster, whether leather or synthetic material, will serve you well.

I often caution women about carrying in a purse. A thief doesn’t need to suspect you have a gun in it to want to take it. He or she (and yes, there are women who specialize in lifting other women’s purses) already wants it for the cash and the credit cards.

And grabbing a purse is a two-second process. Pros even carry a knife or box cutter to slash the shoulder strap before running off. They now have your cash, credit cards, driver’s license (with your address) and the keys to your house. And, oh yes, your gun. How well will you sleep that night?

All that said, if you are committed to carrying your gun in a purse, at least make sure it is designed specifically for carrying a firearm and has a shoulder strap that is Kevlar-reinforced. Then carry it with the shoulder strap across your body. It will be much more difficult for a thief to gain control of it.

Finally, never, ever set your purse down anywhere in public.

Be safe. Be secure.

About John Caile

John Caile, contributing writer for USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine, has more than 35 years of experience in concealed carry training and practical handgun shooting skills. As communications director for the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee, John was instrumental in passing Minnesota’s landmark concealed carry permit law. Certified through the NRA as an instructor of Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, Home Firearm Safety and Personal Protection in the Home, John continues his lifelong activism for gun owners and their rights in Palm Coast, Florida. He has appeared on national talk radio and network and public television and is frequently published in the press.