The Ultimate Guide to Dressing for Concealed Carry, Part 4: Gloves

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You can find the third in the series, “Concealed Carry in Warm Weather,” here.

 Like a Glove: Cold Weather Handwear Options

Written by Bob Campbell

While I am no stranger to the combination of gloves and guns, it has been some time since I have worn heavy gloves daily. My native South endured a remarkably rugged few weeks of snow and ice in the winter of 2013-14, and when the choice is between freezing or wearing gloves, we learn to use the firearm with the gloves. I am aware of the effect gloves have on my dexterity with a handgun. However, gloves and handguns connect in different ways depending upon the firearm.

I often carry one of my K-frame .357 Magnum revolvers or a lightweight snub-nosed .38 for personal defense. The small-frame revolvers are particularly difficult to use well with gloved hands and, if the glove is anything but as tight and slim as possible, it is difficult for me to quickly access the trigger. Remember that important safety rule: Keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until you are ready to fire. This means practicing manipulation of the trigger with a gloved hand. If the glove is too thick, the trigger will be pressed adequately, but trigger return and reset can be compromised to the point of malfunction. (This is particularly true with J-frame revolvers.) The glove material itself might even become stuck in the upper section of the trigger during firing. Practice in keeping the gloved finger on the face of the trigger is essential to good function with the revolver.

More Glove, More Problems

5.11 TACLITE II

5.11 TACLITE II This glove fits tight. When wearing gloves for all chores that came up during the testing and assessment process — including firing the handgun and addressing combination locks — I found gripping ability and a tactile feel to be most crucial. In testing, some liked the attachment points of the 5.11, though I prefer a lower-cut glove.

Gloves also impact other handgun operations. The cylinder latch is not a huge problem with gloved hands, but the slide lock of a self-loading pistol might be.

The self-loader indeed presents its own set of problems. Reduced dexterity when wearing gloves could lead to an unintended discharge — one that is not exactly negligent, but any unintended discharge is a problem. You might exert lateral pressure on the trigger without realizing you’re doing so as soon as your trigger finger enters the trigger guard. If you use a double-action-first-shot handgun, this danger is reduced because firing the first round requires a heavier trigger press. However, as the pistol transitions to single-action after this first shot, the problem might be similar to or even more severe than a single-action 1911 or the safe-action Glock, and it is quite possible to double-tap when you do not wish to. Giving the trigger a second slap without a conscious decision behind it is bad news. It is essential that you practice firing your chosen handgun with gloved hands. Even if you live in sunny Florida or Georgia, well, you’ve seen some pretty rugged storms lately.

Some advocate taking the glove off before firing. The late Elmer Keith wrote of a friend “biting the glove off” and quickly drawing a revolver to stop a bear attack. A properly fitting glove will be difficult to shed quickly, so it is better to practice with the gloved hand. The glove absolutely must have good adhesion, as if you are wearing department-store gloves with no “traction,” the gun will likely slip around like mad when fired. My normally accurate and controllable Glock Model 41 .45 became a poor performer when I was wearing such cotton gloves. If you are one of those who occasionally lets the thumb of the support hand drift into the slide lock, locking the slide back during a firing string, you will be a worse offender with gloved hands. Even worse, you will have a more difficult time dropping the slide. You must practice with the gloves you will be wearing to isolate such problems. Especially avoid riding the thumb against the slide. If you employ certain grip styles, this becomes extremely likely and could stop the handgun from cycling.

Hatch Duty Glove

HATCH DUTY GLOVE This glove is cut low to allow good wrist movement and still fits tightly. It shined while I was working a lock combination to enter the range. When I was operating the frame-mounted 1911 safety, it worked equally well. Handling the magazine release and laser button was good to excellent, and tactile sensation in firing was good. This is a glove that works well overall and does not need to be “bitten off” before using the gun.

Train With Your Gloves

Be certain you are able to actuate the safety, magazine release and slide lock. While there is still plenty of debate over the use of the slide lock to release the slide, if you train to run your gun by dropping the slide with the slide lock, practice accordingly when you’re wearing gloves.

As I mentioned, you might not be able to manipulate the slide lock at all with gloved hands. If this is the case, now might be the time to retrain; racking the slide to the rear works every time, gloves or no gloves.

When using the pistol while wearing gloves, a strong grip is mandatory. Some folks believe pistols seem to kick more when they’re using gloves, which seems counterintuitive. It is similar to experiencing a greater kick from a shotgun that isn’t tightly snugged into the shoulder. Tight-fitting gloves that allow a good solid grip on the handgun are an advantage and might alleviate this problem.

I should mention an unfortunate incident that occurred a few years ago. An officer was attempting to fire at a felon armed with a shotgun. The officer later reported that his pistol would not fire and the felon shot and seriously injured him.

After the event, investigators examined the pistol and found it to fire and operate normally. The consensus was that the officer, chasing a felon in deep snow and with gloved but very cold hands, had placed his trigger finger not on the trigger but on the front of the trigger guard and attempted to fire the pistol.

Which Glove?

Like any other product, gloves are available in thousands of different types, styles and levels of quality. I evaluated a number of cheap options that bunched up at the fingers, were too short or had linings that weren’t comfortable. In fact, they quickly became worn, and the lining came out when I removed my hand. Some had poor stitching; others, particularly those of neoprene and spandex construction, offered good fit and dexterity but did not last very long. Leather and synthetic materials each have advantages.

GripSwell Shooting Gloves with Palm Pad

GRIPSWELL SHOOTING GLOVES WITH PALM PAD The GripSwell is an excellent glove for shooting comfort, but it was never designed to be a tactical glove. The glove is good in handling, and the padded component does cushion recoil. Sensation in the trigger finger and when operating the Crimson Trace is good. However, the grip material is a little thicker than other gloves. The GripSwell is a fine range glove, but the padded component that serves well on the range takes away from 24-hour use.

As a private citizen, you do not have to be concerned with searching criminals or vehicles, but you should still buy and train with good gloves that are gun-friendly and allow you to go about your daily chores without constantly removing them.

In the end, the best advice I can give is to carefully consider the quality and fit when selecting a shooting glove. Thin shooting gloves aren’t going to keep the hands warm, but they should stop the wind. After you have the gloves, practice hard while wearing them and consistently wear the same style. Practice manipulating the handgun’s controls as well as drawing from your holster. You might find you are beginning anew in proficiency training.

Practicing with your gloves of choice is likely more important than which gloves you choose, as all three pairs I assessed were strong performers. It is like the SIG P226 versus the Beretta 92: You might prefer one to the other, but tactically there is nothing that can be done with one you cannot do with the other. As long as a piece of equipment is meeting the fundamental needs of the shooter, all else is personal preference.

Sources

5.11: 5.11Tactical.com
GripSwell: GripSwell.com
Hatch Duty Gear: Hatch-Corp.com

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