Runners are assaulted and murdered at a higher rate than you might realize. In fact, research from Runner’s World indicates that around half of female runners report being harassed. The research also reports that only 4 percent of male runners say they’ve been hassled during a run. Statistics specific to running or exercising outdoors are hard to come by, but Science-Based Running made an interesting point a few years ago: 78 percent of assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. Assaults and rapes carried out by strangers make up the slim minority, not the majority. Of course, certain activities increase the likelihood you’ll fall into that slim minority. It isn’t only about two-legged assailants either; running outside means risking attacks by dogs and wild animals. Here’s how to concealed carry for self-defense while running or working out outdoors.
First of All…
Yes, there are a variety of options for staying safe while running. Over the years, I’ve made my dogs my running partners. Nothing deters quite like a big black Lab, believe it or not, and they really are fantastic training partners. This is breed specific though. You need to take the dog’s build and purpose into consideration. And if you do run with your dog, treat him or her like the athlete he or she is. Running is not a casual pastime for you or your dog.
Pepper spray or foam is another deterrent you can carry while running. Although pepper spray is no fun whatsoever and I hope to never be sprayed with it again — in a class, guys, in a class … something you should take — it may simply further inflame an attacker. That or the attacker might ignore it entirely because he or she is on drugs, pumped on adrenaline or just not sensitive to it. It is a good secondary measure (and one I suggest learning to use and carry), but it isn’t something I’d consider my only self-defense weapon.
I have other secondary weapons, but let’s leave those for another day.
Carrying while running might seem impossible, but it isn’t. A firearm is your greatest self-defense tool, whether you’re male or female, and with a little work, you can easily carry and run. The first thing you need to do is choose the right gun. Between its weight and shape, your bulky Glock 17 is going to be rough to carry while on a run. It’s understandable if you cannot do it immediately, but put thought into selecting a slim, highly concealable pistol for this purpose. If you want to stick with Glocks, consider the Glock 43 or 48. If you like 1911s, the Ruger SR1911 Lightweight Commander is a decent option. And if those are all still too big, go for a micro 9mm. Yes, a 9mm, not a .380 ACP (yet another discussion for another day).
Could you open carry and run? If it’s legal in your area, sure. But stop and consider not only the pitfalls of open carry but also the belt, holster and weight on your hip. Take it from me: Carrying a gun on that hip as you run or hike mile after mile has a negative impact on that side of your body. Stick to concealed carry. Here’s how.
Perhaps the best way — although “best” is always a subjective term — is to use a belly band. CrossBreed’s Modular Belly Band is one of the better options currently on the market. Why is it at the top of the proverbial list? For me it’s the fact that it utilizes actual holsters (and not just a naked cloth pocket) that makes it a big win. That means your trigger is protected, your gun has some retention and your drawstroke should be smoother. It also means it’s not yet available for every gun out there. But it is offered for a wide number of them, including the Glock 17, Glock 48, Mossberg MC1SC, Smith & Wesson Shield and Ruger LC9.
The CrossBreed Modular Belly Band is in its second generation and comes in sizes small to extra large. The band itself is 4 inches high and elastic for a close, secure fit. CrossBreed designed the Modular Holster system with a Velcro back so the user can place the firearm wherever he or she wants it. I like that it is an actual Kydex holster, not soft cloth, and the Velcro seems to stick exceptionally well.
A belly band allows you to conceal your firearm and hold it tight to your body so that it isn’t constantly shifting as you move. Under normal conditions, I prefer not to conceal my gun under my shirt and high on my torso, but it is the best way I’ve found to carry while running. As with all carry methods, practice your draw. It’s going to be slower than it would be carrying on your waistband, but with some work, you can pick up the pace.
A word on soft-cloth-pocket belly bands: Just say no. There are some popular brands out there selling belly bands with sewn-in pockets or pockets plus cloth holsters. None of them are remotely ideal. Do you really think your trigger is protected by a thin barrier of stretchy fabric? Do you truly believe your firearm is being retained by a vaguely gun-shaped space stitched into a length of elastic? Be smart about your holster choices, even when picking a belly band. They are not all created equal.
Another workable method for carrying on a run is a fanny pack. I don’t mean a random holdover from the ‘80s you found decaying in the back of your closet. I mean an actual, gun-specific fanny pack. As fanny packs go in the gun world, there does not seem to be much real variety out there, but the BLACKHAWK Nylon Concealed Weapon Fanny Pack Holster does have an edge over the others. Part of that is fit — totally subjective and may not work for you — and also its holster-ish holster.
When shopping for a concealed carry fanny pack, you’ll notice they tend to have strips of Velcro for retention (and here I use the word “retention” loosely). The BLACKHAWK design at least incorporates a universal holster for some trigger guard coverage. In addition to the soft universal holster, Velcro retention loops secure the gun both horizontally and vertically. The pack is constructed of 1000 Denier CORDURA nylon, so you know it’s tough, and it’s made in sizes small to large. It’s marketed as workable for small and large handguns alike and, hey, it’s washable. My advice is to let it line dry.
If you’re going to use a concealed carry fanny pack, look for something offering as much retention as possible (and more than just a single Velcro loop). Customizing the fanny pack to work with a better holster is an excellent idea as well. In addition, be sure it will stay in place around your waist because not much is worse than rubbed-raw hips. Practice your draw and work on not muzzling your support hand while drawing.
A quick word on ankle holsters, thigh holsters, shoulder holsters or whatever holsters you hear people claim they wear while running: Big no. Those holsters fail for reasons ranging from awkwardness and injury over extended use to muzzling everyone you pass. It boils down to doing what safely works for you — as long as you’re smart and logical about it.
Get Out and Run
Don’t let fear stop you from running outside. Although it’s true that runners are assaulted with some frequency, it isn’t so common as to be unavoidable. The odds are in your favor that you’ll never have a run-in with an assailant of any kind. However, it is wise to be prepared on a run just as you are running errands around town. Carry your gun. The pros outweigh the cons.
About Kat Ainsworth
Kat Ainsworth is a firearms enthusiast with 15 years of concealed carry experience and more than 20 years of hunting knowledge. She has an eclectic background of K9 Search-and-Rescue and emergency veterinary medicine. Kat currently works as an outdoors freelance writer, covering everything from ballistics to self-defense to hunting. She enjoys the nomadic side of her writing and gun-related lifestyle.