The odd thing about carrying concealed on a bike is that it isn’t all that different from carrying concealed anywhere else.
That’s good — in a way — since it means you might not have to make any major modifications to your existing everyday carry (EDC) in order to carry comfortably while riding, but it’s also bad for newcomers because there are no “magic beans” I can sell you to make setting up your EDC loadout a one-purchase affair. The most important factors to remember while carrying on your motorcycle are as follows:
Keep It Concealed
The biggest challenge will be to keep that gun out of sight. If you carry at the 4 o’clock position on your dominant hip, you’re going to have to be sure your cover garment will stand up to the wind that so often blows your shirt up to the middle of your back. You can mitigate this problem by carrying farther up on your torso, but that isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. If you’re carrying a pocket micro, the question of quick access jumps to the forefront. But “quick access” is basically irrelevant since…
If You’re Right-Handed, You Can’t (and Shouldn’t) Draw While Riding
Unless you have one of the old Indian police bikes that was designed with the throttle on the left side so an officer could shoot while charging after a violent criminal, your right hand will likely be controlling your machine’s throttle. This is a minor point to most riders since you’re infinitely more likely to need to draw while standing at a gas pump than while rolling. But it’s a notion a decent number of, shall we say, action-minded folks need to get over. Real life isn’t a movie; you’re not going to be drawing and firing while in motion.
Holster Selection Can Get Complicated on a Bike
And you thought appendix carry while driving a car was uncomfortable. Depending on your build, personal taste in handguns and how your bike sets, your usual holster may be out of the question. A shoulder or chest rig works very well for motorcycling but requires a substantial cover garment. That’s all well and good when it’s cold out. Come summer, a heavy black leather or Kevlar-reinforced nylon jacket isn’t necessarily pleasant to wear. This is where belly bands and other under-the-shirt solutions really shine, but you’ll have to observe a stricter gun-cleaning regimen if your pistol’s riding in your armpit all day.
Off-Body Carry Will Be All Too Tempting
It’s not that I hate off-body carry; it’s just that off-body carry introduces more variables than I like to deal with. Many motorcycle jackets have what were called “outlaw pockets” while I was in college: deep, snap-closed pockets on the inside left of the chest that can very easily accommodate a pistol. Like the old-style motor officer uniforms that integrated an officer’s duty gear onto the belt of his motorcycle jacket, they work great … until you want to take your jacket off.
Be certain that however you’re carrying your firearm, you maintain control over it at all times. This is a lot harder than it sounds when your jacket is hung on the back of your chair in a restaurant and you’d like to hit the restroom before your burger arrives. Just like in non-mounted concealed carry, plenty of folks opt for carrying in a vest pocket or belt-bag (the dreaded “fanny pack”). These are almost always go-tos for men and women who are so far past caring what anyone thinks of them that they just do what works best and hang the rest. Once you’re out of your 30s, that’s a tough argument to refute. UKoala also does some excellent work with its hybrid shoulder-belt-leg bags that are very secure and perfect for carrying concealed. Speaking of security…
Bike Saddlebags Are Only So Secure
A standard among cops is to lock his or her duty belt, gun and all, in the trunk of the squad car if he or she is running into a business to use the restroom. This is a sub-par idea for a lot of reasons, but as long as the officer in question is still carrying a backup sidearm, everyone plays along without complaint.
It may be tempting for you to do the same with your carry gun when you want to pop into the post office or somewhere else from which you are barred, under penalty of law, from carrying. But remember that bike saddlebags are not as secure as a car’s trunk. Opportunistic thieves will have a lot less hesitation breaking into your saddlebag than they will the trunk of a police cruiser. A little planning goes a long way. If you can avoid very publicly placing what is very clearly a firearm into a compartment on your motorcycle, you’ll be the better for it.
Have a Med Plan
Motorcycling is dangerous; that’s part of why it’s so fun. That said, you need to have some kind of plan in place for when you find yourself being treated by emergency medical services. If you’re conscious, tell EMS personnel where your holster is and how to safely remove it from your person. Stress that they should NOT just draw the pistol or revolver. A holstered gun is a safe gun, and they have no reason to remove your gun from your holster. They will likely have a protocol for handling patients’ sidearms, and it will likely kick into action. The most important step here is making sure you know which jurisdiction you’re dealing with so you can get your gun back once you leave the hospital.
Stay Safe Out There
Anyone who’s had the pleasure knows that there really isn’t anything else like riding. When you hit the road on two wheels, it’s no less important to stay safe than when hitting the road on four. And carrying concealed on your bike can be a challenge. Like anything else in concealed carry though, a little bit of thought, planning and trial-and-error can go a long way in making your life a lot easier.
About Ed Combs
Ed Combs is senior editor of Concealed Carry Magazine and a former educator and law enforcement officer.