Let me begin by admitting that I have never really been one for the beach. I don’t like the scorching temperatures. I certainly don’t like being hot and sweaty in said scorching temperatures. Having almost drowned twice in my life, I don’t really do big bodies of water much either. And I am just not a big fan of getting sand stuck all over me, my clothes, my family, my vehicle and just about every item I own — for all of eternity!
Honestly, my firearms don’t like many of those things either. So that makes for a good excuse for me to not head to the beach anytime soon. But since I know there are countless others who feel basically the complete opposite about sand, sun and surf, I felt it was important to address the topic of carrying a defensive handgun to the beach … and caring for it before, during and after.
Of course, before you even head off to the water, be sure that firearms are permissible at your intended location. You may see that many public and private beaches have no-gun signs posted, and property owners can choose to restrict guns and ask you to leave their premises if they spot them.
Simply carrying a gun in hot weather presents some interesting challenges, especially when you’re wearing beach attire. You are definitely going to get sweaty. And that likely means your holster and your firearm will end up getting sweaty too. That can become pretty uncomfortable, but it also means your firearm will need some attention when you return home. You don’t want any moisture causing rust. So be prepared to clean and dry your gun and quite possibly take a dry rag to wipe down your holster, magazines and ammo too.
Of course, if your everyday holster configuration just doesn’t work on that tankini or those swim shorts, a breathable bellyband may do the trick. But since bathing suits are in and belts are out, an off-body carry option may be the only option in some cases. Just make sure that you or another responsible adult is in control of that bag at all times. It’s not safe to set the gun bag down to go out for a swim, play some beach volleyball, build a sandcastle or take family photos. That firearm cannot be left behind where someone could find it or take it. So be mindful!
Undoubtedly, protecting your gun from exposure to sweat is a good idea, but don’t forget about all the saltwater. As mentioned, you can always wipe off water and clean and oil the firearm later if it does get wet. But to prevent moisture from getting into your gun in the first place, you could also look for waterproof bags. Some backpacks and range bags already have a waterproof section, pocket or pouch that you could safely fit your entire gun and holster into.
But if you’re not hauling those items to the beach, consider purchasing some smaller dry bags that anglers, campers and kayakers often use. (At the very least, grab a few Ziploc bags. If you don’t end up using them for your gun, you’ll likely need them for something else!) Just remember to never put a gun in a place where the trigger and trigger guard are exposed. Take the same precautions you would take with any safe holster setup!
Besides providing an ample amount of sweat and saltwater, beaches also have lots of sand. And just like with any other dirt or particle, you’ll want to make sure you’ve cleaned off any sand from your gun. If you can, blow off your firearm with an air compressor first to remove any loose, dry particles. But since sand can get everywhere, keep in mind that you may have to do a fairly complete breakdown to ensure there are no grains sticking inside, ready to wreak some havoc and cause a malfunction.
While you’re at it, don’t forget about your defensive ammo! If your gun was exposed to too many elements at the beach, your hollow-points may have suffered the same fate. Personally, I would cycle those rounds out of my gun (AKA shoot them at the next trip to the range) so I could ensure that I have uncompromised ammunition loaded and ready to protect me or my family if needed.
For even more details and tips, be sure to check out next week’s blog. I’ll cover the trip to the pool and provide some specifics when you’re ready to remove any signs of sun, fun and water from your everyday carry gun.
About Beth Alcazar
Author of Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals and associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine, Beth Alcazar has enjoyed nearly two decades of teaching and working in the firearms industry. She holds degrees in language arts, education and communication management and uses her experience and enthusiasm to share safe and responsible firearms ownership and usage with others. Beth is certified through the NRA as a Training Counselor, Chief Range Safety Officer and Certified Instructor for multiple disciplines. She is also a Certified Instructor through SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute, DRAW School, TWAW and I.C.E. Training and is a USCCA Certified Instructor and Senior Training Counselor.