Carrying a firearm when the weather turns cold and blustery can be a challenge. Except for a few pockets of the extreme South, winter can require some modifications to our everyday carry (EDC) routines.
Even in Central Florida, where I live, the temperature can drop to freezing in the early morning hours. And there are periods in December and January when a light jacket may be necessary even in the middle of the day.
Accessibility Is Critical
Obviously, your method of carry should be safe and secure. While bulky winter clothing can make it easier to conceal even a full-sized handgun, it can also make access more difficult. The ability to draw your gun quickly and smoothly is imperative.
Personally, even when I lived in Minnesota, where winter is long and brutally cold, I normally carried in a pancake (belt-slide) holster at the 3 o’clock position. However, I seldom zipped or buttoned up my jacket or topcoat, so my gun was still easily available with a simple sweep of my hand.
When cold weather arrives, a retired Army Ranger friend of mine switches to a cross-draw holster. For a right-handed shooter, that is at the 10 or 11 o’clock position. In the summer, I often do the same when I will be spending significant time in my vehicle.
Examine Your Lifestyle
Most people only face nasty weather when walking to and from a vehicle, going to work, shopping, running errands, etc. But sometimes it is necessary to spend extended time outside. This means you will likely be truly bundled up, with your coat/jacket fully fastened.
In those cases, people often carry their EDC gun in its usual location but then keep a micro-compact gun — like a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard or Ruger LCR — in an outside pocket of a heavy winter coat.
Gloves, Yay or Nay?
Since I am seldom outside long enough to need gloves, they aren’t normally an issue for me. But in Minnesota, I had to deal with truly bitter cold temperatures and winds. I wore lined leather gloves, which were adequate for warmth but thin enough to allow my fingers to access the trigger.
Speaking of trigger access, pistols and revolvers vary in the size of their trigger guards. In winter, I made sure that the trigger guard of the gun I carried allowed my gloved fingers to reach the trigger. Sig Sauer’s P239 has a generous trigger guard opening. Colt’s latest King Cobra does also.
Always Do a “Pre-Flight” Check
Once you have your season-appropriate carry method pinned down, dress exactly as you would when out in public. Then, using an unloaded gun, practice drawing it. Do this while standing, as well as from a seated position and even while in your vehicle.
Finally, there is no single perfect way to carry that will fit every person in every season and every situation. But by using some common sense and honest analysis of your own lifestyle, you can come up with a solution that works for you.
Just remember to keep the most important things in mind: safety, security and accessibility are non-negotiable. Comfort is also important, especially if you are committed to everyday carry.
Fashion, on the other hand, should never take precedence over safety, security or accessibility, regardless of the season or the weather.
Be smart. Stay safe!
About John Caile
NRA Certified Instructor John Caile has more than 35 years of experience in the firearms industry, including training others in concealed carry and practical handgun shooting skills. As the communications director of the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee, he was instrumental in passing Minnesota’s landmark concealed carry permit law. John has appeared on national talk radio and network and public television and is a contributing writer for Concealed Carry Magazine. He continues his lifelong activism for gun owners and their rights in Palm Coast, Florida.