As winter sets in and the temperature drops, mastering the art of concealed carry becomes a unique challenge. Cold weather brings with it a need for specialized gear and tactics to ensure your safety and maintain your ability to effectively carry your firearm. In this guide, learn the best practices for concealed carry during the winter months, including everything from the right clothing and holsters to the nuances of drawing a firearm in winter conditions.

Concealed Carry Clothing for Winter

When venturing out into cold, blustery winter conditions, it is likely that you will add some sort of protective clothing to your usual wardrobe to protect yourself and your concealed carry equipment from the elements. It is likely that if the weather is severe enough — and it often is — the clothing you don to protect you from the elements will change the dynamic of accessing your equipment, performing necessary lifesaving tasks and returning your gun to its original location when necessary.

A man wearing a yellow shirt, green plaid jacket and black leather gloves uses his right hand to draw a concealed Glock from an interior cross-draw pocket of the jacket. His left hand is holding the front of his jacket steady and slightly away from his body to facilitate access to the firearm.So when it comes to self-defense in winter, your choice of concealed carry clothing is crucial. You may find a winter coat designed for concealed carry to be useful. Invest in a high-quality concealed carry winter coat that combines style and functionality. Look for features like discrete pockets, reinforced stitching and easy access to your firearm.

In addition to a dedicated concealed carry winter coat, consider layering your clothing. This not only keeps you warm but also provides strategic options for hiding your firearm. A well-fitted vest over a sweater or a jacket can offer both concealment and comfort.

But you should consider the effect such additional items of clothing have on your ability to quickly draw your gun. Here’s a simple test: With your gun unloaded and carried in your usual manner, dress as you intend to for cold weather. Now, attempt to rapidly draw and acquire a target. Most people are surprised to find out how long this can take.

Practice drawing your gun, plus handling and reloading — along with immediate action, movement and recovery to the carry location — with your cold-weather clothing. It’s comforting to have a gun with you when you venture out, but if you can’t get to it when you need it, it becomes perhaps more of a liability than an aid. 

Gloves for Winter Concealed Carry

Wearing gloves while carrying a firearm in winter presents unique challenges. As you navigate the complexities of combining gloves and guns, consider the impact on dexterity, especially with small-frame revolvers. For those carrying K-frame .357 Magnum revolvers or lightweight snub-nosed .38s, quick trigger access becomes critical with gloved hands.

The thickness of gloves can affect trigger manipulation. Practice trigger control with a gloved hand to ensure proper function, especially with J-frame revolvers where trigger return and reset may be compromised. Keep in mind the safety rule: keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are ready to fire.


The GripSwell is an excellent glove for shooting comfort. It 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 built to last and is a fine range glove, but the padded component that serves well on the range takes away from 24-hour use.

Gloves may influence other handgun operations, such as impacting the slide lock of self-loading pistols. Reduced dexterity with gloves could lead to unintended discharges, making it crucial to practice firing your chosen handgun with gloved hands in a safe environment before it is needed.

Some recommend taking gloves off before firing, but this is likely not practical in emergency situations. 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. Wearing department-store gloves with no traction can cause the firearm to slip, impacting accuracy and control.

Ensure you can actuate the safety, magazine release and slide lock while wearing gloves. Some debate surrounds the use of the slide lock to release the slide, but if you train for this method regularly, practice accordingly with gloves. If manipulating the slide lock becomes challenging, consider retraining to rack the slide to the rear, which works consistently with or without gloves.

A strong grip on your pistol is mandatory when using a firearm with gloves. Tight-fitting gloves that allow for a solid grip on the handgun can help alleviate the perception of increased recoil. This ensures control and accuracy even in challenging winter conditions.

Learn about correct grip and shooting stance in a Defensive Shooting Fundamentals course

With countless options available, carefully consider the quality and fit when selecting shooting gloves. Cheap options may lack durability and comfort, so invest in gloves that are gun-friendly and suitable for daily wear. Thin shooting gloves can protect against the wind without compromising dexterity.

Consistency is crucial in training to proficiency. After selecting gloves, practice consistently with the same style. Regularly practice manipulating your handgun controls and drawing from your holster with your chosen gloves.

Holster Options for Cold Weather

The simple bulk of cold-weather clothing, such as heavy sweaters and jackets, limits flexibility and range of motion. Such added bulk might even restrict movement to the point of not being able to comfortably reach your usual concealed carry position at all. When you factor in all of the situations and conditions of year-round carry, it might be prudent to have an alternate carry method or location in your repertoire. 

Ankle Holsters

As an example, bulky boots may make carrying in an ankle holster difficult when it comes to clearing the pant leg from around the boot to access the gun. Another consideration with ankle holsters in inclement weather is exposing the gun to rain, snow, road salt or other contaminants and how the operation of the gun could be affected. In cold weather conditions, there are better options than the ankle to carry a gun.

Pocket Holsters

Pocket holsters have become a popular method of carrying concealed handguns over the last few years simply because they are convenient and comfortable. There are two categories of pocket carry: below the belt line and above the belt line. When choosing a pocket carry holster, think about ease of access and reholstering, as well as a loose fit or enough bulk in material to conceal the outline of the gun.

Above the belt line pertains to the upper outerwear. Some coats and jackets are cut long enough that they prevent easy access to the front and back trouser pockets. A good option here is to use the slash pockets of the jacket, provided they are deep enough to conceal the handgun and a pocket holster. Some jackets have built-in pockets in the upper chest area for concealment purposes. Some have Velcro; others have zippers, buttons or snaps to keep the pocket secure.

Another concern regarding jacket carry is what happens when you take it off. You can’t just hang it in a closet and forget about it. The gun is your responsibility and potentially your lifeline, which means you have to have an alternate carry method and a private place to transfer it to that carry location when you remove the jacket. Moreover, reversing the process when you recover the jacket to go back out in the elements must be given some thought as well.

Below the belt line most often means concealing your handgun in one of the front pockets of the trousers, though some prefer the wallet holster concealed in one of the back pockets. Cargo pockets are a carry location that many overlook, however. And a form-fitted inside-the-waistband holster that maintains the position of the gun becomes a valuable option, particularly when you are seated.

Off-Body Holster Options

One carry method that won’t change throughout the year is off-body carry. Whether you carry in a purse, document bag, briefcase or another hand-held item, being in constant contact or within arm’s reach of that item is imperative. A sturdy strap or tether keeping your carry device attached to you at all times might be a bit troublesome, but it is necessary to have the gun available and in your control 100 percent of the time.

Retention is also a major concern when out in public with an off-body carry device; purse-snatchers and other street thieves are at work 24/7/365, so you can never let your guard down. Another reason for the strap or tether is to combat distraction or absent-mindedness. Think about how many times you have laid something down — cellphone, car keys, hat, etc. — and walked off, only to discover later that it was no longer with you.

Practicing Concealed Carry for Winter Conditions

Practice makes perfect, and this holds true for drawing your firearm in winter conditions. Start by dry-fire practicing at home, incorporating the layers of clothing you would typically wear during the colder months. Ensure your movements are smooth and deliberate, avoiding any snagging or fumbling.

As you become more confident in your dry-fire practice, take it to the range. Live-fire exercises in winter clothing will give you a better understanding of how your gear functions in real-world scenarios. Regular practice builds muscle memory and ensures you’re well-prepared for any self-defense situation during the winter months.

Mastering winter concealed carry involves a combination of thoughtful gear selection, strategic positioning and consistent practice. Invest in a concealed carry winter coat, choose the right holster for cold weather, and familiarize yourself with drawing your firearm in winter clothing. By following these guidelines, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the unique challenges of carrying concealed during the colder months, ensuring your safety and peace of mind.


This article is a compilation of previous blog posts authored by George Harris, John Caile and Bob Campbell.