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By Joe Alves

A major problem in the Southern States and the long hot summers is how to carry concealed while going about their daily business. Portly and heavy persons have even a bigger problem.

Here in Central Florida, it appears that the concealed carry weapon is the 1911 pattern in .45ACP. A big pistol such as that is even harder to conceal yet I have seen dozens of these weapons poorly concealed by people who do not take the time to properly fit the weapon on their person. I have seen many weapons carried on the strong side and concealed with an open-front short sleeve shirt. Unfortunately the weapon grip tends to print when the person happens to lean over a counter or over a restaurant table even when carrying the weapon in an IWB holster such as Milt Spark’s Summer Special.

Carrying in a belt-slide holster may preclude the grip print on some people but the slide and barrel tends to peek out from the bottom of the shirt. Photographer’s vests and fanny packs are too obvious as most people know they hide weapons. Are there solutions? Lets review some possible ones :

Starting with the weapon, it should be as compact as possible and as powerful as possible. Such weapons would include the Colt Light Weight Commander (my personal weapon of choice), the various compact .45ACPs from Kimber and Springfield as well as the compact Glocks and Sigs. Revolvers would include snub nose S&W and Taurus in .357 Magnum as well as their lines of Airweight and Titanium models.

Bottom line is choosing a weapon you shoot well and trust to perform under all condition and after developing muscle memory to present the weapon rapidly in the event of a confrontation. I know all this seems to be common sense to most of us but many people don’t pay attention to these details.

Regarding holsters, there is a plethora of very fine holsters that have given rise to that industry in the past decades and their offering are wide and varied. I believe these fine holster makers can produce a fine conceal carry holster for any pistol or revolver in the market today. For warm weather carry, for example, IWB holsters are a fine choice for full size weapons like the 1911 pattern autos. I carry mine in a classic Sparks Summer Special that I have had for years and many other holsters of that type are also offered by the top holster makers. For carrying a compact auto, one of the best on the market is Mitch Rosen’s belt-slide that is finely moulded to the weapon, tight yet easy to present the weapon. Mitch also offers a treatment for the holster called Leather Lightning. It coats the inside of the holster yet does not leave a residue. Having an open bottom, it will accommodate both the Commander and full size 1911. As an accessory that complements this holster, Mitch offers a carrier that accommodates a spare magazine and a combat light such as the 6Z .

A holster aberration I have seen carrying heavy weapons are those soft nylon “bags” and soft leather ones that fold when the weapon is (finally) withdrawn. It would appear that many people use these weapons to carry concealed as well as to store their weapon at home (?) and I can’t figure that one out. Also they tell me they the retaining strap will keep their weapon safe on their person. Huh?

The last consideration is of course, the belt on which to hang your weapon. I have seen dozens of people wearing attractive slim belts that were designed only to hold up your trousers. They twist and drag the weapon down to an unreachable position on the hip.

In addition to choosing the carry weapon an investment in a good holster and a sturdy double thickness is essential to a proper concealed carry. It is as important as your weapon of choice.

The Big Buggaboo: Here in Florida, about 300,000 people have CCWs but only a small fraction of that number carry on a daily basis. No wonder they haven’t learned how to carry concealed. As to practice with their carry weapon, most people may shoot only during qualification then only once a year, maybe, neglecting the need for proficiency and hoping they will never have to use their weapons when in “harm’s way”. That is really unfortunate.

With the level of crimes committed with firearms, it is a wonder more CCW permit holders are not injured in confrontation. It’s a good thing the bad guys are not adept at handling firearms as well.

I hope all CCW permit holders will take these words to heart and carry daily in a strong rig and practice often to preclude risking their lives when the chips are down.

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