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Concealed Carry: A Comprehensive Guide

by Chris Heaven

How Concealed Carry Can Help You Survive in a Survival Situation: A Comprehensive Guide

The right to keep and bear arms is never more important than during a survival situation. Carrying concealed in a disaster scenario gives you the advantage of blending in with the crowd and not attracting unwanted attention.

Carrying concealed is generally a great idea if you are out and about, but doing so in a survival situation can mean the difference between life and death.

In this article we will cover the pros and cons of open vs concealed carry, why concealed carry is generally better for SHTF, and how to select the ideal firearm and holster for any disaster scenario.

Let’s get to it!


Open Carry vs Concealed Carry

“Speak softly and carry a big stick” – Theodore Roosevelt

Let’s just address the elephant in the room right off the bat: concealed carry is unquestionably the better choice for surviving a survival situation.

There…we said it!

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of benefits to open carry like comfort, ease of draw, and the ability to defuse a confrontation before it even begins.

However, when you open carry during a survival situation you will attract the wrong kind of attention from the wrong kind of people. Sure, some folks aren’t going to mess with you because you’re packing, but others are going to see that handgun on your hip and see you as an asset. If you’ve got a gun, there might be something else you have that they want or need, too! And if we aren’t dealing with a complete breakdown of society, emergency responders or the military might see you as a threat (remember Hurricane Katrina?)

To put it bluntly, concealed carry offers too many benefits to ignore, especially in a survival situation. Which benefits are those, you ask? Let’s talk about!


Become the Gray Man

“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

In all but the direst survival situations, there are still going to be people around that you’ll have to contend with. And the truth is, no matter how good a judge of character you might be, there’s no way to know someone’s intentions until they make them known (for good or ill).

This means that any interaction in a disaster situation could become extremely dangerous at the drop of a hat and there’s no way to know until it’s too late. This is why most survivalists plan to avoid contact with other people as they exfiltrate back home or to their bugout location.

To avoid conflict, you’re going to need to utilize a type of urban camouflage known in the prepping community as becoming the “Gray Man”.

The Gray Man (or Woman) is one who completely blends in with their surroundings. At its heart, this means you need to look like all the unprepared people who are just trying to get home. And one thing that’s going to make you stick out like a sore thumb is by having your Glock, Sig Sauer, or 1911 strapped to your hip.

Concealed carry allows you to remain low key, mobile, and avoid potential conflicts that open carry might precipitate. And if you can avoid confrontation wherever possible, your chances of survival increase significantly.


The Element of Surprise

“Always mystify, mislead and surprise the enemy if possible.” Stonewall Jackson

The element of surprise is a massive force multiplier in any potential life-threatening situation, including every day live, not just SHTF. Of course, our first choice is always to avoid conflict and remain Gray Man, but sometimes confrontation is unavoidable.

In these situations, having your handgun concealed not only gives you the element of surprise, but it keeps the bad guy(s) in the dark as to what you are capable of. Although carrying concealed doesn’t really help you look like a hard target, the element of surprise can really help you get out of a bad situation.


What Should You Carry?

“From my cold, dead hands!” Charlton Heston

I’ll admit that this question comes up a lot and is hotly debated on Internet forums, YouTube videos, and over gun store display cases. The go-to answer is to carry what you like or shoot best, and in a normal Rule of Law (ROL) situation I would agree with that.

However, carrying during a survival situation is something completely different.

Many caliber pundits will tell you why their chosen caliber is the best for any given scenario (just ask anyone who owns a 357 SIG). Terms like stopping power, ballistic coefficient, and terminal performance get thrown around a lot to justify their favorite cartridge.

But the truth is that in a survival scenario, the best caliber to carry is one that you shoot accurately and is easy to find. It may come to the point that you have to scavenge or barter for ammo, and the last place you want to be is having a gun that no one has ammunition for.

With this in mind, the top 4 best handgun calibers we recommend are 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, or 38 Special/357 Magnum.
For picking a specific handgun, this comes down to personal preference. Just ensure that your chosen CCW handgun is reliable, you can shoot it accurately, and is comfortable enough to carry.

If you want more specific recommendations, most shooters will prefer a compact semi-auto pistol such as a Glock 19, Sig Sauer P320 Compact, or Smith & Wesson M&P Compact. A compact semi-auto gives you a lighter, more comfortable firearm to carry compared to a full size and only sacrifices a little bit on magazine capacity. In other words, it’s a great compromise between weight and capacity while giving you more stability compared to a compact or micro-compact.
For revolvers I’d recommend getting something with an enclosed hammer, as hammers can easily snag on clothing during your draw stroke. There are many amazing revolver options out there, but if you wanted my specific recommendations I’d look towards a S&W J-frame Model 638 or Ruger LCR.

However, don’t get caught up in the specific firearm recommendations listed above. If your favorite EDC pistol is accurate, reliable, and you can easily find extra mags and spare parts for it, then you’re good to go!


How To Carry: The Right Holster for the Job

“Remember the first rule of gunfighting: Have a gun” – Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper

We’ve narrowed down our firearm of choice (it will be a Glock 19 for me), and now we need to select the ideal holster. When looking at holsters there are a myriad of choices available in different configurations and materials as well.

There’s a lot of talk about what the best and worst holster material is, but let’s cut right to the chase: leather or Kydex make the best holsters.

Both materials have their pros and cons, but if you select a quality holster from a reputable company in either of these materials you should be just fine. However, what I wanted to touch on more was how you carry your firearm as opposed to the best holster material.

We’ve already discussed that carrying concealed is the better option as it lets you stay Gray Man, but should you carry inside the waistband (IWB) or outside the waistband (OWB) or something completely different?

The preferred methods of carry for a survival situation will depend greatly on the climate you live in and the clothing you typically wear. For moderate to warmer climates, IWB or appendix carry are ideal as you have less clothing you need to defeat to draw your gun. However, if you live in a colder climate and you expect to wear a coat or parka, then an OWB holster makes more sense.

First and foremost, we want to be able to access our firearm with some speed if it becomes necessary. Carry methods like ankle holsters, small of the back, and belly bands are great for deep concealment but really slow down your draw. Furthermore, they increase the potential for snagging your firearm on your clothing during your draw, which is a good way to get shot.

Shoulder rigs are great for carrying heavier firearms comfortably, like a full-size 1911, as they distribute the weight across your shoulders instead of your belt. However, you’ll need a coat if you plan to run a shoulder holster to properly conceal it while still maintaining some speed in your draw. If your climate doesn’t accommodate this wardrobe requirement, then you should probably pass on the shoulder holster, even though they are more comfortable (and pricier).

We want a holster that is easy to conceal while remaining as Gray Man as possible, and IWB or appendix carry fits that role perfectly in temperate climates while an OWB holster works best for colder locales.


Parting Shots

Having a firearm for protection in a survival situation is a crucial piece of every prepper’s arsenal. Being able to conceal that firearm and remain Gray Man is a great way to keep a low profile without sacrificing your ability to defend yourself.

Although open carry can be a great deterrent in certain situations, concealed carry will be the better option for most survivalists who are just looking to get to their bugout location safely.

No matter which method of carry you pick, make sure you get out to the range and practice those marksmanship skills so you’re prepared to defend your life should the unthinkable occur.


Chris Dwulet
Author and content editor for Ammo.com

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