All across the nation, tens of thousands of citizens are attending state-certified CCW programs, obtaining their permits and resting a bit easier as they go about their daily business. Yet, many fail to realize that getting a CCW permit is only the beginning of the concealed carry process.

Though dozens of states offer CCW permits, their training and testing requirements are geared more to mitigate the state’s criminal and civil liability than the CCW holder. And once this fact is understood, the vast majority of responsible CCW permit holders attend additional training to build their knowledge and weapon skills as well.

Though you’d think it would be the heart of the CCW program, most state-certified CCW courses don’t require the student to utilize his or her weapon from concealed carry, instead allowing them to present their handguns from open carry. Consid- ering the somewhat severe civil liability hazard these days of not having received formal instruction in concealed carry weapon presentation, I find this to be curious, and frankly a little alarming. One would think that the need would be obvious and proper instruction on how to quickly and safely access and bring it into action would be mandatory.

Though the idea of accessing and presenting a conceal handgun isn’t intrinsically complex, if incorrectly considered, it does pose some poten- tially dangerous hazards.

Carry Concerns

First, we must consider how the weapon itself is to be carried—strong or weak side? Second, there’s the matter of how it will actually be con- cealed—beneath an open or closed front garment? These two issues are not only important, they’re critical, not only to achieving the best possible concealment, but quick access to and presentation
of the weapon upon demand as well.

Concealment garments are typically of two types—open and closed front. Most often, open-front garments take the form of a vest, sport coat or jacket. It’s true that all of them have some means of fastening the front closed, but far more often than not, particularly when a concealed handgun is involved, the garment is intentionally left open.

This type of garment is at least marginally comfortable in warm weather and has the advantage of being what I call “socially invisible.” Almost everybody in the business community wears either a suit or sport coat and slacks, and the so-called “photographer’s vest” is widely utilized in more casual situations.

Weapon presentation from an open- front garment is a little quicker (about two-tenths of a second) than from a closed-front garment, because the gar- ment is swept clear of the holstered weapon by the ring and/or little finger of the firing hand as the presentation pro- tocol begins. However, weapon conceal- ment beneath open-front garments is slightly diminished, particularly if the gun is carried on the strong-side, thus requiring more cognizance that you can’t “belly up” to the bar or lean over precipitously or the butt of the gun will “print” clearly through the garment.

Strong-side carry beneath open-front garments also requires that something with a small amount of bulk (not weight) is located low on the firing side to give some mass to the garment. Otherwise, it will often merely wrap itself around the ring and/or little finger of the firing hand as the shooter attempts to sweep it clear and “buckle,” rather than swing clear.

Back in the “good old days,” the FBI used to tell their agents to sew a few OO buckshot pellets or fisherman’s “split-shot” into the firing side hem of their coats. However, as an alternative, placing a wallet in the pocket of the coat or vest also works quite well.

Garments of the closed-front variety usually take the form of an oversize Hawaiian shirt, or a baggy sweatshirt or T-shirt, with the hem worn outside the waistband. Because they allow better airflow through the garment, these are more comfortable than open-front gar- ments and, if two or three sizes larger than normal, more concealable.
As mentioned before, they’re a little slower than an open-front garment, but for many (especially those who live in warmer climates), their superior comfort and concealability is more important.

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