Concealed Carry Corner: Concealed Carry In A Vehicle
If you really think about it, we probably live in a golden age of firearms training right now. If you’re a U.S. citizen, there are thousands of instructors, schools and courses available and a lot of good (and bad) information available online. Unfortunately, a lot of gun owners think that they don’t need all that “high-speed ninja training” under the premise that “I am not a Navy Seal, I will never have to use those skills!” or “Having a gun is enough!”. But there is one thing that everyone has to do all the time, even if he is not a ninja or Navy Seal and that is – concealed carry in a vehicle.
Strangely enough, topic of concealed carry in a vehicle is often ignored in basic “defensive pistol” courses, despite the fact that a lot of CCW holders spend more time in the vehicles than on the streets.
What options do you have when you are considering concealed carry in the vehicle? First of all, think about country, state and local laws regarding open and concealed carry. I am not a lawyer and never will be, so I won’t give any legal advice. Any conclusions you’ll see in this article are based on practical sense and before considering them, check if they comply with the laws in your area.
There are two main ways to carry a firearm in the vehicle – on body and off-body. Let’s start with the second option.
First of all, unholstering your firearm and putting it into a cupholder or on the dashboard is not an off-body carry method, it is lunacy. But I’ve seen people doing it.
Keep in mind that you only use your firearms as the last resort. If you can drive away to avoid the problem – just drive away, don’t start a shootout. And if you’re actually have to use your weapon, it is very likely that your vehicle was forced to a stop and that stop was sudden and violent (something was blocking the road, another car crushed into you on purpose). Want to ambush someone – block the road, in some countries kids learn that in pre-school.
If you ever performed so-called “brake check” you know what happens – all the loose objects in your car will become projectiles and once the car stops the items will be scattered around the interior. If you never had such an unpleasant experience, just watch some car crash compilations. Your handgun will likely end up somewhere in the back seat or on the floor when you need it the most. That is why if you prefer off-body carry, weapon retention in case of a crash or sudden stop should be one of your priorities.
Another potential problem when you use off-body carry is a police reaction when they pull you over. Again, the severity of the problem depends of where you live and who you are, but that is something you definitely should think about.
One more thing to keep in mind is – do you have a dedicated car gun for off-body concealed carry in the vehicle? Or do you switch your sidearm between two holsters when you get in and out of the car? The first option makes much more sense.
Imagine you stopped to get some gas, got out of the car and – obviously – didn’t take your gun with you. I mean, it is right there, within arms reach, when you are pumping your gas, what is wrong with that?
But then your credit card does not work, you’re pissed off, irritated, distracted and head inside the gas station to pre-pay for the fuel. Do you take your gun with you? Probably not. You get in and find yourself in the middle of the armed robbery without your blaster. Very unlikely, but possible situation.
Let’s say you have a dedicated car gun for concealed carry in the vehicle. But what if someone breaks into your car and steals it? What about your little curious nephew who opens the glovebox in the car when you went away, just for a minite, to buy him some ice-cream? Too many questions and very few good answers
There is one observation regarding off-body carry from my personal experience. Back in the day I used to be a decent pistol shooter, practiced few times a week and trained a lot of people. In my classes, one of most important learning points was to help the student establish a clear conditioned response: DANGER—>HANDS REACH FOR THE GUN ON YOUR BELT.
Unfortunately, some people, especially those without proper training, in a high-stress situation simply forget that they have a gun, because they don’t have that connection wired in their brain. It happened multuple times with some Russian police officers – they would run, fight, grapple with an armed suspect but would never reach for their duty gun. With overly formalised firearms training, a student does not perseive his gun as something that can help him to survive in a dangerous situation. It is more of a burden that you have to qualify with.
In this video, Russian diplomatic security police officer was attacked by a knife-wielding Chechen teenager. Notice that at no point during the fight he reaches for a gun.
Now, back to off-body concealed carry in the vehicle. Imagine that you trained for years, practice regulary, your draw is lightning fast and your shooting videos get a respectable amount of likes on Instagram.
And one day you’re driving around, you see danger, decide to draw and use deadly force, you reach for your gun – IT ISN’T THERE! HOLSTER IS EMPTY! Because very few people train with their off-body concealed carry rig, it is very unlikely that you will developed the same conditioned response for the threat and reach for your car holster. You might just end up reaching for you belt holster.
You think that it would never happen to you? Well, happened to me. A few years ago, on my first trip to Pakistan, me and a buddy of mine were hanging out in the mall in Islamabad for the first time. We only arrived a few days before and had no idea that most of the country is actually quite safe and peaceful.
So, we are just chilling, looking around and suddenly BAM! I jump behind the nearest cover, I am clearing my cover garment, reaching for the gun… Only to find that it’s not there. My handgun was actually in Moscow, about 2700 miles (4500 km) away. I was standing there like a complete idiot grabbing my shirt and looking around.
What actually happened is some guy accidentally dropped a huge metal garbage bucket and we overreacted. But I learned that if something happens, I reach for the gun on the belt holster and there is no way in the world I would remember that it is somewhere else. But that is just me.
I am not saying off-body carry is a bad decision, it has certain advantages, you can draw covertly, it can be very convenient… It is just not for me for the reasons I mentioned above.
There are two challenges when it comes to on-body concealed carry in the vehicle. First is the seatbelt, second is the seat itself. If you carry at 4 o’clock or in the small of the back, the back of your seat will obstruct your draw, there is very little you can do about it. Just keep in mind one thing – if you have to move your upper body forward to draw that might become a problem. In many cars the seatbelt will not allow you to do that when you’re using brakes.
I carry at three o’clock and for the illustration purposes, I will show some tips for appendix carry. AIWB (appendix carry inside the waistband) is a perfectly good way to carry a weapon, but personally I don’t do that, because
- I don’t see the reason to do that, 3 o’clock works for me.
- I love my wife’s cooking, pork ribs, steaks and many other things that do not leave any space necessary for an appendix rig.
So, what can we do with a seatbelt? First of all, keep in mind that in case of a crash or sudden stop the seatbelt is going to press the holster into your body possibly damaging your internal organs. Don’t wear your seatbelt over the holster, like in the picture below.
Instead, it makes sense to tuck the seatbelt UNDER the holster, it prevents injuries in case of the car accident and makes the draw much easier.
And that is pretty much how it looks when the handgun is concealed
The draw doesn’t change at all, the procedure is the same as if you were standing..
OK, what about 3 o’clock position? Actually, in many cars the seatbelt simply won’t obstruct the draw. But if the seatbelt is in the way, like in the picture below, here is what I usually do.
When I get in the car, I tuck the seat belt under the front of the OWB holster and under the barrel of a pistol. In this case the seatbelt is completely out of the way and does not slow down the draw. Again, the draw procedure for concealed carry in the vehicle doesn’t change at all, you move your cover garment out of the way and get to your gun.
If you have an IWB holster at 3 o’clock you won’t be able to do that, but again, this is something you will have to figure out for yourself.
In conclusion, concealed carry in a vehicle is something that you have to think about and take into account a multitude of factors. Nobody but you can perform this assessment and make the right decision. Don’t follow trends and make sure that choices that you make are right for YOU.