Methods of carrying
The most popular of them place the gun on your person, attached to a belt, at the waist, accessible to the dominant hand. Consider the following:
- “In WaistBand” (IWB) carry – Firearms carried this way are attached to the belt, behind your pants/shorts/skirt. There are a number of places you can position a handgun in this fashion, with appendix carry (front of the body, often between 12-2 o’clock) and strong side (at, or behind the hip toward the back, often between 3-5 o’clock) being the most popular. You may also choose cross-draw carry (10-11 o’clock) for your handgun, where you reach across the front of your body with your dominant hand to draw—though this presents a potential issue with sweeping the muzzle of the gun across people in front of you unnecessarily as you draw.
- “On WaistBand” (OWB) carry – Firearms carried this way are attached to the belt of your pants/shorts/skirt. This is generally done strong side or cross draw, with the same precautions for cross draw mentioned above.
- Pocket carry – This is usually reserved for a small revolver or subcompact semiauto. For safety, be sure to keep that pocket empty otherwise. Utilizing available gun safety mechanisms and possibly a pocket holster are other considerations for this method.
IWB is arguably easier to conceal. A T-shirt, blouse or button-down can often hide the gun from public view without requiring additional clothing. OWB can be more comfortable for some, but you may find that an extra shirt, hoodie or jacket is necessary to properly conceal a firearm. Since you will likely be visible by the public most of the time, ensuring proper concealment is key—so balancing comfort, weather and cover garment needs is important. An abundance of aftermarket products are built for concealment and safety to suit any style, need and budget. This includes numerous belt, holster and cover garment options.
Alternatively, there are carry methods that do not place the gun on your person. A bag or purse is usually the most common choice. Although this can be more comfortable, it likely also places the firearm outside of your direct control. Obviously, misplacing a bag that contains your wallet and a gun is a big issue. Additionally, bags are often a target of theft, either while unattended or in a purse-snatching situation. It can be done safely, but be sure to be realistic about the potential issues with any method of carry, and account for them as best you can. Your best bet for making any method of carry safer and more effective is training. The more training hours you can log with the holster or carry method you choose, the better off you should be if you need to put it into practice.
Finally, make sure that you limit administrative handling (any handling of the firearm that doesn’t involve shooting it) in public. Adjusting your holster, checking your magazines, etc. are likely to draw negative attention of those around you or even police. Additionally, the more you handle a firearm unnecessarily, the greater the risk of dropping it, or worse. Safety should be your number-one concern.
Beyond the gun: Other weapons
There are places you might go where a gun would be either illegal or too difficult to legally carry. Perhaps security is very tight and would turn you away, as is their right, or the venue’s ban on weapons carries the weight of law. Knives are a popular choice, either pocket or fixed blade, but how much formal instruction do you have using one in self-defense? Your handling of a knife will likely be better if you take a class or work with an instructor in some capacity. Check with an attorney or confirm your local laws before carrying a knife.
Additionally, pepper sprays can be effective self-defense tools. They are readily available online, and you can often order them with training devices identical to the self-defense model but filled with inert water. This will give you a feel for how the spray works, at which range it’s most effective and for how long you can hold the button down before it runs out—all of which will be valuable information should you actually have to use it.
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