Ok, you have made the decision that you will be a sheepdog. You have examined your motives, core beliefs, and abilities. What is your next step? I believe it should be equipping yourself. What is EDC? It stands for Every Day Carry. It is carrying your survival equipment daily, and it is certainly NOT limited to carrying a firearm. However, CCW is what I will attempt to address in this post.
First, you need training. Some training you can provide to yourself. For example: If you are not carrying at home, start now. Get used to having your firearm on you. Get used to the feel of it, the extra weight, the extra encumbrance it creates; how to move, sit, and walk comfortably. Of course, this entails a decision on how you will carry. My preference is a high-ride holster just behind my right hip bone. It is pretty close to where my duty rig puts my gun. Some of my wardrobe decisions are based around this method of carry. Sometimes, I have to base my carry method around my wardrobe decisions. This is a matter of personal choice based on comfort, accessibility, and fashion (to a degree). Figure out what is comfortable, because if carrying is uncomfortable, you won’t carry. But what sheepdog leaves their teeth at home? You may find that carrying a firearm is NEVER comfortable, but you can get used to it. Men are lucky in that they can put on a stiff, strong, fairly wide belt and hang their holster on it, inside or outside the pants. Women not so much.
Let’s see now, holster practicability. If you are going to carry in a shoulder rig, you must wear a jacket all the time. I tend to perspire easily, and so this is NOT my preferred holster. I also feel that without lots of practice of the combat draw, this is a method that may lead to ‘lasering’ yourself or others. ‘Lasering’ is when you unintentionally point your firearm at something you do not want to destroy. Like yourself, a friend, or any innocent person. I also find this ‘lasering’ to be a really big problem with SOB (small of back) carry. Combine that safety issue with the inability to access the gun with your weak hand and the risk of severe spinal injury if you hit the ground, and it just isn’t worth it. Looks cool, but the reality is it sucks. If you notice, only rookie cops carry their handcuff pouch in the SOB position. The vets correct them quickly, or if they ignore those words of wisdom they suffer the consequences the first time they get put on their backs. To test out the laser idea, just point with your index finger (like a kid imitating his cowboy hero) and watch exactly where you are pointing as you perform a draw maneuver. Shoulder holster draw almost always lasers your weak upper arm, and SOB almost always lasers your hip area. Intense practice may alleviate some of this, but if TSHTF the fine points of your training may go out the window right along with keeping your finger off the trigger. NOT GOOD.
In the winter, carrying on the hip is much more practical as your firearm is covered by your coat, and a quick sweeping motion with the strong hand to clear your coat becomes a natural part of your combat draw. In cold weather I sometimes carry in a coat pocket, but it’s a good idea to get a pocket sleeve holster to cover the trigger/trigger guard. It’s also a little disconcerting when you’re in the checkout line and your coat swings forward against the counter, making a nice loud ‘clunk’ as your pistol hits it. This clunk might even be considered grounds for store security to ask what is in your pocket. Another thing to think about is that a coat that hangs low on one side is almost a sure sign that something heavy (a gun) is in that pocket. You may want to carry a couple of spare mags and a small aluminum flashlight in the opposite pocket to balance out the way the coat hangs. Remember: There is no such thing as too much ammunition.
What about an ankle holster? Well, this requires you to make a big attention-attracting movement to reach your gun. Once you have made that movement, you have to pull up your pants leg to access the holster. More than one cop has been shot performing this maneuver. It is just too obvious.
OK, fanny pack, anyone? A fairly comfortable way to carry if the belt strap is wide enough. Pretty slow to draw from, but can be accessed a lot more clandestinely that the ankle holster. Good way to carry other extras, too. Pepper spray, cuffs (steel or zip ties), extra magazines/ammo etc, etc. Certainly not glamorous or fashionable, and often too easily spotted as a concealed gun, but an adequate method of carry.
Other options? The ladies can use a ‘flash bang’ bra, a thigh holster, or a concealment purse. Some ladies just carry in their purse (hopefully with a pocket holster to cover the trigger) and others go for the real holster purses. The holster purses designed for CCW are certainly the best of these options. And like the fanny pack, a purse of any kind except the evening clutch style allows for extra items already mentioned.
Once you have chosen a (few) holster(s), start carrying around the house with the gun unloaded. Why unloaded? Because the next thing is to practice drawing from your chosen rig. If it’s too cumbersome or slow or obvious, chalk the money up to experience and try something else. Once you have learned to draw safely and smoothly (you don’t have to speed-draw), you can carry fully loaded. Remember, while practicing your draw/access moves with the unloaded gun, follow ALL the safety rules, particularly rule 1: Never point your firearm at anything you are not ready and willing to destroy.
Now a note about CCW holsters. They need to adequately retain your firearm, not allowing it to accidentally fall out or be bumped or pushed out when you sit down. You may end up finding yourself in my position; having several hundred dollars in holsters and only using one or two, the rest being relegated to the ‘holster drawer’. Also, your holster needs to be strong enough to hold up to abuse, but remember, this does not mean it has to be the same quality as an LEO’s duty holster. No one should ever know you are carrying until you unholster for action, and you should never unholster unless you have already determined it is time to shoot. This is where your mental color codes and OODA loop come into play. Your holster does not need to stand up to a fight to take down a subject. That is a job for the cops. If the situation warrants, shoot the goblin and be done with it. Why get into a wrestling match with some clown that will kill you with your own gun because you didn’t take care of business when you should have. Remember: Be Aggressive Enough Soon Enough.
I’m lifting my shirt with the thumb of my right hand ahead of the holster. From there I sweep the shirt up and back, then drop my hand down on the gun.(practice, practice, practice!) This little leather belt-slide holster ($20) doesn’t look like much but it is amazingly comfortable and super fast. I was surprised that the gun never gets pushed out of the holster when sitting down, no matter what kind of chair or car seat I get into. Gun is a Glock 19 Gen 4 with tritium sights.