A Nurse with a Gun

Friday, December 07, 2007

Hot Carry in Louisiana

Nawlins"I live in the deep South and I want to get a concealed carry pistol. I want to know options on what finish to get. The problem is I sweat a lot and want the most durable finish for this."
"Concealed is concealed. Out of sight, the finish doesn't matter." To a certain extent, this is correct. Some finishes enhance concealment though, while others are easily noticeable underneath the dark recesses of a sports coat if you happen to leave it unbuttoned.

I live in Louisiana. One of the realities of Louisiana is it is hot and humid. Heat hangs in the air. Suffocating. Sweltering. Unbearable. Air conditioning in the summer is akin to life support. People take off their clothes. They strip down to minimal garments. Heck many people go commando simply because it's cooler! Wearing a cover garment in the summer screams "I have a gun!"

Not only do you have to consider finishes and rust problems Bourbon Street(I'll get into that in a bit) but you have to consider how you can carry the gun while still dressing comfortably and discretely in regards to carrying it.

The new-fangled "conceal it under your tucked in shirt" holsters don't work well here. Your shirt gets wet with sweat and the next thing you know the gun shows through, either printing under wet fabric or showing because a white dress shirt becomes translucent. I tried that.......It did not work for me.

I tried a simple belt clip underneath an untucked shirt. With a good gun belt for support, and a good tight clip, this works fairly well for short jaunts. It does away with the problem of a leather or nylon holster chapping sweaty skin. Believe me, a chapped love handle in the summer is something that will make you change your carry mode quickly.

The right holster will be impervious to sweat, and if it covers enough of the gun, the problem is lessened. Picking out the right gun helps a lot as well. Some materials simply fare better than others.

Over time, I have found a couple of decent carry solutions for Louisiana. Smith & Wesson Model 38 with Uncle Mike's HolsterFirst, is casual clothes.......Shorts and khakis..........For this mode of dress, I switch to pocket carry with a J-frame. For the particular gun, I would go with a lightweight S&W J-frame rated for +P .38 special or .357 magnum. The scandium frame is pretty corrosion proof, as is the cylinder. A simple Uncle Mike's pocket holster completes the package. For extended trips out and about, this works well. This carry mode does not work well with tight jeans. For tight jeans (which are uncomfortable anyway in Louisiana's heat, but some people persist) a Kel-Tec P3AT or P32 with a hardchromed slide and a holster with a plastic insert makes a good package in a front pocket. Some folks make their own plastic insert from a coffee can lid to prevent printing. Other guns are usually too fat to keep from printing in tight jeans.

If you feel the need for a larger gun, seriously consider your mode of dress. Build up a collection of light sports coats. Dress conservatively. If you buy now, you will find them on sale. Silk summer weight sports coats stay cool and conceal a gun well. Government Model in Neoprened Summer Special type holsterPlace the gun of your choice at 4:00 in anIWB or a OWB holster on a good belt and Bob's your uncle. For evening type trips, this is my preference. If you must use a IWB holster, consider gluing a piece of open cell foam neoprene backed with nylon or spandex to the inner surface, both to pad your hide, and to prevent soaking the leather with sweat. It will also help hold the holster in place for the draw. Rubber cement will attach the neoprene permanently. The other advantage of a sports coat is it gives you extra pockets. Cell phones, mini-flashlights, cigars, theater tickets can all go in the sports coat pockets. Hell toss a back up gun in one too. The sports coat keeps you from wearing a Bat Belt and a photographer's vest and looking like you area National geographic reporter afraid a bobcat might jump out of your ass at anytime. Plus, you tend to meet a classier dame and jerks tend to leave you alone when you wear a sports coat.

An apron type holster such as a SmartCarry holster works pretty well if your pants are loose enough. The SmartCarry has a sweat proof liner that other types of this holster style do not. It can become rather hot though. By going commando, you can eliminate a bit of that problem. An apron type holster is a bit slower to draw from, and it demands a shorted barreled gun, but it is a very effective concealment device. You may want to have a padded sleeve sewn up to encircle the velcro on the back to prevent chaffing.

As far as finishes go, a reality of carrying a gun must be accepted. Carry guns get beat up. You don't wear a pair of shoes and expect them to be pristine a year later. The same goes for a billfold or anything else carried daily. A carry gun is no different. Carry guns get beat up. Maintain the piece, keep it functional, and accept reality. Yes, it's an expensive depreciation if you buy new. Heck, it's expensive depreciation if you buy used. A gun reaches a point of decreasing depreciation at a certain point of it's life though. Colt Compact in a SmartCarry holsterTry to buy a good used gun already at that stage if you worry about depreciation. They are out there for sale at any gun show.

Tennifer is a great finish, but you have to accept a Glock to get it. From what I've seen, other "Tennifer-like" finishes don't fare as well as a Glock does. If a Glock is your choice of a carry gun, your problem is over.

Hard chrome is very resistant, but it lights up like neon underneath a jacket. The same goes for NP3 and stainless steel. You have to pick your poison.

A scandium framed gun takes care of part of the problem. Not only is the weapon lighter, but corrosion is minimized. On a semi-auto pistol though, the slide is still an issue.

On two of my carry 1911s I went with a Teflon type finish applied locally by a gunsmith. I alternate these with a SW1911PD which is doing well in regards to corrosion. I carry these guns either IWB or OWB underneath a sports coat, or in the SmartCarry holster. For pocket carry, I go with a stainless or lightweight alloy S&W J frame. I accept the reality that the guns will show wear and corrosion. I keep them maintained and go on with life. After all, I carry them so I may go on with life.

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20 Comments:

Blogger Mulliga said...

Different preferences, I guess. I hate wearing any type of coat or jacket during summer, especially here in Florida. I like to use a standard IWB holster under a T-shirt and let the holster take the inevitable sweat - you can always buy more holsters. Most often, though, I think a J-frame in the pocket is the way to go.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

This is something I would like to see more of on gun blogs...methods of carry, esp. in hot climates. The info on the finish is nice, too.

There is plenty of info on carry pistols, but not much on how to carry them.

9:35 AM  
Blogger phlegmfatale said...

Wow, there's so much to consider. I'm definitely getting my CHL next year, and while I have the option of the handbag carry, I think I'm going to feel better with it on my person when I'm showing real estate. Being as short as I am is going to make this even more of a challenge, and until reading this, I never even thought of the sweat factor. Thanks for this informative post!

9:46 AM  
Blogger Less said...

Great article!

I'll add a big +1 to the section about sport coats and all: I tend to wear a 3 pc. suit and find that everything necessary can be carried easily and with a minimum of fuss/second glances/etc...

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Xavier:

Very good article. Thank you for your insights.

Do you perhaps have thoughts on what can be done to make leather holsters faster to draw from? I've just received a leather holster as an early Chrstmas present. The holster doesn't have a retention mechanism other than the snug fit. This fit, however, is so snug that it takes a large amount of force to pull the gun from the holster. This amount of force is too large for my taste. I'm wondering if you know some smart way of reducing the force needed so I won't need to break out the Dremel tool.

Cheers,
Alex

8:59 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Alex, try some talcum powder. After coating the inside of the holster, insert and draw the unloaded pistol about twenty or thirty times to impregnate the pores of the leather. You may have to reapply a couple of times. Be careful that you don't make it too slick. A lavender scented powder makes for a sweet draw. ;)

A good gun belt will help hold the holster in place for the draw.

10:02 PM  
Blogger shooter said...

Xavier, I didn't see mention of the 'plastic fantastic' holsters that are out on the market today. I've tried leather (DeSantis) and cordura IWBs, but have had great success with Comp-Tac over all the rest. The C-TAC and Infidel for my 1911 don't wilt in the heat, retain water, chafe, collaspe or cause any other myriad of problems. I just got back from an outdoor Christmas event carrying my Kimber IWB under a long T-shirt and jeans. A bit of sweat needed to be wiped off the pistol, but whatever, it still goes bang.

My experience is that moisture tends to break down leather holsters, making it harder to draw and re-holster as needed. Kydex holsters should not be discounted in our locales.

11:37 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Shooter, I simply have no experience with the plastic holsters to offer. Thanks for contributing yours!

11:54 PM  
Blogger DonWorsham said...

For pocket carry in jeans try these:

http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/cb.aspx?a=380080

Roomy front pockets. I carried my old J-frame with oversize grips (Hogue Monogrip) and they completely hide in the pocket. Xavier's J-frame would fit nicely. I can get a full grip on the gun and withdraw it with ease.

I don't really like carpenter jeans but for pocket carry these are the ones. I cut off the hammer loop.

10:02 AM  
Blogger AlanDP said...

I bought a Smartcarry just for sweat-weather, but it turned out to be so comfortable I use it all the time. We get plenty of sweat-weather in south Texas, too.

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Charlie said...

Really liked this post. I live in North Louisiana myself and understand how the hot weather affects carrying. I am awaiting my first ccw permit and am trying to learn all I can

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

To make a leather holster less sticky, look for a couple products. One is "Leather Lightning". Got mine from Mitch Rosen Holsters in NH. Galco Holsters has "Draw-Ez". They may be the same product. Couple drops inside, and work it in with your finger(s). Let it sit for 5 minutes, and it's ready for use. I apply it several times a year. I've been using it for over ten years, same 1/2 oz bottle!

5:26 AM  
Blogger Matt G said...

Very small and light means that you can carry in a deep pocket. P3ATs are available in nickel slides, and the a Smith M637 with a semi-bobbed hammer with boot grips will carry in a pocket holster handily.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Thanks, Xavier. I will try that.

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Cory said...

Just as an FYI (not all that important) the newer Steyr pistols and the Walther P99 use the exact same Tennifer finish as Glocks(not a knock-off like Melonite, which is used on Springfield XDs and some other pistols.)

9:01 PM  
Anonymous JV said...

Nickle Plating is the traditional anti-rust treatment. Jack Fuselier plated one for me years ago ( www.gunsmith.fuselier.com ) and it hasn't rusted yet from being carried daily around the hot'n'humid SouthEast. Hard Chrome should have nickle plating underneath the chrome. Otherwise it'll rust anyway.

Using a pocket holster helps keep the piece from turning turtle (upside down) in your pocket, so you can get a good grip and quickly draw without fumbling. It also protects the trigger from accidentally being pulled. It's a must if you'll carry anything else in the same pocket (especially keys).

GrandfatherOak.com sells inexpensive kydex holsters for pocket and belt as well as the fine leather Ahern Pocket Natural (which I used for years for a PPK). They even sell Ahern's great book about concealed carry. I learned stuff from that book that I had not figured out on my own even after decades of licensed CCW.

Finally, the inside pockets of a suit coat/sports coat are often overlooked but make a great place to carry, especially if you wear the jacket while seated. Just be sure to put a similar weight in a pocket on the other side to keep the coat from sagging.

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just use an inside the waistband holster on a separate belt right in front. It is worn under my other clothes so it works with shirts tucked or untucked . Even fits under a business suit and does not show under just an under shirt.

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Southern Alabama and carry 13+ hours a day. Usually cargo shorts and a t-shirt or a t-shirt tucked with a camp shirt un-tucked and not buttoned. My usual carry piece is a SIG 220 carry in a Comp-Tac Infidel IWB at 4:00 Or if I wear a t-shirt and gym shorts it's a Taurus 650 in a smart carry. Sometimes I wear both. Both methods are comfortable enough to get used to.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous ryan said...

i got a snub nose taurus 38. i live in jersey and i just keep it in my back pocket if i go out for a short trip and when im taking long trips i put it in my "man bag" with my wallet and other essentials. concealed carry permits are not allowed in jersey, nor is open carry so its the risk i take. id take the felony and be alive then be dead with a clean record

11:05 PM  
Blogger miguel said...

I have been using the DESCREET CARRY under the shirt holster. Although similar to Kangaroo an Pro-active, it is has a better made holster with a cant angle for fast draw from buttoned shirt. The fabric is soft and allows the handle to lie flat to reduce any chance of "print". It is made in a small shop in Lipan Texas. I found it on eBay, and gunBroker.com. The price was fair at $29.99. I can wear it all day with my CZ PO1, and not notice it. Better yet, no one else notices it either.

3:44 PM  

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