Yesterday was a pretty good day, for being so cold. I was wearing a lot of layers and still found I didn't have enough for that particular range day. Cold and windy is a brutal combination. Of course, I carry to and from the range, and since I had a couple stops to make (Books a Million for the latest issue of SWAT that features a couple of ATS chest rigs, and Red Top Barbecue in Guthrie, KY because it's awesomely greatly awesome), I made sure I had a cover garment. I was carrying my standard load out: cell phone, SAK Classic in the left pocket, folder (Spyderco Endura 4 that day) in the right, G19 (one day I'll list the mods and the why's; I know nobody cares, but I gotta post something, don't I?) in the Safariland 529 and a G17 spare mag in a Safariland 074 pouch. I mention that only to have a baseline for the sake of the post.
As I mentioned previously, I had several layers on; a couple black base layer long sleeve shirts, a black Marmot Powerstretch fleece zip up (been getting a LOT of use of that garment this year!) and a dark gray Gander Mountain GSX shell that was a Christmas gift from friends a couple years ago. Been wearing the heck out of that, too. Since I was wearing thermal bottoms, I had one of my baggier pairs of pants on, a fairly old pair of Royal Robbins 5.11's in very dark blue. Incidentally, the holster, belt and pistol are all black, too.
Now, the color being black isn't really significant, except in terms of whether the gun is seen or not. I've never been one to put an excessive amount of weight on "printing". Its just not that important, because people have a hard time seeing a couple inches in front of their face, much less recognizing a concealed weapon. But a little attention must be paid to contrast, and here's what brought this whole post on.
I should have clicked a photo, but I couldn't pull it off surreptitiously, so I'll have to describe what I saw. I was in the Publix in TN (which is significant, due to the state it's in) getting some protein because their meat department is a lot better than Wally World's. While I'm checking out, I'm looking around; I try to be conscientious of looking around constantly, in order to be aware of what's going on around me. In the next lane over, there's a young man, probably a Soldier judging from his appearance (haircut and what he was wearing), checking out with a pretty large order. He's wearing a long sleeve thermal type shirt and blue jeans on a regular black pants belt. Why would I notice the belt? Because of what was on it: an open carried Taurus 1911 in a Fobus holster. Now, I'll get into the choice of weapon in a different post, but what's relevant here is twofold. First, the black pistol and black holster against blue jeans and a white shirt draws the eye of those looking for it like a moth to a flame. Secondly, he was open carrying in a state with particular laws on that issue. In TN, the permit to carry is a handgun carry permit. Carrying at all without a permit in TN (a shall-issue state), open carry or concealed, is illegal. Yes, you can carry either way with the permit. So, either this young man was breaking the law, or drawing unneeded attention.
He might have been breaking the law; I didn't talk to him, because nobody else seemed to notice and I didn't wanna be the one to point it out. If he wasn't, all the notice I was paying him could have been avoided by wearing a long sleeve shirt, baggy sweatshirt, jacket, or almost any cover garment other than a 5.11 vest (they only blend in at an IDPA match) and carrying concealed. If he'd been wearing a black shirt instead of a white one, the noticeability of what he was carrying would have been cut dramatically. I would still have seen it, but the casual observer surely wouldn't have. I've watched that over and over again: groups of people going about whatever their task at hand is are oblivious to what's going on around them. Go to a supermarket or the mall or whatever and watch people. You'll see in short order how unaware of what's going on around them they are. You should do that anyway, although you can just incorporate it into your day to day activities after a little while; it becomes second nature rather quickly. Remember that old saying "be kind, be courteous, and have a plan to kill everyone you meet"? Yeah.
Deep carry is overrated, but if it makes you as the person carrying concealed more comfortable, then go for it. Just be sure you are practicing out of your carry gear and can actually access your pistol or other weapon when you need it and without undue stress and histrionics. Get good out of your carry gear, or you're putting yourself at a major disadvantage. It's just your life we're talking about.
The bigger point, though, is that if you're going to carry, you have two things that you need to do. First, put a little thought into your wardrobe. You may need to buy some new clothes, but that's doubtful unless you're one of those skinny jeans wearing emo people. You do need to consider it, though, because your goal is to be the grayman (or woman; grayperson sounds stupid so I won't use it) and avoid trouble as much as practicable. Secondly, be very aware of what the laws are concerning carry where you are, especially if you're like me and live in a border town. You've got to know that you're within the law; carrying illegally is a great way to get popped in a high stress situation, for you and the arresting officer) for a completely avoidable crime. Remember, with rights come responsibility, and just because the state issues you a permit after completing the class on the law regarding carrying, doesn't mean you're now an expert on carrying. You become expert through practice and repetition.
3 years ago