EDC While on Vacation
First of all, the family vacation was awesome. Weather in the Outer Banks of North Carolina was excellent, the ocean awe inspiring as usual, and the R&R just what we needed. That said, I made a serious commitment to my family that I would, as much as humanly possible, protect them. This means that I carry on a daily basis while off-duty. Indeed, as I sit here in my living room typing this, I have a 2” .38 special revolver in the pocket of the shorts I’m wearing.
Some may consider it excessive, but I’ve given up long ago worrying about what others think of my and my family’s personal safety. Consider the crack cocaine addict who tried, unsuccessfully, to rob me less than 100 feet from the front doors of the police training bureau years ago. Consider that I’ve walked two lovely Daughters down the aisle while being armed, and by the way, whether in a tuxedo or suit, no one was the wiser.
So, needless to say, I was packing during my travels and while vacationing.
Mouse Guns and Gun Battles
Some equate summer carry with mouse guns of the .380 or less variety. I’ve always believed that .38 spl. is about as small a caliber as I want to go and not in my primary concealed firearm. Being off-duty and without immediate back-up, do you really want to carry a six or seven shot .380 as your primary means of armed self-defense? Let’s face it, mouse guns are not the most impressive in terminal performance. Yes, they are better than throwing rocks. Yes, one of the few one-shot stops I observed on the street was from a .25 acp. But I’ve also seen plenty of bad guys survive being shot with 9mm’s and .40’s to feel comfortable betting my life on a smaller caliber. When it is so easy to carry a decent sized pistol and caliber, why carry a mouse gun. My chosen primary gun was my Glock 19, stoked with 124 grain Gold Dot with a spare mag carried on the offside.
When selecting guns to carry off-duty and on vacation or other trips consider that when your pistol is pulled you are, A) In a bad way with someone either threatening you with death or actively attempting to kill or seriously injure you, your family or travel companions. Otherwise, why would you intervene? B) On your own. Unless a travel mate is armed, you are your own back-up. C) Without: ballistic vest, a shotgun or carbine (unless you are…), Taser or other less lethal (unless you are…), or radio to call for back-up.
While on vacation the Orlando, Pulse nightclub, shooting took place. Monsters abide and only good people with guns can stop bad people with guns. Would you want to face such a hyper-violent terrorist with a mouse gun and nothing else?
Dress Around the Gun
My attire for the trip to and fro, as well as while at my destination, was cargo shorts and button-up short sleeve shirts. Fortunately this attire is conducive to concealed carry. I cannot remember a time, in over 34 years of carrying concealed, that anyone has detected my concealed firearm or that is has become an issue. Why? I carry in well-made holsters and dress around the gun.
For this trip my G19 was carried strong-side, at 3 o’clock position, outside the pants, in a Phantom holster by Raven. This kydex rig carries flat to my side and with the proper belt does not lean out and “print” on my shirt. Since I’ve been sporting a Trijicon RMR – ruggedized miniature red dot, sight on the slide of my 19, some of my stalwart holsters the Crossbreed inside the belt SuperTuck holster, has not fit the Glock/RMR setup. Since I’ve yet to find the time to take a Dremel tool to this scabbard to fit my red dot sight, I haven’t been able to carry using this holster. That said, I’ve used both the Phantom and Crossbreed rigs on long trips requiring hours behind the wheel and both have accomplished that mission very comfortably.
Clint Smith is quoted as saying that carrying concealed should be comforting, not comfortable and I agree. That said, a concealed pistol can make a trip miserable if it’s digging into your thigh, side, groin, etc. or causing sciatica. With so many quality holsters out in the marketplace, there are many options for appendix, cross-draw, strong-side, and pocket carry so that pain need not be a part of the process.
My spare magazine was carried in a Bianchi single mag carrier on my weak side. If I was doing much night time driving, and I wasn’t, I would have carried my single mag/flashlight combo holster I recently picked up from X-Concealment Holsters & Gear.
BUG – Back-Up Gun
Yes, I routinely carry a back-up gun (Smith and Wesson M&P 340 .38/.357 revolver) while on duty and off-duty. Why? I am frequently in the company of family members who know how to shoot but don’t carry concealed. In a pinch I can arm the wife, daughter, or son-in-law with the five shooter. Yes I know that they should get their CCW permits and all have completed the class, but it is their decision not mine to make. That said, I can still arm them if/when the fecal material hits the rotating oscillator. Another reason for the back-up revolver is Mr. Murphy. Throughout my LE career this pesky purveyor of problems has made his presence known at the worst possible time and environs. I know the Glock 19 is well maintained and has delivered awesome performance but it is a mechanical device and handguns can break or experience a serious stoppage. The BUG is there for when things get real bad and enables me to have a fighting chance.
On more than one shopping excursion into town, my .340 became my primary, carried conveniently in my front pants pocket. Traveling with a BUG permits this if you want to.
I’ve carried the M&P 340 in a DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster since I got it and there it resides to this day. Just last week I was instructing a line of newly hired officers. A demo was set up to pit me against a rookie in a double-feed clearing drill. On command from another instructor, the rookie set upon clearing his double feed, i.e. lock the slide open, mag out, rack it several times, reinsert the mag, chamber and fire – the standard protocol for clearing this stoppage. I just transitioned my primary pistol to my off-hand, drew my .38 special revolver and fired five shots. As an interesting aside, I have carried this snubbie in my front pants pocket for years and similarly done this demo. No one has ever spotted the handgun prior to the drill.
BUG’s are “in case of emergency, smash the glass” lifesavers. Chances are I’ll never need it but I’m okay with carrying “just in case.”
Vacations, like all good things, must come to an end and so it is with this year’s beach trip. Did I carry concealed at the pool or ocean? No. I will not leave an unattended handgun in a beach bag while enjoying the water. At these times my handguns were locked up in a GunVault travel lock box.
“The fruits of your labor” – you work hard to enjoy a respite and vacation from the daily LE grind. But bad things happen to good people, including off-duty LEO’s traveling or while on holiday. Though I may put my proactive policing mindset in the locker while off-duty or on R&R, I don’t put my safety. I acknowledge that sometimes armed defense is necessary to survive and I will not forgo my safety and security for convenience or comfort. That is simply not going to happen!
Kevin R. Davis