Driving with a Handgun: Best Practices

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We live in a mechanized society and have adapted every part of rural and urban life to the automobile.

As concealed carry permit holders, we often drive and ride armed. This brings us to a certain amount of concern.

When seated in the home or a restaurant, most of us are able to shift, adjust and find comfort. Vehicle seats are difficult, in that they are stiffer.

We also must be strapped-in at all times when driving. A perfectly comfortable holster may become a pain when driving!

Pocket holsters may dump our pistol on the seat or worse, the floorboard. A well-designed inside-the-waistband holster may begin to abrade the skin.

A big rule that must be obeyed, is never simply leave the pistol loose or laying on the seat.

I am aware of two officers that were wounded, one fatally, as a result of leaving the gun laying on a car seat.

One was jolted during a felony car stop and his pistol rolled under the seat. It had been on the seat beside him.

In another case, an officer on a long stakeout had removed his SIG P220 from behind his back where it was cutting into his ribs and placed on the car seat.

He spotted his man, finally, and went chasing after the felon forgetting the gun. The felon turned and shot and killed him.

Off-body storage is a bad idea. We won’t discuss under the car seat or in a special under-the-dash holster. These are illegal almost everywhere.

Glove compartment carry is sometimes legal, sometimes not. I carry on my body, and if another gun is in the car, it is in the trunk, secure. 

gun on car seat
Leaving a gun laying on the vehicle seat is a very bad idea. 

Maintain a Proper Driving Posture

A big concern is posture. We all learned correct posture in the first grade.

In a vehicle, keeping control of the vehicle demands we sit straight and remain alert.

This also helps keep the handgun in its holster off the back instead of pressed into the back.

It is best to maintain an alert, upright posture when driving. In general, it is best if the wrists lay along the line of the steering wheel.

Driving and shooting are skills that demand safety and discipline. I cannot imagine doing both at the same time.

If you are in danger, then put the pedal to the metal! Get away.

The vehicle is heavy and will shove another vehicle, although you are asking for collision and mass casualties.

Unless you have been to a professional driving course and driving a specially-equipped cruiser or humvee, driving and shooting simultaneously are out of the question.

Responding to a carjacking that occurs when you are stopped in a parking lot or red light is another matter.

ankle carry holster while driving
In a pinch, an ankle holster is a fine choice for driving use. 

Keep Road Rage In Check

When I was a cop, it was pretty easy to figure how many traffic cases we would see in one day. Most drivers are good drivers, some are excellent.

About one in 25 break the law and about half those really deserve a traffic ticket. (Unless you live in a speed trap!)

That is one hell of a lot of bad drivers considering the numbers on the road.

Every week, if not every day, I spot drivers doing things that put the rest of us in danger.

My wife and I have seen three accidents in one hour of travel just recently.

But I don’t lay on the horn unless it may actually avoid an accident.

Like the girl on a cell phone that drove into my truck in a parking lot, hitting me in a parking space — with no harm done to me!

Even the horn did stop her. Rude gestures and hand signs don’t bother me. Keep your awareness high and watch for real danger.

Remember, if you have any part in the fight, it isn’t self-defense, it becomes mutual combat.

Keeping a tactical space between the other vehicles and you is important.

Don’t ride the bumper so close you can smell the drivers after shave.

After driving and carrying a gun for about half a century, I can state that without any shadow of a doubt, defensive driving is far more important than any chance of gunplay on the highway.

If it happens, stop and get behind the car if you cannot get away quickly.

A vehicle will stop most small-arms fire, and the engine block will stop a .308 every time.

A pistol may penetrate a car door and maybe not, there are a lot of braces in a door. A .30-30 and up will go through two car doors. 

semi-auto SIG pistol and revolver
Relatively compact handguns are best for vehicle use. Longer barrel handguns tend to push up on the belt and into the ribs. 

Think Defensively

In short, evasive driving is most important whether you are armed or not.

Keep your eye on the road and develop the ability to think a few seconds ahead.

When you are trapped in traffic or in a parking lot is when you are most vulnerable.

I repeat, keep the door locked until you have scanned the area for the all clear to exit. Most carjackers grab the door handle to attempt to gain entry.

All are not armed, but many are. If you are able get the car in drive or reverse, get it moving!

If someone has invaded your vehicle and gained control, get out of the vehicle and run! Don’t think more of the vehicle than your life.

Above all else, do not go along with them. Your chances of dying in a wreck, or being killed or raped, are very high if you are taken with the vehicle.

If they take you with them, the situation is no longer a carjacking, but a kidnapping and assault. 

Kershaw Emerson CQC Wave Knives
These Kershaw/Emerson wave knives could be plenty useful for stopping a carjacking. 

Get the Right Tools and Skills

There are tools that may be used to deter a carjacking. If the assailant has his hands and arms in the vehicle, you are perfectly justified to use force.

A jolt to the hands or wrists works well. With the forefinger and small finger extended, grab the adversary’s hand and press the knuckles together.

This is very painful, yet the pain is gone in a few minutes.

By the same token, you can use the vehicle to escape and toss the hijacker around a bit better than shooting him.

It is, overall, a very bad idea to fire from a vehicle.

Think about it, the adversary or the team will have plenty of room to maneuver and hide behind cover while you are a sitting duck!

And glass doesn’t stop bullets. Spalling from exploding glass may get in your eyes and put you out of the fight.

If you must exit the vehicle and take cover, get away as quickly as possible, don’t stay behind your vehicle.

It will be difficult to find you in a parking lot.

As for the specific gear for carrying a handgun, some of the best concealed carry rigs don’t work as well when seated.

The inside-the-waistband holster or strong-side high-ride are not as well-suited to vehicular carry.

A simple Galco bellyband works for keeping the gun concealed and is easily moved to several different positions — slide the gun to the front or even crossdraw when driving.

For a short pistol, appendix carry works well. A crossdraw or shoulder holster is ideal for vehicle carry.

Each offers a good sharp draw when seated. An overlooked combination is the ankle holster.

Very slow from a standing position, the ankle holster is handy when seated.

Cross the legs in a parking lot and the ankle holster places the handgun at your fingertips. 

As for specific handguns, this brings us to some interesting history.

During the early part of the 20th century, most folks wore larger revolvers with long barrels and heavy frames.

Recognizing the need for a more urban revolver, ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald developed the first in a long line of Fitz Special revolvers.

There were short-barrel handguns that were more easily handled in a vehicle.

Tom Threepersons cut away the unnecessary parts of a leather holster and created the Threepersons holster, the first truly suitable holster for wear under a suit coat and while driving.

Conclusion: Driving with a Handgun

The rest is history. A relatively compact handgun and a suitable holster are real needs for those who find themselves behind the wheel often.

Another important tool is a good quality knife.

Keeping a knife where it may be drawn and used quickly may be useful against a carjacker who isn’t armed with a firearm.           

Keep all of this in mind, but above all, be alert and stay safe!  

Do you have any tips for carrying a firearm in a car? Let us know in the comments section below!



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