The “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of Open Carry Part III
Written by Roger Phillips, Suarez International Specialist and Tier One Instructor
The Retention Problem
“Ever since the first caveman grabbed the first rock inside of a fight, man has been fighting over a weapon.”
Weapon retention is something that simply has to be taken into consideration if you are going to carry a gun……concealed or open. I think we can all agree that if you follow the “Three Stupid Rule” your chances of being in a life threatening encounter are very low………that is if you follow the “Three Stupid Rule.” Most young people do not follow those rules and it seems as if the open carry crowd is predominantly young people. The chances rise dramatically if you live outside of the rules. But let’s all face it, even if the chance is low if your number is called it does not matter how many other peoples numbers were not called. All that matters is that you are now fighting for your life or the life of your loved ones. If there was zero chance of this happening then we would not need to carry weapons at all. But we all know that it can happen, so let’s get past the BS that is commonly thrown around by the political activist.
Retention is an issue that must be taken into consideration!
Refuse to admit this fact at your own peril. But do not blame the “self defense” guys for not trying to get this fundamental truth through to you…….blame the political activist for trying to hide it from you. When men fight, there will most likely be a weapon involved (even if it is an improvised weapon.) If there is only one weapon, there will be a fight over that weapon if the fight is not ended quickly and decisively. If you have a visible gun on your waistband, you have brought that one weapon into the fight. Basically that makes almost any fight that you get into a gunfight.
If we can just agree that “fights happen” then we can agree that retention is an issue.
When we look at “our power” it is strongest right inside of our work space. Our work space is from waist to chin, inside of each shoulder. It extends out about one foot from our chest. This is the area where we are our strongest. This is where “our power” is at its peak. This is right inside of the natural arch of the arms, if we were to bring our hands up along the body, from our waist up to our chin. Not only is this “our power” workspace it is also our optimal area of hand speed. If I want to open carry and I want to be the very best that I can be, I am going to wear my holster on my waistband, near my centerline. You can call it “cross draw” or “appendix” depending on the position that you use, but it has many advantages.
The number one advantage is that the gun is in front of you and you have better “security” over that gun. We have better security due to the gun being on the same side of your body as your eyes. The gun is also guarded by being in between your arms and inside of your power work space. This offers great protection from any gun grab from behind. When we look at conventional open carry methods of carry such as “on the hip” or “behind the hip” we see that we are really open from an attack on the gun from behind. When we combine “the eyes,”” the power,” and the “hand speed” from the centerline it is clear that any other carry position on the waistband are suboptimal positions in regards to weapon retention. While this concept may be huge inside of “those in the know” inside of certain tactical circles, it is not that well known inside of the open carry circles.
If you have made the decision to open carry on the hip or behind the hip it is probably a very good idea to invest in a high quality (I mean quality, not prolific) retention holster. Personally, I really like the Safariland retention holsters. Bladetec also has some good offerings. We need to accept the fact that since the gun is not on the same side of the body as the eyes, not inside of the power work space, and way off of the centerline we are going to need to supplement the suboptimal carry method with a holster that will mitigate those obvious weaknesses.
In Part I of this series I talked about “responsibility.” We have a responsibility to make sure that our weapons do not end up in the hands of the bad guys. That means that we must look at the security of our weapon. Centerline carry allows you to operate without retention devices. On or behind the hip should be supplemented with a quality retention holster. I am not interested in debating the tired old argument “Bad guys won’t take your gun.” That is not what my personal experience has shown me and no I will not provide a link or tell the story. All I know is…….BULL!Be very careful listening to a person that has never even been in a fist fight……..let alone a fight for a life.
If someone grabs for your gun, push down hard on his hand to keep the gun in the holster and to trap his hand, then go to town with hand to hand skill sets or access your blade and take out the parts of the machine that allow the machine to fight. Gun guys are notorious for thinking “I do not need hand to hand skills, I’ll just shoot them”……BULL! “I do not need to know knife fighting, I’ll just shoot them”……..BULL! This type of thinking is just another example of the perpetuation of ignorance inside of the gun world.
Let’s look at how to keep people from even thinking ”I could take that gun if I wanted to.” It all comes down to establishing a personal space around you. American men hold conversations at two yards. That is finger tip to finger tip. If anyone invades this space you are either dealing with an annoying idiot (you all know what I am talking about,) a person looking to teach you a lesson, or a bad guy trying to get to your gun. Be wary of anyone trying to get inside of this space. As soon as it happens you need to go from yellow to orange. Do what needs to be done to re-establish this space and establish that you do not like people inside of your personal space.
This is why I do not open carry in crowds. This is why I do not open carry anywhere where I know that I will be standing in line.
If you are open carrying in a crowd and it is impossible to avoid everyone, adjust the direction that you stand to mitigate your openings. It all comes down to awareness, common sense, and acceptance that life is not beautiful and people are not great.
The evil of man is just a newspaper article away. Bad things do happen to good people!