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How to Conceal Carry in Winter

It’s easy to hide your firearm under layers of clothing, but the principle behind concealed carry requires that you can still access your gun quickly and safely in a sticky situation. With a few tips and a rundown of the features to look for in a CCW jacket from the experts at 5.11 Tactical®, you can keep your gun handy and avoid hypothermia at the same time.

how to carry concealed firearms in winter

The Right Way to Conceal Carry in Winter

The “right” way to conceal carry during winter really hinges on what works best for you – for your body type, your draw style, and your comfort level. You should experiment with concealed carry jackets, tactical outerwear, and concealed carry shirts to find the best way to responsibly tote and access your firearm when it’s freezing outside. Use the tips below to decide on the best gear to start with.

Simple Solutions for Winter Concealed Carry

Pairing a shoulder or waist holster with a concealed carry jacket is usually the best solution for carrying in winter. You can adjust your waist holster to match a built-in, easy-access pocket on your CCW jacket, or leave the top of your jacket unzipped for quick access to your shoulder holster. While you may not be able to draw as fast as you would without a jacket on, it’s a simple way to keep your firearm accessible when you’re bundled up.

A pocket holster can be a great idea, too. It’ll keep your firearm oriented properly for the draw, and it won’t get tangled up beneath layers of clothing. One of the biggest benefits to using a pocket holster is that you can keep your hand on your gun without letting anyone else know it’s there. The catch: You have to keep your jacket on the entire time you need your sidearm – if you take your coat off, the gun goes with it.

What Doesn’t Work for Concealed Carry in Winter

An inside-the-pants holster is the worst way to CCW while wearing a winter jacket. These holsters are tough to reach even without a coat on, and when you’re wearing multiple layers, your holster can work its way up, down or around and easily become tangled in your underclothes. Of course, we shouldn't even need to mention why tucking your gun in your waistband without a holster is a bad idea – right?

Pocket carrying without a pocket holster is almost as bad as simply tucking your gun in your pants. Your firearm can get tangled up in your pocket liner pretty easily, making it potentially useless and even dangerous if you need to access your gun quickly.

Features to Look for in Concealed Carry Jackets

A good concealed carry jacket will give you freedom of movement and an easy path to your firearm. The best concealed carry jackets include the following features:

  • Lightweight construction that doesn’t bunch up or puff out.
  • TacTec System™ or similar compatibility for holster attachment.
  • Elasticized cuffs that won’t let your sleeves get in your way when you need to draw.
  • The exclusive 5.11 Quixip® system for accelerated access to your sidearm.
  • Tough fabrics and construction that won’t wear down over your gun or holster.

The right fit is just as important as the features you look for in a concealed carry jacket. If your outerwear is too big, it’s going to get in your way when you draw. If it’s too small, it’ll get caught on your holster and prevent you from drawing quickly.

Stop into your local 5.11 store to try on a few CCW jackets and find the best fit and features for you. If you order online from 5.11, most items are eligible for return or exchange within 30 days, so you're sure to find a good fit.

The Bottom Line for Wintertime Concealed Carry

Tactical outerwear made specifically for concealed carry, paired with a pocket holster or shoulder holster that you can easily access underneath your coat, is your best bet for CCW in winter. Shop 5.11 Tactical’s extensive selection of CCW jackets and holsters to find exactly what works for you today.