Does winter weather affect what you carry?

Glock 19 and Kimber Pro Carry

Alright so neither of these are full sized guns (Glock 19 and 4″ Kimber) and the Kimber is a 9mm, but it still illustrates the point.

As the weather gets cold many people chose to change their carry gun to something with a larger frame, because they can conceal it more easily.

Considered thoughtfully, this isn’t a bad thing because it can provide more control, better recoil management and higher capacity… that isn’t what seems to happen though.

I had no intention of releasing a blog post today (and if I did it would have been on flashlights) but Michael Bane did 2 things today in his Down Range Radio Podcast that compelled me to do so.

First Michael gave the blog, the store and me personally a glowing recommendation that couldn’t go with a public thank you, so… Thank you!

(I recommend you listen to the whole podcast, but if you simply can’t his mention of WTBGU! starts at 16:20)

Secondly he talked about Winter CCW and living in North Carolina I sometimes forget what winter carry is in other parts of the country.

He touched on many of my hot points how deeply the gun is concealed, how pocket carry becomes more likely, choosing gloves that work for you, selecting coats… It is all great stuff and I’ll cover it as snow moves out of the land of the secret hidden bunker (upper elevations in Colorado) and down into the rest of the country.  But he sorta glossed over firearm selection and I wanted to expand on it further.

If you have every read a gun magazine you likely know that all real men carry 1911′s (sorry Rob).  They carry them in the shower, at the beach, little league games everywhere. Right?

Well no.

Government model 1911′s are big, heavy, expensive to buy and shoot. For short waisted people like myself, they are impossible to draw. They can be finicky to keep running for the average Glock shooter. And they have extra buttons and levers that defensive guns just shouldn’t have. (The 4 Reasons I Carry a Glock – Still the most popular WTBGU! post of all time).

However, in the winter when we are wearing a great big ole’coat we get the chance to live out this fantasy, just a bit, and carry that great big ole’gun that sits in the safe all summer.

I hate that logic!

First, a 1911 is a more complicated gun than most people carry in the summer. <full stop>

If you don’t train with a gun with a safety and you start carrying one that should be carried with it engaged your are implicitly saying “in a moment for crisis I will have the presence of mind to do something I don’t train for.”  And for me it is even worse because with my grip I can’t always make them go off because of the beaver-tail and that button on the back.

Secondly, a 1911 typically holds 8+1, a similarly sized Glock 17 holds 17+1 and another company has a comparable model that holds 19+1.

Most importantly however, and the trap even non-1911 guys fall into is the idea that they want to carry a .45ACP for that “extra knock down power.” (Which doesn’t actually exist). What you want is to ensure the round you choose will penetrate through the heavy winter clothes… feathers are tough which is one reason that we shoot turkeys with 3″ loads.

I am admittedly a 9mm guy and I don’t see any logical reason for switching in the winter, but I want to know what you think.  Am I off base with why many people switch to 1911′s in the winter (or do you even believe they do)? Do you think people can switch away from what they practice with all summer and not have any ill effects? And do you agree that Michael Bane has terrific taste in friends and blogs? (Ok, that last one was a pandering a bit)

If so let me know by posting a comment below, Tweet me @BalloonGoesUp or message me on Facebook and let me know! Also be sure to go to the store and sign up for the newsletter.


  1. says

    For me, even further south than you, the biggest difference in winter versus summer is belt-holster carry versus IWB carry. Even under a heavy coat I’m able to access the gun easily, because I generally don’t wear zip up coats. The gloves I wear are rather form fitting, and I’ve practiced drawing the gun wearing them and the coat.

    If I were to travel to some god-forsaken northern tundra location, like Tennessee, I would have to plan accordingly. I do own ski gloves and other Inuit devices, so I obviously need to practice more.

    • RiverRat57 says

      I agree, my only differance is IWB or OWB, I only carry .45′s, a 1911 and a Bond Arms Snake Slayer4, TN a tundra location?? what would you consider ND or MT??

  2. says

    Coming from CA I have to ask what is concealed carry and what is this winter you speak of? lol! I think you should stick with the same pistol you always carry. I prefer the .45ACP as an all around defensive cartridge, and have heard that the 9mm hollow points are easier to clog which would be something to be aware of with a thick coat. I would still rather have one of my 1911s over a Glock or XD even if hi-caps were allowed.

  3. Casey from Indiana says

    I know I sometimes swtich to a 1911 in the winter, mainly because a jackass rig is the best holster I have for that. I normally carry an XD45 Tactical in a crossbreed supertuck in the summer, yet towards the winter I sometimes switch to carrying it OWB in a Bravo Concealment that lets me utitlize my TLR-1.

    I do agree that switching to a different gun than you are not used to carrying is not the greatest idea (in my opinion), yet I think it is good to diversify your ability to carry different firearms and be good with them in the situations that call for extreme actions.

  4. says

    Anybody that carries a different “winter gun” hasn’t realized civilization has indoor heating. If they can carry it in winter they can carry it year round.

    Switching gun control layouts at any time is a carry rotation problem. There may be a need to switch layouts (9mm striker fired in the city for two legged critters vs 12 gauge shotgun with slugs in the north woods for bears) but I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about here.

    Pick a control layout and stick with it.

  5. leupy says

    In my opinion going to a 45 in the winter is a big mistake. You loose penitration I have seen a 45 shot at point blank range into a leather coat with a shirt and sweater underneath not even break the skin, yes there was a large purple area and yes he was knocked down but the truth is the officer wanted to kill him which didn’t happen. Okay the officer would say he was just trying to stop him but that is just the training he has. When you put a bullet into the ten ring from 3 feet away you are trying to kill. It might be a better idea for winter carry to go to a 22 mag. All this said I don’t own a 22 mag. and I carry a kahr PM9 95 % of the time the other 5% a springfield 1911, micro 45, just because I really like it.

  6. Ken says

    I think the only change that NEEDS to be considered (other than access to the gun, as discussed), is whether or not your carry ammunition has a good track record through heavy clothing. Maybe something like Hornady’s Critical Duty (with a polymer plug) is called for, to keep expansion happening.after passing through winter clothes. Of course, this would lead me to question why you’re carrying a less-than-reliable bullet in summer, but that’s another discussion… Now, if you’re going to be, say, walking in the woods, perhaps you should consider local fauna’s winter habits and compare the appropriateness of your choices in light of them, but again, different discussion, any maybe a reason to discuss summer carry choices, as some big critters.actually take the winter off.

    • says

      This is a good point, maybe the article should be about seasonal ammo rather than guns…Always important to consider the environment when deciding how to be best prepared!

  7. Jake says

    I live in central Arkansas. I carry whenever I leave the house. In the summer I wear shorts and carry a Glock 27 when it gets cold enough for long pants (usually end of Oct) I carry a Glock 30sf. I carry in a Safariland ALS for both.

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