Practical Tips for 4 Unusual Handgun Concerns

Practical Tips for 4 Unusual Handgun Concerns

Some handgun and concealed carry students and readers have asked for my ideas about some practical solutions and tips for some different and uncommon concerns they have while carrying concealed and using handguns in general. Unusual concerns like what to do in the bathroom when carrying, how to store many holsters for easy access, a quick, low-cost concealment technique, and how to protect a gun’s firing pin when dry firing. I certainly don’t have all the answers and there are several factors and opinions involved here. Of these questions about unusual and somewhat unique handgun-related concerns, here are 4 different and special concerns and some possible solutions that might work for you. They may or may not solve it, be acceptable or even legal in your area, but here are a few ideas to get you thinking about how best to resolve these issues for yourself. 

1. Bathroom Protocol while Carrying Your Gun

What do you do when you have to use a public restroom and you are carrying your licensed concealed handgun? Well, for one thing don’t drop your gun or mag into the toilet bowl when deciding on your solution and maneuver.

While this is a delicate and somewhat embarrassing topic to even bring up, it is a practical carry problem we must address. Since we all have to do it and frequently, if not a few times each day… visit the Throne Room. Now if we are out and about in public places when carrying our gun, this could be quite a balancing act with safety issues and potential legal problem. I guess avoiding the visit is best if we can when in public, but sometimes we cannot do that. One of the most legally-dangerous places to handle a handgun is in a public Throne Room because we are probably rushed to answer the call by Mom Nature, under some stress with our juggling act, and in an unfamiliar environment where it is easy to make a dangerous mistake with legal implications. Maybe you read about the lady carrying concealed with a license in Tampa recently. While in the bathroom stall her gun slipped out of her IWB holster and hit the floor, discharging a ricochet round which hit the lady in the next stall. She has a minor injury and charges are pending with the State Attorney’s Office as a negligent discharge, etc. Also, a Missouri House Speaker’s aide left his loaded gun in its IWB holster on top of the toilet-seat-protector dispenser in the Capitol’s public bathroom, but it was found quickly without any problems.

Realistically these things occur so practically what do we do when carrying our gun and we must go to the bathroom? Not forget it and handle it safely for certain. Maybe you have not thought of this or experienced it… yet. It is difficult for quite a few folks to multitask and balance several tasks successfully at the same time. Situational awareness and focusing are very key. How we carry is also a consideration, like In-the-Waistband (IWB) or Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) on a belt. Some carry methods are more accommodating than others when trying to accomplish this chore. Some carry methods might immediately resolve it, like shoulder-holster, ankle, or pocket carry. I cannot go into all the possible methods and hardware involved and their pros and cons here, so I will assume you are carrying on your belt either IWB or OWB. Remember, it is important to always have a secure holster with proper retention so your gun does not fall out of it. We need to secure and protect our gun where ever we are, even when seated in the public bathroom. Also, use the bathroom before you leave to delay the inevitable in public, if possible. Here are just a few possible alternatives and suggestions each with pros and cons for you to weigh for your Throne Room visit. SAFETY FIRST ALWAYS. Your call on the best method!

  1. keep your pants down with holster and gun attached to the belt no lower than your knees and calf area; do not let them touch the (dirty public) floor. If your pants are around your ankles, folks looking for an empty stall could bend over to check availability and see your gun.
  2. put your pants around your ankles, take off your gun and holster, and lay/cradle them inside your pants; your gun will be protected from sight by others, easily available, and more comfortable; some bacteria risk from any low-level touching of the floor since your gun will weigh down your pants.
  3. put your pants with holster and gun attached to the belt at knee level and tighten your belt so it will be snug around your knees to hold your gun and holster in place.
  4. place your gun in the holster on the back of the toilet tank lid; do this only if the lid is flat and your rig will not slid off; some public bathrooms do not have tank lids; be careful since you may forget and leave your rig behind. Focus and situational awareness.
  5. fold your holster and gun still on the belt over to the inside of your pants; this can hold it in place if you have the proper retention holster; it also hides it from view of those looking under the stall door for an empty throne; not for full-size and some other guns.
  6. hang your holster with gun inside on the hook on the back of the stall door (NOT by the trigger guard and NOT only the gun); might be possible with a strong cord you carry with you in your pocket for this very problem.
  7. use a store shopping tote (canvas) bag and place your gun inside and lay it near you on the floor, with your foot holding it securely down and/or you holding on to the strap handles; could hang the tote bag on the stall door hook if secure; NOT the best option, buy an option if you carefully do it; could use double or triple-bagged plastic store bags, but be careful.
  8. use a strong lanyard clip and clip it to your skeleton hammer and hang it around your neck; this is NOT the best option but suggested to me by a reader; certainly do NOT clip the lanyard to your trigger guard; might use a variation of this and drill/punch small hole in holster and thread lanyard there and hang around your neck; USE CAUTION with this method… or ANY of these methods. SAFETY FIRST ALWAYS! Do you use another safer and better method?

2. Easy Access & Storage of Many Holsters & Mags

How can you quickly recognize and easily access the variety of holsters in your inventory for the several guns you use?

Women love shoes and I very perceptively noticed that my wife has more than one pair. She has shoes on racks, on the floor in containers, and hanging from closet doors in see-through plastic and canvas storage containers. Then it hit me (she didn’t) maybe I could use one of her storage methods for my several holsters and magazines. I had my many holsters thrown together in a large trunk and my many, many mags in labeled plastic zip-lock bags. It is always a hassle when I change guns and look for a different holster for them. I get mixed up as which holster goes with which gun. Mags are not a problem because they are labeled for each gun in individual plastic bags, but the bags are all thrown together and storing the many bags is a pain. Well, I found a less than $10. sturdy, see-through over-the-door Shoe Storage Organizer for storing my holsters and even my mags. (Go to my website (bottom first page) to see the Honey-Can-Do Organizer.) I labeled each pocket with the name of the 1, 2, or 3 guns that fit in any particular holster. You do not need an individual pocket for each holster, since some fit multiple guns. I did the same thing for my many mags; matched the mags to the specific gun. Within each pocket for a gun’s mags, I numbered the bottom of each mag so I would know the newest from the oldest condition. The storage container and system work great. Hope it helps you.

Holster Organizer

3. Easy & Quick Concealed Carry of Gun for Travel & Short Trips That Occur Spur-of-the-Moment

This is a possible need, especially for travel out of the country to third-world countries with high threat levels. I believe that this carry method is definitely not for everyday carry. I hesitate to even mention it, but thought there could be a remote special use of this method. I saw a short video of it and thought it was an optional method, a very different and long-shot carry method, to consider for certain unique situations ONLY. I see some advantages, but more disadvantages, but still want to present it as an option. In essence, you put your gun inside a store’s dark (not white or clear) plastic bag to conceal it. Your hand is gripping the gun and your trigger finger is on the frame of the gun (not the trigger) and you carry it down by your side, like a package filled with something you just bought…. or after picking up after your pooch. These sights are common, do not usually draw attention to your gun, are usually accepted by most lay people, and if required you could shoot through the plastic bag. It could work for up-close combat, tactical encounters at less than 3 yards or so. Sadly, criminals might use this method, if not for a gun for a knife. Also, its use might subject you to suspicion, investigation, and subject to a search by observant law enforcement officers or those looking for something in particular at the moment. This method may not be practical and there are some disadvantages to think about. There may not even be instances where this method is needed, because use of a proper holster or pocket carry may suffice and be more safe. Inside the bag, your finger could easily slide off the frame onto the trigger; the controls and sights are obstructed; reloading and malfunction drills could be difficult; your range of motion is hampered; plastic bags rip easily and you may expose your gun’s muzzle; it may contribute to malfunctions and stoppages; and may make you look suspicious to some. Your call for a situation that might quickly arise. Be careful.

Concealed Bag

4. Wall Anchors to Protect .22 Rimfire Gun’s Firing Pin & Chamber   

Snaps caps are the preferred way to protect your gun’s firing pin and chamber-wall edge, but if you have many guns you can go through them quickly like water. They wear easily and the rims crack and deteriorate quickly. They are caliber specific and can be for centerfire or rimfire guns. For example, you can buy a package of 5 in 9mm centerfire for about $15. Dummy rounds cost a little less and are about $9 for a 6-pack of .22LR rimfire. But there is a definite difference between snap caps and dummy rounds. Dummy rounds are used to practice safe handgun handling and are the exact size of regular rounds. They can be loaded into a magazine like regular ammo, used for loading, unloading of rounds and to test if the magazine is feeding properly, used in the chamber for safe storage of the gun, and can be used to test the extractor and cycling. But, they have no striking surface for the firing pin to impact. So, dummy rounds should NOT be used for dry firing your gun and for trigger control practice. In fact, most manufacturers state this on the back of the package and say to throw them away after 4-5 strikes because the head will be deformed. This can get expensive. Also, most are aluminum and are too hard for use other than mostly for test cycling. So, they have a use, but not for dry firing.

Most manufacturers and experts say centerfire guns do not even need to be used with snap caps. After many uses of the centerfire snap caps over much time, some even say they may lead to harm in some key parts of your gun. I have not experienced this myself. Most if not all “experts” say it is very important for RIMFIRE guns (e.g. .22s) to definitely use snap caps when dry-firing them. I agree with them. The Smith-Wesson website says that dry firing a .22 rimfire pistol or revolver is not recommended because it will damage your firing pin. I know that I would never dry fire a .22 gun nor even regularly a revolver that has a hammer-mounted firing pin. Snap caps are low-cost insurance for rimfire revolvers and pistols.

Here’s another option. Although relatively inexpensive, since you must use so many, consider using common, readily-available wall anchors in a size that fits your gun. For example, for .22LR rimfire pistols, I use #4- #6 7/8 inch wall anchors from Home Depot. About $4.99 for a bulk  package of 100 yellow anchors (see above image.) They fit perfectly in the chamber of any of my .22LR pistols. I do find that I must change the anchors out more frequently (due to rim cracks and breaks) than my more-expensive snap caps, but no cost concern. The repeated  absorption of all the firing pin energy takes its toll, but this is true with the plastic and spring snap caps as well. Will not using snap caps or anchors immediately destroy your gun? Probably not, but why take a chance for only $5. for 100 anchors or low-cost snap caps. Some use spent casings, but they do not seem to hold up as well and, again, a small price to pay for anchors.

Gun Wall Anchors

Conclusion 

I hope my practical ideas for these 4 special handgun concerns have helped you at least consider some possible solutions that are best for you. These tips are not for everyone and for every gun, but will serve to get you thinking about some options that just might work. Maybe you have some other ideas to share and help folks. As always, be safe when trying any of these options and ideas. Safety First Always! Continued Success!

Photos by author.

This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney in your state or jurisdiction for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense, stand your ground law, and concealed carry. This is not legal advice and not legal opinions. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever. Safety First! 

© 2016 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected].

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  • Deedon4

    re: Concern 1, option 7. Be aware that many retail stores prohibit taking bags into the restrooms. The concern is the customer might be taking unpaid for merchandise in so they can hide in on their person for shoplifting.

  • This is a non issue, if you cannot place it safely on the toilet paper holder then hold it in your hand, place it on both knees, etc… Otherwise at home, top of the bowl is just fine. Some public restrooms have traditional toilets.

  • rev_dave

    I once worked with a man named Sam who never used the stall at work without pulling out his pocket knife and opening it. I asked him once about that, and he told me he’d once been in a bar’s stall when someone kicked open the door and beat him up. Sam said he had no idea who the guy was nor why he did that, but that ever since, he’s held his knife while sitting there. If the door were kicked open again, he said he’d just spring forward with the knife in play.

    So, knife or gun, the lesson from the experience is clear. If you are in a situation where you can’t fight or run, you should probably have your weapon in hand. A few years after Sam told me that story I gave a hitchhiker a ride, and at one point I think he was working up to kill me. I got my knife in hand, not even open, but I think he saw it and it backed him off. Several years after that ride he was famous and I’m sure now that I’m alive because of that knife. It was at that point that I learned his name – Jeffrey Dahmer.

    Thanks to Sam for telling me his story so I could learn from it. I did, and I’m alive to get old instead of dying young. Pay attention folks to both stories folks.

  • J-Man

    Going to the bathroom, I’ve found that folding the waistband of my underwear over the handgrip of my S&W Shield in an appendix holster helps in several ways. This keeps the weapon vertical and the bulk of the weapon several inches higher (much less in the potential line of sight), more stable (rather than flopping around), and obscured. So even if someone were taking an unhealthy interest in my choice of underwear, they would really have to study what they were seeing to begin to figure out that there was a weapon in the mix. Switching to black underwear added even more disguise/camouflage to any visual recognition of my piece (as my Shield and holster are both black). All of this combines to make me very confident that no one will see/recognize my weapon, nor will it flop down with a telling clunk at an inopportune time. I find this method preferable to the other methods described here.

  • Timothy

    So, #3: “subject to a search by observant law enforcement officers” I’m going to say that most LEOs, if they notice you are carrying a firearm in this method will indeed choose to do a search, but this won’t be a friendly “Hey, what do you have in the bag”, they are going to draw, take aim and order you to drop it and get on the ground.

    “especially for travel out of the country to third-world countries with high threat levels” Sure, go ahead and pack your weapon, even in checked baggage, and see what happens. Now, while in this third world country, get caught with this weapon, much less in a ready to fire position.

  • 2ThinkN_Do2

    Less than two weeks after this article, there is a report about a Chief of Police who forgot his firearm in a restroom stall . . . luckily for him, a responsible citizen found it and turned it in ; )

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