As summer looms and temperatures rise, my thoughts turn to sun, sand, and surf. While a trip to the beach promises fun and relaxation, it also presents special considerations for personal protection: Will your usual CCW setup work with a swimsuit? How do you protect your weapon from sand and salt water? What do you do with your weapon while you swim? Do you make an exception to your everyday carry philosophy and leave your gun behind? As with most CCW situations, the answers are a matter of personal preference.
First, let’s tackle the most obvious obstacle a day at the beach or pool presents – swim attire. Your usual manner of dress lends itself to concealment, but a swimsuit provides considerably less coverage. For ladies, if you choose to CCW, you may have to forgo some fashion for function. If your suit of choice is a tiny string bikini, your concealment options are limited. (The same applies to men who rock a speedo). Suits with slightly more coverage can give you better options to carry while keeping your weapon concealed. A slim belly band holster is a good choice to secure your weapon. Add a sarong or other cover-up and viola – concealment. I’ve also been toying with the idea of modifying a tankini top to work with a bra holster. If I figure it you, I’ll give you a full report.
A belly band holster works also works well for gentleman. Most contemporary styles of trunks are long and baggy enough to easily conceal a weapon. Some styles even feature belt loops. Add a canvas belt and you can use your favorite deep carry holster.
No matter the type of holster you use decide on, select one that is moisture and sweat resistant. Some well-reviewed holsters are SmartCarry and Thunderwear. Both of these companies offer concealment holsters that are water resistant, have a stay-put elastic band to keep them low around the waist and offer additional pocket space to hold some extra ammo or other small items, such as your keys or cash.
A suggestion I came across on several forums is to pocket carry. Many swim shorts feature pockets deep enough to accommodate mid-sized handguns. Exposing a firearm to water should not impair its ability to fire, as long as you clean and oil it afterward – this is especially important if you swim in saltwater due to the risk of corrosion. To prevent prolonged exposure to water, wrapping the weapon inside a ziplock bag, dive dry bag, or an unlubricated condom is suggested. If a threat arises and you need to use your gun, you can reach the trigger and fire through the bag. I’m not sure how I feel about this method. I imagine it would be uncomfortable to swim with a gun smacking against your leg. On the plus side, putting a gun in waterproof wrapping and keeping it in your pocket would ensure you keep your weapon you at all times and minimize the amount of time you’ll have to spend cleaning it after a swim.
If you do not keep your gun on you while in the water, it necessitates the question of how to your secure your weapon. Wrapping it up in a towel and leaving it on your beach blanket is NOT an acceptable answer. Pools and beaches are usually crowded with people, including young children. Leaving a firearm unattended and unsecured is incredibly irresponsible. A child could stumble upon your weapon or your gun could get stolen when someone grabs your unattended gear. A mini safe is a good way to secure your weapon – check out models made by First Alert and Vaultek. At the very least, you should secure your weapon with a trigger lock anytime it is not on your person. After locking up your firearm, place it in your beach bag or cooler. Anytime your weapon is not secured on your body, I recommend someone in your group stays with your stuff. It might be annoying to have to swim in shifts, but it’s a small inconvenience compared to risking theft or the accidental discharge of your gun.
As I stated at the beginning of this piece, how one handles CCW on an outing to the beach or pool is a matter of personal preference. What do you do? Do you have a go to method of carry while in the water or do you secure your gun and leave it on dry land? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below.