We all have our patterns of life. Wake up, get dressed, holster your EDC for the day, and get in the car. At this point, you have a few choices to make in order to prepare yourself to defend your life and others’ while in a vehicle. Making car CCW a part of your routine is the best way to do that.
Car CCW | Finding the Right Storage for You
Frankly, a car is a terrible place defend from. In the military, this vulnerability prompted the proliferation of armored vehicles we see today. While you as a law-abiding, concealed-carrying citizen will never have to address that type of threat, your vulnerability remains the same. In our world however, this vulnerability is more often taken advantage of by opportunistic criminals. With the right mindset and decision making guidelines presented here, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to enjoy every drive you take. But now you’ll know that your EDC is secure and quickly accessible.
First, we will explore methods of car CCW. This will include their strengths, shortcomings, and an overall recommendation for each platform or option. Most of the information here is meant to assist you in making a decision that best adapts to your lifestyle. Implementing radical changes to your routine requires a high degree of commitment, and, more often than not, you’ll end up sliding back to what was comfortable in the first place. Instead, use this information to better hone in and fine tune what is natural and comfortable to you. This is what we refer to in the instructor community as ‘shooter preference.’ The shooter always knows what feels best for them, but it’s up to us to perfect the details of those choices.
The Glove Box
We’re always fighting the path of least resistance. However, people that leave a firearm in their glove box are the type that always take that path. It doesn’t take any thought to throw your .357 magnum revolver in the glove box, because you saw John McClean do it one time in Die Hard. Unfortunately, storing your handgun in a glove box comes with too many safety caveats to list. However, for your sake, we’ll touch on the biggest risks here.
It’s predictable. Even if your glove box locks, anyone who has had their car broken into will tell you that the glove box is the first target for car thieves. What happens if you are being followed to your car or an opportunistic criminal begins accosting you while you’re in you car? The extra time it takes to access your firearm stored in a glove box could be those critical seconds that determine who survives that incident.
We’re human. Humans get distracted easily, and it’s reasonable to predict that leaving your handgun in a glove box will lead to forgetting it’s there altogether. If you know yourself well enough that you can see this happening, don’t even put yourself in that situation. Overall, the cons far outweigh any positives of using the glove box. In some states, a locking glove box legally counts as securely storing your handgun. Taking that into consideration, utilizing the glove box is recommended for short term or emergency purposes only.
The Mounted System
While we’re making fun of people planning their personal defense strategies around movies, we may as well point out the uselessness of mounted holsters like you would expect to see in The Expendables. Now here is a group of men that could benefit from car CCW tips. Despite how tacti-cool these mounted holsters and car accessories may look, their functionality is limited by some dangerous shortcomings.
Most mounted holsters end up on the steering column or somewhere on the driver’s side on the center console. Properly mounted, it will give you quick access to your handgun. However, the system itself is very easy to spot from the outside of the car. This is the equivalent of open carry – but in your car. Anyone (including police) that approaches your car can see that you have a handgun accessible. During a traffic stop, once he sees you have a handgun, the police officer is already calculating his risk before you even have a chance to interact with them.
Cable Locks and Gun Safes
Despite the shortcomings of the mounted holster, there are a few pieces of other gear that increase your effectiveness. Any good gun owner has a responsible and safe way to store their handgun in their vehicle. This is usually limited to either a locked glove box or a cable lock securing the handgun to the driver’s seat frame bolted to the floorboards.
Depending on circumstances, the cable lock can be an acceptable way to secure your firearm in the car. However, your best alternative to a low-security cable lock is a dedicated gun safe bolted onto or custom made into your vehicle. The gun safe’s low profile is less likely to be detected and is much more difficult to breach, depending on quality. For that reason, we encourage exploring a mounted safe option for your vehicle – as long as it’s only used to secure a gun when you are leaving it in the car and not driving. Running a quick search for quick access gun safes will get you started in the right direction of researching the solution that works for you.
If none of these seemed practical to you, then you’re probably thinking, “I’m just going to keep the gun in my holster and that’ll solve all my problems.” Partially true. There are a few aspects of carrying in your belt that could be improved. First of all, if you carry at the 4 o’clock position or further back, accessing your handgun is going to be an awkward reach back and down. Rotate your holster slightly forward to the 3 or 2 o’clock position when sitting in the car.
Now that the gun is ergonomically positioned and still secure in the holster, we want to make sure it’s readily accessible. After all, what use is car CCW, if you’re struggling to access your weapon as your car gets surrounded by carjackers or thieves? For that reason, we want to tuck the shirt and even run the seat belt behind the handgun. This way there is no obstruction to the handgun, and it’s still securely in place on your belt. If you appendix carry, just make sure the gun is made accessible with the same aforementioned steps.
Keeping your handgun holstered, but accessible, is going to be the top recommendation we can provide for carrying a handgun in your vehicle. Even as a passenger or left hand dominant shooter, be sure to make similar adjustments.
Practice What You Preach
No matter what method you decide to use to car CCW, these best laid plans are useless without training and preparation. Understandably, it’s difficult to find a local range that will let you practice live fire from your car. However, you may be able to find a dedicated class. Before signing up for the first class you can find, spend some time getting dry fire practice in. You can do this in your own garage or secluded lot if you don’t have a garage. Practice drawing from concealment, dry firing from your seat and passenger seats, and evacuation drills. Breaking contact is just as important as meeting the threat with reasonable and proportional force.
We’re always growing from your input. Share with us what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past regarding car CCW with a comment below!
For more from Marc Holley, Owner and Executive Instructor at Atlas Defense, click here!