I carry my handguns concealed 100% of the time. I don’t open carry, and even when training with rifles or shotguns I keep my handguns covered.
One of the by-products of carrying concealed is that your handgun may get caught up inside of your cover garment. This can also happen if you carry a pistol in your coat pocket during colder months, or in a fanny pack or other kind of bag.
I used to worry a lot about what would happen if I fouled my draw: would the gun jam? How badly? Would I get burned? Would my clothes catch on fire? However, after some advanced training this season I’m confident on how to deal with the situation.
Here are some observations on what happens when you shoot inside of a piece of clothing, in no particular order:
- You aren’t going to notice unless the muzzle is pressed against your body. If this is happening, you have other things to worry about, like shooting yourself. Don’t do that.
- The most dangerous thing about shooting inside of a shirt is that you lose some of the natural safety mechanisms we have when we can see where our gun is. Make very very sure that you are not in front of the handgun when you pull the trigger. My left hand was behind my head when I was doing this technique.
- The intent is to saw your hand forward through the hole in your shirt. This allows you to fire freely without worrying about your gun getting hung up on your clothes. However, this can be difficult with a tight shirt, as seen in the video. When I shot with a looser shirt it was very easy to blast my way through the fabric.
- Your pistol may go out of battery if you press too hard against your shirt. Be careful, and this is one of the many reasons why you should practice this technique.
- Cotton clothing won’t catch on fire, but synthetic or blend clothing may. I plan on shooting through some fleece either this fall or winter and I’ll report back if I burst into flames.
- If your gun jams don’t freak out. You can either reach inside your shirt (if it’s loose enough) or go over the top through the shirt to clear a jam. In the case of the latter, make sure you don’t stuff bits of clothes into the chamber while manipulating the slide.
Here’s a close-up picture of some exit holes. In this case, I didn’t push the handgun forcefully enough to rip the fabric. Pushing the muzzle half-heartedly here allowed the slide to move back slightly. This put the pistol out of battery, and prevented me from firing. In the video I falsely think I’ve jammed my Glock. I could have kept firing if I backed off a little.
Here’s a larger hole, which came from “punching” the pistol forward while making a twisting motion with my hand. If you watch the video you may catch my flawed technique, but I’ll spell it out here: I pulled the trigger at the exact moment the cloth from my shirt was over the ejection port of my Glock. The Glock fired as expected, and then the slide slammed shut in my shirt. Derp. I should have either fired again without pushing as far forward, or waited to fire until the pistol traveled another inch.
If you’re interested, here’s the footage from my GoPro Hero 2 camera inside my shirt:
Practicing this technique really drives home the need to get qualified, fight-focused training at a range that allows you to do more than shooting in a shoebox. I practiced this techniques in advanced classes, under the close supervision of several qualified instructors. Your indoor range may or may not allow you to do this drill (highly unlikely, given my experiences) but please make sure you’re aware of where your pistol is pointing and what’s in front of it.