Dressed to Kill: Sartorial Guidance for the Well Armed Man Part III

One thing that most of the gun-carrying community can agree upon is that the right to protect oneself and one’s family is universal. Regardless of who you are or what you do, you deserve the ability to level the playing field when it comes to keeping yourself safe…as long as you only do it by completely overhauling your lifestyle to accommodate this very specific list of tools. I mean, if you’re not carrying:

  • A full sized handgun (Glock 19 or comparable)
  • A spare magazine (at least 15 rounds, but if you’re serious about this you should probably have a +5 extension on that badboy)
  • A backup gun (because either you’ll have to arm someone else or you’ll get shot in the hand, damaging the pistol in the process…but you still need the spare mag)
  • A knife. Like a combat knife! Because you’re going to need something once you run out of that 43 rounds of ammo, or you’ll need to carve somebody off of you during a gun grab!
  • A “flashlight” which in actuality is a lightsaber, because anything with less than 1500 lumens that also doubles as a kobuton is pointless
  • A full trauma kit including tourniquet, chest seal, wound pack, chest decompression needle, nasopharyngeal airway, and gloves

Then why even bother? Because clearly you don’t take this seriously!

Now I’ll let you in on a little secret: I used to carry everything on that list. On my person!

Here’s a photo of my daily loadout, back when I worked in the gun shop:

Not exactly what I used to carry. Most of the old gear has been traded or sold.
But this is a good approximation of the size & volume of gear I used to tote around with me.

Now at that point, I was living in 5.11 pants and a baggy polo. When I was at work, guns and tools were on full display. When we clocked out, we just untucked our shirts and went about our lives…still wearing the shirts that advertised we were employees of a gun store! The blasters may have been covered, but they certainly were not concealed at that point.

Fast forward to today. My daily attire can vary from jeans and a button down to a suit, depending on if I’m on a job site or meeting with prospective clients. Here’s what that same loadout looks in a suit:

For comparison, here’s what that suit looks like before I’m loaded down with everything.

A little comical isn’t it? If nothing else, the clothes look sloppy. The suit jacket is ballooning out at the bottom, and the trousers look like I’m wearing a diaper underneath when I’m loaded down with all that equipment. And that’s not even a particularly well tailored suit. Yet, to hear some people talk, if I at all value the safety of myself and my family, I’m better off sacrificing a degree of personal appearance than look more critically at my lifestyle, and do a personal threat analysis.

The other thing that doesn’t usually get mentioned (I can only assume due to a level of unfamiliarity) is that if I were to carry all that equipment like that, it would wear through that clothing in a matter of months. Dress clothes aren’t generally designed for field use, they don’t hold up well to lots of weight or abrasions.

I’ve come to a point where, as Pat Rogers said, “mission drives the gear train”. Instead of having a singular loadout that I shoehorn into every situation, I’ve developed a tiered system based on my activities that day. I’ll be addressing the what and why of my specific gear selections later in the series.

Claude Werner did a great interview with Ballistic Radio where he suggested that firearms instructors, and the gun carrying community at large “get a real job”. I highly encourage everybody listen to the whole show (it’s 45 minutes. Take the time). The abridged version is this: most people that regularly carry guns are in an environment where that is the norm, so concealment is a bit of an afterthought because the consequences of being discovered are minimal. The rules change if you’re the only person in your social circle that goes armed.

I think that topic deserves more in depth discussion, so I’ll be addressing it in a separate post.

My point here is that words mean things, and that the dogmatic repetition of “dress around the gun” is limiting. People that are new to this lifestyle will be discouraged because it is likely that just the idea of carrying a firearm is already a pretty significant life change. Suggesting that they’d have to overhaul their entire wardrobe and sense of style, which for some is part of their sense of self, may cause them to abandon the idea entirely.

Claude Werner has a wealth of knowledge that he offers completely free. You can check him out here at The Tactical Professor.

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