Riding While Strapped: Carry Selection

A necessary conversation for those that carry a firearm while riding.

Most people that own a gun are familiar with the acronym E.D.C. or “every day carry.” Depending upon which US state you reside, the right to carry a firearm concealed or open may be an option. Before I go any further, you may be asking why am I talking about firearms in a motorcycle magazine. The reality is that a large portion of the motorcycle community are not just legal gun owners, but are also legally licensed to carry.

I understand that this article and the subsequent series of follow up articles may upset and perhaps offend some readers. Please understand that it is not my intent, and I apologize beforehand if the subject matter isn’t your cup of tea. However, the right to defend oneself is just as prevalent while riding your bike as it is while driving your car or walking down the street or even while you are in your home. There are several factors that need to be addressed when riding while carrying and a majority of the time, the conversation is never discussed. So let’s talk about it.

I live in Pennsylvania, an open carry state. It is legal to ride my bike with my firearm, holstered on my hip except while I am within the limits of a first-class city, such as Philadelphia as it has a population of one million or more. Within the limits of a first-class city, I may still legally carry with my firearm concealed or hidden from plain sight. I strongly urge you before you consider riding while carrying or even if you already do, thoroughly investigate your state gun laws and your bill of rights as a legal gun owner. A little bit of research and understanding today can save a world of headache, drama, and frustration tomorrow. Knowledge is clutch.

Once you make the decision that riding while strapped is for you, there are countless items to consider, but there are a few significant factors that should be addressed from the jump. With the legalities handled and with the understanding that you are prohibited from legally owning a gun, let’s start with the obvious: your choice of firearm.

Be practical. Your gun should never be cumbersome. What you choose for your E.D.C. or every day carry should never get in the way or prevent you from being able to perform on your bike. Further, it should ever get in the way of or make it difficult for you to wear your riding apparel. You should be just as comfortable riding with your holstered gun as you are off the bike. Guns are available in several calibers and sizes. Just about every manufacturer will sing you a song as to why their product is the best to carry for self-defense. The truth is that not many of them have not addressed the need of the motorcyclists as a demographic and don’t understand our circumstances or what defensive scenarios we may find ourselves in. Companies like Springfield Armory have begun to consider the needs of the riding community and are actively engaged in market research to further their efforts in serving us. More on that in due time.

Selecting an item that may be responsible for saving your life is not to be taken lightly. The gun that you carry is a serious personal choice and should be given severe consideration. Do your homework. Go to
your local gun shop. Handle several guns and see what fits, and feels comfortable. Ask questions. The more questions you ask, the better. Some shops have a gun range on sight where you may be able to fire the gun you are thinking about purchasing or something closely similar. Take advantage of that option if it is available. You need to know what your gun can and will do when and if you ever need it to do what it does.

Does size matter? Absolutely. But not in the sense that you may be thinking. Remember, the name of the game is comfort, concealment, and capability. You do not need a rocket launcher or hand cannon while riding. If you ever had to discharge your weapon while escaping a threat, you’d be more likely to knock yourself off the bike in the process. It’s just not practical. Think about the overall measurements of the gun: barrel length, height or magazine capacity, and width.

Ideal barrel lengths for carrying on the bike is 3 or 4 inches. This size fits conveniently in a holster and worn at the hip, doesn’t inhibit motion. The height and width of the gun can be related. The width of a gun can be referred to as a single stack where ammunition is stacked one on top of the other in a slim magazine or double stack where the ammunition is stacked in an alternating format, increasing the width of the magazine. The single stack style of handgun is relatively slimmer in width, compared to the width of a double stack. While the single stack potentially offers greater comfort and concealment, the trade-off is the lower capacity of ammunition. If slimness is desired, but capacity is a concern, an extended magazine holds an additional 2 to 3 rounds may be the solution. Again, there’s a trade-off in the gun’s height.

Over many years of riding while strapped, I’ve experimented with a selection of double stack and single stack guns, holsters, carry styles or locations on my person. I’ve tested until I found the most practical and accessible method of carrying while on my bike, if I needed to defend myself and or escape a threat. My E.D.C. is the single stack Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2 Sub Compact, 9mm with an extended magazine.

Being a larger rider, the XD-S Mod.2 checks all of the boxes for me. This model has a smaller frame and a slim profile that minimizes any printing or outlining through my clothes or gear. It’s lightweight and snugly sits in my holster without getting in the way on or off the bike.

Modern ammunition technology has advanced to a point where I am just as comfortable with the stopping power of my 9mm as I am with my 45mm. Could I ride around with a 50mm mini-tank strapped to my waist? Sure, I could. Do I need to? Nope, I do not. My nine does just fine.

Comfort. Concealment. Capability. Just three of the many factors to be taken into consideration with selecting a firearm to carry while riding. Holsters and ammunition options will be discussed later on in the series, in addition to other elements that are relative to the topic. In the next installment, we will discuss holsters and where you carry on your person. Until then, ride safe and stay strapped.

1 thought on “Riding While Strapped: Carry Selection

  1. I only know Allan Lane from Instagram, but I like what he has to say. Several of my friends and I carry when riding. You don’t know what can happen, you’re quite vulnerable out there, and if you have a break down, there you sit, often alone. Twice at my apartment some years ago, and once last fall coming home on a trip(in my pickup, I had to haul stuff), just having a gun in my hand prevented meth heads from bothering me. The first two in groups of 4 in the middle of the night, banging on my, door, the last one weird guy at the rest area I had to stop at. Had to stop at. Studies based on the FBI Uniform Crime Reports have shown that in the average year, over 800,000 a persons used a gun to prevent an assault of some kind. Obviously most of those go like mine did. But not all, so regardless of your feelings on the subject, it’s something everyone should think about, what’s real and what isn’t, and there is a lot of bad info going around these days, so be careful where you get it from.

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