No, this isn't about special blankets you can use to keep your guns warm. It IS a look at some of the outer garments we can use to conceal our handguns while out and about. Some of these garments were specifically designed for that purpose. Others are simply utilitarian but serve the purpose well. From EOTac to 5.11 Tactical to BLACKHAWK! and simple "gansta" hoodies, this week I'm going to take a look at some of the fall and winter apparel that can make it so much easier to conceal your handgun as well as to either carry or hide the accessories we often find ourselves needing.
Let me start out with two coats from 5.11 Tactical: the Aggressor and their 5-in-1 jacket. With a zip-out fleece liner that can be worn by itself as a jacket or a vest (the sleeves zip off), the 5-in-1 coat offers plenty of options for warmth and comfort. The outer shell works just fine as a wind-breaker and is a half-decent (half length) rain coat since it's highly water resistant.
The Aggressor Parka, also from 5.11 Tactical, is of similar layered design but not quite as versatile. It's available in a variety of colors (mine is hunter green), the fleece inner jacket zips out of the parka-length outer shell which is just as water resistant as the 5-in-1 is. The Aggressor's outer shell though, simply because of it's added length, makes a better stand alone raincoat. Both have hoods hidden in the collars.
The strength of both of these garments as outer wear for those who carry concealed weapons is their multiple hidden pockets and the potential identification available. On the outer shell of each there are hidden pockets on each side, accessed through hook-and-loop closures on either side of the zipper, that are more than sufficient to carry a full size pistol in. Obviously, that's also enough room for spare magazines, folding knives, cell phones or emergency first aid supplies if you're so inclined. Both also have hidden nylon panels that can be pulled out of the front breast pockets and a big pocket in the rear which you can attach ID panels to if you want. "CCW" for civilians legally carrying a handgun or "POLICE", "SHERIFF", "FBI", etc if you're off-duty.
If you're wearing your gun holstered on your belt, the Aggressor Parka definitely covers more. If I'm wearing my 1911, for instance, I have to wear a higher-riding pancake style holster under the 5-in-1 (which I rarely get to wear anymore anyway since my wife claimed immediately after I completed testing). With the Aggressor Parka I can wear my Askins belt-slide holster and be comfortable that the length of the jacket will cover past the end of the slide sticking down.
Moving on to a garment that isn't layered nor as warm, I have found the BLACKHAWK! Products Group USMC fleece to be quite comfortable. This roomy garment has a full-length zippered front with ventilage openings under your arms that can be zipped open or shut as well. The external "hand warmer" pockets also have zippered closures. The collar can be worn open and laid down / back or it can be zipped up to increase your insulation and protection if the temperaturs warrant it. Patterned for the U.S. Marine Corps, this fleece has "Silk" (that's about how it feels) coverings on the shoulders and upper chest as well as from the elbows down on the back of each arm. Not tricked out with hidden pockets or ID flaps, this fleece is straight-forward keep-you-warm. The good news is that it's also roomy and cut big enough that you can easily hide your full-size pistol under it along with a couple spare magazines, flashlight, cell phone, etc. This thing has ROOM.
Next is an item I find myself wearing quite a bit now: The "Zip-Sweat" from EOTac. Feeling and fitting almost like a poly-pro base layer garment, this shirt really isn't much of a sweat shirt. It's cut roomy but because it doesn't have a full-length zippered front you do have to be careful that you can reach whatever you're carrying on your belt. At either hip their are sewn in slits that have double-tab hook-and-loop closures. The quarter-zip front is comfortably worn open, partially zipped, or if it's cold enough, zipped all the way up with the collar worn up or folded over like a turtle neck. On the left shoulder is a pocket that I most often use to carry my cell phone (because it's close enough to my ear I can still hear it even in loud places), and on the outside face of the pocket is a double pen pouch. Simple and comfortable, this will serve you well (as it has me) in temps down to about 50F - with just a t-shirt underneath - but you'd better not be rollie-pollie in the middle. It's cut for people who are in relatively decent shape, so if you want room to HIDE that pistol on your belt, make sure you waist measurement is sufficiently smaller than that of your chest and shoulders.
The last outer garment item for this article is the plain, old simple "hoody". Although some folks in and around urban areas equate "hoodies" with criminal wear, the truth is that there are plenty of hoodies out their with great messages on them that are comfortable, warm and good at NOT identifying you as military or police if you're avoiding that. I have hoodies that have "ARMY", "USMC", "2nd Amendment" messages and others. When it comes to color variety, hoodies beat all the above jackets hands down. You can find hoodies in everything from pink to camoflage, gray, black, blue, OD green, white, etc. My preference is for hoodies that make statements I support or enjoy - such as those shown from the National Rifle Association. If you are the holder of a concealed carry permit, you might want to consider such garments to support those who protect your rights.