That’s Brandon’s friend Shaun in the photo above. We’re just making him temporarily famous. Soak it in, Shaun!
Let’s break this down into two different sections: recommendations based upon carry style AND tips for carrying while traveling about on a motorcycle.
Pocket Carrying? Pocket Holster It.
If you’re going to carry in your leather jacket or vest, make sure the trigger guard is protected with a pocket holster. It’s not a big thing but if you do end up having to shove your hand in there to dig out your trusty everyday carry, it’s just one more guarantee your finger just jam into the trigger well unintentionally.
- PROS: Easily accessible and convenient.
- CONS: Usually limited to sub-compacts.
Shoulder Holster Carry
Shoulder holsters are certainly a good idea in terms of keeping a pistol clear and above the waistline. Not everyone can carry a handgun conveniently in the waistline while riding. For others, there’s serious concerns about the handgun slipping out while going over especially bumpy roads. Shoulder holster definitely makes sense for these cases.
Shoulder holsters that flag the vehicle behind you are not necessary. It’s quite possible to get a shoulder holster that keeps the firearm canted relatively perpendicular to the ground beneath you.
- PROS: Easily accessible. Not stored in the waistband.
- CONS: Have to unzip jacket.
Kangaroo Carry (Around The Torso) Or Similar
Kangaroo Carry is a great way to go if you’re wearing it beneath a motorcycle jacket. The only issue you could get yourself into is potentially with multiple warming layers covering the handgun.
- PROS: If worn between inner layers and motorcycle jacket, not a bad way to go.
- CONS: Can take some practice to get used to drawing it from beneath a motorcycle jacket.
Inside The Waistband Concealed Carry
Plenty of motorcyclists are able to keep a handgun on them inside the waistband. Definitely use a holster with high retention or a back-clasp. You may have to get used to re-positioning the holster to a 3-5 o’clock position in order to stay comfortable while crouched forward on the bike.
- PROS: Convenient.
- CONS: Spotting is especially likely if you’re wearing a short jacket that rides up and exposes your waistband to passing motorists. May be uncomfortable if your normal carry style is appendix IWB or similar.
Part 2: Carrying Concealed While Riding A Motorcycle
A couple considerations while carrying concealed — meeting the definitions of FOPA while traveling between states that don’t acknowledge your right to carry concealed, securing your firearm while going inside places you can’t carry it.
“No Reciprocity” Worst Case Scenario
Motorcyclists have just as much right to the road as any automobile. So why should they be penalized when traveling into states where that state doesn’t acknowledge the rider’s right to carry a concealed handgun?
A big piece to the puzzle is knowing what FOPA entails. FOPA is the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act. It says that you have a right to travel the roadways with a firearm in any state so long as you comply with the following conditions:
- It’s not an automatic firearm.
- It is fully unloaded.
- It is locked in a container without magazine inserted.
This container can be located on your motorcycle in an external compartment. The recommended procedure is to pull over before you cross into that non-reciprocal state. In a safe location and without drawing undue attention to yourself,
- Eject the magazine.
- Eject round in the chamber in a safe and neutral direction.
- Replace the round into the magazine (if possible).
- Place the completely unloaded handgun in the container.
- Place the magazine into the container.
- Lock the container.
- Drive on.
By definition of FOPA, you cannot be charged with a state crime in connection with transporting that handgun through the state — so long as you are just stopping through and not obviously staying for an extended vacation trip. This law really comes in handy for situations like getting pulled over in Maryland. There’s almost no way your state has reciprocity with Maryland and if you’re pulled over, you’re at least good to go to pass through that state.
Have police arrested and attempted to press charges against law-abiding gun owners placed in similar situations? Yes. And while there will be costly legal fees associated with fighting these charges — not to mention the civil forfeiture of the handgun — ultimately, the state has no right to charge you with a crime. Having the right to charge you with a crime and attempting to charge you anyway is a whole other matter.
This same procedure can be used to store your firearm if you are attempting to go into a place where you are legally obligated not to carry a concealed firearm — such as a federal court house or a post office. Remember that some of these places will give themselves domain over the parking lot, so locking up your handgun in the parking lot may not be the best option.
Your best bet is to always pull off into a neutral, discrete place, lock up your firearm ahead of time, and then proceed to the location where you are not legally allowed to carry. Obviously, conditions permitting.