Carrying a Gun in a Crowd: Famous Smoke Shop Cigarnival 2012

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 2012 Famous Smoke Shop Cigarnival. This event draws in fellow cigar smokers, from near and far, to hang out and turn perfectly good cigars into mounds of ash. Depending on the ticket that you purchase, you are on the premises for one or two days.

The event is hosted in Eason, Pennsylvania, at Famous Smoke Shop. I was asked to attend the event as a member of the Press from Stogie Review. When I made the no-brainer decision to attend this local event, I had to make a much tougher decision. How do I safely carry my gun in a crowd that exceeds 1,000 people?

The nice part of this particular event is that the vast majority of the festivities are held outdoors, on a fairly substancial piece of property. The only time an attendee may find themselves standing shoulder to shoulder is on the second day when VIP and General Admission Tick Holders are in the same place at the same time. This happens in the Food Tent and in the Manufacturer Tent.

As a member of the press, I don’t participate in the process of showing my ticket to a cigar representative to receive a cigar. Instead, my job is to wade in amongst the crowd and try to snap photos, record video, and converse with people I know within the industry.

Knowing that I would be in a position where I would be bumping into people, moving amongst a crowd, I needed to decide how I would go about carrying a gun for self defense.

Carrying a Gun in a Crowd: Inside the Waistband

In the nearly five-years that I have been licensed to carry a concealed firearm in the state of Pennsylvania, my guns primary mode of transportation has been in an inside the waistband holster. In the early days it was a Beretta 70S and a cheap nylon holster that was tremendously uncomfortable.

When I became more series about carrying a weapon, I transitioned to a Springfield XD Sub Compact in a Crossbreed Supertuck holster. Carrying went from being a burden to a pleasure and I found myself taking my gun into most places where I was legally permitted to carry. Despite the gun virtually disappearing beneath a cover garment, there were situations where I didn’t feel comfortable with this setup.

Being in tight quarters with other people was one of those situations where I wasn’t completely comfortable carrying my gun. My concern was the lack of retention on the holster itself. I didn’t want to be moving about a crowd of people, everyone bumping into one another, and my gun being accidentally discovered. The chances of someone feeling the gun and actually knowing when they bumped into was slim, but the possibility left me feeling uneasy.

The plus side of the equation is that carrying in this method is very comfortable. It also keeps my pants pockets free to carry the variety of items that I use during event coverage. Access to the gun if a horrendous situation were to arise is easy and only requires me to lift my t-shirt. This particular setup also provides me with 9+1 rounds of Hornady FPD .40 S&W ammunition.

Carrying a Gun in a Crowd: Pocket Carry

In August of 2011, I decided that I wanted to add another option to my regular carry rotation. I began searching for a pocket pistol and settled on the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard.

I quickly learned that the Bodyguard was an indispensable piece of equipment for self-protection. I was now in a position that I carried a gun in practically every place I was legally permitted to do so. I no longer had to worry if my larger Springfield XD would be discovered and be deemed inappropriate. While I always find my firearm appropriate, sometimes others don’t feel the same way. To alleviate that uncomfortable situation, I simply changed the mode in which I carry into those places.

While the Bodyguard is ultra compact and goes practically everywhere unnoticed, it does come with its own set of problems. When I carry this gun I give up the larger caliber bullet and settle with 7+1 rounds of .380 Auto. This gun doesn’t offer much forgiveness in terms of putting rounds or target, making it more difficult to shoot accurately. Lastly, drawing from a pocket holster isn’t exactly easy.

Carrying a Gun in a Crowd: My Decision

When it was time to pick up my gun and head out the door, I made the decision to take my Smith & Wesson Bodyguard along. I knew that I would be giving up certain things for the sake of convinience, but I felt that this sort of carry was best suited for my situation.

The event went off without a hitch and was every bit as fun as I expected it to be. The crowds weren’t as heavy as I anticipated, but I’m still glad that I went with the deep concealment option. I didn’t get a single curious look from anyone that bumped into me during my crowd wading and, truth be told, I probably wouldn’t have even if I carried my Springfield XD and it was accidentally touched.

Ask The Readers

Have you ever needed to carry a gun in a crowd?
If so, what considerations did you make before choosing the gun to accompany you?