This can be a very controversial subject and one I have been hesitant about delving into for quite a long time. The more I thought about it though it become more clear that a practical review of the subject would be helpful to a lot of riders that carry while riding. I am licensed to carry and I do carry while riding. But how effective can that firearm be if needed? That is what the focus of this post will be.
FIRST and Foremost!
Do you even have the legal right to carry a firearm? This is something you will need to research as to the laws in the state or country you live in. I can only emphasize that you need to be within your legal rights if you are planning on carrying a firearm. If you are travelling outside the state you are licensed to carry or concealed carry in be sure to check reciprocity of the states you will be travelling through. I want to emphasize that using your firearm should always be the last resort to any situation. And if you do have to pull it, you don’t necessarily have to shoot for the firearm to do what it was intended to do which is to prevent you from being harmed. Often an attacker can be discouraged just from seeing the firearm. If you’re one of those wannabe bad asses that say “Only pull it if your going kill”, then in my opinion your civilian right to carry should be revoked. It’s ignorant and uneducated thinking. I know first hand that pulling a firearm on an attacker can stop an assault and discourage them from continuing without having to pull the trigger.
Drawing a Firearm While Moving on Motorcycle
A motorcycle will always be at a disadvantage in an altercation on the road. You simply cannot compete against a vehicle. You’re best defense is to back off, exit the road, take evasive maneuvers, basically get away from a driver that is trying to harm you. You are already in a compromised position by being on two wheels and with no steel cage surrounding you. Taking one hand off the bars to draw a weapon only magnifies your bad position.
If you do draw while moving you have just compromised your control over your motorcycle. You’re now riding one handed. If you’re holding gun in the right hand you have no throttle control. If you’re holding gun in your left hand, you have no clutch control which could lead to stalling if decelerating quickly and not shifting down. The simple ability to control the bike for avoidance or any type of quick maneuvering is lessened considerably and you increase your chance of crashing without the help of whoever it is your drawing against.
Next you have to consider the actual firing of the firearm. The force of the wind will reduce accuracy immensely and must be taken into account.
One handed: You are going to be forced to fire one handed. This will reduce accuracy for the shot.
One handed while moving: You will be shooting one handed while moving which further reduces your accuracy.
One handed while moving and maintaining control over your motorcycle: Along with the reduced accuracy of one handed shooting while moving you still have to maintain control of your motorcycle possibly while trying to avoid being run over by the assailant in the vehicle.
Off hand: If you carry to draw with your off hand to be able to maintain throttle control you are even more disadvantaged at making an accurate shot, especially when you add in all the previous mentioned factors.
Then you see riders with patches that read “Stay Back While I Reload” or “Hold on While I Reload”. So what you’re are saying is you’re going to ride a motorcycle down the road, trying to keep your eyes on the road while dealing with loading rounds, with no hands while trying not to be run over by a motorist, while trying to put rounds in a firearm, or reload a clip, and chamber a round? That is simply idiotic.
For the most part carrying while riding is really for defense when stopped, not while moving down the road on a motorcycle.
The following picture shows the shots on the left that were fired in a controlled situation at 3 meters (21 feet) using a Ruger LCR .357 magnum. I took about 1 second to aim and let off 5 shots which would have been effective against an attacker. The shots on the right were done using the same revolver. I drew from my holster without aiming and fired off 5 rounds. This would be more realistic of the situation of drawing while moving on a motorcycle. You won’t be able to use your sight, maintain control, avoid being hit by the driver that is attacking you, and keep your eyes on the road. You will also have to deal with the force of the wind blowing your arm and firearm around making a steady shot near impossible. The rounds on the right side were more scattered and far less effective. It would have been much worse on a moving motorcycle and maybe even impossible to hit within a target area.
Consider State Laws About Display of Firearm
Again you are at a disadvantage from a vehicle. If you even show your firearm to scare a motorist they have the ability to immediately make a phone call to the police and make any statement they contrive describing what you supposedly did to them with a firearm. You are the one at the disadvantage when the police become involved because the accusation was made against you first. Unfortunately the person that makes the first call to police making an accusation are the ones that don’t have to put up much if any defense and it becomes your responsibility to prove your innocent or have been victimized. It’s going to be near impossible to be the one that makes the first call to law enforcement from a motorcycle.
Possible legal ramifications: These will vary state to state so you need to check your state laws.
Lifting shirt or vest to show you have a firearm: This can be considered display of firearm which could cause you legal issues such as fines and arrest.
Drawing firearm and displaying it: This can be considered brandishing of a firearm which could lead to fines and arrest as well.
Pointing the firearm at a motorist: This can be considered force. You need to be able to prove there was reason to point your firearm at a motorist or you are probably going to be arrested and charged.
Firing your firearm: You better be able to prove you felt your life was at risk to avoid possible arrest and jail or even prison time. Again, you are at a disadvantage because the motorist can make a quick call and say you fired at them for no reason which will force you to have to make a defense.
Also, if any of these situations occurs and law enforcement becomes involved you could temporarily or permanently lose your firearm and your license to carry pending the outcome of the investigation. You will also have to pay for legal defense. You need to seriously consider all the ramifications of using your firearm.
Types of Holsters & Ability to Draw Firearm
All holsters should include a trigger guard to help avoid accidental discharge.
Ankle holster: Having to lift pant leg to get to gun would cost time and could cause ability to control the bike issues while trying to retrieve firearm.
Inside waistband holster: Quite uncomfortable while riding and could be difficult to draw firearm.
Inside pocket holster: would make it difficult to have to dig around trying to pull the gun out of the pocket. Will have to move around or even stand to get gun out which is quite difficult while moving. This could even be a bad situation if you pull over and have to quickly draw the gun. If the pocket is on the leg such as military fatigues this could be a reasonable place to carry your firearm.
Belt or outside the waistband holster: Easy access both on and off bike.
Shoulder holster: Easy access both on and off bike.
Small of back: Easy access both on and off bike, might be uncomfortable while riding.
Wearing Different Types of Gear can also Increase the Difficulty of Drawing
Full jacket: Could cause you to have to unzip to retrieve firearm from inner pocket or waist. This would apply to shoulder holster or waist holster.
Vest: Could cause you to have to reach in and possibly unbutton an inner pocket to retrieve firearm.
Gun in saddlebag or tank pouch: Retrieval could take time especially if the luggage has to be unzipped first.
Saddlebag Gun Safe or Vault: This is a great option for travelling through states that might have strict gun laws. It is a poor option if you get into a situation where you need your gun. You simply won’t have the time to open your saddlebag, then a secured vault, get the gun and possibly load it, before your assailant is upon you.
If your firearm is carried off body you need to consider how will you transition to on body at stops? If your carrying off body you should develop a routine for transitioning to on body strategically so your not showing the world you have a gun.
What Injuries Could be Caused if you Crash from Different Types of Holsters?
Something we don’t want to think about is crashing our motorcycles. The bodily injury is almost always more sever than if you had crashed in a vehicle. You may want to consider the added bodily damage that can occur if you are carrying a firearm during a crash. Dependent on where your firearm is carried the firearm can increase the amount of damage you sustain that may not have been inflicted had you not been carrying.
Shoulder holster or vest/ jacket pocket: Crushed chest, broken ribs, sever bruising in mid and upper body.
Belt or outside the waistband holster: Hip damage, shattered pelvis.
Small of back: Because it’s against the spine there is increased potential for sever injury or paralysis.
Revolver or Semi Auto
Revolver: Offers 5-6 shots guaranteed, no safety, round always ready. Careful using revolvers with hammers as they can catch on material in pockets making drawing difficult.
Semi-automatic: Might have to chamber a round while riding thus riding with no hands on handlebars, or have a round chambered with safety on, possibility of jamming. If a round is chambered and safety is on, it is very easy to flip off the safety quickly for use if need be.
Hopefully this article will provide some insight to riders that want to carry or already do. If you have any hesitations about carrying while riding then you probably shouldn’t. You need to be at complete comfort with the idea of carrying and be proficient with using your firearm before you make the decision to carry it while riding. The following video will help visually with some of the issues that exist if you are carrying while riding a motorcycle.