Motorcycle ownership in the United States has increased in recent years, with projections for continued annual growth across households in our nation. With the expansion of this form of transportation, it’s inevitable that many new riders are commuting with concealed firearms, especially considering the regularly growing population of concealed carry weapon (CCW) permit-holders, along with numerous states currently allowing constitutional carry.
Compared to daily concealed carry while operating a standard passenger vehicle, saddling up on a bike brings a new set of challenges, requirements and best-practices. I encourage you, the concealed weapon carrier and motorcyclist enthusiast, not to shy away from concealed carry while motorcycling, but to think through your gear set-up and routine to ensure your concealed carry practices are safe, without jeopardizing effectiveness.
Back in the Saddle
I’ve recently regained a strong interest in the motorcycling lifestyle for an even balance of daily transportation and recreational travel. But, I realized my standard methods of CCW would not work with this mode of transportation.
First, and of most importance when weighing carry considerations on a motorcycle, a rider must understand that they are not in an enclosed vehicle and don’t have the luxury of unholstering upon entering a typical four-wheeled vehicle to safely stow the CCW if this is their normal procedure. The bottom line is that the weapon is going to be attached to you for the duration of travel and potentially exposed to the elements, with the exception of storage in a tank bag, tail bag, or side bag, which somewhat negates immediate access to the firearm if needed.
With the known exposure to elements while riding, I do not personally operate a motorcycle in clothing other than heavy pants and always wear a snug leather belt (all advantages when carrying a concealed firearm).
Additionally, I do not ride without wearing a padded or reinforced jacket that covers the belt line — another plus when thinking about the full firearm concealment that I favor. Knowing that my daily riding gear is appropriate for concealed carry leaves the determination of which category of handgun is most comfortable and conveniently carried without sacrificing firepower and capacity.
Packing It In
Understanding that a typical inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster was not ideal for current transportation needs, I selected an Appendix IWB (AIWB) holster and an outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster from Crossbreed Holsters. These models provide a secure amount of retention — a must for a CCW on a bike.
The model I had available to ride with was the N8 Xecutive AIWB holster for Springfield’s Hellcat and Hellcat Pro, both with Shield SMSc optics, and a DropSlide OWB for a 4.25” Springfield Prodigy.
Though the heftier and larger footprint Prodigy likely won’t see extensive use as a CCW, carrying the higher-capacity handgun on a motorcycle validated that Crossbreed Kydex is properly formed for retention in unique body positions. It also gave a good indication of how well the leather-backed holster rides the hip while shifting on the motorcycle seat during repeated cornering.
In a relatively brief, though thorough and purposeful evaluation, each handgun was individually holstered for rides on selected routes to provide a solid glimpse of how each felt while seated on the bike and how the handgun and holster combination endured body and machine movements inherent with riding on a variety of terrain in a mix of urban and rural environments.
The riding loop for each firearm and holster combination consisted of straight and curved roads, from slow two-lane stop-and-go town traffic to faster sweeping paved curves to local dirt and gravel roads. If any of the firearms and holsters used would prove unworthy of being safely and comfortably transported while riding, this tour would show it.
While both were quite good, of the two I enjoyed riding with the Springfield Hellcat and N8 Tactical Xecutive holster the most. The 1.5” wide belt clip held the kydex holster in place with no slippage or shifting, and in the upright riding position of the motorcycle used, a Kawasaki KLR650, the rear of the slide did not dig into my side. The muzzle end of the holster did not create any discomfort, nor did the base of the grip, which is about 1” shorter than the Hellcat Pro.
The Hellcat Pro was near equally comfortable, even with its slightly longer muzzle and grip. However, the standard Hellcat model containing 11+1 capacity plus a slim Crossbreed Confidant mag holder far exceeds the capacity of many common carry pieces.
In addition to pure comfort, there are also tactical considerations to keep in mind while carrying on a motorcycle that could fill a lengthy follow-up discussion. Methods easily overlooked include drawing from the holster while wearing riding gloves, drawing while seated on a bike, and all-around use of the firearm in other odd positions — possibly while one hand is holding the clutch lever of the motorcycle if the bike is in operation and neutral can’t be quickly engaged while at a stop.
Keep in mind that each rider will have a varying preference for handgun and holster based on body size and geometry. Motorcycle seat position, handlebar height, footrest location, and commute time and distances will also give different feels and requirements for different riders.
Don’t consider my input the final word that will work for you — do use it as a thought generator for when you strap the handgun on your hip and blast out for a fun ride on a favored scenic route or your regular commute for daily travels. Regardless of your selected handgun, holster and carry methods, be safe and enjoy the journey!
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Featured in this article
N8 Tactical Xecutive Holster
CrossBreed DropSlide OWB Holster
Shield Sights SMSc
Kawasaki KLR 650
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