Stop Using Your Car as a Holster: 6 reasons
I have seen more and more online ads promoting gun-retention “holster” products designed to mount directly to the dashboard of a car. I think these car holster products are dangerous, and overall poor choices for several practical and tactical reasons.
As you can see in the photo, there are a few different products and methods people use.
Car Holsters are a Bad Idea:
Some products are nothing more than a super-strong magnet that gets attached to something inside the vehicle. Others are mounts that you can connect your holster to; others have a holster already attached to the device.
Finally, I have seen some products that use a holster attached to the seat or steering column by nylon straps. And one that I am not sure if it is a joke or actual product is a “holster” that fits into the cup holder inside your vehicle.
Your car is not a holster, nor is it a gun safe.
Here are 6 reasons these products are bad news.
Increased Administrative Handling:
People don't typically have a negligent discharge when the gun is left alone and in the holster. However, the more times you handle the gun, the greater the potential for a negligent discharge. Add to that, you may be holstering, unholstering, loading, or unloading in the confines of a vehicle. Removing the gun from your person and putting it in a car holster just adds risk and introduces a potential failure point that is entirely unnecessary.
Theft From Vehicle:
Criminals are getting guns in record numbers by stealing them out of vehicles. Law enforcement from across the country reports that the number of firearms stolen from vehicles is climbing year over year. A 2016 post in the Atlantic reported that data showed there might be around 600,000 guns stolen from cars each year! Here is a screenshot of a chart listing the top 15 cities for thefts of guns.
It is safe to say that thieves would not have stolen at least a percentage of these guns had the owner not been forced to leave the gun in the car to enter a “gun-free” zone. It is impossible to say how many, Law Enforcement doesn't track data like that. But it is ironic that the very laws designed to “safeguard the public” aid in criminals getting their hands on free guns.
However, as gun owners, we can mitigate this risk a bit. First, it makes sense to have a handgun vault inside your vehicle. Typically these vaults are big enough for one handgun.
If you absolutely must leave your gun in the car, consider something like this from Console Vault. You can read the full review by clicking here.
You can mount it to something substantial inside the trunk or cargo area. Or you may choose to use a steel cable wrapped around the base of the front seat. Neither one of these will stop a motivated thief. However, if it is out of sight and requires a bit of work, you probably kept the typical smash and grab criminal from getting a free gun.
Another consideration is not to leave the gun in the vehicle overnight. Even if you park the car in your driveway, don't leave your gun inside the vehicle. Vaults are great for when you must leave the gun in the car. However, if you're not forced to leave the gun in the car, don't.
Don't Have it on You When You Need It:
I can think of countless scenarios that would cause someone to get out of their vehicle and not take their gun with them. It may be intentional, like “I'm just getting out for a second to pump gas, I'll leave my gun in the car “holster.” Or unintentional, “I'm just running into the gas station to grab a coffee.” In either case, you may need the gun and not be able to retrieve it in time.
Additionally, criminals will often use minor traffic collisions to get someone to jump out of their car to inspect for damage and then rob or carjack the person. You're probably not going to be in the frame of mind to grab your gun if someone bumps you from behind and gets out of their car.
Keep the gun on you. If you can't sit in the car comfortably with the gun holstered, experiment with different carry positions. Adjust your holster and look at how you can carry the gun on your person, even on long rides. I find the appendix position is the most comfortable and provides the best access to the firearm.
Lest you think that you will always remember to grab your firearm, I will remind you that people have left their children inside vehicles. Of course, our instinct is to say, I would never do it. That's why when it happens we call it an accident or negligence, not an intentional act.
The forces involved in even moderate traffic collisions are great. It always a good idea to try and not have heavy, items loose inside the vehicle. I learned this the hard way when My truck flipped as I traveled to a friend's house to change their vehicle's oil. I had a small toolbox in the cab with me. I was injured in the crash but also had some head injuries from flying wrenches and tools.
You certainly don't want your gun flying around inside the vehicle. Furthermore, sometimes debris from cars in a crash can stretch out a few hundred yards. You may never find your gun or only get it back once someone else finds it and turns it into the police.
Unauthorized Access by Children:
Kids are curious, and no matter how much you tell them not to touch a loaded gun, they still might. It isn't the kids' responsibility to be safe around guns, although they should. It is the gun owner's responsibility to ensure a child doesn't access the gun, period. A simple google search will return results like this one where a child shot his sister after finding a loaded gun inside the car.
Sometimes these guns aren't on car mount holsters; instead, a child retrieves the gun from a bag inside the car. In one instance, a mother who had her gun in her purse was driving when her child accessed the purse in the vehicle's back seat area. The child discharged the firearm.
Keep the gun on you, and have positive control of it at all times.
Law Enforcement Interactions:
Lastly, having a gun mounted somewhere inside the vehicle may complicate the interaction with law enforcement during a traffic stop. Duty to Inform law notwithstanding, an exposed firearm may inject unnecessary tension into the incident. Sure, carrying a gun in a holster under a t-shirt can still be accessed quickly, but an exposed gun, especially when mounted where one may put their hands naturally, could be an issue.
If I haven't convinced you that carrying the gun on your person is ALWAYS the better approach, check out Season 2, Episode 10 of the Concealed Carry Podcast, where we discuss this topic. Again, holsters for cars are just not a good idea. Instead, train and learn how to draw while seated in the vehicle. You may find out your method of carrying makes this nearly impossible (talking about small of back primarily.) Other carry positions are doable with some practice. Appendix carry facilitates the best access. And yes, with a properly adjusted holster, it is comfortable.
Also, if you are looking for a comprehensive course on using your handgun in and around your vehicle, check out our Vehicle Firearm Tactics Course.
You never mention the consideration of whether you can draw your weapon from your holster while sitting in your car with the seat belt on. The biggest threats in a car from crime is a car jacking or road rage. If you have your gun locked up it is useless and a gift to the criminal when he rips the cable out of the box. Not everyone is skinny or flexible. If you have a big gut appendix carry is out and right hip holsters are covered by your seat belt. I imagine the shoulder holster or a center chest rig might be a better option while driving but may not be practical after you get out of the car. A good locking holster with proper retention features attached to a center console or bracket might work while you are in the car but will require you to handle the gun to remove it while parked. Your article is good that it makes you think but it doesn’t really give you a solution to driving with your gun in a holster that you can draw from in a car jacking or road rage situation where you need one hand to draw and one to steer,
For the bigger guys… try a crossdraw holster. I make use of it while driving. If right-handed the holster rides on the left-side beltline. It is easy to access but not hindered by the seatbelt because usually, the seatbelt rides below the belt line on the hips.
What about the safety of carrying a firearm on one’s person during an accident? I frequently carry appendix in the car for short, low-speed trips, and that’s relatively comfortable for me. However, I’m nervous about the prospect of the sharp edges of the gun being pushed into my body with great force during a collision, particularly at highway speeds. For that reason, I’ll often stow it in the center console during long highway trips. It’s awkward to access it from there my vehicle, though, and I don’t feel particularly confident that I’d be able to do so fast enough in a bad situation.
Get a Glock no sharp edges 😂
I agree a lot of what he says about STORING ones gun in the vehicle. Think is is when your 6’4 ones legroom to mount on dashboard is very limited. I found that ALIEN HOLSTER HAS my best option. It’s a holster with straps that go over n under the seat so my weapon is in between my legs readily available and locks into place until I want it out. I never go anywhere or place w/o my weapon. My only other option is to carry in my boots. Plus having a belly really restricted carrying apendex
How well do you like your holster? Can you give me some pros and cons? Im considering the same one from Alien. Thank you
This was my thought exactly, it’s hard to draw from a sitting position with a seatbelt in the way
I have to disagree with some of your comments.
First of all, accessing your firearm concealed with your seat belt fastened is not an easy task. Having it readily available in your vehicle seems like a better idea.
Second, yes you must inform of conceal carry during a traffic stop. The gun being visible to the officer seems to me to be an added plus. Remember, those without a CCW must carry visible in a vehicle.
All that said, a mounted and visible “holster” in a vehicle is a clear indicator to a potential thief there may be a gun somewhere in the car.
Thanks for sharing.
Carrying a visible handgun in a vehicle in Texas is illegal unless it is on your person covered by your LTC. So no vehicle holsters or cup holder holsters are legal in Texas unless it is not visible to an LEO in a walk around inspection.
Just for clarity: there is no need to have an LTC to carry in your car in Texas (or anywhere it is legal to carry once new constitutional carry law goes into effect). But it does need to be in a holster, maybe still in a belt or shoulder holster, while in your car, though the law may have changed recently on that (SB 550), not sure.
The Texas constitutional carry law that takes effect on 1 September specifies that the gun must be in a holster, but it does not specify shoulder or belt holsters like Texas law that is currently in effect. So that will be an improvement since some people might like options, such as a leg holster.
Duty to inform laws vary from state to state. And you are right, accessing your firearm while seated in a vehicle is not as easy as standing on the range. Carrying in the appendix or even traditional IWB mitigates this if you seek some good instruction and practice the draw. It absolutely can be done. I believe the solution to the problem is to train and overcome the issue, rather than opt for a sub-optimal method of carry.
Most of my group carry in the appendix and we practice with airsoft replicas for vehicle training.
Good stuff Jeff! I like it.
Been preaching this for years, no, decades!
In my 37 years of law enforcement, both as a uniform patrol officer, and as a detective in plain clothes, I must have drawn my pistol while bailing-out of my car at a dead run hundreds of times. With the proper holster which works best for you, it is a simple matter while carrying otw at the 3:00 position, for right-handers. Usually a pancake holster or belt-slide, when in civvies. As you brake the car while it’s still rolling, simply begin your draw stroke by pressing the release button of the seatbelt. Practice, practice, practice and soon it will be second nature. By the time the car stops, the seatbelt is out of the way and you are manipulating the transmission lever into P.
It’s all about training and practice, and I realize what works for me may not work for all. Your mileage may vary.
All though, I do agree with your assessment on retrieving your firearm while seatbelted, I don’t agree with your others. One, not all states are must inform states, Indiana being one. Two, there is no such thing as open carry inside a vehicle. One thing the article mentions is possibly appendix carry which is not possible for this guy(me) with a big belly.
You are incorrect. Illinois, for example, has a No Tell law. Unless the officer asks if you have a weapon on or around you, you do not have to say anything. With that said, I have been stopped, put my hands on the wheel and told the officer that I have a carry license, I do have my weapon on my right hip, I will leave my hands on the wheel and wait for your instructions. The last stop, the officer smiled and said you can’t be more honest than that! Go ahead and keep your weapon holstered and just don’t reach down there and you will be fine. Plus he let me out of my speeding ticket. I believe that is a much better policy than letting the officer find out for him/herself. They get startled and could get a bit trigger happy, at least here in Chicago area.
Sorry. I did not mean to say, you are incorrect. That was to another post.
if you are traveling thru from another state , your car is your property, how you choose to carry your weapon is your decision not the states. especially id i have my CCW
I wouldn’t try that in New Jersey, Bobbie. There are a lot of horror stories out there, so read up and know the laws in the states through which you are traveling.
Federal law allows a gun owner to travel though even the states most hostile to carrying a firearm if the firearm is locked up in a way that is inaccessible to the driver and passengers and the ammunition is locked in a separate area. Even then, the person must be traveling through from a state where the owner can legally carry the gun to a state where the owner is carrying the gun. Although federal law would take precedence over state law, the state law enforcement and criminal justice system in New Jersey and similar dystopian states may not be aware of the federal law or pretend not to be, so no one is immune for being hassled even though they may prevail in the end. The moral is to stay the hell out of New Jersey if at all possible. I live in Connecticut, so I have to go through New York and New Jersey to travel to most of the country. Bummer.
I think it’s the same with Illinois. That’s a state you want to try to avoid at all costs.
Best ideas not to go to Jersey with your gun. If you’re not law enforcement, chances are ours gonna go bad for you. If you are law enforcement but you’re not from Jersey it’s still might go bad for you.
Best idea is to not go to New Jersey
I agree with the article but do use a holster of sorts in my car and would like to hear your thoughts on it. It is a Vera Safety 2 with a car kit that requires a thumb print to open and is secured to the vehicle with the seat screw.
It unlocks as you draw it, but it cannot be used or the trigger accessed by anyone else. https://varasafety.com/ The two downsides if any are the battery must be charged to function or be hard wired to the car and someone with tools and time could take the whole unit firearm and all and separate them later. Because of this, I never leave the gun behind or unattended in the car.
From a professional driver and bodyguard. You can’t draw your firearm from your body inside a vehicle before you get dead. I carry two firearms, one concealed on my body for when I exit the vehicle and the other on a magnet under the dash by my right knee cap. If attacked at a red light or boxed in by two vehicles I can access my firearm from the magnet making it look like a natural motion.
It’s all about training. It seems like you’re coming up with a lot of extra protocols in order to keep from learning how to draw a handgun while seated in a vehicle. It can be argued that a gun out in the open mounted to the dashboard is faster, but it comes with major drawbacks. The drawbacks outweigh that benefit, especially when you realize that you could just train a proper draw stroke. Also, evasive driving courses teach proper vehicle positioning to keep from being boxed in. Poor vehicle positioning shouldn’t drive further poor tactics in how you carry the firearm.
I’m afraid the whole article greatly overlooked the reason that many(most?) of us are carrying IN our cars to begin with: Ready to deploy in an ever increasingly dangerous society. Yes, it IS irresponsible to leave a firearm unlocked in an unattended vehicle, but if you’re of any substantial size or driving any quality sports car – drawing from any waistband carry is difficult at best.
In my truck where I often transport large sums of cash (to fill ATM machines) I have a locking AR-Pistol rack that is unlocked upon entering and locked on exiting. In my convertible Vette at 6’4″(210lbs) there is no way to quickly access my waistband. I then resort to a Tru-Spec T-shirt w/holster pockets and use a StickyHolster inside of the same. While there is a potential of having to flag my own arm in an extreme circumstance, it doesn’t require any administration to move it from place to place when entering or exiting the vehicle. (And yes, a loose tropical style shirt is worn over the top for concealment.)
I disagree with your premise. People carry firearms because of the threat of violence. People use these devices, not because of the threat, but because they are carrying in a way that does not allow easy access to their gun inside the vehicle. And most people have not received any training in how to fight with a handgun inside or around a vehicle. I would be willing to bet that if you carried in the appendix or even traditional IWB (4 o’clock) you could practice and achieve a draw faster and more efficiently than what you have described with a tru-spech shirt holster.
Carrying a weapon on your person while in a vehicle can be a non-complicated affair if you use a zippered belt pouch. The seatbelt crossing your lap can go under the pouch and the segment crossing your chest can go behind the pouch. While driving, the zipper can be left semi-opened for quick access and quick drawing. The gun itself is in a holster that is velcro fastened to an inside wall of the pouch. If the pouch has two compartments, an extramagazine can go into the second compartment.
I agree that car holsters are a bad idea.
Let’s get this straight. There was never, isn’t and will never be a “perfect holster”. But the guideline that one should carry a weapon on ones person is the closest to the “perfect holster” one can find. All this is the case, because no tool is a natural extension of the human hand.
I use a 5.11 fanny pack for my P229 and extra magazine. No seatbelt or access problems and it goes with me in or out of the vehicle.
I see one thing left out of the conversation, the fact I can’t carry my firearm in my place of work, so car carrying is my only option. Ps I still haven’t found anything to fit that bill just yet…
To and from work you should carry the gun on you. It’s always a better option than a car holster. When you get to work, securing the gun in a suitable handgun vault would be acceptable.
Some states do not require you to inform LEO that you are carrying a concealed weapon. It is also illegal in some states to have have a weapon openly displayed in a vehicle. How you are dressed and the climate has a lot to do with how you carry your concealed weapon. During cooler weather and wearing a jacket when driving, I use a shoulder holster. During warmer weather when driving long distances, I use a cross draw holster or ankle holster. I have a vault bolted to the floor in the trunk to put my weapon in when I can’t carry it with me.
Really liked your article.
Some of those holster mounts make the firearm easily visible to other vehicles while driving, think that’s a serious downfall.
I liked the comment regarding the increase risk of accidental discharge in relationship to increasing holstering and unholstering. I feel how ever one chooses to carry the gun it needs to stay put as much as possible.
I have a pa concealed carry. What do I have to do when choosing over to other states. Like from pa to Florida ??
Retired cop here. I never ever leave a weapon in a car, loaded or not. I carry my weapon on my body as all times. Both of them.
None of his points don’t disprove the usefulness of a car holster. Half his argument is really about leaving weapons in a car unattended which yes don’t do that, but that docent mean you can’t use the car holster only when you’re inside the vehicle. And his first argument is that the more you touch the gun the more likely you are to shoot it accidently, like what is that, Don’t blame a holster just because you aren’t able to keep your finger off the trigger and have proper situational awareness, by that logic everyone who goes to the range on a regular basis has a handful of ND’s because, what, they touch they’re gun to much. And the idea that a gun is going just go off because of a vehicle accidents, I’d like to see any statistic that proves that. And the one about children, you should never have any weapon in any holster accessible to anyone but yourself, just put your holster in a place no passenger can reach before you and pay attention to your surrounding. If you are doing what you should already be doing for everyone else there is no reason to worry about a child getting a hold of your firearm because there wouldn’t be any chance of it happening in the first place.
The issue I have which isn’t discussed here is one I think many people have. I’m not permitted to carry my weapon at work. Ohio law allows me to store it in my vehicle. I’m sure you would agree parking lots are terrible places to be taking off or putting on holsters. Trying to put on a holster while seated in a vehicle is nearly impossible as well. The next best place is the central console. Unfortunately the central console is not easily accessible enough for defensive use in an altercation originating from the drivers side door. The only option for me seems to be a vehicle mounted holster. Lastly, I find the idea that reducing handling of the weapon is better because it reduces the chance of ND completely ridiculous. The great majority or gun owners will handle their firearms countless times in their life without a ND. Firearm safety is no different in your vehicle than it is in your bedroom or the range. Strict observation of safety rules is the only answer. If you can’t manage that in your vehicle don’t carry it outside your house.
Couple of things yes if you have your concealed why would you do this, however, I work armed security and sometimes sit in my car for hours at a time. That’s when these mounts are needed. It’s so that I can take my gun out for a 7 hr post and still have access when needed. Also some states only allow open carry in vehicles, such as were I live in Denver. So I don’t agree with this article because there’s legitimate applications for a mount in car.
Now yes if you have a concealed carry and or ever leave a fire arm unsecured in you car you’re a dumb—-, however, rethink this article because they’re are a ton of correct situation where these mounts are needed
Nah it’s still a horrible idea to mount the gun anywhere other than on your body. Carry on your body in a way that allows access and it won’t matter if you sit in the car for 7 hours or 7 min. Refer to your specific state’s legal opinion on the definition of ‘open carry’ inside a vehicle. Some of the car mount holsters would not meet the definition of ‘open carry’ or plain view. Why not just get an OWB holster to wear in the car and open carry if carrying concealed is the hang up?
I am a typical 70 year old guy that runs errands every day…Me or none of my friends carry guns on themselves but we all have one in our vehicles.
I thought a pistol mount under my dash was a great idea.
Everything y’all talk about is drawing your pistol from a body mounted holster.
We don’t wear body holsters…We would have to remove the gun 8-10 times every day
while running errands in places where concealed carry is not allowed.
I see dash mounted holsters that have a quick release stretch strap that would keep the pistol from being thrown around in an accident.
Is there no dash mounts you could recommend?
I understand your particular situation. A mount with a retention strap is more secure than a magnet. Are you planning on leaving the gun in the holster mounted under the dash while you run errands? It may be convenient and comfortable, but this provides the opportunity for a thief to get a gun very easily. There are just too many vehicle burglaries to leave anything of value (or something a criminal can use to hurt or kill others) unsecured inside a vehicle. It also creates the potential to forget and leave the gun in the vehicle overnight.
I want to have control over my firearm at all times. This keeps anyone who shouldn’t have access to it (kids, criminals, etc.) from getting their hands on it. I also want to use it wherever I am, not run back to the car if I need it. Weighing the drawbacks of using a car holster instead of one that provides me positive control of the gun leads me not to recommend any car-mounted holsters.
Some car-mount holsters are better than others, but in my opinion, the practice is flawed. Some people will recommend car holsters; I just can’t.
All good thoughts and valid points. I personally am looking into a way to mount a holster in my car that isn’t a magnet or something held on with Nylon straps. I personally am thinking of finding a way of mounting a Safariland level 2 retention holster into the car. That way it is still secure in the event of an accident. I personally carry every day in my line of work, and don’t have much room in the driver cockpit of my vehicle to move to access my firearm on my hip, which is where it is on my duty belt. I do not want to put my duty belt on my passenger seat, that then leads to it being loose in the event of a crash. One thing I did see you fail to mention is that a lot of people mount their firearms under the dash, sure if you drive an older vehicle that works, but a lot of people with newer vehicles tend to forget about new safety features in their cars like knee/leg airbags. Mine comes right out below the steering, last thing you want to do is turn your side arm and mounting system into a projectile at you in the event of a collision. Overall the people leaving their sidearm in the vehicle while they pump gas or quickly run into a gas station, well I simply take the extra 30 seconds, check my surroundings and make sure I have my sidearm accessible and where I want it, then turn off the vehicle and get out, it’s all part of taking that tactical pause and gaining your SA before exiting the vehicle. Also yes it creates a higher risk for an ND, but in my opinion if you are again situationally aware and are practicing proper gun safety EVERY single time and build that muscle memory of keeping your booger hook of the boom switch, you shouldn’t run into any issues.
Regarding New Jersey…A friend of mine was an active Federal Law Enforcement Officer (Border Patrol) that, while off duty, was stopped in NJ for a traffic violation. The NJ police found a handgun (he may have told them about it as a “Fed” he e it was acceptable…?). The handgun was immediately confiscated never to be seen again. He still got the traffic ticket but, apparently was not prosecuted for a firearms violation. I worked in New Jersey for a while, but did couldn’t wait to leave!
Wow, Here I was searching for a new Vehicle holster for my Bodyguard.380 while driving to have easier access in the event of a incident. Now after reading this story about why you shouldn’t use your vehicle as a holster it has completely changed my mind.