Are you a runner (or any other outdoor athlete) who often hits dirt trails or paved city streets at odd hours?
Does your training take you through secluded areas where you could come face to face with vicious dogs, angry bears, or human predators?
Whether you’re worried about how to protect yourself on an early morning run or you’re just looking for practical (and comfortable) ways to exercise your 2A rights while you exercise your body, you’ve come to the right place.
We’re going to go over some tried and true tips for gun owners with active lifestyles.
Why You Should Carry on Your Runs
You don’t have to look hard to find examples of joggers being assaulted.
Do a quick Google search, and you’ll find pages of scary stories of people who were attacked on their runs.
And it’s not just masked robbers or violent rapists either.
In 2018, an Oklahoma woman was mauled to death by a pack of weiner dogs. That is NOT the way you want to leave this world.
Runners are at a major disadvantage when attacked (whether by humans or weiner dogs) because we’ve already expended a bunch of energy.
And while adrenaline can help us regain some of that energy in a hurry, a firearm can be a handy equalizer when facing a dangerous threat.
Why a Traditional Holster (Probably) Won’t Work
It may be tempting to throw on your favorite IWB holster before you hit the track, but this can create a serious problem.
Most running shorts are made with stretchy, breathable fabric and feature elastic waistbands.
Even a lightweight micro pistol can pull your pants down around your ankles before you even make it around the corner.
Besides being pantsed by your holster, there is another reason to reconsider using your EDC holster when you go for a run.
Most cardiovascular activities require a lot of hip movement. Even if you aren’t out dancing the samba, running with extra weight on one hip can throw a serious hitch in your stride.
One potential solution is to remove some of your ammo.
While this will definitely decrease the amount of weight on your hip, it can seriously handicap you in a self-defense situation.
Traditional ankle holsters present the same unbalance issues.
Carrying extra weight on the ankles, even if it’s only a few ounces, can be a workout in itself.
However, when you’re trying to run with only one ankle weighted down, that’s a clumsy disaster waiting to happen.
And if you’re anything like me, you’re plenty clumsy without any extra help.
It’s also kind of hard to draw from an ankle holster when you’re running. And we won’t even get into the impossibility of concealing ankle carry when you’re wearing running shorts.
If You HAVE to use an IWB Holster
If you’re dead set on running with an IWB holster, the Warfytr Liberty Holster is one option.
The patented, flexible Fabriclip is designed to lock directly onto your clothing. It works great on just about any sportswear, even yoga pants, and leggings.
You will still have the extra weight of the weapon on your hip.
However, as long as your run isn’t too vigorous and doesn’t involve any hardcore parkour, this IWB holster is a decent option.
Using a Pack While You’re Packing
Some serious runners swear by using a waist or chest pack when they carry a firearm. Although this is a pretty popular carry method, it does create some major concerns.
No attacker is going to wait while you fumble around with zippers and flaps in an attempt to draw your weapon.
If this is your only option, a waist or chest pack is definitely better than leaving your weapon at home.
Wanna choose this carry method? Then be sure to practice drawing your weapon until you can do it seamlessly.
If you aren’t afraid of looking like a nerd for wearing a fanny pack, they can be one viable option for your runs.
I hear they are making a major comeback in the fashion world.
So long as you aren’t wearing sandals and socks on your run, the cool kids probably might not make fun of you. (No guarantees.)
It can be tempting to dig an old fanny pack out of the back of the closet. You know? The one that was super cool back in the 90s? (Okay. We admit they were never cool.)
Although we don’t recommend it, we know there are some runners who use them.
If you’re tempted, just be sure to use a pocket holster or some other trigger guard. Throwing a firearm into any purse, bag, or fanny pack is just a bad idea.
Of course, people do it. But there are plenty of people who also drive around without a seatbelt. We don’t condone either one.
Want to get the weight of your pistol up off that hip area?
A sling or chest pack allows you to carry your gun up high where it is less tiring and easily accessible.
A sling like this one from M-Tac works well. It has a comfortable shoulder strap that lets you sling the pack over your shoulder, across your chest, or on your back.
What do we love most?
The hot-pull strap lets you rip open the pack for instant access to your weapon — no fumbling with straps, snaps, or zippers on this baby.
We also love the Snubby Kit Bag from Hill People Gear. It’s small, so there’s only room for a compact pistol, but it’s perfect for shorter runs.
The weight is so evenly distributed that it’s easy to forget you’re wearing it at all.
This one can bounce around a bit, so you’ll want the extra stabilizer strap so you don’t get pummeled with your bag.
This one isn’t a great option for bustier ladies. Sorry, gals.
Keeping It Hidden
The options we’ve mentioned so far have one very glaring drawback. They broadcast to everyone that you’re carrying a weapon.
If you prefer to be more discreet, we have a few other ideas up our sleeve. Er…I mean up our shirt.
Part belly band, part fanny pack, the Pistol Wear PT-ONE Concealment Holster holds your weapon tight against your body so it doesn’t bounce or print when you’re running.
It also features a rigid outer wall that protects your weapon from the outside and a perspiration barrier to protect it from yucky sweat on the other side.
Speaking of belly bands…
Built for easy wear under lightweight clothing, belly band holsters are a popular choice for people with active lifestyles.
There are a bunch of different styles to choose from. They range from super basic to fairly complex.
One major benefit of a belly band holster is that it can securely hold a variety of handguns. This means you won’t have to find a model sized to your specific handgun.
One of our favorites is the ComfortTac Ultimate Belly Band Holster. Unlike some cheaper bands, this one features a hard plastic trigger cover and a metal snap retention snap.
It’s also made of comfortable, breathable neoprene, so it won’t pinch your skin like elastic bands do.
Beware of cheap belly bands. The edges on sub-quality bands can roll down around the edges when you’re wearing them, which is really uncomfortable.
Splurge a few extra bucks on a quality band, and you won’t have to worry about this problem.
Concealment shorts are another common option for runners. They fit just like compression shorts and can be worn right under your running shorts or sweatpants.
You can easily carry your pistol, and your running buddies will be none the wiser.
Concealment shorts also do a lovely job of lifting the bum (in case that’s something that makes you happy).
The holster portion is made from surgical-grade elastic and is stitched into real athletic compression shorts.
Also worth mentioning…companies like Alexo Athletica also make concealment clothing for active lifestyles.
You can read our full review of the Alexo Athletica line here.
Beware of Gimmicks
Gun owners who conceal carry are a rapidly growing demographic. And every time the news reports a story of a jogger that has been attacked, the numbers grow larger.
Manufacturers like to make money, so there are a ton of newfangled products aimed at athletic gun owners. They pop up on the market with frightening regularity.
Although many of these new products claim to be the next best thing for runners with firearms, many haven’t been tested for safety.
Any product you use to carry your weapon while you’re running should have two very important features:
- It should adequately protect your weapon’s trigger guard.
- It should have adequate weapon retention.
If it doesn’t have both of these features, it just isn’t safe to risk using it on your evening run.
Practical Tips for Running While Carrying a Firearm
If you’re new to running or to concealed carry, combining the two may seem tricky. It really isn’t all that hard once you get the hang of it.
Here are a few things every concealed carry runner should know.
It’s easy to have a false sense of security when you’re carrying a firearm. While they can be highly effective for self-defense, a firearm doesn’t make you invincible.
When you are running, you still need to pay attention to your surroundings, especially when you’re carrying a handgun.
Don’t use headphones or anything else that could reduce your situational awareness.
If a threat presents itself, you still need enough time and distance to react and draw your weapon.
Although it’s easy to zone out on a good run, a dangerous threat will have a hard time taking you unaware if you’re alert and undistracted.
It could buy you at least a few valuable seconds for you to react and access your weapon.
Dealing With Sweat
It’s no secret that running makes you sweat.
As runners, we’re pretty familiar with what excessive sweat can do to our clothes and running shoes. (Hint: It isn’t pleasant.)
That same ammonia, dirt, and bacteria that make our athletic clothes so gross can also have a negative effect on our firearms.
Although you may not notice it at first, repeated exposure to sweat can wreak havoc on external bluing and internal steel components.
Many holsters, especially those designed for runners, are designed to keep body sweat away from your weapon.
However, you should still clean your firearm regularly to make sure it stays in good working order.
The solvent in standard gun oil should take care of most of the mineral residue left behind by a good sweaty workout.
If you are one of those people who sweat excessively, you may want to give your sidearm a quick wipe down with a lightly oiled cloth after each run.
Proficiency with your weapon is an important part of responsible gun ownership. The fanciest, most expensive firearm won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to use it.
Most gun owners understand that they need the ability to put rounds on target quickly and accurately.
However, proficiency also extends to your holster.
Spend time practicing your draw until you smooth out all the wrinkles. Then practice it some more until you can do it in your sleep if you have to.
Muscle memory is a valuable tool when rational thought goes flying out the window.
How you choose to carry your firearm when you run is a highly personal decision. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
You have to find what works best for you and find a balance of comfort, access, and weapon security that satisfies you.
And to learn more about exercise and its role in self-defense, check out the Brownells Daily Defense video below.
What is your favorite way to carry when you’re running? Let us know in the comments. If you’re a jogger of the feminine persuasion, you can find some great carry options for both running and EDC at the Best Way to Concealed Carry for Women.