For those of us who live in the “Less Temperate” areas of the country. Cold weather training is a reality if you want to keep your training relevant and current. In the Northeast we have approximately 6 months of cold weather and 6 months of not quite as cold weather. There are several differences in cold weather firearms carry and usage that need to be addressed in training.
Heavier garments used for concealment as well as keeping warm bring challenges in drawing your concealed handgun. Are you dealing with one heavy coat or several layers? Is the holstered handgun under a pull over closed front garment and a heavier coat? Will you have to get your hand past an open coat and then pull up a closed front fleece etc. Will you wear your coat open or zipped? How will you access a spare magazine for a reload? How’s that 2 second Tactical Reload affected by your clothing and gloves if you wear them? Your training needs to reflect the methods you use and the clothing you commonly wear.
Will you wear gloves or be bare handed? Will your gloves fit in the trigger guard of your pistol? Will those heavy gloves let you feel the pressure you’re putting on that tuned 3lb. trigger? Or if you’re touching the trigger or in register on the frame or slide? Can you even feel your trigger or fingers? Will those nice warm gloves interfere with your reload by blocking the magazine well of your pistol?
If you wear glasses do they fog or frost over when entering a warm building or vehicle? If they do, can you still see your sights and identify a threat if you need to ditch them in an emergency? Try it on the range before you have to try it in real life.
While not an issue for a handgun worn in concealment in a fast breaking defensive situation, how does the lubricant you use react to extreme cold? Will that wonder lube you used in balmy August thicken and make your AR sluggish or freeze in frigid February, when you’re stuck on containment in a long ongoing situation.
How well do the batteries last in your WML’s and Red Dot Sights in cold weather? Will your optic frost over? If so can you ditch it quickly and switch over and effectively use your iron sights? Will your Optic allow you to see enough to effectively use the dot when it’s coated with Rain or Snow? How bad will the dot bloom when the lens is coated?
These are just some of the issues those of us who operate in extreme cold deal with and need to be aware of. While we get used to it and don’t really think about it, we need to be aware of how it affects us. Make your training realistic and relevant to the conditions that you operate in.
Stay Safe (And Stay Warm)!