Carrying during COVID
How does wearing nitrile gloves impact an officer's ability to draw their weapon?
By Mike Burg
COVID-19 has changed our world in many ways, both large and small. I didn’t fully realize the extent to which it had until the other day after a visit to my doctor.
I normally carry my “off duty” (a small 9mm) in a pocket holster, however, when I go to the doctor, I carry it in a small backpack that I can keep with me as I go from room to room.
As usual, when I left the doctor’s office, I transferred the pistol from the backpack to my pocket using my truck door to shield my movements from the view of others except for this time something was different. I couldn’t grasp my pistol as normal.
The cause was the 5 mil nitrile (rubber) gloves I was wearing. They prevented me from gripping my gun in my usual manner.
I got the gun into my pocket and, when I got home, I immediately attempted to draw my gun from my pocket. Under “normal” circumstances I can put my hand into my pocket and it just naturally goes to and forms to the pistol grips and I’m able to draw it, but not with nitrile gloves on. As soon as the nitrile rubber hits the inside of my pocket the friction slows my hand down considerably. Then, once I’m able to work my hand down to the pistol, my hand doesn’t slide into a good grip for drawing. You have to work your hand into a proper position on the pistol grips.
Is a draw doable? Yes, but keep in mind that if you’re wearing gloves your draw time may be impeded and more difficult with gloves on.
In addition to an extended draw time, another COVID precaution can cause problems. If you wear glasses and are wearing a mask be aware that, in moments of increased respiration, such as an armed encounter, all of that warm rapidly exhaled breath has to go somewhere and if you don’t have a tight seal at the top of the mask it will vent upwards, fogging your glasses and severely affecting your vision.
Keep in mind that the fogging glasses and slower “glove draw” can also occur while you are on duty. Your normal draw can be affected by the gloves, and fogging glasses due to a loose mask can occur under almost any conditions.
Continue to wear gloves and a mask to stay safe, but be aware that these problems exist and prepare for them.
One way to prepare would be to design a range exercise around them. Have officers put on masks and gloves, then run a hundred yards, take cover, draw and shoot. While a fairly basic drill, it would provide them with the feel of fogged glasses (if they wear them) and the effects of the rubber gloves on the draw process.
Stay safe, stay healthy and watch your six.
About the author
Mike Burg served the Rittman (Ohio) Police Department for 38 years, becoming chief in 2007. He retired in 2016.