Accomplished photographers have at least one thing in common with smart self-defense enthusiasts—attention to detail. A study released in 2015 , based on images of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “gunslinger gait,” underscores that fact. The way he walks is one of the many signs someone has a hidden gun.
There are other indications a person has a firearm on them, many detailed in The U.S. Department of Justice’s 2006 “Violent Encounters: A study of felonious assaults on our nation’s law enforcement officers.” Recognizing the clues it provides could be lifesaving.
None (as in zero) of the criminals interviewed in the study used a holster. That lack of retention, “…may have made their actions more exaggerated or noticeable, or it may have affected their behaviors in varied but related ways,” according to the study.
• Hand check—The urge to touch, tug or adjust that gun is common. “These acts become most observable whenever individuals change body positions, such as standing, sitting or exiting a motor vehicle,” according to the report. Running criminals often hold the gun in place. Hands in pockets or visiting them too often is another of the signs someone has a hidden gun.
• Jock itch—“Many offenders in the three studies revealed that they purposely transported weapons in their crotch areas…because of the reluctance of officers to thoroughly search this location.”
• Blading—They also often turn their body, blade, to shield the gun from detection. One of the interviewed felons explained the habit. “Because they can’t see what I’m reaching for, I get that extra second.”
• Sagging—“Normally, personal items, such as wallets, keys, pagers, and cell phones, do not weigh enough to cause a pocket to hang substantially lower than the one on the opposite side.” Jackets droop or swing like a pendulum on one side when walking.
• Improper clothing—Heavy coats in the summer can hide guns. Jackets open in the dead of winter provide faster draws. And, “Similarly, if a man is wearing a dress shirt, dress pants, and dress shoes, why would he have his shirttail hanging out?” the study asks. It’s all about speed. The report also warns criminals often carry a gun under a coat or item draped over their arm.
• Hoodies—“One offender in the current study stated that he had several friends who carried ﬁrearms in their jacket hoods,” the report warns. Eye hoods not worn during rain and snow with caution.
“Twelve percent of the male offenders in the same study [‘In the Line of Fire’] reported giving their handguns to females to carry for them when approached by law enforcement ofﬁcers.” Female criminals also preferred storing guns in places officers avoid frisking. Ninety-two percent of the criminals interviewed carried their weapons somewhere in the middle torso—crotch, back, side, chest or belly.
Final signs someone has a hidden gun
Retired Border Patrol Agent and Gunsite Rangemaster Ed Head said your observation should include another focus. “I always looked at their eyes, face and neck,” he said. “People tense up before they launch and you can see this as their eyes narrow or squint, their facial muscles tighten and their carotid arteries in the neck throb as their pulse quickens.”
As for Putin’s walk, the experts claim his KGB training still shows. The gun hand remains close to where the firearm is, or was, holstered during his foreign intelligence service. This other arm and support hand rises, falls and swings in a normal pattern. The asymmetric stride is the gunslinger gait.