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Concealed Weapons: The Best (& Worst) Ways To Carry Them

concealed carry

Concealed carry is a hot topic in this country, and the practice of carrying one’s weapon on his or her person while hidden from view is growing each year.

Concealed carry is the form of personal weapons carry that the courts (both state and federal) have more or less agreed upon; unanimously, courts prefer that if Americans carry, they do so concealed. There are several reasons for this, the chief among them being that both law enforcement and the courts feel that exposed weapons represent too much of a threat to law and order and would potentially create too much panic should exposed carry be allowed. In fact, in places where exposed (open) carry is allowed, it’s simply not that big of a deal and people learn to accept it.

Carrying a concealed weapon represents a major compromise in the weapon’s functionality. If you doubt this statement, then a simple look at law enforcement or military units is in order. Overwhelmingly, they carry weapons exposed – not surprisingly, because exposed weapons are the easiest to get to when you need them. Concealed carry adds a measure of difficulty in accessing the weapon depending on where you carry the weapon – and how. You want the weapon totally hidden, yet you want instant access to it, both of which can be mutually exclusive of each other. Think of concealment as happening in stages or levels, and you will see how the dynamic changes:

Level 1: Concealed by coat or jacket: The easiest and most natural way to conceal a weapon is by using a conventional waist holster (preferably a high riding holster) and then slipping on a jacket or coat.

Pro:

  • If the coat has any weight to it at all, the weapon will be almost totally concealed and virtually impossible to detect.
  • Access is fast; push aside the coat, and your holster is right there, allowing for a draw almost as quick as if there was no coat at all, and a firm master grip upon the weapon.

Con:

  • Only works where the weather permits the wearing of a coat. You don’t want to be the guy that’s wearing a parka on an 80 degree day because you are trying to conceal a pistol, which by the way, law enforcement is looking for.

Keep Your Handgun Locked and Loaded, Ready For Instant Use – Without Fear Of An Accident!

Level 2: Concealed by a loose-fitting, untucked shirt: The next best thing to using a coat or jacket, the loose-fitting, button-down shirt is a popular way to carry when coats can’t be worn.

Pro:

  • Easy access to the weapon; although not as easy as the coat carry since you usually have to lift the shirt up to grab the weapon.

Con:

  • Almost always dictates the use of an inside-the-waistband holster on thinner shirts since the gun will print if it’s sitting out there on an exposed hip holster.
  • The closer you bring the weapon to your body, the harder it is to get a firm master grip on the butt of the weapon without wiggling the gun around.

Level 2: Concealed with a tucked-in dress shirt: This is about as concealed as it gets, but accessibility really suffers with this mode of carry.

Pro:

  • If the weapon is sized accordingly (i.e. subcompact pistol) this is perhaps the lowest profile method of carry out there.

Con:

  • Since the weapon lives inside the waistband, it is accessed by untucking your shirt, then yanking the gun out. Slow, laborious, and not instantly accessible.
  • Almost always requires the use of a subcompact pistol unless you happen to be seven feet tall and weigh 300 pounds.

Basically, the less clothing you wear and the more you hide the gun, the harder it is to get to, and the more compromises you need to make in order to carry it. Make no mistake: an inside-the-waistband holster is a big compromise compared to a conventional hip holster, just as a subcompact pistol is a huge compromise compared to a full-size pistol.

Finally, the issue of weapons retention needs to be discussed. Your main defense against losing your weapon by way of someone yanking it out of your holster is concealment – they can’t steal your gun if they can’t tell you’re carrying one! If you think weapons retention isn’t a concern, then you need to acquaint yourself with the skills that many criminals possess – the immediate ability to spot a concealed weapon upon someone’s person. With a loose untucked shirt, for example, it’s an elementary task for someone who knows how to handle a gun to reach in behind you and relieve you of that weapon. Few concealment holsters offer a retention mechanism, so for the best chance at retaining your weapon, make certain that it can’t be seen. This might mean photographing or even videoing yourself sitting, standing, and walking with the weapon concealed, and then carefully looking for clues that you are carrying such as awkward printing or bulges. Concealed carry means just that – concealed. As always, practice drawing the weapon from its concealment, and stay sharp!

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18 comments

  1. You did forget to mention holsters that are disguised. . .Like a Sneaky Pete holster. I have one for my S&W Bodyguard .380, and in 6 months of carry have had only one person ID it.

  2. Every holster you tried printed from the side and rear. Some did ok until you raised your shoulders to settle your shirt, then they printed.

    Every time you had to “pinch” your holster you covered your pinching hand. I was taught to never cover ANY body part. If you have to “pinch” the holster to re-holster your weapon – you need to throw that holster
    away.

    Have you ever tried a Crossbreed Super Tuck holster? The greatest. Kydex and leather IWB holster. Stays open, comfortable and holds the weapon very close to your body. Covers the trigger. Retains the weapon because the kydex is molded specifically for that weapon. I wear one under my standard dress shirt tucked in around the holster and standard sized M1911 or a Para Ordnance Carry 9. It does not print with either weapon and is very comfortable. You must have a good belt for the weapon. If you are using a smaller weapon, they have a smaller holster. They also have IWB magazine carriers. No pinching” of holster needed to re-holster the weapon, the kydex keeps the opening clear. The opening is right at the belt line and the leather back goes up and protects your skin from any rubbing of the weapon. Yes, the weapon is held that tightly to your body.

  3. Here in Texas it’s HOT and I wear a T-shirt and jeans 99% of the time because it’s HOT! I’ve been carrying since the CHL law became the law of the land. It’s easy enough to carry in cooler weather without printing but when it’s HOT that’s a different story. I’ve tried most every methods of concealment but have settled on a fanny pack, with velcro closures, worn on my left side, like a holster. It is easy to draw because of the velcro. So, go ahead and snicker at my man purse. Man purse? Man purse, that’s OK because there is a .45 ACP semi-auto concealed in there.

    • I saw that holster at gunhandbags.com but opted to pick up a Montana West Original CCW purse for my wife instead. We tend to carry big-medium to full size pistols and I really didn’t think an M9 would work out to well for her in the Flash Bang!

  4. Pocket carry is another option. Of course it limits the weapon size, but it is an option.

    • Ya, I pocket carry most of the time nowadays. I’m 6 foot and have a “fit” body style. I live in the south so I wear shorts and light t-shirts a lot. My G27 prints real easily so I often throw my LCP in my pocket or cargo pocket. I just do drills to practice drawing it out. I even include doing drills with my keys or phone in the same pocket too, just in case I forget I shouldn’t put something in that pocket, lol. Off topic, but I just have to say I hate the LCP trigger 😉

      P.S. I just found this website, I love it 😀

  5. I have played with all methods of carry, and have found the best, for me, is IWB small of the back carry.

    One point to make is that although I am right handed I use a left handed holster. This orients the butt of the pistol in a more comfortable position for a natural grip and prevents me from having to rotate my hand when drawing which in turn minimizes the degree to which the muzzle crosses my body through the draw. Not rotating the wrist also allows me to place my hand on the pistol in a very casual way if the time has not yet arrived to present the weapon but things are looking sketchy. With a right handed holster, placing the hand for a quick draw is very obvious and anything but casual.

    I have tried compact pistols, but find that I am a creature of habit and my habit is full sized handguns. My favorite, again out of habit, is a Taurus PT92 that has been my primary handgun since ’86. With my build, basically average and a little bit on the skinny side, I find I am able to successfully conceal this weapon even in shorts and a slightly baggy T-shirt with the method described above.

    Open carry is permitted in my little corner of the Missouri Ozarks, so I do exerciser that option from time to time when I feel that a visible deterrent is the best tactic.

    • pat- i totally agree with your viewpoint. my right shoulder doesnt have that much mobility to turn my hand with the palm up high on my rear flank. So my right handed holster is all wrong. I was unsure of my solution until I saw this. Now I have to buy another holster, but at least I have a workable plan. Thanks for posting!

    • An off duty cop was held up while in line at a store. The mutt got the register’s cash then demanded the customer’s stuff. The cop slowly reached in his suit pocket as he said my wallets here, then right through the pocket he shot the gunman 7 times in the stomach and chest with his 10 ounce kel tec .380. You see, the cop also had a .45 in a hip holster, but as the gunman was pointing a gun at him the whole time, he couldn’t go for it. Another story, an old guy was mugged by two knife thugs on a city night train, he held out a bullet saying “I don’t have money but you can have my extra bullet”…the whole time his other coat pocket was mysteriously pointing at they’re bellies.

  6. How do y’all feel bout a shoulder harness type holsters?? I’m new to this ccw stuff and I have a sig sauer p938 as well as a Taurus 24/7 OSS tactical (which is just about to big to conceal I think)

    Thanks

  7. I love INSIDE the waistband holster secured over BELT method.
    Chears

  8. I’m experimenting with my new micro, I poke it into my Levis change pocket and have a small strip of velcro that I wrap from my belt around the gun grip. It’s very minimalist, and doesn’t add any bulk. I’m not sure I like it yet. Which is why I’m reading the above.

    Prior to this, my Keltec 32 has a little belt clip on it (which works pretty well). I’ve grown to hate that gun b/c it’s accuracy is very poor (compared to the Kimber above), and there’s no mechanism for safety. So, I never have anything in the tube. Obviously not a winning plan.

  9. My two cents. I found myself forced to park in a dark lot that I would normally just pass up. I carry my 10 ounce .380 Kel Tec in a jacket pocket normally, where I can keep my hand on it at all times, instead of having it snapped in a hip holster. This particular parking lot was especially bad as it had a few democrats walking to their cars. I took out my gun and held it while pulling down my jacket sleeve over my hand and gun. It was going to take less than 1/10 of a second for me to point and shoot if needed.

  10. I carry a full size 40 cal S&W MP in an IWB DeSantis Kydex holster. Loose fitting pull over Polo style or T-shirts in dark color work best to prevent printing. Make sure it is long to prevent holster exposure when bending. Buy pants/shorts one size larger. Wide belt helps holster remain secure. This style of dress in the south is common during the summer with or without a weapon. It allows easy access when there is a need to draw or put gun in your car lock-box at places you cannot carry. Winter carry is easy when wearing sweats/coats. When I got licensed, I searched for newer and better ways than I knew from my law enforcement days. While there is a lot of new gear to chose from, the tried and tested method for me still works for me. This just supports what a lot of others have already written.

  11. I put my dinky and I mean dinky 22 semi pistol in my back pocket. since I wear loose shirts you can’t see it. obviously the weapon size is a loser but atleast I got something. I don’t take my 40 hk out much but that seems to go nice in front pocket. it’s a little big for summer but winter more than fine. I am still working on a descent spot for my full size 38. revolver. it’s a little too heavy I think. it’s old, I got it from a friend who’s grandfather bought it.

  12. Great article. Many people are not aware of the methods to carry concealed carry bags. Thanks for sharing such a useful article.

  13. The conceal carry industry is coming up with new and better ways to conceal carry all the time. I conceal carry a .45 1911 Kimber and a .40 Glock as a backup. Humans come in all shapes and sizes, so the personal method of conceal carry is according to individual needs, circumstances and situations. I do agree that open carry is a big mistake for every reason you can imagine! I use several different conceal carry holsters to match how I will be dressed and what I will be doing. I use a shoulder holster in the wintertime when wearing layers. I prefer the IWB holster for medium to hot weather. I use a ankle holster for my backup pistol. And I use a high riding open carry when in the field. When on the job, I use a lower ridding level 2 & 3 retention holster for my Glock .40 & .45. The point being, no one can tell another person what is the perfect holster and way to carry for the other person. You just have to try it all out until you find a method that suits your lifestyle, build, circumstance and situation.

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