How to properly conceal carry

How to Properly Conceal Carry a Handgun

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Mathew R Reed
July 2, 2022
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The Right to Carry a firearm away from home to protect yourself is a fundamental and morally conscientious right of every American. Violent crime hit an all-time high in 1991; since then, 25 states have adopted RTC laws, and over 16 million concealed carry permits have been issued. Violent crime has dropped to some of the lowest points in recent history.

Americans are ultimately the ones responsible for their safety.

The market for concealed carry firearms and all the gear that goes with it are growing fast. Since 2016 and the pandemic trend of self-protection, permits have soared over 48%, with 6.2 million first-time gun owners. The concealed carry industry has splintered into sub-sectors such as CC for Women, Concealment holsters, tactical ingenuity, etc. The industry recognition of concealed carry is only growing stronger. 

According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, there are currently over 17.3 million licenses for concealed carry. This number has more than doubled since 2010 and has exponentially risen since the beginning of 2019 and 2020. Women and minorities have been fueling this growth.

If you have yet to make a concealed carry purchase, consider the Sig P365 or H&K USP45.

  • Sig Sauer P365, Micro-Compact 9mm Luger. The P365 has changed the game in concealed carry weapons; it is considered the perfect on-person self-defense handgun. Completely smooth sides for easy pull-out, 10-round flush high capacity magazine, and Flush mounted FT Bulls-Eye Fiber Tritium Night Sites. Striker-fired, so no hammer and small barrel length of only 3.1 inches and weighs only 17 ounces.
  • Heckler and Kock USP 45 Compact LEM (law-enforcement modified) Pistol. The USP is a bit bigger than others on our list. However, this is the gun if you want the most knock-down power. Shooting ergonomics have been improved with trigger reach and grip circumference. A Lightweight polymer frame offers good reliability and shooting performance. The USP 45 takes after the larger tactical and law enforcement models.

How to Properly Conceal Carry a Handgun

Once an individual has decided to carry a weapon, their mindset must change. A measure of success for personal protection is not found in the handgun, holster, or how competent you are. The strength comes in the mindset. After a person has strapped on a holster and placed the handgun inside, they must be ready to act on any possible threat and survive a lethal confrontation in an instant.

Holsters and harnesses for concealment:

  • Inside the waistband
  • Outside the waistband
  • Belly band holster
  • Shoulder harness
  • Pouch carry
  • Ankle carry
  • Pocket carry

Here are a few tips if the handgun has yet to be purchased.

1) Most shooters consider barrel length as the definitive issue of concealability. If the handgun is worn inside the waistband IWB, the issue could be a non-starter because the holster is tucked into the pants. Barrel length outside the waistband or OWB may be an issue.

2) Handgun concealment is more dependent on width and grip length. Thinner guns protrude less and have minimal printing (press against the cover garment); the same can be said for longer magazines and grips.

  • Springfield Armory Hellcat Micro-Compact, 9mm Luger. The Hellcat is one of the smallest, large-caliber handguns on the market. It weighs 18 ounces; the overall length is slightly over 6 inches and is only 1 inch wide. The striker-fired Hellcat features a 3-inch barrel and 13-round magazine. The impressive adaptive grip texturing offers a smooth, positive grip when needed. Optics ready, choose a Red-Dot for the Hellcat to extend the functionality.
  • Glock G48 Compact 9mm. Glock is world-renowned for its reliability, and the G48 Is one of the best. It is slightly larger than other concealed carry weapons, but that would not be a problem with the right holster. The G48 is a light polymer frame, which would be great for all-day carry. 

Holsters and Clothing

Other than the firearm, holster selection will be an essential decision. Inside the waistband, holsters ride closer to the body, and the shooter’s pants cover the bottom of the handgun’s holster. Outside the waistband holsters conceal well if angled at the top and bottom to keep the grip and barrel closer to the body.

Before you find the perfect holster, there will be a lot of hits and misses. Consider these 3 things – how the holster covers the trigger and barrel, whether it is comfortable to carry, and whether it enhances a smooth draw and re-holster.

Overlooked aspects of a full-time concealed carry lifestyle are clothing. Most of the wardrobe you have today will not be compatible with handgun concealment.

  • Baggy shirts hide better than form-fitting.
  • Darker colors are better
  • Heavier clothing helps.
  • Small details include having patterned clothing rather than creased
  • Having a purpose built belt to eliminate holster sagging.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting t-shirts and similar garments.
  • Discreet carry clothing means wearing holster shirts, polos, or button-ups.
  • Choose a pant one size larger than usual with a relaxed fit.
  • Forget skinny jeans or narrow-leg pants if you are serious about a concealed carry weapon.

A shooter can completely avoid printing with the right clothing. 

Best and Worse CC positions

With the proliferation of concealed carry gear, shooters must decide the most comfortable position for a CC holster. OWB, outside the waistband, is the most popular and by far the most comfortable position. OWB keeps the holster hanging on a belt with no clothing between you and the gun. 

The downside to OWB is a lack of concealment, so you will need to dress around the OWB holster. If comfort is the primary goal, a loose-fitting shirt or sweater will do the trick for hiding the weapon. However, there may be a problem with windy or hot weather; practice around the house to see what works best. 

If your CC is dependent on specific situations, it may be wise to have several holsters and clothing setups handy.

Pocket Carry

Pocket carry holsters and setups have had lively debates over the years on how safe or dangerous they can be. Pocket carry positions CAN be very comfortable if done right. The debate comes when a shooter gets it wrong.

The issue for pocket carry is Negligent Discharge. PC holsters are usually no more than a cloth pouch holding the gun. The danger comes from a person fidgeting with the hammer and trigger or sitting down without fully securing the firearm. Most inexperienced shooters sit down with the pistol, and the trigger snags on a piece of clothing, and BANG.

Consider carefully where the most efficient and safest position to have a firearm is. 

Concealed Carry Positions

Where you carry the gun is another important consideration. Think about your daily routine as you go through each step of the buying process. Carrying on the hip at three or nine o’clock is the most usual location. Those are also the most challenging locations to conceal a weapon.

Consider forward of the hip or appendix location and behind the hip. Most experienced shooters prefer the forward positions because it offers better control, and the draw stroke is shortened. A forward location may be uncomfortable if the shooter is seated for extended periods. A smaller caliber handgun may do the trick for this location.

Concealed carry shoulder positions are for those shooters who want nothing to do with carrying a firearm around the waistband or ankle. Shoulder holsters require a bit more effort, which may scare off a few shooters. However, using this setup, a shooter can easily carry a much larger handgun.

Shoulder holsters of any size require more clothing layers, and there is no getting around this requirement. How much layering depends on the size of the gun. Shoulder holsters can be complex pieces of equipment fitted for a pistol or revolver and not for the casual shooter. They can be right or left-handed, with the gun in a vertical or horizontal position. In most cases, they are easily removed.

  • DeSantis New York Undercover Shoulder Holster. This classic design is a right-handed holster for the S&W Governor snub-nosed revolver. Crafted from top-grain leather, the DeSantis rig is molded to an exact fit of the S&W. The DeSantis Undercover allows for an easy draw in one fluid motion. 

A behind the hip carry may be the best concealment position. Consider the four or five o’clock positions if you are right-handed and a seven or eight o’clock for lefties. A handgun worn directly behind the hip tends to conform better to the body.

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  • Walther CCP M2 .380 ACP Pistol. There are plenty of features to this small wonder gun by Walther. The first is their Soft-coil, delayed blowback technology—a gas-piston system aids in cycling, resulting in a much friendlier slide action. A 3.54-inch barrel, 20-ounce weight, and 8 round capacity is the perfect size for concealed carry.

Final Word

A concealed carry lifestyle takes a serious commitment and should be studied closely. A serious shooter should not carry one day and then skip a day; it does not work like that. You are either in or out. 

Mathew R Reed

Mathew R Reed is a professional gun seller who runs a dedicated gun store in the suburbs of Oakland, CA. A hardcore hunting enthusiast since childhood, Reed has ample experience with guns and accessories. He is the founder of ArmorHoldings.com and creates some of the most helpful gun-buying guides and explainers. If not in the gun shop, you can find him on the nearest hiking trail or nearby hunting spot.