Tips and Tricks for Concealed Carry
Major Pandemic 10.17.16
You can go all old school with tactical pants and a jungle adventure vest for a cover garment, but to me this just screams to bad guys “shoot this guy first!” But if you want to fly below the radar and carry your piece comfortably, let me share some tips and tricks that I’ve gathered over the years.
The first thing to realize is that carrying a concealed firearm is not only a legal and personal decision, but it’s also a lifestyle and clothing decision. In order to properly carry a properly concealed firearm on your person, it is usually necessary to make accommodations and compromises in clothing.
For carrying a concealed firearm inside the waistband, most people jump up a pant size to make things more comfortable. And unless the firearm you are carrying is ultra-light, I strongly recommend a sturdy belt, preferably with a curved ergonomic cut. Using a belt with a curved cut such as those from 5.11 can give you more comfort, less chafing, and better weapon retention. A wider thicker belt will also help with a much more comfortable carry and better support of the pistol weight.
Unless you find a good “tuckable” holster such as Crossbreed Super Tuck holsters, I usually carry with my shirt untucked or with some type of sweater, jacket, or cover garment. If you are suffering from flashing your gun or butt crack every time you move your hands above shoulder height, then you may want to consider purchasing your same shirt size but in a “tall” version. This has worked great for me from t-shirts to sweaters to jackets. It gives me great coverage during a wide range of motion and does not make me look sloppy like a one-size-up garment would.
Another great option are shirts and garments from Duluth Trading Company. Their “anti-buttcrack” Longtail clothing is top quality, reasonably priced, and has a tall cover length in standard sizes and extra tall sizes if you order their “tall” sizes.
Cold weather also adds complexity to concealed carry and firearm access. If it is freezing cold and you are never really taking your jacket off, you may want to consider an OWB (On The Waistband) holster and just use the winter jacket as your cover garment.
Cold Weather Gloves
My biggest winter carry issue has not been weapon access, but gloves and firearm manipulation. Once you start shooting with thick cold weather gloves, you will never again own a defensive pistol with a safety on it. I have found that some gloves do not even permit functional use of a firearm, some will not allow full access inside the trigger guard, and worse I have actually had some bulky gloves block or jam a pistol slide.
Choose and test gloves at the range with the gun and the clothing you plan to wear when it’s cold, otherwise you may find that you may not be able to grasp or reliably operate the gun with gloves on. My favorite cold weather shooting gloves are Mechanix Wear gloves.
I wish there was one great solution for everyone, but that is not the case. The world’s best holster placed in a position the shooter cannot reach, or which horribly chafes you, is not a good solution.
You need to find the right solution for you. Everyone is different. Many variables impact how the user carries a firearm, which inevitably leads to variety of firearms being purchased along with a host of holsters to go with them. Many people just give up and slip a tiny 380 into a pocket or purse.
Where possible, I prefer to carry a full-sized pistol that offers me the best accuracy and high ammo capacity. At other times I may instead go with my Glock 19, my Glock 26, my Walther PPK or PPS, or for really hard-to-conceal situations, I may go with ClipDraw-equipped Kahr CM9, Ruger LCR, or even a Derringer from Bond Arms.
And when all of those carry methods fail, I know I can slip my Kahr CM9 or Ruger LCR into my front jeans pocket or the breast pocket of my coat. Different clothing situations require different carry options and potentially different sized firearms.
One of the older firearm holster ideas with a modern twist are stretchy hip-based offerings from Can Can Concealment. They offer elastic garter, hip hugger, sport belt, and even corset holsters, which can be a viable concealment option for woman who are challenged with the fit or comfort of typical holsters. I am told their hip concealment belts are great for females.
Flashbang bra holsters provide women another option to carry firearms. The concept may seem unusual, but a woman of ample endowment can carry a surprisingly large firearm nested underneath her bra. It can be a fast and effective carry method, which I’m told is also comfortable. And I’ve been told one that this this carry method offers ladies a lot of fashion choices unavailable with hip or waist carry.
Carrying in a Purse
Women, please consider carry options other than a purse. Purses are so often the targets of robbers, so it makes little sense to have a gun in the thing most likely stolen, but many ladies argue with me on this point.
If you choose to carry your firearm in a purse or pack, make sure the gun resides in its own compartment and is easily accessible without opening the entire purse or pack. If you have it in the main compartment, it will likely fall to the bottom and/or get mingled with a bunch of other things that will interfere with your draw.
Dedicated concealed carry holster purses can make your firearm easily accessible in a snap, but a purpose-designed purse is not required. Mrs Pandemic has a beautiful Dooney & Bourke purse that has an outside pocket that’s perfect for a firearm. In my mind this is not ideal, but it works for her when other carry solutions clash with her sense of style.
In the Bathroom
Hey, it’s a biological fact that we all need to go sit down for a moment or two, but flashing the firearm hanging off your downed pants is a no-no legally in most states. Some people will place the firearm inside their britches, in a pocket, or hang it on the back of the door. I usually hold the gun by the barrel or slide in my support hand, which allows use of my other hand for other needs, keeps the gun warm so I don’t get the big chill when I slip it back into my pants, and allows near-instant transition to my strong hand should I actually need the firearm.
Alternative Carry Option
I cannot say enough wonderful things about Clipdraw for a lightweight no-bulk IWB carry option. If you want to carry a gun and have a challenging dress style, you owe it to yourself to buy a ClipDraw clip. This clip mounts to the side of the firearm, allowing you to slip the gun inside of your pants with only the clip outside your waistband.
After a lot of experience with the ClipDraw, my personal preference is to not use the Glock version for Glocks and instead use the Universal model. It’s simple easy and works perfectly for many applications.
Trigger Guard holsters are gaining popularity. The gist of the idea is that a small piece of Kydex covers the trigger guard, and carry is permitted via a lanyard, which can be attached via many methods to purses, packs, or even belts for IWB carry. It’s a great minimalist concealed carry holster idea that many people love and that I am excited to test. Some people are using this tiny little trigger guard holster for around the home carry.
Pocket carry is also a viable carry option. Using a wallet holster or slipping a piece of cardboard in front of your gun breaks up the outline of the gun in the pocket to make it less detectable.
If you are carrying a firearm concealed on the strong side, start training yourself to reach for things (on store shelves, for instance) with your other hand. If you are right-handed that means start reaching for things with your left hand. A significant amount of shirt and cover movement will naturally occur on the reaching-hand side, which can lead to flashing part of your concealed firearm–a definite no-no.
If you have a proper cover garment, have faith that it will provide coverage and avoid continually tugging on your clothes. Continual coverage tugging tells everyone that you are carrying concealed, so stop it. Another telltale move CCW folks do is the constant weapons check “is my gun still there?” Stop it! It’s still there.