If you’re new to the world of concealed carry, you probably have tons of questions. Even if you have your sidearm picked out and you feel comfortable shooting it, you may still be wondering how to wear a concealed carry holster. There are also other things to consider, like how to carry your weapon discreetly and how to prevent your weapon from printing under your clothes.
In this article, we’ll address some of the most basic concerns about how to carry concealed.
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Your Concealed Carry Holster
Choosing the right holster is the first crucial step in successful concealed carry. If you opt for a holster that isn’t safe, practical, and comfortable, you’ve already set yourself up for failure.
Inside the Waistband (IWB) holsters are the most popular options for concealed carry because they generally meet the criteria for being safe and comfortable while providing easy accessibility to your weapon when you need it.
It’s a good idea to experiment with a few carry positions to figure out which will work best for you.
Hip Carry is one of the most popular positions for concealed carry. Also known as the three o’clock position, hip carry places your firearm within easy access of your dominant hand. This allows you to reach, grip, and draw your sidearm with minimal movement.
However, hip carry can be uncomfortable for some shooters. This is especially true for female shooters since women have more prominent hips.
Tucking your CCW inside your waistband so that it rests against your abdomen is often referred to as appendix carry (because the sidearm sits generally over your appendix). Appendix carry has a number of advantages, including better concealment and an easy, natural draw.
Many concealed carriers prefer appendix carry because it is more comfortable than having a heavy sidearm directly on the hip.
Behind the Back
Tucking a pistol into your pants waist at the small of your back is another popular concealed carry position. This position makes it impossible for anyone in front of you to notice your weapon. If you’re wearing a jacket, printing is practically impossible. Behind the back is definitely one of the most effective ways to conceal a larger handgun like a 1911.
The biggest drawback to carrying a firearm behind the back is accessibility. Drawing your sidearm from this position can take some practice and it can be nearly impossible to reach when you’re sitting, especially if you’re in a vehicle.
Attaching Your Holster
A quality IWB holster will attach to your pants or belt. Depending on the model, your holster may thread onto your belt or clip onto the waist of your pants.
Even if your holster has a clip, wearing a belt with your IWB is a good idea. It will help keep the weight of your weapon from weighing down your pants as you go about your day. Once you have the clip attached to the outside of your belt, you can tighten your belt to help keep your sidearm securely in place.
Depending on the size of your handgun, you may want to try going up a size in both your pants and your belt. You’ll be thankful for the extra space once you have a handgun and a holster tucked inside your waistband. However, too much room in your pants, and your handgun may shift around as you move. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it isn’t a secure method for carrying your sidearm.
Adjusting Your Holster
Once you’ve decided on the best carry position, you may need to make some adjustments to your holster. Most modern IWB holsters offer at least some adjustability. This allows you to customize the cant of your weapon so you can get a fast, easy, combat grip on your weapon from its place of concealment.
Many IWB holsters also allow you to adjust retention. When adjusting retention, you’ll need to find a balance that promotes a smooth, unhindered draw, yet provides enough security to keep your pistol from sliding out as you move, stretch, bend, and twist.
What to Wear
When you decide to conceal carry, your clothing choices can be just as important as your gun and holster choices. Here are a few tips for integrating your weapon and your wardrobe for effective and comfortable concealed carry.
- Consider fabric – Lightweight fabrics can be clingy, which can make weapon printing a serious concern. However, heavier fabrics (like suede, denim, and corduroy) can hinder your draw. The trick is to find a good balance.
- Choose patterns – Patterns work like camouflage while solid colors can make the bulk of your gun show through. Plaid, herringbone, and floral prints are smart choices for CCW. However, checks and stripes can be worse than solid colors because the regularity of the pattern can accentuate the outline of your sidearm.
- Wear an undershirt – A t-shirt or camisole worn between your body and your CCW not only reduces uncomfortable rubbing and pinching on your skin but also helps protect your firearm from sweat and corrosive body oils.
- Choose a sturdy belt – Few concealed carriers give enough thought to their belt. However, your belt does an awful lot of important work in concealed carry. The best belts for CCW are thick and slightly rigid. This will provide enough strength to hold up your pants, your weapon, and your holster without being uncomfortable. There are many belts designed specifically for supporting a holster. If you don’t want to go that route, a quality leather belt should do the trick. You’ll just need to make sure the belt is compatible with your holster.
Check out this video from Alien Gear Holsters for more info:
Regardless of what sidearm you choose, you’ll need to do some planning before you can conceal carry effectively and comfortably. The type of holster you choose, the position you carry it in, and the clothes you plan to wear over your handgun and holster are just as important.