The Stylish Man’s Guide to Concealed Carry

by Antonio on September 26, 2012 · 218 comments

in Dress & Grooming, Style

How to arrange good-looking clothing around the decidedly non-standard bulge of a handgun is a topic worth looking at. It’s something that a whole range of men need to think about: police detectives, security guards, entrepreneurs in dangerous countries, and even your average American civilian who prefers to be armed.

“Concealed carry” exists for a number of reasons. When you’re doing it, you want to be living up to both parts of the phrase: you want to be carrying, and have access to, a firearm, and you want it to be discreetly hidden until such time as you need it.

For some men, any jacket long enough to hide a holster is sufficient. But for most men, concealed carry needs to fit other societal expectations:

  • Most plainclothes peace officers will have specific dress needs — either a respectable suit or blazer to give them out-of-uniform authority, or in some cases a disguise to help them blend into their environment.
  • Security guards are almost always expected to dress professionally, as much for the comfort of their employer’s clients as anything else. Banks and government buildings need high security, but prefer a discreet man in a blazer as opposed to a uniformed, paramilitary-looking trooper looming over their customers.
  • An armed civilian gets less hassle if he doesn’t fit the stereotype of an armed threat. A trenchcoat and combat boots conceal a weapon, but it doesn’t really conceal the likelihood that you’ve got a gun under there. Bringing a little men’s style into the equation makes the “concealed” part of “concealed carry” a lot more effective. Plus, it’s the law in most states that if you’re carrying heat, you conceal it. Editor’s Note: If you’re a civilian, be sure to check with your local and state laws before you begin carrying a firearm. Most states require citizens who wish to carry a firearm to obtain a concealed carry license; there also may be restrictions on where you can carry your firearm.

There are many reasons to think about both concealed carry and style in the same picture. This article lays out the quickest and best steps to making your concealed carry experience both practical and stylish:

  • Step 1: Choose Your Weapon
  • Step 2: Choose Your Method of Carry
  • Step 3: Choose Your Outfit
  • Step 4: Talk to Your Tailor

So let’s take it step by step:

Step 1: Choose Your Weapon

Concealed carry means striking a balance between firepower, ammunition, and size. You inevitably end up making a sacrifice in one area or the other — it’s more a question of personal needs and tastes than it is a matter of which is the “best” weapon.

But for choosing a handgun, which is what most men will be carrying when they carry a firearm in public, here are a few factors worth thinking about:

Magazine Size and Shape

A single-stack magazine is always easier to conceal than a double-stack.

The most important dimension of a pistol for concealment purposes is the width — how fat the barrel and the grip are. That’s what’s going to make a bulge under your clothing, more than the length or even the weight of the gun.

As a result, it’s better to have a single-stack magazine of relatively low caliber, at least in terms of concealment purposes. If that’s just not going to meet your needs in terms of firepower or ammunition, you get a slightly thicker magazine and cope as best you can.

The disadvantage of a smaller grip/magazine (aside from limiting your shots) is that a powerful handgun with a small grip has a ton of kick. The shorter the grip, the less leverage you have, making aiming trickier (especially follow-up shots after the first). A heavier frame can help compensate for a smaller magazine, and won’t alter the concealment in most holster types (though it will create more of a sag if you’re carrying it in your pocket or by another non-holstered method).

Look for a balance that suits your needs, but from a concealment standpoint do be aware that a longer grip/magazine is harder to hide, and may end up poking you depending on your carry method.


This is one that some people have very strong feelings on. Some people will swear that you always want the maximum firepower you can carry; other people are comfortable with the idea that no bullet is a bullet anyone wants to take, and therefore even a tiny holdout pistol is plenty for self-defense.

You’ve got to make that call yourself. But the reality is, smaller caliber handguns are easier to conceal both because of the magazine size and the barrel width and length.

It’s not a universal scale — a .45 could be more concealable than a .38 depending on the shape and size of the grip and magazine — it’s just something you need to be thinking of as a firepower/concealability trade-off.

Exterior Construction

To use a very untechnical term, some guns are made with lots of “fiddly bits.”

You know what I’m talking about — everything from sighting notches to bulky safety catches to raised lettering on the barrel. Any of those is going to make the gun harder to conceal.

Weapons that are purpose-designed for concealed carry (and a number of manufacturers do have models specifically for the CC market) tend to be smooth-sided and streamlined. Look for designs with minimum “fiddly bits.” It’ll help both your concealment and your draw.

Barrel and Magazine Length

It’s a secondary consideration next to width, but the length of the pistol (in both directions) does matter. Extended magazines are hard to hide, and tend to poke you while you carry them.

Longer barrels give you range and accuracy, and longer magazines give you more shots without reloading, but the reality for most of us is that neither of those is a huge consideration. Unless you’re in an active military or paramilitary kind of situation, you — hopefully — won’t ever need more than a shot or two, even in the very worst-case scenario. Most of the time you won’t even need that.

So when possible, err on the side of a smaller weapon and magazine for the sake of concealability and comfort. It’s one of those trade-offs where you have to know your own needs, but don’t just default to the biggest magazine and longest barrel available for your handgun of choice.

Although easy to conceal, the mosquito gun is ineffective against anything larger than a squirrel.

So Which Gun is the Right One?

There’s no single right answer to that question. But, most men with concealed carry experience will recommend something along the same basic lines:

  • low to mid-caliber ammunition
  • single-stack magazine (or very slim-profiled revolver)
  • slim grip
  • short barrel
  • smooth exterior
  • light weight

Here are a few of the more popular models that get tossed around in discussions of concealed carry — this is by no means an exhaustive list, nor should any of these be taken as strong recommendations, but they’re good examples of the relatively broad range of options you have:

  • Glock Model 19
  • NAA .22 Magnum Mini-Revolver
  • Kahr PM9
  • Smith & Wesson M&P series
  • Walther PPS
  • Springfield XD

There are many more beyond these. But the important step here — and this is key — is to know which one you carry (or will be carrying) before you start planning your wardrobe around it, and especially before you have any tailor-made adjustments. You get the maximum benefit when you can have clothes tailored specifically for your gun and holster of choice.

Which brings us to our next step:

Step 2: Choose Your Method of Carry

Just like handguns, holsters come in every style imaginable. You might own one, or you might own a dozen. Depends on your needs. But for purposes of deciding what to wear and how to conceal your gun, you’ll want to know where you’re going to wear it, and in what kind of holster.

Regardless of your method of carry, one key piece of equipment is a very sturdy belt. This not only helps keep the gun in place and prevents your trousers from sagging, it’s also an important safety feature. You don’t want the holster shifting and you certainly don’t want the belt buckle popping open because of the extra weight or the jerk of your draw. Invest in something broad and made of sturdy leather or ballistic nylon. Most stores that sell holsters will also sell belts designed for them.

Paddle Holster, Hip Carry – OWB (Outside the Waistband)

  • Advantages: Simple, cheap, and quick to draw
  • Disadvantages: Bulky and hard to conceal

This is the most typical way for peace officers and soldiers to carry their primary handgun: a “paddle” style holster (basically the outline of the gun, with a flat “paddle” backing that rests against your body) worn at the belt line, with the pistol pointed down the thigh. The magazine points toward the rear of your body, and the grip is typically angled a bit forward.

The disadvantage for concealed carry should be obvious: it’s going to be very easy to accidentally reveal a gun that’s worn up by your front pockets. A long, loose jacket will do the trick, but as soon as you unbutton/unzip the front it only takes a stiff breeze to expose your holster.

It’s also hard to conceal the bulge if you wear a buttoned suit or sports jacket, even one tailored for the holster. You can pull it off with a small holster and a small gun, but expect to look pretty heavy around the hips when you do it.

Paddle Holster, Behind the Back – OWB (Outside the Waistband)

  • Advantages: Simple, cheap, and still fairly quick to draw
  • Disadvantages: Still bulky; still requires at least a jacket to conceal

An obvious solution to the hip-carry problem is to keep the same simple holster but move it to the small of your back.

This removes the problem of an unbuttoned jacket brushing back to expose the pistol. The whole back of your coat/jacket would have to flip up to reveal your firearm. It makes a suit or sports jacket much more effective concealment, especially if it’s cut a bit long in the rear. A little looseness also looks more natural on the back of your jacket than it does at the sides.

Drawing a pistol from behind your back is a bit slower than off the hip, but still not too cripplingly inconvenient. There is growing concern, however, that a gun in the small of your back can cause back injuries if you fall or are struck hard where the gun rests — many police departments mandate that nothing except soft items (gloves, CPR kits, etc.) be carried directly in the center of the back for this reason.

So while the simple paddle holster worn behind the back is an effective method of concealment, and still a favorite for a lot of concealed carriers, it comes with some safety cautions. And, of course, it requires you to sit down pretty gingerly, if at all.

Shoulder Holster

  • Advantages: Decent concealment, faster draw than behind the back
  • Disadvantages: Uncomfortable, easy to accidentally expose

The shoulder holster, which keeps the handgun tucked under your armpit and against your upper ribs, is a popular one with law enforcement (and one made famous by Hollywood and television cops). It’s a good choice for easy access, and only slightly slower to draw from than a holster on your hip.

Unfortunately, it’s also not that great for concealment. A suit jacket or blazer angles back toward the shoulder — you’ve usually only got a few inches between the butt of your pistol and the opening of your jacket. Unbuttoned, it’s very easy for the jacket to slide back far enough to reveal your weapon.

Typically, your draw with a shoulder holster also has to cross your body, with the barrel sweeping in almost a full semi-circle. They’re not allowed on many firing ranges for this reason — instructors and managers don’t want to risk other people being placed within the line of fire as you draw. It’s important to have very good trigger control and be careful with your safety when you’re drawing from a shoulder holster.

Due to the concealment drawbacks and need for trained habits, shoulder holsters tend to be best for people like plainclothes detectives and security guards who are being discreet, but don’t need to effectively disguise the fact that they’re carrying a weapon, and tend to have more firearms training than your average civilian.

Sheath Holster IWB (Inside-the-Waistband)

  • Advantages: Good concealment, doesn’t require a jacket
  • Disadvantages: Requires tailored trousers

IWB holsters (the most common name) carry the gun tucked into the trousers rather than worn outside them. They make special holsters for this, which are worth investing in. Whatever you may see on TV, don’t go tucking guns into your pants without a holster unless you absolutely have to. Most IWB holsters can be positioned anywhere on your back, allowing for basic behind-the-back carry or for something shifted to one hip or the other.

The advantage here is that you only have to hide the handle of the gun, rather than the whole thing. A smooth holster inside custom-widened trousers conceals most of the bulk for you. Just a loose T-shirt will do to hide an inside-the-waistband carry in a pinch.

The downside is that it’s an expensive and a fairly uncomfortable option. You need the tailored trousers, the specific holster, and the willingness to stand and sit with a gun barrel pointed down your rear end.

Pocket Carry

  • Advantages: Good concealment, flexible positioning
  • Disadvantage: Requires a small gun, concealment can vary; gun may shift

Pocket carry is what it sounds like — sticking a gun in your pocket. How effective the method is at concealment depends on how large your pockets are, how thick their lining is, and what style they are — big patch pockets with thick lining and a closing flap will hide a gun fairly effectively, while the back or hip pockets of your jeans will not.

The biggest disadvantage of carrying your gun in your pocket is that, unless you have an internal holder sewn into the pocket (which we recommend if you plan on pocket carrying regularly), the gun will shift around as you move. This can slow your draw, make the gun more likely to “print” (show its outline through the fabric), and even be a safety hazard.

If you wear a garment with large, easily-accessed pockets low on your midsection, you can position a gun for off-hand draw as well. A side-slit pocket near where your off-hand naturally falls is about as easy access as you’re going to get for emergency off-hand draw if your primary arm is incapacitated.

Many people prefer to use pocket carry for a back-up or holdout weapon, paired with another method of concealed carry for a primary weapon. If you do pocket carry, be sure that the gun is snug in the pocket, and have a tailor sew a holder into the interior if necessary. You don’t want your gun falling out, or to go to draw it and find it upside down and backwards in your pocket.

Ankle Holster

  • Advantages: Excellent concealment
  • Disadvantages: Very slow draw, limited to the smallest handguns

An ankle holster is a traditional holdout option for very small handguns. It requires nothing fancier than boot-cut jeans to conceal, and may even be missed by careless pat-downs. But it limits you to little more than a derringer (though some police carry sub-compacts, usually in specially-tailored trousers), and takes several seconds to draw from, making it a backup option rather than a primary method of carry for most men.

Holdout holsters can also be strapped to a forearm, inner thigh, or other unusual point for maximum concealment. Again, however, these are difficult to draw from and can only conceal the very smallest handguns out there.

Step 3: Choose Your Outfit

Once you know what gun you’re going to carry and where you’re going to carry it, you’re ready to plan an outfit that both conceals the weapon and looks sharp on you.

Different men have different sartorial needs, just as they have different firearm needs. The good news is, there’s a concealing outfit for every standard of dress from James Bond’s tuxedo all the way down to cargo pants and a T-shirt.

Business Concealed Carry

Suit-and-tie concealed carry is more common than you might think. Businessmen who travel frequently like to take personal protection along with them, and some politicians actively advertise their habit of carrying a weapon as a matter of principle as well as protection.

Can you spot the handgun’s print?

Happily for all of them, a business suit is a fairly effective method of concealment. It’s actually one of the better options out there, short of a full length coat. You can use pretty much every type of holster:

  • Paddle on the hip (with the jacket buttoned; jacket should be tailored for the bulge)
  • Paddle behind the back (a long jacket easily conceals the whole thing)
  • Inside the waistband (practically invisible under a jacket)
  • Shoulder/armband holster (concealed as long as the jacket’s buttoned)
  • Ankle holster

The biggest consideration for a man in a suit is usually whether he needs to be able to take the jacket off or wear it unbuttoned. An unbuttoned suit jacket can still conceal either kind of behind-the-back carry, and of course a holdout, but will probably reveal a holster on the hip or under the arm if the wearer moves much.

Men who need to be able to take their jacket off and still keep a weapon hidden should wear trousers tailored for inside-the-waistband carry and a shirt with a long, loose back that can be untucked or draped over the butt of the gun.

Three-piece suits are also popular with concealed carriers — the waistcoat can be cut deliberately long to hide an inside-the-waistband carry.

If you’re actually likely to be in any sort of combat situation, be sure to swap a clip-on tie with a breakaway clip for the hand-tied version. They’re not quite as nice-looking, but someone who’s working as a bodyguard or security officer doesn’t need to be offering a free chokehold to potential assailants.

Business-Casual Concealed Carry

A step down from the suit and tie look, business casual is the style preferred by most men who carry a handgun as part of their job — plainclothes cops, body guards, security guards, and so forth. A business casual outfit looks respectable and often includes a conveniently concealing jacket, making it all around useful for people in that sort of line.

Civilians should also take advantage of the blazer-and-slacks combination. It gives you plenty of places to conceal a weapon, and it has the added advantage of making you look well-dressed relative to the average guy on the street. People looking at you are going to be thinking, “Hey, he looks sharp,” not, “Hmm, I wonder if he’s carrying a gun.”

A sport coat or blazer jacket and long trousers of any kind offer basically the same concealment as a suit jacket. You also have the option of wearing either an unmatched “odd vest” or a longer sweater vest, either of which will hide the handle of a gun worn inside the waistband without the need for a jacket.

Dress-casual concealed carry can be made to look quite casual — think Dirty Harry, Miami Vice, or Steve McQueen in Bullitt, all of which feature shoulder-holstered policemen in jackets and sharp shirts.

Of course, if you’re planning on serious physical activity or movement, don’t expect a suit jacket or blazer to provide much concealment. But presumably at the point where you have to sprint, concealment is no longer the chief priority.

Casual Concealed Carry

If there’s no dress code to observe, you can wear almost anything that conceals a weapon. That said, don’t default straight to baggy jeans and an untucked T-shirt — it works, but it doesn’t do much to disguise the fact that you could be armed, and it’s neither as practical nor as attractive as some of your other options:

  • Concealment jackets – These are coats made by arms manufacturers (or affiliates) specifically for concealed carry. SIG makes one designed to look like your basic work jacket, similar to a Carhartt or Dickies, making it very unobtrusive almost anywhere in America. Concealment jackets have large internal pockets, usually Velcro-sealed, with loops or hooks for a handgun. They’re great for outdoors concealed carry, but get both uncomfortable and obviously out of place if you’re indoors for any length of time.

  • Leather jackets – A classic style and excellent concealment, opt for one that’s on the longer and looser side. Bomber-style jackets are perfect for concealed carry, since they have a padded lining that conceals bulges and a longer waist than moto-style jackets.
  • Denim or wool coats – Lightweight coats are comfortable most of the year and can conceal any style of holster except the paddle (longer coats will even cover that). Just be cautious of tight-fitted waists, typical on jean jackets, unless you know you’re going to be using a shoulder holster exclusively.

  • Safari/photographer’s vests – The thigh-length, multi-pocketed vest typical among journalists and photographers is an ideal concealed carry garment. It’s long enough to hide holsters at the waistband, thick enough to disguise bulges, and features plenty of pockets for ammunition or even a smaller holdout weapon. There’s a reason they’re popular with people traveling in rough countries — that said, they’re also the most recognizable “concealed carry” garments, and may draw attention from people looking for concealed weapons.
  • Casual shirts worn untucked – Just a plain white dress shirt is plenty of concealment if you’ve got an inside-the-waistband holster. Wear any sort of collared or uncollared shirt loose and untucked and you’ve got enough concealment to hide the grip of a handgun from casual observation. It’s a good option when you’re carrying in places where a jacket or blazer would be conspicuously overdressed. Remember the guayabera shirts we just wrote about?

  • Sweatshirts/hoodies – These are pretty much everywhere, and they add plenty of bulk around the waist that can hide even a large handgun. Just be aware that men over 30 wearing a hoodie look like they’re trying a little too hard. It’s good gun concealment, but it’s not magical urban camouflage that will make people think you’re from the streets if you’re not. To learn more about your options check out this classic AOM article on sweater styles for men.

Step 4: Talk to Your Tailor

Bizarrely, this is the step most men skip — even though the cost of alterations is usually less than the cost of a holster, and certainly less than a decent handgun.

Don’t skip it.

A single purpose-made garment is better concealment than any half-dozen layers of unaltered clothing. Tailors have their jobs for a reason.

The key here is to find a tailor who’s willing to work specifically on concealed carry issues. Always ask ahead of time — it’s very bad form to walk into a stranger’s shop and pull out a gun unannounced, even for demonstration purposes. Set up an appointment ahead of time and make it clear that you’ll be bringing a gun.

Some basic changes a tailor can make that go a long way in concealed carry include:

  • An extra layer of canvas and lining in the jacket increases stiffness, which reduces the “print” the gun makes through the outer fabric.
  • Extra length in the back (you can usually get away with up to an extra inch before it starts to look odd) helps keep a paddle holster concealed when you move or raise your arms.
  • Small armholes make the jacket rise less when you move your arms, making them good for paddle holsters. Large armholes, on the other hand, help hide a shoulder holster, and the hem of the jacket lifting doesn’t affect shoulder carry. Pick whichever you need for your holster.
  • Small pockets can be added inside the lining at the bottom front corners. You can slip a fishing weight or large coin into the pocket to help keep the jacket in place as you move, preventing any inadvertent holster-flashing.
  • If you’re planning on pocket-carrying, a small cloth sling or loop can be added inside the pocket to hold your pistol at the proper angle and keep it from sliding around.
  • Select a textured fabric to help break up lines, especially if you carry a bulkier gun. Herringbone, birdseye, and rough tweed all help reduce the visibility of the outline. Stay away from stripes, which emphasize any bulges.
  • A stiffened rod or strap can be sewn into the front edge of the jacket, making it easier to flip out of the way when you do draw but keeping it lightly weighted down at all other times.
  • Extra pockets can be added to any garment for spare ammunition. If you plan on carrying one specific type of magazine, bring an empty along and have the pocket made to fit it.
  • Get a tight-fitted shirt if you use a shoulder holster, to prevent the holster from tugging loose fabric into conspicuous wrinkles across the front of your body.

A good tailor will always take the measurement of the gun itself and of you wearing the gun. Be sure to have all components in place, especially if it makes a difference in size.

Once you have a jacket and trousers (or other garment) tailored for concealed carry, the rest is in your personal style and mannerisms. Carry yourself calmly and with confidence, and dress tastefully but blandly, and you should be able to slip past everyone’s notice without the possibility that you’re armed ever crossing their mind.

The worst thing a concealed carrier can do is fiddle with his clothing, especially where the gun is hidden, so keep your hands at your side and try to look bored. In the ideal concealed carry situation, no one knows you have a gun until you’re using it — and if you’re lucky, that means no one ever knows you have a gun.

Thank You

I would like to extend a big thank to the many law enforcement professionals, military men, and citizens whom I consulted with on this article.


Written by Antonio Centeno, Founder Real Men Real Style
Want to learn more about style? Watch my men’s style videos here. 

{ 218 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Seabiscuit September 26, 2012 at 10:08 pm

I have to disagree about the increased cost of IWB carry. A good holster can be had for $50-70 (for instance, Comp-Tac Infidel), and you can usually just buy your pants one size bigger to accommodate.

2 DERay September 26, 2012 at 10:15 pm

I would like to point up that often, the part of the firearm that “prints” the most distinctively is the grip. The suggestion of using a slim grip is good, but I would go further in saying that a person carrying a firearm would want to go with the smallest grip that they can comfortably hold- even if that firearm is otherwise larger. A slightly longer barrel and slide will not be as noticeable as a longer grip.

3 John September 26, 2012 at 10:16 pm

I’ve been carrying concealed for just over 2 years now. I started out carrying a small j frame revolver IWB in just jeans and a t shirt. It worked well but I wanted more than just 5 rounds and a reload from a speed strip. I then moved to a Glock 19 and extra magazine with jeans and a t shirt. This is actually thinner than my j frame. The grip was difficult to conceal but I wore baggier t shirts to fix that somewhat. I also switched to shorts in the summer instead of jeans all year long (5.11′s are great).

Just a few weeks ago I switched to jeans or shirts paired with a western style shirt (plad patterns with pearl snaps). These are light weight, look good untucked (for my style) and the snaps make for a smooth fast draw. I wish I’d worn these 2 years ago.

Long story short: for me, you can’t beat a Glock 19 IWB in a hybrid holster with magazine on the other side in jeans or cargo shirts with a tucked in t shirt and western-style shirt over the top. Patterns are what really make a gun disappear. Also, get a good belt!

4 John G. September 26, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Great article. I’d like to add a couple observations of my own.

Satin linings will climb up and expose your weapon.

An often unmentioned disadvantage of shoulder rigs. A right handed person carries on thier left side. When you reach across your left shoulder moves away. If you have short arms or are just slightly overweight you won’t be able to reach you weapon quickly.

I have found a 5 shot 38 in a IWB holster works best for me. In summer I wear a guayabera style shirt and in cooler months a classic light wool plaid shirt. Keep in mind light color shirts can be slightly transparrent. A problem compouded if you get wet.

Business casual is nice but doesn’t work in a more casual setting. Dress for your surroundings. A blazer in blue collar surroundings will be treated with suspicion.

5 Tim September 26, 2012 at 10:31 pm

I’d add a further suggestion to the IWB category, and that’s a tuckable IWB holster.
I actually have a good friend who makes some very nice tuckable IWB leather holsters, and even full-size handguns disappear nicely under a dress shirt.
Yes it does slow your draw time, but if concealment is your goal, 2 small clips on your beltline (especially if you wear a matching color belt) draw almost no attention.

6 Dan September 26, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Another type of holster I tried a few years back was the “Thunderwear” holster. Not terribly comfortable if you’re planning to do much sitting, but the only holster I’ve found that can conceal a gun while wearing gym shorts.

7 Mick556 September 26, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Awesome article! Very happy to see an AOM article on concealed carry, even if its just from a “style” angle. However I was surprised at the fact that the Glock 26/27 didn’t make the list.
Also of note, most IWB holsters don’t require altering your clothing. I have my Glock 27 in a Galco KingTuk and it works great for all my clothes, be it a suit or jeans.

8 IT September 26, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Wow… Being from Chicago, the idea of carrying a gun, let alone dressing for it, is totally foreign to me!

9 Jack September 26, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Outstanding article. Well done.
As a firearms instructor I am very impressed with your information. All of the options you provided were very good and viable. I would recommend against the use of the photographers vest. Unless you have camera gear hung on your person, it just screams concealment garment. Keep up the good work.

10 Walter September 26, 2012 at 10:41 pm

When picking your gun, you have to know what will work best for you. I’ve carried everything from a single stack 45 to a double stack 9mm without anyone being able to tell. (Normally I wear a loose shirt over my IWB holster.)

Pick a weapon that is easy for you to handle, many ranges have a rental case so you can try them out (from a firing/handling perspective) – and good one’s will even let you see if you can conceal. The one I visit near me has a large assortment of rental weapons and holsters both so you can find a good fit for you. Then you only need worry about the clothing to go with it.

11 Rolling Hills September 26, 2012 at 10:42 pm

I know it is not currently popular, but I firmly believe the cross-draw method is unfairly overlooked. It can be drawn with either hand, and is easy to access while sitting or standing. There are pros and cons of every carry method… Either way, the article was very enjoyable. Keep up the great work.

12 max September 26, 2012 at 10:46 pm

I either do a full size Glock IMB or a Kel-Tec PF9 in pocket. Both work with anything from cargo shorts to a suit. The pocket 9mm works with some athletic shorts and jacket pockets for a quick trip outside. It here the most use. A bonus is that most people would not expect it from the pocket.

Of course, I am a fairly big guy with big pockets. But it prints like a phone or wallet.

I also try to go untucked most of the time so that it does not raise suspicion when I am going IWB or OWB. The Ruger LCR is great for OWB.

13 Sharpie September 26, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Cue antis with “this is a manliness blog!! having a gun doesn’t make you manly!! WAHHH”

I just wanted to throw this link for the “slim/small grip” made by DERay

14 ankle September 26, 2012 at 11:04 pm

I consider “don’t go tucking guns into your pants without a holster unless you absolutely have to” bad advice. Don’t ever carry a gun without a holster, period. The holster is at least as important a safety mechanism as the actual safeties built into the gun. Notably, it keeps stuff out of the trigger and the guts of the weapon, but it also keeps the gun from shifting around. Even for pocket carry, use a holster. It doesn’t need to be sewn into the pocket; several holsters are available with various “sticky” materials that will cling effectively to the pocket to keep the gun in place. Off the top of my head I can think immediately of two news stories involving people carrying without holsters. One was football player Plaxico Burress, who shot himself when his gun slid out of his sweat pants’ waistband. Another was a teenage girl whose father had encouraged her to keep a gun in her purse. When she dropped the purse in a Wyoming Starbucks, the gun discharged. The recent accidental shooting of a Bremerton, Washington third grader appears to be from a gun carried unholstered, as well. I’m all for carrying a gun — I typically don’t even wash the dishes without one — but do it right, and keep your booger hook off the bang switch until it’s time to shoot.

15 Joe September 26, 2012 at 11:21 pm

First off, spend the money and buy a quality holster!! You get what you pay for.
Second have a couple of different holsters.
Third and most important PRACTICE with those holsters. Your weapon does NO good, if you aren’t used to the holster. If you reach for something that’s not there…
If you’re driving, you don’t want your weapon to be under your seat belt.
I carry a Lightweight Colt Commander. In my truck I carry it cross draw, in a kydex holster, on my hip.
When I wear a suit, I carry on my belt or small of my back.
Doesn’t matter what you carry as long as you can use it effectively.

16 Ben September 26, 2012 at 11:35 pm

As for IWB being expensive, I’ve never had any trouble concealing my 1911 with a holster I got off Cheaper Than Dirt for $20. That, and a loose shirt or jacket. Never had any discomfort issues, either.

17 Kyle September 26, 2012 at 11:47 pm

I like my belly band style holster I picked up from The girls modeling them are cheesy, but i love the holster. I wear slim fit polos most days and you can not see my Ruger LCP. Protect yo self, before you wreck yo self.

18 koolaidguzzler September 27, 2012 at 12:03 am

Pretty good piece.
Four most common errors by civilian beginning gun carriers:
1. too much gun
2. too much gun
3. too much gun.
4. not enough practice.

What it should be instead:
1. Make sure the gun is comfortable, convenient, secure.
2. Make sure the gun fits your lifestyle, not the other way around. Better a small gun you carry every day, than big gun you have to dress around and won’t carry frequently.
3. Dry fire, draw, re-holster, reload, 5 minutes per day for at least the first month. Better a little per day, then a lot per month.
4. Keep the holster OWB or IWB. Shoulders and ankles have their uses, but are for advanced carriers.
5. Let’s be real with ourselves — even cops who carry 24/7 for 20 years rarely shoot anyone. Unlike cops, civilians lack the duty to be tactically offensive, so their weapons choices can eliminate entire categories of handguns that operators would need to consider.
6. Therefore, start with short-barrelled 38 revolvers, and add options from there.

19 Sebastian Ramirez September 27, 2012 at 12:16 am

Shoot, wish I would have known you were going this article. My father and I have a company that makes concealed vest right here in Texas. Great article. In an own guy myself.

20 Collin September 27, 2012 at 12:33 am
Awesome, leather holsters.
I have a tuckable IWB from there (I live in Portland, so it was a convenient five minute drive) and my full-frame Taurus 1911 just disappears.
Generally speaking, I can take off my suit jacket, and just wearing my dress shirt, with the handle outside the shirt, it’s still really, really hard to notice.

21 Austin September 27, 2012 at 12:36 am

The necessity for a purpose built belt cannot be over emphasized. Check out Wilderness belts for a good concealed carry belt. Also hybrid type holsters like the Comp Tac offerings are the most comfortable and concealable holsters out there, well worth the money. Spending money up front to get good gear is worth it and will let you carry in relative comfort for a long time.

Remember: Carrying a gun is more comforting then comfortable.

22 John_234 September 27, 2012 at 12:37 am

While overall a good article and informative from the clothing perspective, I do have quite a few things to point out.

As far as pictures go – I would point out your “paddle holster” picture is actually a pancake holster with trailing slots.

A paddle holster is not simply a shape – the “paddle” is part of the retaining mechanism. The simplest way to describe a paddle holster – the gun goes outside the waistband, with a “paddle” that tucks inside your belt and/or waistband. This has more bulk than comparable belt loop or slot systems, with the advantage of being easy to take off and put on. So it’s actually a pretty bad idea for a concealed carry gun where low bulk is the ideal, just IMHO.

The section about the IWB holster is worded in such a way it implies most IWBs are on the back. From my understanding, most are actually on the strong-side hip. I’m also curious why a well-designed IWB holster would need tailored pants? Most people I know simply wear pants a belt size larger, or loosen their belts a bit if they’re lucky.

I understand the article is working with the intent of being an easy read, but the part about picking a handgun isn’t that great.

The part about gun width is very misleading. A J-frame S&W is thicker than a Government Model 1911 at its widest… but it’s also rounded, with organic curves and a short grip that doesn’t print in your shirt.

That’s the biggest concern, just IMHO. You can have a thin 1911 pistol, but with its sharp lower corner and relatively tall grip, if you bend over you’ll get a picture-perfect printing of a handgun on your side. So its not grip thickness – it’s grip, period. Its length, width, shape and such. You have “bobtail” 1911s which have a very smooth corner so they don’t snag.

Barrel length and sight radius make a big difference in recoil and effectiveness, but is comparatively not as hard to conceal, so designs with full-length uppers and compact lowers are getting pretty common. You see plenty of Glock 17s with shortened frames. More compact frame for less snagging, longer barrel and slide for less recoil and better shooting.

The second most important concern is action and safeties. Do you want a single action with thumb safeties? No safeties at all? A revolver? There’s levels of complexity to every design.

This is why the most important factor in buying a defensive handgun, is trying it out. See it in the store, fire it. Borrow a friend’s and wear it around the house if you want to.

Caliber, needed more attention, really. A small caliber in a small gun, might have much more recoil than a moderate caliber in a moderately-sized gun. And while caliber is largely preference, there should have been the advice of going for common calibers that are not overly expensive, and moreover defining with a “low-to-mid” caliber actually is!

9mm is a medium caliber that is the international standard. It’s nasty out of a small pistol. But most small calibers that aren’t .22 LR are also very expensive. .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .380 ACP are all pretty expensive, and recoil hard in their given guns. Then you have to consider revolvers, which have a completely different range of cartridges which tend to cost more. Not only that, but law enforcement organizations, training school and the government all agree that the .380 / 9mm range is the minimum that makes sense for self defense. You *can* get by with less but you need to try out the standard before you decide you need more or less.

As far as magazines go, thin is fine, but capacity is also important. Getting into a shooting incident is already an unlikely occurrence. Assuming you’ll simply be lucky and not have to fire many times doesn’t make much sense. I’m not the only one who thinks this. Why do you think Glocks are so popular? They have giant magazines. The Glock 26 is the same size as a S&W J frame and holds twice the ammo! If you don’t *need* to make a sacrifice to hold more rounds, then why go with the design that carries less ammo? The beauty of modern polymer pistols mean that you can carry a double stack mag in a size that was typical of older single stacks.

Crucial things like magazines and flashlights. I would never carry any firearm concealed without at least one reload. It’s not so much running out of ammo as much it is having a malfunction caused by the magazine. A spare is always preferable. That’s why carrying two handguns is such a strong option, too.

I’m sorry if I come off as overly critical. Entire books have been written on concealed carry. It’s an incredibly complex topic.

23 Allan September 27, 2012 at 12:39 am

For shirts that need to be tucked look into tuck-able IWB. One of the most popular is CrossBreed Holsters. The downside here is the metal clips that attach to the belt can be noticeable. There are different styles but all could be noticeable upon close inspection.

I will also offer the advice that carrying a firearm in a waistband under virtually any circumstance is not a good idea. Even the most basic IWB holster will be better than this option.

The only remotely plausible situation would be if there was some kind of widespread emergency and you could only get access to a firearm without a holster. Even then I would not carry a chambered round in a semi-auto requiring racking the slide or remove a cartridge from a DA or DA/SA revolver so that two pulls of the trigger would be needed for the first shot. I’m betting the chances of needing to do this are approaching somewhere very close to zero.

24 okrahead September 27, 2012 at 1:01 am

A few random thoughts here from someone who’s been carrying concealed for over a decade…
1) Hawaiian shirts. Yes, I have a closet full of them. With a great big Hawaiian shirt you can carry all sorts of things concealed, and while people may question your fashion taste, no one thinks “gunslinger.”
2) S&W mod 642 (concealed hammer) in an Uncle Mike’s holster works PERFECTLY in the front pocket of any decent pair of jeans. Just make sure you don’t buy any Nancy-boy jeans with itty-bitty pockets.
3) Kel-tec p3at fits PERFECTLY inside the front, inside pocket of a suit coat, once again with an Uncle Mike’s holster.
4) IWB? Think “adjustable” waistband slacks (aka fat boy pants). Works well with Hawaiian shirts, as noted above, even with a Kahr pm 45 .45acp. One caveat, however…. be aware that when you draw your pistol, your waistline shrinks by one inch, and you may very literally find yourself with your pants down if you’re not careful.

25 alexander September 27, 2012 at 2:10 am

A glaring category that this article overlooks is deep carry. i, personally, carry a Charter Arms hammerless Bulldog .38 Special, in deep carry (for the uninitiated, that means a crotch holster), and i am highly confident that it would pass nearly every pat-down. If it prints at all, ,which it doesn’t, unless you have a full-size gun, it merely looks like you are… gifted. While wearing mine, my wife (who doesn’t like guns) grabbed me down there during a private moment. She did not realize that i was carrying my steel weapon. Draw time is comparable with shoulder holsters. i use a Smart Carry brand holster. Cost was about $50. i find it to be far more comfortable than any other carry method. i can run, bike, sit on a motorcycle, even wrestle a friend, without discomfort or a concern that the weapon will become dislodged.

26 Robby September 27, 2012 at 2:35 am

I know this may be a bit technical, but seeing a .22 Magnum on the list of suggestions is just not appropriate. Here are some thoughts by the well known and respected DocGKR.

As a general rule, handgun calibers are not reliable for incapacitation. With all of the carry methods available, carrying a gun smaller than 9mm parabellum would be setting up for failure.

Another item worth mentioning is training. People should be reminded to train with their carry method. A good idea would be competing in IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association).

The general idea being scenarios that revolve around the use of the gun drawn from concealed carry.

27 Carl September 27, 2012 at 2:50 am

Wow, great article, very well written and come completely out of the blue. Great to get the info out there, esp being such a controversial topic to the average person. Bet more people will think about others being armed that they would not have thought of otherwise. I like how the info was put out there without getting into the topics that most get derailed on such as the 9mm vs .45 debate.

28 Zeke September 27, 2012 at 4:53 am

Big fan of having custom fit kydex holsters made for your own specific gun. That way any exterior modifications you made are taken into account. IWB small of the back at a slight angle sits well for my slim build. I can Carry a full size relatively easily even with a t-shirt in this setup. That said it does poke and show some so that is why I also own a Walther PPK. Ankle holsters are good alternatives for days that you need to go a bit more business casual.

29 The Dutch Dastard September 27, 2012 at 4:55 am

@Ankle: I very literally laughed out loud at the ‘keep your booger hook off the bang switch’. I’ve got to remember that!

30 Jacob September 27, 2012 at 5:32 am

I have been carrying concealed for almost 8 years, both as a private citizen as well as a law enforcement officer, and I have to say that it’s nice to see a lengthy, well put together article about concealed carry. It goes a lot deeper for me, because part of being a man is the ability to protect your family and loved ones with something more than social ideals, and “an armed society is a polite society.” Mostly.

On patrol I carry a Glock 22 with TLR-1 light, and a Glock 27 attached to my body armor under my uniform shirt. For a long time I carried my Springfield XD .45 ACP or my Glock 22 off duty, but after a few Summers of wearing hoodies, I picked up my Glock 27. Haven’t looked back.

One thing that people don’t consider about concealed carry is their training. I carry off-duty at 3 o’clock on my waist, because at work that’s where I draw from based on muscle memory. The side is also the place that a shirt generally hangs over the loosest, which helps the concealment. I’ve recently begun ankle carrying off duty or in crowds…you haven’t had an “Oh shit” moment until you’re in a crowded place and you feel something pressing up against your firearm. Not a good feeling.

31 SkydiveGuy September 27, 2012 at 6:03 am

My daily carry is a Sig P238 (.380) in a Crossbreed Mini-tuck IWB holster.
I easily carry it concealed in my normal pants (no need to go a size larger) and the holster allows you to tuck your shirt in around the holster.
Nothing looks out of the ordinary and no one knows that I am even carrying a gun because you cant see it at all.

32 Rebecca September 27, 2012 at 6:28 am

There do seem to be a growing number of pocket holsters on the market now, to help address the problems associated with keeping a gun there.

33 Chris September 27, 2012 at 6:45 am

Pocket carry is a bad idea… unless you have a pocket holster. Have one from
I carry a .38 in one. No printing. No movement in pocket.

34 Ben September 27, 2012 at 7:18 am

Carry a full-size Beretta PX4 .40 daily in a tuckable IWB Comp-tac Minotaur Very comfortable, although I’ve had to move up a pants size… I might have had to do that anyway. :P My standard dress are cargos and a polo, the only thing you need to watch out for is if you’re reaching way above your head and your shirt pulls up.

35 Mike September 27, 2012 at 7:29 am

Shoulder holsters have another significant disadvantage: It’s very easy to sweep your own left bicep (assuming a right-handed draw). There is a method of drawing to avoid this, but most people don’t seem to know it.

36 Ara Bedrossian September 27, 2012 at 7:46 am

I’ll keep this in mind for the future when I am fearful for my safety and need a gun. But I hope that day never comes.

37 Jeff Kelly September 27, 2012 at 8:05 am

I dont have a problem when it gets a little cooler jackets, sweaters and layers make it easier to conceal. The problem is the summer here in Texas, got to wear mostly untucked polos whis looks kind of terrible.

38 chefjon September 27, 2012 at 8:06 am

I don’t think it’s responsible to bring up “small-of-back” carry without listing the risks involved. If you’re knocked (or stumble) backwards and fall, that gun can do serious damage to your tailbone and spine.

I also find most of this article to be too general in nature. Maybe if it was broken into 4 in-depth parts, it would be better. The only part that offered really useful information was ‘Step 4′. The others were an example to me of “Knowing just enough to be dangerous”. Advocating a .22lr for concealed carry, unless it’s the ONLY option one has is also irresponsible in my book.

Carrying a gun is as serious a business as it gets. You can’t gloss-over all the points in one ill-informed article. To any who read this: Seek professional advice and TRAINING before embarking on this endeavor. It will save you time, money and ,most importantly, your life.

39 michael September 27, 2012 at 8:11 am

glock 22 in a fobus under a hawaiian shirt for nearly two decades.

40 Steven September 27, 2012 at 8:19 am

“Plus, it’s the law in most states that if you’re carrying heat, you conceal it.” This is not necessarily true. There are a lot of states that allow the open carry of firearms, but a lot of people don’t know about it or are given false information by LE that are misinformed. In some states the laws for open carry give the carrier much more freedom for when and where such as NC. In NC it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to OC than to CC because you don’t need a permit to OC. I OC everywhere I can because I don’t have a CC yet, though I will be getting one soon. I encourage you to look up the laws in your state about open carry. You can find a lot of information here:

I really appreciate this article, though. Since I am going to get my CC soon I have been curious about the best ways to conceal and this was very informative. Thanks!

41 Russell September 27, 2012 at 8:27 am

Another thing worth mentioning is that “stciky” grip materials like the rubberized ones will often cause clothes to cling to them causing unwanted printing and even “climb” off the weapon exposing it. For this reason I prefer something with grips of hard plastic, wood, or other similar material.

42 Bryce September 27, 2012 at 8:30 am

A question: What are some good ways to handle the issue of extra ammo (extra speedloaders for revolvers and magazines for autoloaders?)

I’ve seen concealment holsters that have things like holsters/pouches/compartments for extra ammo, and others that don’t.

While you may never fire more than one or two rounds, in other cases, you may need all you can get.

Any thoughts on how to keep that extra ammo both well-hidden and easily accessible? Thanks!

43 KR September 27, 2012 at 8:38 am

Your definition of the term “paddle” is incorrect. What you call a “paddle” holster is actually a “pancake” holster, or at least that’s the term that’s been used in the holster business for the past 50 years. A paddle holster is one that does not have belt clips, but has a big flap (aka a paddle) that goes inside the pants. There are no IWB “paddle” holsters because you can’t put the paddle and the holster inside the pants. To see an example of what a paddle holster is, and the difference between it and a standard holster that uses belt clips, compare the Comp-Tac “paddle” holster to their CTAC IWB holster.

The rest of the article is good advice, however you leave out belt holster appendix carry (increasingly popular, offers many advantages for those with the body shape to make it work) and special “concealed carry” pants with oversized pockets and hidden compartments such as made by CCW Breakways, 5.11 Tactical, and American Tactical.

44 Dave September 27, 2012 at 8:45 am

Not true what you said about in-waistband holsters. I carry a PT709 in a Crossbreed SuperTuck holster. Fits inside my waistband, on my back or on my hip, in any kind of pants. Suit pants, jeans, shorts etc. Very comfortable once you get use to it… and you can tuck your shirt over it.,ProductName

45 Todd September 27, 2012 at 8:57 am

Great article. I daily carry a Walther PPS 9mm and it conceals beautifully under everything from dress clothes to shorts and a t-shirt. I found that while wearing a suit and having a starched shirt on while wearing IWB with smooth leather the pistol sags a little over time. To remedy I ordered a Crossbreed Supertuck for the Walther PPS and one for my Glock 19 in horsehide with a rough sueded back. It grips the shirt and my skin very nicely and the propensity to shift around is reduced by about 95%. The retention on the Crossbreed design is excellent and they are so comfortable that you forget you have it on.

46 Julenburg September 27, 2012 at 9:12 am

Sharpie seems to suffer from paranoia and a persecution complex.

BTT: surprised about the inclusion of a .22, I’d really not go below 9×18 or .380, too many stories about the ineffectiveness of .22.

47 Chad Nabors September 27, 2012 at 9:13 am

Good to see the occasional article like this on AoM. It is my hope that a few guys who read the article could glean a few useful considerations about daily carry from it, or perhaps decide to make the jump to every day carry.

I will echo the sentiments of some of the other posters: To anyone considering making the lifestyle change to one of an armed citizen, bravo to ya’. Now go get professional, reputable training. It will end up being inexpensive life insurance. Be safe out there.

48 Jim K. September 27, 2012 at 9:18 am

Another great argument for wearing a kilt. You could easily conceal several kinds of weapons in a thigh holster and carry a flash-bang in your sporran to boot. And of course there’s always the dagger sticking out of your sock …

49 dannyb278 September 27, 2012 at 9:19 am

A .22 not enough? You ever been shot with a .22 before? .22 is perfectly capable round. we used to kill cows with .22 all day long.

50 Jason September 27, 2012 at 9:23 am

You neglected “Off-body” carry. I have a “day planner” that I carry my Kel-Tec .40 cal. Advantage: It will not be exposed, and there are no comfort issues. Disadvantage: You could forget about it and leave it somewhere. I solved that problem by always attaching my car keys to it.

51 Joe September 27, 2012 at 9:31 am

+1 for the Crossbreed holsters. One more thing to think about regarding the behind the back carry method, is if you get tackeld and someone is on top of you, it will be very difficult to reach back and access your weapon.

52 David September 27, 2012 at 9:34 am

This is a great, thorough article. But I just wanted to point out that this part, “Plus, it’s the law in most states that if you’re carrying heat, you conceal it,” isn’t true at all.

Of the 49 states that have some form of licensed handgun carry (45 if you don’t want to count MD, HI, NJ, and IL), only six of them require conceal carry. The rest either have no open carry restrictions, or the handgun license/permit is for both.

But you were right to instruct readers to do their own research on carry laws. The differences from state to state can be very confusing. I highly recommend

53 Spade September 27, 2012 at 9:39 am

“Disadvantages: Requires tailored trousers”

Not really. I typically carry either a Beretta 92FS or a Sig P225 in a Comp-tac CTAC IWB. I just buy my pants one size bigger in the waist and it’s good to go.

54 JohnM September 27, 2012 at 9:40 am

first off, excellent article. you hit on the major points and summed up the practical side of things nicely.

I had a few points of disagreement, most of which have been addressed in other comments.
one, however, has not. it is the recommendation of a bomber-type jacket. yes, it does have the plusses you mentioned but with a _very_ significant negative: the gathered waistline will hang on the grip of you firearm when you bend over. when you bend at the waist, any jacket will ride up slightly. a jacket with an elastic/gathered waistline will want to hang and leave your firearm exposed. a better jacket choice is one with a lower waistline, with no gathering. it rides up when you bend, then comes back down easily when you stand back up. no problems.

thanks again for the article.

55 Red September 27, 2012 at 9:57 am

In most countries here in Europe you require a special permit to do anything like what is described in this article. Otherwise you’d get arrested for carrying a weapon (let alone concealing it), which I frankly think is a good thing.

56 Moeregaard September 27, 2012 at 10:07 am

For warm weather, my late-night “dog-walking” choice is a Beretta 21 in .22LR. I know, it’s only a .22, but since CCWs in southern California are as rare as rocking-horse sh**, discretion is paramount. It tucks away nicely and I’ve never had anyone suspect I was carrying. For cooler weather, my 3″ Taurus 85 in .38 Special hides nicely in my jacket. I see carrying anything as a means to buy time getting away from a potential threat, rather than getting into a gunfight, so caliber is of secondary importance. In my area, we’re more likely to encounter rabid skunks and coyotes than two-legged problems. As they say, “the most effective weapon is the one in your hand.” I should also add that this post is purely theoretical, since I would never carry illegally….

57 Dave September 27, 2012 at 10:26 am

I use a Versacarry holster ($20 bucks or so) and can conceal almost any size handgun effectively with my suits without a tailor needed. I carry a H&K p7M8 (9mm) in it and a Boberg Xr9S (9mm) in an Alabama Holster Co. pocket holster made from Kydex. Depending on my assignments I will also carry either in a Ken Null SMZ holster which conceal better than any other shoulder rig I have used.

58 Erik September 27, 2012 at 10:42 am

I don’t usually do this but I want to make a little plug here for the S&W M&P shield in 9mm. I wear it in the summer with an IWB with plain cargo shorts and one t-shirt and it is completely concealed. I’ve tried subcompact models before and this gun is by far the best. Big combat sights and a single action like trigger instead of one of those ones with a hard pull make it extremely accurate. 8+1 first mag and 7 in the second mag also makes this gun pretty reliable in the ammo department. Just my two cents.

59 Daniel Murrey September 27, 2012 at 11:03 am

Great article on concealed carry. Currently in the application process for my license and was needing this article pretty badly. I carry IWB and got my holster (custom made for me, leather selection, thread selection, style, hand made) for $75 from . They make excellent holsters for anyone looking. I definitely need to look into adjusting my wardrobe some. Most of my t-shirts are too tight to even conceal and IWB holstered gun. Being in Texas this is quite the problem since it is too hot to conceal the majority of these methods in the summer time.

60 Gerald September 27, 2012 at 11:20 am

For an article about concealed carry written by someone who’s not a gunnie, I’d say you did a yeoman’s job. +1 on the comments about appendix carry, pocket holsters, and avoiding small of back. Since this seemed to be a ‘fashion’ article on the surface, I was surprised by the lack of discussion about belts. A purpose-built belt is important, often they’re reinforced with kydex or some other stiffener. That’s one area where I’ve not seen much discussion. Gun, caliber, holsters are all talked to death in about a thousand other internet forums. Belts, not so much.

61 BenL September 27, 2012 at 11:22 am

First off, I applaud you AOM for not tip-toeing around here and addressing an important issue. You are on the right side of the fence.

Second, great article. I will reiterate the importance of familiarity with your weapon, and plenty of practice and training.

As others have mentioned, pocket carry is only recommended when used with a pocket holster…lots of manufacturers make them that are very low profile but protect the trigger area, as well as keeping the weapon properly positioned in your pocket. I carry a Ruger LCP .380 in a DeSantis Nemesis.

Also, I will second the recommendation of Kydex/Leather IWB Hybrid Holsters, like the Crossbreed/Comp-Tac. I personally use a Kholster with my 9mm Springfield XD…which goes by the same principle but is very customizable, great quality, and more affordable than the aforementioned. I can personally attest to great service from them as well.

Once again, thanks for this article, folks.

62 Mike September 27, 2012 at 11:26 am

Good article. One possible issue with IWB carry> After more than 20 years of carrying IWB on my hip, I developed a tingling sensation down my right leg. A little research showed that this is fairly common and is the result of the weapon pressing against a nerve. I switched to a paddle with an untucked shirt and the problem went away after a week or so.

63 Kyle September 27, 2012 at 11:33 am

I also agree that IWB carry is not expensive. I carry a S&W 442 IWB and paid <$18 for my Blackhawk holster.

64 ctd September 27, 2012 at 11:43 am

Woolrich has a complete line of fashionable clothing designed for concealed carry. Search for “Woolrich Elite”.

65 Chris September 27, 2012 at 11:52 am

Good article. I carry daily and have for a few years. I use both OWB or IWB holsters to carry a fullsized Springfield professional in 45ACP. Normally I carry in the 8oclock position (I’m left handed) with a bowler style shirt as a cover. Does a great job and doesn’t print and since I am in south Texas it is normal to see someone wearing shirts like this, so it is not out of place. If I am dressing up a bit more I switch to an officers model 45 and use the IWB. I use this if dressing down in really hot weather with an untucked T-shirt.

66 D M September 27, 2012 at 11:53 am

“and tend to have more firearms training than your average civilian.”

Don’t get it twisted, unless someone is active duty military, they’re a civilian.

67 David Nystrom September 27, 2012 at 12:07 pm

An excellent article, which of course only touched on the topic. A great site and organization check…

I believe many people would really be surprised how many common people throughout the day, you meet and never know they are carrying (where it is legal to do so). So this article is very timely indeed!

68 David Nystrom September 27, 2012 at 12:17 pm

One additional thought to my previous post, since this is the AOM website. Carrying a firearm does not make you manly. Following the law, being well trained, continued practice to keep your firearm skills sharp and keeping your weapon for protection and not for show (hence concealed carry), now that’s manly.

69 Branden September 27, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I live in the Southwest, and manage a company branch office. Most of my daily attire could be called “Western business casual”, consisting of button down shirts, tucked into jeans.

I carried a Detonics Combatmaster in a Crossbreed Supertuck for a few years. Just buy shirts with extra long tails and pants one size bigger. Tuck in the shirt, then pull it up to give it a bloused effect. Gun disappears. A full-sized 1911A1 also fits this holster, and is easily concealable.

The only complaint I have about the Crossbreed and most IWB holsters is the drag on the belt. Recently I was shown/led/discovered the Remora clipless IWB holsters ( ) .

These holsters use a rubberized material that is held in place between your pants and body by friction. They also have a model that enables you to tuck your shirt in and wear it bloused. I’ve been carrying a full-sized Springfield XD45 in this holster, and recently acquired a tuckable double magazine holder for wear on the off side. That gives me 13+1 and two 13 rd. reloads on my person. Considering my office is in a gang-infested part of town, and I am often working alone into the late evening and often arrive in the dark of the morning, this set up allows me a bit more security.

70 Tim Lebsack September 27, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Excellent article. Looking forward to ‘The Stylish Man’s Guide to Open Carry’.

71 Claude September 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I own a couple firearms, and concealed carry is now legal in my state, but I don’t think I’d ever do it.

However, I find it very comforting to know there are so many responsible and knowledgeable citizens that do. I hope one of you is nearby if Im ever in a situation causing me to regret my decision not to carry.

72 James Johnson September 27, 2012 at 1:24 pm

One thing that no one’s mentioned is Appendix Inside the Waistband (AIWB).

I’ve found that the draw is faster, it’s easier to conceal, and there’s a lot more leeway with waistband size since the gun fits into that slack spot just in front of your hip bone.

You just have to make sure that your trigger discipline is squared away. The gun is pointed at some pretty sensitive stuff. Putting your finger on the trigger too early could cause SERIOUS problems.

73 Basil Moss September 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Ah, you Americans and your love of guns. Always good for a laugh. This side of the pond the only person who has any business concealing a firearm is a poacher, or a drug dealer. Neither of whom are known for snappy dressing – poachers favour broken tweeds, while drug dealers prefer the most ostentatiously expensive clothes their line of business can allow.

74 Jess September 27, 2012 at 3:21 pm

What a disappointment I feel in reading this article, here, on my favorite Educational WebSite.
I believe there is no place for guns in a peaceful world, and I believe AoM to be a good place to teach us how to become better human beings.
When will we learn?
Walking around in fear of our fellow human beings, with enough arrogance and ignorance to justify us holding a weapon – this cannot bring love, or peace to our land.
This is not the Art of Manliness, it is the art of fear and arrogance.
Fear of Violence will only breed more violence.
Let us be honest: weapons are built to destroy life, and who are We to give Ourself permission to hold such power and responsibility?
We can get all the professional training and still end up killing someone. That someone is as good as us, whether we like it or not.
If We really think our land is so unsafe, then it is our duty to change it with education, trust and love, leading by example, teaching better ways to our children, every day. Taking responsibility for our own actions; the love, care and protection of All Human Life. That is the Art of Manliness, and it cannot be done with a concealed gun in fear of being attacked.
One last note worth remembering:
“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you”.
Friedrich Nietzsche

75 ankle September 27, 2012 at 3:52 pm

@The Dutch Dastard: I can’t claim that booger hook comment started with me; it’s a fairly common term around some of the gun blogs I frequent.

I’m interested in the spate of anti-gunner comments showing up recently. I don’t carry a gun because I’m afraid of something. I don’t peer, trembling, around corners and jump at my shadow. But I also accept that sometimes bad things happen, and I’m willing to carry a gun (which can be quite an inconvenience) so that if something bad does happen, I can respond with more than just a stern look or a plea for “trust and love”. Jess asks who we are to give ourselves permission to destroy a life; I say, if you present an immediate threat of serious injury or death to me or my family, I choose to claim power to defend myself. I will not shoot someone without cause, or in cold blood, or when the police and due process of law could handle the situation; if I ever kill someone, it will be to defend myself or those I love from immediate threat when there is no other recourse. Those of us that carry weapons don’t want to be vigilantes; we just don’t want to be victims. Who are you to claim from your ivory tower that the rest of us have no right to defend ourselves if something bad happens?

76 Eli Leonard September 27, 2012 at 3:59 pm

As a instructor in concealed carry, I see a lot of guns. I can say from experience that the Kel-Tec .380 is an excellent choice for a small, reliable weapon.

77 Trent September 27, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I am amazed that people actually carry on a day to day basis, and think about how to dress to hide it, and want to have extra magazines. Sure it’s manly, but I am still shocked.

78 JD September 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm

A lot of people worry about concealing an IWB holster while wearing tighter fitting clothing, especially on a smaller framed person. I was worried about it too when I decided to carry. I can assure you that at 145 lbs, 5’8, wearing form fitting clothing, I have no problems concealing even a G19 sized handgun. I never had to sacrifice clothing preferences, didn’t have to get anything tailored, and didn’t have to buy clothing a size up.

79 Maarten de Klerk September 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Goodness AoM. A small note from the Netherlands. Great article. But hasn’t the Wild West era ended? All European statistics that I am aware of point towards the notion that gun carriage increases over-all mortality rates: especially among gun carriers. Please do not advertise anything else. Nevertheless, I should remark that a shoulder holster is great for concealed carry of a smart phone, which is too heavy for smart pocket carry.

80 ankle September 27, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Trent: It’s not necessarily “many”; in the US, women are getting concealed carry permits in droves lately.

Maarten de Klerk: Statistics have been twisted on both sides of the gun debate just as much as anywhere else. The US regularly sees incidents where individuals justifiably defend themselves with concealed firearms (though the media generally doesn’t cover those events much). Mother Jones magazine published a map just this week ( on mass shootings, for instance. They mention that their guidelines for inclusion in the map were that four or more people were killed in the event, but fail to mention that *every* event happened to occur in a place where concealed weapons were disallowed. There have been quite a few similar situations in the same timeline where the aggressor was stopped with the help of a concealed firearm; interesting, in those cases, fewer than four people were killed. Funny how that works…

You say the “Wild West era” has ended. Does that mean there aren’t rapes, armed robberies, and violent assaults anymore, or just that people are no longer allowed to defend themselves?

81 Tim September 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm

A couple notes; since there are a number of places I go where it’s not legal to carry (Post Office, etc); I’m constantly having to take off and put on the weapon. That pretty much eliminates a belt or shoulder holster. Paddle holsters (Fobus) and front pocket carry are the most common, especially in summer. Front pocket with an Uncle Mike’s holster works for both a S&W 340PD (.357) and Glock 26. A Galco rough-out works for a Keltec P3AT.
Also, as I get older and heavier :( I find even the weight of the Glock is a problem in keeping my pants up. Perry suspenders are a great solution, as they clip to the belt (

82 Bryce Beattie September 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Like alexander, I have a SmartCarry holster that I like to use. They used to be called “Thunderwear” which I thought was a better name.

83 Kyle September 27, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Very informative article, and well presented. Normally I carry openly, similarly to your OWB Paddle holster picture, but was concerned about the best way to carry while wearing a suit. This article has given me a lot to think about.

Thanks for the helpful suggestions.

84 imani hakim September 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm

i have to assume that tiny gun is a joke, but i always thought “mosquito gun” described a small-frame .22 or .17, perfect concealed carry weapons. they are indeed effective against large targets, ive personally seen a 400lb black bear killed by a single not-so-well-placed .22 shot, and it takes a lot less to bring down a human attacker than it does a bear. anyway, i suggest a pocket holster that clips to the outside layer of the pocket, the gun stays in place, is accessible and concealed

by the way, Jess, Friedrich Nietzsche regularly carried a firearm

85 Brent September 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm

I was pleased to see an article devoted to this on a non-gun-based site. No “should you carry or shouldn’t you”, just “if you do here’s how to do it.” I knew that the comment section would devolve into that, but it hasn’t been as bad as I thought it might. There’s no point in going over the why/why not here – you aren’t going to change the mind of anyone, despite the statistics that show gun crimes increase (as a percentage) when guns are banned because while law-abiding folks obey the no-gun law, the criminals don’t. That’s why we call them “criminals”. They know they are safe from being shot by a homeowner when they break in because the government banned guns.

I echo the sentiment of don’t pocket-carry without a holster. My little J-frame fits in a DeSantis Nemesis that works from carpenter-style jeans in cool weather to cargo shorts for summer. You’d never know I have it on me, because I take care to obey the law and conceal it. If I’m in a suit or jacket with dress slacks I have a good, sturdy leather dressy belt (NOT a department store fashion belt) I got from a holster-maker’s web-site to go with the belt holster I bought for my compact .45. Again, you won’t know I have it on because I take care to properly follow the law of my state.

If you decide to daily carry, have a good reason for it. Choosing to carry a weapon on a daily basis should not be done solely to boost your own ego. If you carry a gun only because you think it makes you “manly” that makes you two things. Stupid and dangerous. That’s a bad, even lethal combination.

86 Curtis September 27, 2012 at 5:16 pm

@Jess, I’d put my guns down forever if I thought your beliefs were possible. But I don’t – and for the sake of myself and those I care about, I’ll keep carrying. You have the right to believe what you want – as do I, and I believe there is evil in this world. And defending myself and my loved ones against all comers is manly in my book.

To everyone else, remember that a concealed handgun is not a magic wand – it’s a responsibility that requires sacrifices: time spent training, maintaining situational awareness at all times, thinking critically 24/7. Make sure it’s your mindset that you’re relying on to survive.

A quote for a quote:
“Anyone who clings to the historically untrue — and thoroughly immoral — doctrine that violence never solves anything I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler would referee. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor; and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms.”
-Robert A. Heinlein

87 Curtis September 27, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Maarten de Klerk: I’d encourage you to check out; there’s several interesting posts analyzing gun crime statistics in the United States. You may be surprised at what you’ll find, if you’re open-minded not to dismiss it off-hand.

I like to keep an open mind myself; could you perhaps send me your sources for European gun-related crime?

88 Branden September 27, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Why should I be afraid? I have a gun.

89 Anthony DuClare September 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm

First post for a long-time lurker!

Good article, though I also second the comments about appendix IWB carry. After several years of carrying my M&P9c IWB behind the hip in a Done Hume MSO leather holster, I am transitioning to appendix (probably in a kydex Dale Fricke Archangel). It’s much faster on the draw and a lot less nerve-racking in crowds or (especially) while standing in line, since you can’t really get blind-sided by someone grabbing for your weapon if you’re carrying appendix.

For IWB (wherever in the waistband you elect to carry) in the summer, island-style shirts are my choice. They are meant to be worn untucked and are cut loose, so with a nice pair of slacks, you can be more or less business-cansual and concealed without a jacket. For more casual needs, jeans or shorts work with them, too.

One additional benefit of shoulder holsters (and, I suppose, pocket carry) versus OWB and IWB: they make using public toilets a LOT less awkward!

90 TJ W. September 27, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Thank you for writing this article! I have been wondering about mixing style with concealed carry for a while. It’s good to get the perspective of someone who’s background is in the style side.

91 Dede September 27, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Mitch Rosen makes the most beautiful, well-crafted and stylish hand- crafted leather holsters to meet all needs.,,and his shop is in my hometown…Manchester, NH. Lucky for us.

92 scaatylobo September 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Imagine that it was YOU in the theater in CO,when that wackadoodle opened fire shooting dozens and killing a dozen.
Still want the smallest gun you can conceal – or THE BEST GUN for that scenerio ?.
You stated to carry the easiest to conceal.
I say dress to carry the best you can afford in the hope that you never need it.
But if you do NEED it,you will be dead sorry that you went small to dress cute.
I am retired LEO,and I will not be doing “the job” .But I want to survive any and all deadly force encounters.
I dress well,and that is to conceal what I pray I never need.

93 LG September 27, 2012 at 6:58 pm

To Europeans posting in horror: please discover which European country has the least amount of gun-related violence. Last time I checked, it was Switzerland, where virtually every household has at least one gun, many of them government-issued. Gun ownership by responsible, trained citizens — as the vast majority of American gun owners are, unlike in Europe where the vast majority of gun owners are, as one commenter said, criminals — hardly makes a place the Wild West.

94 Brandon September 27, 2012 at 7:27 pm

It satisfies me that only a few users protested this article, and especially that most of them were foreign. This country was definitively founded differently than any other, so I really don’t care what the other countries are doing. If it works, good for them.

As someone who just recently began the process of obtaining a CCW permit, this article was really well timed for me. I’ve opened a new tab with almost every link posted by the commenters to check out the holsters you’ve recommended. I shoot Glock 19 and 26, and will begin carrying soon for hunting and personal defense.

Thanks AoM for the article. I’m very proud to see this website unabashedly post an article related to such a great American right.

95 steve September 27, 2012 at 7:47 pm

“Safari/photographer’s vests ”

Am I the only one who thought of the big lebowski when I saw that?

also, for good consealed carry weapons, hi point makes a compact 9 MM 8 shot magazine pistol for around 200 dollars. It’s overall length is about 7 inches. their 10 shot magazines get a little bulky though. For a size comparison, it’s a bit bigger than a walther PPK, which is what james bond uses in his movies.

96 Zeb Carpenter September 27, 2012 at 9:22 pm

It’s important to note that small-of-the-back carry is extremely dangerous. I’ve heard lots of horror stories of guys falling or being pushed and breaking a vertebrae, or even ending up as a paraplegic because they fell on their gun. My friend (a Navy master at arms) said that it was specifically forbidden to carry in the middle of the back during basic training.

Also, I noticed that there was no mention of carrying in a messenger bag, attache or the dreaded fanny pack. It’s not always ideal, since it’s a fairly slow draw, but it is easily the most comfortable and easiest form to conceal. It’s sort of a last resort for me when I know I’ll be doing something that makes IWB impractical (playing physical games, going somewhere that CC is not allowed, etc) but I know that it’s pretty normal for some. Many companies make bags with dedicated concealment pockets, and others (like TImbuk2 – I own two of their messenger bags) have easy-access pockets that don’t require you to fully open the main compartment to get into.

97 Matt September 27, 2012 at 10:13 pm


I am glad that you are enjoying your right to your opinion. I’m writing this knowing that you will probably not even consider my opinion, but I will discuss it anyway.

In a way, you are correct. Carrying a firearm does not fix the inherent problem of crime. It does not encourage criminals to do good, and yes, they are called a weapon for a reason.

However, that is not their purpose. They are protective. A sidearm is a last resort. Meaning it should not ever come into play unless an innocent life is immediately threatened. You seem to think that if you are peaceful to the world, the world will be peaceful to you. Unfortunately, that is a lie. I have seen it first-hand, and even if you just look up police reports from any major city, you will see hundreds of instances where an innocent, unarmed person was robbed or raped, then murdered, for no reason other than that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you don’t believe me, ask their loved ones if they did anything to deserve that.

I would show you statistics, cite reports, and tell you my personal stories, but the bottom line is that the world is not the peaceful place you believe it to be. Education, trust, and love are the ultimate solution, but they don’t change a situation in seconds. I carry a firearm not because I ever want to use it, but because I don’t want someone to kill me or my family. I sincerely hope it never needs to leave its holster.

98 ankle September 27, 2012 at 10:35 pm

@steve, the problem with the hi-point is in this case at least, you tend to get what you pay for. It seems they’ve proven themselves pretty unreliable in many different hands; I’d rather trust my life to something that is more likely to work. For my part, I carry a Sig SP2022 in 9mm. It’s a full-size pistol, so it can be tough to conceal, but it definitely works. Plus, it’s quite economical (not compared to the hi-point, but compared to the glocks and M&Ps all the cool kids carry, it’s easier on the wallet).

99 Uncle Dave September 27, 2012 at 11:20 pm

I’ve been carrying almost 30 years. The article was a great effort please keep up the good worK. Style and carry should go together.

Belts are not stressed enough as they are the platform of the holster. Get the best belt and holster you can find!!! When you put in a 20 hour day in your “rig” you will start to understand what the extra 50 bucks gets you. The 1-1/2″ belt is optium compromise between size and style. While a bit large than many dress belts it holds the gun with out flopping and helps evenly distribute the weight. You need to make sure that the pant will support that width belt. Many lessor brands may not. You may also need to get your suit pants loops let out.

Things “flow” better around a pancake holster than some of the other designs; which get snaged as you move close to furniture ect. Leather is more comfortable and stylish than kydex. More so when even a basic exotic skin like Shark is used.

For some of you, this is mens style not whinner style…

100 Keith September 27, 2012 at 11:54 pm

In line with the bit about photography vest being too cliche ccw I would say to avoid ANYTHING that is specifically made for CCW needs and especially brand name pants or shirts and such. I forget how many times I have seen a guy with 5.11 pants, a tan baseball cap and a jacket that was slightly too big walking around at the store. Stuff like that is just as obvious as holding the gun in your hand. Don’t wear tactical branded shoes, most people don’t think about that but it’s extremely noticeable. Dress like you would if you were going for a lunch date with your wife or girlfriend and then have your tailor make the alterations necessary. I’m sick of seeing a bunch of “Tommy Tacticals” running around town.

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