You got your permit, your gun, and your training…now what?
You’ve purchased your concealed-carry (CCW) gun and learned how to use it, but your journey as an armed citizen is just beginning—now you need to work on your strategy to keep your handgun concealed from everyday view. There are a couple of reasons why that’s so important: First, depending on your local laws, revealing your concealed handgun (even inadvertently) may be construed as brandishing—which is a crime. Second, uninformed fellow citizens may become panicked at the sight of a firearm that isn’t attached to someone wearing a badge. And, most importantly, revealing that you are carrying a gun puts you at a tactical disadvantage. Here are three ways to ensure that nobody knows you’re carrying a defensive pistol except you.
1-Find a Good Holster and USE IT!
One of the biggest mistakes new concealed carriers make is to think that it’s OK to jam a gun into their waistbands willy-nilly because they’ve seen guys do it on TV. Make no mistake: It is absolutely possible to do that. That doesn’t mean you should. A gun that’s held in place by nothing but your Levi’s will shift about as you move. This will cause you to feel the need to adjust your gun’s position like a teenage girl trying to get used to her first bra. If you’re lucky (and male) all this fiddling about in the region of your pants will just look like you’re having a sweaty, wedgie-filled day. If you’re not lucky, it’ll look like what it is—a guy packing plenty of heat, but not a single clue.
There are mountains of advice out there on how to select the right holster for concealed carry, but they can all be boiled down to the following:
The holster should be designed specifically for your gun;
The holster should be rigid enough that it won’t bend in and out while you’re holstering or unholstering (which can accidentally depress the trigger); and
The holster should retain the gun securely, but should should allow you a simple and intuitive draw.
2-Stop Your Rig From Printing
“Printing” is exactly what it sounds like—it’s the inadvertent revelation of the outline of your gun-and-holster combo. There are three main factors that cause printing. The first is that your cover garments are either too tight or too sheer. The second is that you’re not sufficiently aware of what your rig does while your body is in motion. The third is that your carry rig just isn’t working with your anatomy.
The best piece of advice we can give you to stop your CCW rig from printing is to pretend you’re that same teenage girl with her first bra that we mentioned above. Find a setup with two good-sized mirrors, and get dressed in your concealed-carry holster, gun, and cover garments. Now it’s time to check yourself out for a while. Do a couple of deep knee bends; touch your toes; stretch up as if you’re trying to reach something on a high shelf. Do any odd, boxy lines become visible? Do your garments shift up or down? Do you feel pretty, oh so pretty? (OK, that last one is optional.)
3-Avoid CCW Cliches
If you’re new to the world of armed self-defense, you may notice that there are what appear to be some very simple solutions to avoid revealing your CCW gun: photographer’s vests and fanny packs, for example. What you may not know is that photographer’s vests are known in the gun community as “Shoot Me First” vests, and that’s because they’re just so bleepin’ obvious. If you’re not also carrying a camera or five, those vests stick out like a sore thumb. It’s the same with the black nylon fanny packs, to a lesser extent. They might as well have a neon sign that says “Gun Here!”
This isn’t to say that a vest can’t be a great part of your concealment strategy. But it needs to “flow” with everything else you’re wearing. An example: If you’re rocking jeans and cowboy boots, a leather vest will look normal. If you’re wearing cargo shorts and a t-shirt…not so much.
One final piece of advice: Act like you belong. Once you’ve established to your own satisfaction that your concealed handgun is, in fact, concealed, internalize that fact and be confident. If you’re self-conscious, that’s going to show. Don’t fiddle around with your rig in public; don’t even touch it if you don’t absolutely have to (and even then, we recommend finding a discreet location like a bathroom stall). Your relaxed, confident attitude will make all the difference.
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