New to Concealed Carry? This is what you need to know
Want to know the realities of carrying a gun on your person? And what are your options with your handgun and body type?
Ive been carrying concealed for over 30 years, in a whole lot more climates and social situations than most, so I think I can shed some light into the haze about carrying a concealed weapon.
Are you a person who runs toward the sound of gunfire? Or grabs your gear and moves away, only using your weapon(s) when your life is in danger? Do you know what to look for in an armed confrontation or are you just in a hero fantasy with you saving the day?
Can you make decisions in a fast moving and high stress environment and be 100% correct every time?
You need to take a long look at who you are, and what you are looking for in carrying a weapon.
This is not a decision to take lightly, with a strong look inside yourself. Figure out if you are the kind of person to make that commitment to not only carrying the weapon, but learning about methods of carry, and what clothing you need to keep it concealed in close social situations.
The reality of carrying anything? You have to alter your wardrobe to suit the method of carry AND the weapon. You can spot someone new to concealed carry quickly. They have no idea how to dress around the handgun, and print or flash the gun frequently in public places.
Some people actually enjoy that, and the attention it brings them.
I like me having a gun to be a surprise to the bad guys. I’m funny that way.
Decide where on your body you should carry a weapon. This is not backwards, you determine how you are going to carry , what kind of holster and then a handgun that fits your needs.
“Really” Im hearing somebody out there say
You are putting the cart before the horse if you buy a gun first. The “gun cult” thinks you should buy a gun then decide to carry it. That’s like a mechanic buying tools before knowing what he is doing.
If you are vastly over weight and have a waistline much larger than your chest, a belt holster will a poor choice. A holster inside your waistband would be an even poorer choice.
If you are skinny as a bird cage a belt holster will be uncomfortable long term because of the gun pressing against bone or nerves. This is not a hard problem to alleviate btw.
As a general rule, if your belt is under your gut, and it is only visible to you in a mirror or when you take it off, you need a holster off your waistline. Either below it, or above it. Off your body in a carried holster is also an option.
Ankle, thigh rigs, either outside or inside on a garter. Waistband ( the most popular btw), bellyband, shoulder rigs of various kinds and finally off your body carry. In here are the butt packs, purses, planners, backbags of a hundred different kinds and anything else you drop a gun in to.
Be honest with yourself
If you are fat, or your wardrobe is at maximum load limit now, a handgun is going to be a problem for you.
If you bought the handgun of your fantasies, but find out its too heavy, too big, too difficult to conceal etc no matter what your body size , you wont carry it. Being severely under massed, trying to conceal a large framed handgun is again a problem.
Again, a small gun, that doesn’t fit your hand, is uncomfortable to shoot and in an expensive caliber to shoot is not an asset either
I know, you don’t want to hear that, but its true. You will spend the money on a gun, you’ll buy a box full of different holsters and then just give up. Maybe deciding you don’t really go anywhere you need a gun anyway.
You wont be the first either.
So once you have an idea where you want to carry, based on your body type then what?
What are the downsides to different holster types?
Shoulder Holsters- Downsides are you need a cover garment, and they can be uncomfortable against your skin requiring layers under and over the holster. If you have short arms or disabilities with your shoulders, you may not be able to draw easily. Very slow when concealed under heavy winter clothing.
Waistband- You need a shirt, for most of them at least to cover the butt of your handgun. Some to all are difficult to draw from when seated. Do you wear underwear? Yes, it matters. A layer of cloth between your skin and holster makes a huge difference in the long term. But its much hotter in the summer as well. In the winter you either have to wear a loose top layer or move your gun to an outer pocket or an off your body holster.
You need to buy a real belt to carry a waistband holster. There are many companies making men’s and women’s belts which are beautiful and suitable for retaining a firearm. Get over it, this is going to cost you money. If you are a man, buy 2 belts, 1 brown, 1 black. Buy 2 prs of shoes to match and get into some form of relative style for the first time in your life.
Ankle- your pants cannot be tailored to fit snugly. No “skinny jeans ” here. You have to wear long pants as well. The gun gets into the muck and some footwear does not lend itself to this kind of carry
Ankle rigs are purchased by your shooting hand, not what ankle you wear it on. That means if you are right handed, the holster is worn on your left ankle, inside so you can reach it with your shooting hand.
Thigh rigs, including the ones you see on TV the military wearing. These are a pain, literally and figuratively unless you are wearing a dress with a garter, or full battle rattle with armor. The trick to wearing these is have them as high on your leg as possible, with only 1 leg strap. Down near your knees is a bad mistake.
If you are serious about learning first there are literally a ton of people out there who carry a gun daily.
Don’t take any of their advice as gospel, have them show you. Because they have a box FULL of holsters they bought, tried and failed for their use.
Decide what handgun you want.
Ask yourself honestly, is this ( what ever gun you are thinking you need) (1) going to be something I’d carry daily, and (2) is it going to be the gun I want in my hand when it all goes down?
In my experience a tiny handgun is a whole lot like not carrying a gun. They are not easy to shoot at distances farther then 3 yards. They are usually very uncomfortable to shoot.
Yes, I’m saying that. The person who thinks shooting a full house 375 H&H Magnum fun to shoot.
Tiny hand guns should be an option but in my experience they are a layer in carrying concealed NOT a primary concealed arm.
I consider these to be the ultra concealable 22 LR and the like through the 32 ACP and 380ACP pistols from KelTec.
Do not miss read that. I like the small guns, they are very easy to carry in a pocket holster, or in an ankle rig but are not a primary handgun to carry.
The Dreaded Caliber War
Or what you don’t know will get me to laugh at you
There are 3 calibers you should seriously consider carrying.
9MM para, 9MM Luger, 9×19 Nato etc they are all the same
45 ACP, 45 Auto etc
Im not going into the ego stroking revolver vs auto debate. Time to grow up. A well designed semi auto is the way to go. If you think otherwise that’s your business, but the world is passing you by.
So of the 3 , which is the way to go?
The 40 S&W is being dropped like a hot rock, the evidence is overwhelming. Law Enforcement switching away from the 40 are legion. The 2 largest Fed agencies are moving that way and more evidence is found in any forensic pathology dept in state universities.
Its also the most expensive of the 3 to shoot much
The 45 ACP? Most handguns chambered in 45 tend to be heavy and low magazine capacity. Im not going into the ego stroke about the 45 and how its a majic wand. Stay in the gun shop, real life is passing you by.
Again, it gets a bit pricey
I quote ” When looking at wound channels there is NO discernible difference with modern hollow point ammunition” . End quote. If a forensic pathologist says he cant tell what bullet killed someone until the bullet is recovered, it tells me everything I need to know.
My choice for concealed carry is a 9MM loaded with 124gr Gold Dot Hollow points. And….its cheaper to shoot with ball ammo than a 22LR if you buy online in bulk.
Its not a religion, its a choice. Don’t feel bad about having a 9mm. Its as effective in real world use as any other handgun caliber. You need to shoot until the threat is removed, stopped, DRT ….whatever. And that’s the real deal.
Handguns are not effective most of the time, the majority of people shot with a handgun recover , which is another tidbit of information you don’t hear about often.
What gun? Say it, SAY it…..
The question is not as much as what gun as what material?
Handguns are heavy, spare magazines add to the weight and if its a pain to carry it goes back in a drawer instead of being with you when you need it.
No matter what handgun you choose, you must carry at least 1 spare magazine. Magazines fail at the worst times, EVEN my precious Glock or Wilson mags. Its a fact of mechanical law, if it can break it will wait until you need it most before you discover it. If you can find a matching pouch for ammunition that’s the way to go, and it balances out your holster with the ammunition carried on the opposite side.
So drop the argument of 1911 vs Glock (or SW, or CZ, or HK and the load of others)
Start thinking about where you are going to carry it and how much it weighs. Its a very personal choice and it comes with trying different guns in the holster type you want. It comes down to either a polymer framed gun, like a Glock, HK (yuck), SW (Glock copy ), Springfield ( another Glock copy) or any of the multitude of other makers.
Or a steel framed gun. Something to consider, especially women. Steel frames guns are much heavier than polymer. My Glock 19, and 3 loaded magazines is lighter than my Colt 1911 CCU with 1 loaded magazine.
I like the polymer guns for carrying daily, and they are FAR easier to carry than any of my steel framed guns, like most 1911 types.
Important tip here
Don’t buy a gun needing a new type of holster. That means get a gun which manufacturers have been making holsters for a few years. Nothing sucks worse than a new gun, you cant get your preferred holster type for.
Save your sanity and go with tried and true in this case.
THEN you buy your gun
So how do I decide what gun?
Well, you find friend’s who have a safe full and you offer to buy the ammo if he ( or her if you are female) will take you to the range. Ask them if they have a holster of the type you like. Try it, if you don’t like it now is the time, not after you’ve dropped the coin.
Don’t fall into the fan boy trap either. You know, the guy ( or gal) who is willing to help as long as you want the guns they have and think are the “best”
Part 2 will show you what Ive found to work for me in the long term.