First Time to Conceal Carry: Tips and Tricks from Those who Have Been There

By Suzanne Wiley published on in Concealed Carry

You have decided to carry a concealed handgun and you might be nervous about the first time you decide to walk out the door with your gun strapped to your waist. Being nervous is completely normal. Almost every single person I talked to about his or her first time to carry was nervous and self-conscious. Before you step out, make sure you know exactly what your state’s laws are regarding where you can and cannot carry, how you carry, and if you will need a license or permit to carry. Federal law does not allow you to carry a gun into federal buildings such as post offices, courthouses, polling stations, law enforcement offices, and jails or prisons. This is a universal law and federal law restricts you from carrying your gun into these places. So don’t take it! Also, pay close attention to the laws regarding establishments that sell alcohol. It is illegal in most states to carry a gun into a place that sells only alcohol or more alcohol than food.

With his shirt down, you will not be able to see a thing.

With his shirt down, you will not be able to see a thing.

Before heading out, you will want to make sure that your clothing choice is comfortable, allows you to access your firearm quickly, and conceals it properly. In Texas, it is illegal to have a gun showing; not even an imprint of a gun is legal. An imprint occurs when you can see the outline of the gun underneath your clothing. Make sure your clothes cover it properly and completely. A wardrobe malfunction can get you into trouble.

You might think that everyone is staring at you and that everyone knows you are carrying a gun. It is normal to feel this way, but don’t worry. No one knows! They are all too preoccupied doing their own thing to worry about what you are doing.

To help ease some of the tension you may be feeling, I have asked many concealed carry veterans for tips and tricks to make your first time to carry more comfortable.

Plenty of people told me that smaller guns in pocket holsters are what they prefer. One concealed carry old-timer says, “One thing I learned carrying a gun over the years—the longer I carried a gun, the smaller it became.” Another agrees, “I conceal carry every single day and carry my small .32 in my front pocket without any added “gun junk.”

Along those same lines, I heard quite a bit of “It’s better to have something than nothing.” If your gun is too big and cumbersome to carry, you are less likely to carry it. Therefore, it is fine to carry the smallest caliber you feel comfortable using for self-defense.

Another important factor is how comfortable your holster is. Here is my journey in finding the perfect holster. Believe me, if you are not comfortable in your holster, you will not be carrying it, “the best holster is the one you forget at times you have a gun on.”

Make sure your gun does not imprint.

Make sure your gun does not imprint.

In Texas, concealed means concealed. You want to make sure you keep your gun covered. This requires the right holster and the right clothing. One concealed carry veteran says, “Make sure your weapon isn’t visible.” Many who have pared down their carry weapons from large frame to small frame say they did so because it just became too hot to wear jackets to cover the large guns like a full-sized 1911. For example, one person who carries says, “I carried a J-frame .38 Airweight. This is still one of my favorite guns to carry, but not too much fun to shoot. I could throw it into a front pocket in a decent holster and no longer had to have extra clothing to cover the firearm.”

A retired police officer who carries says, “Keep your driver’s license and your permit in the exact same location.” Do not leave the permit at home!

If you have been carrying for a long time, what do you suggest for newbies?

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Comments (76)

  • Ron Garney


    Just wanted to clarify a suggestion mentioned above. Yes bring your license with u when u are carrying but DO NOT keep them in the same pocket where your gun is. This could turn out bad so avoid any confusion as possible. ..long time carrier, long time cop.


  • Danial Kleczka




  • Chet


    Is it safe to carry a small gun in your back pocket? When a mugger tells you to hand over your wallet you come out blazing. Right or wrong?






    • Matt loring


      So if a mugger is threatening you and your armed, you wouldn’t defend yourselves if a mugger is threatening you and your wife/friend. Your answer is really hypocritical danial..


  • James


    For Oklahoma Only where you cannot carry:


    A. It shall be unlawful for any person in possession of a valid handgun license issued pursuant to the provisions of the Oklahoma Self‑Defense Act to carry any concealed or unconcealed handgun into any of the following places:

    1. Any structure, building, or office space which is owned or leased by a city, town, county, state, or federal governmental authority for the purpose of conducting business with the public;

    2. Any meeting of any city, town, county, state or federal officials, school board members, legislative members, or any other elected or appointed officials;

    3. Any prison, jail, detention facility or any facility used to process, hold, or house arrested persons, prisoners or persons alleged delinquent or adjudicated delinquent;

    4. Any elementary or secondary school;

    5. Any sports arena during a professional sporting event;

    6. Any place where pari‑mutuel wagering is authorized by law; and

    7. Any other place specifically prohibited by law.

    B. For purposes of paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 of subsection A of this section, the prohibited place does not include and specifically excludes the following property:

    1. Any property set aside for the use or parking of any vehicle, whether attended or unattended, by a city, town, county, state, or federal governmental authority,

    2. Any property set aside for the use or parking of any vehicle, whether attended or unattended, by any entity offering any professional sporting event which is open to the public for admission, or by any entity engaged in pari-mutuel wagering authorized by law,

    3. Any property adjacent to a structure, building, or office space in which concealed or unconcealed weapons are prohibited by the provisions of this section, and

    4. Any property designated by a city, town, county, or state, governmental authority as a park, recreational area, or fairgrounds; provided nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to authorize any entry by a person in possession of a concealed or unconcealed handgun into any structure, building, or office space which is specifically prohibited by the provisions of subsection A of this section.


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