Concealed Carry

Best Guns and Gear for Summer Carry

Guy with Gun in Holster Summer Carry

Many of us look forward to the summer months. Summer means camping, hiking, travel and vacation. But day to day life and the danger we wish to be prepared to face makes the summer months a bit more difficult.

As a peace officer, I knew that violent crime spiked in the warmer months. Tempers flare more easily when you are sweating and overheated.

While an armed citizen must keep his cool, there are toughs and bullies that cannot. Burglary and robbery rates are higher in the summer months.

Concealing an effective handgun beneath light covering garments is difficult. We must wear appropriate clothing and something that doesn’t scream GUN!

Just the same, we wish to be well-armed. Carrying isn’t just about the gun or the holster. As an example, the pistol’s grips make a difference in summer carry.

Recently I began wearing my Springfield Operator in an IWB holster beneath a pulled out sport shirt. By the end of the day my back felt lacerated.

I appreciate the shredder-type grips for their combination of adhesion and abrasion — they delivered plenty of abrasion all right — to the small of my back.

I had never worn the Springfield without a T-shirt. It made a difference. It is best to wear a T-shirt under the classic pulled-out sport shirt for concealed carry during summertime.

Some can, some can’t adapt. Let’s look at the most important considerations.

Galco WalkAbout
Galco’s WalkAbout is a good choice. Note the speedloader carrier.

Holsters for Summer Carry

It is important to note that some tacky rubber or G10 handgun grips are nice when firing the handgun, but the pebbly surface may snag on clothing when the piece is carried concealed.

Take this into consideration.

Galco Stow N Go
The Stow N Go from Galco isn’t expensive but it is well-designed. Note the belt clip design and a strong reinforced holster mouth.

Primary holster materials are leather, fabric and kydex. The hybrid holster features a supple, leather backing and a kydex holster component.

The hybrid such as the Galco KingTuk is comfortable. I find few standard Kydex holsters comfortable. They are hard against the body. There are exceptions and much depends on the design.

Hard, molded leather holsters are often not as comfortable, depending on the body type, when worn under a pulled-out shirt.

The new breed of breathable fabric with a softer surface against the body works wonders. So do the specially-designed minimalist leather holsters such as the Galco SkyOps.

The standard belt holster demands attention to detail, but the problem isn’t as difficult as finding a good concealment holster for summer carry. Some holsters may become a chafing nuisance.

The rigidity appreciated in a belt scabbard is a drawback in concealed carry.

When a holster is carried inside the pants — and nothing else really works well for summer carry, save for the inside-the-waistband holster — a softer, more forgiving material is needed.

As long as the holster mouth is reinforced, this will work well.

Galco Hybrid Holster
A good-quality hybrid from Galco solves a lot of problems. Note the sweat guard.

The Importance of Draw Angle

Holster attachment to the belt is critical. Some time ago as a peace officer, I made one of the few draws I have made under attack.

The holster carried a Ruger P94 .40 S&W pistol and used body compression and folded over the pants and belt. It conformed to the outline of the handgun over time.

The holster worked alright in practice sessions, but when I grabbed the pistol with a hard death grip and yanked, both the pistol and the holster came out of the waistband.

Thank goodness the holster was propelled away from the gun during the draw and a single shot solved the problem. I threw the holster away. The holster company is thankfully out of business.

It was comfortable, but not well-suited to tactical duty. Some holsters rely on body compression (pressure from the body keeps the rig and handgun secured) and during the draw, as the holster clears leather, they shift.

This is bad news. Some holsters are sensitive to draw angle. The N82 holster demands practice at the proper draw angle in the kydex and plastic variants, and so do a number of hard, molded leather holsters.

Alien Gear Hybrid Holster
Alien Gear’s holsters offer a well-fitted kydex holster.

What About Sweat?

A proper concealed carry holster will fit tight against the body. Perspiration is a consideration. Not only will the handgun rust, in some cases the holster is affected.

I have changed the color of leather holsters while working long shifts with a handgun carried in an IWB holster. A black finish works better for most of us.

(I often order tan or brown finish based on personal preference and because they make better images.)

I have seen handguns rust from close contact with the body. A holster that offsets the handgun from the body and uses a sweatguard as part of the holster design is a big plus.

Alien Gear Hybrid Holster Backing
Note the supple backing of the Alien Gear holster.

The Belly Band Option

One summer carry solution is a belly band. The cheap ones become a chafing aggravation and will be thrown away after a day or two.

The Galco Wrap-Around is well-designed of good material and offers plenty of adjustment. You may choose strong side, appendix or crossdraw carry with the Wrap-Around.

The handgun is held so close to the body, the draw may be compromised and re-holstering is more difficult, but nothing quite works for many of us like a belly band.

Wearing a T-shirt or at least using talcum powder around the area the belly band contacts is a big help.

The material used in the Wrap-Around is extremely well-thought-out and more comfortable than anything else I am aware of.

GLOCK 19 in Holster
This N82 holster features a clear holster material.

Clothing for Summer Carry

Clothing choice is important. The shirt cannot be so thin that the handgun is visible or prints easily. (Printing is an outline of the handgun against covering garments.)

Lightweight, breathable fabric is important. I have been plagued with skin cancer and, while I won the fight, I must wear long-sleeve shirts and a wide-brimmed hat during the summer months to avoid recurrence.

So my clothing choices are important on many levels. Some polo shirts flow over the gun handle, others seem to hang and rest right on the handgun.

This is a drawback, and you may have to try several styles to find the right choice. Generally, I consider the innermost clothing layer protection for my body and the outer layer concealment for the handgun.

Concealed carry may be stylish, but this isn’t the primary concern. I simply do not wish to stick out in the crowd.

Appendix Holster
This appendix design is a viable carry option for the summer months.

All About the Draw

If you have chosen a middle-size handgun such as the GLOCK 19 9mm or CZ P-10 pistol, you have chosen well. You may need a number of holsters for viable carry if you live in a true four-season climate.

A belt holster under a jacket is the fastest draw for winter carry. The IWB compromises the draw to an extent, by placing the handle closer to the body.

The draw is further compromised by going to the next step, a tuckable holster or a belly band. Just the same, in some cases these options allow concealing a handgun when no other option would.

We are able to summer carry a 9mm handgun in deep concealment when a more casual choice in holsters would force us to carry much smaller handguns. .32 and .380 ACP handguns are far less effective and offer a smaller grip on the draw.

There are too many compromises inherent in such choices. I prefer to do more research and spend the time, money and training effort to obtain superior concealment gear and deploy a suitable handgun.

Beretta Tomcat and Ruger LCP
It is best to choose heavier gear, but some will not be able to carry larger firearms. The Beretta Tomcat and Ruger LCP are among the most reliable small handguns.

Other Carry Options

During the summer months, I sometimes move to an appendix-type holster. The Galco Wrap-Around belly band allows moving the handgun to appendix carry.

It is among a very few rigs suitable for behind the back, appendix and crossdraw carry, an excellent design feature. Light covering garments may not drape over the handgun properly when worn in the six o’clock position.

On the other hand, most of us have a little extra in the belly region to cause a drape of the garment over the handgun.

If you are in excellent shape, the chest is wider than the belly and this results in a natural draping of the garment over the belt.

Appendix carry demands trigger discipline, but then all carry modes do. Appendix carry is more natural for carrying close to the body than crossdraw for most shooters.

Another option that some find works well is the reverse draw. The handgun is worn with the grip as if it were a left-hand draw for a left-handed shooter, but the handgun is closer to the dominant side.

Some feel that this allows greater concealment with a handgun that has a larger grip frame.

The draw is executed with a bent wrist and the handgun muzzle is rotated away from the body taking care not to cover the body with the muzzle. This is a variation of the cavalry draw.

I recommend against this draw for most of us, but a number of experienced shooters have adopted the technique.

Galco Belly Band Wrap-Around Holster
Galco’s Wrap-Around is a first-class option for hot weather and summer carry.


When summer arrives and we are ready to have fun, don’t forget that the need for personal defense is a more serious concern during the summer months.

Think ahead and choose your summer carry gear carefully.

As an example, if you wear a long-bill hat to keep the sun off of your eyes, be certain to understand how the bill may obstruct vision as you go into the typical chin-tucked firing stance.

What is your summer carry? How do you prefer to carry? Let us know in the comments section below!

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (14)

  1. Go with a good quality, leather pancake holster and a decent belt – inner metal band is not necessary and makes thing more uncomfortable than they need to be. Stay away from hybrids in general and especially Alien Gear – it’s plastic, erector set, put it together junk. That shape shift starter kit may seem like a good idea and maximum value, but it’s junk. If you must do inside the waistband, go with soft suede – maximum comfort and takes up no extra room. If you must do kydex inside the waistband, go with vedder and no claw option.

  2. I like all-kydex. It doesn’t cause me any discomfort and doesn’t absorb sweat and end up stinking like a wet dog. I have a PHLster Skeleton for my S&W Shield, and I’m pretty pleased with it. Since we barely have winter here, nobody tucks shirts unless they’re dressed for a job interview, and I’m either wearing a Polo shirt or a moderately heavy T-shirt that covers quite well. I can hide a Glock 17 this way when I have the discipline to stay under 200 pounds.

  3. Even if the outer shirt does not “print” the gun, if it is thin the color of the gun will show through in what I’ll call “color print”. I choose to wear a thin black tank shirt under my outer shirt. It does not add much heat and the black color blends in with the gun so that even though the gun is outside of the tank, it’s color outline does not show through the thin outer shirt.

  4. Carried a S&W Model 10 .38 Special for almost 10 years.Used a brown leather inside the pants Bianci Pistol Pocket. Regular maintenance of the gun was all that was required. It held the gun just where I wanted it and with it’s thumb break, it was easy to draw quickly and re-holster without a problem. I also had no problem, summer or winter, with the gun snagging.

  5. In summer (as I do year round) I carry a full size Glock (17, 22 or 31) in an Alien Gear ShapeShift IWB holster (also the ShapeShift system gives me easily changed multiple carry options). I have carried this combination for more than 2 years and it has been comfortable to carry against the skin without any modification to the holster or grip. I carry at the 4:00 o’clock position under a loose t-shirt which gives reasonably good concealment and easy access.

  6. It never ceases to amaze me. All this hype on expensive “well known” brands is amusing.
    I carry all year with a Relentless Tactical suede holster for my LC9s. I can sleep with full carry IWB while on my back gun in (6:00 position). It’s there during my waking hours. Cost about $30.00, full lifetime guarantee, full replacement if ever it wears out and a small business with great products. My gun belt is amazing as well. Summer time a white T shirt does the trick, no printing whatsoever.

    I have tried De Santis..useless, Gunmate..not bad and a few others luckily finding Relentless Tactical before spending heaps in the search for the holy grail. I found it earlier in my gun life.

    Hope this helps someone.


  7. Milt Sparks holsters make some extremely good holsters. All made by hand each one is made by one single individual. I’ve got 3 and love every one. I live in Georgia, I vary between a glock 19, gov length1911 and commander length 1911. They are comfy and conceal even with hot weather clothing.

  8. Well done, Bob Campbell! Based on your real-time experiences as a LEO, your insights are both welcomed and documented! Again, your timing is impeccable since summer-time concealed carry, is the one topic worthy of discussion. By adding the photos of holstered firearms at just the right juncture within your well written article, is brilliant.

    Do you write for any other publications other than “CONCEALED CARRY” because I’d like to read those as well!

  9. I use the N82 holster for my Springfield. The padding between the gun and my body is very comfortable and resists sweat. I use their soft IWB holster. The draw is quick. It’s the only IWB holster I buy.

  10. Summer carry always involves minimal clothing and maximal sweat. Spending hours with gunmetal riding against bare skin became an issue for me long ago. After trying various methods of isolating gun from body, the technique that works best for me is a maternity belly band coupled with an IWB holster (my holster is the Comp-Tac Minotaur). I position the band with a little more than half the material under my belt and the remaining longitudinal section folded over the holstered firearm (or pulled up over my gut). The band’s jersey material is about the thickness of a T-shirt, but with a slick surface. Over garments rarely catch on the smooth fabric. The compression of the band pulls the firearm close to body. Yes, it takes some practice to include steps to free the firearm from the band. In decades of armed carry I’ve never actually drawn my weapon in defense, so I have no basis to say my carry technique works in every case. Just food for thought.

  11. Another very important consideration is to practice with whatever you daily carry. I often go to the range in my work uniform, or clothes functionally similar. Also, if you change carry methods for the seasons, make sure you practice some with the new method to get your mind used to the change.

  12. What I have done with my carry holsters is add what I call a sweat barrier.

    All mine are belt slide.

    On my Alien Gear holsters I have just made a leather replacement back with a high part where my weapon would touch my skin and screwed it where the original back was.

    On others, I have made the sweat barrier as a seperate piece that I slide on my belt behind the holster. It also has belt slots to keep it in place there.

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