Many customers of Cheaper Than Dirt! legally carry concealed handguns. But often, we get questions on the best way to carry concealed. While holster selection is important, equally as important is the clothing you choose to wear.
It’s important to note that if your carry method is uncomfortable, or if it is a struggle to keep your firearm concealed, more often than not concealed carry licensees will instead choose to leave their firearm at home. Therefore, special consideration must be given to the method of carrying and the clothing used to conceal your firearm.
Carrying a concealed firearm in the winter is usually not a problem. Heavy winter garments provide a number of ways in which you can easily conceal a firearm. But when indoors, or in warmer weather, keeping a firearm concealed can be problematic unless you have an appropriate wardrobe.
Remember – the whole idea of carrying concealed is to not have your firearm detectable. What’s more, you don’t want to advertise that you might have a concealed firearm by wearing the ubiquitous tactical vest or fanny pack. While these methods are fantastic for concealing a firearm, they are also universally recognized as being worn by individuals who are armed. The same goes for most tactical BDU-style cargo pants and tactical style shirts.
So, how do you conceal your handgun without looking like some suburban tactical operator? First, let’s take a look at pants. Many who carry concealed use an Inside-the-Waistband-Holster (IWB). These styles of holsters fit between the waistband of your pants and your body, holding the firearm very close to your body. Having a firearm carried in this fashion reduces the chance of “printing” (having the outline of the gun show through your clothing). But using an IWB means that the waist size of your pants will have to be slightly larger. I find that pants one size up (ie: 36″ waist instead of 34″) help to accommodate the extra bulk of having a firearm tucked in your waistband. Tactical style pants such as Tru-Spec’s 24-7 Ripstop Pants are great for carrying a concealed handgun. They feature elastic comfort stretch waistband and have lots of pockets for spare magazines and a tactical flashlight. The best part is that they don’t scream “Tactical” – instead, they have the appearance of more conservative Docker-style khaki pants.
If you choose to wear jeans or slacks, pay attention to the construction of the waistband and belt loops. Make sure that they are sturdy enough to bear the extra weight and strain of a holster. When choosing a belt, you will also need to select a sturdy belt that can stand up to the extra work. This Ranger Belt by Triple K is a great example. It is specifically designed with belt holsters in mind, but it is still stylishly designed so that you can wear it anywhere.
Your upper garment takes a bit more time and consideration to choose properly. If you are carrying a compact handgun in a “tuckable” holster, you will have more leeway in your choices. Tuckable holsters are IWB holsters that have belt clips that allow a shirt to be tucked in, concealing the handgun. Still, this method does not usually work as well with full-size autos.
In the summertime especially, selecting an appropriate cover garment can be difficult. My standard summer carry method is a t-shirt tucked in, a handgun in an IWB holster, and a loose-fitting Hawaiian-style shirt over that. Something nondescript with longer shirttails for better concealment, such as our Tru-Spec 24-7 Field Shirt would also work fine. Again, I usually purchase shirts one size larger than normal. A good cover garment should hang 5″ – 8″ below the waistline of your pants in order to adequately conceal your firearm while kneeling, bending, or reaching up.
When choosing a shirt for a cover garment, pay close attention to the fabric thickness and color. Light-weight and loose-weave fabrics can print easily, and some are so thin that they will even show a visible outline of the firearm. Light-colored fabrics can also show the darker outline of a firearm. In the summer, look for fabrics like linen or cotton which will not only keep you cool, but will also be able to conceal your handgun.
Choosing to carry a concealed firearm is a big responsibility. Part of that responsibility is following your state’s laws on keeping your firearm concealed, and that means choosing your clothing carefully. It may take a few additions to your wardrobe, but with these tips and a few extra pieces of clothing, you will have no problem carrying concealed, no matter what the weather or occasion.