Concealed Carry

Common Concealed Carry Problems — And Solutions!

Alien Gear IWB holster is being worn at the 4 o’clock position

When getting started in concealed carry, people often make mistakes and run into issues. Some problems are more common than others. These problems act as a barrier for successful concealed carry for some, which leads to leaving the firearm at home. However, with some trial and error — and a little guidance — you can be carrying like a pro in no time. 

Being Uncomfortable

The main complaint I hear from new concealed carriers is about how uncomfortable it is to have a gun on you. From the firearm digging into your side and rubbing on your skin, to a boatload of sweat pooling on your hip, it’s no secret that carrying a gun has its drawbacks. Fortunately, this doesn’t always have to be the case. With a little trial and error, you can find a gun and holster combination that at least minimizes your discomfort, if not eliminate it altogether. 

Pulling out a gun from the holster on belt, close-up.
A proper gun belt is essential for comfortable concealed carry.

Now I’m not going to lie, if you’re carrying anything other than perhaps a NAA Mini Revolver on you, you’re going to notice to some degree. But that doesn’t mean you need to be uncomfortable. A good gun belt helps distribute the weight of a loaded firearm and keeps everything from bouncing around. Additionally, a proper holster not only keeps the firearm secure, it can help prevent unnecessary rubbing and jabbing. If you’re still having issues, consider stepping down to a smaller sidearm. These are generally easier and more comfortable to carry. It may not be as capable, but the first rule of a gunfight is to have a gun on you when you need it. 

Being Too Noticeable

Another common concealed carry problem is actually self-provoked. Many new gun owners beginning to carry end up touching the firearm too much and printing because of it. It can be daunting (at first) to wade into the public with an undisclosed firearm on your person. Many will seek to soothe this anxiety with a gentle pat or tug here and there to ensure the firearm and cover garment are in position. This draws more attention to the area and makes you much more noticeable. This can be exacerbated if you are physically uncomfortable carrying a firearm (for the reasons mentioned above). 

Remind yourself that it is ok, and you are not breaking the law. As you gain experience, you will find most people are far too concerned with their own lives to even notice you, let alone your concealed firearm. If you have a good carry setup, you will likely never be discovered. 

Concern With Loaded Chamber

Whether they’re carrying or not, new shooters are often worried about a loaded chamber anytime they are not at the range. This is somewhat understandable, given Hollywood’s depiction of firearms going off at the drop of a hat anytime someone gets bumped or knocked down. The truth is, modern firearms are manufactured with a number of safeties in place to prevent an accidental discharge. Most incorporate a firing pin block that prevents forward travel of the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled. A proper holster will securely cover and protect the trigger. If you practice safe firearm handling and are not negligent, then you will likely never have an issue. 

Jason Winnies OWB holster with Glock pistol inserted
If you’re concerned, try carrying your empty pistol in a holster to get a feel for things.

This is an especially common problem people have with striker-fired pistols such as Glocks. To ease your nerves, start by carrying around the house with the striker cocked and an empty chamber. At the end of the day, check to see if the trigger has been pulled. This will help build your confidence in the design and your firearm handling skills. After a couple times of realizing that it won’t go off on its own, you’ll begin to feel more comfortable. 

Bad Carry Setup

As I mentioned earlier, a bad carry setup can make your concealed carry experience harder than it needs to be. Different body shapes and sizes work better with certain carry methods than others. Some may find success tucking the pistol inside the waistband, others may be more comfortable with a shoulder holster. I found that what once worked for me when I started had to adapt over time as my daily life changed. 

Your firearm choice is also a factor. The rounded shape of a revolver is beneficial for some, while others may have trouble concealing the thicker cylinder. Some shooters have no trouble concealing a full-size pistol, whereas some can barely get by with a micro 9. Your comfort level and tolerance will depend on your individual preferences. Some people are more sensitive than others. You may demand a lightweight option that doesn’t print in the slightest. Others are fine with some extra weight and a slight outline. 

Four semiautomatic handguns and one revolver
It may take some trial and error to pick your concealed carry gun.

Billboarding

The main benefit to carrying concealed is the element of surprise. That all goes out the window if everyone knows you’ve got a gun on you. New concealed carriers, especially young men, can sometimes have the habit of talking about their gun too much. “Nobody better try anything, or else.” “Can’t trust anybody, that’s why I’ve always got this on me.” These are just a couple of the phrases they will spew to anyone that will listen. 

This trash talk is usually coupled with obvious clothing that screams 2nd Amendment. Now, it’s a free country and it is your right to promote your beliefs. However, 5-11 tactical cargo pants, a Glock t-shirt, “Don’t Tread On Me” hat, and Oakleys isn’t exactly inconspicuous. The problem comes when an attacker can tell that you have a gun on you first. You may as well open carry if legal in your state. 

selective focus of man holding and fire shotgun in shooting range of gun shooting competition
Tactical clothing is great for training at the range, but can give you away on the street.

Final Thoughts

In the end, finding a solution that works for all your concealed carry problems will be through a lot of trial and error. There is no one-size-fits-all solution — or we’d all be using it! The important thing is to not give up. It takes some time, but as you gain experience you’ll begin to determine what works and what doesn’t work for you. And you’ll be all the safer for it. 

What are some problems you encountered while carrying concealed? Do you have any additional solutions? Share your experiences in the Comment section.

About the Author:

Alex Cole

Alex is a younger firearms enthusiast who’s been shooting since he was a kid. He loves consuming all information related to guns and is constantly trying to enhance his knowledge, understanding, and use of firearms. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t do something firearms-related and he tries to visit the range at least a couple of times a month to maintain and improve his shooting skills.

His primary focus is on handguns, but he loves all types of firearms. He enjoys disassembling and reassembling firearms to see how they work and installs most of the upgrades to his firearms himself, taking it as a chance to learn. He’s not only interested in modern handguns and rifles, he appreciates the classics for both historical value and real-world use.
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. My preference is to consider my clothing choices based on time of year. During winter when I may be wearing multiple layers I prefer the stopping power of a full sized pistol in 45acp with a 1911 frame. During warmer weather where I may only be wearing a “T” shirts I like my 9mm Kimber Micro 9. Both guns are carried with Kydex side holsters.

    One point I can not stress enough is you should carry your pistol not only where you can easily access it but in a manner that you can use your body to keep someone from taking it from you.

    I teach to stand with your left side towards your potential threat when carrying your firearm on your right side so you can use your body and left arm to block your attacker while still being able to draw your weapon.

    Carrying a gun doesn’t automatically guarantee you the ability to defend yourself. The gun is just a tool that you use to protect yourself. You first and foremost must be willing and able to physically protect yourself if just long enough to draw your weapon. I strongly recommend that you learn some new combat tactics to better protect yourself.

  2. I am 82 and more often than not carry a Ruger LCP .380 in a pocket holster in my right front pocket. While it may be small and not intended for a fast draw, it is a comfortable carry and is available if needed. My alternate carry is a Sig P238 in a Sneaky Pete holster on my right hip. I have yet to have anyone question me if I am carrying even without a shirt or jacket cover.

  3. Responding to 175th. I bought a Sneaky Pete for my Mossberg MC1SC. It was much bigger than I thought it would be. It is well constructed and does a good job of concealing the gun. I do feel like it draws more attention than my other inside the waistband and outside the waistband holsters that I have. I bought it for the rare occasion that the other holsters and firearms I carry will not work and it serves its purpose.
    For the other points of the article I agree most people rarely look more than a few inches in front of their face. I’m approaching year 29 as a police officer so wearing a gun off duty feels like wearing nothing compared to the duty belt I wear at work. Not a real big fan of the feel of under armour heat gear shirts but they work really well as a base layer to keep you from chafing wearing IWB holsters. I have multiple’s of these shirts that I wear under my body armor and while off duty. One size larger t-shirts or untucked button up shirts are my go to off duty. Last but not least try to disappear in public so that nobody notices you if nobody notices you they won’t notice your gun either.

  4. I wear bright colored shoes. It tends to draw attention away from the waist. So if you may be printing, no one notices. Hats and shoes will draw the eyes away from the mid section.

  5. Can anyone tell me what make and model of the holster that has the glock in it that is in the above article?

  6. I finally landed with a blue (grouse) Hill People Gear medium belt pack (butt pack!) with a light bearing holster tied inside the back pocket. Allows me to very comfortably carry Sig M-18 with red dot and light and 2 extra 21 rnd mags at all times. I replaced the 550 cord zipper pulls with heavy duty rubber t-grip zipper pulls on the gun pouch. It’s almost been a year and everything is holding up.

    I can throw it over sweats or running gear in summer and under jackets when it’s cold. And adjust it and loosen to stage it while driving. I’ve worn it all day in 90 degree heat fishing and on long car trips. I tried belly bands and every owb and iwb but never felt comfortable.

  7. One difficulty I have is driving. I won’t take my sidearm off and put it on every time I leave or get in my vehicle. I am certainly not going to holster and unholster.
    Doing this is dangerous and can definitely draw unwanted attention. However, it can be uncomfortable driving with a sidearm, and the grip may eventually wear a hole in your expensive seat.

  8. Great article! Been carrying concealed for over six years (In California) I went through almost all of the newbie mistakes you mention. However, over time I got better at concealment. I carry IWB. Currently I wear long tailed shirts, not tucked in. Slightly loose pants. A sturdy gun belt. Now it is so much a part of me I don’t even know it is there. I carry a Glock G30 (.45 ACP). Naturally, I have been through several holsters. Finally settled on The Glock Store’s $35.00 holster. It is very small and does the job perfectly! I am 6ft 1in and down to a 166 pounds and am 84 years young. My two cents: Practice often, shoot straight, and be aware of your surroundings.

  9. The best concealed carry setup for pistol is where one can have the pistol firmly situated so that it will not drift out of place and “print” the outline of the pistol grip area. The carry position may be strong side, appendix, cross draw, pocket, ankle or shoulder carry. I advise my students to avoid “small of the back” carry.
    Some of these are better for concealment than others and some will not have the defensive firearm as quickly available as others. One must dress for concealment no matter which position the defensive firearm is carried in. Actually trying some concealment positions in private may reveal what is the proper one to use and how one must dress to conceal the firearm.

  10. One word, suspenders.
    If your an old fart with a big gut and no ass, suspenders are the trick. Good one’s too, not that Walmart crap.

  11. “As you gain experience, you will find most people are far too concerned with their own lives to even notice you, let alone your concealed firearm.” So true, as most can’t stop looking at their “smart device” long enough to notice much of anything around them, which is a plus for those nervous about carrying, as it is difficult to notice “printing” when one is only using their peripheral vision.

  12. I went from a mouse 380 to a Glock 27. The change was significant for carry. But as a geezer I’m not walking as much. I’ve noticed no one is really looking at you and people pull on the pants when they get out of a car for instance. I think an OWB is more comfortable but I feel it could be more noticeable so I’m a little more conscious of the gun OWB. I wear relaxed fit jeans and my shirts are a little oversized and not tucked in. So printing and exposure are not a real issue. I use Kydex only. I feel that is the safest and most secure holster. But can feel hard and unforgiving and may rub a hole in your jeans near the muzzle. I’m thinking of putting an iron on patch in that area to forestall the wear. Thanks for your article:)

  13. You as always made some very good points, I am just commenting on what I carry, I, about 90 % of the time carry a 1911 colt compact with a few internal upgrades on my 3:00 in a good leather holster with a good belt made for carrying, I drop a polo shirt over it in the warmer months and never worry about it, sometimes it may print a little but it’s not that noticeable especially if I don’t pull my shirt down or even touch the gun, of course in the great state of Texas most people don’t give it a second look.

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