Concealed Carry

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

Make sure your gun does not imprint.

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)

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

    1. 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..

  3. For Oklahoma Only where you cannot carry:

    TITLE 21 § 1277 – UNLAWFUL CARRY IN CERTAIN PLACES

    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.

  4. I’m a ret. LEO and carried an off duty gun for many years. You don’t need to carry a “cannon” around for self defence, just something that will stop an attacker, especially if you keep yourself under control and take good aim. I carried a S & W Model 36 five shooter .38 special because it was the smallest thing round. The average shoot-out usually consisted of two rounds fired so I figured why carry more? For concealment, I now carry a compact 9mm because it’s much more comfortable than having that Model 36 cylinder pushing into you in an elastic ankle holster or in-the-pants holster. The auto pistols are mostly flat and thus more comfortable, plus the one I carry has one in the chamber and 9 in the magazine, double action only. You have to shop around to find the most comfortable holster. You need to buy more than one type design of holster, depending on what clothing you’ll wear. There are good and not so good designed holsters being sold. Ankle holsters don’t wear well with tight pant legs or with a heavy gun. Belt holsters bulge out and can only be used with shirts that don’t tuck-in. Usually I wear an ankle holster or an in-the-pants holster. During the winter, you can get by with a shoulder holster, but that means you can’t take your jacket off. I haven’t worn a shoulder holster in thirty years.
    With shorts in the summer time, you can wear a small fanny pack type holster. That works well and is the most comfortable to use plus you can carry other items in the extra pockets. Nobody would be the wiser. Get the lightest most compact pistol you can find in the bullet size you want. Big guns are a hassle to carry concealed. Sure, a .45 would be nice to carry, but how do you conceal it? Do you want the discomfort? It’s a self-defense gun, and you’re not going out looking to get involved in a fire fight. Yeah, I know…some people want to carry the biggest gun they can, but realistically you don’t have to.

  5. RE: Comment 68
    The Glock, in general, reminds me of a DB380 except that at least the DB380 is a DAO. The Glocks have a lot of “history” about them that the factory likes to keep hidden and have earned them the term “Glockleg” for as many times as the gun has discharged inappropriately.

    While I’m a confirmed 9mm man myself, the 40 would be as high as I might go. For the number of successful rounds on target during actual service under stress, the 45 is too cumbersome and with too few rounds per magazine.

    http://www.realpolice.net/forums/archive/t-8759

  6. I carry a Glock 23 because you can hammer nails with it and still use it reliably. .40 cal because I have been told by police, MPs and agents that .40 and .45 is preferred to get the task completed as long as you are any good of a shot. The problem is a double stack is fat and heavy. I suggest a single stack with an extra clip in on your person. In Florida printing is no longer a problem at all. You can print all day long but be responsible to not think you can get away with open carry. I do carry a .380 when I’m in shorts and t-shirt but I just feel uneasy with such a small round.

  7. Re: Comment #60
    “…. unless you are an elite soldier or SWAT cop, you have a laughable 4% chance of actually hitting your attacker.
    The average LEO hits about 9% of the time in his first 3 shots”

    That’s true. The NRA was apparently started after it was determined that only one bullet out of a thousand was hitting its mark during the Civil War.

    During one CC course I took with computer simulation, people in the class were hitting car fenders, bridge abutments, buildings, but few shots ever made it home to the perp. I’ve found it helpful, particularly at close quarters, where time is in no one’s favor, to just do a vertical sweep from the upper groin on up. The muzzle climb at closer quarters is in one’s favor to land a good three shots without having to start in the upper torso and then worry about muzzle climb carrying you over the shoulders.

  8. Here’s Louisiana Law:
    PROHIBITED LOCATIONS
    R.S. 40:1379.3 (N) states that no concealed handgun may be carried into and no concealed handgun permit issued pursuant to this Section shall authorize or entitle a permittee to carry a concealed handgun in any of the following:
    A law enforcement office, station, or building;
    A detention facility, prison, or jail;
    A courthouse or courtroom, provided that a judge may carry such a weapon in his own courtroom;
    A polling place;
    A meeting place of the governing authority of a political subdivision;
    The state capitol building;
    Any portion of an airport facility where the carrying of firearms is prohibited under federal law, except that no person shall be prohibited from carrying any legal firearm into the terminal, if the firearm is encased for shipment, for the purpose of checking such firearm as lawful baggage;
    Any church, synagogue, mosque or similar place of worship; See RS 40:1379.3 (U)
    A parade or demonstration for which a permit is issued by a governmental entity;
    Any portion of the permitted area of an establishment that has been granted a Class A-General retail permit, as defined in Part II of Chapter 1 or Part II of Chapter 2 of Title 26 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950, to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises.
    Any school “firearm free zone” as defined in R.S. 14:95.6.
    The provisions of R.S. 40:1379.3 (N) shall not limit the right of a property owner, lessee, or other lawful custodian to prohibit or restrict access of those persons possessing a concealed handgun pursuant to a permit issued under this Section. No individual to whom a concealed handgun permit is issued may carry such concealed handgun into the private residence of another without first receiving the consent of that person.

  9. 2nd to the last sentence “Keep your driver’s license and your permit in the exact same location.” i suppose the holster is a good place to keep yer dl and ccw too.

  10. Re: “I was in fear for my life” In Texas this phrase appears no where in the penal code. The justification for deadly force is detailed specifically in the statute. If I see a teenaged girl playing with her iphone while driving 70 mph, I am “in fear for my life” but I cannot shoot her.

  11. How easy is it to carry illegally? No guns allowed in airports right? But did you know that the toll road leading to Washington’s Dulles Airport is considered part of airport property – and you can be arrested for illegal carry even though you are several miles from the airport! Read the fine print to be safe.

  12. The Texas penal code makes no mention of “Printing;” it merely says INTENTIONALLY displaying a gun openly is illegal.

    Do you guys fact check your articles? First w get the Babineux method, now this…

  13. Hard FBI statistics show that thanks to your body’s natural reaction to fear, unless you are an elite soldier or SWAT cop, you have a laughable 4% chance of actually hitting your attacker.
    The average LEO hits about 9% of the time in his first 3 shots.

    Scared yet? You should be.

  14. In Minnesota, the law does not specify that guns have to be concealed. They can be carried openly or concealed. However, I would advise anyone carrying a gun in a state that allows open carry to conceal their weapons. Why bring attention to the fact that you are carrying? In MN, guns are banned from the polling place. I am an election judge and we have to place signs at the polls specifying guns are not allowed. Also in MN guns are not allowed in schools.

  15. Comfort is first…In cooler weather I carry a Ruger LC9 in a Mitch Rosen OWB holster and a light or heavy jacket depending on the temp…In warmer weather I carry either the LC9 or a Ruger LCP in a IWB custom fitted holster and a plaid (or other busy print) shirt not tucked in. (busy prints helps breakup weapon printing.

  16. Get a gun safe installed in your car. You will not have to worry when plans change and you’re going somewhere where you shouldn’t carry.

  17. Read anything and everything published by Masaad Ayoob. Be sure to temper what he has written from a northeast anti-gun perspective. But this is a very good place to start.

  18. I enjoyed the article and all the comments. Today was my first time to carry. All of you are right, I felt like everyone knew I had it on.
    I bought a M&P shield 9. Nice and small and I did forget I had it.
    My first carry was to a movie with my wife. I scanned the theatre for possible escape routes should anything happen as I know the weapon is last resort.

  19. Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am inspired! Extremely useful info particularly the closing phase 🙂 I maintain such information much. I used to be seeking this certain information for a long time. Thanks and best of luck.

  20. that is an IWB inside the waistband. i don’t like them. when you sit it sticks out or jabs you in the ribs. the other downside is you need to lose 15 pounds or buy all your pants and belts 2″ too big. i prefer a fobus paddle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwKsN9ezdRU&feature=related or a glock sport combat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikZz4d0P2Jc . i am 5’11”, 200# and i usually wear a polo or hawaiian or charlie harper shirt and i dont print anywhere near like he does; as i said before, glock 22 for nearly 2 decades and never been called on it

  21. another comment, in las vegas, when a cop runs your plate for a traffic stop, if the registered owner has a chl, it shows up on their computer. we are not legally required to inform, they already know.

  22. The first thing I’d say is that I ALWAYS carry. I pick a weapon according to my percieved threat level. I have a gun for every occasion and dress. A Taurus ultralight .38 in a pocket holster is a great way to conceal when in summer attire and in a fairly safe area. Thats my minimum. I also shoot all of my carry guns often, every week or so. I shoot the same ammo I use for self defense.

  23. Long ago a friend demonstrated to me that if someone has his weapon out but is not in the process of firing, that you can draw and fire before he can shoot you. Counter intuitive to me but he demo’ed to me several times. Something about his body running a program and the other guy must recognize and respond to what he sees. You win by about 1/2 second, so make it count!

  24. I originally bought a Ruger SR9C as my carry weapon. Got a nice belt holster but that just doesn’t work when wearing shorts and a T-shirt which is pretty much my standard outfit. It is also uncomfortable when strapped into a vehicle. Ended up with a Ruger 380 LCP with the trigger guard laser. Good news is that it is easy to conceal – bad news is that it is not easy to shoot nor very accurate beyond 5 yards. In cargo shorts the gun disappears but if I want to carry outside of the pocket I’ve found that the inexpensive Proporta Cordura Belt Holster if perfect for small pistols. It’s intended for smart phones but fits the pistol well and has plenty of extra pockets for spare magazines, etc.

  25. I have been actively carrying for nearly ten years and don’t shoot as much as I would like too. I have read some very good tips on this site and would highly recommend that everyone read these and then research more info in their own state. I am at the point that I do feel ‘naked’ without my sidearm. It is a matter of getting comfortable with your gun on your side, or where ever you see fit to carry it. Check your local laws and look for the ‘do not carry’ signs at any businesses you frequent. Just remember that you carry for protection of life and limb. Do not intentionally show your weapon. It is that ‘unknown’ factor that could save your life. Be prepared…be aware of who and what is around you. You don’t have to be paranoid about it but pay attention. Be ready and BE SAFE!!

  26. @MarkC
    I was trained by professional law enforcement officers while attending a law enforcement acadamy in ’05. We had three “target response” areas on our firearms targets: A response(chest) B response(head) C response(groin). Through 1700 rounds each we practised double taps to all three, as well as triple taps; two to the a response, one to the b response. Your arguement that LE officials do not train this way is absolutely invalid. The first thing we were taught is “shoot till hes down.” If he drops after two shots, good. If he drops after a third to the head, better. If it takes all fifteen to put him down, then fifteen it will take. If it requires a reload and fifteen more, that is what will happen. The point is, once he is down, he is no longer a threat. How you bring him down depends on your training and skill, not what the prosecutor thinks you did. Most states have a law that protects civilians in situations like this. A good phrase to memorize is “I was in fear of my life and/or those around me.” End of story.

  27. 1. I have a few law enforcement friends… local police officers… in a word… respect. Respect their feelings. If you are ever stopped for a traffic violation or anything else), even if you are not carrying a weapon at the time, show the officer your concealed handgun license. If you are carrying, tell them you are carrying of course. If you are not carrying, tell them you are not carrying. When the officer goes back to the car and looks up your drivers license information, it comes back that you have a CHL (at least in Texas). My friends state that it is a very uneasy feeling to have to go back to a vehicle if the individual has not told them if they are carrying or not. Also, believe it or not, there may be an added benefit in many cases if you do have a CHL. Many officers respect individuals with a CHL.

    2. As an example, I was stopped by an officer I did not know. Yes, I was daydreaming…I was doing 47 MPH in a 30 MPH zone. I immediately gave the officer both my drivers license and my CHL and told him I was not carrying (just came from a school….no I was not in a school zone). I thought I detected a smile when he went back to his squad car. He returned with my warning ticket.

    3. I had a medical procedure in which they used a radioactive dye. I live in an area in which I have to go through a border patrol check point. Yes, there are border patrol checkpoints within the US…for instance, between Laredo, TX and San Antonio, TX. (Do not ask me about my opinion about that.) I forgot my letter detailing the procedure and I set off the radioactive monitors… lights blinking. I was told to go to the second inspection area. The border patrol agent asked me to get out of the car. I had explained to the agent while I was in the car about the medical procedure, but as soon as I got out of the car, I told him that I had a CHL and was carrying. It didn’t even phase him. He asked me where it was at. I told him left ankle. He told me don’t make a move toward your left ankle. He scanned me, wrote something in his log, and sent me on my way.

    4. I have carried a Glock 27 in an ankle holster for about 6 years. At first, there was a balance problem….that thing is heavy. Also, at first…the first 6 months…I actually developed a “rash” from the friction, but that has resolved itself. I did have one mishap. I got out of the car and somehow the gun was totally visible. Another customer at the convenience store just frowned at me and looked down at my ankle. I knew right away what he was signaling to me and I immediately corrected the situation. Thank heavens no one behind the counter got the wrong idea.

  28. Anyone new to concealed carry should read Mas Ayoob’s “In The Gravest Extreme”. And then read it again. I’ve been carrying for many years, and try to review it at least annually. Mas also authored the excellent “The Gun Digest Book Of Conceard Carry”. Highly reccommended.

  29. @ MarkC

    Your point is a valid one with one exception. What if 2 rounds fail to stop the attacker and he/she keeps coming. Are you suggesting putting 2 more rounds in the center mass? What if he/she is wearing a vest or is hyped up on drugs? There is a legitimate reason for the 2 to the chest and one to the head. I would suggest Goggling Mozambique shooting technique which later was taught to police departments as the failure drill. Now, that’s not to say I agree with 2 to the chest followed immediately by 1 to the head but if 2 don’t stop him/her the BG keeps coming, then the 3rd to the head hopefully will stop him/her as it will disrupt the entire nervous and give him/her a heck of a headache. However, I do agree with you on one point … I would have no reservation about emptying my magazine but hopefully I won’t need to find out.

  30. I find it surprising that Las Vegas officers train that way. Not that it’s not effective. But a head shot is not meant to merely stop a threat, like it’s inflicting some sort of generally survivable wound, it’s meant to kill. You shoot anyone in the head and it’s a kill shot a majority of the time. And let’s not forget that if you end up in court after a double tap in the chest and one in the head on an attacker you are going to need an awesome attorney to stay out of jail. That last shot to the head is going to look like premeditated murder to a DA and he’s going to make it look like that to the jury. And if you have a bunch of gun haters in the jury you’re in big trouble. Personally, I carry weapons with a minimum of 13 to 15 rounds. If someone attacks me when I’m done shooting the slide will be locked back. If the law asks me why I stopped shooting I’ll tell them the magazine ran out of bullets. But I’m going to follow my training. “X marks the spot.” Center of mass. But if I’m in a situation where a guy is actively shooting at me and I live long enough I’ll pop him in the head if he peeks around the corner looking for me. But I’ll never follow this triple tap. Tom Cruise in “Collateral” played a hit man that shot all his victims exactly that way.

  31. State Constitution Article I Sec. 11 Great Battle Born Nevada! why people
    relocate here and FFL dealers Etc. Me teach and cert Gun Smith .but I will not Spam no need ,, i can’t keep up with my classes.and i send out to other gunny’s.

    Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes.

    Nevada http://www.open carry.org/nv.html

    Summary
    Nevada is a traditional open carry state with complete state preemption of firearms laws.(Open in all of NV) However, Clark County is grandfathered so as to continue a “Deadly Weapons” registration scheme. Fortunately, Nevada law exempts travelers to and through Nevada from these registration requirements for 60 days.So say hello and goodbye with middle finger!

    Open Car Carry You may open carry in a vehicle. It must be clearly visible.
    no permit required why do i need to have an CCW??? (AZ now A Choice for travel purposes in and out of AZ.

    NV hunting laws are simple. and direct under law NV can not force you But if asked do you have any weapons then say so if you have a CC permit keep it with your Driver License on top of said Item and Relax and listen,follow and be safe.open or concealed.

    Education is key ,Up to you and whom you teach .

    Negligence is no excuse of Fire arm Laws period.

    NV Constitution mirrors most US Constitution corrupt as it may be sometimes I would rather live here then the Most Evil corrupt state next to NYC, Ill and the C.S.S of Republic Kalif.. I am a FFL dealer and Ammo wholesale broker

    Concealed means just that,NV Gun safety classes rules on carry is show you can draw your weapon from a concealed carry situation dry practice train daily compete in Air Soft paint ball video games think have Gun will travel! and USE WHAT FITS AND ANY GUN WILL DO TRAIN TO DO SO. WE HAVE A MARXIST IN THE WHITE HOUSE.

    Shoot once a week ,shoot to have fun and defense home and open carry is up to you! Our Gov signed in to law 2011 to Sunset the shall retreat! “STAND YOUR GROUND.”

    I want you all to Support the NRA GOA and any and all Gun Second Amendment shall not be Infringed..

    join the USCCA and think yes you need legal representation for now.

    All Info on State laws at http://www.handgunlawus.com

    Semper Fi oORAH!

  32. @ markc different states have different laws. and this is exactly how las vegas leos train and you shoot to stop (the threat) not kill. and in las vegas a clean shoot cannot be sued in civil court

  33. Comment #9, item 2. If you follow this advice you better have two things, a real good lawyer and a lot of spare time to spend in the Prison system. Follow some advice that will accomplish the goal without getting you charged and arrested for Murder. And then convicted of murder. You shoot a guy twice in the chest and you’ll probably be able to survive the legal fallout. You shoot a guy twice in the chest and then follow that up with a shot to the head and you WILL go to PRISON. You are not defending yourself when you follow a double tap to the chest with a shot to the head. You are absolutely assassinating someone then. No Cop will shoot someone like this. No one trained to use Deadly Force in the Military like me will shoot someone like this. Go ahead and pop a guy in the head after you shoot him twice in the chest and see what happens. Just make sure you have at least 7 to 15 years to waste away in a prison.

  34. 1st off where can i order a leather out of the pants holster for my kimber ultra carry and where can i buy spare ammo pouches for the magazines.

  35. For a fairly short general article on Concealed Carry I thought you did a pretty good job. Over all and in a General way.
    Don’t misunderstand me; I agree with your comments in general and have enough brains to realize (on my own) without being told to check for myself laws for my state and prohibited places.

    Here are my suggestions: Concealed carry is a complex issue as is the care and feeding of your pet handgun, as is law in general.

    Try a number of guns and find one that works well for you and stick with it. Switching guns, calibers, actions SA vs DA vs SA/DA vs revolver etc is not a good thing. Pick a gun and an action and a size that works for you and stay monogomous.

    Once you have done that pick a way to carry the gun, and stick with that. If you don’t you will be pawing at your waistband when the gun is on your ankle. if you don’t believe me, put your watch on your other hand or put your pen in a different pocket and see how many times during the day you have to “look” for it.

    I enjoyed your article and was amazed by the number of nit-picky “experts” that had so little positive information to share.

    My final thoughts are these: IF you choose to carry your gun in your pocket put some kind of holster on it like an uncle mikes nylon or a kydex to protect the trigger and don’t carry anything else in that pocket. In fact best that you keep the chamber empty.
    If you carry a gun put it in holster. Don’t let anyone else know about it.
    Practice with your gear before you employ it with live ammo.

    TRAIN TRAIN TRAIN and pray you never ever have to pull it or shoot it in anger.

    Keep up the good work and don’t let the detractors and nit-pickers bring you down.

  36. In response to David’s comment about costly legal defense in the event of a justified fatal shooting, there is an alternative to expensive out-of-pocket expenses for attorney’s fees and court costs. At a recent Gun Show in San Antonio, there was a display booth advertising Concealed Carry Insurance, which works much like life or auto insurance. This was a law firm out of Houston whereby you pay a monthly premium and in return you get legal representation up to X dollar amount, all the way from initial consultation and all the way to trial if necessary. I’m sure this is available in any state, and is definitely worth consideration for peace of mind. A good law enforcement friend once told me “never shoot someone to injure them, unless you want to spend the rest of your life’s savings supporting them”.

  37. In Oregon you may carry in many Local Governmental offices. One in particular is in the County Jail. When you wonder off from your business area there are signs, No weapons past this area. Also, you may carry in schools but not allowed to display or use even at a critical time unless you are asked to assist a Police officer.

    I wish for a 50 state carry law, but not one enacted by the Federal Congress.

  38. When I first got my concealed carry permit the instructor said that you should expect to have to spend st least $20,000 to defend yourself for a justified killing, and much more if it actually goes to trial. That was about 12 years ago and I am sure it would cost much more today. Financial decisions should not keep you from defending yourself but are anothering sobering thought that goes along with concealed carry.

    I carry a Glock 27 in an Uncle Mikes pocket holster every day. I wear cargo type pants and this is the most comfortable way to carry I have found. The shortfall of front pocket carry is access while seated in a vehicle.

    David

  39. You can legally can in the post office. Posters there refer to 18 U.S.C. p 930. The posters do not point out that this law does not apply to private citizens who are lawfully carrying handguns, and have no unlawful intent.
    The Code of Federal Regulations 39 C.F. R. 232.1 Conduct on Postal property prohibits a prvate citizen from carrying fire arms on postal property. But, it also states nothing in the rules abrogates any other federal, state or local laws,regulations. So,the CFR cannot trumpthe U.S.C., which allows concealed carry in a federal facility. This infornmation was found in the Law Enforcement Guide to Firearms Law, 13th Edition.

  40. First rule of concealed or open carry is always the same: KNOW THE LAW, not what some website says, unless it is a government website that displays the law and advice on carrying a firearm.
    A LOT of inaccurate or semi-accurate information is out there, the GOVERNMENT makes and publishes the law and today, with the internet, it’s trivial to get the truth in a few minutes of looking.
    Second rule of concealed or open carry, if you cannot say “Yes, I have zero problem blowing someone’s insides outside of their body” or something similar and irrevocable, DO NOT CARRY. If you hesitate, that weapon WILL be used on you, then on others. I’ve talked rape victims out of carrying a firearm, with that very argument and the gun shop was very happy, rather than risk learning about a new victim in the news being a former customer of his. He sold her some high potency pepper spray and a stun gun, which she would have zero hesitation over using.
    Third rule, DO KNOW AND PRACTICE with whatever you carry. I do. My two carries are a light weight .38 snub and a M1911. The .38 is in an inside pants holster or gunny sack. The M1911 is most comfortable with a clipdraw inside the pants OR in that gunny sack. What is carried is largely seasonal, as that M1911 is a bit difficult to conceal in the summer.
    I’m proficient with both and can rapidly draw to point of fire.
    Fourth law, learn what the use of lethal force law REALLY IS for your state, see the first rule about accurate-inaccurate sources. MANY states have the reasonable person hypothesis, ALWAYS consider that “reasonable person” totally unreasonable! That puts the ducks in a row to NOT get charged with a felony. The use of lethal force SHOULD e the LAST option employed, always. That said, I’m not one to run away, as my back is no more bullet proof than my front is and front first is a far better way to fire than over the shoulder or something. But, be really, really, really sure, without hesitating.
    Yes, that sounds silly about being sure, but, let’s face it, usually, it’s black and white. Someone’s getting or has a gun out (if theirs is out, it’s really late to try to get yours out unless you are The Flash). A knife is out and intent is obvious.
    Forth law, part A: Find a weapon you will be comfortable with, both in concealed carry AND firing. If you can’t comfortably carry that M1911, don’t bother with it. If you can’t comfortably fire that magnum, don’t bother with it, scale down. Remember, though people knock it, Reagan nearly died from a single .22 round that ricocheted into his limo, which left the round even weaker than normal when it hit him.
    Fifth law, every poster here’s personal preference for carry method and carry weapon is valid for them, but may well not be valid for you. That is for you to decide, so try going to quality gun shops and see what they offer for concealed carry for your desired weapon.

    As was said above and highly noteworthy it is, “Do not carry a weapon to be a man, carry because you ARE a man”. Ladies, feel free to substitute woman in the statement, it’s equally valid.
    And remember, a firearm doesn’t make you bulletproof.

  41. Good article- brings about many questions, as the responding posters have shown. We MUST understand the laws in the states where we carry.

    Advice for “new” concealed carriers:
    1. Carry the piece that you have practiced with.
    2. Understand fully the “escalation of force” and abide by it.
    3. If you practice carrying at home, walking out the door the first time will be easier and less stressful.
    4. Try several different holsters- determine which works best for the clothing you will wear. Break them in and make adjustments before wearing them in public to prevent comfort issues. Constantly tugging at a poorly fitting or poorly adjusted holster in public is a no-no. Your selection of a holster should also be determined by WHERE you are going- The beach? The marina? Will you spend most of your time driving? Are you going to walk for hours today?
    5. If you are carrying concealed, no one should know that you carry- unless they are your partner, bride, or traveling acquaintance/business associate. Carefully select whom you will advise about your concealed carry.
    6. I recommend that if you and your wife both carry, carry the same make/model/caliber weapon while you are together (interchangeability of ammo, magazines, etc).
    7. Every concealed weapon carrier should understand and practice weapons retention drills. You must be able to stop another person from taking your weapon and using it against you or others.

    Additionally, you DO NOT have to explain to others why you carry. Just know that it is both your right as a U.S. citizen, and your responsibility as your family’s protector and body-guard. There is not much benefit in arguing these points with some people, so don’t . . .

    Lastly, many past incidents have shown that after a presentation (brandishment) or the use of firearms force against another, IT IS BEST TO SAY NOTHING UNTIL YOU HAVE CONTACTED YOUR ATTORNEY.

  42. Over years of carrying in Idaho (before moving to Ca in which it is nearly impossible to get a concealed weapons permit) I found good support for the weapon to be critical to comfort.You will need a good belt and holster period. Than I would recommend practicing wearing the gun around the house and your property until you are fully comfortable and you start to forget you are carrying it.
    I would also recommend practicing (with the weapon unloaded!) drawing the weapon time and time again until you are extremely comfortable drawing the weapon and acquiring your target naturally. this may not sound like a big deal but if you ever need your weapon you want to be able to get to it draw it and if necessary discharge the weapon without having to think about the steps needed to do so. I know people who have carried weapons for 25+ years who still practice drawing and firing their weapons and one who had to shoot back and he said it was the practice that kept him alive not just having the gun.

  43. For the record, carrying IS allowed in polling places. Case precedent: http://www.mdshooters.com/showthread.php?t=4379 and http://www.usacarry.com/forums/pennsylvania-discussion-firearm-news/3836-judge-returns-mans-permit-carry-concealed-weapon.html

    That said, I find that an inside the waistband holster on the front left of my pants with the grip of my pistol pointing towards my right side is the easiest for me to draw, sight, and shoot, as well as the most concealable and comfortable. (Being a female and having boobs does occasionally have its advantages.) I have a nerve disease and sometimes my range of motion to get my elbow and shoulder high enough to draw a side holster comfortably is too restricted.

  44. For ladies, especially…when we go the the bathroom think of who may be in the stall next to you. A mom with a kid, or just a kid…find a place to carry weapon (I carry a Sig. P238 is a wallet holster in my back pocket). It is only on rare occasions I carry a purse!

  45. Reply to Ray: Federal law prohibits carrying into a Post Office. HOWEVER, there is a case pending where the postal service claims that it is illegal to carry ANYWHERE on the PREMISES. That includes the parking lot.

    To everyone else: Above all, get training! Go to Front Sight, Gunsight, Thunder Ranch, wherever, but get some 1st Class training. Most training facilities will go over the legal aspects of carrying a weapon. This is very important to know. Make contact with a local attorney who specializes or is very familiar with local gun laws. Spend a few bucks, get his card, and carry his contact info with your carry license just in case. Know the law in your area, and where you plan to travel. Contact the state’s AG to get the latest state laws, and carry a copy of them with you when you travel. The LEO stopping you may not even know the law or how it pertains to you.

  46. I’ve been carrying concealed in Texas for many years. I urge everyone to contact their state senator and demand they get an open carry law approved for Texas. Some one wrote that people are not watching you; they are too busy doing their own thing and I have found that to be true. Tell the people you know, as a friend or family, that you carry and warn them never to confront you about it, if they are with you when a situation occurs, where you may have to use lethal force. YOU WILL MAKE THE DECISION, whether to draw or observe. I agree that if you draw it to use it, double tap or shoot at least twice. Get informed about your liability if you have to shoot someone. When the Police arrive, put your weapon down on the floor with your permit and your hands up. YOU WERE IN FEAR OF YOUR LIFE is the first thing out of your mouth to them or anyone else. Often, go over in your mind how you might respond about what if. If you have to draw, do not take time to aim; point and shoot. If you know your weapon, you’ll be able to fire with both eyes open and the barrel will be in line with your sight. DO NOT take the safety OFF for practice at the range and then carry with it ON. Every time I leave the house, I ask the Lord to guide me safely through the day and do not put me in a situation where I have to use the gun. Be safe out there.

  47. How freaking stupid have some people become? ANY PLACE that says “no guns allowed” and that includes and especially our stinking govt rules…makes you, the unarmed a prime target by a piece of dirt that could care less about a gun permit or license when he or she is out to commit a felony or murder……IDIOTS!

  48. Reply to Ray: Post Offices are posted as no firearms allowed under federal law (39 CFR 232.1), but there is a current case in Colorado which may call that into question as there may be conflict with the lawful purpose exemption under 18 USC 930(d)(3).

  49. I enjoyed the article as well as most comments. I got my CCW about a year ago and initially, it was more like a “badge of honor” but I didn’t start carrying until I really understood the laws and was willing to accept the responsibilities (yes, there are responsibilities) and ramifications of concealed carry. You can get in a world of kaka in a heartbeat if you make the wrong decision. I read an article titled “5 Rules of Concealed Carry” years ago which pretty much sums up the guidelines for CCW.

    1. Your concealed weapon is for the protection of life ONLY
    2. Know exactly when you can use your weapon. 3 criteria must be met:
    a. His ABILITY to inflict serious bodily injury
    b. His OPPORTUNITY to inflict serious bodily harm
    c. His INTENT (hostile actions or words) to inflict serious bodily harm
    3. If you can run away safely, run
    4. If you display your weapon, you can go to jail
    5. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you! Be humble … don’t instigate

    Also, for those who really are concerned about CCW laws in their state, I recommend http://www.handgunlaw.us as a starting point.

  50. First of all… carry a weapon you are comfortable with and can operate efficiently and effectively with. Large full size weapons may be easier to aim and shoot but may be more difficult to effectively carry especially on small frame individuals in the blazing summer. Smaller weapons require more skill in effectively aiming and shooting and may need to be fired a few times but are much more easier to conceal. You must be very confident in your abilities to carry a “pocketable pistol” otherwise look for a way to tuck 1911 or Judge. People that carry always look at places on other people to see if they can detect a weapon on them. Get used to it. If it feels like someone is checking you out… your are probably right. Always be aware of surroundings and what you may be walking into.

  51. In Texas, the key factor that determines whether you can carry a concealed weapon into a liquor store is a prominently-displayed sign, usually at the entrance window, with the big red number 51. This means 51% or more of its income is derived from the sale, not consumption, of alcohol. You definitely CANNOT bring in your concealed weapon if you see this 51 sign. Most liquor/wine stores allow you to carry concealed. Get in the habit of looking at the windows of any establishment you enter while carrying concealed.

  52. Practice going to the bathroom while ‘packing’, while still at home. A public restroom is not the place to realize that your holster can slide right off the belt when you’re sitting down…

  53. You need to provide more accurate information, there are multiple flaws in this article. I will site Texas law since its where I have my CHL, and Texas is used in the examples.
    It is NOT illegal to print or even have it accidentally exposed. It must be intentional.
    It it NOT illegal to carry into a city/state building, (courthouses, SECURE areas of police stations, schools, major sporting events, are the exceptions. no carry.)
    It is illegal for cities to ban CHL carry on city owned property, with the above exceptions.
    It is NOT illegal to carry in a liquor store/beer wine store. Consumption of alcohol is the key factor of whether you can carry or not.
    There are some states that even let you carry into bars, so alcohol is not a universally banning factor.

    Obviously if your not sure dont carry.
    Know your state laws.
    Know the laws where you are traveling.
    Law enforcement does not always accurately know the laws. If you travel having a copy of the local laws never hurts.
    There are some good forums and state websites that will give accurate info. Most states have a dedicated web page that will cite the specific gun laws.
    You can get a small car safe for about $30 for keeping in the car if you have to disarm. Secures with a cable, fits under the seat.

    I dont mean to be an A-hole, but there is a lot of inaccurate information about gun laws. Some of the concealed instructors and law enforcement are even providing wrong information.
    A majority of restrictions are for unlicensed carry, but people read the overall laws and get confused, which is easy because laws are written in lawyer speak and are overly complicated.

  54. glock 22 in a fobus on right hip under hawaiian shirts and polo shirts for two decades. never been questioned. if i am in a suit, i substitute with glock 27. if i am in a danger area, both with 27 on the inside left ankle. always at least two 15 round mags on the left hip. always loaded with 180gr hst. for the first two weeks at least dress with it and wear it around the house all day so you get accustomed to the feeling.you will feel naked without it.

  55. I have been carrying concealed since 1988. I have carried everything from a .380 to .44 mag. I have been carrying a Kimber Ultra II in .45 for the last 4 years and wouldn’t go anywhere without it. I carry in a hip belt holster. I also carry a Glock 27 in .40 as my back-up in an ankle holster and I ususally forget that I am carrying at all. But carrying for 20+ years kind of does that to a person. You do get used to it. Remember to ractice aften wiht what you carry and become proficient with it. I shoot from 200 to 500 rounds at least every other weekend and sometimes during the week. You can never be prepared enough. I refuse to be a victim…

  56. Only thing I could add is cross-draw is illegal here in WV. Also trying to dissolve a confrontation by “pulling up your shirt” to show you are concealed carrying is considered brandishing.

  57. I have been carrying concealed for fifteen years. Here are my bits of advice: Carry the largest gun/guns you are comfortable with. Carry the simplest guns you can find. Always carry the same guns, or guns that are the same as all the others you carry. Always carry the same way, don’t constantly change your carry location or holster. Think about where you are going, how you will get there, and what you will be doing while you are there. Make sure your concealed carry plan will work under those circumstances. Protect the gun from inadvertent discovery, such as hugging grandmas, bumping people in crowds, and the like. And get some training in how to use the gun you have chosen to carry, or at the very least, find someplace which will allow you to shoot your weapons from the holster. Practice safe draws (with unloaded guns) until you feel you can quickly and consistently produce the weapon, ready to fire. There is much, much more, but without writing a book for you, you will have to accumulate your own experiences.

  58. I carry my concealed weapon while on my bike. The other day I needed to go in and get a stamp,if I bought my concelaled weapon in because I have no storage on my bike, I could face jail time and a felony charge?? I live in TN, is this correct??

  59. I am sure that even some veteran CC holders still have days of self-conscious “they can see my gun.” I know I do and have been carrying every day non stop for just over 3 years. Here are a few tips that have helped me and my wife (who just started carrying this year) feel safer with a weapon:

    1: Options. There are more options than ever before for concealed carry nowadays. Great sites exist where you can pick out your firearm make and carry position to get a list of holsters that will work for you. Gone are the days where nothing could be ordered online because it always was the wrong size/ordered incorrectly. Because of this, the notion that you will carry a smaller gun eventually is rather absurd. On most days (95% of the time) I not only carry but dual carry. A .380 in an ankle holster with a spare mag and one of my 9mm/.40/.45 in a IWB or SOB holster. If you are used to carrying a big firearm because that’s what you have, you get used to it quickly.

    2: Know your firearm(s) inside and out. That means getting practice with it whenever you can. Ammo and range time can get expensive, but nowhere near as expensive as your life. Laser training trigger sights, dry fire exorcises, and .22LR conversion kits for popular models are great money saving accessories for practicing when you can’t go to the range.

    3: Carry as much gun as you are comfortable carrying that gives piece of mind. A .22LR mini revolver fits the first rule of “Have a Gun” but it is unlikely to stop someone who needs to be stopped. The best rule of thumb I have seen is “If it (caliber) is not used by law enforcement as a primary or backup gun, it is not worth it.” As a LEO, the vast majority of departments carry 9mm/.40/.357 as a duty piece and .38spl/.380/9mm as a backup. These are good, common, and decently powerful calibers that are good for civilian carry.

    4: You are your own worst critic. If you don’t like a gun/holster/belt combo for any reason, try something else. What works for some people doesn’t work for everyone else.

  60. 1. If you are not absolutely sure you can pull the trigger and shoot another human to save your life or the life of another… then “don’t carry a gun” or else carry a gun you can eat or have shoved up a orifice on the back side of your body.

    2. Even with a big ole .40 cal, .45 or .44 mag… the bad guy doesn’t always fall down or give up with one shot. If you have to shoot, try to put at least 2 shots to the chest & one to the head as quickly as you can. Even several shots to the groin or legs if that is all you can manage.. but don’t stop at just one shot.

    Hesitation can get you killed! When you see the news stories on television about cops shooting someone a dozen time…it isn’t over kill.. it is them knowing that one shot doesn’t always stop someone who is armed from shooting back. In the big FBI shoot out in Florida years ago, the Shooters were shot to pieces with 9mm’s & .38 spls and still managed to kill 2 agents.

    3. If you have to pull your gun on a attacker armed with a weapon… don’t drop your guard and lower your gun just because he / she said they give up… bad guys will lie to you!

    4. If you carry a small mouse gun / pocket pistol like a .380 Ruger LCP or Kel Tec P3AT.. then strongly consider getting yourself a Crimson Trace laser. The sights on these guns are virtually useless in a low light self defense situation. For daylight shooting, dab a little white or bright orange paint on the front sight.

    5. Always carry in a holster of some kind…. whether your weapon is worn on your belt or carried in your pocket. If you carry in a pocket, don’t put anything else in the pocket with the gun. I like a Uncle Mike’s #3 pocket holdter for my LCP, P3AT and .38 spl S&W J-frame. And take the time to blow pocket lint out of the slide and check the barrel regularly.

  61. My recommendations for those who are new to concealed carry are:
    1. Don’t carry the gun to make you a man. Carry because you are in fact a man.
    2. Have more than one concealable gun (i.e., Glock 19, Glock 26, Kimber Ultra Carry, etc.).
    3. Practice with all the guns you own often.
    4. Carry the gun you can use best regardless of social fashion.
    5. Always carry your gun regardless of social pressures.
    6. Whenever you carry a gun, also carry a knife…and some spare ammunition.
    7. Have several concealed carry options (i.e., ankle holster, inside the waist band holster, high rise outside the waist band holster, off-body holster such as a fanny pack holster, etc.).
    8. Dress for success. With multiple concealed carry options, you should have no problem finding the one that works for what you are wearing.
    There’s more, but this is a good start.

  62. Well, I just got done readin’ “Jim Bob’s gyde to Totin’ yer Hawgleg” and it says…
    Wow! Really? If writing an article discussing federal laws regarding the carrying of firearms is it too much to ask that you actually read federal law regarding the carrying of firearms? I did love your quote “I conceal carry every single day and carry my small .32 in my front pocket without any added “gun junk.” No, just a junk gun. Anyway, if you are going to write an article about concealed carry in Texas, please state that this probably applies only in Texas.

  63. Yup I’m in Indiana too. I got my first License to Carry a Handgun in the early/mid 1980’s.

    I used to carry EVERY DAY on school property when I would take my daughter to and from school. Indiana allows carry on school property if you are transporting your child to a school event (can’t go into the building, etc). And Indiana allows carrying into the voting booth, into bars and liquor stores, into church, into town hall, banks, etc. We can OPEN CARRY or we can carry concealed, its our choice. I do both.

    In addition to a good holster (I love CrossBreed’s Super Tuck) you should also get a good stiff belt. Cabela’s makes one that is fairly inexpensive called the DOUBLE DUTY, works great for spreading the load of carrying a heavy gun. I think the BELT is even more important than the holster, but the two combined should be able to hold the weight of the gun and keep the gun firmly supported while preventing it from moving around/shifting during the day.

    Also, the part in the article about going to a smaller gun over time, that is bullcrap. Most of the time I carry a full steel 1911 pistol. Granted its not a full size gun, but it weighs over 2# and is huge in comparison to those little pocket guns. Sure, the pocket guns have their place and I have one of those for every member of my family. They work well when you can’t carry a real gun you can hide one of those just about anywhere. But for the most part its better to simply dress around a real gun.

  64. To my knowledge, Federal Law has VERY few restrictions on where you can carry a firearm (Just Federal buildings and Army Corp. of Engineers properties). State laws vary widely. In Indiana, there are very few places you cannot carry (schools, jails, some courts, for instance). It is absolutely legal to carry when voting at the Polls, unless they happen to be at otherwise illegal location (I carried when voting in our primaries, at a local church). You may also carry into local government offices, and even many State offices, unless they happen to have a jail, or a court (and either a Court Order barring carry or a local ordinance). While not perfect, Indiana does a fairly good job recognizing our right to carry.

    Back to suggestions for Newbies:
    – get a GOOD holster, not some cheap knock-off
    – dress around it (yeah, you might need to go a size up in pants. Sorry!)
    – CARRY!!!! The more you carry, the more comfortable (and comforting) it becomes.

  65. Suzanne,

    I am not certain if you are right or wrong, although I would agree with the first poster, but what bothers me about your comment is that you use a book as your source and not federal law. Please cite the laws that you refer to in your above post.

  66. The 2012 Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States under “Universally Restricted Areas” reads, “Firearms carry is also prohibited in law enforcement offices, detention facilities, courthouses, legislative meetings, polling booths, and public buildings that house government offices where official business is conducted… Exceptions to these general rules do exist. But, for the most part, travelers should consider these areas to be off-limits unless the Guide states otherwise” (p 6).

    I am curious. Do you live in a state where you can carry into a polling booth and your local law enforcement agency? If so, what state do you live in?

  67. I think you might want to fact check your article for accuracy.

    It is legal to carry into polling places when you vote.

    In some states you can carry into local police stations, town hall, etc. but you are correct that federal law offices may be off limits.

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