Concealed Carry -What's the best way?
“What’s the best holster for concealed carry?”
I hear that question in my sleep as it’s probably one
of the most frequently asked question that we face. Before we get into some
opinionated answers, let me go on the record and state that I don’t consider
myself a concealed carry expert. But I do have some working experience in this area.
My experience with concealed carry started in 1991 when I
first started my law enforcement career. Back then I had to find a way to comfortable
conceal a Sig 226, which was the only weapon that my police department would
allow officers to carry off-duty. Talk about a crash course in concealed
carry! Since that time, I’ve gone on to carry a number of different
weapons in a number of different ways. I still carry concealed on a routine
basis, and I'm always evaluating new CCW methods.
So that everyone is on the same page here, Webster’s
dictionary defines “conceal” as:
1.: to prevent disclosure or recognition of.
2.: to place out of sight.
For our purposes, "concealed carry" refers to appropriately
hiding the weapon from view.
Different methods of concealed carry can be generally evaluated
on three basic criteria:
A holster or method of concealment may be strong in one area,
but weak in others. Ideally you are looking for a set-up that is fairly strong
in all three areas. Although concealment is the primary function here, comfort
is a close second. I say that because my experience has shown that most shooters
won't wear a holster that isn't comfortable no matter how well it conceals.
There are a few other factors that may impact your ability
to carry concealed. Those factors include:
Weapon size - The effectiveness of concealed
carry can be impacted by the size of the weapon that you elect to carry. If
you decide to carry a Beretta 92, then you will potentially limit your available
concealed carry options, and may have some difficulty properly concealing the
weapon. I’m not saying that it can’t be done (remember I had to
conceal a P-226 for about 4 years), I’m pointing out that you may limit
your available options. I will have a larger number of possible concealed carry
options with a Glock 26 than I will with the Beretta 92.
Geography or climate – This can play
a significant role in your ability to conceal. Hotter climates usually mean
less clothing. Less clothing makes it harder to conceal a weapon. We routinely
get calls from customers in Florida and Texas who are trying to find an appropriate
concealed carry method that works with shorts and a t-shirt. I’ve never
received one of these type calls from Canada.
Body type – Certain body types may have
limited options with concealed carry. When I was in my early 20’s and
considerably thinner, I had real trouble concealing that P-226 IWB. Now I’m
on the opposite end of the scale (literally), and have an ever growing mid section
that will eventually interfere with my ability to carry IWB. We receive a number
of questions and calls for assistance from customers who have the proverbial
spare tire mid-section, and cannot properly carry concealed IWB.
Let’s take a look at some popular methods of concealed carry:
Inside the waistband (IWB)
Probably the most common and most popular style of concealed carry. IWB holsters
generally function in a manner where the holster itself is worn inside the waistband
on the strong side in the 3:00, 4:00, or 5:00 position. This type of carry has
a number of advantages as the bulk of the weapon is placed inside the pants.
Only the butt of the weapon needs to be covered. These are fairly comfortable,
and readily accessible. Most IWB holsters can be covered with a simply T-shirt
You may need to to change your wardrobe a bit to accommodate
for the extra space on your waist. This is usually accomplished by purchasing
pants and shirts that are a little bigger than usual. There are a number of
IWB variant holsters on the market today. Manufacturers are now making IWB holsters
out of leather, kydex, and nylon. Click
here to see the concealed carry IWB holsters that we carry.
Outside the waistband (OWB)
Very few OWB holsters will suitable for true concealed carry as they barrel
portion of the holster will usually show or you’ll have a “tumor
effect” where the weapon is carried. However, there are a few OWB holsters
that will conceal smaller sized weapons very well. These make an excellent alternative
option for folks who have trouble carrying IWB. A couple of those holsters that
we carry include:
- FIST K2
Hi-ride – This is a kydex hi-ride rig made by FIST. As kydex is
a more rigid material, the K2 is one of the highest riding holsters I’ve
ever seen. It works very well in concealing small to mid-sized weapons OWB.
Please note that this holster won’t work well with any weapon larger
than a Glock 19 as you won’t be able to clear the weapon from the
- FIST #8
#10 – Another set of hi-ride holsters that perform and conceal
well with small to mid-sized weapons.
- Hume JIT
Slide – Probably the highest riding Hume holster available. It
works well with smaller weapons.
Another viable choice for concealed carry. Pocket holsters can be worn either
front pocket or back pocket. Out of these two options, I prefer front pocket
carry. More than any other method of concealed carry, the effectiveness of pocket
carry is completely dependent on the size of the weapon. As quality pocket guns
have become more prevalent in the hand gun industry, I’ve become a bigger
fan of pocket carry. Like with IWB holsters, you find it necessary to alter
your wardrobe a bit and start buying pants, shorts, or slacks with deeper or
larger pockets. I’ve been very successful carrying front pocket carry
under almost any conditions. We carry a few different pocket holsters, but my
favorites are the:
Another possible concealed carry option. Like pocket carry, ankle carry will
greatly depend on the size of the weapon. I carried a S&W airweight .38
in a ankle rig for years, and it worked great for me. It does take a bit of
getting used to as there will be some unnatural weight on your leg. I know many
people who comfortably carry on an ankle holster every day, so it does work.
We carry the Hume H760
As with almost every other aspect of handguns and holsters, it will ultimately
come down to your personal preferences. What works great for me may not work
well for you and vice versa. I would encourage you to experiment until you find
the best weapon and conceal carry set-up for your needs.