My first EDC holster was an inexpensive Uncle Mike’s IWB. I didn’t carry very often at the time, so I didn’t consider it to be a problem. Later I decided to start carrying more regularly, but didn’t realize how many factors surround the process of setting up a concealed carry rig.
Deciding to start carrying everyday takes a lot more consideration than just choosing a gun and a holster; you have to take a look at clothing, belts and even accessibility. Concealed carriers must keep guns hidden, but reachable. A gun doesn’t do any good if it is impossible to obtain fairly quickly.
To start, shooters have to be at least somewhat flexible in this decision, as carrying daily is actually inconvenient at first. Just accept that you will make sacrifices to carry a gun every day. This could possibly mean changing clothing choices and style, and even avoiding favored locations, such as restaurants or other areas that might not allow concealed carry. The whole process starts with the conscience decision to be a sheepdog rather than a victim. This decision changes the lives of those who truly commit.
Location, Location, Location
Experts say you have to pick a location on your body and that is where your gun must always ride. And in theory, they are absolutely correct. However, most of us live in the real world and know it is unfeasible to assume nothing will change from season to season or even from day to day. Carrying when it is cold is much easier than during warmer weather, when light clothing must be worn.
Other factors include job duties and work attire. It is fairly easy to conceal a gun under a suit jacket or a work vest. Of course, not everyone wears such clothes for their jobs; most folks wear something in between, such as business casual or jeans and a shirt. Since concealment is crucial for concealed carry, clothing must be factored.
Strong-side carry is the most recommended, either inside or outside the waistband. Both of these methods require a good belt to hold the gun in place. Those who don’t want to wear a long shirt untucked must also consider IWB, which hides the bottom part of the gun inside the pants. For this, though, folks must use pants that are one to two sizes too big. Small of the back also works well for those who want to keep a gun on the waist but conceal it with just a shirt. However, many have gotten away from this method because of the potential for spinal injuries and the lack of access when sitting down.
Those who need to ensure guns stay concealed should consider deeper cover, such as ankle carry or a belly band. These methods provide excellent concealment in most situations, but both require extra practice to ensure a smooth draw when needed. The same goes for appendix carry, which has become quite popular in recent years, particularly because of the onset of phone holsters. Of course, regardless of location, folks must consider access, because if you can’t get a gun into action quickly when needed, it is useless.
Concealed Carry Rig Access
The main reason most experts recommend strong side, either IWB or OWB, is access and speed of draw. The fastest draw comes from the strong hand being able to perform four consecutive motions smoothly — grip, pull, rotate and extend. Strong side also leaves the support hand open for blocking or other important actions, and even allows hip shooting if necessary. Of course, not everyone wants to carry strong side on the waist. Nor should everyone carry the same way; that would be boring and defeat the purpose of variety in choices, particularly firearms and self defense.
Those who are out and about regularly in public might need quicker access than someone who spends most of the time in a back office; a cashier might have a quicker need for a gun than a government paper pusher. Of course, that might just be an assumption these days. Still, access must be taken into consideration along with concealment. This isn’t a problem if one is willing to put in the time required to become proficient. One can learn to quickly get a gun into action from even deeper concealment locations with committed practice.
The best way to test access is the try out a variety of holster styles. This, however, can be expensive if one has to purchase multiple holsters in different styles, brands and materials. It is better if you can borrow a few different methods of carry from friends to determine the feasibility of everyday carry. This allows you to test for both access and comfort; a concealed carry rig must be comfortable enough to be worn every single day. This also brings up the final factor, one that most shooters consider to be of great importance.
Concealed Carry Gun
A concealed carry rig consists of a gun and the methods of carrying that gun, such as a holster and a belt. As such, everything must come together to be an accessible, yet concealable, rig that is comfortable. If the rig isn’t comfortable, you might not carry it every day. A major factor of comfort is weight. This, of course, is why so many folks choose subcompact pistols, which are light and easily concealed with plenty of power to stop attacks. However, most folks also find them hard to shoot accurately, particularly under stress.
For this reason, people need to be honest about training and ability. This includes when choosing a gun for carry. Those who are unwilling to put in the needed range time should choose a gun better suited to their ability and commitment to training. Training must be performed regularly. Training is extremely important for those using subcompact pistols. This includes dry fire, live fire and draw practice. In fact, folks should perform live fire training at least once a month with their carry pistol, more if possible.
Influences on Carry Choices
My main choice of a concealed carry rig consists of a Kimber Ultra Carry in a Center Mass IWB holster. While I love the feel of leather, I’ve found Kydex provides a more confident draw, and much easier re-holstering. However, I occasionally carry differently, usually because of required clothing choices or activities. Most typically this involves a Galco ankle holster with a Smith & Wesson Model 637 or a Ruger LCP in a Blackhawk pocket holster dropped in a boot. Occasionally, I use a pocket holster to carry either of these in the cargo pocket of pants or even shorts. Those times mostly happen when I’m working around the house and believe that one on the hip might interfere with what I’m doing.
During those times, comfort overrides access. I have, however, trained at the range with these positions. Sure, I’m probably not as good drawing from that pocket as I should be, but that location is mostly for having a gun on my person at all times. Having a gun accessible at all times is the whole point of having a good concealed carry rig, which is a decision I made more than 15 years ago.