Quantcast

The Best Way to Carry Concealed

ConcealedCarry
Print Friendly
4.13/5 (71)

As a concealed carry license holder, I am always looking for the best way to carry concealed in whatever situation I find myself in. What I have found over many years is that this requires a little bit of flexibility and the method of concealed carry and more importantly, whether it will work for you, greatly depends on what you are carrying, where you are carrying and what you are planning on doing when you are carrying.

Today I wanted to discuss some of the methods of concealed carry that I have personally tried and share some of the advantages and disadvantages of each method from my own experience. I will talk about what works (for me) and what doesn’t and give you different scenarios where each might be better than another method. I am writing this post because for so many years I have been listening to “the experts” who advocate one method of concealed carry over another as gospel. Like the debate over which caliber handgun is the best or which is the best SHTF rifle: AR-15 or AK47, the debate over your personal best way to carry concealed will generate some different opinions.

Why carry concealed in the first place?

Before I begin with the different methods of concealed carry, let me briefly divert into why I carry concealed in the first place. Simply put, I carry concealed because I want options. If a bad guy is intent on doing me, my loved ones or even a stranger deadly harm I want to be able to address the threat with as much force as a bad guy is likely to have. Just recently, a man (in the video below) walked into a liquor store and started shooting up the place. The reason he did this doesn’t matter. The man is a lunatic who wanted to kill everyone and he should be dealt with as quickly as possible to save lives. According to news reports, what you don’t see is a concealed carry holder confronts the man off camera and put an end to the violence in the store. Unfortunately, the shooter escaped to injure his parents before he was finally put down by police.

Can you imagine what it would have been like to be a patron of that store when this idiot walked in there and started shooting? If that ever happens to me, I want the option to do something about it. That is why I carry concealed. Options. Prepping is like that too. I prepare so I don’t have to go hungry if the stores run out of food. I won’t go thirsty if the town’s water is polluted and I can’t drink from the tap. If I have to bug out and leave everything I have behind, I have that option.

Different ways to carry concealed

Since I am talking about options, let’s look at a few concealed carry options that I have personally used and I will give you the situation I used these in and my observations.

Pocket Carry

Pocket Carry is probably the most common form (until recently) of concealed carry I have used. Why? Well, I work in an office where I sit down at a desk all day and work on a computer. I also have to dress up sometimes, meet clients and mingle. Pocket carry for me is as simple as it gets for the right size weapon. To facilitate pocket carry, I chose the KEL-TEC P-3AT. The KEL-TEC was my first weapon purchased for the express purpose of concealed carry and this has it’s good points and bad points.

 

Pocket Carry is the most discrete and worry free method of carry, but compactness has it's drawbacks.

Pocket Carry is the most discrete and worry free method of carry, but compactness has it’s drawbacks.

 

Pros of Pocket Carry

  • Drop it in the pocket and forget about it.
  • Very concealable – I never have had anyone ask me about what is in my pocket and I have never had anyone accidentally touch my firearm when I pocket carry.
  • Works great in dress pants or jeans. Easily the least worry of printing in almost any situation.
  • Lighter weapon means you can also use this with lightweight hiking shorts without your pants falling down.

Cons of Pocket Carry

  • To get a weapon that will easily conceal in a pocket you have to limit your firepower somewhat. I used a .380 which is really not enough power in my mind now to effectively put down an attacker quickly. I know, I know, it’s all about shot placement, right and a .22 to the brain will stop someone just as fast as a .45. I disagree on that one. Would you want to go up against a bear or a 220 pound man who is high on Flakka with only a .380?
  • Sitting down in the car, seat buckled makes it really hard to whip this thing out. I could do it if I popped off the seat belt and reared back pretty far.
  • Pocket lint – minor issue I know , but man there is a lot of lint on my KEL-TEC so cleaning frequently was a good idea if for nothing else than it was embarrassing.
  • In some pants with larger pockets like my hiking pants, the holster would turn sideways with the barrel facing to my right making the draw a slightly more complicated process. Eventually the weapon would start swinging like I had a big rock in my pocket.
  • Reduces you to one pocket because you can’t put anything in there with your firearm.
  • I actually had to learn to flick the holster off with one finger because just drawing out the firearm would occasionally leave the holster on. The last thing I want to do is draw my weapon only to have it still safely ensconced in its holster and me with a stupid look on my face.

Small of Back

When I got my Glock 30SF, this was my preferred method of carry most times. I have heard this referred to by a few different names. 4 o’clock position behind your strong side hip is where I would always keep my heavy 45 and this had some advantages and disadvantages as well. The results for me were pretty much the same regardless of whether I carried inside the waistband or outside. Actually inside the waistband was much less comfortable.

Small of Back is great when I am moving around, not sitting for long periods of time and works better for me in cooler climates.

Small of Back is great when I am moving around, not sitting for long periods of time and works better for me in cooler climates. Holster is a sturdy leather.

Pros of Small of Back Carry

  • From the front, you are really concealed and there is no noticeable shape to discern.
  • Drawing from this position felt good and seemed natural. I didn’t have to manipulate my hand around the firearm, but again, this probably had some to do with the size of my handgrips too.
  • In the winter time or when I had more clothes needed for daily wear; this was my go-to concealed carry option.
  • Walking around this is very comfortable

Cons of Small of Back Carry

  • When you bend over, even slightly, people can see the lump in your back no matter the size of the weapon or whether it is inside the WB or outside.
  • You can’t tuck a shirt in with this method. Drawing would be a nightmare. Also, any kind of pack would be a pain with this method of carry.
  • If someone grabs you from behind, they might prevent you from drawing your weapon.
  • Someone could try to disarm you from behind and I know you are supposed to be more aware of things like this, but it is still a thought.
  • Sitting down is a pain. I couldn’t easily wear this at work.
  • On a long car trip? Forget it. Not only would your spine be out of whack, you would never be able to get to your firearm in an emergency.
  • I have been hugged and people will tap my firearm and ask me what that is. Depending on the situation I will either confess it is a weapon or lie and tell them it is an insulin pump.
  • Holstering might take a little longer. If you are carrying inside the waistband you might need to loosen your pants first.
  • Holster is right over my wallet which makes me have to carry the wallet in the front pocket.

Strong Side Hip

Carrying at the 3 o’clock position is what you typically see cowboys, military and police doing. This method places the gun directly on your belt, strong side so you can get to it easily in most situations.

Strong side carry is probably the most comfortable outside of pocket but the issues with printing are more pronounced.

Strong side carry is probably the most comfortable outside of pocket but the issues with printing are more pronounced. Holster is from Raven Concealed.

Pros of Strong Side Hip Carry

  • Drawing from the position was very intuitive and easy.
  • All you need is a slightly larger shirt or jacket to cover the weapon
  • Running or walking isn’t impeded by carrying in this position.
  • Holstering is simple.
  • This method of carry does not put the weapon in your back so sitting down isn’t a problem.
  • The weapon fits nicely beside your elbow so it is easy to maintain control or awareness of the weapon.

Cons of Strong Side Hip Carry

  • Even on the side, this method prints when you bend over and most people can see that you have something on your hip unless you are wearing a Fat Albert sized shirt.
  • In a car, this method is also usually covered by the seat-belt.
  • Again, this method is easily detected by hugs which happen from time to time.

Fanny Pack

Yes, I have used a fanny pack to conceal my .380 before when necessary. Fanny packs aren’t for everyone and they have to go on the front, not the fanny but they have some usefulness too.

Pros of Fanny Pack Carry

  • Many of the same advantages of Pocket carry. Drop it in the fanny pack and forget about it.
  • Very concealable – I never have had anyone ask me about what is in my fanny pack and I have never had anyone accidentally touch my firearm.
  • Works great in dress pants or jeans. Easily the least worry of printing in almost any situation.
  • Lighter weapon means you can also use this with lightweight hiking shorts without your pants falling down.

Cons of Fanny Pack Carry – Similar to Pocket Carry

  • To get a weapon that will easily conceal in a pocket you have to limit your firepower somewhat. I used a .380 which is really not enough power in my mind now to effectively put down an attacker quickly.
  • You do have to manage a zipper and possibly other things in the pocket before you draw.

Appendix Carry

This is the newest method I am trying to get used to because I finally got a hold of the new Glock 43 which is what I plan on carrying as my concealed weapon on most days now. Appendix carry takes some getting used to. Some people swear by it but I am still deliberating.

Appendix Carry is new to me, but with my new Glock 43 which boasts a lighter, yet powerful weapon, it may be the new choice in some circumstances.

Appendix Carry is new to me, but with my new Glock 43 which boasts a lighter, yet powerful weapon, it may be the new choice in some circumstances. Holster is the Crossbreed Appendix Carry.

Pros of Appendix Carry

  • Arguably one of the best concealment of any method (outside of pocket carry) I have tried as long as I am standing up.
  • Can be used with a shirt tucked in or out
  • You can conceal a larger weapon
  • Drawing from Appendix carry might be a millisecond faster with practice.
  • You can drive while appendix carrying and still get to your weapon pretty easily.
  • I have never had anyone put their hands near my crotch at work.
  • Nobody hugs me down there.

Cons of Appendix Carry

  • Positioning, positioning, positioning. When I was first getting the hang of this, I think I pushed my holster too far down. Walking around this was OK, but bending over killed me. Once I lifted the holster up a little bit that got better.
  • Going to the restroom takes a little more finagling if you are carrying front and center.
  • I have to work a little more to get my thumb behind the grip because the weapon is pressed against my skin.
  • Might not be the best option for overweight people
  • If your weapon ever could go off, this is the absolute last place I would ever want it to be.

 

Ankle Holster

This is the last method I have tried and I only tried it for about an hour. I think I finally threw my ankle holster away because it was just too painful to even wear.

Pros of Ankle Holster

  • Great concealment with minimal printing

Cons of Ankle Holster

  • Small caliber needed to be practical
  • Weight of even the modest .380 hurt my ankles quickly
  • Drawing would require some additional physical movement and dexterity.

So there you have 6 different ways of carrying concealed. I know there are more like shoulder holsters and belly bands, but I have never used those methods myself. I used all of these methods based upon the situation and what I am carrying. For instance on business travel, I may pocket carry or appendix carry but never the other two. In the winter, outside of work I am more likely to strap the larger .45 on and carry behind my back because I won’t be sitting all day . I don’t think there is any one best way to carry concealed, but there are many different ways  that you can carry that suit you and the situation best.

Options.

What is your favorite way to carry concealed and why do you like that method?

If you liked this article, please rate it.

  • mdoe37

    Take a peek over at N82 (nate squared) at the IWB pro holster. Yes, its a little more size, but can be carried at 4 o’clock without it digging in. Perfect retention as well. The gun cannot be removed by someone just yanking it out.

    Find a tuckable holster….at 4 o’clock I reach with left, pull the shirt while right is unholstering.

    • I have them on my list and I think at some point soon I am going to review the Crossbreed, possibly the N82 tactical and another one I have on order from Tulster. My wife wants the N82 for when she carries.

  • EgbertThrockmorton1

    I find that pointing a loaded handgun in near proximity to the family jewels and package to be disturbing at the very least. Having personally witnessed a knuckle-head shoot himself giving himself a field-expedient vasectomy while a police officer many years ago. Those want to do “appendix carry”, have at it. I refuse to. I like strong side, and cross draw while driving or seated for long periods of time. I’m too used to reaching for my handgun on my hip, where I carried it on patrol, then as an investigator to change it up now. No one, has tumbled to this 60 year old carrying yet. I plan on keeping it that way. I like being GREY, invisible to society. Makes me less of a target. There are inherent real dangers in intervention in immediate shooter scenarios, I’ve seen far too many people wanting to be “good guys/gals” come too close to getting shot by responding Cavalry to want to “intervene”. No thanks, I’ll be a good witness unless there is no other choice. Seen far too much in my previous career.

    • I know what you mean. It is a little unnerving, but I am confident that the trigger assembly on my Glock is not going to be interfered with in the Crossbreed holster. Still….

      You bring up another good point Egbert and that could be the over anxious concealed carry owner getting hurt by police. I think that would be an extremely rare situation since the police are normally no faster than a few minutes away. Of course the person doing the shooting should take care to remove any doubt after the shooting that they are any kind of threat at all. A lot of things to go into, but that might make a great post.

      • EgbertThrockmorton1

        My normal EDC, is my Glock 26 with Glock 19 mags and grip adapters on the mags. Works like a charm and sitting is NOT an issue, in a vehicle or elsewhere. Haven’t tried it in flight obviously, but it’s comfortable and comforting for my use. Average patrol officer response in the USA is, between 6-9 minutes after, the 911 call.(according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report), and in some cases and areas a whole lot longer than that up to 30 minutes or longer. That can be an incredibly long time for lots of things to go wrong as well.

  • LWJ

    I use a G-code OSH RTI with a paddle on my hip for the most part. It is just the most comfortable method with the muscle memory reflexes. If I am hunting or have my heavier clothing on, I have a leather holster that I just throw into one of my pockets which is easier to get to when wearing layers.

    • Standing up I agree that on the hip is most comfortable, but sitting down (which I do a lot of) kills. What are you carrying?

      • LWJ

        Pat I have a Smith & Wesson MP9C for my daily carry.

        • I keep switching it up but the G43 will be my daily carry most likely.

  • CopperOwl

    I’m a little old lady and I use a fanny pack (in front, slightly to the side). It holds a .380 or a .38 just fine, and if you have it placed right it’s very easy to access the weapon. I can’t carry at work (no-carry is in my contract), but often do in other situations. I never go into the woods without it. Also, I absolutely agree with EgbertThrockmorton1 about being a good witness unless there is no other choice. My hair is gray and so is my visibility.

    • EgbertThrockmorton1

      CO,

      Absolutely nothing wrong with being a “little old lady” who has her .380 or .38 Special in her little old lady fanny pack. Nothing wrong at all with friends like those! Good for you! Absent work and your contract, carry them with you ALWAYS. Never can tell anymore about thugs and thugettes.

    • Glad you are carrying CopperOwl!

    • Steve

      Owl, I’ve been carrying a 1911 .45 in a fanny pack for about five years now, and only my family and a few in the know friends realize whats in the pack. I have a .380 that I used to carry on the hip in the summer, but decided the heavier projectile meant I likely would need only one shot per rather than two or three each.

  • Bolofia

    Thankfully, open carry AND concealed carry in my state are non issues. Either way, I prefer cross draw, because I am left handed. It’s pretty hard to pull a side arm from your left while in the driver’s seat with a seat belt strapped around you.

    Pat, I’m surprised that you didn’t mention shoulder carry!!!

    • My wife favors cross draw for the exact same reason Bolo. I mention shoulder holsters only in closing, but I haven’t honestly tried that so I couldn’t really comment. That would even seem to be more of a hassle than under a shirt but again, I have no experience with that method. Might need to start wearing a sports coat and get a shoulder rig.

    • LWJ

      Don’t you have a dedicated car gun? It makes life much easier!

      • Bolofia

        Yes sir! However, a southpaw still has to deal with the holster issue when behind the steering wheel. If I expect to be dismounting frequently, I will usually wear a shoulder harness for that reason.

        • LWJ

          My car pistol is secured in the middle console. I don’t care to leave it out in the vehicle and turn it into a weapon should we get into an accident. However I can get to it with my dominant hand in a jiffy and it is out of sight and out of mind which is helpful when parked at certain locations.

        • BobW

          As a right eye dominant southpaw trained by the Army right handed , I embraced right handed shooting for the military, and left the rest of the time. I’ve qualified expert on the rifle range both left and right handed. Now I feel completely confident of putting lead on target with either hand. I made the decision to carry the rifle LH, with the pistols right. It leaves my dominant hand for anything else that comes up. I can always swap hands after the first salvo if needed.

          I think everyone should spend the ammo and range time to be competent shooters with both hands. You just never know if/when your primary hand/arm/eye might be injured preventing shooting from that side.

  • Darin Taylor

    I use a Deep Concealment Shoulder Holster by Active Pro Gear. My Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm fits perfectly.

    • caedus

      But…dont you have to unbutton your shirt to get to it if you needed it?

      • Darin Taylor

        If I was in a situation that called for an armed response and I needed to get to my concealed weapon, then I would just rip my shirt open and get to it. I can buy another shirt.

        • That is what I was thinking Darin.

  • alysa

    I am a middle age accountant (female) and love my Galco conceal purse which is great for many handgun sizes. I also have a car gun (in a holster) and sometimes take a 22 Mag Black Widow revolver in my back pocket when walking the dog. Never had an ankle holster that did not hurt excessively.

    • Thanks for the comments Alysa! I have heard nothing but good things about Galco purses but they just aren’t for me… 🙂

      Seriously, I would be paranoid leaving my firearm anyway and prefer it on my body where I can keep up with it. I have had to leave my weapon temporarily at work and I dreaded that.

  • Mike Lashewitz

    I use a kydex holster in the appendix carry because I am in a wheel chair. It has never fallen out when I have. I buy “peel and stick” felt and line the skin side of the kydex to limit sweat, the entire holster arrangement adds less then 1/4th an inch to the weapon width. I carry a Ruger LC-9 as it is the same size as the Bersa Thunder 380 and more reliable. (My first carry) I also use a J clip to hold it IWB

  • Adam

    Pat I would like to add a thought about this. First, a issue worth noting about small of back carry is that should you be taken to the ground for any reason you would risk hurting your lower back on your firearm. Not something you can afford it that situation. Second, I would also like to mention that I have found the maxpedition and similar type messenger bag (man bags) to be convenient to carry a concealed handgun and some other stuff when hiking like sweat rags, first aid kit, bug juice, or whatever else strikes me.

    • Good points Adam. I have one of those Maxpedition bags but that is my Get Home Bag. When I am hiking I usually have another bag that is dedicated to carrying water and some supplies. My firearm is usually on my body, not in a bag although the Gearslinger has that great pocket.

  • Thomas Paine in the butt

    I prefer strong side carry with a 45° forward cant. This helps if you need the weapon in a seated position. To keep from my shirt getting in the way, I pull it up showing off my awesome kegpack abs. That alone could be enough to scare off all but the most hardened criminal.

    I usually have a double mag pouch at 6 or 7 o’clock. But if I’ve got to go for those I’m in a world of poop I never should’ve let myself get into.

    • Kegpack!! Nice one Thomas!

      I still haven’t started carrying a spare magazine yet. I know I need to ideally, but it’s harder working in an office environment.

      • Thomas Paine in the butt

        Hmmmm, I’ll have to work on an ankle mag pouch

  • Finally, a realistic look at carry options. The pros and cons you list are those that normal people would encounter or wonder about when trying to figure out the best way to carry concealed. Naturally, it all comes down to personal preference and situational awareness. Even though the appendix carry is getting lots of press lately, I don’t think I would ever be truly comfortable carrying in that area.

    • Thank you very much Greg! I am still getting used to Appendix carry. Like most of the other methods, it is great in one situation, but not all.

  • Mike Lashewitz

    I appendix carry, I am tall and everybody hugs me down there. I am also fat and it is uncomfortable. IWB is the only way to appendix carry to avoid imprinting though embedding seems to be a more appropriate term when you are heavy…
    For me the worst part is because I am large. Large hands, large belly, large belt, just large and the smaller weapons like the Ruger LC9 well… are just small for big hands but carrying a M&P 45 isn’t quite a CC possibility in the appendix position or any where else for that matter…
    Like Egbert the idea of the “family jewels” in the target zone during an appendix carry is a bit disconcerting. Which is why I practice often in every position. Unloaded of course.
    It is important to train muscle memory. To not engage the trigger until the target is in the sights. Takes about 1/100th of a second to insert that finger. I also use kydex specifically and add a bit of peel and stick sheep skin to the body side of the holster reducing sweat. I specifically like the kydex as it provided the necessary restraint without needless latches, snaps or catches while holding the weapon tightly enough that it does not fall out when one falls accidentally or otherwise.

    When wearing a dinner jacket I will not remove while sitting or dining, then a under arm holster works well but that too all depends on the air conditioning.

    • Two words Mike, Side Hugs….

      I can appreciate the issues you mention and William made a point that an article on the “problem solving opportunities” of carrying concealed might be a good perspective. I might be a little too guilty of advocating concealed carry, but it isn’t just as simple as purchasing a gun and sticking it in your pants. There are many variables and problems like you mention.

      Might be a new article soon…

      Thanks,
      Pat

  • B. W.

    I spent 29 years in law enforcement including three years commanding an undercover tactical unit. Ankle holsters are a last resort and I would NEVER recommend them for the reason that when you need your weapon, you simply may not be able to get to it. When I was working undercover with another officer he got his ass kicked and was completely unable to get to this weapon and he finally gave up and used his martial arts training to win the fight. However his experience in having to start hopping back while trying to bend over and get his weapon while the bad guy was pummeling him is not one you should ever have to experience.

  • Gunner

    I have used a fanny pack to conceal my Glock 17. It’s the best way to carry while at work. I have tried several types of fanny pack from different brands, but “9TACTICAL Casual Bag S” is Best of The Best for me.