The Stylish Mans Guide to Concealed Carry
by Antonio Centeno
Art of Manliness
How to arrange
good-looking clothing around the decidedly non-standard bulge
of a handgun is a topic worth looking at. It’s something
that a whole range of men need to think about: police detectives,
security guards, entrepreneurs in dangerous countries, and even
your average American civilian who prefers to be armed.
carry” exists for a number of reasons. When you’re
doing it, you want to be living up to both parts of the phrase:
you want to be carrying, and have access to, a firearm, and you
want it to be discreetly hidden until such time as you need it.
men, any jacket long enough to hide a holster is sufficient. But
for most men, concealed carry needs to fit other societal expectations:
- Most plainclothes
peace officers will have specific dress needs either
a respectable suit or blazer to give them out-of-uniform authority,
or in some cases a disguise to help them blend into their environment.
guards are almost always expected to dress professionally, as
much for the comfort of their employer’s clients as anything
else. Banks and government buildings need high security, but
prefer a discreet man in a blazer as opposed to a uniformed,
paramilitary-looking trooper looming over their customers.
- An armed
civilian gets less hassle if he doesn’t fit the stereotype
of an armed threat. A trenchcoat and combat boots conceal a
weapon, but it doesn’t really conceal the likelihood that
you’ve got a gun under there. Bringing a little men’s
style into the equation makes the “concealed” part
of “concealed carry a lot more effective. Plus, it’s
the law in most states that if you’re carrying heat, you
conceal it. Editor’s Note: If you’re a civilian,
be sure to check with your local and state laws before you begin
carrying a firearm. Most states require citizens who wish to
carry a firearm to obtain a concealed carry license; there also
may be restrictions on where you can carry your firearm.
many reasons to think about both concealed carry and style in
the same picture. This article lays out the quickest and best
steps to making your concealed carry experience both practical
1: Choose Your Weapon
2: Choose Your Method of Carry
3: Choose Your Outfit
4: Talk to Your Tailor
take it step by step:
1: Choose Your Weapon
carry means striking a balance between firepower, ammunition,
and size. You inevitably end up making a sacrifice in one area
or the other it’s more a question of personal needs
and tastes than it is a matter of which is the “best”
But for choosing
a handgun, which is what most men will be carrying when they carry
a firearm in public, here are a few factors worth thinking about:
Size and Shape
magazine is always easier to conceal than a double-stack.
important dimension of a pistol for concealment purposes is the
width how fat the barrel and the grip are. That’s
what’s going to make a bulge under your clothing, more than
the length or even the weight of the gun.
As a result,
it’s better to have a single-stack magazine of relatively
low caliber, at least in terms of concealment purposes. If that’s
just not going to meet your needs in terms of firepower or ammunition,
you get a slightly thicker magazine and cope as best you can.
of a smaller grip/magazine (aside from limiting your shots) is
that a powerful handgun with a small grip has a ton of kick. The
shorter the grip, the less leverage you have, making aiming trickier
(especially follow-up shots after the first). A heavier frame
can help compensate for a smaller magazine, and won’t alter
the concealment in most holster types (though it will create more
of a sag if you’re carrying it in your pocket or by another
a balance that suits your needs, but from a concealment standpoint
do be aware that a longer grip/magazine is harder to hide, and
may end up poking you depending on your carry method.
This is one
that some people have very strong feelings on. Some people will
swear that you always want the maximum firepower you can carry;
other people are comfortable with the idea that no bullet is a
bullet anyone wants to take, and therefore even a tiny holdout
pistol is plenty for self-defense.
got to make that call yourself. But the reality is, smaller caliber
handguns are easier to conceal both because of the magazine size
and the barrel width and length.
not a universal scale a .45 could be more concealable
than a .38 depending on the shape and size of the grip and magazine
it’s just something you need to be thinking of as
a firepower/concealability trade-off.
To use a
very untechnical term, some guns are made with lots of “fiddly
what Im talking about everything from sighting notches
to bulky safety catches to raised lettering on the barrel. Any
of those is going to make the gun harder to conceal.
are purpose-designed for concealed carry (and a number of manufacturers
do have models specifically for the CC market) tend to be smooth-sided
and streamlined. Look for designs with minimum “fiddly bits.”
It’ll help both your concealment and your draw.
and Magazine Length
a secondary consideration next to width, but the length of the
pistol (in both directions) does matter. Extended magazines are
hard to hide, and tend to poke you while you carry them.
give you range and accuracy, and longer magazines give you more
shots without reloading, but the reality for most of us is that
neither of those is a huge consideration. Unless you’re
in an active military or paramilitary kind of situation, you
hopefully won’t ever need more than a shot or two,
even in the very worst-case scenario. Most of the time you won’t
even need that.
So when possible,
err on the side of a smaller weapon and magazine for the sake
of concealability and comfort. It’s one of those trade-offs
where you have to know your own needs, but don’t just default
to the biggest magazine and longest barrel available for your
handgun of choice.
easy to conceal, the mosquito gun is ineffective against anything
larger than a squirrel.
Which Gun is the Right One?
single right answer to that question. But, most men with concealed
carry experience will recommend something along the same basic
- low to
magazine (or very slim-profiled revolver)
- slim grip
a few of the more popular models that get tossed around in discussions
of concealed carry this is by no means an exhaustive list,
nor should any of these be taken as strong recommendations, but
they’re good examples of the relatively broad range of options
- NAA .22
- Kahr PM9
& Wesson M&P series
many more beyond these. But the important step here and
this is key is to know which one you carry (or will be
carrying) before you start planning your wardrobe around it, and
especially before you have any tailor-made adjustments. You get
the maximum benefit when you can have clothes tailored specifically
for your gun and holster of choice.
us to our next step:
2: Choose Your Method of Carry
handguns, holsters come in every style imaginable. You might own
one, or you might own a dozen. Depends on your needs. But for
purposes of deciding what to wear and how to conceal your gun,
you’ll want to know where you’re going to wear it,
and in what kind of holster.
of your method of carry, one key piece of equipment is a very
sturdy belt. This not only helps keep the gun in place and prevents
your trousers from sagging, it’s also an important safety
feature. You don’t want the holster shifting and you certainly
don’t want the belt buckle popping open because of the extra
weight or the jerk of your draw. Invest in something broad and
made of sturdy leather or ballistic nylon. Most stores that sell
holsters will also sell belts designed for them.
Holster, Hip Carry – OWB (Outside the Waistband)
Simple, cheap, and quick to draw
Bulky and hard to conceal
This is the
most typical way for peace officers and soldiers to carry their
primary handgun: a “paddle” style holster (basically
the outline of the gun, with a flat “paddle” backing
that rests against your body) worn at the belt line, with the
pistol pointed down the thigh. The magazine points toward the
rear of your body, and the grip is typically angled a bit forward.
for concealed carry should be obvious: it’s going to be
very easy to accidentally reveal a gun that’s worn up by
your front pockets. A long, loose jacket will do the trick, but
as soon as you unbutton/unzip the front it only takes a stiff
breeze to expose your holster.
also hard to conceal the bulge if you wear a buttoned suit or
sports jacket, even one tailored for the holster. You can pull
it off with a small holster and a small gun, but expect to look
pretty heavy around the hips when you do it.
Holster, Behind the Back – OWB (Outside the Waistband)
Simple, cheap, and still fairly quick to draw
Still bulky; still requires at least a jacket to conceal
solution to the hip-carry problem is to keep the same simple holster
but move it to the small of your back.
the problem of an unbuttoned jacket brushing back to expose the
pistol. The whole back of your coat/jacket would have to flip
up to reveal your firearm. It makes a suit or sports jacket much
more effective concealment, especially if it’s cut a bit
long in the rear. A little looseness also looks more natural on
the back of your jacket than it does at the sides.
pistol from behind your back is a bit slower than off the hip,
but still not too cripplingly inconvenient. There is growing concern,
however, that a gun in the small of your back can cause back injuries
if you fall or are struck hard where the gun rests many
police departments mandate that nothing except soft items (gloves,
CPR kits, etc.) be carried directly in the center of the back
for this reason.
the simple paddle holster worn behind the back is an effective
method of concealment, and still a favorite for a lot of concealed
carriers, it comes with some safety cautions. And, of course,
it requires you to sit down pretty gingerly, if at all.
Decent concealment, faster draw than behind the back
Uncomfortable, easy to accidentally expose
holster, which keeps the handgun tucked under your armpit and
against your upper ribs, is a popular one with law enforcement
(and one made famous by Hollywood and television cops). It’s
a good choice for easy access, and only slightly slower to draw
from than a holster on your hip.
it’s also not that great for concealment. A suit jacket
or blazer angles back toward the shoulder you’ve
usually only got a few inches between the butt of your pistol
and the opening of your jacket. Unbuttoned, it’s very easy
for the jacket to slide back far enough to reveal your weapon.
your draw with a shoulder holster also has to cross your body,
with the barrel sweeping in almost a full semi-circle. They’re
not allowed on many firing ranges for this reason instructors
and managers don’t want to risk other people being placed
within the line of fire as you draw. It’s important to have
very good trigger control and be careful with your safety when
you’re drawing from a shoulder holster.
Due to the
concealment drawbacks and need for trained habits, shoulder holsters
tend to be best for people like plainclothes detectives and security
guards who are being discreet, but don’t need to effectively
disguise the fact that they’re carrying a weapon, and tend
to have more firearms training than your average civilian.
Holster IWB (Inside-the-Waistband)
Good concealment, doesn’t require a jacket
Requires tailored trousers
(the most common name) carry the gun tucked into the trousers
rather than worn outside them. They make special holsters for
this, which are worth investing in. Whatever you may see on TV,
don’t go tucking guns into your pants without a holster
unless you absolutely have to. Most IWB holsters can be positioned
anywhere on your back, allowing for basic behind-the-back carry
or for something shifted to one hip or the other.
here is that you only have to hide the handle of the gun, rather
than the whole thing. A smooth holster inside custom-widened trousers
conceals most of the bulk for you. Just a loose T-shirt will do
to hide an inside-the-waistband carry in a pinch.
is that it’s an expensive and a fairly uncomfortable option.
You need the tailored trousers, the specific holster, and the
willingness to stand and sit with a gun barrel pointed down your
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© 2012 The Art of Manliness