You’ve decided to carry concealed. Time to think about how you are going to carry. Today there are more holster options than ever and it is worth checking because more concealed options are available every time you turn around. Different holsters are optimal for different pistol types, accessory configurations etc…, but that’s a topic for another article.
Choosing a holster/gun combo is a compromise among three considerations: accessibility, concealability and comfort. If the gun isn’t accessible, it’s worthless; if it isn’t concealable, it runs afoul of legal and/or social perceptions; if it isn’t comfortable, you won’t use it. Few people find the perfect ratio of all three for EVERY scenario, so it may be necessary for a gun to have more than one holster.
It may be necessary to go smaller.
Smaller guns offer versatility and have moved from the .22lr, .25acp and .32acp. to 9mm, and even .45acp being options (as are .38sp, .327Fed and .357magnum). Shot placement and bullet type are more important than bullet size, and while these guns sacrifice barrel length and sight radiuses, they do so to be concealable. Which is the point. The right type of holster assists this.
The most common holster is Inside/Outside the Waistband. The primary difference between the two is concealability.
Inside is more concealable – your pants hide the gun’s print – and accessing your pockets will not easily reveal it. Though it requires adding an extra inch (or two) to your pants’ waist size: great for those going down on the scale, frustrating for those who are going up.
These holsters are popular because they have a variety of waist placement points. Imagine a clock face with 12 being straight forward, the common positions are 11:30, 12:30 (“appendix carry”), 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 o’clocks. Typically, this is determined by draw hand and comfort – people’s bodies are shaped differently and what is comfortable for one is miserable for another. It’ll depend on how the gun sits.
Crossdraws? It spends milliseconds to advertises your intent before drawing.
6 o’clock? May cause issues sitting or getting knocked prone. Yet, if these are the only places that work, weigh the pros and cons for yourself.
Yes, it may look or feel like a girdle. So what? The band holster has merits: one being the gun can go anywhere within and it helps hide the gun-print. It’s versatile for all sorts of attire. It’s snug: while jogging or similar activity the gun will pretty much stay where you put it. Finally, no need for different types of holsters for different guns for most clothing occasions.
A pocket holster is for your gun so the grip stays where you need it while keeping your gun clear of pocket debris. Further, it helps the gun “print” more like a wallet or phone. It may require practice to draw without pulling out the holster, but accessibility the plus: no one has found a more convenient place for pockets, so why not put the gun there?
Police detective shows helped make shoulder holsters popular. The upside of this style: you can carry a larger gun. The downsides are it is a cross draw and you need a jacket to hide it.
Another cop show favorite, this requires loose cuffed pants and a sub-compact sized gun. Quickdraws are something of a misnomer, but for a backup where few will suspect it, it is worth considering.
The alluring alternative of the spy show thigh rig. This is another place where few will be looking… for a gun, anyway. Holsters that are part of a bra require looser fitting shirts. Like the ankle (and thigh) holsters, these have size and clothing restrictions to be aware of but are good locations to hide backups.
Off the body
Sometimes you must wear something that simply won’t hide your gun or go through spaces where you cannot have it (eg: the bank). For the former, a fanny pack, purse or bag with an integral holster is an option. However, if you are parted from it (purse snatched) it’s gone.
For the latter, a vehicle lockbox is probably the best option. Keeping a gun in your glove box can be tedious/dangerous: if you forgot about it when retrieving your registration and insurance card during a traffic stop the conversation with the officer can take an uncomfortable turn.
The point of concealed carry is to reveal on your terms.
We must always control our gun’s presentation. Some people react unpleasantly to the realization that we are armed. While it is our right, it is not our responsibility to challenge them. Traffic stops or grocery checkouts are not the place to discuss this. We carry to protect ourselves during a “what if” incident, not to create one.
Discretion is the better part of valor.
Holster types and placements are like guns - everyone has an opinion as to what is best that is trumped by what feels right to you. Experiment with what you think will work with your body type and daily routine. Do dry runs at home. Train with what works. We are the first responders.