Nuthin' Up My Sleeve...
April 24, 2007 1:27 PM   Subscribe

What Are The Logistical Challenges of Carrying a Concealed Firearm On A Daily Basis?

I (after much thought and debate amongst myself, friends and family) have decided that I would perhaps like to obtain a personal conceal and carry weapon permit. I reside in a state that allows them, and frequently travel in states that have full reciprocal agreements with the state I'm currently resident in.

However, my biggest question at this current juncture is the ability to carry the weapon amongst the public and friends without either causing a scene or a ruckus. My logic goes something like this: Since I have decided to carry a weapon for personal protection reasons, the dumbest thing I can do is not carry the thing. However, since I usually am in a pair of shorts and a tee-shirt, I've got some issues as to how to conceal the thing.

All the solutions I have come up with beg more questions: Alright, I decide to carry the firearm in a shoulder holster; now, I have to wear a coat everywhere, lest when I take off the coat, everyone freaks out that I've got a gun. I decide to wear a belt holster; now, it's just really inconvenient and not that concealed. I keep it in my briefcase/backpack; now, it might not be near me when I needed it. The list goes on and on.

This problem does not dissuade me from arming myself with a CCW permit - obviously, someone does this on a daily basis that isn't a law enforcement officer, and they're able to do it discretely, or else I'd imagine I'd have seen someone out and about with the gun.

So, fellow MeFites - for those of you who hold CCWs, how do you carry your gun while in casual clothing? For those of you who don't, what are your ideas as to how a person could go about carrying a gun, daily, with casual clothing on, and not freak anyone out?

On a side note: I'm not really interested in any ethical debate here, if you please. I know this is a touchy subject, and I've done as much research as I feel is necessary as an intelligent human to make my decision as to the matter of carrying a gun on me.
posted by plaidrabbit to Grab Bag (27 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe carry around one of those big, cardboard Bibles that has a gun-shaped cut-out in the middle, where the pages are supposed to be? Or put it in a fanny pack? Or just tuck it in your pants and potentially blow your b***s off?

You like wearing shorts and a t-shirt. You want to carry a gun. You don't want anyone to notice. Seems like one of those things might have to change.

Concealment holsters.

posted by billysumday at 1:39 PM on April 24, 2007
posted by de void at 1:40 PM on April 24, 2007

You usually wear a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, and you want to know how to conceal a handgun? How can the answer possibly not be to wear more clothing?
posted by found missing at 1:41 PM on April 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

Somewhat away from your original question, but if you're going to carry on a regular basis, then you're going to need to consider a locking compartment in your vehicle where you can *securely* stow your weapon when you visit places that don't allow firearms (coutrooms, national parks, etc.)
posted by de void at 1:43 PM on April 24, 2007

Many people use a buttpack. If it has an extra zippered compartment on top, you can sew an enlarged pouch on the inside that is accessed only through this zipper. The old Jandd Mountaineering packs were ideal for this. Many people, esp. law enforcement will assume you are carrying with a pack like this though.
posted by Manjusri at 1:44 PM on April 24, 2007

To be able to conceal the weapon, you have to wear a sufficient amount of clothes to conceal said weapon.

Your best hope would be an inside-the-waistband holster you can put in your pubic area.

Second best is a fanny pack, assuming you don't mind looking like a ninny everywhere you go.
posted by Ynoxas at 1:47 PM on April 24, 2007

To de void's point. In my state if a business choses to -- and most do -- they can prohibit weapons. By law schools, courtrooms, govt buildings and restaurants that derive >50% of their revenue from alcohol do not allow weapons. But in practice, there are few places where you would be allowed inside legally. I'm talking about a city environment. In the sticks businesses may not be as concerned about their customers packing. So that gun might spend a lot of time in your car locked away.
posted by birdherder at 1:52 PM on April 24, 2007

Best answer: Caveats: I carry every day. And I'm making the assumption that you'll carry a semi-automatic; I've never carried a revolver, and so don't know anything about concealing them.

First, your choice of weapon has the greatest impact on concealability. If you choose a fullsize weapon, you're begging for it to be either revealed or a royal PITA at some point. I carried a fullsize USP for about a year, and while it wasn't horrible, it just wasn't acceptable for comfortable concealed carry.

I suggest a pistol designed specifically for concealed carry--one of the mini Glocks, perhaps. I carry a Taurus Millenium Pro. You're looking to minimize two dimensions: the height of the weapon from the bottom of the magazine to the top of the rear sights, and the length along the barrel.

Next, you need a holster. I suggest a good inside-the-waistband model. There're a number of manufacturers of such things. They're really quite comfortable, if you get a good one. And, in almost all cases, a teeshirt that comes down over the grip of the weapon will conceal it. Your only real concern is if you reach up over your head. If you wear tight tee-shirts, or have a very long gun, you'll need to go one size up.

Shoulder holsters are for the movies and military helicopter pilots. At some point in your draw stroke with a shoulder holster, you're certainly violating the first law of gun handling (don't point it at anything you don't want to die). Likewise, reaching for a pistol in a shoulder holster is obviously you going for a gun; unlike one at your waist, which is only inches away from where your arm hangs at rest.

You need a gunbelt. No, seriously. Your regular belt is made of thin, flexible leather. You want one that resists twisting. Thus, you need a gunbelt. You can probably find them wherever it is you buy your holster. Also, I don't care what you think of leather (vegan, etc.), it's your only option. I've tried a number of synthetic belts and holsters, and all fall drastically short of the leather models I've had.

This one isn't necessary, depending on your build, and how long your shirts normally are, but I'd also recommend that you get some "cover garment". I wear Hawaiian shirts. Other folks use vests, jackets, or jerseys. This drastically improves the concealment of your piece, and even opens up options like outside-the-waistband holsters (which are more comfortable to wear, and quicker to access).

Finally, one thing to keep in mind is that you can literally walk around with a gun-shaped bulge in your back pocket, and 95% of people will never even kind of consider that it might be a gun. They'll assume it's a cellphone, wallet, harmonica, or any other thing before they assume it's a gun. It really takes a hug or physical contact before people might catch on.

For lots of information, have a look at the firing line forums. You'll find more information that you could possibly ever read.
posted by Netzapper at 1:53 PM on April 24, 2007 [8 favorites]

Look into the Smart Carry. It's essentially a crotch holster, works for women as well as men. I haven't tried it, but a lot of people on swear by the things for use with casual clothing.
posted by vorfeed at 1:55 PM on April 24, 2007

frequently travel in states that have full reciprocal agreements with the state I'm currently resident in.

I'm curious, does that mean if you go to the other states, even if they didn't allow concealed carry, they would allow it because you were from a state that did?
posted by drezdn at 1:56 PM on April 24, 2007

Consider a smaller pistol for the summer months that fits more easily inside the waistband.
posted by Martin E. at 1:58 PM on April 24, 2007

posted by Saucy Intruder at 2:05 PM on April 24, 2007

Oh, and Joel Rosenberg says that if you carry, you are invariably going to wind up with a drawer full of holsters. A few you will use on different occasions, but several more that you tried but didn't work out.
posted by Martin E. at 2:08 PM on April 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

can't we just keep this to answering the question?

there are some good concealed carry gadgets and holsters, but obvioulsy, it become much more difficult to do so the less clothes one is wearing to do the concealing

if you are wearing a longish shirt you could do a small pistol on a hip holster
posted by Salvatorparadise at 2:09 PM on April 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

Here's a recent thread at Making Light that has some points relevant to concealed carry. (There is quite a bit of other stuff in there, including a lot of anti-concealed-carry stuff, which you may want to ignore, but there are a number of very articulate comments from people who are experienced concealed carry permit holders and a couple who teach the concealed carry classes that states require. You can buzz through to find these.) Most important points: be sure to get routine, relevant practice at drawing (ammo-less) from the concealed location, and at firing your weapon. So, think in advance about how often you can realistically get to the practice range, etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:12 PM on April 24, 2007

(My comment is meant to be filed under "general logistics of carrying", obviously not under "what kind of holster to get")
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:13 PM on April 24, 2007

I don't know if this is a real world solution, but back when I made movie props I built a special holster that I sewed into a cargo shorts pocket. it was completely invisible on the outside and held the firearm safely and securely.
posted by French Fry at 2:13 PM on April 24, 2007

drezdn, these reciprociy agreements mostly if not exclusively exist between states with a shall-issue policy on CCW permits.
posted by Martin E. at 2:17 PM on April 24, 2007

Best answer: Poke around online -- there are a lot of different holsters and such for sale, all trying to solve this issue. What works or doesn't work will depend a lot on your physique and the size of the gun in question. The forums at sites like the High Road (and there are lots of others) will be a good resource, as well, much better for this than Askme.

The answer is that it is really hard, without wearing more clothes. Smaller guns are easier to conceal, but harder to hit anything with. Even very light pistols (ones that have a lot of plastic in them, like the smaller Glocks and Kahrs) are still quite heavy; a completely metal large-framed pistol is really heavy. A decent compromise might be a small-framed S&W Airlight .38 (a model 340 is about 11 or 12 ounces unloaded, compared to about 2.5 pounds for a Colt model 1911, unloaded -- both figures via google, so ymmv) or a small .380 auto.

But no matter what, you are trying to find a way to comfortably carry one or two pounds of metal without it ever being seen, and in a way that when you get in and out of cars it doesn't jab you in the kidneys, and so on. And the not being seen is not trivial -- it is an important legal issue in some places (if people can see it, it is "brandishing"); and socially being seen to be carrying a gun is a big no-no is almost every situation you can name.

What happens is that most people don't bother most of the time. There are just too many complications -- what about stopping by someone's house after work? Or they want to pick up their kid at school, where you (depending on your state) may or may not be legal to be on the property with your gun. Or your new acquaintance gives you a big hug and then yells in public, "hey, are you carrying a GUN?" And you get sweaty in the summer heat, which means that you have to be cleaning the gun every night, and on and on. So people tend to compromise -- you keep the gun locked in the glovebox or the gunsafe, and wear it only when you are going somewhere that "feels" uncomfortable.
posted by Forktine at 2:20 PM on April 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't know if this is a real world solution, but back when I made movie props I built a special holster that I sewed into a cargo shorts pocket.

Hah! I actually made a similar thing, which I wore and used for several months. It worked pretty well in terms of concealment, but it was tactically disadvantageous--having to go through buttons to get to my piece was an unacceptable threat to my health.

I made mine with an el-cheapo outside-the-waistband holster, and three nylon straps. I essentially put a thigh holster in that pocket.
posted by Netzapper at 2:20 PM on April 24, 2007

Thanks Martin E., that cleared things up for me.
posted by drezdn at 2:21 PM on April 24, 2007

I'd second the Smart Carry. It's not as fast as more traditional holsters but it's really the best option for the type of clothing you wear. It's probably best to actually measure your hips as they note before ordering so you get the best size for you.

Quite a few people use fanny/butt packs and it's certainly something to consider. But be aware that will identify you as someone who is carrying. A photo vest will do the same. Not that I assume everyone wearing a fanny pack or photo vest is carrying but it's definitely puts them in the possible category. I don't know if it's something that non-gun people would pick up on, though, but gun people or others more situationally aware will.
posted by 6550 at 2:41 PM on April 24, 2007

Best answer: All you people with gun questions the night after my CCW-approved class. Wiggy.

Some amount of time last night was devoted to the question of How to carry and the class leaders stated their belief that if you're going to conceal you should keep it concealed. As you've discovered, some people are flat-out wigged out at the idea of seeing someone with a gun and the teachers posited a situation where you are at the grocery, reach above you to get something and someone sees the pistol on your hip and calls 911 to say there's some dude in the Giant with a gun!

They said that the reality in such a situation is the police -will- show up and you may be briefly detained even though you did nothing wrong. If you're not prepared for that eventuality then perhaps you should not concealed carry. (This went along with the coverage later in the evening where they said that if you use your firearm to defend yourself you should be prepared to be arrested, consider how you will react, consider keeping a lawyer's card with your CCW permit in your wallet - even if it's just the shyster who drew up your will - and if you're not prepared for the repercussions of using your weapon then perhaps you should not carry one.)

I realize the above it tertiary to your question but I found it very useful talk. If you're going to go forward with this you might want to look for a NRA-approved/sponsored course in your area - I was very impressed with the thoroughness of the class and the breadth of what they covered. I have some problems with several of the NRA's stances - particularly their opposition to mandatory training for gun owners - but, ironically, they seem to have far superior classes. If mine is any indication they'll spend some time and be willing to talk to your out of class about solutions that will work for you.

Probably the innerpants holster system Netzapper mentions is going to work best for you with your wardrobe, but unless you are carrying a very small piece you may end up needing two different sets of pants/shorts, as what fits with the holster will be too big w/o it. If you're wearing shorts with a belt - or can - then what will likely work best is going to be a leather holster that sits high on the belt. They tend to mask the shape of the gun and not present the obvious silhouette a plastic or nylon holster does. has forums where you can likely ask for suggestions, though my teachers last night commented that in all likelihood if you commit to CC you are just going to end up with a box of unused holsters as you buy, try, and discard solutions that aren't just right for you.
posted by phearlez at 2:46 PM on April 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm going to agree wholly with what Netzapper said with regard to using a firearm that it suited for carry. Full sized autos, while concealable, are much less comfortable when you are moving around (think: getting into and out of a car), a smaller gun will make this easier.

And smaller doesn't need to mean "less gun". As stated, compact Glocks and H&Ks are viable options. As would be something like the Kahr K9 or the K40. (I understand that some bailiffs have taken to carrying the Kahr because it's so comfortable.)

As to actual carry, I prefer inside the waistband, in the spot between my hip and the small of my back. Though I've also become comfortable with a cross draw as well. You really won't know what works till you actually try it.
posted by quin at 4:39 PM on April 24, 2007

Netzapper says:

I suggest a pistol designed specifically for concealed carry. ... You're looking to minimize two dimensions: the height of the weapon from the bottom of the magazine to the top of the rear sights, and the length along the barrel.

Unless you are a really big guy, I think that you are looking to minimize three dimensions -- including the thickness of the gun. This is why a skinny gun like the Kahr P9 is nice -- the thinness means that it won't show under most clothes. (The bigger you are, the less this matters.)
posted by Forktine at 5:05 PM on April 24, 2007

I recommend the AMT 45. ACP Backup. I've been wanting some smaller pistols for a while now. It's not realistic for me (or a necessity) to contstantly carry. When thats not acceptable, I keep mine in the glove compartment.
posted by winks007 at 8:13 PM on April 24, 2007

Second the smartcarry, or ThunderWare. I have one of the latter, and love it. It does add a second or two to actually draw the gun from concealment, but is good for deep cover.

When it's a little cooler out and not Florida summer, I wear an Uncle Mike's IWB (inside waistband) holster and just wear a jacket over it. If you wear it near the side of the hip or just behind that, you can sit comfortably and the jacket is unlikely to blow open enough to reveal it.

Last night I tried wearing jeans and a t-shirt, the IWB, and an open oversized button-up shirt over it. That seemed to work almost as well as the jacket, although the butt did print a bit. This was with a full-sized gun, however. My carry piece is under repair. With my smaller piece, a sufficiently baggy untucked shirt will cover pretty well.

You're right, though, about people freaking out when realizing that someone is carrying a gun. For those of you who do freak out upon seeing a gun, you may want to be aware that if you live in a state with shall-issue CCW laws, it's very likely that many people you've encountered are carrying, and you never knew it.
posted by tkolstee at 10:20 PM on April 25, 2007

« Older The Lost Lockerbie Gospel   |   Resources and anectdotes related to Feline HIV Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.