Report 7: Your Everyday Carry, Part 4 – Your Mode of Dress

In this report I will discuss your mode of dress for your everyday carry. Your mode of dress should reflect your normal day-to-day life. This is very doable with a little thought. A good resource is to talk to people who carry on a daily basis. They can give you tips on what works for them, but you have to make the wardrobe work for you. Whatever your preferred carry method, the intent of concealed carry is to prevent people from knowing that you are carrying a gun in the first place. Whatever your wardrobe, it should be roomy enough to prevent printing or brandishing. As a refresher from the last report, printing is where people around you can see the gun through your outside garment. This does not mean that your outside garment is sheer and that they can literally see the gun, but rather the gun bulges, leaving a tale-tale protrusion that can obviously be seen as a gun. Brandishing is where the gun itself becomes visible, either intentionally or accidentally.

For the advantages and disadvantages of different holster styles refer to Report #6.

Belt Carry: The are three common styles of belt carry are strong-side hip, small-of-the-back, and cross draw. This is the most common form of carry. Whatever your style you choose, you will need a sturdy belt capable of carrying the weight of the gun without stretching out of shape. Normally, a one inch belt is the minimum width.

If you use an outside the belt style of holster, the only modification you will have to make is the outer garment. It needs to be large enough to comfortably cover the gun without printing. This may be a shirt-jacket, a suit coat, or a sweat shirt. Whatever it is, it should coordinate with your normal wardrobe.

If you use an inside the waistband holster you will need to add about two inches to the waistband of your trousers or skirt. The outer garment can be a bit trimmer than if you were using an outside the waistband holster.

Shoulder Holster: The shoulder holster has been around for over 100 years and used to be the favorite of plain cloths law enforcement as well as gangsters (at least that is the way they are portrayed in the movies). The three styles of shoulder holsters are gun held with the grip up, grip down, and the grip to the front. If you choose to use a shoulder holster, you must be ready to contend with having your holster/gun between your arm and body.

If you are carrying a shoulder holster you have to wear a coat or jacket with more room in the chest than you would normally wear. The drawback of this type of carry is that the straps of the shoulder holster will print if your coat is not loose enough or if it is too thin. Also, care must be taken to not allow your coat to flap open, exposing the holster/gun, or brandishing.

Ankle Holster: The ankle holster is often used for a backup gun (or BUG). This can be pretty handy but requires some accommodation of dress. The legs of your trousers need to be large enough to not only conceal the holster/gun, but also to allow you to pull up the cuff sufficiently to retrieve the gun if needed. If you have large legs, this could be a challenge. Ladies wearing long, floor length dresses or skirts might have a better experience with ankle holsters than people wearing trousers. One care with this style of holster is that the holster and its support system be constructed in such a manner as to hold it up high enough on your leg to be out of sight.

Pocket Holster: Like the ankle holster, the pocket holster is a convenient way to carry a BUG. Just putting your BUG in a pocket may cause printing, therefore a pocket holster is normally required, especially if you are wearing thin trousers or if you are carrying in a thin jacket pocket. Also, the pocket must be loose enough to adequately accommodate the BUG. If you are carrying a pocket holster it is advised that you do not carry anything else in that pocket. Fishing around for loose change or keys can become a challenge. Also, if you are wearing hip-huggers, carrying in a pocket is not for you.

Fanny Pack: The fanny pack was covered in the previous report as a holster but is worth mentioning here as the fanny pack itself may be considered a garment accessory. Use of a fanny pack normally does not require the use of an outer garment for concealment.

This can be a very comfortable way to carry your personal defense handgun but certain care must be taken to not lose control of it. If you remove it to use the restroom, or for any other reason, you must be careful to retrieve it; otherwise you have not only lost control of the gun, you have probably lost your gun.

Purse or Bag Carry: Carrying your personal defense handgun in a purse or any other type of off-body conveyance requires extra vigilance to maintain control of it. For instance if you go into a meeting or sit down to dinner you might normally set down your purse or remove your shoulder bag. Once you have done this you have lost some measure of control of your personal defense handgun. Purse snatchers can be very adept at walking by and taking your purse or bag when you are not looking and it is not attached to your body. One place this is particularly common is in the grocery store when you put your purse in the child seat of the shopping cart. As soon as you turn your back to retrieve something off the shelf, the purse snatcher relieves you of your purse or bag and therefore your personal defense handgun as well as your wallet and other valuables.

Conclusion: How you carry your concealed personal defense handgun is a matter of personal comfort and preference. However you choose to carry, you must train and practice retrieving your personal defense handgun. If you get tangled up in your conceal carry garment, you may as well not be carrying. Also, concealed means concealed. Your holster and your clothing should work together to ensure that you don’t inadvertently print or brandish. In some locales, either could get you in trouble with the authorities.

As I said in my last report, carrying concealed is not just a matter of strapping on your personal defense handgun and walking out the door. You must become proficient in the use of your chosen holster/garment combination, and that requires practice.

For more information about advanced training options, contact Falcon Personal Security.