During the course of several interviews I conducted with concealed carry permit holders, I found that a surprisingly low percentage of those licensed to conceal a firearm actually carry a gun more than a few times a year. I was shocked by the statistic, but not by the cause of their apprehension. The two primary reasons that permit holders didn’t carry were that they couldn’t find a carry method that suited them and were afraid that someone would recognize they were carrying a firearm.
Finding a comfortable method of carry is a challenge for many people, both new and experienced. With so many different firearms, holster options and body shapes, it can be very tough to find a rig that works for you on a daily basis. Holsters that are uncomfortable may keep shooters from carrying, and not carrying makes a CCW permit pretty much worthless. The first step to having that firearm on hand is being able to carry it in a manner that doesn’t cause discomfort.
This list of solutions to common carry problems will give you the confidence to pack that sidearm in comfort. Being able to carry comfortably means you’ll carry more often, and carrying more often means you’re more likely to have a firearm standing by when you need it most.
Though less ideal, off-body carry is another option. Over the past few years many companies have offered novel solutions to off-body carry, the latest of which is Galco Gunleather’s iDefense, a functional iPad carrier with a built-in holster.
Perhaps the best solution is to wear a breathable, concealable, elastic belly band holster. They’re light, secure, and their large Velcro straps help keep the gun in place even when you’re working out. Belly bands don’t impede movement and they work on virtually any body type. In addition, they’re easy to conceal and even after a long run a properly fitted belly band won’t rub or chaff. The Can Can Hip Hugger, designed specifically to fit women, is a good option. Belly bands and sport belts will also work in the gym, and they offer a level of concealment that allows you to hide them under light clothing.
The first solution is to buy good clothing and a good belt. I prefer tactical pants because they are sturdy and designed for full range of movement. On occasions when I’m dressed up, I’m usually wearing a pair of Vertx khakis, and nobody knows the difference but me. The second step is to buy a good belt—another reoccurring theme in this piece. The last step is to find the right holster. I prefer an open-top IB holster with a stiff frame made from high-quality leather or Kydex. If you do have a good leather holster, don’t use saddle soap or conditioners that will soften the leather and ruin the sturdy construction.
Can Can offers the Hip Hugger, SheBang and Garter—all of which have the ergonomics to fit a woman’s body. Flashbang offers a full line of options that mount in different locations, including their popular bra-mounted options that offer comfort and accessibility. Again, off body carry is an option, and although having a gun that isn’t attached to your body isn’t ideal, sometimes it’s the only option. There are a number of good fanny packs, purses, day planners and bags that are designed for concealed carry. These are a far better option than simply emptying out a purse and sticking a firearm in there, primarily because tactical bags have compartments specifically designed to hold a firearm and to provide quick access when needed.
The problem with these simple solutions is that A), belt carry is one of the most secure and accessible positions, and B) finding that perfect holster might be more difficult than you think. You have to determine the root cause of the irritation. It may be that you need to buy pants that are a size larger and loosen up that belt just a bit. Another good option is to purchase a belt designed for concealed carry. CCW-specific belts are sturdy and provide a secure platform for mounting a holster. This means the gun will sit at the proper angle and won’t be digging into your flesh.
Another simpler solution is to look at your wardrobe selection and make changes as needed; buy tall undershirts so that the tail rests between your hip and the gun, and be sure that there are no irritating wrinkles in the fabric before you secure the gun to your hip.
Another good choice is a disguised belt holster like the many offerings from Sneaky Pete, which are innocuous-looking cases that slip onto your belt and help conceal a firearm in the open. The Comp-Tac Centerline holster is another good option that’s easy to hide under light clothing. Off-body carry is an option as well, and options like the new Crossbreed Purse Defender are versatile and effective choices.