Many people who carry concealed firearms are concerned with preventing other people from noticing their gun, and rightly so. Carrying concealed offers a tactical advantage in that an attacker does not immediately know that you are armed, but keeping your firearm out of sight can also prevent a lot of headaches and questions. Many factors play into effective concealment, and these include your activity type and level, the gun you carry and the season. It’s far simpler to hide a gun in the winter under bulky clothes than in the hot summer months, but with the right methods and tools you should be able to carry comfortably year-round without anyone knowing.
Here are six tips to keep that concealed firearm, well, concealed.
1. Choose the Right Holster
I didn’t add firearm selection to this list because gun choice is largely a matter of personal taste, and many people can’t afford to buy a new gun. But there are lots of reasonably-priced holsters that work well and can hide even relatively large firearms like Commander-length .45-caliber 1911s under light clothing. I prefer a low-bulk, inside the waistband (IWB) holster for such applications, and there are a lot of great options from various manufacturers. Belly bands are a great choice because they keep the gun close to you; simple, trim designs like VersaCarry holsters work well, too. It’s also important to choose a holster that is comfortable. Constantly shifting and adjusting an uncomfortable rig advertises to the world that you’re armed.
2. Modify Carry Position
Most people carry on their hip, and most people look for a gun on someone’s hip. Moving the gun to a slightly different position—say two or four o’clock on the hip for right-handed shooters—can help hide the firearm against your silhouette. Appendix carry is great for concealment too, so long as you find a method that is both safe and comfortable. Ankle rigs can hide compact pistols even under light athletic pants, jeans or dress slacks without forcing you to resort to off-body carry. I often carry at the two o’clock position and put my cell phone or wallet on the same side, effectively breaking up the outline of the firearm.
3. Wear Carry-Friendly Clothes
In the winter this is easy because you’ll have plenty of clothing, but don’t bury your firearm under so many layers of fleece and flannel that you can’t get to it in a hurry. In the summer, try breathable fabrics that keep you cooler than traditional cotton. Additionally, layering light shirts won’t increase body temperature that much (so long as you are wearing a breathable, light material), but that layering does help hide your gun. Cool, loose-fitting button-up tactical shirts are another good idea, but again, access to that firearm should not be slowed.
4. Avoid Drastic Movements
Most people print when they make what I consider a drastic movement—bending over at the waist to pick up something they have dropped or reaching high on a supermarket shelf to grab the last box of Frosted Flakes. When you carry, avoid these movements but do so in a natural manner; kneel on one knee to pick up objects on the ground, and if you do need to access something above your head, do so with your weak-side hand while your strong hand holds your shirt or jacket in position.
5. Proper Posture
Standing up straight goes a long way toward helping you conceal a firearm on your hip. By standing upright your clothing hangs parallel to the barrel of your firearm and does a more effective job of concealing it. By slouching, you are adding angles that make it easier to see a firearm under your clothing. Who knew that the never-ending orders to stand up straight that your mom barked at you as a kid had tactical applications?
6. Hide In Plain Sight
Sometimes you don’t need to hide your gun at all. Sneaky Pete, EAA and a few other companies make holsters that fit on your hip and look like a case for an electronic device, and since the majority of the world’s population is never outside arm’s reach of their mobile device, it probably won’t shock anyone to see one of these cases on your hip. They’re light, easy and secure, and there’s no digging around under layers of clothing when you need to access that gun.