Below is our list of 25 best tips on how to carry concealed with a full-size gun for those of you who prefer a full-size gun to pocket pistols. This could be a great resource.
Pick the Right Holster
Paddle holsters that sit outside the waistband are a simple choice but are bulky and don’t conceal too well. This is the same for back-paddle holsters. Shoulder holsters offer an improved conceal but aren’t too comfortable, and there’s always the risk that shifting clothes will reveal your gun. Your best choice is arguably a sheath/in-waistband holster, but on the other hand, they won’t fit many cuts of pants. The bottom line: don’t just blindly buy your holster. Consider how well it will conceal and how you won’t to wear it.
If you’re wearing an outside waistband holster, a jacket will go a long way toward keeping it concealed. You want to make sure your clothes are the right cut, and you also want to make sure they don’t call too much attention to your holster. If you want to go the extra mile, consider having your clothes tailored with your holster in mind. The personalized cut will allow you the (sometimes) needed extra room to more naturally accommodate your gun.
Wear Well-Fitting Pants
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised. Sagging pants means a sagging holster, which takes your chances of your gun becoming visible and skyrockets them. At the same time, you don’t want to go too tight either. We’re talking the battle of the bulge here: anything too formfitting, and you aren’t leaving much to the imagination, gun included. Your best option is a pair of well-fitting straight-cut pants.
Make Sure You Spring for a High Quality Belt
Whether you opt for a waist or a drop-thigh holster, your belt’s going to play a crucial support role. If you’re thinking of hitching your firearm to a cheap belt, low quality material, weak buckle, then you’re also thinking of potential slippage. Ideally you’ll be working with a high-quality, rivet-buckle leather belt. It’s worth it.
Ditch the Extras
Here’s something anybody can appreciate in a gun: a longer magazine and a longer barrel. After all, who can say no to boosted accuracy and extra ammo? Thing is, both of these will make concealed carry just a smidge harder. For optimal concealment, ditch the longer magazine and barrels. If you want to keep a low profile, your gun should too.
Distribute Your Accessories Well
Bulk is your greatest enemy here. You want everything to be sleek and subtle. If you’re carrying extra magazines, you’re also carrying extra visibility. The best way to combat this is to distribute everything evenly. If you sling your gun on your left side, keep any ammo pouches on the right.
Think About How You Hold Yourself
Say, for example, you’re keeping your gun inside your jacket. Don’t stick your chest out! If you’re keeping your gun tucked in holstered along the front of your waistline, don’t slouch. Sit in conceal-friendly positions when it applies. Just stay aware of your body and how you’re presenting it to the world.
Forget You’re Wearing a Gun
It can be an interesting feeling when you’re first getting used to a concealed carry weapon. Odds are you’ll absentmindedly want to run your hand over it. It’s reassuring to know your weapon is still firm in place. The downside here is that you’re calling attention to it, which if you’re looking for a full, considerate conceal, is something you want to avoid.
Quality Is Very Important
Some holsters just aren’t up to wear and tear. It should go without saying, but you don’t want to carry your gun if there’s even a slight chance of your holstering losing its release. Make sure you’re equipped with a quality product, and regularly double check that it’s still performing optimally.
Opt for a Thin Magazine
You can stick with a full-size gun while still making a few accommodations on size. Steer clear of double stack magazines. Sure, they’re nice, but they’re also that much harder to conceal efficiently.
Pay Attention to Your Gun’s Exterior’s Construction
Especially when you are just getting started, it may seem like every full-sized gun of the same caliber is roughly the same size, but if you take a second to think about it, you’ll realize that’s not really the case. Exterior lettering, sighting notches, bulky safety catches, there is a lot of ways for a gun to take up just a little bit extra real estate. When you’re looking to optimize your conceal, it’s worth keeping every little detail in mind. A good gun will be designed with conceal in mind. This means a more smooth-sided finish and an overall sleek, streamlined feel.
Double-Check It Won’t Snag
While we’re on the subject of the gun’s exterior, take a second to consider your gun’s chances of snagging. If you’re looking to walk around with your gun concealed, you don’t want it catching on the inside of your pants and bunching up the spare fabric. It’s uncomfortable, unsafe, and will sure as heck get your gun noticed. So when you’re packing away your heat, make sure it’s not going to catch on anything. A good holster will go a long way toward offsetting this.
It sounds a little ridiculous, but you can’t just sling on a gun and expect to be perfectly comfortable wearing it around in public. Some of the little tricks to moving right and dressing right you have to figure out for yourself. So suit up, find a mirror, and work out any kinks.
Practice, Part Two
Here’s the thing: there are two sides to concealed carry. There’s the practical, everyday aspect of it: keeping your gun concealed. That’s 99% of the picture. The other 1% is those rare occasions when you’ll actually be called on to use your gun in public. That moment happens. You don’t want to be stuck with a slow draw or a clumsy reload. Practice using your gun from its concealed position.
Seek Out Thinner Guns
Even if you’re 100% sold on using a full-size gun, there’s plenty of variety to choose from. It’s always wiser to seek out thinner models if concealment is of the utmost importance. Some companies even produce the same gun with thinner, more conceal-oriented models.
Don’t Sacrifice Comfort
Say you’ve found a flawlessly concealed way to wear your gun. Unfortunately, it’s uncomfortable. It might be easy to think, what the heck. Might as well grit your teeth and bear it. Don’t do that. It might make it more obvious you’re wearing, and it will surely make your days a lot more unpleasant.
In general, you’ll want to stick to one gun. There’s a great scene in the Matrix where the main character, after coming up positive on a metal scanner, pulls open his coat and an arsenal of firearms comes into view. That’s fantastic stuff in a movie. In real life, you’re only running the risk of bulkier, more obvious carrying, without really any tangible benefits.
Pick Your Holster Well
It’s common sense, folks. Some types of holsters will be more naturally inclined toward concealment. Maybe it doesn’t give you the same cowboy swagger as a low-hung hip holster, but if you’re wearing a high-rise holster, concealment is going to work out a lot better for you.
Dress for Your Holster
If you’re wearing an over the shoulder holster, you’ll probably want a jacket. Look for a longer, baggier shirt if you’re wearing it on your hip. For an ankle holster, obviously don’t wear shorts. You get the idea.
Off-Person Is Always an Option
It’s not ideal, but in a pinch, off-body concealment is always an option. Consider, say, your briefcase. It’s possible to be mobile and armed without wearing a holster. This isn’t as safe, but if you’re stuck wearing something that’s too revealing to conceal a gun, this is your best bet.
Gun Material Is Important
Look, there’s no question: metal is cool. It gleams, has a nice heft, and is cool to the touch. But if we’re talking concealed carry, fact of the matter is that polymer might in fact be your new best friend. Polymer guns are a lot lighter, meaning they’re easier on your holstering equipment and less likely to pull on your belt or pants.
Think About How You Move
Say you’ve got your gun riding a high-and-tight holster under your waistband and you have to squat over to lift something. Bend at the hips? Bad idea. That means higher tension on your waistband, which means creasing and printing: your gun’s outline is going to be seen. Instead, try to bend at the knees. It will keep your holstered area slack and concealing.
Think About How You Stand
Don’t stand with one hand on your gun. Don’t stand with your jacket tossed open. Don’t ever stick a hand in your jacket if you’re wearing a shoulder holster. Body language can say a whole lot, and you want to make sure your isn’t saying, “look, I’ve got a gun. I might be a threat.” For all your benign intentions, there are always the chances you’ll scare someone who’s too jumpy to realize it’s all in the name of personal safety.
No Holster, Don’t Bother
Sure, it seems cool to just tuck a gun in your waistband and call it a day. The problem is here that it’s not a great method of concealment at all. Odds are way too high that your gun will slip or fall out. So go ahead: be a tough guy. Just do it with a holster.
Never Draw Unless You’re Sure
We’ll round off the list with a tip that’s part safety advice. It’s easy to be jumpy, and there sure are a lot of situations that can seem a lot more threatening off the bat than they actually are. Reaching for your gun shouldn’t be your go-to reaction to feeling startled or surprised. Reach for your gun when you need. That way, you won’t find yourself feeling foolish, explaining to an officer why you broke concealed carry laws for no reason.