I’m the proverbial blogger in the basement. Only there are no basements in Austin. And I don’t spend all day in my pajamas. I wear trousers or shorts, a tucked-in UnderArmour undershirt and a polo shirt or short-sleeved dress shirt. My sartorial splendor (or lack thereof) is dictated by my gun(s). I carry a GLOCK 19 or Wilson Combat 1911 in a Kydex outside-the-waistband holster. I’d like to wear one of my long sleeve dress shirts, but you have to tuck them in – which mandates an outer garment, usually a non-starter here in Texas. I could pocket carry. Or use an inside-the-waistband holster. But I don’t favor small guns or large pants. Do you dress around your gun or choose a gun and carry system for the way you dress?

95 Responses to Question of the Day: Do You Dress Around Your Gun or Choose a Gun (and Carry System) for the Way You Dress?

  1. I choose a carry system for the way I dress.

    That way, no one can tell when I’m carrying and when I’m not. I look the same, either condition.

    • Same. Although I have made a general move to XL t-shirts instead of L to add a little more free space to completely eliminate any printing. I still wear L plenty often, but XL offers more concealment in both width and length (e.g. reach up for something on a high shelf and the shirt’s still just long enough to cover the IWB rig).

      If I go for a bike ride in the summer I’m going to wear what’s appropriate. If that means tossing the TCP in a pocket holster in the front pocket of my shorts, that’s what I’m doing. Definitely not wearing something large enough and warm enough to cover a larger pistol IWB while in a leaned-forward biking position. There are way too many tiny pistol options and sweet holster options these days to wear a burka on a bicycle.

      …all that said, it’s a freaking rare instance when just a t-shirt doesn’t more than adequately conceal the Nano in the excellent Cook’s IWB Holster.

      • You really like that Cooks holster don’t you J. Well after your review I bought one and it is as good as you said. Thanx

    • I’m confused, what do mean
      “when I’m carrying and when I’m not”?

      The “when I’m not” part that is.

      • Sometimes, I have to deal with government offices, etc where CCW is prohibited. Sometimes, I’m volunteering to devote some hours where I’m going to be in and out of facilities where CCW is prohibited (eg colleges, schools, hospitals, etc).

        • Nice!

          I figure folks aren’t too serious about banning carry / CCW unless they have metal detectors. Of course metal detectors are hardly foolproof. And then tend to be run by foolish people.

  2. My work requires me to wear a suit just about every day. That gives me a nice place to put a 1911 IWB and a good backup, usually a Bond Arms Derringer in 3″ .410 or a SW.38SPL in my boot. Which I have done, just about every day, for 20 years. If I have pants on, I have my guns on.

    • I wish here in NJ we could have something like that. Instead of ‘wipers on, lights on’ let’s have ‘pants on, guns on.’ Well, it’s nice to have a dream.

  3. Living in AZ, the guns are what change because you cannot wear clothes in the summer. Winter is double stack IWB and summer is pocket carry or single stack IWB.

      • Correct.

        I both OC and CC based on a number of desires and factors year round. Why? Because this is Arizona, and your rights are respected here.

        • Jandrews, I agree that AZ gun laws are great. But to be fair to the other 57 states, 44 of them also allow both OC and CC.

    • “because you cannot wear clothes in the summer”…?

      1. naa mini revolver?
      2. just don’t tell me where you hide it

      sorry I just couldn’t resist

  4. For me, the answer is “it depends”.

    When I go to work I need to fit into an office environment best described as “business casual”. That means dress pants with a button down oxford tucked in. In this situation, I carry around my clothes. i.e. a mousegun in my pocket.

    When I’m on my own time I carry whatever I want with little regard for concealment. I’ve found in 25 years of carry that nobody notices anything. Especially now, when its normal to have things protruding from your waist.

    I’m not saying I leave it open, unless I’m intentionally open carrying. But I simply do not worry about printing. If I feel that there is any chance for honestly being “made”, I’ll use a Safariland GLS retention holster.

    • “When I’m on my own time I carry whatever I want with little regard for concealment. I’ve found in 25 years of carry that nobody notices anything. ”

      Couldn’t agree more. I stopped caring about printing a long time ago. I frequently carry OWB (albeit in a high-rise holster) in summer wearing shorts and a shirt, and nobody every seems to notice or care.

    • Similar. When I’m out for work (I’m self-employed), I’m business casual-slacks and a shirt. Best option for me is a mousegun-generally an LCP-in a DeSantis pocket holster.

    • I LOVE my shield, its a great gun for summer time if you live somewhere that gets hot. Carries wonderfully anywhere on your waist, although I prefer AIWB in a leather lined kydex holster.

  5. Both. Whichever makes the most sense at the time which is usually dictated by weather. Also, there are options for IWB carry that allow you to tuck in your shirt and use no outer garment that work quite well.

  6. Since I open carry, I don’t have to worry about dressing around my gun or compromising my carry gun’s size and capacity. 😀

  7. Summer and light dress is a Sig P238 with extra mag, 4 o’clock. I also have a sticky for it to slip into my pocket if desired. Winter (I live in MI) and / or wearing a jacket, sports coat, P320 OWB like right now. I can go tuckable IWD if needed. In heavy coat I can’t possibly even get to it in the car or do it fast in a long coat, I slip my 238 in the door pocket or coat pocket. The 238 also has a tuckable holster from deadeyeluke so I can tuck in most any shirt and with a little slack it’s not noticeable other than the belt clip.

    In business I have to choose my dress for the day first, I have a gun setup for it no matter what.

  8. For women who like tighter clothing some systems are more of a challenge. As the video proves it can be done.

    • That video reminds me of the iconic scene from Policy Academy II.

      Her Small of the Back gun was printing quite badly.

    • Of course it can be done, now more ever. More women buy guns, the more items are designed for women. Now on body concealed carry holsters from IWB to OWB, coats & jackets with built in shoulder holsters, pants/jeans with deep front pockets for carry. It is indeed a fine time to be a gun toting woman. I’m retired so can use part time pet sitting income for all manner of gun stuff.

  9. Appendix carry XD(m) 4.5 – 9 mm with a long sleeve dress shirt tucked in and a cover garment. Pray for open carry to pass in Texas before the heat comes.

    Otherwise, I look a little sloppier in the summer with my shirt untucked.

  10. I think it really depends on what you consider acceptable firearms for CCW. Personally, I wouldn’t carry what you carry concealed, I think it way too large and more than what I think I would need for 90% of situations where I would feel the need to draw a gun which is why I used to carry a Kel-Tec 380 and now carry an MP Shield 9mm. But that is my opinion and by no means a criticism for what you decide to carry. I find that, so far at least, I haven’t had an issue tucking in a long shirt with an IWB holster.

    It does dictate how I dress to an extent, I found I don’t really like T-shirts in IWB, but then I don’t really like T-shirts anyways. I will also probably add in jackets or sports coat as an additional layer to conceal any inadvertent printing. What I have noticed is that my belts aren’t long enough to carry it comfortably and I probably won’t be buying any really fitted clothing anymore.

  11. After three years of carrying, the two opposing forces have melted into each other so pretty much now, my gun is compatible with my cloths and almost every in the closet covers my gun.
    My polo’s may have migrated to be a half size larger for a longer tail.
    I carry at work so my button short sleaves, are worn open unbuttoned like a jacket over a tucked in T.
    My work place allows both CCW and informal dress and I carry an M&P Shield, so it’s pretty easy.

  12. I carry daily as well when I am at work in business causal I run a Sig P938 on either a 5.11 holster shirt under my dress shirt or a Desantis Apache ankle holster with calf strap depending on what I am wearing for that day. When I am in my normal civie street clothes I carry an HK P30 LEM in the 40 cal variety with a Stealth Gear IWB Onyx holster. Like JWTaylor if I am wearing pants or shorts I am wearing a gun. I also find myself replenishing my wardrobe with clothes that better suit my CCW lifestyle. I often wonder while shopping for new clothes are these pockets deep enough to stash a extra mag or buying my pants 1 – 2 inches bigger to accommodate my IWB holster.

    Some of my friends that are new CHL holders are asking me what kinda holster I carry thinking that there is one holster to rule them all. My answer is always the same. It depends on the situation and what you are wearing and doing. So buy holsters for different occasions. For instance a holster shirt might be good when you are wearing board shorts and flip flops, unless you are attempting to show off your bowflex body which might be better to go with a pair of thunderwear or the infamous fanny pack.

  13. My life will dictate my things, not my things dictate my life.

    That’s why I keep things simple, the more simplistic, the easier it is to intergrade into my day-to-day life.

  14. Both, sort of. My typical dress can pretty much hide anything. For professional reasons I started wearing a jacket to work every day when it is not a mandate. Even without a coat, tucked in oxford leads to pretty much anything I want IWB.

    If I have to pocket carry, I do, but that’s exceedingly rare. more often than not it’s a “wallet” gun for when work sends me to areas I wouldn’t otherwise go.

        • I thought about getting one in the clan tartan last time I was in Scotland. The cost was enough to deter me. Plus they were really itchy-which didn’t appeal to me, given what is traditionally worn under the kilt.

          “Why nothing, ma’am-it’s all in perfect working order!”

  15. I carry a Beretta 96. So yeah, I dress around the gun.

    Generally I wear an OWB holster that sits fairly high so just about any shirt will cover my pistol. During the winter it is never a problem, but some days during the summer I will switch to an IWB holster or just throw the pistol in my bag (never leaves my immediate control if there is a weapon in it.) and forgo the holster entirely.

    For days when I simply cannot carry that much handgun, I’ll switch to a small backup Bersa Thunder, but that’s a rarity. Looking to replace both pistols with a Sig p320 soon and I’ll just dress the gun for whatever need I have that day.

  16. As a uniformed, armed, professional POG in the service of the nation for the last 20 years, I’m not trusted to carry at the office or even leave it in the car. Once I’ve navigated, unarmed, back to my house to pick up my sidearm, I carry based on how I dress.

    Any other time you see me, regardless of dress, there is a gun.. It might be a little .380 with shorts and a T-Shirt, a double-stack .45 under my coat while teaching a class, or a Mossberg in the golf bag*; there’s a firearm within reach.

    *The weight of even the .380 in a pocket is still throwing off my swing too much. So I just schlep the extra weight in the bag as I walk the 18 holes.

  17. Most of the time I appendix carry (Haley incog, a great way to carry) to ensure that I can carry a Glock 19 almost everywhere in almost any clothing. Now in those few situations where I simply cannot get away with that the J frame or the G42 come into play. As I said though, those situations are rare.

    I am not as fit as I would like to be, but appendix carry is definitely a motivator to keep a trim waist. If you have even a small gut your pistol will jut out and make it appear much larger (think FUPA). You’ll also need pants that are 1-3 inches longer in the waist to accommodate the gun comfortably but you would need that in almost any IWB setup.

  18. To me, dressing around the gun just means letting out my belt one notch for the IWB holster.
    I don’t wear dress shirts un tucked even without a cover garment.
    ://youtu.be/pJEdgVDfUag

  19. Same as most others, a blend of both. I buy pants an extra inch or two in the waist to accommodate IWB carry, plus thicker and wider concealed carry belts to support the weight. In shorts, I downsize from the G26 to just the TCP in a pocket holster, whereas I normally carry both.

  20. I have grown to love my SneakyPete holster, I cannot imagine that anybody who cares is fooled by it, but then I would be happy to open carry if TX allowed it. My gun is concealed, so there! You can see the holster, you’re pretty sure it contains a gun, but you can’t see the gun. Therefore, concealed/legal! After that, it simply clips on the outside of my belt, so I can carry it while wearing anything outside a bathing suit or sweats.

  21. It’s 20 degrees now and headed straight down to two below tonight. I’ll be so bundled-up that I could carry a Mosin rifle and nobody would notice.

    ‘Round here, the seasons pretty much determine what and how we carry.

  22. I’m a straight man, I dress how I feel like in the morning, then put on the gun and holster I feel like that morning.

  23. Both and more. If traveling through high crime area, I may go for a full size double-stack. If need to wear tighter clothing, a single stack subcompact or pocket pistol. There are some days I just want to carry a particular gun for no real reason other than I can. The longer I live in Arizona, the less I care about printing. I am pretty sure the next time I wear a suit I will probably wear my Kimber just because it looks good. Sure, in a DGU I may put myself at a slight disadvantage because I switch it up a lot, but what is life without variety. 🙂

  24. Interesting that most of us here make the gun fit the dress, in defiance of most “gun experts” who urge you to dress around your gun.

    I agree with this philosophy. I’m smaller than the average man, so a Glock 19 prints more on me than on a 6’1″ 240 lb. dude. Not that I haven’t carried a G19 successfully, but it just isn’t my cup of tea. I used to always wear tucked shirts and pocket carry, but now I favor sweaters in winter and untucked shirts for all seasons. That allows me to carry a subcompact 9 comfortably IWB and sometimes OWB if the shirt is long enough. I try to stay reasonably fashionable, so the closer-fitting shirts caused me to trade my G26 in for an LC9s. I have three fewer rounds on deck, but zero printing. I’m quite happy with this intersection of inconspicuous fashionability and firepower.

    • a Glock 19 prints more on me than on a 6’1″ 240 lb. dude

      Where do you live that “printing” is illegal?

      • Danny, in SC printing is the same as displaying or exposing, which is the same as brandishing. Brandishing is a felony in SC.

        • Dennis, printing is not against the law in South Carolina.

          Section 23-21-210, (6) “Concealable weapon” means a firearm having a length of less than twelve inches measured along its greatest dimension that must be carried in a manner that is hidden from public view in normal wear of clothing except when needed for self-defense, defense of others, and the protection of real or personal property.”

          So even temporary (accidental) exposure is okay, and printing certainly is. SLED (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division) has confirmed this. No one has ever been arrested for “printing” in South Carolina.

          Next someone is going to claim that it’s illegal to print in Florida.

        • Mr. Griffin – (yeah, I’m going there) IANAL but I do want to correct a small error in your reference as it was changed in Feb. of 1014; Section 23-21-210, (6) is now SECTION 23-31-210.(5). Be that as is may, here is the statute that applies to printing: “SECTION 16-23-410. Pointing firearm at any person. It is unlawful for a person to present or point at another person a loaded or unloaded firearm.” Therefore, the appropriate charge would be “Presenting” as opposed to “Printing.” As it has been explained to me by several LEOs, “presenting” means that it is obvious that one is carrying a firearm. In SC “concealed” means “concealed”, it does not mean “covered up.” Yes, the “normal wearing of your garment” wording allows for the occasional, brief, accidental exposure but it does not mean that I can discard the XXL tee shirts I wear to prevent printing in SC summers and switch to L sizes to cover up my Colt Combat Commander 1911. If I were to do so, I risk being charged with “Presenting” even if my hand never touches the firearm and no one can actually see it.

          So you are probably correct, no one has ever been charged with PRINTING in SC.

        • Do we not get a last chance at editing anymore? Oh, well….

          “Feb of 1014” should be “Feb of 2014”
          “Be that as is may” should “Be that as it may”

        • Texas laws say it is illegal to print.

          No, it doesn’t. Neither printing nor accidental exposure are against the law in Texas! Section 46.035, (1) (a) A license holder commits an offense if the license holder carries a handgun on or about the license holder’s person under the authority of Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, and intentionally displays the handgun in plain view of another person in a public place.

          Printing has never been against the law in Texas, and in 2013 state Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) and state Representative Kenneth Sheets (R-Dallas) introduced SB 299 – Accidental Exposure to protect CHL holders against charges of “failure to conceal” as described by Penal Code 46.035, for the accidental display of a handgun. This was not a change in law, but rather a clarification.

          As long as you aren’t intentionally displaying your gun, flashing it around, brandishing it, you are okay. If you live in Texas, you should know this.

        • To be fair, printing was never illegal, unless, unless it was really an attempt to print. That said, it was up to law enforcement to decide fi you were intentionally displaying the weapon or not. So a lot of concealed carry instructors were telling their students that printing at all could be consider displaying, which was not the intent of the law. Then, after a few high profile arrests for printing/displaying, and after an off duty police officer was SWATed in a grocery store when another patron saw his pistol when he reached up to grab something off a shelf, the legislature wisely clarified the statute. Still, a lot of people think that it is illegal to even accidentally show the outline of the gun. Open carry will resolve the issue entirely.

  25. I chose a gun that I like, simply because I liked it.

    I chose pants that I like, simply because I liked them.

    I make whatever holster that I need.

    I put the two together, and I have my carry system.

  26. OWB 1911 when I can wear my shirts untucked. Pocket .38 Special with Buffalo Bore 158 grain + Ps when I have to tuck my shirts in.

  27. Bit of both. Pants are purchased with my usual I.W.B. carry with me & shirts are a tall length instead of regular.

  28. I’m in IL where we just got CCW last year, I carried my M&P .40 in a N82 professional holster for the first 6 months and it was a PITA despite that being the most comfortable setup for that pistol, putting it on and tucking into a polo or dress shirt became too much. My work has me at home a lot but at various facilities the rest of the time, some do not permit CCW and some I’d be worried the owners would take issue with me carrying while visiting them for work, which involves climbing around quite a bit, making exposing the gun a possibility. So I ended up leaving my pistol in the car too much. I then bought a Shield and DeSantis Nemesis and Superfly holsters for pocket carry (with the extended mag and a second spare in another pocket). Light dress pants don’t work out, but heavier business casual Kahki type pants do work as do jeans and cargo shorts for casual wear. I have decided dress pants are out unless wearing a suit, in which case, the full size comes back out and is hidden well by the jacket. Between these setups I have my bases covered. So you could say I have adjusted both my dress and gun to carrying.

  29. I happen to be blessed with being 6’4″ so I can conceal carry a Ruger GP100 5″ barrel and two speed loaders in almost any of my clothes so not so much an issue for me either way.

  30. Since I retired the way I dress allows me to carry anything I want. When I was working I was not allowed to carry [violation of federal law] except in few cases where I was. However, I recently discovered that you can carry anything you want wearing a suit when I started carrying at church. I can easily stash a 1911 if I wanted to.

  31. Biggest carry piece is Glock 35, smallest is Smith 340 PD. I do a combination of both in my clothing choices. Looking dead sexy is not my #1 priority in life. 5.11 and Blackhawk! make some good shirts, as does Under Armor. The Woolrich Elite Tactical is also a good series. That an T shirts on the big side for CCW. It’s pretty easy to conceal with a suit.

  32. I always choose my carry gun based on how I”m dressed. I love Colorado in the winter because nothing hides a carry gun like a nice large winter jacket.

    • I had the opposite problem. My Virginia permit isn’t honored. I had to find a way to open carry with that all that clothing. Solutiion? Lot’s of layers.

  33. I carry a P-3AT when i carry. It fits in the front pocket of my riggs and i dont give it another thought.. Hunting I open carry a Model 66- 4 inch..If Im on road tripping on my roadstar, it’s myXD 9 on my hip.

  34. I compromise both ways. In the summer I’ll wear a light outer shirt to help hide a concealed gun while in the winter I’ll wear a bigger gun or external holster because I’m in layers anyway.

  35. Well, as a 6′ 2″ 250 lb weight lifter, concealing most guns has never been an issue. So I usually carry and FNX-9 IWB (those full sizes have a tendency to, uh, “stick out” and make people think that you’re a little too happy to see them). One time, just for laughs, in the winter I had a long barreled S&W Model 500 hunting version slung across my back under a heavy-ass coat, and concealed it for the day 🙂

  36. it’s much easier to dress around a gun in temperate or cold weather, which doesn’t really exist where I live.

    There are several excellent guns that are easy to conceal even in shorts and a t-shirt on the hottest days. Colt Mustang Pocketlite, Kahr P380 are easy to pocket carry with a good pocket holster such as Talon or Uncle George. A Kahr CM9 or Kimber Solo can easily be “Mexican carried” via a Sticky Holster under a t-shirt.

  37. Mostly I carry around my normal dress habits .

    I also have firearm to match when I am out of my normal cloth …

    but either way , rule # 1 makes the decision easy

  38. It’s a combination of the two. These days when I buy clothing it’s with CC in mind. Then it’s a matter of choosing the right combo of gun and holster for what I intend to wear. Tools required: Gun, holster, clothing, mirror. Next question.

  39. At present I only own one carry piece, my G19, so I dress to accommodate. If and when I get another piece, I will probably get one of Remora’s “tuckable” holsters for when I need to tuck in my shirt.

  40. The statement that you can’t carry with a cover garment in Austin (I guess because you think it’s too hot) is flat wrong, but understandable since you came from the frozen North. This Austin native has had no problems carrying IWB with a cover garment year round, even in August. The key is lightweight fabric. Modern made-for-carry sport shirts and athletic sweat-wicking undershirts work as designed, even in 99 degree heat. Too many people give up and declare it “too hard” to carry because they refuse to spend money on task-specific clothes or change their wardrobe. It’s part of the “magic talisman” mindset, that only requires gun ownership and meeting state minimums, not daily carry and training to a realistic level of proficiency.

  41. Sort of. I mostly pocket carry (S&W 340PD), so I pick the pants where it fits comfortably and doesn’t print too much – but that’s practically any relaxed fit jeans or cargo pants, which is what I’d wear anyway. For those few occasions where I need something less comfortable, I can always downgrade to my Kel-Tec P32 (or NAA Mini in the extreme case, I suppose – but I can’t think of anything short of a trip to a nudist beach that’d warrant that).

  42. Up north the cold weather is our friend, kind of, but the extra jacket allows me to carry my Kimber TLE RL Custom II with a light attached in a custom kydex holster made right here in MT. in the summer i lose the light and throw it into an SOB covered by a slightly oversized t-shirt. So to answer the question posed, both; but the weather impacts my piece and placement more than anything.

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