Jeff Gonzales: Dressing For Everyday Carry Success

There is a lot more to carrying concealed than simply throwing a t-shirt over your rig. You have to change your style and lifestyle to accommodate your everyday carry gun, and the rest of your load-out. Or do you?

Clothing challenges

Concealed means concealed. But does concealed mean donating your wardrobe to Goodwill and wearing multi-pocket cargo pants and loose-fitting untucked shirts? Your clothing choices should support the level of concealment required for your chosen handgun, and any other defensive tools you may carry (e.g. spare magazines, knife, flashlight, etc.). Or is that the other way around?

Believe it or not, the biggest challenge some new concealed carriers face is the realization they can’t carry the Mk1Mod0 blaster they use on the weekends. They don’t want to or can’t change their clothing style — such as buying pants one or two sizes larger than normal to fit a larger gun in an inside-the-waistband holster — to accommodate their favorite full-sized firearm.

And that’s OK. I believe in living your life to the full while carrying concealed. Whether you’re working, hanging out with your family or attending social events, you shouldn’t let your firearm interfere with enjoying the one life God has blessed you with. It’s best to work your concealment requirements around your lifestyle.

If you’re unwilling or unable to change your dress to conceal a particular firearm, so be it. As Shakespeare said, clothes maketh the man. Your sense of style is important to your sense of self and social success. But don’t simply give up. Give yourself . . .

Multiple Carry Options (One Is None)

I consider it standard practice to have a primary, secondary and backup method for carrying concealed, so I can carry comfortably no matter what I’m doing: playing with the kids, hiking, commuting, working, shopping, fixing stuff around the house, whatever. This approach has allowed me to navigate my life armed while blending in or actually looking presentable in high society events.

There’s a wide variety of carry systems to choose from, including inside-the-waistband, outside-the-waistband, appendix and shoulder holsters. You can pocket carry, ankle carry or carry in a belly band or “fanny pack.” You can carry off-body; in a briefcase, backpack or vehicle. But remember: it’s not either/or. It’s three!

Can one gun cater to all these carry methods? Probably not. I recommend owning, carrying and practicing with at least two guns: a larger and a smaller firearm. And yes I know that all this costs time and money. The good news is once you settle on a couple of good guns and three carry methods, you’re set. That said, you face . . .

Gun challenges

If your style requires you to change your loadout, to carry something smaller and more compact, practice with that gun. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve trained people shooting full-size handguns, often shooting them well, who tell me “Oh this isn’t my carry gun . . .” That’s a recipe for disaster.

I’m not just talking just about marksmanship or gunfighting tactics. Train yourself to extract your gun from its hiding place in a consistent and efficient fashion, wearing the clothes you’ll be wearing with that loadout. Unload your gun, store the ammunition in a different room, check your gun again, and practice drawing while moving.

If you decide to wade into these waters, your choices come with the responsibility of shooting to a minimum standard. Choose a loadout that fits your lifestyle, but make sure you’re ready, willing and able to protect that lifestyle.

Jeff Gonzales is a former US. Navy SEAL and preeminent weapons and tactics instructor. He brings his Naval Special Warfare mindset, operational success and lessons learned unapologetically to the world at large. Currently he is the Director of Training at The Range at Austin. Learn more about his passion and what he does at therangeuastin.com.

comments

  1. avatar Cucamonga Jeff says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I found myself needing to get dressed in slim fit slacks and a tucked dress shirt this weekend and found a hole in my system. IWB was not an option because of the tucked shirt and pocket carry printed too much. I had to settle for a blade, flashlight and some pepper spray at that point. Now I’m looking for an ankle holster!

    1. avatar tdiinva (now in Wisconsin} says:

      Try wearing a sport coat. You can hide a 686/4″ underneath that. You have to make compromises when you carry even if you are pocket carrying.

      1. avatar Cucamonga Jeff says:

        The problem I have with the sport coat is that now I have to be committed to wearing it regardless of my comfort.

        1. avatar tdiinva (now in wisconsin) says:

          That is a compromiseperate you have to make when you carry.

  2. avatar Mr.Savage says:

    I do have a few different loadouts, but I always have the same overall, normal appearance, t-shirt and jeans, military type boots and maybe a hoodie. I can pick one loadout, and stick with it year round.
    but sometimes I get bored and just want to carry others, I wouldn’t EVER carry off body other than work, I tend to stash something in the car for that.

  3. avatar Ralph says:

    “You can carry in a . . . ‘fanny pack.'”

    No, you can carry in a fanny pack. But don’t forget your lime green pants and white belt. You know, the full Miami Beach.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Pfffftttttttttttt … Ralph wins the Intertubez today!

  4. avatar strych9 says:

    It seems to me that people overthink this.

    1. avatar The Gray Poseur says:

      Ditto. But then again, he gets paid to complicate.

  5. avatar Bohica says:

    I often wear pants made by CCW Breakaways. They feature large pockets and the means to securely carry one or more handguns, along with spare mags/ammo, knife, light, etc. Their pants don’t look “tactical”.

    When I say “large pockets”, I really mean huge. For instance, I can comfortably carry my S&W Model 629, .44 magnum, 3″ barrel in an Andrews Leather pocket holster, and it’s completely concealed! Plus there’s room for my backup firearm and other accessories as well.

    Regardless, carrying a concealed weapon requires thought, planning, changing wardrobe if necessary –
    – and practice, practice, practice. Practice drawing and dry firing the weapon. Get comfortable with carrying. Carry constantly. And be safe.

  6. avatar guidoc says:

    When buying jeans, always check how the pockets are constructed. I have a favorite brand that is inexpensive but has deep pockets made of heavy cloth. Perfect for holstered front pocket carry. The waistbands are slightly oversized so an IWB holster fits nicely behind the hip. They can be purchased for under $20.00 at a local Farm Store and stand up to wear better than some more expensive brands. No, I won’t name the brand as I don’t want their marketing department getting ideas.

    As stated above, sportcoats and hoodies cover most OWB carry, but I gotta buy a dress gunbelt for business suits.

  7. avatar Luke Yarasheski says:

    No love for small of back Jeff? (Sad face)

  8. avatar The Gray Poseur says:

    No disrespect to your personal choices, but I’d rather be shot than wear jeans from the farm store.

    An IWB holster works fine with jeans of this century.

    1. avatar Guidoc says:

      That’s the nice thing about getting old, I just don’t give a sh&t about fashion. They don’t have sequins on the ass pockets and they don’t scream GUN !!! You can pay 3x as much for the same britches in other stores.

      I work outdoors a lot. Jeans and Polo shirts are appropriate for inspections. My bespoke suit is reserved for court and professional meetings.

      I used to be hip. Now I’m comfortable.

      1. avatar Zeke says:

        Amen, Amen, AMEN!! So many fewer worries when one isn’t trying to “fit in.”

        Along similar lines, I used to think I wouldn’t enjoy getting old(er). But just about nobody looks twice at me. I’m damn near invisible.

  9. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Or, you could carry a full-size handgun comfortably in a nice outside-the-waistband holster openly visible to everyone. That is a huge advantage of open carry.

  10. avatar Trae says:

    I found this to be the perfect solution:
    http://www.andrewsleather.com/firepower.htm

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I just love the description “These rigs were originally produced for narcs who wished to make a good first impression on their customers.”
      Note beeper in the pic.

  11. avatar ADM says:

    I’ve never had this problem; I get that it can be a real problem for people, but honestly I think that this article is overthinking it. I carry IWB at 5-6 o’clock, and other than, yes, buying slightly larger pants, I’ve had to change literally nothing else about my clothing other than having to throw a jacket or an open button-up over any tight t-shirts when I would otherwise not on account of the temperature. An easy compromise to make for security.

    Granted, if you’re someone who wears leggings as pants and thinks layering is evil, I can see how you’d have problems. But I already just wear jeans or slacks [work] and loose-fitting shirts everywhere. The only real change I ever think I’d make is if I were being really active, I’d look into investing in a good thigh holster for open carry where it makes sense. If I could find a good thigh holster, that is. Seems to be a rare animal from what I can tell.

  12. avatar TX Gun Gal says:

    Wish some women would weight in. I have a Sneaky Pete for car carry in driver side door bin. I’m left handed so works well for me. Love that style holster. Have one for Ruger SR 22. and another for one for Bersa 380. Never leave in Honda Element without security set. Anyone who owns an Element knows it’s one of the most difficult models to open locked doors. At my age, rarely wear anything other than cargo pants and hiking style shoes. Wear leather fanny pack on right hip. Covers right pocket, usually Ruger LCR in right pocket home carry.
    Ladies please share your carry methods!

    1. avatar Tx-Lady says:

      What brand of cargo pants? I’m a female who loves wearing cargo capris and cargo shorts, but the brands I’ve been wearing for years are way too lightweight (fabric-wise), and the pockets definitely too shallow to carry. I’ve been exploring other brands, including purchasing some men’s cargo pants, but so far have not found anything that doesn’t look like a tent that will actually accommodate a revolver, which is my weapon of choice.

      Appreciate what you shared and looking forward to anything more you have to add.

    2. avatar Wheelgun-Kat says:

      I have a few options. The most comfortable is the ‘sticky’ holster, can carry deep in the waistband, carry my LCR or my SP101. Then I have a ‘flash-bang’ (bra holster) the sticky holster took over that mostly, and a small cross body conceal carry purse works great also (but only cross-body, too easy to grab otherwise).

  13. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

    “There is a lot more to carrying concealed than simply throwing a t-shirt over your rig.”

    Heresy! Just kidding. I prefer to carry in jeans, an undershirt, and untucked button down short sleeve shirt (wrinkle free because ironing is a waste of life).

  14. avatar Wheelgun-Kat says:

    I have a ‘Flash-Bang’, (bra holster), also the most comfortable is the sticky holster used inside the waist band, I can carry either my LCR or SP101, when that won’t work, then I have a small cross body purse made for conceal carry.

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