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?
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 . . .
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.