I carry outside-the-waistband (OWB). I find it the most comfortable way to carry a handgun and the best carry method for a quick, efficient draw. Obviously enough, it’s not the most discreet way to schlep a gat.
Even those of us fortunate to live in open carry states still need that discretion; there are plenty of places that allow concealed, but prohibit open carry. And there are times when discretion is the better part of stealthy valor.
When it comes time to hide your gat, you don’t want your gun to show through your clothes. (Note: “printing” is not illegal.) To maintain operational stealth, you have to either wear a really baggy T-shirt or an untucked dress shirt (see: untuckit.com). Regardless, here are three must-have’s to limit “printing.”
1. A Slim, body-hugging holster
The trick to keeping your OWB firearm from making an outline in your shirt: keep the gun tucked as close as possible to your body.
Unfortunately, this list does not include any retention holsters, my preferred holster for open carry (for obvious reasons). And it goes without saying that you need a stout gun belt to secure your holster of choice.
But even if you buy a slim, body-hugging holster, you’re still going to print with a thick-handled handgun like…most double-stack handguns and every full-sized GLOCK made. So you need . . .
2. A short-handled, thin-handled gun
Some gun buyers mistakenly consider barrel length the most important characteristic of a gun purchased for concealed carry. Nope. It’s the handle. As you can see from the top pic, a Glock 30SF in the aforementioned DeSantis Speed Scabbard.
If you want to OWB carry a full-size gun, go for one with a shorter, thinner grip. I’ve found that 1911-style guns are the most discreet full-sized firearms for the job. Capacity needn’t be a problem with this style of firearm; STI’s 9mm double-stack DVC Carry (soon to join my hip) holds 15 rounds.
There are plenty of small, thin-handled guns that fit the remit, such as the Smith & Wesson Shield, Springfield XD-S, Kahr CW9 and GLOCK 43. Note: though lighter and more concealable than any full-size gun, these guns surrender capacity and weight (which helps with recoil, which helps with accuracy) to larger handguns.
So you’ve go the right gun and holster. You’ll also need . . .
3. A Tommy John undershirt
The problem with carrying a short-handled, thin-handled handgun OWB in a body-hugging holster: it hugs your body. That can cause chafing and sweat-related issues in warmer temperatures (even with holsters with so-called “sweat shields”).
The $40 Tommy John undershirt puts an extremely thin barrier between the gun and your body. Bonus! They’re designed not to come untucked, via extra length that extends down to the top of your thigh. The TJU doesn’t make you significantly hotter, either. A must-have for OWB.