As a trainer, I believe that everyone with the ability should should carry a concealed handgun. That said, I understand the that guns aren’t for everyone. As the meme says, “Don’t like guns? Don’t buy one.” Fair enough.
If you do choose to carry, you should do it in the most effective way possible. As a professional self-defense and firearms instructor I’m often asked about the “right” way to carry a concealed handgun. Though there are, in fact, many ways to do that, it boils down to three principles: the gun, the training and developing the right habits.
1) The gun
The gun is the most important consideration. It should be, first and foremost, extremely dependable. You are, after all, depending on it to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Choose a firearm that’s been on the market for some time; a firearm that’s been put through its paces with a proven track record (my personal preference is the GLOCK 19). You should be familiar and comfortable with your firearm. You should be able to shoot it accurately under stress.
Striker-fired pistols are a great choice for defensive carry as they require little manipulation to shoot; simply aim and pull the trigger. Another consideration to take into account is magazine capacity and concealability. Will your pistol hold enough rounds to take down your attacker(s)?
Although single stack guns are great for concealment, I consider them “feel-good” guns; carrying a gun so you can say that you carry. [ED: ducks] Whatever handgun you choose, strike a balance between capacity and concealability that works for you.
It doesn’t matter if you have the best gun in the world, if you can’t effectively deploy it in a real life, high stress situation, it’s worthless to you.
Find a qualified, experienced instructor in your area and start training. Learn the key fundamentals; drawing your weapon and shooting on the move, reloading under stress and, most importantly, shooting accurately under adverse situations.
I’ve seen way too many people who “have been shooting their whole life” miss targets at bad breath distances and fumble magazines when presented with real life scenarios under induced stress.
Train regularly to maintain your skills. Owning a firearm doesn’t make you safe. Learning to use it does.
3) Develop a habit of always carrying your gun
Of course, follow local/state/federal laws. But always remember that a firearm is useless to you if it’s sitting in your safe. As Murphy’s Law dictates, you won’t have it when you most need it. So carry it. Always.
Carrying is never going to be convenient all the time, but the more you carry, the less it will feel awkward and the more comfortable you’ll be.
Tying this back to points one and two, if you choose the right size gun to begin with and train with it, you’ll be comfortable carrying everywhere and you’ll have it should you need it. Which I hope you never do.