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As most who carry a gun can attest, inside the waistband is better for concealment, but there are some folks who just prefer outside the waistband concealed carry. It isn’t difficult to imagine why. It’s more comfortable to carry that way. You don’t need bigger pants or a bigger belt and your pistol and holster poke you less while you walk around, sit, or go about your appointed daily rounds.

The hitch, of course, is that effective concealment is slightly more problematic. Concealing an OWB rig with a t-shirt can be difficult or even impossible. This leads to wearing bigger clothes or more layers than you might want during warmer parts of the year. Some even resort to the dreaded cliche, the dead-giveaway of the shoot-me-first concealed carry vest. Even in summer.

That can be difficult and uncomfortable unless, of course, you wear a suit all the time anyway. In that case, don’t worry about any of this and just keep on keeping on.

What can a person do if they’re determined to carry OWB, but still want to keep things on the down low?

The older salts among us are already aware of a lot of this, so this is really more for the noobs. There are a few tricks of the trade and that can help. Your mileage, of course, may vary, so you’ll have to do some testing and figure out what works best for you.

To start with, you need to pick the right gun and gear.

As for pistols, compacts and micro- and sub-compacts are the best starting point, with pistols of shorter lengths being better suited. The typical CCW gun these days is frequently something like a SIG P365, Springfield Hellcat, Kimber Mako or similar. They work well and allow you to carry plenty of ammo. But micro-compacts aren’t for everyone.

Those of us who prefer to carry a compact or full-size gun for daily carry (and there are plenty who do) will find that the Beretta 92, GLOCK 17 or — better yet —  a government frame 1911 will either barely skate by or you’ll probably have to resort to another concealment method. Full-frame guns are awfully difficult to conceal when carried outside the waistband unless you’re wearing a coat.

Also, the thinner the pistol the better. Part of concealment is being able to keep that bump from being noticeable and that’s harder to do outside the waistband.

If you like to pack a wheel gun, you might be able to get away with a K-frame size revolver, but something like an N-frame just won’t cut it in all likelihood. Not to mention that you may give yourself back problems toting one of those every day.

Next is your carry gear, specifically the holster. You’ll do well to choose an OWB holster that rides high and tight. The closer you can keep the muzzle to the bottom edge of gun belt, the better. Carrying lower under an untucked t-shirt and you’ll have a hard time keeping it covered. And if it sticks too far out away from your body, it prints.

There are plenty of examples of such holsters out there. The old timers carried with leather pancake or Askins holsters, which work well for this purpose with a compact gun. Modern takes on the high-ride OWB are available from some pretty good gear makers as well.

An Askins holster

Next is clothing. You can stick with the CCW vest, maybe adding a CCW badge if you really want. However, if you’d like to avoid those conspicuous cliches, here are a few helpful fashion tips.

Try shirts in tall sizes, if they don’t look too ridiculous on you. Another inch or two of hem length can make a big difference in concealability.

Short-sleeve button-up shirts are a great option as they satisfy most dress codes and can conceal a pistol fairly well. You can wear them untucked and still look presentable enough for the office. A nice roomy polo shirt also works well.

All of that said, placement matters a great deal. If you pick a good gun and holster, you’ll find it virtually disappears when carried in the right spot, but sticks out — “prints” prominently — in others. The four or five o’clock position generally works best, but you’ll have to find the best place for it to ride on your belt.

Will what you end up with necessarily work for everyone? No, but if you’re determined not to carry inside the waistband, you still have some very good options if you’re willing to do the work and experiment a little.

Be careful out there.

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  1. One more tip:

    No matter the size of the gun, do not wear it on the actual hip at 3 or 9 o’clock positions. First, you hip is not your waist. Second, the waist is above the hips.

    The hip bone protrudes out father than your actual waist (yes, you fluffy people have an actual waist under the fluffy) and does not compress inwards like your waist does. If you wear the gun on your actual hip at 3 or 9 o’clock the hip bones are going to cause the gun to be farther out making it more difficult to conceal without printing plus the gun will be sort of pivoting a little forward and back on the hip bone as you move and can result in making it look like something is under your shirt moving around.

    Scoot it around to the 4 or 5 o’clock position so the grip of the gun tucks into that soft area at your waist and back to the side of your spine(I guess one could sort of call this ‘kidney carry’).

    You could also scoot it around forward of the hip bone to maybe, say, 2 o’clock position but this does not work that well for a lot of people if they are venturing into fluffy territory.

    • Oh, another thing, if you are a T-shirt person then skip the polyester T-shirts (e.g. athletic wear, under armour, all 100% polyester materiel shirts, etc…). These tend to ‘cling’ a little momentarily as you move even if they are larger in size and will start clinging to your gun plus when you lean they tend to cling to the firearm grip a little more.

      For men, correct sizing for T-shirt and very casual wear style polo shirt considered ‘fashionably’ correct: The shoulder seam can be up to 2 inches below the top of the shoulder. And the bottom can be down to the bottom of the crotch area, which is actually desirable because the longer length will still help cover the gun if for some reason you reach up. The actual proper length range is from one inch above the bottom of the crotch to the bottom of the crotch.

      There are three types of main ‘wear fit’ categories for these T-shirt and polo shirt type of shirts, sometimes they are noted for the product and sometimes they are not. These three types are ‘Loose Fit’ and ‘Relaxed Fit’ and ‘Regular Fit’. The ‘Regular Fit’ category encompasses those shirts you see that fit so well form fitted on the models who wear them on a manufacturer web site, and it also encompasses any particular ‘feature’ for fit which is more form fitting, for example, Under Armour ‘compression’ shirts. The other two wear fit categories of ‘Loose Fit’ and ‘Relaxed Fit’ is where you want to be for conceal carry. Sometimes you see button down shirts also labeled like this.

      ‘Loose Fit’ T-Shirt type of shirt or an ‘intended wear = casual wear’ polo shirt. This is cut larger with a roomier fit in the chest and shoulders. This is what you want for concealed carry in these shirts.

      ‘Relaxed Fit’ is a closer fit to the body but not exactly form fitting. It tapers in some and you do not want that for concealed carry for T-Shirt type of shirt or an ‘intended wear = casual wear’ polo shirt. But depending on the body type, for example, ‘skinny’ this may work out well for you

      ‘Loose Fit’ will work for both thin and not so thin (but not really fluffy), just get the correct size. For sizing look at the manufacturers sizing charts and note the sizes in inches and not just the letter size (e.g. L, XL, 2XL etc…) and measure yourself for those measurements and if you are on the borderline or match those measurements but are not below them then get the next size up in letter size and that’s all there is to it. (note though, some manufacturers clothing tends to run a little larger than the advertised size)

      Now we come to regular length or tall length. This is going to depend on how tall you are. Remember the length you want in these shirts – the actual proper length range is from one inch above the bottom of the crotch to the bottom of the crotch.

      So here is where we enter the ‘very fluffy’ range. For ‘very fluffy’ (exceeds a 3XL or is on the border line for a size larger than 3XL in loose fit) you have an added burden and you should probably be looking at a category called ‘Oversized Fit’ which is actually not a main wear fit category but rather an exception to the main wear fit categories intended to serve the ‘very fluffy’ market. But the same rules for these types of shirts apply for you too, you are just going to do it in the ‘Oversized Fit’ category.

      Also note that some manufacturers clothing tends to run either larger or smaller than the actual size indicated for a loose fit shirt. You will need to just try it on to see, try on at the store if you can but if ordered on line send it back and get the next size up or exchange it for the next size up in the same style and brand.

      Another choice is shirts made specifically for concealed carry. These do not follow the industry standard for regular shirts for the straight down chest line of the shirt. These have a sort of flared styling to them that flares away very slightly and outwards from the straight line standard in the chest and down thus giving a shirt that fits but also allows more room to conceal the gun. However, these are generally more expensive. But, these types can also be found in ‘oversized’ clothing lines as well so some careful shopping can keep you from paying the more expensive price of those touted to be specifically for concealed carry.

      • .40 cal Booger,

        I also found that 100% polyester T-shirts tend to cling to your body more and print your handgun more.

        Thus I try to stick with cotton T-shirts which hang better on my body.

        • yes, polyester tends to do that too.

          cotton is a lot better for that very reason of hanging rather than clinging.

  2. A glock 26 and glock holster worn at the 2 o’clock position. Add a carhartt tall t-shirt and I’m good. I’ve been using the same setup for a good 30 years, very comfortable and doesn’t print.

    • Yeah, carhartt is good.

      I’ve worn a full sized Glock 22 at just shy of 4 o’clock for many years just fine.

  3. Leather pancake holsters are great at keeping the firearm close. Holster cant will help with grip issues. Plenty of vest styles are actually not very noticeable like fleece or puffer vests, khaki fishing vests aren’t the only choice.

    • One thing to be careful of, is that some of the leather belt holsters have the gun angled too far forward, and then you have to uncomfortably raise your shoulder too much to draw. I have one from Gould & Goodrich that has much less of an angle than some other brands such as Tagua. It is best to buy your holster at a local store where you can try the holsters with their permission and with your gun (obviously unloaded).

      And I agree about the vests. As in the article, there is this dumb idea among some gun writers that a vest is a dorky concealed carry giveaway. This author and many others apparently think the only vests are the bulky photographer or fishing vests with all the pockets (like the Big Lebowski movie photo he linked). There are numerous lightweight single layer or lightly insulated vests that look nothing like those. Outdoor stores and farm/ranch/western wear stores have many good-looking styles. Many just have two slit pockets on the sides.

      Here in the Rocky Mountain West people wear them all the time in cool weather half the year or more and it doesn’t say “shoot me first.” In the dry West, summer tempertures can also drop to the mid 50s even in the early evening (and lower at night), and vests are perfect for that. Outdoorsy types, construction workers, and the few remaining cowboys wear them and no one gives it a second look. The author of the article needs to just spend a few minutes on Amazon or the online western wear stores looking at vests. We’ve got to kill this anti-vest myth.

      The only obvious disadvantage is that in hot humid summer weather in the Midwest and East even the lightest ones aren’t comfortable.

      Everything I’ve written about vests obviously also applies to lightweight sportcoats, which are also a good option. Many people dress so sloppy now that sportcoats aren’t very popular, but look at all the older detective movies (with Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, et. al) where the plain-clothes cops wore shoulder or belt holsters under the sport coat, and they looked great. The FBI used to wear them, but from what I’ve seen now the new “woke” FBI agents dress like slobs.

  4. Sneaky Pete. Every day. Except when on a customer’s site. Then an LCP2 in a pocket holster.

    I have even carried on college and high-school campuses in a Sneaky Pete. Never a problem. Best concealed OWB I have ever tried.

    Fast draw, also.

  5. oh yeah…get a decent belt intended for gun carry and skip the skinny ‘dress/fashion belts’

  6. It’s just too difficult to see OWB as something that is actually ‘concealed’. Sure, cover it with a shirt, jacket, coat, or shirtjac ok fine. But the same thing can be done with just about any method of holster carry. So by that standard, every holster is concealed carry. Although most of the best looking holsters in existance are OWB IMHO.

    Ironicly, I saw someone open carrying today which is rare. Maybe once or twice a year. Even though it’s perfectly legal here.

  7. It also helps if you are over 60. No one looks at us and especially to see if we are carrying.

    • Lol well in Maine if over 60 just assume we ARE carrying. No one cares anyway, it’s like the wild wild west up here you know.

  8. Bought several button down short sleeves from Walmart. George brand very roomy yet looks great. Get printed not solid.
    Wife didn’t even know I was carrying.

  9. If you are going to carry outside waistband, you might as well use a holster which allows you to use it inside of your belt. Thus, your holster ends up being “outside waistband” and “inside belt”.

    This method provides the advantage of outside waistband while also keeping your handgun pulled-in tight to your body which vastly minimizes “printing”.

    As another commenter said above, buy a quality belt made for firearm carry–although you may be able to get-away with cheap/flimsy belts since your handgun is inside your belt (even though it is “outside waistband”) as I mentioned above.

  10. Something not mentioned is a cross draw holster. Similar to appendix carry but on the opposite side for right handed folks. Not that it prints less or is any more comfortable etc. but is less noticeable because it is not where most would expect to see a gun printing etc. Some like the small of back carry. I do not recommend such for 2 reasons. First is it is very slow if you need to draw the weapon. Secondly is the chance of injury if you fall and is impossible to get too if seated. Might look cool in the movies or for some gangst thug type, but just not a practical place to carry anything but a secondary back up weapon and only if no other option is available.

  11. I wear OWB with a SA Hellcat 3″ bbl. I use a Desanti holster exactly like the one shown in the first photo, except I’m a south paw. I wear it far towards the front, right up behind the first belt loop on my left (something like 10-11 oclock). I often wear jeans and T-shirt, sometimes jeans and button up casual business. I always ask the wife before I go out if I’m printing in any position. So far, the answer has always been a solid NO. I think my secret is that little paunch that hangs over my belt buckle. When I push the holster up close to the first belt loop, the Hellcat almost melts into the little ‘dunlop’. That’s where the belly has ‘dunlopped’ over the belt buckle. In all seriousness, it works well for me and has for many, many moons. I also sometimes carry the KelTec PF9 in the same holster and location.

  12. Effective concealment. ?
    Nickle plated 1873 with Ivory grips stuck in a cowboy holstein.
    Effectively conceals the derringer in my pocket.

  13. If you are going to carry OWB, whether concealed or open, your belt matters also. Depending on my situation, my concealed carry is either appendix IWB carry or OWB. And my open carry is always OWB. So, 3 different carry scenarios. They depend on weather, situation, and whether I’m open or concealed.

    The most crucial piece of this is my belt, not my holster. Get a good belt. Make sure it can carry your gun and holster without sagging. Then get the holster to ride on top of it.

  14. One of the first places a lot of ‘new’ people start looking for casual concealed carry clothing is the area of ‘tactical’ or (specifically made) ‘concealed carry’ clothing, especially for warm weather wear. This is a mistake.

    Its a mistake because these usually cost more and sometimes have ‘features’ you do not need which increase the cost and also can, sometimes, make you stand out as ‘unique’ in dress because of the ‘tactical’ style of clothing or the features of the clothing. I’m not saying go all ‘grey man’, the idea here is to conceal the firearm in a manner so attention is not drawn to it yet maintain a reasonable amount of comfort and a quick accessibility factor for carrying the firearm and to let the clothing do the work for you to help that happen.

    For example, the article has a link to a 511 Tactical polo shirt on Amazon. Take a look at the shirt, its the “5.11 Tactical Men’s Jersey Knit Short Sleeve Shirt, Wrinkle-Resistant Cotton, Pen Pocket, Style 71182” (in case you want to look at it). Although the shirt is suitable for concealed carry, look at the ‘features’. It has “Mic-loop pockets located at each shoulder and placed at the bottom of the placket at the sternum level” and “Reinforced dual pen pockets.”

    Do you really need “Mic-loop pockets located at each shoulder and placed at the bottom of the placket at the sternum level” and “Reinforced dual pen pockets” ? That’s what increases the cost of the 511 Tactical polo shirt.

    The point is this, just because something has the word ‘tactical’ or (specifically made) ‘concealed carry clothing’ attached to it does not mean its suitable for your purpose.

    1. Look for parallels to the ‘tactical’ for concealed carry.
    2. Look for parallels to the (specifically) ‘concealed carry clothing.’

    Previously I posted, in the comments at the top, to stay away from 100% polyester shirts. Yes, stay away from them for concealed carry. A 100% cotton OR cotton (50% at least) blend works best for conceal carry shirts.

    The consumer market is full of quality shirt parallel’s to the (specifically) ‘concealed carry clothing’ or ‘tactical’ for concealed carry clothing, and mostly they cost less than the higher prices of those (specifically) ‘concealed carry clothing’ or ‘tactical’ for concealed carry clothing. However, a lot of it (like the rest of the clothing market) uses fabric blends but that’s ok as long as at least 50% of the blend is cotton. For example, a parallel to the 511 Tactical polo shirt on Amazon linked in the article is the ‘Dickies Adult Size Piqué Short Sleeve Polo’ (60% Cotton/40% Polyester – or if Heather Gray color then 50% cotton/ 20% polyester) for $17.99 > … the Dickies polo shirt offers the same (and actually a little bit better) conceal-ability factor as the 511 Tactical polo shirt linked in the article.

    Although there are a lot of parallels to the 511 Tactical polo short linked in the article, I pointed out Dickies for a reason and that reason is it introduces another area in which to look for suitable concealed carry shirts and that area is ‘work wear’. No, not all work wear looks like work wear. But why ‘work wear’ ? Its because these T-shirts, polo shirts, and even button down shirts in this area are usually more roomy in the chest areas and down in regular fit sizes, think of it as ‘loose fit with a very slight more’.

    There are lots of good brands out there that offer clothing that’s very suitable for concealed carry casual dress and at less expensive prices too. The thing is for you new people, you are not limited to ‘tactical’ or (specifically made) ‘concealed carry’ clothing and their higher prices or ‘special features’ or other higher priced clothing because you read about it in an article like the one here. So shop around and evaluate and remember it does not need to be expensive for casual dress concealed carry.

    • correction for: “…if Heather Gray color then 50% cotton/ 20% polyester)”

      the 20% should have been 40%

      sorry ’bout that.

        • As informative as your posts may be, the most fascinating takeaway is that you type all of this on your phone.

          My phone is too small (for concealability) to type much more than a paragraph.

        • I did the main post on computer, the correction posts on the phone. The “distracted typing on phone” was for the blunder I made in the first correction post.

  15. Summer I carry a Shield IWB. Winter/Fall I carry a midsize TP9 Elite SC OWB. All that said, I really like to practice my SA and always look to see if others are carrying and if anyone is looking to see if I’m carrying. Funny thing is that in most public spaces, 99% of the folks out there are so caught up in their own business they have no idea if anyone is carrying. Even when my hoodie is clearly bulging at the 2, nobody has their head out of their arse or cell phone enough to notice. Since SA is so important to those of us who carry, have you observed the same? Yes, concealed means concealed. But what percentage of people would notice a slight printing in the first place?

    • You bring up a point of reality.

      In reality its unlikely anyone will notice a slight ‘bulge’ of printing.

      But sometimes noticing does happen and sometimes it comes from the most unlikely sources. Basically; Was in a store one day in checkout. There was a woman with her daughter ahead of me and in front of them was a person I knew to be a newbie concealed carrier. Every time he moved you could see the gun print as the fabric slid over it or pulled against it. The little girl speaks up and tells her mom there was something moving under the mans shirt.

      • Women are looking for a different bulge. And yes, they do look. I’ve had them tell me, and I’ve caught some looking before. Men aren’t (usually) checking you out. Most people are caught up in their own little world. I have a hard time getting people to even make eye contact with me in passing.

    • I feel a bit self-conscious sitting at a table in the middle of a restaurant. I know the grip is noticeable under my shirt, in that position. Like you said, no one’s paying attention anyway. And if they were, so what, right?

  16. My wife carries in her Gun Totin’ Mommas purse. IF you know what a carry purse looks like, then it is obvious. If you don’t then you don’t. So far the only person who has ever questioned her about it is a cop because his wife had the same purse.

    • My wife isn’t shy about carry. She carries IWB or OWB concealed if she needs to do something for work or its needed due to the ‘environment’ – concealed for how she is dressed and sometimes (rarely) purse carry for those types of situations too. But otherwise she will open carry and if someone doesn’t like it that’s a ‘them’ problem and not her problem and she doesn’t hesitate to let them know that in a very withering and complete manner.

  17. If you see a guy in a suit with a couple of young dudes with hi and tight haircuts and untucked shirts…well you’ll know whose strapped.

  18. 4-5 o clock is so much slower to bring into action than 12, 1 or 2 . . . . . it’s your life though; carry how you want.

  19. I love my hellcat, but am still struggling to find a good OWB that will accommodate TR26 armalaser, I have a great holster for my glock 43 that does it well, but would like to carry my hellcat, I spent a lot to make it my best gun all around, except for carrying, just nothing is available, a lot of promises from holster companies, but until now, no cigar, what a bummer.

  20. Printing is such a non issue. Nobody sees, nobody knows. Moms demand action could be next to me at Whole Foods with my shirt hanging over the butt (as it does from time to time because I don’t care much, carry 20 rd, and average short t shirt) and they won’t notice or say anything if they do. Be wolves not sheep. Be prepared to tell them to accept it, and want that to happen.

  21. “What can a person do if they’re determined to carry OWB, but still want to keep things on the down low?”

    Stop using closet gay jargon metaphors.

  22. Carrying a N frame like a S&W 625 is not only feasible its comfortable and super concealable given a holster that is snug when your belt is snug. With slender grips the revolver will disappear much like a smaller pistol or revolver. Nice belt with the thickness and 1.5″ width and your aces.

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