The Concealed Carry Lifestyle for Beginners

Kimber and friends

Kimber and friends (courtesy Jeffrey Lynch for The Truth About Guns)

By Jeff Lynch

I’ve always been a staunch conservative and firm supporter in our nation’s Constitution, a document that continues to govern our people through Democrat and Republican administrations alike. I am and always will be a strong and vocal supporter of our Second Amendment rights. Our Founding Fathers chose the words “shall not be infringed” very carefully.

I am also a firm believer that with every right comes a responsibility.

Responsibility & Duty

When someone decides to get their concealed handgun license, they do more than just attend a class and take a shooting test. For better or for worse, they decide to change their lifestyle. They don’t just “strap on a six shooter” like the old westerns depict. When someone exercises their Second Amendment rights and carries a concealed handgun, they take on an extra burden and a significant responsibility to themselves, their family and their community.

Carrying a concealed handgun doesn’t make you Superman. It won’t make you any stronger, smarter, or any faster. If you carry a concealed handgun and feel somehow tougher, more confident or less afraid, it’s time to put up your firearm and see a shrink. Most people who have carried concealed for several years describe their feeling as a sense of “duty” or “responsibility.” That’s exactly right.

When you carry a concealed firearm you are held to a higher standard of conduct by society, which makes perfect sense. You carry the means to protect life and to deal out death, if necessary. You become more than an average citizen hoping that violence continues to pass you by.

You become responsible for your own fate and for the fate of those you choose to protect. By carrying a concealed handgun you have decided to become something more than you were before. You are no longer a potential victim and you are no man’s prey.

Lifestyle Changes

Carrying a firearm comes with a new set of responsibilities. There are an almost endless set of rules and regulations that you must know and live by (depending upon where you live) and lifestyle changes that will affect you, your family and maybe your job.

None of these lifestyle changes are easy. All come at a cost in both financial and personal terms.

Which Firearm to Carry?

Choosing the right firearm to carry concealed is a primary consideration. Choose incorrectly and you’ll waste a lot of money. Make a really foolish choice and you could end up dead.

I carried a Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Pro Series for several years before switching to a Kimber 1911. Like a lot of “old timers,” I never liked the weight and balance of a polymer gun. But concealing a full size 1911 is pretty tough for a lot of people unless you’re built on the large side. Luckily, Kimber makes a full line of lightweight, alloy frame carry pistols like their Tactical Ultra II.

Stock or Modified?

There’s nothing wrong with carrying a stock handgun. Manufacturers offer an enormous selection of pistols in a range of sizes and calibers. The chances of finding a carry gun that suits your skills and physical characteristics are high. If you’re confused, head to your local range and rent a number of guns to find the system, style and caliber weapon you can shoot accurately and reliably.

Most gun ranges and gun dealers will let you try on a holster with a safety-checked weapon. Do so. But don’t assume that you’ll get it right the first time. And don’t be afraid to “roll your own.” For example . . .

Kimber and I differ somewhat on the features that are important in a small frame 1911. So I set about to create my “Perfect Ultra for Concealed Carry” using the highest quality aftermarket parts I could afford. Yes, I would love to carry around a Bill Wilson Carry pistol but that’s a bit steep for my wallet.

Kimber Tactical Ultra Carry (courtesy Jeffrey Lynch for The truth About Guns)

My goal in replacing the parts shown above: create a carry weapon that’s both lightweight and concealable. I started by throwing out the stock magazine with its large plastic base pad. I replaced it with a Wilson Combat (compact 7-round, stainless steel with a low profile steel base) magazine. Wilson makes what I believe are the most reliable 1911 magazines on the market today; the stainless steel models with nylon followers are top notch.

Kimber Tactical Ultra Carry grip (courtesy Jeffrey Lynch for The truth About Guns)

Kimber Tactical Ultra Carry grip (courtesy Jeffrey Lynch for The truth About Guns)

To prevent my Ultra from snagging my clothing on the draw, I replaced the factory ambidextrous thumb safety with a Wilson Combat “Tactical Lever” thumb safety. It’s much smoother and smaller than Kimber’s thumb safeties. I also replaced the stock slide release with Wilson’s extended slide release, allowing me to fully manipulate all my carry pistol’s “controls” without breaking my grip.

Kimber Tactical Ultra Carry safety (courtesy Jeffrey Lynch for The truth About Guns)

Kimber Tactical Ultra Carry safety (courtesy Jeffrey Lynch for The truth About Guns)

To trim a 1/4 inch from the overall height I removed the stock mag well and plastic mainspring housing. I replaced these parts with a Wilson blued steel mainspring housing. I also replaced the factory standard thumb safety with a Kimber “tactical bump” thumb safety. To fit the new bump safety and mainspring housing took only a few minutes with a jeweler’s file and some Birchwood Casey “Cold Blue” to prevent rust.

Kimber Tactical Ultra Carry (courtesy Jeffrey Lynch for The truth About Guns)

To finish off my customizations I chose a set of VZ Grips “Elite Tactical Carry” grips. Their design incorporates an extremely grippy surface where your fingers rest while providing a smooth surface to prevent your clothing from snagging when carrying concealed.

Kimber Tactical Ultra Carry (courtesy Jeffrey Lynch for The truth About Guns)

The finished gun is shown above and below. On the left side: all the controls needed to comfortably run this weapon when the need arises. On the right side: a compact and smoother profile to prevent “printing” when carrying concealed.

Kimber Tactical Ultra Carry (courtesy Jeffrey Lynch for The truth About Guns)

So what did all this cost me in terms of time, effort and cold, hard cash?

Kimber Tactical II Ultra $1250.00
Wilson Combat Magazine $37.95
Wilson Combat Mainspring Housing $46.95
Wilson Combat Tactical Thumb Safety $57.95
Wilson Combat Extended Slide Release $32.95
Kimber Tactical Bump Grip Safety $34.95
VZ Grips’ Elite Tactical Carry Grips $65.00

My Total: $1525.75

The Wilson Combat Ultralight Carry Compact: $3650

Which Holster to Carry?

Once you decide upon your carry pistol of choice, your next major decision is which holster (and magazine carrier) to carry it in. This is where you can spend a small fortune in trying to find the “perfect” concealed carry holster to fit both your weapon and yourself. Most of us that have carried for years have a secret collection of holsters stashed away somewhere in the hope that our wives will never find them.

In the world of concealed carry holsters you have a few major decisions to make; inside the waistband or outside the waistband and leather or Kydex. I’ll make this simple for you. If you’re over 50 with a normal spare-tire around the middle, forget about inside the waistband holsters. If you’re young, in good shape and don’t mind buying your pants one size bigger, then by all means give IWB holsters a shot.

For most folks however, a high-ride, OWB holster is a much better fit and all you need is a strong (stiff) belt to support the gun’s extra weight.

Holstered Kimber Tactical Ultra Carry (courtesy Jeffrey Lynch for The Truth About Guns)

The decision between leather and Kydex is much less simple, but much more important. Like most folks, I love the look and feel of a new leather holster, but after wearing one for many years I’ve come to the conclusion that Kydex just makes better sense over the long run.

Leather holsters start out stiff, but flexible and they easily accommodate most weapon platforms on the market today. There are literally thousands of good leather holsters to chose from.

But leather holsters have one inherent weakness; they stretch over time and become weaker and less rigid. Take a look at any leather holster that’s been worn daily for over a year and you’ll see what I mean. Try running a leather holster in Houston’s heat and humidity and you’ll find that holstering your firearm takes two hands and both eyes.

Holstered Kimber Tactical Ultra Carry (courtesy Jeffrey Lynch for The Truth About Guns)

Kydex holsters on the other hand, never lose their form or shape no matter what environment they are worn in. They make drawing your weapon from concealment fast and reliable and also make it possible to holster your weapon with one hand with no peeking.

Garrett Silent Thunder STX Holster (courtesy Jeffrey Lynch for The Truth About Guns)

My favorite carry holsters today are Garrett’s Silent Thunder leather-lined Kydex holsters like the Silent Thunder STX and Champion models. Ron & Sheryl Garrett are native Texans that have been making top quality leather and Kydex holsters for years. The Silent Thunder series has many features found only in much more expensive all-leather holsters such as soft leather lining to protect the finish of your carry gun, high quality stainless steel hardware and a very (VERY) slim profile designed to ride high and to hug your body.

Clothing Choices

1911 Mag Carrier (courtesy Jeffrey Lynch for The Truth About Guns)

The first new article of clothing you’ll need when you decide to carry concealed is a new belt. That nice thin dress belt hanging in your closet is never going to hold the weight of your holster and gun, let alone keep your pants up.

You’re going to need a sturdy leather or nylon belt specifically designed to retain its shape and keep your firearm firmly in place. I prefer a nylon riggers belt with a stiff insert to hold my 1911 and holster, but there are many good leather belts on the market that perform just as well.

This goes double for women. If you plan to carry concealed, those sexy, low riding, hip-hugger jeans with no belt just will not work. It’s darn tough to hide even a small firearm if your skin-tight blue jeans are halfway down your hips, ladies.

511 Covert Casual (courtesy Jeffrey Lynch for The Truth About Guns)

Another change in wardrobe will be your choice in shirts. If you’re a strapping young lad used to wearing tight t-shirts to impress the ladies, you’ll find this change a wee bit harder than us old farts do. In fact, to successfully conceal a handgun under any shirt requires a fair amount of thought and a bit of experimentation.

If you normally wear a polo style shirt you may need to buy at least one size larger and plan to wear it untucked. A better choice might be a 5.11 Covert shirt (shown above) which snaps down the front and is cut both wider and longer to help conceal a firearm. These type of shirts are usually available in darker colors which also help hide your weapon.

A word to the wise about “tactical” pants and shorts. Leave them for range time. Nothing says “newbie shooter” or “mall ninja” more than a pair of coyote brown tactical pants walking around Walmart. Good quality, waist-high blue jeans are a much better “grey man” choice for any CHL holder. You’ll fit in almost anywhere.

The key to carrying concealed is to appear casual, normal and ordinary. Anything that draws attention to you or your clothing is a big giveaway.

Practice Makes Perfect

If you want to carry concealed day in and day out without anyone the being the wiser, you’ll need to practice. If you’re brand new and nervous about it, plan to wear your holster (without your firearm) and your carry-appropriate clothes (shirt, pants, belt, etc.) for a few weeks almost everywhere you go.

Get comfortable putting your car keys in your left front pocket (assuming you carry your holster on the right) to prevent anyone from getting an inadvertent look at your holster. Practice getting in and out of your vehicle without “showing leather.” Get used to holding down the hem of your shirt in a stiff breeze until it comes naturally.

Once you start carrying, practice around your family until you can sit down for Sunday dinner without your wife and kids suspecting that you’re armed. If you can fool your own kids, the world at large will never know. If your kids know you’re packing, keep practicing until they can’t tell.

Buy larger shirts. Adjust your clothing style to find out what works best for you. Most of all, take the time to become comfortable carrying your firearm. Practice at home first and then take your first “Wally walk.”

The more comfortable you are with carrying, the more easily you can conceal whatever it is you carry. The truth is, most people go about their business without much awareness of their surroundings, especially when they have a phone in their hand. If you’re comfortable with what you carry, you’re highly unlikely to be noticed.

On the other hand, if you’re nervous while carrying your firearm, it will show in a thousand little ways (tells). Once you become comfortable with your gun, holster, and new wardrobe, though, you should be able to carry concealed anywhere it’s legal without anyone being the wiser.

When you’re ready to test yourself, carry to your local gun store and shop for some cleaning supplies or a new magazine. When you check out, ask the cashier if he knew you were carrying. These guys are sharp and if they didn’t know, no one else will either.

 

Jeff Lynch blogs at Texas Landsape Photography. You can also follow him on Twitter.

comments

  1. avatar Nathan Freeman says:

    Holy FUDD alert, batman. I didn’t realize what hot garbage my eyes would be exposed to when I clicked the link to this article.

    1. avatar Geoff "Trolls, the other white meat" PR says:

      “I didn’t realize what hot garbage my eyes would be exposed to when I clicked the link to this article.”

      Then write a better one and submit it for publication, Mr. Expert.

      TTAG does that, you know…

      But you won’t bother to do that, will you? 🙂

      1. avatar LOL @ GEOFF THE GOOF says:

        Ah, Geoff the Goof. The self appointed ‘troll hunter’ on TTAG. I think I speak for everyone when I say ‘thank you’ for the unintentional hilarity you bring to the forum with each shitty post.

        1. avatar Geoff "Trolls, the other white meat" PR says:

          “The self appointed ‘troll hunter’ on TTAG. ”

          Just the incompetent ones so stupid they double-reply.

          Like you, boy…:)

        2. avatar LOL @ GEOFF THE GOOD says:

          Heh. Good one. If I really was a boy, you’d have to stay at least 500 feet away from me, per the court’s order.

        3. avatar Geoff "Trolls, the other white meat" PR says:

          “If I really was a boy, you’d have to stay at least 500 feet away from me, per the court’s order.”

          You must have extensive personal experience in those court orders, boy.

          Stop fighting your latent homosexuality. It’s OK to be gay, really! 🙂

      2. avatar LOL @ GEOFF THE GOOF says:

        Ah, Geoff the Goof. The self appointed ‘troll hunter’ on TTAG. I know I speak for everyone here when I say ‘thank you’ for the unintentional hilarity you bring to the forum with each stupid post you crap out.

        1. avatar Geoff "Trolls, the other white meat" PR says:

          Twice?

          Go for three, show us your imagined superiority… 😉

    2. avatar napresto says:

      I am middle aged, not especially athletic, and my waistline pandemic tire is inflating by the day, but I still carry IWB very comfortably. A well-designed holster makes all the difference (I carry a Glock 43 in an N82 holster, which is super comfortable and has excellent retention).

      In many areas of the country, including upstate NY where I live, accidentally printing = intentionally brandishing to the leftist DAs (and some cops) who we all do our best to avoid. The “one size fits all” advice about IWB vs. OWB is really not very accurate. It depends on many factors, not just athleticism and youth.

      1. avatar Manse Jolly says:

        Holsters from Nate Squared are very good, and what I EDC. I bought mine long before the company was sold so I don’t know how things are now.

        From time to time I try something new, but always go back to the Nates. And why, like so many of POTG, have cardboard boxes full of tried holsters.

    3. avatar G-muny nilka says:

      Lol…. exactly.. the moron who wrote this “article” is the one who SERIOUSLY needs a “shrink”….
      Gd shower candidates…

  2. avatar sound awake says:

    anyone remember what george carlin used to say about the word “lifestyle”:
    “And you will not hear me refer to
    anyone’s “lifestyle”…if you want to know what a moronic word “lifestyle” is…all you have to do is realize that…in a technical sense, Atilla the Hun had an active…outdoor…”lifestyle”…”

    1. avatar Tom John Carlson says:

      Salt Life is a “lifestyle brand”. They make a majority of their money from the sale of stickers.

      https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/09/us/salt-life-co-founder-arrest/index.html

      Carrying a firearm is not a “lifestyle”. It is an exercise in the right for self defense. Everyone is a bit different in their approach.

  3. avatar jakee308 says:

    ” If you carry a concealed handgun and feel somehow tougher, more confident or less afraid, it’s time to put up your firearm and see a shrink. ”

    What malarkey. This was said out of fear that some moron on the gun fearing left would hit them with some claim that a firearm is some sort of psychic crutch and that that implies they’re psychologically impaired somehow.

    It is 100% true that you will feel better being armed than not. That’s part and parcel of carrying in the first place is that you had an underlying sense of vulnerability due to circumstances in your every day environment.

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with feeling a sense of well being by knowing you can now defend yourself and others if the situation arises and that you are not some weakling who can be bullied and injured or killed by someone who DOES have psychological problems.

    Now that doesn’t mean you put on some blue tights with a red S on the chest and go looking for wrongs to right or feel that you are invincible but to deny that you will feel different in a positive way is just caving in to the 10 cent psychoanalysts out there who don’t have the guts or the wit to arm themselves in the face of evidence that are at risk.

    We cave to the rhetoric of the gun grabbers/left all the time and when we do we reinforce THEIR arguments and weaken our own.

    How’s about we stop that and stand up for ourselves and not feel we have to make excuses to those who’s opinions are of little worth?

    1. avatar Wedge259 says:

      I agree. I like the Mad Dog Mattis approach, be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet. Not to sound like a psycho, but to just be prepared if trouble comes looking for you. Like most though our duty should be to not go looking for it. But sometimes it finds us when we least expect it and I like to know that I’ll be as prepared as I can be if it does. And that can take a lot of “fear” out of your life.

    2. avatar napresto says:

      I only saw your comment after posting my own similar take. Totally true.

    3. avatar Umm . . . says:

      I keyed in on that immediately as well. Those are the most natural and logical reactions to ANY form of preparedness.

      Carry is no different from any other sensible precautions. Once, as a new motorcyclist in a generally balmy area, I was caught out in sleet and freezing rain. Conversely, on the many nights I faced similar (or even much worse) weather conditions in an SUV with snow tires, “more confident and less afraid” perfectly describes my state of mind.

    4. avatar LifeSavor says:

      Jake308,

      Agree.

      Yesterday, in DC, walking, with my wife and daughter, the 1.2 miles from the Million MAGA rally to the parking garage, we saw 4 Antifas walking up Massachusetts Ave. We had our Trump signs and an American flag, so there was no mistaking why we were there. Clearly, at one point, Antifa was going to be within a few feet of us. Since I am not licensed to carry in DC, my only weapon was the sturdy steel flagpole and my pocket knife.

      I do not look like easy prey. So, I made eye contact, nodded, and maneuvered to keep my wife and daughter on my right so Antifa would pass on my left. The sidewalk was wide enough to give me some reaction time (a split second), but they just passed by, heading toward the rally.

      Without my firearm, I felt exposed, but had already visualized my battle plan.

      So, yes, we carry not because it instills false confidence, but because it increases our chances of preventing or surviving an attack. And yes, always be aware of your surroundings and how you will protect your family and yourself.

      1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

        Glad you were OK, some folks weren’t.

        BLM/Antifa Thugs Attack Trump Supporters, Including Children, After D.C. “Million MAGA March” :

        https://www.zerohedge.com/political/blmantifa-thugs-attack-trump-supporters-including-children-after-dc-million-maga-march

        1. avatar Manse Jolly says:

          Second that.. glad family is safe, I watched some of the videos…and that’s the thing..Antifa/BLM/whoever are emboldened when they know everyone is disarmed and doubly so when the DA has their back.

        2. avatar LifeSavor says:

          Geoff……….., Manse,

          Thank you. Yes, we’ve been following the reports of violence.

          The White House confirms we had a million attendees. How must Trump feel knowing so many turned out to support him and this country?

      2. avatar Garrison Hall says:

        I’m glad you didn’t have to fight, although the flagpole made of steel was a very good idea. A tactic I’ve repeatedly in use by “protestors” is front line of noisy demonstrators work to herd their chosen victims. Then when someone turns his (usually it’s a man) to leave, another Antifa/BLM attacker runs through the front line to deliver a sucker-punch and then disappear back into the crowd of protestors. I’ve seen this happen enough times for it to be clear this is a standardized and planned tactic and not something spontaneous.

    5. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      Some years ago, I read a story written by a man who purportedly had a personal run-in (and life lesson) with Chuck Norris in a restaurant:

      By his own admission, the large man was a bit arrogant by nature prior to the encounter, and entered with his buddy. Being a frequent patron of the bar area, he was a bit perturbed to find that his usual barstool was occupied by a stranger, so he walked up, tapped the stranger on the shoulder, and said “you’re in my seat” in a gruff voice and aggressive posture.

      The stranger turned, looked the man up and down, and calmly surrendered the barstool, walking to another available one at the end of the bar counter without saying a word.

      The man took the seat with a satisfied smirk but his buddy was aghast. He thumped the man and said “What are you doing? That was Chuck Norris, and you just threatened him over a seat!”

      Upon closer view, the man realized the stranger’s identity as indeed being Norris, and sheepishly approached him again to apologize. “Mr. Norris, I don’t understand. You could’ve knocked me to the ground and had every right to. Why didn’t you?”

      Norris took a sip of his beverage and politely said, “When a man possesses the ability to defend himself, he also possesses the option of walking away with his head held high. If you walk away from violence when you’re able, your conscience will be clear when the time comes that you cannot.”

      1. avatar Geoff "Trolls, the other white meat" PR says:

        That was inadvertent, and he showed class.

        But just by being Chuck Norris, I bet a-holes challenge him all the time, hoping they can tell a story someday about fighting Chuck Norris…

      2. avatar napresto says:

        Chuck Norris didn’t walk away from the fight; rather, the universe was merely conserving its total supply of potential energy – stored in Chuck Norris’ fists – by shifting twenty feet to the left.

      3. avatar Travis Bickle says:

        Myth

  4. avatar GS650G says:

    Good article with a lot of information. I’m not a 1911 fan, probably the only guy who doesn’t like the platform, but it seems like a lot of money had to be spent on an expensive gun to make it the perfect carry.
    1600 dollars is a lot to lose after a DRY. But if the gun and mods make it right to each his own. There’s a good reason to carry a 400 dollar gun that’s disposable.

    1. avatar Umm . . . says:

      Or at least, if you want to customize your EDC a bit, don’t start with an upscale “semi-custom” pistol, throw away all the pricey factory upgrades, and replace them with your own. Buy a simple but reliable “blank canvas” and THEN substitute your aftermarket accessories.

  5. avatar Ralph says:

    Let’s keep in mind that this screed was written for “beginners.” In other words, it was written for people who don’t know any better.

    1. avatar Serpent_Vision says:

      Beginners who “need” a $1500 carry gun.🙄

      1. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

        Yeah, you could buy a Sig 365, a Hellcat, and a Glock 43 for that and have money left over for ammo, holsters, a belt, and spare MAGAzines.

        1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

          MAGAzines. Simple play on a word, yet effective. I like it.

      2. avatar napresto says:

        Leaning hard into the fancy gun and follow-on customizations is a great way to make beginners feel like they have no idea what they’re doing, can’t afford to carry, and shouldn’t bother.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “Leaning hard into the fancy gun and follow-on customizations is a great way to make beginners feel like they have no idea what they’re doing, can’t afford to carry, and shouldn’t bother.”

          I liked the article, but yours is a non-trivial concern/observation.

    2. avatar Travis Bickle says:

      And written BY someone who wanted to brag about his 1911, for only that purpose.

  6. avatar Sam I Am says:

    Good info for people new to TTAG, or just new to guns. Not everyone reading here is an operator operating operationally.

  7. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

    Many normal belts can carry a gun and hold your pants up. I wore one for years. But it will destroy the belt and you will have to replace it more often. The area where the gun rides will suffer extreme wear, and will twist. If not replaced in a timely fashion it will tear and break.

    Dickies used to make some fairly heavy duty “normal” belts with extra reinforcement that were available in places like Target and Wal Mart.

    A gun belt or other heavy duty belt will not wear, twist, or break where the gun is and will last a long time. Right now I am using a 5.11 Trainers Belt which I got, um, must be over a year ago. Maybe 2 or 3 years. No issues at all. While I generally shy away from 5.11 stuff, it was the only thing in my size at the place I was at when I was shopping for a new belt. So far it has held up well. There are many makers of gun belts. Look around.

    The holster style known as “Strong Side”, the IWB style with a clip in front of the gun and a clip behind the gun, can be worn beltless if your pants are snug enough and your gun light enough. I have carried this way in my Alien Gear Shape Shift, and other Alien Gear holsters, without issues. Do it a lot at home first so you are sure you won’t have a wardrobe malfunction in public. And be very careful in public restrooms if carrying beltless.

    Fat people can carry IWB. But it is more comfortable for us on the side, where appendix (in the front) is more comfortable for skinnier people. If carrying IWB you need to do it where you are flat and have no overhang. Also, it is easier for fat people who wear their pants above their gut, and not below it.

    Kydex IWB sux. It will dig into your skin and leave a tattoo of itself. For IWB, leather or a hybrid holster (Kydex shell on a leather or neoprene backing) works best. For OWB Kydex is fine.

    Women don’t need to carry on a belt or on their waist. My wife carries all of the time beltless on her waistband in a holster from The Well Armed Woman. She carries a Ruger LCP so weight is not an issue. You might not be able to do this with heavy guns,
    Their are many off waist options for women as well. The Well Armed Woman and Gun Goddess are two good places for women to look.

    I would recommend everyone get both an IWB and OWB holster so they can switch carry methods as needed and experiment with what works best for them.

    My wife knows about the box of holsters. She knew about each and every one of them and what worked and what didn’t. She is the one that talked me into trying Alien Gear.

    If Alien Gear makes a holster for your pistol, buy it. If they make a Shape Shift shell for it, buy the Core Carry Pack. You will get 4 styles of holster in one. They are the most comfortable I have ever worn. I rotate through a number of carry handguns and carry methods and I can wear an Alien Gear IWB or OWB, single stack or double stack all day and forget it’s there.

    Yesterday I wore a G23/19 in an Alien Gear Shape Shift in the Strong Side IWB configuration all day with zero discomfort.

    1. avatar Sam I Am says:

      Good stuff to know. Thanx.

    2. avatar Pete says:

      Don’t discount Pleather gun belts, I have worn one daily for 9 (?) years and it still works fine. The black with silver buckle blends in with everyday clothing and is not a tactical looking as some of the other options out there.

      1. avatar RidgeRunner says:

        Dal-Tech, real leather, stiff as a board at first but great for heavy iron.

    3. ” She Equips Herself ” has some excellent suggestions for women’s gear.

    4. avatar Umm . . . says:

      I agree with most of your points except Kydex IWB. It may be less comfortable, but I agree with the author about its superiority for the stated purpose – holding its molded shape while tightly cinched (a necessity to avoid printing) amid perspiration and body heat. My leather OC holster has been perfectly molded since I soaked it in hot water and left the pistol in it overnight, but the process is completely reversible.

    5. avatar Anymouse says:

      Another thing to watch out for with normal/cheap belts is buckle material. It may look like brass, but it probably is pot metal, which can break under the strain. I’m not saying you need a Cobra buckle that can withstand tons of force (and screams tactical), but a well made gun belt will have a good buckle.

  8. avatar former water walker says:

    Wow 1600-3500 bucks?!? More like an ad. When I CC I use a Nemesis and stick my 709 Slim in it. And always carry a knife & SabreRed pepper gel/spray thingy unless going to a po-leece station/gubmint enclave. A mile away in Indiana NO training required and CCL is free…

  9. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

    PS; The idea that gun shop employees will notice anything is pure BS. After cops, gun shop employees are the worst source for anything at all gun related. They frequently don’t know the law, and are subject to bullying and misinformation by regulatory authorities.

    I have argued ad nauseum with several local gun shop employees about the PA LTCF allowing one to be loaned a firearm (18 PACS 6115), and buying a firearm for one’s spouse (18 PACS 6111). Even when I bring up the statutes on the state legislature website they continue to insist I am wrong because “ATF told us” or “PSP told us” .

    1. avatar former water walker says:

      My favorite LGS has several new employees who seem to know nothing. Mebbe they just need bodies(one longtime guy recently died). They’ve become Cabelas. Oh well…

    2. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      “…gun shop employees are the worst source for anything at all gun related…”

      Boy, ain’t that the truth, at least as far as my own personal experience. The only LGS person I’ve ever met who knew/knows what he’s talking about is the proprietor himself. Employees (especially at larger stores)? Notsomuch.

  10. avatar CentralVirginian says:

    Things i agree with:
    1.Find the best firearm that fits your hands and your needs.
    2.Buy a good holster and the appropriate belt to support it.
    3.Dress appropriately based on your mode of carry.
    My points of contention:
    1.You should feel more confident in your ability to defend yourself, otherwise you wouldn’t carry a firearm. Firearms are the great equalizer, if you’re 5ft tall or 85 years old you can be on equal footing with someone a foot taller or half your age.
    2.A well made leather holster can last decades and kydex can break. I find leather just as capable and much more comfortable for daily carry. Good leather holsters will not stretch out of form within a year of carry.
    3.The part about no peeking to reholster is unsafe especially since this article is directed at beginners. Everyone should be looking to make sure all obstructions are free from their holster.

    1. avatar Sam I Am says:

      “3.The part about no peeking to reholster is unsafe especially since this article is directed at beginners.”

      Re-holstering without looking may be tacticool (I really wouldn’t know), but what is the purpose? Why would a person re-holster if new/additional threats were possible? If no threats from attackers, why make oneself a threat to oneself?

      1. avatar CentralVirginian says:

        There is no purpose whatsoever. The author said kydex allows one handed reholstering with no peeking. Thats a good way to end up with a leg wound or worse if one chooses appendix carry. I see no benefits at all to a speed reholster or blind reholster.

  11. avatar john hussey says:

    Dan, thank you for posting this article, Jeff Lynch, thank you for taking the time to write it.
    There is a lot of good information here that should be considered by a “new concealed carrier”.
    When you have no idea where to start, ANY information is helpful. This article has lots of information about making important decisions on CCW. Those of you who have carried for years have LEARNED through EXPERIENCE what works for YOU on CCW. It is fine to chime in with comments and useful information on what works for you. What I found disturbing is the tone of some of you towards a stranger who put all this together. Can’t you offer your thoughts without being nasty? I remember Dad had an expression “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. Some here need to write that on the blackboard 100 times.

  12. avatar VicRattlehead says:

    Some good info in the article but also some real garbage.
    -The breakdown of the writers carry piece and mods makes it appear to a greenhorn (whom the article was supposedly written for) that a proper carry piece is exorbitantly expensive and requires many mods to be acceptable. This is, of course, utter BS. There’s no reason why a basic $200 handgun can’t be a good CCW piece, so long as it functions reliably. The thought if needing a $1600 setup to CCW is a MAJOR roadblock to many less well-off, or even a lot of middle-class, people.
    That whole section of the article can be removed as nothing more than ego-stroking on the part of the writer over what a great, high-dollar gun he carries. 😏

    -There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling safer or more confident while carrying. Those are feelings that come directly from being prepared. Its ‘cocky’ or ‘overconfident’ that’ll get you into a heap if trouble.

    -The respect of a firearm and caution necessary for safely carrying one should never be understated. However, too often these articles treat the subject as though you’re carrying around an unstable thermonuclear device on your hip. Most of us decent-sized, reasonably fit men carry the ‘power of life and death’ with us every day simply in our hands and feet. Literally beating someone to death is within the realm of possibility for many people. We don’t do it because we’re decent human beings who really don’t want to hurt or kill anyone unless ABSOLUTELY necessary. Carrying a gun doesn’t, or at least shouldn’t, change that one bit.

    -I hate how so many of these ‘first timer’ aimed articles seem to be written towards people who live in 2A hell-holes where the tiniest bit of printing lands you in court.
    I travel all over the US and do so with a commander-sized 1911 (no small weapon by any measure) IWB wearing the same jeans/T-Shirt combo I’ve always worn. Do I print sometimes? Sure. Does it see light of day if I happen I move ‘just right’? Rarely, but yes. Has anyone ever given me so much as a sideways glance about it? Nope, mainly because I avoid said hell-holes but I’ve still been to something like 43 of the lower 48.
    Any changes in my wardrobe were done solely for comfort or convenience. Trying to imply you need a entirely new wardrobe (no small expense by any means!) because printing will get you life without parole is very off-putting to many people and will undoubtedly cause some to second-guess carrying in the first place.

  13. avatar LifeSavor says:

    “A word to the wise about “tactical” pants and shorts. Leave them for range time. Nothing says “newbie shooter” or “mall ninja” more than a pair of coyote brown tactical pants walking around Walmart. ”

    Darn!! Aside from a single pair of dress slacks, all I own are 511 tactical pants. Five pair. Years now. Before Covid, when visiting clients, 511s, a polo shirt, and a sports jacket. In my shop, 511s. Out with the family, 511s. I guess I should be ashamed, but no. Instead, I think I will purchase another pair. Olive dras, this time.

    1. avatar Dude says:

      I’ve worn cargo shorts and pants for decades, long before I owned any firearms. No one thinks anything about it.

  14. avatar MLee says:

    Too many times I see someone buy a carry gun and they don’t know shit from Shinola . They don’t carry it, they don’t even have a permit and even if they do, here in Washington State that doesn’t mean squat.

    I asked my lady friend the other night who owns a handgun but has no permit what the number one safety rule of firearms would be. She looked at me like I asked her what Ammonium Perchlorate is and how it’s used.
    Again I asked her, “what is the number one most important gun safety rule?” I expected her to answer with the common answer of treat all guns as if they are loaded. Another answer I would have been happy with would have been “always make sure your weapon is pointed in a safe direction”
    But to my dismay when pressed to provide an answer she provide “always make sure the….the thingy, the….safety is on” Oh god. I looked at her and told her “my gun doesn’t have a safety” I should have also told tell her that revolvers don’t have a safety but she probably didn’t know what a revolver is anyway.

    My point here is holster, position of carry, caliber, style of weapon is mostly inconsequential. Training training training! Start with basics and move on. Get professional training. If the person is a beginner, take a beginner class and then progress. Everything else will fall in place.

    1. avatar Ttagcensorssuck says:

      Wtf is wrong with you? You think you’re Mr. Tacticool don’t you? And EVERYONE’S teacher….
      I’m sure her BF already went over where the pistol goes when you weren’t home lol…

      1. avatar MLee says:

        Uh yeah, at 63 years old, having taken advanced firearms training and carried and handled firearms since I was 21, yes I’m qualified to teach someone with ZERO experience the basic gun safety rules.
        Thanks for your input and ignorant immature comment.

  15. avatar Paul says:

    “If you carry a concealed handgun and feel somehow tougher, more confident or less afraid, it’s time to put up your firearm and see a shrink. ”

    Uhhhm – slightly off target, at least. That “less afraid” bit? That’s really stretching things. If a person has reason to be fearful, carrying a weapon should make you at least a little less fearful. The rest of my outfit makes me less fearful of various consequences. My boots make me less fearful of stepping on something sharp. My jeans make me less fearful of brambles, and maybe stinging and biting critters. My shirt makes me less fearful of a sunburn. Carrying a firearm makes me less fearful of meeting any larger toothy or slashy critters. Concealed or not, carrying a weapon should actually make you less fearful of meeting the crazed mass murderer down at that local gun-free zone.

    The guy with no weapon has few options other than to flee from that crazed killer, or just hang around until the killer decides to target him. The guy with a weapon has more options, and therefore a little less to fear.

    Sometimes, authors get a little carried away with their rhetoric.

  16. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Good article.
    For folks just beginning, you don’t need to spend a ton of money to get a reliable firearm, holster, and ammo to get started.
    You really don’t need to spend a lot to modify for your likes/fit.

    But do spend a bit on a good training class. Preferably a live, in person class shooting real ammo.

  17. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    Belts are important. I can carry a 1911 comfortably all day and I have no hips to speak of. 6′ 212lbs

    https://www.daltechforce.com/collections/bullbelt.

    There was a review here some time ago but can’t find it..found this one

    https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/gun-belt/#comments

  18. avatar Rando says:

    Not a large person but I carried a full size 1911 IWB for years in a leather kydex hybrid. I have no idea how your ambi safety would print before the whole butt of the grip…

    A P365xl in a raven concealment minimalist holster is much easier to conceal. Girth hitch the holster to the belt and it hides under anything (even with a tucked shirt). I can load and clear the gun while holstered. It also transitions easily to carry in a pack (if so desired). Slap a red dot on it, and it’s all cheaper and much more capable than a kimber.

  19. avatar Duane says:

    So many experts

    So little time.

  20. avatar Craig in IA says:

    The article is fine from the author’s point of view and everyone has to start from somewhere… As per the gun itself, I have pretty much what Lynch customized in an Ultra CDP II (.45 ACP) which also has all of the edges blended in and cost me $950 NIB. I’d love to be large enough, or wear the kinds of clothes I’d need to really conceal a 1911 but in my lifestyle (…), a Sig 365 IWB is about as good as it’s going to get until I put on maybe 25 pounds. And seeing how many times I’ve been forced to actually draw it, or the Glock 43 or S&W J that I run with, I have enough confidence that it’ll do the trick.

    As for some sort of alteration in “lifestyle” since I’ve been doing the EDC thing, not so much. I believe I’ve basically been responsible as an adult, careful and aware of what’s going on in my environment. Keep your damn finger off the trigger until you’ve acquired a target and intend to shoot.

  21. avatar General Zod says:

    “If you’re over 50 with a normal spare-tire around the middle, forget about inside the waistband holsters. If you’re young, in good shape and don’t mind buying your pants one size bigger, then by all means give IWB holsters a shot.”

    I’m 49, six feet tall and quite overweight. I carry a full size 9mm IWB in a kydex and leather holster quite often. I dont plan on stopping after my next birthday.

    The correct advice here wouldve been “If you’re carrying a bit extra around the middle, be prepared to experiment with different carry options and positions until you find what works best for you.” You’re not doing anyone any favors by steering them away from something that might work well for them, even if it didn’t work for you.

  22. avatar Bob Dole says:

    Dude – this is essentially ‘humble-bragging’ about how you upgraded your own gun

    and did you get paid by the word…?

    jeez

  23. avatar busybeef says:

    The Fuddery is strong in this article.

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