Carry Basics: 3 Things Every Concealed Carrier Should Always Have With Them

What every concealed carrier should have
Courtesy Bravo Concealment
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The NSSF estimates there are almost ten million new gun owners since the beginning of 2020, 40% of them women. Most of them bought their firearms for personal protection in an increasingly uncertain world with defunded police departments, permissive prosecutors and higher violent crime rates. Many of these new gun owners are interested in carrying a gun, at least some of the time.

If you already carry a gun on a daily basis, please share this article with your newbie and daily carry-reluctant friend. The more people who carry concealed, the safer we all will be, both in terms of active defense and passive deterrence. Not to mention the safety of our natural, civil and constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.

With that in mind, the first thing you need for effective concealed carry is . . .

A Gun

A reliable concealed carry pistol
Jeremy S for TTAG.

It doesn’t matter what type of gun you carry, what caliber cartridge it fires or the design and composition of the bullets. What matters is that you carry a gun.

The sad truth is, the majority of Americans with concealed carry permits — or who live in constitutional carry states and don’t even need a permit — don’t carry their gun. They’re afraid of being “discovered.” Outed. Forced to explain their decision to carry a gun to people who can’t, don’t or won’t understand. Hence their hyper-sensitivity to “printing” (their gun making a visible impression against their clothing, revealing that they’re armed).

There’s no easy way to overcome concealed carry paranoia and peer pressure. One step in the right direction: carry a list of reasons why you want to carry a gun. No one has the right to take my life; my family needs me; I want to protect my family; all that’s required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing…whatever reasons are most meaningful to you.

Read the list out loud before you holster your gun.

By the same token, it helps to imagine potential violent assaults as you’re going through your day. Imagining that you’re taking evasive action while disarmed. This mental exercise trains your brain to consider non-firearms solutions (always the best course of action, if possible) to life-threatening situations and reminds you just how useful a gun would be if and when the worst happens.

The carry process itself is another reason so many armed Americans don’t carry a firearm on a daily basis. They know they have to be aware of right-to-carry restrictions and either avoid “gun free zones” or disarm before entering them.

That can be a PITA. Removing a gun from your holster in a parking lot and stashing it in the glove box, for example, is an awkward, not-to-say furtive endeavor that requires needless gun-handling (always ill-advised), invites curious stares, and increases the possibility of theft.

But don’t worry. Coping with concealed carry’s legal hurdles eventually becomes habit. But that doesn’t happen for most folks because carrying a concealed gun is physically uncomfortable, at least at first.

Depending on what, where and how you carry, daily carry can be a literal pain in the, well, neck. Or the hip. In fact, overcoming the physical discomfort of carrying a pistol is the key to making concealed carry a part of your daily routine.

That’s why you really need . . .

A Comfortable Holster

A comfortable OWB carry holster
(Travis Pike for TTAG)

Gun guru Clint Smith famously pronounced that carrying a gun should be comforting, not comfortable. Yeah, no. If carrying a gun is physically annoying or painful, your average armed American simply won’t do it on a daily basis.

Say what you will about our being a nation of wimps, choosing a comfortable carry system (gun, holster, and belt) is the single most important factor for daily concealed carry.

The general rule of thumb on concealed carry: carry the largest gun you can. Given the incredible array of firearms on the market and the huge selection of holster materials and styles (inside-the-waistband, outside-the-waistband, appendix carry, belly band, ankle carry, boot carry, small-of-the-back, etc.) you could spend a fortune trying to find the perfect, most comfortable combination. Or, as most people do, you can buy the wrong gun and holster and give up.

That’s why a lot of reluctant concealed carriers to start by pocket-carrying a small revolver (like a Smith & Wesson J-Frame) or a semi-automatic pistol (like a Ruger LCP II) inside a simple pocket holster.

I’ve heard all the arguments against “mouse guns.” I’ve made them myself. But we’re talking about training wheels here, a painless starter gun and a holster that the owner doesn’t need to throw away if and when they graduate to a different carry system with a larger gun.

Women who wear tight jeans (with nominal pockets) or tight dresses have to find other comfortable concealed carry solutions, such as small semi-automatic pistol (such as the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus) in an inside-the-waistband holster positioned in the small of their back, or an undergarment holster. But the point remains: buy a carry system.

Go to a good gun store where you can try out a gun and holster combination, even if you have to drive hours to get there. Safety check the gun and holster it. Walk, sit, jog in place a bit, practice your draw (all with the store’s permission, of course). Road test your daily carry rig and you’ll be a hundred times more likely to use it on a daily basis.

A Cell Phone

concealed carry 911 phone cellphone

There is no defensive gun use situation where you don’t need a phone. You need your phone to report a potential threat to the police, hopefully after avoiding the actual use of your gun in the first place. Reporting a defensive gun use will hopefully allow you to avoid arrest and/or prosecution.

Always call the police after any defensive gun use. Even if you just draw your gun and the bad guy(s) takes off, call the police. If you don’t, the bad guy(s) may call the police, ID you, and accuse you of being the aggressor and threatening their lives.

[Note: state your name, location, a brief description of yourself, the location of the incident (if you’ve left the scene) and the general nature of the event (e.g., “there’s been a shooting”). You don’t have to stay on the phone to answer the emergency operator’s questions. Anything you say — and how you say it — can be used against you in a court of law. When the police arrive, promise a full statement and invoke your right to silence until you’ve talked to your attorney.]

If you don’t have a phone — maybe it was lost or damaged during the DGU — ask to use someone else’s. It’s critical that you make the call, rather than a bystander. That helps establish your innocence.

There’s plenty of other stuff a daily concealed carrier can and probably should carry: spare ammo, a pocket knife, a flashlight, pepper spray, maybe even a backup gun. But the three items above are the gateway to daily concealed carry. With these three items, you can keep calm and carry on. Every. Single. Day.

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  1. I’d add a fourth — a reputable brand of pepper spray. Attacks that justify defense with less than deadly force are much more frequent than attacks that do justify deadly force. When used for defense, pepper spray is considered to be less than deadly. If a mean drunk in a bar won’t leave you alone and won’t let you leave, give him a face full of pepper spray. It will save you a beating without escalating to deadly force against an “unarmed” assailant.

    • Agreed, used to add a light but honestly the cell phones take care of some of that and if one is not used to carrying a lot of bulky and somewhat heavy (for size) items getting used to the above is plenty before expanding to a more practical light.

    • And risk it turning lethal against me? Nope. If I feel threatened enough to use pepper spray then it’s enough to say my life was in jeapordy.

  2. Well, I don’t carry a phone and probably never will. I mean, I have one like everybody else, but I don’t remember the last time it left the top of the speaker in the LR. Bring 2G back so my Nokia works again and I might carry a phone again, but screw hauling around a 5″ brick of a phone.

      • Honestly he sounds like someone I know from Vermont and if he has anything like the mountains he does I fully understand not caring about cell phones.

    • I live in rural WY where phones don’t work a lot of the time. Before that I lived on a boat in the Sea of Cortez and Mexican Pacific – had Skype on a laptop though. What I found was that I have been able to live for over 15 years without a cell and it hasn’t been a problem. I do however carry a satellite texting device with gps and SOS button. It is cheaper than a cell and works anywhere especially in the cell dead spots out here. Maybe it tracks me to some extent but I doubt it does as much as a cell does – especially it being off all but about a few minutes a month when I use the gps. I do have a never used cheep burner in my first aid kit in the car though. I keep the battery beside it.One doesn’t have to feed the big tech beast if one doesn’t want too. Cellphone are just leashes and tracking devices to me.

  3. Ditch your phone.
    Your phone is a tracking device that needlessly documents your location. In the event that you are subjected to an assault by an anonymous criminal that compels you to use your gun, the location data documented by your phone will link you to the location where the carcass will almost certainly be discovered. No matter how justified the shooting might be, you and your family will be subjected to ruinous legal fees, a probable political persecution prosecution, and civil lawsuits from the vermin’s family. In the likely event that the vermin is Black or misrepresented as Black (as in the Rittenhouse shootings), you and your family will be subjected to rioting and threats that might escalate to arson of your home or other lethal assault.

    In the aftermath of a justified self defense shooting, discretion is the better part of valor. The police encounter dozens of carcasses on the street every day that have been shot up. The vast majority of these homicides will never, ever be solved by the identification of the shooter much less an arrest. Gang bangers know that this is true. Gang bangers understand that unless they are stupid enough to hang around the scene of the shooting, they will not be prosecuted. Law abiding citizens should be wise enough to employ the exact same legal tactics that work so well for criminals.

    • I leave my phone on airplane mode or turn it off when I go out. If I need to use it, I will, but I will not take calls or read e-mails while I’m out of the house.

      • I carry one mostly to keep in contact with my daughter. In fact, we’re texting right now as she is in the airport waiting to board her plane. I keep it for that kind of thing. My wife carries one also, but she ignores it most of the time, forget getting her during the day. Now, if she needs to tell me something, I needs must be immediately available, or there’ll be another skillet dent in my future.

    • When it comes to self defense the omni directional phone free elmer the fudd is incompetent and a sneaky bigot who not only factors in race but paranoia too. In other words, elmer’s bigotry leaves the door open for some white perp to make elmer his batch. It’s what can happen especially when a moron suggests you lower your legal defense to the level of criminals trying to get away with murder..

      • Bit harsher than I would have gone but yeah if it’s a legal shoot no reason not to have a phone. Has a point on the smarter crooks leaving it behind but for many reasons best to not go that route in lawful day to day life. Now keeping the phone off (without a battery in a signal blocking box) when you want to have a private conversation and not get bombarded with tangentially related adds sure.

      • According to the FBI crime statistics, Blacks who comprise only 1/8 of the population historically commit over 1/2 of the homicides and nearly 2/3s of the gun homicides. I would expect that the ratios would be higher for 2020 and 2021 if Senile Sock Puppet Biden wasn’t POTUS. Most White people who are murdered by someone they know are murdered by other White people. However; when White people are murdered by strangers in random crimes, a grossly disproportionate number of perpetrators are Black. Of course I really don’t care if the criminals who assault me are Black or White. I’m an equal opportunity destroyer. I’ll employ deadly force against either. I expect that a significant proportion of random street killings of Blacks that are presumably committed by Blacks are morally self defense killings by Blacks who aren’t stupid enough to trust the criminal justice system. I’ve actually been an expert consultant on behalf of the Black victim in such a situation.

        Our situation is evolving.
        In case you haven’t been paying attention, ANTIFA and BLM have been exploiting Critical Race Theory to demonize White people. The best historical precedents that I can cite are the Rwandan genocide, the Haitian genocide of the French and other Whites, and the massacre of the Latins in Canstompanople. Go read the Book of Easter for another example.

        There has been a dramatic increase in random, violent crime including murder. While many of the perpetrators are Whites like the vermin that Rittenhouse exterminated, the vast majority are Black. This is likely to escalate dramatically this Summer as some semblance of sanity asserts itself in government. I expect systematic looting to escalate to routine arson, assault, rape and murder. I certainly would not trust my fate to the courts during this crisis.

  4. Interesting article and good points made.

    I would actually choose a concealed holster though instead of what’s displayed here. If your going to carry concealed then carry concealed. Otherwise, it isn’t concealed.

    Carrying a gun doesn’t come naturally for most people. It does take some getting used to. But you don’t have to justify yourself. There is already enough justification.

    • That is a concealment holster. Its just not concealed for the pic. Its a Bravo Concealment OWB torsion holster. Its an OWB holster designed for OWB use under a coat or untucked shirt etc…

        • @Prndll: Well, you do you.

          I can conceal a pyrex or leather OWB fairly well.

          OTOH, as I am in NH, I’m not concerned about “perfect” concealment (if there really is such a thing except for a “mouse gun”).

    • The thing is, probably the most important rule of self defense is don’t be at stupid places…. From your concern for deep concealment, it sounds like you live or at least work in a place where a gun is as much a liability as a life saving device. Don’t live or work there and you don’t have to live a life of fear about carrying. You have a choice. Choose more wisely.

      • .40 cal Booger,

        I would argue that pistol-whipping someone with a handgun IS “gun violence”, rather than the alternative which should really be called “bullet violence” (e.g. shooting someone).


  5. A flashlight!

    Yes, you _can_ use your phone, but I prefer to save the battery for hone-type stuff.

    Also, I’m less concerned about dropping my flashlight than dropping my phone.

    • OR backhoe. Around here we eat the hogs (tasty bacon) and prefer to have “normal” feed as the inputs.

  6. The big thing that I don’t see getting mentioned here is some kind of identification or visible device to avoid being shot by other CCW holders or responding law enforcement. Blue-on-blue is a big problem for plainclothes and off-duty officers and most people I think don’t realize this applies to CCW holders. There have been tragedies (you can find them in the news) where a CCW holder stops the threat and a responding officer kills them. Remember if you are in civilian clothing you are a potential threat (target) for law enforcement who are trained to move in as quickly as possible to engage and stop a threat.

    I would suggest immediately holstering your weapon after stopping the threat (don’t pick up or move their weapon if possible), put your hands up and stand where you are clearly visible. An example of a device that could also help LE identify you or at least pause to think before shooting you would be a reflective banner or sash that can be deployed from a small pouch or pocket that says Concealed Carry or something to that effect. Off-duty cops carry things like this for police (see DSM banners).

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    Sonic breakfast menu

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