While U.S. law enforcement officers undergo extensive training, they can't be everywhere, so many citizens want to make sure they can take responsibility for their own protection. That's why many people choose to keep a reliable concealed carry weapon by their side.
Whether you've carried a firearm with you for a while or are new to this idea, there are many essential aspects you should understand. This concealed carry guide will take you through everything you need to know regarding concealed carry, helping you make informed decisions about your gun, accessories, traveling and more.
What Does It Mean to Conceal Carry?
As you walk down the street, you may be surprised that some of the people you pass have a firearm with them. These individuals are carrying concealed, which means they bring a gun, stun gun or knife wherever they go. They usually carry these self-defense tools under clothes with a holster or in an off-body container such as a purse or backpack. No federal law outlines the rules and regulations of concealed carry, as it is left up to the states to determine what is allowed and what isn't.
Concealed carrying is more than just walking around with a gun. It is a lifestyle change requiring well-grounded judgment and acute awareness. You must also have the proper mindset to use lethal force when necessary, accompanied by the relevant skills, tactics, accessories and appropriate clothing. Concealed carry is your right as an American, but with it comes a responsibility to keep yourself and others safe through continual education and practice.
Are Some Guns Better for Concealed Carry?
You'll find plenty of "Top 10" lists telling you what guns you should and shouldn't choose as your concealed carry firearm. You'll often hear people weighing the pros and cons of one type, comparing many firearms in detail and pointing you in the direction of what they feel is best for you. Don't let these comments deter you from searching and looking at every option — you may be most comfortable with something entirely different, and confidence is essential for carrying and using a concealed firearm effectively.
Any daily carry gun you could choose will be used for the same purpose — to protect yourself and your family from danger. Rather than blindly buying a firearm, it's beneficial to spend time at a gun range where you can rent some potential choices and test them out. Pay attention to their weight, size, ease of operation and how they feel in your hand. The ideal gun will give you confidence in its function, fit your lifestyle and be a suitable size for you to control it.
With all of this in mind, it can still help to ask friends and do some research so you have a rough idea of where to start shopping. Handgun makes and models range in characteristics such as ease of concealability, power, recoil and accuracy, so you'll have plenty of choices.
For some gun owners, larger pistols like the classic 1911 Government are too big to conceal comfortably, so many manufacturers offer compact options designed specifically for daily carry. These models often have lightweight polymer frames for comfort, small form factors for easier concealment and rounded corners to resist snagging when drawn. In general, the more compact the firearm, the smaller its projectile will be, so you may sacrifice stopping power for concealability. Ultimately, whether it's a .22lr or the hard-hitting 10mm, any gun is better than none.
Regardless of specs and cartridge, you want to find a pistol that feels natural in your hand and comfortable on your body, giving you the confidence you need in your concealed carry firearm.
What Types of Holsters Are Good for Conceal Carry?
Different holster types have varying strengths and weaknesses related to drawing your gun, shooting and reholstering. The perfect holster for your basic concealed carry setup will be simple and easy to use, meeting your comfort, security and accessibility needs. Someone else's ideal model may not be your own, so paying attention to how a given design fits your routine is essential.
Holsters come in many different shapes and sizes, offering various benefits, but you want to choose one that's sturdy and fits your gun rather than a "universal" style made with cheap soft nylons or substandard polymers. Some popular types of holsters and carry methods for concealed firearms include:
- Inside the waistband (IWB): IWB holsters are among the most popular on the market, as they allow firearms to fit conveniently on the inside of your pants. Many come with adjustable clips to find the right ride height.
- Appendix IWB (AIWB): Similar to the IWB, this holster positions your gun inside your pants and in front of your body, reducing the chances of people noticing any bulges. Appendix carry enables a fast draw and quick aiming.
- Outside the waistband (OWB): One of the oldest methods, OWB carry provides a comfortable position and convenient draw. Typically, it is more difficult to conceal one of these rigs since it sits on the outside of your pants, usually on the hip.
- Ankle carry: Ankle holsters work great as a backup due to their location. These require small guns and loose-bottom pants to conceal appropriately. Some downsides include a slow draw and susceptibility to puddles and dirt.
- Shoulder carry: Shoulder holsters are highly comfortable, making them great if you plan on traveling or sitting for a while. They cross your back and make even larger guns disappear under your arm with the help of a cover garment.
- Pocket carry: For this method, you'll need a dedicated pocket holster to hold your small gun, which will protect it from dust and lint while covering the trigger for safe carrying.
Things to Remember When Carrying
Whether you're a longtime concealed carrier looking to brush up on your knowledge or are interested in obtaining a permit or concealed carry firearm, there is some important information you should acknowledge. Understanding the concealed carry basics is vital to remain safe and in compliance with state laws.
Things you should keep in mind when you carry include:
- Never adjust your holster in public: Calling attention to your holster makes it obvious that you're carrying, potentially making others nearby uncomfortable and attracting unwanted attention. If you need to adjust your holster, make your way to a private place such as your car, your home or a single bathroom.
- Always have your permit handy: Unless you live in or are visiting a permitless state, you should always keep your license on your person, ensuring you have the necessary documentation whenever you need it.
- Wear appropriate clothing: The clothing you choose to wear is a massive part of the success of how you conceal your firearm. The proper clothing will provide instant access to your gun and allow for easy removal when the time comes. It also determines how comfortable you are and your ease of movement.
- Do not draw your gun unless you intend to use it: Your goal should always be to control the situation without using your firearm, so don't draw it unless you are in fear for your life or that of someone else. You should be 100% ready to fire without question or hesitation when this happens.
- Know where you can and cannot carry: Many states prohibit carrying in areas such as school zones, federal buildings, airports, and state and national parks.
Know Your State's Concealed Carry Laws
Rather than falling under federal jurisdiction, concealed carry laws are set by individual states. Some states enforce tight restrictions over what you can and can't do, while others remain more lenient. Constitutional or Permitless Carry states allow anyone over a certain age to conceal without having to obtain a license. As of 2022, over 20 states allow some type of permitless carry with age or criminal record restrictions.
If you plan on traveling or moving, you should research concealed carry regulations beforehand to avoid potential trouble, as you must follow the laws of whatever state you're visiting. Be sure you read up on what each state requires, including statutes on what you can legally conceal, where you can carry, age restrictions, magazine limits and more. Some states will recognize other state-issued permits, which is called reciprocity, so an existing license may be viable outside of its home state.
Find Your Concealed Carry Parts and Accessories at Wing Tactical
Do you need help finding the correct parts for the perfect concealed carry firearm? Take a look at our vast inventory of high-quality handgun accessories to ensure you have the right gear to protect yourself and those around you.
Still have questions? The Wing Tactical team is full of firearm enthusiasts, and we'll be happy to help you find the equipment or information you need. Reach out to our experts today!