There is more to carrying a concealed handgun than simply throwing a t-shirt over your rig. You have to change your style of dress and, to a lesser extent, your lifestyle to accommodate your everyday carry gun…and the rest of your load-out. Or do you?

Clothing challenges

Concealed means concealed. But does concealed mean donating your entire wardrobe to Goodwill and wearing only multi-pocket “tactical” cargo pants and loose-fitting untucked shirts? Your clothing choices should support the level of concealment required for your chosen handgun, and any other defensive tools you may carry (e.g. spare magazines, knife, flashlight, etc.). Or is it really the other way around?

Believe it or not, the biggest challenge some new concealed carriers face is the realization they can’t carry their Mk1Mod0 blaster they use at the range on the weekends. Many don’t want to — or can’t — change their clothing style, such as buying pants one or two sizes larger than normal to fit a larger gun in an inside-the-waistband holster to accommodate their favorite full-sized firearm.

That’s OK. I believe in living your life to the fullest while carrying concealed. Whether you’re working, hanging out with your family, or attending social events, you shouldn’t let your firearm interfere with enjoying the one life God has blessed you with. It’s best to work your concealment requirements around your lifestyle.

If you’re unwilling or unable to change your dress to conceal a particular firearm, so be it. As someone once said, clothes make the man. Your sense of style is important to your sense of self and social success. But don’t simply give up. Give yourself . . .

Multiple Carry Options (One Is None)

I consider it standard practice to have a primary, secondary, and backup method for carrying concealed, so I can carry comfortably no matter what I’m doing, whether it’s playing with the kids, hiking, commuting, working, shopping, fixing stuff around the house…whatever. This approach has allowed me to navigate my life armed while blending in or actually looking downright presentable, even in high society events.

There’s a wide variety of carry systems to choose from, including inside-the-waistband, outside-the-waistband, appendix and shoulder holsters. You can pocket carry, ankle carry or carry in a belly band or “fanny pack.” You can also carry off-body in a briefcase, purse, backpack, or vehicle. But remember: it’s not either/or. You can choose from any (or all) of the three.

Can one gun cater to all of these carry methods? Probably not. I recommend owning, carrying and practicing with at least two guns: a larger and a smaller firearm. And yes I know that all of this costs time and money. The good news is once you settle on a couple of good guns and three carry methods, you’re set. That said, you’ll still face . . .

Gun challenges

If your style requires you to change your loadout to carry something smaller and more compact, practice with that gun. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve trained people shooting full-size handguns who often shoot them well, who then tell me, “Oh this isn’t my carry gun.”

That’s a recipe for disaster.

I’m not just talking about marksmanship or gunfighting tactics. You need to train yourself to extract your gun from its hiding place in a consistent and efficient fashion, wearing the kind of clothes you’ll be wearing with that loadout.

Unload your gun, put all of the ammunition in a different room, check to make sure your gun is clear again…and then practice your draw. While stationary and while moving.

shoulder holster

If you decide to wade into these waters, your choices come with the responsibility of shooting to a minimum standard. You can do it as long as you commit to some basic training with reasonably good gear you’ve practiced with. Choose a loadout that fits your lifestyle and the season, but make sure you’re ready, willing, and able to protect that lifestyle.


Jeff Gonzales is a former US. Navy SEAL and preeminent weapons and tactics instructor. He brings his Naval Special Warfare mindset, operational success and lessons learned to the world at large. He is the president of Trident Concepts in Austin, Texas.

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