Holster Styles – Nylon IWB Inside Waist Band

There are lots and lots of holster styles out there. A lot of first time carriers will gravitate towards the lower end of the price spectrum first, because, lets face it, who wants to spend a hundred bucks on something that turns out to suck rocks?

One of the most basic holster designs for concealed carry work is the IWB (Inside the Waist Band) nylon holster. These are usually inexpensive and offer an option for those first getting started. Some people will stay with this style, most will eventually find something more suitable.

At the shows, I carry Taigear nylon for those looking for a budget option. Considering the price, I feel that these are a decent budget option. I’ve sold this brand for a couple of years now, and they are far better built, in my opinion, than many competitors costing quite a bit more money.

Size “00” Taigear IWB nylon holster

This holster is ambidextrous, in that you can move the mounting clip to either side. It comes from the factory set up to go “right handed” (mounted on the side of your beltline, for draw with your right hand). The clip can be removed from that position and moved to the other side, so that it can be used left handed as well. This can be done with simple tools, such as a tongue depressor, or the “tactical butterknife” that I keep in my tool kit at the shows.

This design does not need a good gun belt to operate. However, I strongly recommend a good gun belt for any waist mounted holster, inside or outside. The better the belt, the better the experience.

This holster design actually has a crude form of retention on it, the strap going up over the top is actually two strips of Velcro that attach together. You put the gun in, you press the Velcro closed over it, and when you need to draw the gun, you simply pull the gun quickly out of the holster, which separates the Velcro and releases the gun.

Now, I want to point out that the Velcro strip, as it comes from the factory, is a bit long, and really really needs to be adjusted before real use. By adjusted, I mean trimmed down short enough to not be so much of an annoyance while carrying, and also still long enough to hold the gun in place when you aren’t trying to draw it.

The metal clip on this holster isn’t especially tight, and if you aren’t wearing it on a belt.. and especially if you don’t trim up the retention strap… you will draw the entire rig (gun and holster) when you attempt to draw the gun. This is not a good thing. You should take the time to adjust the length of the retention strap before you actually use it for real, and be sure to practice drawing (with an unloaded gun for safety in this instance) until you are confident that you have the right adjustment.

Please don’t try to just trim it short right off the bat, as you can’t “cut it longer” if you get too short.

So the Pros and Cons of this style:


It’s very inexpensive compared to most options. Price can vary wildly depending on manufacturer, but this one is very reasonably priced.

Ambidextrous design means you don’t have to buy another one if you want to, say, try out Small of Back carry. You just move the clip to the other side and give it a try.

It’s not as “picky” as many holster designs are, in that one size can fit a number of different guns. However, you will still want to pay attention and get the correct size.


This is by no means a “buy it for life” type option. A holster like this is going to have a limited lifespan, and usually should be used only as a way to get into carry until you find something that you really like.

Material like this needs inspection before every use once it’s “broken in” and softer. If the opening of the holster is feeling “soft” or malleable, you need to be careful with it in use, as both these and softer leather holsters have been found to bow inwards upon insertion of the gun (especially if you aren’t paying attention to what you are doing), and have been known to cause accidental discharges. This is not something you want to have happen, and honestly, you should always pay close attention when holstering your weapon, no matter what it’s made out of.

I sell these at gun shows, but I do not do mail order for these holsters. If you would like to have a closer look at them, here’s a link to see them on Amazon.

Packin’ Tee Concealed Carry T-Shirt


The Packing Tee represents the next generation of concealed carry t-shirt. It’s been built from the ground up to solve the issues that face the CCW licensee looking for a good way to carry their equipment.

One of the first things that you notice when you examine one, is that the holster is modular and attached with industrial strength hook and loop material (Velcro). Turn the shirt inside out, and you see the reinforcements that have been added to the shirt to make sure that your weapon stays where you want it.

There are reinforcements around the side of the shirt, over the shoulder and around the arm holes, and across the back. Basically, the manufacturer made a cloth shoulder holster, and then sewed it into the inside of the shirt.

The shirt itself is 100% cotton, pre-shrunk. This means that it’s not only comfortable and easy to clean, but it “looks normal”. There are a number of concealed carry t-shirts out there that have rather “distinctive” looks to them, looks that can give you away to people who know what to look for. Why on earth do you want to telegraph your advantage away like that?

One of the best features of this holster system is the modular holsters themselves… and not just because you can easily switch out between the various holsters to customize your carry to what you need to do -now-. The fact that it’s velcro’ed to the shirt gives you a lot of options in the adjustment department. You can move the holster up, down, sideways, or just give it a small cant forward or backward, whatever it takes to give you that “sweet spot” for carry comfort that makes all the difference in the world in whether or not a holster system “works” for you.

Lets do some Q&A on these shirts now….

[Q] Are there sleeved versions of these shirts, or all they all sleeveless?

[A] They are all sleeveless. If there were sleeves on the shirts, there would be a possibility of getting your weapon caught in the “dangling sleeve” during a draw, and that would not be a good thing for you.

[A] However, the women’s style shirts do have “cap sleeves” on them. See the images on the order form for more info.

[Q] What colors are they available in?

[A] Black and white only. Previously, Women’s shirts had only been in white, but black ones are now available.

[Q] Is there a weight limit on the gun carried?

[A] Older technology shirts had strict weight limits on the weapon to be carried. Because of the way these shirts are made, with the reinforcements on them, they can carry significantly more weight on them. As a practical matter, though, the heavier the gun (and the larger it is), the more difficult it becomes to hide the weapon for long periods of time. Let your ability to conceal the weapon be more of the determining factor than what the sheer ability of the shirt is to carry weight, because the shirts ability to carry weight is far in excess of any reasonable concealed carry weapon. The manufacturer has told me that they claim a 10 pound per side weight limitation. To put that in perspective, a fully loaded Desert Eagle is only 8.5 pounds.

[Q] How do I clean these shirts?

[A] Official answer: Remove the holster patches before washing, then just wash them as you would do your regular t-shirts. If you mistakenly forget to remove the patches, they will not be ruined, but they will curl up on the edges some. If the curling becomes too severe, remember you can get new ones for $6.00 each.

[A] Unofficial answer: You can wash and dry them with the patches in place. However, once you do this, the patches (which are made out of industrial strength velcro) will NOT easily remove from the shirt. They will work just fine, but be sure that you have the patches “where you want them” before doing this, because you may not be able to adjust them afterwards.

[Q] What is the life expectancy on these shirts?

[A] This is a piece of clothing, and underwear at that. Given that, it’s not going to last forever. The manufacturer has estimated that you should be able to get two years out of them under “normal use”.

[Q] Do I need to wear an over shirt with this?

[A] Only if you feel the need to conceal the weapon. Seriously, though, pretty much every method of concealment depends at least in part on “cover garments”… this one is no different.

[Q] Does the shirt need to be tight on me?

[A] Previous designs of shirts needed a good amount of “snug fit” to keep the weapon in the place where it’s supposed to be. Because of the reinforcement built into this shirt, it doesn’t need to be worn as tightly as other similar products, but you do not want to wear it loose, either. Wearing it loosely will cause the weapon to sag, hang lower than normal, and bounce off your ribcage in a most annoying manner, so wearing the shirt “snug” is still a good idea.

[Q] I normally wear a size (fill in the blank), what should I wear here?

[A] If you wear an XL, then get an XL sized Packin’ Tee. There is no need to “guesstimate down” the size with this shirt. These were built from the ground up as concealment shirts, and they were built knowing that they needed to be snug. So, if you normally wear, say, and XL for comfort, then pick up an XL here as well, and it will fit on you snugly.

[Q] I tend to wear two different sizes, depending on the cut. What should I wear here?

[A] If, for example, you wear both XL and 2X depending on the cut, then you should probably get a 2X shirt. Remember, these are built to be snug, and if you get a size too small, it’s – really- going to be a size too small! 🙂

[Q] Is this shirt hot to wear?

[A] Being in the midwest, I get this question a lot. The answer is “it’s no hotter than any other 100 percent cotton t-shirt”. If you can live with a t-shirt on, this will be no different to you.

[Q] Will my gun get rusty from my sweat?

[A] Well, I can’t answer to the rust resistance of your gun, but I can tell you this… one of the reinforcement layers that makes this shirt so suited for this job, is a thin layer of plastic that helps keeps any moisture from getting from you to your gun. Beyond that, if you tend to go swimming in salt-water, perhaps you should think about duracoating your gun. 🙂

[Q] How do I draw my weapon from this holster?

[A] The Packin’ Tee is a “cross draw” style holster, traditionally one of the easiest draw motions there is. If you have a button down shirt, just reach inside and grab the weapon. If you have a non-button down (pullover) type shirt, just grab the shirt bottom nearest the gun, and pull the shirt over the top of the weapon, then go ahead and grab your gun. If you see me at a gun show sometime, ask me to show you the “boost-assist” method of drawing the gun through the neckline of almost any shirt. I would explain it, but it’s far easier to show you than to try to tell you about it. 🙂

[Q] Do these shirts come in “big and tall” sizes?

[A] Yes and sort of. Yes, in that they currently come in 2x, 3x, and 4x shirts. There are no specific “tall” versions, but these shirts were made longer than most concealment shirts, and as a result, most people will find the length to be fine. The larger the shirt, the longer they are, so be sure to check them out, you will probably be pleasantly surprised.

[Q] Can I get one of these shirts configured to carry two guns?

[A] One of the really nice things about this design is that you can easily configure it to whatever you need to go. It comes standard with both left and right mountings. Possible setups include:

One gun, no other rigging

Two guns, no other rigging

One gun, plus magazine carrier

One gun, plus hidden pocket

Bear in mind that you can buy the equipment to run any and all of these options, but you can only run the above options at any given time. The mag carrier takes the place of the second gun, for example.

[Q] How many different holsters are there available for the Packin’ Tee?

[A] There are currently two, “large” and “small”. To make life easier for everyone involved, I’m selling these holsters as a set, so no matter what holster you need now (or later!), you will be set to go. To determine which one you need for your particular gun, just try them out and see which one fits better, but in case you want to take a shortcut, here’s a cheat sheet for you:

Any 1911 Pistol – large holster

AMT Backup .380 – small holster

AMT Backup .45 – large holster

AMT Crusader Combat – large holster

Astra .357 Revolver – large holster

Astra A-80/A-90/A-100 – large holster

Autauga Arms MK II – small holster

Beretta 70 – small holster

Beretta 84 – large holster

Beretta 92, 96 – large holster

Beretta 950 – small holster

Beretta 9000, 9000s – large holster

Beretta 8000, 8040, 8045 – large holster

Beretta Cougar – large holster

Beretta PX4 (any size) – large holster

Beretta Nano 9mm – small holster

Beretta Tomcat, Bobcat, 21a – small holster

Bersa Firestorm and Firestorm Pro – large holster

Bersa Thunder .380 – small holster

Bersa Thunder 9 – large holster

Bersa Thunder Ultra Compact 45 – large holster

Bersa BP9CC – large holster

Boberg 9mm – try both

Bond Arms Derringers – large holster

Browning BDA .380 – large holster

Browning Hi-Power – large holster

Bul Ltd Cherokee Compact – large holster

Bul M5 Government / M5 Carry / Ultra X – large holster

Charter Arms Bulldog .44 – large holster

Charter Arms Pathfinder or Undercover – large holster

Charter Arms Patriot .357 6-shot – large holster

Charter Arms Southpaw – large holster

Charter Arms Ultra Lite – large holster

Chiappa Rhino .357 Revolver – large holster

Cobra Auto .380 – large holster

Cobra .38 Derringer – small holster

Colt Combat Commander – large holster

Colt Defender 3″ 1911 – large holster

Any 1911 Pistol – large holster

Colt Detective Special – large holster

Colt Double Eagle – large holster

Colt Government .380, Mustang, or Pony – small holster

CZ 75B – large holster

CZ 75 SP-01 – large holster

CZ 75 P07 Duty – large holster

CZ 2075 RAMI – large holster

Daewoo Auto – large holster

Desert Eagle Baby Eagle – large holster

Diamondback .380 – small holster

Diamondback 9mm – try both

EAA EA380 – small holster

EAA EZ9 – large holster

EAA Witness (any) – large holster

FEG AP7 – small holster

FEG P9R – large holster

FEG PA-63 – small holster

Firestorm (any) – large holster

FN Forty-Nine, FN9, FN40 – large holster

Glock (any) – large holster

Glock 42 / 43 – large holster

Hellcat .380 – small holster

Helwin Brigadier – large holster

Hipoint .380, 9mm, .40SW, .45 – large holster

HK 45 – large holster

HK P7, P7M8, P7M10, P7M13 – large holster

HK USP (any) – large holster

HK P2000 (any) – large holster

HK P30, P30L – large holster

Herstal 5.7 – large holster

IMI Desert Eagle “Baby Eagle” – large holster

IMI Micro Desert Eagle .380 – small holster

J-Frame Revolver (any) – large holster

Jerico – large holster

Jennings J22 – small holster

Jennings .380 – small holster

Jiminez .22 – small holster

Jiminez JA380 – small holster

Jiminez JA9 – large holster

K-Frame Revolver – large holster

Kahr .380 – small holster

Kahr 9mm / .40SW / .45ACP – large holster

Kel-Tec P11 – large holster

Kel-Tec P32 – small holster

Kel-Tec P3AT – small holster

Kel-Tec PF9 – small holster

Kel-Tec PMR-30 – large holster

Kimber (any 1911) – large holster

Kimber Micro Carry .380 – small holster

Kimber Solo 9mm – small holster

Makarov – small holster

NAA Guardian .32/.380 – small holster

NAA .22 Revolvers (any) – no good match, sorry

N-Frame Revolvers – large holster, barrel no longer than 4″ please. After 4″, “your mileage may vary”.

Para Ordnance pistols – large holster for any 1911 variant

Phoenix HP .22 – small holster

Remington R51 – large holster

Remington RM380 – small holster

Rock Island Armory Armscor 9mm MAPP1 – large holster

Rohrbaugh 380 – small holster

Rohrbaugh R9 – small holster

Rossi R351 – large holster

Ruger American – large holster

Ruger LCP .380 – small holster

Ruger LC380 – large holster

Ruger LC9 – large holster

Ruger LCR and variants – large holster

Ruger SP101 – large holster

Ruger P345 – large holster

Ruger P85, P89, P89DC – large holster

Ruger P90, P90DC, P91 – large holster

Ruger P93, P95, P94, P97 – large holster

Ruger SR9 & SR9C – large holster

Ruger SR40 & SR40C – large holster

Ruger SR45 – large holster

S&W J-Frame (any) – large holster

S&W Bodyguard .38 Revolver – large holster

S&W Bodyguard .380 Auto – small holster

S&W Chiefs Special, 317, airlite, 36, 37, 49, 442-1, 60, 638-2, 640, 649, 642-1 Lady Smith, 650, 940,

Airweight, Bodyguard – large holster

S&W 1006, 4506, 645 – large holster

S&W 1026, 1076, 4576 – large holster

S&W 1086, 4586 – large holster

S&W 39, 59, 439, 459, 639, 659, 3904, 5904, 5906 – large holster

S&W SC Commander – large holster

S&W 1911 – large holster

S&W 3913 round trigger and LadySmith – large holster

S&W 3913 Square Trigger, 6904 6906 square trigger – large holster

S&W 3913 TSW – large holster

S&W 3953, 6904, 6906 round trigger – large holster

S&W 4006, 4026, 4043, 4046, 410, 411, 5943, 5946 round trigger, 909, 910, 915 – large holster

S&W 4006 Bobbed, 5926 – large holster

S&W 4006 TSW, 5906 TSW – large holster

S&W 4013 TSW, 4013 – large holster

S&W 4516-1, 457 – large holster

S&W 4056 TSW, 4053 TSW – large holster

S&W 4513 TSW, 4553 TSW – large holster

S&W 4556 – large holster

S&W 4563 TSW – large holster

S&W 4566 round trigger – large holster

S&W 469, 669, square trigger – large holster

S&W 5944, 5946 square trigger – large holster

S&W 908 – large holster

S&W 99, 99-45, compact – large holster

S&W CS9, CS40, CS45 – large holster

S&W M&P9, M&P40, M&P45, M&P9C, M&P40C – large holster

S&W Sigma .380 – large holster

S&W Sigma 9F, 40F, SW9M – large holster

S&W Sigma Compact 40C, 40V, 9C, 9V – large holster

S&W SD9 SD40 – large holster

S&W Bodyguard .380 – small holster

SCCY 9mm – large holster

Seecamp – small holster

Sig Sauer GSR 1911 – large holster

Sig Sauer P239 – large holster

Sig Sauer P220, P226, P226R, P220R – large holster

Sig Sauer P225, P228, P229, P229R, P229R DAK, P226R DAK – large holster

Sig Sauer P230, P232 – small holster

Sig Sauer P238 – small holster

Sig Sauer P245 – large holster

Sig Sauer P250 – large holster

Sig Sauer P938 – small holster

Skyy 9mm – large holster

Springfield Armory XD, XD 40-4, XD 40-5, 45-4, 45-5, XD-M, Sub Compact – large holster

Springfield Armory XDs .45 single stack – large holster

Springfield Armory 1911 GI 4″, 1911 GI 5″, Micro Compact GI 3″ – large holster

Springfield Armory 1911 Rails “Operator” – large holster

Springfield Armory P9C – large holster

Star Firestar – large holster

Steyr pistols (all known in 9mm / .40 / .45) – large holster

Stoeger 8000 Cougar – large holster

Taurus 24/7 – large holster

Taurus 85 – large holster

Taurus OSS – large holster

Taurus Judge Public Defender – large holster. Older versions of the holster needed a slight mod, new ones are just fine right from the bag.

Taurus Judge Public Defender Polymer version – I haven’t had a chance to test fit one of these, but my guess it should be fine.

Taurus Judge (any larger sizing than Public Defender) – No, Not Gonna Happen. Incapital letters. 🙂 The shape of the gun will not safely work with these holsters. Do not try this at home. Or anywhere else for that matter.

Taurus PT22 – small holster

Taurus PT908, PT945, PT99, PT100, PT101 – large holster

Taurus PT111, PT145, Millennium Pro – large holster

Taurus PT145 with Rails – large holster

Taurus PT709 “Slim” – large holster

Taurus PT738 – small holster

Taurus PT740 “Slim” – large holster

Taurus PT908 – large holster

Taurus PT909 – large holster

Taurus PT911 – large holster

Taurus PT945 – large holster

Walther CCP – large holster

Walther PPK, PPK/s – Small holster

Walther PPS – large holster

Walther PPQ – large holster

Walther PPX – large holster

Walther P99, P99C – large holster

Walther P22 – large holster

Walther PK380 – large holster


Concealed Carry Tips – Weapons Selection

Even addressing this issue can be opening up a big honking can of worms…  everyone has an opinion, and of course, it’s totally right… for them, at least.  I’m not going to get into “what caliber is the best”, or what ammo is the best, I’m simply going to point out some facts that should be agreeable by everyone.

First, smaller guns are easier to hide.  File that under “no duh?”, right?  You would be surprised by the number of people that I meet who want to hide a massive weapon for one reason or another.  It doesn’t matter to me what the reason might be, or what the perceived need is for that hand cannon… the bigger it is, the harder it hides, it’s as simple as that.  If you pick on a smaller weapon, you are going to have more concealment options.

Next, sharp angles and pointy things HURT.  Oh, and they hurt YOU.  Anytime you have an odd or pointy shape pointed against your body, you are asking for pain.  If you got to carry a gun with such features, there are ways to help, such as switching to Outside the waistband holsters, or using something that gets it away from being pressed against your body (belly band, concealment T-shirt), but it is something that needs to be considered.

Your best bet for a convenient concealment gun is going to be one that’s as rustproof as possible.  If you get a finely blued gun, sooner or later, you are probably going to be cleaning surface rust (or worse) from it.  Pick a stainless, a hard chromed, a nickel plated gun, or a duracoated gun (or just one with a really nice hard finish), and you will spend a lot less time worrying about the metallurgical state of your weapon.

Safety features of the gun in question:  Make sure that you are are comfortable with the safety features on your weapon, that there are enough for you to be comfortable, and that you practice until the muscle memory takes over and you don’t have to think about pulling down the safeties when you need the gun.  If you aren’t familiar with what “muscle memory” is, it’s the phenomena where you are so used to doing something, that you automatically do it without having to think about the steps involved.  Think “buttoning up your shirt” or “tying your shoelaces”…  you just do it without thinking “this goes here, and I push on that”… 🙂

The thinner, the better… usually.  Automatics tend to be thin already, but some of them are still quite thick.  A thinner gun is simply easier to hide than a thick one.  Single stack mag weapons (guns with magazines that hold one round on top of the other, not “staggered” to put more rounds on it) tend to have the thinnest outlines, because they dont’ have to accomodate a double stacked magazine well.  However, there are some double stacked guns out there with pretty thin outlines, so again, choose carefully.

Price comes up again, not only because you need to be able to afford to buy the gun (because even if it’s perfect for you, if you can’t afford it, it doesn’t help), but because you need to actually be willing to CARRY the weapon.  Time and time again, I’ve heard people talk about their perfect carry weapon… that they don’t have on them.  Why?  Because if they carried it, it might get rusty, scratched, dinged, or otherwise depreciated.  I understand that (I’ve had a “safe queen” or two myself), but that doesn’t help out when you need a weapon.  Sometimes, picking on an ugly and relatively cheap weapon as your day to day carry makes perfect sense, especially if you actually carry it day to day, rather than leave it in the safe at home.  The gun you have with you is far more effective than the gun that you left at home.

Of course, reliability of the weapon is a key concern, and that should be obvious to anyone.  Reliability not only affects whether it goes “boom” when you want it to, it also affects whether or not it goes “boom” when you DON’T want it to.  Make sure that the weapon that you choose is reliable enough to satisfy you in both of these regards.

Bear in mind, that there is no one perfect gun, otherwise, that’s the only one that would ever be made.  Every weapon has a mix of features and benefits (and liabilities), that you are going to have to weigh to find out what works for you in the situations that you find yourself in.  Just be sure to think about the options carefully, and in time, you will find yourself a good option or two.

Concealed Carry Tips – Wear a Good Belt

One thing that I see over and over at the shows, is people trying to find a holster (especially an OWB holster) that they can just “clip on” and use, because they don’t like to wear a belt.  I have to regretfully tell them that I don’t have a good concealment holster that does that, and the IWB’s that are clipped work better with a belt on, preferably a strong one.

Why is this?  Well, it’s not too hard to figure out… guns have a good amount of mass and weight, even the smallish ones.  The more mass and weight you hang on your pants, the more problematic they are going to be to control.  A good belt not only helps to distribute that mass and weight around a bit more, but it helps to prevent unwanted movement, both of the holster and weapon, and of of the pants… 🙂

When I speak of a good, strong belt here,  I’m not necessarily talking about specialty belts such as kydex reinforced belts, or specialized duty belts, although both are excellent for the job (although the duty belt might be a bit obvious).  What you want to find, is one that doesn’t easily flex “up and down”, but will still wrap around you properly.  Take a belt in your hand… place your thumb and index finger on the top edge and bottom edge of the belt, and try to push them together.  If you can do this easily, this probably won’t make a good holster belt for you.  If you can’t push them together easily, you probably will do OK.

Now, don’t rule out specialty belts such as kydex reinforced ones… those actually have some excellent points to them.  The problem is, they may be more expensive than what you are willing to pay, and you may be able to get the same functionality out of a more traditional mens belt with a little shopping.

Be sure to apply the “squeeze test” liberally, though… my experience has been that most  belts are more about fashion appeal than practical use now, and many of them are just not strong enough to actually help out in this situation.

Bear in mind, that these tips at most helpful when you are carrying waistline or below… IWB (Inside the waist), OWB (outside the waist), pocket holster (Yeah, it helps a little), and even ankle holster (keeps your pants in the right place).  If you are carrying above the waist, such as a belly band, Packin’ Tee t-shirt, or a shoulder holster, then a strong belt system isn’t important for your carry ability, although it’s still not a bad idea in general.

Concealed Carry Tips – Accessibility and Retention

Accessibility (the ability to “present” or deploy the weapon in a reasonable fashion, and retention, making sure the weapon stays where it’s supposed to until you wish to present or deploy it, are two sides to the same coin, and they are always intertwined.  One always affects the other, at least marginally, if not considerably.

The best concealment rig in the world is totally useless if you can’t present the weapon when you need to, in order to influence the situation at hand.  Because of this, you should always consider how easy and fast it is to get your weapon into play from a given concealment rig.  Before making a holster purchase, put it on, stick your gun (or an acceptable substitute such as an aluminum dummy gun) into it, and see how easily it is to draw, keeping in mind that some holsters need a “break in period” before they draw really easily.

Retention, the ability to keep the weapon where it’s supposed to be, really breaks down into a couple of issues… keeping the weapon from dislodging from your own efforts, and keeping it out of the hands of others.

Let me address the “keeping it from others’ issue first… Police officers use specialty retention holsters all the time, as well they should.  Their weapons are “front and center” and on the minds of every perp looking to get an advantage.  Without a good retention system, more bad guys would get their hands on more police weapons, which is NOT a pretty sight.  Retention holsters are very much an excellent idea for anyone with an exposed weapon, because it helps to keep the perps from arming themselves with someone else’s weapon.

Do you see the caviet there?  “Exposed weapon”.  If a weapon is properly concealed in the first place, no one knows that they should be grabbing it, let along knowing -where- to grab it from.  Retention against others is probably, in my opinion, more of an overblown issue for the average Concealed Carry person, one that really doesn’t have a lot of bearing on their situation.  I’m sure that there are those out there that will disagree with me on that, but sorry, it’s my blog and I can call it as I see it.  Get your own blog!  🙂  Still, even with that, it’s a decision that you, yourself, have to make in regards to your situation… perhaps everyone in the universe knows that you carry, and you don’t want people pawing your piece.  If you feel you need it, you probably do, so go for it.

Now, the other half of the retention issue is “retention against your own actions”.  If you jog, run regularly, dogsled, or whatever, you should take into account your physical exertions and how likely they are to affect your carry.  There is nothing quite so embarrassing as having your gun fall out in front of some random people, and having to scurry not only to get it back away, but explain to the more nervous ones that they shouldn’t be alarmed by this.  Only you know your physical activity level, and how likely you are to perform a sudden back flip, so that’s another piece of the puzzle that you need to work on.

Even if you are the proverbial couch (or mouse) potato, there are situations that might bear watching… the old saw of losing your gun in the restroom stall is repeated often, because, well, it’s repeated often… if you have a concealment rig that’s vulnerable to having your pants down, perhaps you should think about this carefully before putting yourself in this situation.  An ounce of prevention, and all that, really beats a pound of pistol skittering into the next stall.

The other half of this, though, is that the more secure the weapon is, the slower/harder it’s going to be to put it into action.  Lets face the fact here that when you need the weapon, you are NOT going to have plenty of time to leisurely draw and present the weapon, making sure that you do everything that you need to be doing… you are going to be rushed, pressed upon (sometimes literally), and the adrenaline is gonna be pumping.  Your friends and family are depending on you to do the right thing, and do it NOW!  The simpler this is to accomplish, the more likely you will accomplish it, it’s as plain as that.

Any rig should be practiced with just for this reason, and that includes rigs with and without any extra retention systems.  If they have retention systems, all the more reason you should practice with them until drawing through the retention is second nature for you, something that you do NOT have to think about, something that you can accomplish when the only thing you can see is the perp, period.

Concealed Carry Tips – Comfort

When people first get into concealed carry, many of them do not give enough attention to the issue of comfort.  Some even shrug and live by the motto “there’s no comfortable way to carry a gun”.  I disagree with that, but it’s always a matter of what level of comfort you are willing to live with compared to the other elements you have to contend with, so it’s all just part of the puzzle…

Why is comfort so important?  Simply put, the more problematic it is for you to carry your defense weapon, the more likely you are to forget it, accidentally or on purpose, because you just don’t want to put up with the hassles.  Some people take this to the extreme of only carrying “when they think that something is gonna happen”.  Hogwash!  The problem with life, is that it doesn’t schedule things for you, nor does it play fair.  Things happen when you don’t expect them to, not when it’s convenient for you.  As stated in my overview, you don’t wear your car safety belt only when you expect to be in an accident, why treat your defense weapon any differently?

Simply put, Comfort is necessary, at least to some degree, because it encourages you to carry constantly, not just “when you think you might need it”.  There is no colder feeling than finding yourself in a bad situation, that could be averted with your defense weapon… only to remember that you left it at home.

I want to stress again, this is yet another reason why it’s so important to try on your perspective rig, with a gun (or an acceptable substitute) in it, before making a decision on using it.  If the holster isn’t comfortable, you should look for something that is, period.

Concealed Carry Tips – Concealment

Concealment… on the face of it, it seems simple, but it can actually be one of the harder elements to master of concealed carry.

Concealment is a very big deal here.  Lets face it, not only is it called “concealed carry” for a reason, but in many areas, failure to properly conceal can be considered a crime unto itself.  Even if it’s not a crime, you end up causing a ruckus, attracting official attention, and just plain end up making the rest of us look bad…  we have enough issues with the the populace already, afraid of us simply because we actually chose to take responsibility for ourselves and our loved ones… lets not give them any reason to think about us any further, especially in a negative light.  Think hard about the true concealment of your weapon, not only the holster or rig, but also the “rest of the package”… you, how you dress, how you act, even what weapon you pick to carry affects this.  Larger weapons are harder to hide, all other things being equal.  Plus, how you act is very important as well… the best concealment in the world can be blown by absently putting your hand on your weapon and/or rig to adjust it while waiting in line at the grocery store.  Get a good rig that doesn’t need adjustment, and don’t adjust it, at least not where people can see, ok?

It’s vital that you try on a holster before you buy it, if for no other reason than to find out if it actually concealed on your body frame.  What conceals for your buddy, or the magazine writer that penned that wondrous write up on the XZY 2000 holster, or the mega-sporting goods store clerk, may or may not conceal on you the same way.  TRY IT FIRST!  If in doubt about how well it conceals, ask a friend, a passerby, the store clerk, find a mirror, whatever… make sure that it hides properly.

Now, there’s a fine line between “realistically hidden” and “vanished into thin air”.  If you can see it, knowing where to look exactly because you just put it there, that doesn’t mean that every person passing by is gonna start bleating “man with a gun!”.  If you can see a small telltale, realize that it’s because you know where to look and why to look.. the vast majority of the population doesn’t.  However, the fewer tells you can give off, the better.  Aim to have fewer tells whenever possible within reason.

Also keep in mind that, unless you wear the same set of clothes all the time, the holster that works so well with what you had on when you tried it on, may or may not work as well with your “Sunday go to meeting” clothes, or your “working on the lawn” clothes, or your “taking the spouse to the grocery store” clothes.  I’m sure you get my drift.  Not everything works with everything all the time… be prepared to be creative.

Concealed Carry Tips – Overview

I started to write this as one long post, and quickly realized that my traditional “long winded and wordy” style might end up writing the blog equivalent of War and Peace, so I decided that it would be better for everyone’s sanity if I were to break it up a bit.  Besides, that gives me more google bait, er, informative articles on my site… 🙂

And so, without further ado….

I won’t claim to be an expert on the matter, but in the past few years, spending nearly every weekend at one gun show or another, talking to thousands of people about what works and doesn’t work for them, I’ve managed to come up with a thing or two to think about regarding concealed carry techniques.

First and foremost, there is one thing that is true 100% of the time… there is no such thing as a perfect concealed carry system.  Everything is a trade off to one extent or another, and even when you find a good system for you, it won’t necessarily -always- be the answer for you, because circumstances change.  What works well in the dead of winter, might be a bit obvious in the heat of summer, for example…

Now, if you are a grizzled old veteran of concealed carry, you probably know all this already.  I’m writing this more for those people who are just thinking about “what do I do when I get my CCW license?”, to help get them thinking in the directions of solving the riddle that is “what do they do”… because it’s just that, a riddle, not a pat answered question that some “expert” can rattle off without even looking at you.

Everything is a trade off, but what elements are you trading?  Well, every concealment rig or system has elements of the following:

[1] Concealability. If the weapon isn’t hidden, then you have a big honking problem usually.  An obvious weapon isn’t “concealed”, it scares the passersby, and it gives away your advantage.  Plus, it tends to attract curious law enforcement officers that want to know what part of “concealed” you failed to understand.

[2] Comfort. If the rig isn’t comfortable, you aren’t going to carry it very often.  Carrying a weapon “only when you expect to need it” is kind of like wearing your safety belts in your car “only when you expect to be in an accident”.  Unless you happen to work for the psychic friends network and can accurately predict the future, get over this malarkey and get used to carrying 100% of the time, excepting of course those times and places prohibited by law.  And then, carry to those places and from those places, just not AT those places.  🙂

[3] Accessibility/retention. Two sides of the same coin.  If the gun isn’t accessible, it’s probably useless, if it’s not where it’s supposed to be when it’s supposed to be there, it’s worse than useless.

[4] Cost and durability. Lets face it, the most perfect holster in the world does you no good if you can’t afford to buy it and use it.  And if the holster falls apart on you, or fails to operate as advertised when you need it, it doesn’t matter how cheap it was, it still cost too much.  🙂

That’s the highlights, now we have to get into the specifics….

Concealed Carry Tips – Price and Affordability

Now, you are probably wondering why I’m addressing Price and Affordability… because, as the old saw goes, what is your life worth, right?  Well, as true as that pithy saying may be, the fact of the matter is that we all have to make choices, and one of those choices that we make is “how much can we afford”.  Price and affordability is just another one of the trade-offs that we have to deal with when finding a good concealed carry rig.

To state the obvious here… if you are willing to pay more, you probably will end up getting more.  However, it’s not a given that you have to pay more to get a good concealment rig, it all depends on what works well for you.

To state another fact that should be obvious, there is such a thing as too cheap… if the holster doesn’t perform to spec, or worse yet, performs and then fails miserably, it doesn’t matter how cheap it was, it was way too expensive in the long run.  At best, a cheap holster may embarrass you by dropping your gun during a failure.  You could easily end up in legal trouble if your holster failed and showed your weapon in public, and in the worst case scenario, someone is hurt or killed because the holster failed.

Make sure that the holster that you pick fits you properly, holds the gun properly, and appears to have a high quality of construction and materials.  If you are uncertain about any of these issues, perhaps you should wait until you find something that you are more certain of.    After all, it’s only your life and the lives of your loved ones at stake here…

Seriously, though, picking a good holster is an integral part of carrying concealed, and picking the right holster FOR YOU is an especially important part of the process.  You may go through a holster or two (or ten) before you find a few sets that you really like… but when you weigh the options, that’s better than not carrying at all.

One other thought: There is no “one right answer” for everything. Even if you find a good selection that works for you, it’s not going to work with every scenario you might have for it. Find two or three different styles of carry that you like, so you can change up when you need to. I say this, not because I’m trying to sell you more holsters, but because the more options you have, the more likely you are to actually carry all the time, and that’s what’s necessary to be ready when life throws you a curve ball.