Carry Light, Carry Right: Concealed Carry Tips

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Some tips on gear selection and methodology for a more comfortable concealed carry experience.

One serious consideration regarding holster selection is how easy the holster is to put on or take off. To the novice concealed carrier, this might not seem important, but it won’t be long until you realize there are times you need to take your gun off for a short time, and having to undo your belt to make that happen isn’t ideal.

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The Galco Royal Guard is a very well-constructed IWB holster that can easily be removed or put on with the two external snap straps.

I’ve been working with a Glock 43 a bit, and two holsters I’ve been using make this process seamless. The first is the Galco Royal Guard, an inside the waistband (IWB) holster. The two exterior straps are easy to undo, and the holster can simply be pulled out of the pants. It’s just as easy to put back on as well—and you never have to unfasten your belt. Well … you might need to tighten or loosen it for comfort.

The other is the Galco paddle holster. Paddle holsters sandwich the belt and pants between the holster and a paddle that fits on the inside of the pants. They’re incredibly comfortable—maybe the most comfortable way to carry OWB of any holster. A hook on the paddle helps hold the holster in place and keeps it from slipping out of your pants. It takes both hands to put this holster on or take it off, but you can do so without undoing your belt, and you won’t have to readjust your belt with or without the holster.

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A high-quality paddle holster, such as this Galco Speed Paddle, might be the easiest to put on or take off. It may not be the holster you wear the most, but it should probably be one of the holsters you have on hand.

Multiple holsters are something to consider when it comes to concealed carry. In the summer, when you’re not wearing a long cover garment, a holster like the Royal Guard that can be concealed by an untucked shirt makes good sense. In colder months, when you’re wearing a jacket, a paddle holster positions the gun just under the jacket for easy access. I always keep an IWB and an OWB holster for the gun I’m carrying in my truck, so that I can adjust my carry method for the situation and the weather.

CCW Clothing

I’ve mentioned the Barranti Leather Swift Cover Vest here before, but I think it, along with some thoughts about clothing for concealed carry, deserve revisiting. Most of the discussions about concealed carry revolve around the holster and carry location; what we often neglect is that it’s the clothing you wear that actually conceals the handgun.

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A lightweight vest, like the Barranti Swift Cover Vest, that’ll conceal your handgun during normal activities without restricting your movements or being too warm for indoor wear, is a good and stylish idea.

Jackets are a great way to hide a handgun regardless of where you carry it, but what happens when you get to where you’re going and have to remove your jacket? A vest—one that’s not heavy or too hot to wear—is a great solution.

That Barranti Swift Cover Vest is constructed of sturdy, lightweight canvas and is available in two colors: nutmeg or stone. Designed by a man who makes holsters—some of the best holsters in the world—for a living, it’s cut at just the right length to hide a handgun carried IWB and even OWB, depending on the holster and size of the gun. It also has small weights perfectly positioned to keep the vest in place and help with sweeping it out of the way when you’re drawing your gun. And, just as importantly, this vest looks pretty damned classy. It retails for $125 and is available with or without a lapel.

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Drawing from underneath the Swift Cover Vest. Photo: barrantileather.com.

The point of mentioning this vest is twofold. For starters, if it’s something that fits your lifestyle (and likely your taste), I’d suggest ordering one. Secondly, all of this should make you think about the clothing you wear when you’re carrying concealed. Pay attention to how long a coat or vest you might be considering is when you purchase it. Think about its material. Is it something that’ll hang up on your gun when you’re attempting to draw? Is it of a material that’ll stand up to the constant contact and rubbing of the grip of your handgun?

A comfortable holster is a damned important consideration for the concealed carrier. But the clothing you wear to hide your gun is just as important. Coats do a great job of hiding guns in cold weather, but what’ll you wear in the spring and summer? None of us want to dress like a tactard; we want to fit in and appear, well, normal.

Extra Ammunition

Another thing to consider when carrying concealed is if you’re going to carry extra ammunition … and where. There are lots of magazine and speed loader pouches on the market, and most will carry them on their offside. But you’ll need to conceal your reload, too.

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I wore a duty belt for 13 years, and it provided me with a means to carry all of my essential gear. I don’t do that anymore; now I work to find the best balance of comfort and security. Sometimes I’ll wear a pouch on my belt, but most often the reload goes in the pocket of my cover garment. This is another reason a lightweight vest makes sense.

Of course, you can get down a rabbit hole really quick here. Some will argue that, in addition to a reload, you need to carry a second reload, a second gun, a reload for the second gun, a less than lethal option (like pepper spray) and maybe even an impact weapon as well. In addition to that, they’ll suggest a pocketknife and a fighting knife. And let’s not forget, you’ll have a cell phone and a wallet that goes with you everywhere, every day, as well.

Somewhere within all this security, you must find some comfort and common sense. But maybe that’s best left as a topic for another time.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the 2021 CCW special issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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A former police officer and serviceman with the U.S. Army, Richard A. Mann is one of the most well-respected firearms authorities writing on the subject today. He serves as contributing editor for several magazines, including NRA’s American Rifleman and Shooting Illustrated, Varmint Hunter, and Combat Handgunner, and is the editor for Gun Digest’s Cartridges of the World 13th Edition.

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