Let’s take a look at the options for carrying a concealed weapon.
For men, there are twelve basic options:
- A loose shirt over belted pants with an inside the waistband (IWB) or outside the waistband (OWB) holster
- A tucked shirt with an IWB holster
- A vest, sweatshirt, or sweater over a tucked shirt with an IWB or OWB holster
- A jacket or coat with a shoulder holster
- A closer cut outfit with a belly band
- Leggings or undergarments with built-in holsters
- Attached to the beltline in a fanny pack or a holster
- OWB in a holster that mimics a phone case
- In a thigh holster under sweatpants or stretchy pants
- In long, wide leg pants with an ankle holster
- In a roomy pocket with a sticky holster
- Off body with a specially made daytimer or briefcase
Carrying concealed weapons goes all the way back to the Bible. In Judges 3: 12-30, Ehud the left-handed judge of Israel strapped a knife to his right thigh and went to see Eglon the king of Moab about a matter of tribute.
Spoiler alert: they frisked him but only checked the left thigh, and he was able to assassinate the king. It’s a quick read and a great story. I recommend it.
Ehud’s eighteen-inch double-edged broadsword was cutting-edge and his method of concealment was brilliant. That arrangement would not have suited me because my thigh is only 12 inches long. Maybe he did not have to sit down at the king’s house.
The choice between comfort and fashion is often rehashed in gun forums and gun magazines because it is an issue that confronts us every morning when we get dressed.
The standard American outfit for men in the twenty-first century is a shirt and a pair of pants. Variations abound, but typically he wears something with a waistband and a shirt that flows over that waistband or tucks into it.
Comfort First: Untucked Shirt and Belted Pants
For a gun guy the default is a loose button-down Hawaiian shirt with a pair of jeans or dress pants. The looseness gives him extra room for the lump at his waist where he carries his gun. Brownell’s carries a line of tactical pants with lots of pockets.
The pattern of the Hawaiian shirt creates visual movement, and a dark color palette will further help hide the lump. This guy can easily carry outside the waistband with a strong belt supporting a holster that clips on the outside. Relentless Tactical makes a beautiful leather OWB holster.
He just needs to make sure his shirt is long enough to cover if he raises his arms or bends over. He can position his holster for appendix carry, so named because the gun is in the general vicinity of the appendix, somewhere between the hip and the navel.
You may also hear the waistband referred to metaphorically as a clock, with the navel at twelve and the spine at six. Appendix carry is therefore located around one thirty to two on the right side if three is directly at the hip.
A right handed shooter may position the gun on his right for an easy reach or on his left with the grip pointed toward his navel for a cross-draw. Reverse the direction of the grip for a left handed shooter.
Some prefer to wear the gun on the back, about where the kidney sits. Using the clock metaphor for a right handed shooter, this is around five. Drawing the gun from this position involves reaching around behind you.
Carrying at the back tends to be easier to spot because your back is likely to be flatter than your belly, making the shape of the gun more obvious.
Some carry at the middle of the back, right at six, but the chance for spinal injury if you fall backward is too big a risk with this approach.
Business Casual: Shirt Tucked Into Slacks
The man who must tuck in his shirt will favor an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster. This may clip to his belt with a V-shaped dip that allows tucking the shirt over the gun. We like the DeSantis Tuck-This II available at Optics Planet.
The only thing that will show is a small section of the clip where it overlaps the belt. Since men often clip a variety of things to their waistbands, from phones to flashlights, this is likely to be overlooked by the casual observer.
He may also go with a kangaroo-type pouch that covers his, um, frontal area, but that may interfere with going to the bathroom and is more likely to be favored by a female gunwearer. He might like the Hot Jox by DeSantis from Optics Planet.
Additional Layers For Extra Concealment
If it isn’t too warm outside, a man can put on a vest over his tucked-in shirt. Enough volume in the vest will allow the material to skim over his outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster without printing (showing the outline of the gun through the clothes).
A sweatshirt or a sweater on top of another shirt will also work but he loses the option of shedding a layer if he gets hot. If you have extra cash and a taste for the exotic, check out Galco’s leather belt holsters in ostrich, alligator, and shark.
Under a Jacket or Coat
If he is wearing a jacket and is committed to keeping that jacket on all day, he can wear a shoulder holster. The jacket will completely cover the holster and all but the most close-cut suits will conceal the gun nicely.
This look works well with business suits and formal wear. Be sure to specify a right or left handed holster. Don’t skimp on quality, because a poorly fitted shoulder holster is more frustration than it is worth.
Try this fully adjustable bullhide leather Relentless Tactical Shoulder Holster, available in right or left handed models for S&W Shield/Glock or 1911 models.
With a tighter shirt, such as exercise wear, a man may opt for a belly band. This is basically a corset that wraps around the waist with the gun snuggled right up to the belly.
It can make a nice outline, which is why women used to wear corsets, but the Velcro closure used in most belly bands will necessitate an undershirt to avoid scratchiness.
The insulation of the thick material will make a man more likely to avoid the belly band in hot weather. Here’s a belly band by Hidden Agenda, available at Relentless Tactical, that fits all types of handguns and comes with or without a zippered pocket.
Specialized Clothing With Built In Holsters
Our protagonist can buy leggings and even underwear with a built-in stretchy pocket for holding a very small gun. There will be built-in limits to the concealment afforded by this technique, but a loose T-shirt will help cover the gun.
The underwear method makes me wonder how many pairs you have to buy to make this an every day carry option, but it would come in handy when nothing else is working. Here’s a pair of men’s undies with a built-in holster at Optics Planet.
A Fanny Pack
If he is secure in his manliness, our hero can use a fanny-pack to carry his gun. There are specially designed fanny packs with built-in holsters.
This allows him to wear any tight, stretchy, or limited-coverage outfit he chooses. It will not be obvious to most observers that this is a place for a weapon.
In the Open But Disguised
Superman adds glasses and a suit to become Clark Kent. Our concealed carrier can buy a holster that looks like something else, such as a phone case.
Optics Planet carries an inexpensive Uncle Mike’s holster that looks like a PDA case and fits smaller pistols.
In order to follow Ehud’s example and use a thigh holster, a man will have to wear something with a stretchy waist such as sweatpants. When it comes time to draw the gun, he will have to reach down into his pants to find it.
I searched in vain for a men’s thigh holster. They make tactical holsters to go on the outside of the pants, but those are not for concealed carry. If he wants to wear sweats, he can go with a belly band.
Pants With Extra Leg Room
In long pants he has the option of strapping the gun on an ankle holster. The pant legs need to be on the loose and flowing side for that method to work. A pair of boots can provide sufficient cover if the holster sits high enough on the calf.
Galco makes a variety of ankle holsters for guns, personal belongings, and even a first aid kit. Here’s a lightweight neoprene ankle holster for a small gun from their website.
A man with deep pockets can use a pocket holster. As a woman, I am jealous of the pockets on men’s pants.
Deep and commodious trouser pockets can conceal a pretty hefty pistol, but that should be the only thing in that pocket. He won’t want pocket lint or chewing gum wrappers interfering with his draw or making their way into the working parts of the gun.
The sticky material used for pocket holsters can also ride on the inside of the pants next to the skin. The friction holds it in place. Here’s a Rangemaxx friction holster from Cabela’s.
Sizing Up the Options
Carrying concealed in the waistband probably means that a guy with a forty-inch waist will have to switch to size forty-two pants to accommodate the gun. Carrying outside the waistband can usually be done without sizing up.
Off Body Carry
For a man who has no place in his clothes for his gun, or who must go in and out of places where he cannot bring a weapon, off body carry is an option with briefcases and daytimers.
A man who carries off body must have control of the weapon at all times, so it must be under lock and key if it is not right next to him. Here’s a Vertx Backpack at Palmetto State Armory that conceals your gun and incorporates a ballistic panel so you can use it as a shield.
Tomorrow we will investigate the trickier world of female concealed carry.
When you are ready for individual or group instruction on any gun topic, contact Double Eagle Gunworks LLC. Chris will be happy to show you his ever-growing holster collection.
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