The Best Solutions for Any Concealed Carry Method

Imagine there was a shop you could go to and pick a gun, ammo, and a concealed carry method that was customized for your body style and size, work environment, experience level, and budget to provide you with the best setup possible. My parents owned a retail clothing shop, and I worked in the men’s clothing shop of a department store in the few months prior to my enlistment in the Army. That’s what gave me the idea of using the retail wardrobe environment to portray the idea of helping you choose the setup that works best for you.

I’ve been carrying concealed for almost 20 years. During that time, I’ve been an instructor and a writer/reviewer which has enabled me to try multiple carry guns and holsters. I’m not a typical armed citizen because I’m in the business of helping others to be properly armed. During the time I’ve been carrying a gun, I’ve gone from being an active walker to relying on a wheelchair. I’ve gone from being a normal-sized person to being a way overweight person.

Crossbreed SuperTuck leather and Kydex holster with a Taurus semi-auto handgun inserted
The author’s first concealed carry combo was this Taurus 24/7 in a Crossbreed SuperTuck holster. This combination still works well, but smaller guns have come to dominate the CCW environment.

A few years ago, I wrote an article based on an oft-discussed fact about holsters and how finding the right holster is an ongoing struggle for many of us. There are so many options when the choice of gun has already been made. Changing guns brings even more variable to be considered. Most of the carry guns 20 years ago were either double-stack full-size guns or pocket guns.

Time has added single-stack nines, micros, double-stack micros, various mouse guns, snubbies, double-action revolvers, and other guns that defy logical grouping. Over the years, I’ve made multiple carry decisions for myself, clients, and friends who have come to me for help. I’ve changed my carry method a couple of times along the way. So, let’s put on our “You’re the customer and I’m the store clerk.” hats and get started.

The Basics – A Good Gun Belt

Before you think about carrying in a holster at your waist, you must wisely choose a good gun belt. Most of the companies that sells holsters, also sells belts specifically designed for the added weight of carrying a gun. These may be leather, or they may be one of the newer tactical, nylon ratchet belts such as the Nexbelt. Either type belt needs to be 1.5 to 1.75 inches in width and stiff enough to hold the clip on the holster securely. My first gun belt was a leather one made by Crossbreed, but now I am very comfortable with a nylon tactical EDC belt from Nexbelt.

IWB Holsters

Carrying in an IWB concealment holster works best if you can wear a polo-style shirt with the shirttail out. Since you’re in my imaginary shop to get fitted, I’d like to introduce you to the Propper brand of polo shirt. These shirts are designed for concealed carry. Because of relaxed guidelines for business casual, I’ve been able to wear these shirts in most environments where I worked.

Bullard Leather IWB holster with a SIG P226 handgun inserted
The author’s favorite leather IWB holster is this Bullard Leather Company holster. Built for a SIG P226, this holster accommodates several double-stack semi-autos. The author has the same holster cut for his 1911s.

Scenario 1 – Full-size semi-automatic in Kydex inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster. This will work with guns such as the Glock 19, S&W M&P, Springfield XD, SIG P226, P229, or P320. Lots of other guns fit into this category, and it may be necessary to specify a holster to fit the gun. My first choice of holsters in this category was the Crossbreed SuperTuck. That’s still an excellent choice. I’ve also successfully used the following with this type of gun and carry method: Alien Gear Cloak Tuck, DeSantis Intruder, and Galco TacSlide.

Scenario 2 – Full-size semi-automatic in leather holster. I love leather, especially when carrying a 1911 or an all-metal double-stack semi-auto. My favorite holsters in this category are made by a Texas Company, Bullard Leather Co. I have Bullard holsters for Government and Commander-size 1911s and a SIG P226. That 226 holster has carried at least 20 additional types of mid-size semi-automatic pistols. I know the holster makers would rather you buy a custom holster for each gun type you may have, but when you look at these guns, so many of them are so similar it just makes sense that there be some crossover with the holsters.

When I was teaching in-person concealed carry classes every week, we typically had three instructors in the room during the session we did on holsters. We represented three different body styles. One guy was beanpole skinny, another was what I’d call normal-size, and I was the overweight guy.

We were each wearing a rather large gun at the three o’clock position under our shirts. Two of us were wearing IWB holsters and the other an outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster. At some point we’d all lift our shirts to show off what we were carrying, and the class members were generally amazed that they had been around us all day and had no indication that we were carrying such big guns.

Scenario 3 — You don’t, or can’t, wear a belt. Maybe you wear scrubs at work, or maybe a pantsuit. Maybe you wear shorts or a jogging suit. In these types of dress, a belly band holster is usually your best bet. The brand I’ve worked with most is Comfort Tac through Personal Security Products. Blackhawk, DeSantis, Galco and other holster makers have them, too.

OWB Holsters

People in uniform usually wear OWB holsters, and many of these have security devices on them. That’s a topic for another discussion, but in general, many of the IWB holsters easily convert to OWB simply by turning the belt clips around. Because I wear my shirttail out, OWB works fine for me, should I choose to go that route. I use such a simple OWB solution that you might look on it with skepticism. I did, until I tried it, and I was amazed.

Bianchi 101 Foldaway holster with a Ruger 1911 .45 ACP pistol on a man's belt
The Bianchi 101 Foldaway holster will accommodate a variety of handguns in an OWB environment.

The solution is a belt slide holster. Several companies make them. I have them in black and in brown, two sizes each, made by Bianchi and branded as the Foldaway 101 Belt Slide holster. I can carry darn near every pistol I have securely in one of these minimalist holsters. Just slide it onto your belt whenever you get dressed, and when you’re ready to go armed, slip one of your loaded handguns into it.

Appendix Carry

Early adapters of what has become known as appendix carry had a hard time selling many of us on the idea of having a loaded gun pointing at the most treasured parts of our body. But if you understand the safety mechanisms built into modern handguns, you learn to trust them. For me, the key to making this work is a new kind of holster. The holster is made from Kydex and molded to the gun, with a single belt clip that holds the gun vertically. The holster also has an adjustable tension in various areas of the holster.

Most of my holsters of this type are made by Incognito Concealment, but similar holsters are made by Safariland, Taurus, CrossBreed, and others. The biggest gun I carry in the appendix position is a Springfield Echelon, and for this I have a CrossBreed holster.

Man carrying a firearm in the appendix position
Appendix carry has become very popular, especially with the proliferation of so many small, high-capacity handguns.

I have most of the smaller guns that have helped make appendix carry popular such as the Springfield Hellcat, SIG P365, Glock 43X, S&W Shield Plus, and Ruger Max 9, just to name a few. With one of these new vertical-type Kydex holsters, these guns practically disappear when you put them on. The guns wear comfortably, and the draw stroke is easy.

As you leave my fitting room, I have one last bit of advice to pass along. Appendix carry will work just as well for a woman as for a man — if the woman is willing to wear a belt and cover the gun with a shirttail. A gun carried in this manner is a lot more accessible than carrying one in your purse, and it really is comfortable.

Do you prefer IWB or OWB holsters for concealed carry? Which carry position do you prefer and why? Which position would you recommend someone new to concealed carry start out with? Share your answers in the Comment section.

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