Gunfight Science: Concealed in Plain Sight

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Selecting the proper handgun and holster is imperative when it comes to concealed carry.

They stand right behind you in the checkout line of the grocery store. They stroll past as you walk to your car after work. They sit across from you in the restaurant where you are enjoying dinner. These people are concealed carry proponents and they are armed while still appearing to be just another face in the crowd. They have mastered hiding in plain sight. The concealed-carry movement has expanded dramatically over the last several years with more and more people looking for the peace of mind that having a handgun on them in day-to-day life brings. To many it is a natural extension of who they are. These people find it easy to carry concealed, yet there is a large percentage of gun owners that may be just cutting their teeth in the concealed carry weapon (CCW) world. With that in mind, it’s worth a few minutes of our time to look at what goes into CCW, and how we can carry while showing no outward signs.

There are many components that go into successful CCW. First, we will discuss firearms. The choices are many and growing. The CCW gun market has exploded with many manufacturers offering an entire line of concealed-carry pistols. While the focus has been on micro pistols, I encourage you to also consider full-size handguns. With the proper gear and clothes they can easily be concealed.

Choosing a Handgun

Kimber’s K6s is chambered in .38 Special and .357 Magnum, and offers serious firepower in a concealable package.

As a rule of thumb, I suggest that the smallest caliber you carry is .380. This is considered by many to be the floor in regard to defensive power. At the top end, I suggest no more than .45 ACP. A hand cannon may be a serious fight stopper, but the chore of carrying that firearm on your person is problematic. The firearm must also be very comfortable to shoot. If it isn’t, then you will tend to train less with it and that creates a huge problem.

You MUST train with your CCW weapon. As with many things, I encourage you to go try several models before you buy. In the smaller gun realm, the Glock 43 is a good choice as is the Kimber Micro 9 for 1911 fans. Revolver wise I am a fan of the Kimber K6s in .357 Magnum.

Holster Up

Now that you have selected a handgun, let’s get you into a holster. There is no shortage of holster options in the CCW world. From exotic leathers to rigs designed to be attached to a bra, the choices are endless. The two most common holsters are an inside the waistband holster (IWB) and an outside the waistband holster (OWB). There are a few items to consider in picking a holster.

Proper holster fit will help shooters comfortably hide in plain sight.

Comfort and durability are the top two considerations. The loops and or belt fasteners of the rig need to be high-quality and rugged. This is where most holsters will fail as thin plastic clips break off. A company known for high-quality rigs is Alien Gear. They offer a variety of options. While Kydex seems to rule the roost right now, leather is a great option as well. If you go that route, know that there is a breaking-in period. One of the elder statesmen in the leather holster world is Galco and for a good reason. Founded in 1969, Galco has a longstanding history of producing high-quality leather rigs. If you are going to go au naturel, they are worth a visit. If possible, I encourage you to try before you buy. Try the holster on and walk around with it. Have a seat and see if it has any sharp or uncomfortable edges that show themselves. A well-made holster will be with you for years.

Heading to the Closet

Companies like Vertx offer high-quality clothing that allows users to blend into the crowd. Photo Courtesy: Vertx

Now onto clothing. The painful truth is that we need to dress around our firearm. For those who are extremely fashion conscience this can be a pain, but it is a necessity. You need to make a choice. You can remain stylish yet make concessions for the blaster on your hip. For the most part pants need to be a bit larger than normal in the waist if you are going to carry with an IWB holster. Shirts need to provide sufficient room so your gun does not print or become obvious because the shirt is too tight. Printing occurs when the handgun and holster shows the outline underneath your clothing. Cooler weather allows for the greatest asset we have, which is a jacket.

It is important to remember that the idea of concealment goes beyond just your firearm. You need to conceal yourself as well. What I mean by this is that you should avoid standing out in a crowd. While your handgun may be concealed, your woodland camouflaged pants, infidel t-shirt and Glock hat make you a target. There are options as many companies are making clothes to bridge this gap. Pants wise, some of the best come from Vertx. Their Delta stretch pants allow great function for CCW applications yet are mostly benign to the average citizen. They are comfortable and a great option.

Practice, Practice, Practice

There is no substitute for spending time on the range practicing drawing and firing from concealment.

The check list is almost complete but there is one more thing we need to factor in: practice. You must practice drawing and shooting from your concealed-carry rig. There are many moving parts, including clearing your shirt away enough to get the gun out without interfering with the draw. This takes training and practice to do well. Carrying a gun is serious business and if you need to draw it, it will be a bad situation. You need to have mastered the fundamentals of not only carrying the gun, but getting it into the fight. Taking a firearm training course from top-notch professional can help you continue to hone your skills and drawstroke.

Hopefully you will never have to use it, but it is better to be prepared than caught off guard. With some thought, practice and training you can easily conceal your gun in plain sight.

To learn more about the Kimber K6s, click http://www.kimberamerica.com/pistols/revolver.

To learn more about the Glock 43, click https://us.glock.com/products/model/g43.

To learn more about Alien Gear holsters, click http://aliengearholsters.com.

To learn more about Galco holsters, click http://www.galcogunleather.com.

To purchase a concealed carry handgun on GunsAmerica, click https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=concealed%20carry.

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Puz July 5, 2017, 8:28 am

    If you wear dockers or semi-dress pants and opt for IWB (appendix carry), choose pleated slacks. It will disguise the firearm’s outline; aka: printing. Source: Concealed Carry Revealed.

  • Andy July 4, 2017, 8:40 am

    I used to purchase size “XL” shirts. Since I started concealed carrying, I started purchasing “XL Tall” shirts. It makes a big difference to keep that hem long and help with concealment.

    • Jeff Polaski August 14, 2017, 2:51 pm

      For the very casual crowd, I buy all my t-shirts and pullovers from Duluth Trading, which adds 3″ to the length, ostensibly to cover “plumber’s butt”. Comfortable.

  • DaveGinOly July 4, 2017, 1:09 am

    “While your handgun may be concealed, your woodland camouflaged pants, infidel t-shirt and Glock hat make you a target.”
    This is just as much of a myth as the anti-gun “shall-issue permitting will lead to blood in the streets” and other such nonsense. Can anyone name just one instance in which a concealed carrier was targeted because of his or her clothing or mode of dress (e.g., shirt unbuttoned and shirt tails out)? A mass shooting in which even an open carrier was shot first? It just doesn’t happen. Anything that gives someone away as a carrier is more likely to cause a potential shooter to go pick a softer target. (As criminologists have found in interviews with prison inmates and as supporters of carrying have long told us. Isn’t the latter true? If it isn’t, they why is it so oft repeated – or contradicted as by the sentence quoted from the article?).

  • John Dickinson July 3, 2017, 8:31 pm

    Open carry seems to be sweeping the nation. It is less hassel, and is applauded by most, in the not so liberal crowd. It is so common where I live, (in Utah) that if you don’t, you’re strange….However, I do conceal my 9mm Makarov, but will also carry the Ruger Blackhawk .45LC. Move out West where a sidearm is normal..

  • Tom S. July 3, 2017, 5:14 pm

    Just for the record, I am 66 and have been doing this for a long time. There is no holster that is comfortable IWB, especially behind the hip. The most comfortable position, is the “not so accepted” appendix position, with a short barrel under 3.5 inches. I carry OWB in a Galco whenever over garments allow, very comfortable.

  • Ron Stidham July 3, 2017, 3:46 pm

    Good article, inside the waist band-full size 1911. Its a little harder to cover with just a t-shirt, but I prefer this weapon to the little guns that don’t fit my hand. In a crisis situation, being comfortable with what you carry is very important!
    Do what feels good, and stay on guard. Practice make perfect, try some real life stress in your sessions. That will help prepare for when things go wrong.

  • Mister Ronald July 3, 2017, 1:16 pm

    First thing is you need to be able to get your gun out easily while sitting down without a lot of contortions because when sitting in a restaurant and a shooter comes in, You need to get the gun out easy & fast. Same when sitting in your car.
    My opinion is this and it works well for me. My Glock 43 in A Tagua outside form fitting leather holster that keeps my gun high and against my body. I cover with my T-Shirt because where I live “IT IS HOT” I can be sitting and get the gun out with almost no movement other then my slow moving right arm.
    Second thing and this is very important, “””KEEP CALM””” This is something that is possible but really needs for you to “TRAIN YOUR BRAIN” to do.( You ain’t gonna hit a thing if your shaking and not thinking straight)
    Next and probably the most important thing you can do is PRACTICE – PRACTICE – PRACTICE and more PRACTICE.
    And “THINK” before you pull that gun out. Be certain it is absolutely necessary.( This goes along with keeping calm)

  • Vic vapor July 3, 2017, 11:15 am

    good article, Fred.!

    It is a tough decision regarding garb to where…. exercise individuality,
    or,
    blend into the crowd.
    Even to the T-shirt, should it be plain or Remington, or Hello Kitty.
    If someone can tic it off a checklist of identifiability, then you may not be blending. Keeping “everything” unnoticed helps in the stealth
    for concealed carry.

  • Joseph July 3, 2017, 10:41 am

    The author lists practice as the last thing on the list. And it is probably the most important thing for an immediate positive outcome. But I would add learning what to do after a confrontation as the last thing on the list for a long term positive outcome. You can do everything right. But what you do and say afterwards can have very serious consequences. If your CCW class doesn’t cover it, find an additional class that does.

  • Marc July 3, 2017, 8:06 am

    Anything tactical is a dead giveaway. I agree with Robert Jeans are best; just wish that some company would add a bite of elastic to the waistline.

    • Dre July 3, 2017, 8:42 am

      American Eagle outfitters makes their extreme-flex line of jeans that are slightly stretchy and offer a very comfortable and stylish fabric blend. They also won’t break the bank like purpose build tactical clothing, simply because they are a large company with widespread appeal and thus volume that brings price down. I wear them every day I can outside work and they conceal very comfortably.

    • bmaverick July 3, 2017, 9:15 am

      Oh, there are many many many jeans with elastic. Howbeit for …. WOMEN.

      Yes, jeans with elastic not only will help , but people that work on farms and homesteads too.

      As an additional item, a good flat tethered belt that has a bit of elastic helps too.

    • SCPistolero July 3, 2017, 9:40 am

      Take a look at Wrangler jeans and jean shorts with the Comfort Waistband. I found the jeans at Wal-Mart and shorts on Amazon. You can wear them in your natural waist size and they are outstanding for concealed carry. I regularly carry a full size 45s in comfort.

  • srsquidizen July 3, 2017, 7:53 am

    You seem to assume the attacker is going to be a jihadist savvy enough to evaluate and take out any armed infidels first. While that scenario is not impossible obviously, ISIS and their ilk tend to carry out attacks where lawful concealed carry by civilians is virtually impossible. That way they can be sure nobody will shoot back until the cops arrive.
    OTOH somebody wearing fatigues, Glock hat, Gadsden t-shirt etc. that say “don’t even think it scumbag” is probably not going to be first choice of victim for your run-of-the-mill mugger/robber/rapist, the kind that can lurk just about anywhere and preys on whoever looks vulnerable. I don’t typically dress that way myself but I wouldn’t criticize anybody who chooses to.

    • DEFENDER August 14, 2017, 12:30 pm

      And the reason the ISIS types attack at Gun Free Zones is they do not fear death(they know they are going to die and get 40 virgins) what they fear is not being able to kill a large number of people so the best choice is Gun Free Zones. Why the “Left Wing nuts” refuse to admit this is also beyond reason.

      As for your average street hoodlum “Leroy” – they are pretty sharp and looking for easy “marks”: The old, weak, infirm & unaware/distracted women, etc.

      As for “looking tactical”, pants etc – at 70yo I wear tac pants with knives showing, gun concealed, a Patrol Cap, ie x-mil,etc. I want Leroy to look at me and say hmm – maybe Not “that” old bastard. Again – they would be right to think that.

      Also if I see them(Leroy) lurking, I try to catch one of them with a direct short look straight into the eye, maybe a quick nod – not to threaten but enough to say, I know what and who you are and I am ready.

  • Robert July 3, 2017, 4:23 am

    I don’t know if I would say that Vertex tactical pants are a great option for “blending in.” In my opinion, there is nothing better for blending in than blue jeans.

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