Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.
We’ve all heard the axiom: Concealed carry is supposed to be comforting, not comfortable. But there are degrees of comfort depending on how and what you carry. Here are my five most comfortable concealed carry locations, in alphabetical order. Yes, type/size of gun and type/quality of holster matter. For today, let’s just assume the gun carried is relatively small in size and light in weight. I’ll reveal my favorite carry location at the end.
Carrying a small handgun on your ankle requires an ankle holster, most of which combine materials including leather, neoprene and sheepskin to create a stable carrier for your gun. The pros of carrying concealed in an ankle holster include superior concealment — as long as you’re wearing pants — and relatively good comfort. The cons include accessibility. It just takes longer to get a hand to your ankle, clear your pant leg out of the way and draw.
Also known as 1 or 2 o’clock, this inside-the-waistband carry location — depending on your build — offers a little more space or freedom than other IWB locations, especially when standing. Holsters might be made of leather, plastic or another material. Other than a straight drop or a slight reverse cant, these holsters are not a whole lot different than other holsters for other locations around your belt. The pros of appendix carry include excellent concealment and fast access. The cons include — again, depending on your build — the gun digging into your gut when you sit. Also, there’s the matter of your gun’s muzzle. While holstered, it can end up pointing at your femoral artery.
3. Outside the Waistband
Perhaps the original location for carrying a handgun, plenty of holsters exist today for OWB carry. The pros include superior location — on a strong side, the gun is right where your hand is when at your side — and therefore fast draw speed. The cons include the possibility of less concealability than other modes of carry since the gun rides outside your waistband.
Any gun being concealed in a pocket should be in holster designed for pocket carry. Anything else and you’re risking a negligent discharge. The pros of a pocket holster include excellent concealment and the ability to get a hand on a gun, ready to draw, without anyone knowing it. The cons include reduced access when sitting, and depending on the type of gun and pocket, slightly slower draw speed.
No longer the domain of federal agents or vice cops, shoulder holster systems are more prevalent than ever. The pros include very good concealment and the even distribution of the gun’s weight across your shoulders instead of on just one side of your gun belt. Over the long haul, that might save your spine. The cons include the need for a really good covering garment and, depending on the make/model of shoulder holster, some flopping of the holstered gun when moving around.
Granted, the pros and cons of each are somewhat subjective and perhaps there’s no one concealed carry solution that’s the best. After all, we’re all built different, we carry different guns, we have different wardrobe requirements and we have varying budgets. Moreover, we can’t isolate the comfort factor from the myriad other factors related to the kinds of guns carried and how we carry them. True to the axiom, carrying a handgun for self-defense is a serious enterprise, not merely relegated to or evaluated by mere comfort. Aspects, such as speed and draw preference, are crucial.
But you know all this. I included it, however, because my preferred mode of concealed carry is the most comfortable for me because it is also the fastest and what I am most familiar with. It’s what I’ve trained to do. And it’s the mode of carry I do most often.
Most of the time, I carry a small and light gun. And, most of the time, I carry at 1 o’clock — more commonly known as appendix carry. One of my favorite holsters for appendix carry is made by Cover6. The carrier is made of strong but soft leather and it attaches to my gun belt via a single steel clip. The clip pivots at its attachment point, so I can put a slight reverse cant on the gun. This usually puts the gun’s stocks resting on my gun belt. I could tuck in a shirt over the Cover6 holster and gun, but I never do. The steel clip would show and I would have a bulge in my beltline that would attraction attention instead of being discreet. So I keep whatever shirt I’m wearing untucked and everything remains hidden.
As for access, it’s a one or two-handed operation to get my gun out. I might pull up my shirt with my weak hand and draw with my strong hand. Or I might use my strong side thumb to get under my shirt while going for a draw with the same hand. Either way, it’s fast.
As for comfort — the focus of this article — I find it hard to beat appendix carry. I stand a lot and sit a little, which certainly helps. But even when I’m sitting, my average frame and build can accommodate a holstered gun without much discomfort at all. But here’s where we get into a dicey area of concealed carry — where the muzzle of a holstered gun points. Sitting with a handgun concealed at 1 o’clock results in the muzzle pointing right into my pelvis, which bothers me. The trigger is safely enveloped inside the holster, which resides between my body and my gun belt. I am totally aware of where the muzzle is pointing, but given the highly unlikelihood of a negligent discharge, I am comfortable with this setup. At this point, my main concern is with my technique in drawing my gun — trigger finger outside of holster and remaining outside of the gun’s trigger guard until sights are on target and I need to shoot.
Admittedly, I have a second preferred location for concealed carry for those times when appendix carry won’t work or isn’t sitting well with me. Outside the waistband, strong side, provides great comfort and good concealment. Covering garments have to be just right, of course. Draw speed is good but not quite as fast as appendix carry. But the muzzle never crosses my body. And that’s comforting in its own way.
What’s your most comfortable location for concealed carry? What’s your take on appendix carry?
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