Four Tips to Maximize Concealed Carry Comfort

Editor’s Note: The following is a syndicated article by author Tamara Keel that first appeared in USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine Volume 15, Issue 3, April 2018 under the title, “Carry In Comfort.” 

If there’s anything that keeps people from carrying their handguns with them as they go about their daily business, it’s … well, probably laws or company policies. But the next most common reason would be issues of comfort. I’ve known many people who get their concealed carry permits with the best intentions of becoming armed citizens, only to become occasional toters or, worse, stop carrying altogether because the discomfort of packing heat causes them to leave their guns at home.

There are a number of simple pointers that might not be immediately apparent to the new handgun carrier that can dramatically mitigate any discomfort caused by carrying a gun. Done right, a concealed carry piece can be so comfortable that you stop noticing its presence and, indeed, might have to pat your holster to make sure it’s there before you leave the house.

The Flop

One of the first things to do is to “rightsize” your gun based on how you carry it. I say “rightsize” rather than “downsize,” because smaller is not necessarily more comfortable. Carried on the beltline, a barrel that’s too short tends to put too large a percentage of the gun’s mass above the belt.

If you’re carrying outside the waistband, too much weight above the belt can cause the butt of the weapon to sag outward. This is uncomfortable and can also make the gun in question impossible to conceal. Carried inside the waistband, too much of the gun above the beltline can cause the entire rig to flop out of the waistband under strenuous movement and hang there inverted, holster and all. One of the dimensional constants is that when carrying the gun inside the waistband, a thinner handgun is more comfortable.

Weighty Issues

The second thing to consider is that weight matters, and balance does too. An orthopedist will tell you that walking around all the time with an unbalanced load of a couple of pounds strapped to one hip is the ticket to gait issues and back problems down the road.

One solution is to lighten the load. Looming back issues are part of the reason I switched from a full-sized, all-steel 1911 to a polymer gun, although I could have switched to an alloy-framed 1911 or a Commander-sized gun as well.

Another remedy is to balance the load with a spare magazine carrier on the other side. That’s the natural place to carry an EDC flashlight as well, although I counsel against those double flashlight/spare magazine belt carriers. I’ve seen more than one person try to stuff Surefires into their pistols’ magazine wells mid-string.

Gear Check

The right belt will make carrying a lot more comfortable if you carry at the waistline. What the right belt looks like will vary some depending on your carry gun and its location on the belt, but the wrong belt always looks narrow and is usually braided. Carrying at or behind the hip, you’re going to want a fairly rigid belt that’s intended to carry a pistol. This will keep it from rolling over and causing the gun to flop and bounce as you move about. If you carry IWB in the appendix position, however, a more flexible belt will allow the holster to shift naturally when you sit and stand.

The right holster matters a lot too. In a pocket holster, it should fit the dimensions of the pocket well enough that it doesn’t have room to move around much in there. This can also be accomplished with a holster that has a tacky exterior that grips the pocket lining. On a belt holster, the belt loops should be sized to the belt to prevent it from sliding and shifting around. This is also an aid to a safer, more fumble-free draw, since if the holster is free to shift up on the draw before abruptly stopping, there’s a tendency to “double-pump” the draw — and that’s how fingers end up in trigger guards.

Keep It Simple

I personally avoid holsters that promise to do too much. If a holster boasts that it can be worn inside the waistband, outside the waistband, on the belt, clipped to the pants, mounted to a drop-thigh rig and converted to a shoulder holster, odds are good that it won’t be as comfortable and efficient at any one of those locations as a holster specifically designed for one place.

One final tip on comfort: With a belt holster, unless there’s some mechanical action locking the gun in place, like that on Safariland’s GLS, avoid any one that is advertised to fit multiple different makes and models of guns. One-size-fits-all holsters generally fit no particular size very well.

Keep these helpful hints in mind and you’ll be carrying in comfort for years to come.

Discover how you can join nearly 300,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.

***Buy and Sell on GunsAmerica! All Local Sales are FREE!***

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Willie-O April 22, 2019, 12:40 pm

    Carrying a gun will require a period of adjustment. It doesn\’t matter what gun, holster or position of carry – it will require a certain length of time to get used to it. Don\’t try to rush it. I\’ve carried a Glock 21 in an IWB holster for years and even though it is a big gun, I\’m not even aware of it being there anymore. Something that isn\’t really covered in the article is your clothing. If you carry concealed and want it to remain unnoticed, your choice of clothing is very important. Loose fitting \”upper\” garments (shirts, pullovers) are very helpful. Something else that helps a great deal is utilizing \”busy\” material – think Hawaiian shirts, stripes, patterns. All of these will minimize or eliminate printing and make it more difficult to notice the firearm underneath.

    • Pantexan April 23, 2019, 3:33 pm

      So good he said it twice.

  • Willie-O April 22, 2019, 12:00 pm

    Carrying a gun will require a period of adjustment. It doesn’t matter what gun, holster or position of carry – it will require a certain length of time to get used to it. Don’t try to rush it. I’ve carried a Glock 21 in an IWB holster for years and even though it is a big gun, I’m not even aware of it being there anymore. Something that isn’t really covered in the article is your clothing. If you carry concealed and want it to remain unnoticed, your choice of clothing is very important. Loose fitting “upper” garments (shirts, pullovers) are very helpful. Something else that helps a great deal is utilizing “busy” material – think Hawaiian shirts, stripes, patterns. All of these will minimize or eliminate printing and make it more difficult to notice the firearm underneath.

  • Paul January 2, 2019, 9:13 pm

    Blackhawk’s “sticky” style holsters work great IWB or pockets. They weigh virtually nothing, have no clips or loops. They can be removed or installed in seconds without even undoing your belt. Nothing is easier or lighter. I carry a S&W 642 in one everyday, everywhere. Works great with my Sig 320 sub-comp too. They cost $20.00. Not for joggers but around town you can’t beat them.

  • johnnyraygun December 30, 2018, 11:57 am

    Like most slender men, I just find it hard not to print. Oh course, if I dress in a clown costume, I would not print, but the police would become suspicious.
    Many firearm manufacture are making pocket carry pistols capable of carrying 10 round mags in .380 or 9mm. I pocket carry every day (back-up) even when I use an iwb holster.

  • bob December 28, 2018, 4:24 pm

    A good belt is the best thing you can buy to carry comfortably. I finally broke down and bought a Crossbreed belt, and let me tell you the difference it makes is phenomenal. I carry a full size IWB, and its a comfortable as carrying a full size can be. Bit of a warning, While the Crossbreed gun belt is an excellent belt, it will definitely take some time breaking it in,don’t get discouraged.

  • J. Smith December 28, 2018, 3:22 pm

    Outside of duty holsters, that require more technical or adaptive setups, I use the K.I.S.S principle. I use very thin flexible leather IWB holsters, many can carry several guns Like G42, or Smith shield. These are very comfortable, inexpensive, durable and do not add a lot of unwanted thickness and size to your rig. Unlike these crazy setups like crossbreed, etc…these things are like boards with enough retention to bungee jump with. Waistband and belt provide adequate retention through pressure against the body.

    For carry in suit I prefer tight snugging leather pancake holsters with or without snap retention, depending on weapon and threat environment. Pancake holsters help minimize the signature with OWB carry and ride very comfortable for all day carry and in and out of a vehicle. Additional for OWB, non-duty, kicking around the cabin or whatever, I prefer simple balckhawk holsters with or without their retention button, again depending on weapon and threat environment wher I’m not so concerned with signature or when and where I can wear bulkier clothing or jackets that can easily hide that signature.

    always been a fan of “Magnum PI” commando, small of the back. Yeah! Just kidding, isn’t that how the FBI tard was carrying it when he did the back flip and shot a by-stander?

  • JungleCogs December 28, 2018, 1:02 pm

    Remember to not ‘assume’ frame material weights (i.e. poly vs alloy). For example, my alloy framed Sig P938 is a few ounces lighter than my old S&W Shield was, and both are 3″ bbl micros.

  • Mike in a Truck December 28, 2018, 10:01 am

    As a USCCA member Ive read this twits “expert advice” before.A large pistol is more comfortable than a small pistol?Does she realize what a butthole statement that is? Theres a reason why pocket pistols are all the rage.Ill make her a $1000k bet.Lets ruck up-Ill hump a 20 pound rucksack and she can hump a 90 pounder.We’ll double time 2 miles over rough terrain and see who craps out first.( I do this twice a week)I bet Ive got at least 30 years on her bony ass.Theres a reason why I skip reading her articles in USCAA magazine.

    • Rotaman December 28, 2018, 12:07 pm

      You’re a bully, Mike.

    • AJ December 28, 2018, 4:23 pm

      USCCA Member… Hm I like how you pointed that out… Usually the ignorant tend to lead off with bigger words like “instructor”. So kudos for being honest.

      Insults aside, there is truth in this article. Whether you see it or not is on you. For example, a fullsize 1911 single stack will ride better than most poly guns out there. Not a 1911 guy, just stating fact. The 1911s slim profile and easy contours make it superb for almost any carry position you can fathom. Whereas, you have to be rather imaginative to conceal the bulge of a Glock the same way, especially when dressed in garments that don’t scream “I Carry!!”
      That being said, there was no mention of comparing a small or large frame. Only that you should find a gun that carries to your liking. Some may choose larger handguns because they are more comfortable for THEM. It’s preference.

    • JP January 5, 2019, 9:11 pm

      You’re quite the class act. 1. Ask people who know like Spencer Keepers of Keepers Concealment, the owner of Dark Star Gear, John Johnson of Ballistic Radio, larger is frequently more comfortable, particularly for AIWB. 2. With the amount she actually shoots, I’d wager She can outshoot you any day of the week. 3. Congrats on your fitness. Not germane to the topic at hand, but congrats. 4. Way to be a prototypical misogynistic gun guy. Really helping out the team.

  • Jerry Herndon December 28, 2018, 9:29 am

    Not here to necessarily pump up Remora Holsters, but I have one for everything from a Beretta 380, a CZ 75 Compact, and an FN p45. A wide range of sizes but they all work. You will forget you even have a gun on your hip and because it kind of molds gun to body, it is almost printless. Affordable too.

  • DC December 28, 2018, 4:39 am

    What about a pistol that is comfortable but the barrel pokes u in the back of the leg when carrying IWB at or near the 4 o’clock position

  • DC December 28, 2018, 4:37 am

    Great Article, what about a pistol that is comfortable but the barrel pokes u in the back of the leg when carrying IWB at around the 4 o’clock position

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend