Top Five Most Comfortable Concealed Carry Locations

What’s your preferred location when you carry concealed?

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.

1. Ankle

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.

2. Appendix

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.

4. Pocket

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.

5. Shoulder

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.

My Choice

Mark carries his Walther PPS M2 in his Cover6 Single Point Swivel.

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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{ 36 comments… add one }
  • Vic vapor July 17, 2017, 1:00 pm

    have tried several ankle holsters
    with a high standard Derringer
    and none would stay in place on the upper calf,
    ending up peaking out under the cuff line when sitting.
    Might give the one made out of neoprene a try before giving up.
    The LCP in the abdo phone case
    clipped to the waist band on the workout clothes or gym bag is working.
    And…yes, and the North American arms 22 mag
    in the pocket is working.
    Or the Taurus 85 ultra lite appendix carry holster with the swedge of neoprene added in back for comfort.

  • Bryan J. May 20, 2017, 1:29 pm

    Like some others, I’m a bit (heh) hefty and have trouble with inside-belt holsters. So, I carry outside, about 4 o’clock with a compact 1911 to reduce imprint. Since I also use a cane in my right hand, due to a bum ankle, I’ve gotten into the habit of practicing on the range with a drill that involves letting go of the cane and drawing in one smooth (as much as I can manage) motion. Muscle memory is a wonderful thing. Ankle holsters are right out for me — I’d fall over trying to bend over and pull from either a left- or right-ankle holster.

    So, I guess what I’m saying is that each person should find what works for them, given physical restrictions, which firearm is carried and willingness to practice. The last, of course, is always the key, as far as I’m concerned.

  • Bob W. May 9, 2017, 1:11 pm

    For all those that carry appendix, do you ever think about damage from your seat belt on your pelvis/groin area from the gun and holster in a crash? IWB appendix carry would be my favorite if not for that.

  • Dave May 6, 2017, 11:49 pm

    How about a cross draw belly band holster sitting slightly above the belt buckle right over the navel. With a wet suit neoprene front, even a hug from the girlfriend doesn’t reveal it’s a handgun. Rrarely get frisked over the navel area?

  • john creveling May 6, 2017, 12:03 pm

    I carry my S&W Shield in a OWB holster from Kirkpatrick Leather.It has belt loops in the center and back of the holster which keep it tucked close to my body.I tried an IWB but I have to cinch my belt too tight to be comfortable plus re holstering is problematic.I also carry it in a De Sanits pocket holster in my bib overalls which distribute the weight ,very comfortable and accessible.For deep concealment I carry my Khar P380 in a ankle or pocket holster.

    • Floyd Burdett May 8, 2017, 2:03 am

      For IWB I use a Kydex holster — self-made — that keeps it ‘open’ for re-holstering.
      One of the big reasons for re-holstering is that I do NOT want to be ‘tangled up’ with trying to put my “First Draw” weapon away if I am still engaged and need to go to my ankle carry “back-up”. And CERTAINLY do not want to drop it, nor stick a Hot Muzzle into my belt!
      But, for faster draw, and being able to carry there almost year around, I usually carry my primary in OWB in a “Sneaky Pete” for my sub-compact, or a similar design — also self-made” — for a larger 4″ compact.
      When riding my motorcycle — ALWAYS wearing a safety jacket — I carry a .38+P Revolver in my left pocket. [I am left-handed, and it is easier to let go of the left handlebar in most moving situations.] Otherwise, the revolver is my ankle back-up.

  • Stephen Stuckert May 5, 2017, 8:15 pm

    Mark, the ankle carry would be a lot more effective if, as a right-hander, you would have your holster properly located on the inside of you LEFT leg!

    • Floyd Burdett May 8, 2017, 2:14 am

      It can work well for either location, depending on personal preference and how you train…
      I can be just as quick, for many people, to pull the pant leg with the left hand and draw from the outside of the right ankle, as it would be for another person to reach across to the inside of the left ankle…
      Generally, it sort of depends on which leg you typically put forward as you kneel, and carry on that leg…

  • Jonny5 May 5, 2017, 4:50 pm

    I like a brown leather shoulder holster; comfortable AND old-school. Plus I can wear my favourite windcheater over it and still shoot to kill.

  • James C Green May 5, 2017, 2:17 pm

    I want to know, “who” has pants that are baggy enough to carry a weapon IWB?! I certainly don’t have a single pair I could do this with… and I’m not going to go out and buy a new wardrobe just for the purpose.

    • David D Hartman May 5, 2017, 5:50 pm

      My normal everyday pants (both khaki’s and jeans) are bought to fit me without a weapon (can’t carry one at work – government regs), but by loosening my belt one notch I can comfortably carry my full-size CZ IWB with draw and reholster capability. You would be surprised by how little room a holster and weapon take up.

    • James May 5, 2017, 6:25 pm

      I’ve been carrying IWB for over 15 years. I’m averaged build and have no issue with the pistol being too tight, the pants being restrictive, the placement causing issues while sitting/driving, and even printing is practically non-existent (much lower than external holster on the belt). My belt is looser by one setting to accommodate the IWB thin holster and pistol. To me it’s practically invisible and I don’t even notice it throughout the day. I’ve tried the larger shirt option to cover an external holster and it just doesn’t work for me. Plus, it’s not as comfortable or functional for everyday routines that I perform.

      In training class, years and years ago, the instructor said, “No one method works for everyone.” His point: it may not work for you but it may be perfect for someone else. I will never carry external, it doesn’t work for me. Apparently it works great for you. The point is find what works and keep doing it.

    • Clay L Hamann May 5, 2017, 11:32 pm

      I carry IWB everyday, and I pack a fullsized 1911 in a holster by UBG holsters on a custom gunbelt by Hamann Customs. Unless you wear your pants really tight, there is plenty of room.

    • Chris May 6, 2017, 4:17 pm

      Most of us aren’t wearing skinny jeans . . .

      Being overweight, I find 6 o’clock much more comfortable than appendix/

      • Ray June 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

        I also like SOB carry. However, hope you never fall flat on your back – it hurts with a gun there.

  • Ty W. May 5, 2017, 1:39 pm

    My solution is a compromise. I carry a NAA Pug in my strong side pocket and wear a S&W 642 in an ankle holster. Between driving and work I sit a lot, so easy to access the 642. The Pug would allow me to at least draw something quickly in case I didn’t have time to reach the ankle holster while standing. I know it’s not the best solution for everyone, but it works for me.

  • Mick May 5, 2017, 1:26 pm

    The most important thing for me is concealability and retention. I worked as a bouncer for 15 years and have been involved in hundreds of physical altercations over that time period. Most of these concealed carry locations would be disastrous in a scuffle or involuntary wrestling match. Some of them put the weapon exactly where someone’s hand would go if in a clinch, alerting them to the presence of your weapon while simultaneously placing it right under their hand in a location difficult to defend (ankle and 3-6 o’clock come to mind immediately). The average person (and law enforcement as well), is much more likely to be in a scuffle than a gunfight. For this reason, I am much more comfortable with front pocket carry. With the right sized pockets and loose fitting pants, the draw is very fast from standing, and not too bad from a seated position, even easier seated than appendix carry if you are a little chunky like me and have a belly in the way. I can puty hand on my weapon and tickle the trigger if I am in a bad situation, without anyone being the wiser, and can fit a suprisingly large sized handgun in my front pocket if my pants are dark and baggy enough. I have successfully carried large caliber high capacity handguns as large as a Para Ordnance P13, Para Ordnance P12, Glock 30, Glock 23, and even a SIG 229 in .40 once… It has all the advantages of appendix carry,:with better retention, better covert accessability, and most importantly it is not pointing at my junk or my femoral artery all day.

  • Dave Brown May 5, 2017, 12:21 pm

    I have tried all of them over the past 43 or so years, yep I am 65. U R missing one of the best ones. BEHIND THE BACK. Not just any behind the back carry, but a do it ur-self kind. I take a normal holster, convert it to left side inside carry. I add a little slant to it and may even raise the height of it. Slide this onto your belt just right of center. Here is the rub, the handguns handle is point right so you slide your hand palm out down your back. Done Deal. Everyone has a butt crack and a hollow in the small of their backs. The gun sits there just fine. It takes a little gettn use to, and sometimes you have to move it just a hair, but all forms of carry require these things. I carry about 6.5 inches overall and a shorter handle, but with a long holster and full size 1911 with a 1.4 inch comp on the muzzle will fit (just raise it up a couple of inches). Think about it, and try it. I can access my gun laying on my back, sitting, running, quick and easy. Good Luck, Be Safe, Dave

    • Larry May 5, 2017, 12:54 pm

      I’m 70 & I used to carry my S&W snubbie in a left handed holster in the small of my back. I’m right handed & it worked great in civvies or when working but in plain clothes. I now carry a Beretta 40 holding 10 plus 1 in a pocket holster. It fits in whatever pants I am wearing from dress to jeans to cargo shorts & it’s very comfortable. Only drawback is getting to it while sitting down. Be safe out there, Dave.

    • Jon Law May 5, 2017, 1:11 pm

      Mr. Brown.
      I hope you are never tackled and land on you back, or kicked in the back while carrying you weapon there. Crushed vertebra are a bitch to recover from.

    • Cyrus January 25, 2018, 7:07 am

      Finally – someone who carries exactly the way I do. I have tried them all and behind the back is the best and most comfortable solution I have found. I use the same exact method as Dave. I converted my holster as well. I carry an HK45ct without any issues or discomforts.

    • Klugey1 April 1, 2018, 11:47 pm

      I’d like to hear more about this method. I have a Kahr PM9 and a Sig Ultra Compact 1911 in 9mm, and they both fit perfectly in this Left side canted leather OWB holster pushed to small of back. How do you raise it, because that’s the only issue with putting the 1911 in there? It kinda hangs down just a little low for good concealment.

  • Jon Law May 5, 2017, 12:08 pm

    Just a little background. I started in law enforcement in 1971 and have been carrying daily ever since. Have pretty much carried appendix off duty for that entire time and here is why.
    A fellow police officer was off duty waiting in line in a fast food joint in the late 60’s where he was the only fair skinned customer in the place. Three individuals took exception to his being there and proceed to beat the living snot out of him. Thank God they didn’t know he was a police officer. Not having time to respond to a sucker punch he balled up on the floor and tried to cover himself the best he could. Although he was thumped pretty good and relived of his wallet, they never found his gun. He said if his revolver had been any place else on his body he would not have been able to protect it and it probably would have been used against him. This thought has been on my mind ever since.
    I am a large framed man, 6’1” 218 lbs. and still have a flat stomach. It is not hard for me to carry any number of sized weapons in the 1:00 position. I have tried other spots for off duty carry but just have never felt quite as comfortable or as secure as appendix carry.

  • Nick S May 5, 2017, 9:55 am

    I have several IWB holsters and guns I can carry, most of which are, alas, not overly practical. e.g. Sig compact 227,229,HK P30, CZ SDP, CZ RAMI., all are fairly heavy (Rami is subcompact). Easiest is my Ruger LC9. I extended the pockets in my regular jeans for my Nemesis holster and since the gun has a safety (only one that does), I can also carry in CCW Breakaway shorts with no internal holster. I do have their jeans, too, but never wear. To say they look like mom jeans is too much of an understatement and I did not want to spend the dough to have them tailored. I can draw out of my other jeans’ pocket very fast though. Of course, I am hoping no one gets the drop on me (period) while sitting!

  • Gerald F. Donovan May 5, 2017, 9:55 am

    What? No “Top 5″comment on the ubiquitous IWB holster? I’m that guy with three (3!) boxes of holsters covering virtually every type of concealed carry for several types of handuns, sub-compact to full size 1911. I’ve tried ’em all and continue to use all styles on occasion, but most used, especially for a Gov’t Model .45 Auto or similar, is a good IWB holster. Most easy to conceal, almost as comfy as a good OWB holster w/virtually same draw stroke, and easy to present the firearm when needed. Not uncomfortable seated but is hard (dings, scrapes) on wood chair backs. No one mode of concealed carry is the best always for everyone, but IWB or OWB, 4 to 5 o’clock position, works for me and I carry all day, every day.

    • Allen Alexander May 5, 2017, 1:51 pm

      I am with you Gerald, over the years I’ve accumulated a BUNCH of holsters for my 1911 and my .357. My current favorite is the Bianchi S-3 holster for my full size 1911. Riding slightly behind my hip at a forward cant it is hard to spot except for the leather tab. With a matching Bianchi belt, it is even harder to tell I am carrying. Even with my shirt tail tucked in, none in the office can tell I am carrying. I do like my Aker shoulder holster, but like the article says, you need cover, so my collection of vests help there.

  • David D Hartman May 5, 2017, 9:18 am

    I’m a large guy (can you say “belly roll” – lol) and typically wear loose fitting polo style shirts with either khaki’s or jeans. I carry a CZ P-09 in .40 S&W (go ahead haters and hate – lol) in an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 at my 3:00 – 4:00 position very comfortably with little to no printing. It also provides me with access while sitting (even in my car).

  • Rogertc1 May 5, 2017, 9:14 am

    Out side the waist ban on of right side with a good belt. It works fine for this ol man year around. I usually carry snub nose revolvers or my COP derringer. Easily to hide with an un-tucked T-shirt. This is just my favorite carry after having a CCW for 45 years. You will find even it peaks out no one notices.

  • CDR-C May 5, 2017, 8:21 am

    After years of trying different things, and I have many good quality holsters, here’s what I find is best…..It Depends. But choosing one…….if I will be wearing a jacket / zip sweatshirt / fleece ….. or a loose-fitting untucked print shirt (which can almost always be OK)….OWB crossdraw. Comfortable for sitting, or standing. Accessible fairly discretely (hands in front). Either hand / one hand draw-able. Muzzle points down and just outside my left hip. A key point is a thin gun – a double-stack is harder to conceal this way than a single …. so my CDR sized 1911 9mm is about perfect.

    • Thomas E Drake May 5, 2017, 9:47 am

      I have a Maxpedition JK-1 holster, for $36.17, on my hip for concealed carry on the out side of my shorts and tee shirt. I carry a Charter Arms 45 ACP Pit Bull which is a five shot revolver with 230 Grain metal jacketed hollow points, and no moon clips here. Unloaded it is around 19 oz.s, I carry it all the time and everywhere that I am allowed to by law. No auto loaders for me, I had two of them that misfired when I really needed to fire. When I pull the trigger, I want to be 100% sure, that fire and lead are going out the barrel!

  • Rudy S. May 5, 2017, 8:12 am

    I find the appendix position comfortable with an Urban Carry holster. That is usually just for my Bodyguard.380 or Micro 9mm BUG. Main CC is almost always UnderTech t shirt with a Tanfoglio P carry.45. The shirt supports the 2lb. weight of the .45 easily. Of course depending on the days activity several other firearms may end up in the UnderTech rig.

  • Roy F. Wilt May 5, 2017, 8:11 am

    2. Appendix: is the best for concealed carry! Want the best way, Cant the Pistol 45 degrees to the rear. I use an Alien Gear Holster and it is a dream to use with the cant the barrel is pointed out past your hip! I carry the FNX-45 with the 4.5 inch barrel so it’s a very large gun and I never have an imprint!

  • Rollin Shultz May 5, 2017, 7:22 am

    I find I am never able to be comfortable with any kind of hip carry. I use a Sig P320C and that’s too much hardware that seems to get in the way and bump things constantly. I don’t even like to carry a tape measure on my belt, or phone. I have never tried an ankle holster, but I would not consider it for any but the smallest of handguns. I stick with the shoulder holster carry for any season and the above waistband belt for summer. It feels almost natural to me. It’s a different strokes thing . The two things I think about as far as where the gun points is I am fine with it pointing at the ground in my above waistband belt, but I worry a little what someone might think of the shoulder rig is spotted with barrel pointing rearward, even though it is safe even with a striker fired gun.
    One of the points many people make about concealed carry that I think is ridiculous, is the idea they feel as though they need to be ready to draw down on an opponent in what they imagine will be some kind of Wild West shootout, and that is unrealistic. The first thing you are going to do in a potential armed conflict is seek cover, not stand firm and begin shooting in the open. That being the case, you have plenty of time to draw from cover, and even load a magazine and chamber a round if you haven’t done that already. Cover, load, scan the field, pick targets, disable targets, not necessarily terminating them if it can be avoided.

  • will Drider May 2, 2017, 11:10 pm

    Other concerns:
    The human body comes in all shapes, sizes and basically two sexs. You must find a methods that fit your contours, wardrobe and abilities. The first two are straight forward but how does abilities fit in the mix? If you can’t reach it you can’t use it!
    If you use ankle carry, you normally use your body weight to compress you knee and hip joints so you can reach the gun. What if you belly down with a BG pounding on you? Those joints are not in a position to bend. Now on your back, are you flexable and strong enough to bring that gun to hand?
    The next issue applies to all other carry positions: can you draw the weapon with either hand? You strong side hand may be unavailable due to injury, holding a baby/child, restraining the other persons weapon hand/arm, pinned between you and a floor or other surface. We train to shoot with both hands, you should be able to access your firearm with both. This is the main reason people will abandon pocket carry. You have a wall of fabric that primarily requires you to reach in going forward then down after you have crossed your body and extract a handgun with the grips now backward: just not enough joints in the arm or arm length.
    If you body does not allow the reach/flexibility needed to access your carry location with your support hand, it would be prudent to carry blade/BUG you can reach and employ until you can access your primary carry gun.
    A final thought: everybody should have a bug. What ever carry gun you use, its always nice to have a smaller backup and sometimes your limited attire may move it to the primary slot.

  • Mark N. May 2, 2017, 8:52 pm

    I have two High Noon leather “Down Under” IWB holsters (for different guns) that I wear at about 4 o’clock, where there is a perfect pocket in my hip. Once it is in the right spot, it is very comfortable. Occasionally I will wear an OWB Kirkpatrick that I have for my usual carry gun, a Kahr CW9. I cannot carry appendix. I usually sit most of the day, and even the short barrelled Kahr digs into my thigh, and the top of the gun sticks out over my belt.

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