The world is a dangerous place, and while it may be getting safer, there can still be times when you may need to defend yourself. There are few better ways to keep yourself protected in potentially dangerous situations than carrying a firearm. As the old saying goes, better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
You have a few options when it comes to carrying your gun (depending on the state you inhabit, of course). The first of your two choices is open carry, and it is the less common option of the two. When you open carry, your weapon is carried outside of your clothing, usually on a belt holster or somewhere equally visible.
Due to the challenges with open carry in some states, concealed carry is the more popular choice across America. As you may have guessed from the term, concealed carry means that you have your gun hidden somewhere underneath your clothing. There are proponents of both sides for several reasons.
For this guide, we will be focusing on concealed carry and the holsters which are used to conceal your gun. Comfort is a crucial part of concealed carry, and the right concealed carry holster can ensure that you have a much more enjoyable experience than would otherwise be possible.
Using the wrong holster may end up with you abandoning concealed carry altogether. We don’t believe that you should have to choose between your safety and persistent discomfort. Concealed carry holsters need to have a little bit more thought put into them before you make your purchase than open carry holsters.
Before we get into the details of concealed carry holsters, we will go over the basics so we can make sure that all of our readers can follow along, regardless of whether or not some are beginners.
Concealed carry, in its most basic form, means that you have access to a firearm in public which is out of sight. It is a popular misconception that you have to be carrying a gun for it to count as concealed carry, but this is not the case, you need only have it somewhere accessible.
For example, someone who has a gun box in their car where they can easily access it during times of need is technically participating in concealed carry. There are many reasons why concealed carry is an excellent way to keep citizens protected, regardless of whether they are carrying a gun.
In a society where concealed carry is an accepted norm, anyone around you could potentially be armed. While this may seem frightening at first, there is no issue if every gun owner is responsible enough to handle their firearm correctly.
In fact, the possibility that anyone could have a gun is one of the main reasons why concealed carry works so well. Look at things from the perspective of a criminal. If you wanted to choose a place to mug someone, would you do it somewhere that you know nobody is armed, or somewhere where anyone can be armed?
The fact that concealed carry always keeps you guessing ensures that crime drops and if you should choose to carry, you will be prepared regardless. However, should you decide to carry your gun concealed, you will have to accept that you take on an immense weight of responsibility.
Any firearm owner takes on this responsibility whenever they walk around with a gun on their person in public. While you should always be responsible with firearms, you will now always have a gun within reach. Before deciding to go out with your weapon, ask yourself if you will need it.
Carrying your weapon for protection's sake is one thing, but you should be carrying it when you feel that it is necessary. You should not take the wielding of your firearm lightly. Should you choose to bring your gun with you, it is integral to understand your rights and responsibilities as a citizen who is carrying a gun.
Carrying a concealed weapon (or CCW) in the United States is subject to state law. A citizen can carry a concealed weapon in every state in the US but the amount of training needed and the regulations governing CCW in each of these states will vary.
Sometimes, it will not even be worth the red tape that you have to go through to get your permit, in which case CCW might as well be banned. Thankfully, most states have reasonable provisions on concealed carry though some municipalities may have their own laws and restrictions on the subject.
Many people believe that those with concealed carry licenses would be more likely to commit a firearm-related crime but non-licensed people commit the majority of felonies with guns. The vast majority of people who choose to carry their weapons concealed will not be convicted of a firearms offense.
While it may be technically legal for some to carry their weapons concealed in certain states, in practice, it may be impossible. This is the case for some areas in California, all of Hawaii, all of Maryland, in areas of Massachusetts, New Jersey, places in New York, and Rhode Island.
Most other states will typically issue CCW permits as long as you pass the necessary courses. Some states allow you to carry your weapon concealed without a license in the first place. Depending on the state, you may be required to provide a reason why you may need a CCW permit.
The licensing process for CCW permits is often left up to local authorities such as the sheriff and the police department.
There are a few different types of concealed carry, and they depend on where you carry your weapon. As we stated earlier, a CCW permit does not necessarily mean that you have your gun on your person. If you have your gun in an accessible area while in public, you are still carrying a concealed weapon in the eyes of the law.
An option that is rising when it comes to popularity is the concealed carry purse. As you may have guessed from the name, these are purses which are marketed towards women who choose to concealed carry. A purse provides a convenient location where you can store your gun without discomfort.
Since holsters can often dig into your skin uncomfortably when sitting down or performing manual labor, a purse may solve any issues related to discomfort. Purses also tend to be larger than holsters so carrying a bigger gun tends to be less of a problem for women who use a concealed carry purse.
There are many different types of concealed carry purses, ranging from basic models that are designed as little more than a container for your weapon to pricey designer purses. Your choice of the purse will depend on your preferences when it comes to looks and functionality.
We would argue that a concealed carry purse is an excellent way to get yourself into the habit of carrying your gun. Keep in mind that there are critics of concealed carry purses, but we will save that for another article.
The most common way to carry your weapon concealed is by carrying it on your person in a concealed carry holster. These products are different from open carry holsters in that they are slimmer since they are designed to fit underneath your clothing with a minimum of discomfort.
The main advantage to using a concealed carry holster is that you will always have quick access to your gun whenever you end up needing it. Should you suddenly find yourself in a sticky situation, you will be armed with a single deft movement. It is much easier to practice your drawing drill from a holster than a purse.
Since holsters have been used since the invention of the firearm, there has been a long time for them to be further optimized. Some of the best holsters will distribute the weight of your gun so evenly that you will feel as if you are not even carrying it.
Of course, the quality of your holster will depend on the amount of money that you are willing to spend. Take our advice and avoid budget holsters whenever possible. Cheap concealed carry holsters tend to be so uncomfortable that you may be tempted to stop carrying your gun.
While discomfort can get maddening, you should not have to compromise between being comfortable and being safe. Finding the right holster will ensure that you have a pleasant CCW experience. If you are considering a cheap CCW holster, you may wish to save up a little bit longer.
This does not mean that all expensive CCW holsters are comfortable and effective, however, and vice versa for cheaper models, but the likelihood that you get an excellent product rises with price. If you can get the chance, you may wish to try on your CCW holster before you make your purchase.
You can also carry your weapon concealed in your vehicle, though many would argue against this approach. Leaving your gun concealed in your car can leave it open to theft, especially if you do not leave it in a gun safe or another locked container.
The last thing you will want to do is leave you gun unattended in your car without locking it up or concealing it at the very least. Many of the illegal weapons on the black market are stolen from vehicles. You do not want your prized firearm to end up in the hands of a potentially dangerous criminal.
If you carry your weapon concealed in your vehicle responsibly, however, there is no reason why you should not practice it. There is always the chance of your car being stolen, but a locked weapon will typically be difficult to access, especially if it is in a high-quality lockbox or gun safe.
One of the potential issues with carrying your weapon in your car is that you may not have access to it when you need it. If a situation occurs, you may not have the time to make it to your car and unlock your strongbox. Immediate action is not possible using this approach so consider whether it is the right choice.
As you may have guessed from the name, a strong side hip holster is a holster which sits on your hip, on the same side as your dominant hand. These holsters have the advantage when it comes to simplicity since their design has been refined over the course of more than 100 years.
A secure side hip holster also gives you the advantage of quick access to your gun in the event of a situation. All you have to do is reach under your clothes, and you will be able to pull out your gun in a matter of moments since the holster will be right next to where your dominant hand usually rests.
These holsters are also usually more affordable and common than other types of holsters since they are so popular with CCW permit holders. Unfortunately, there may be some issues with fitting larger firearms into strong side hip holsters, especially if you have a smaller frame.
Seen in countless detective movies and TV shows, the shoulder holster is an excellent choice of CCW holster since it will balance the weight of your gun across both of your shoulders. A more balanced weight distribution will result in superior comfort as well as less slouching in your holster.
Shoulder holsters have a disadvantage in that they cannot be used in warmer climates unless you fancy wearing a jacket in blistering heat. These holsters can't be concealed unless you are wearing some form of an overcoat. A shoulder holster would be ideal for someone who changes between open and concealed carry depending on the season.
Keep in mind that shoulder holsters have a few key advantages over other holster types, however. Shoulder holsters are ideally suited for those who would like to carry one or two extra magazines since they can be worn on the other shoulder to balance out the weight of your gun.
A cross draw holster is a holster which makes you reach across your body to pull out your gun. Some would argue that this is a more ergonomic method of unholstering your gun and they are capable of doing it in a more fluid movement than with a strong side holster, it is mostly up to preference.
Cross draw holsters can be designed according to a few different holster types, but they are most often attached to your belt. The belt makes for the best spot to cross draw since you will not have to reach too far across your body to access your gun, though it may be a little hard to conceal.
Critics of cross draw holsters argue that they make it too difficult to reach your gun during times of duress. If you want immediate access to your gun, you will have to opt for a holster which is located on the dominant side of your body, but with the proper training, you can cross draw almost as quickly.
This is a rare choice for concealed carry, but the ankle holster has made a recent resurgence. While older ankle holsters made it difficult to run or walk while wearing them, newer models are made out of material which is much more flexible. Ankle holsters have the advantage of being relatively easy to conceal with loose enough pants.
Unfortunately, you can't carry an ankle holster while wearing shorts or while wearing tighter pants but this is why ankle holsters are often not used as primary holsters. In fact, for those who prefer to carry a backup (or holdout) weapon, ankle holsters are usually the most popular choice.
Ankle holsters do not allow you to carry larger handguns due to the limited amount of space that is available in the leg of your pants. Most of the time, you will have to opt for a compact or even a subcompact pistol if you want to ensure that your gun fits properly and doesn’t create suspicious bulges.
Another relatively uncommon choice of concealed carry holster is the back holster. There are several types of holsters which are meant to be positioned on your back, and they all have relatively similar characteristics. Some are mounted near the belt while other holsters are situated in the small of your back.
A back holster is often an excellent choice for gun owners who do jobs that require relatively little sitting down. These holsters will stay out of your way while standing up and they will give you superior freedom of movement when compared to many other holsters for concealed carry.
Drawing from a back holster with grace and speed is a skill that needs to be honed over time. At first, it may be difficult to draw your gun from a back holster, especially with adrenaline coursing through your system, so you will want to ensure that you put a good deal of training into it.
One of the unique holster types that you will come across is the pocket holster. As you can tell from the name, a pocket holster is meant to fit inside of your pocket. You will want to ensure that your pants have pockets which can fit your preferred gun.
A pocket holster will give you relatively quick access to your gun in the event of an emergency, but it will also keep it concealed with ease. You may have to opt for a smaller pistol, but it will be easier to hide it in your pocket instead of finding clothes that are loose enough to make concealed carry possible.
Pocket holsters will also be relatively affordable since they will usually be smaller than other holster types. Unfortunately, a pocket holster will prevent you from putting anything in the pocket where you keep your weapon. Some pocket holsters will be designed for use with jackets and coats.
Last but not least, we will be going over the belt holster. As you can tell from the name, a belt holster is one which is placed on your belt. You can have a belt holster positioned on the front of your belt, on the side of your belt, or on the back, so it has the superior versatility of many other holster types.
A belt holster will also be relatively easy to conceal since you only have to wear a shirt which is long enough to cover your gun. Belt holsters allow you to place your gun in a spot where you are most comfortable drawing it. Customizing your holster position for your convenience will optimize your draw speed.
Belt holsters have some disadvantages, but not many. They are not optimal for the largest of handguns, but this is a failing of most concealed carry holsters. Belt holsters also can't be worn on pants without belts so you will not be able to vary your wardrobe quite as much with these holsters.
As with any other part of firearm ownership, the most crucial part of concealed carry is ensuring that you and everyone around you are as safe as possible. First of all, you will want to keep your safety on if your gun is equipped with one of them.
You will also want to avoid fitting a larger gun into a smaller holster; this can cause many different complications.
We hope that we have been able to help you understand the differences between different CCW holsters with relative ease. Feel free to move onto our buying guide now that you know more about the subject.