To paraphrase Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch, carrying a gun isn’t supposed to be comfortable; it’s supposed to be comforting. Luckily, modern holster designs, clothing and accessories are getting us closer to having both. If you’re new to concealed carry or have experienced some discomfort with your carry rig, there are ways to improve your setup so your gun never sits at home again.
Dress for It
In movies, guns just seem to appear, no matter what the actor is wearing. In real life, we need to dress around our firearms. If you aren’t already doing so, wear an undershirt that you keep firmly tucked in, even if you keep your gun on the outside of your waistband. A layer of fabric between your gun and body will work wonders, as it prevents the gun from rubbing or sticking against your skin.
Wearing busy patterns or dark colors will drastically reduce the chances of printing or being noticed. If you plan to carry inside the waistband, some initial provisions need to be made. First, you’ll need pants that can accommodate the extra mass that you are essentially adding to your waist. This might mean going up a pant size or limiting your wardrobe to attire that has flexible fabric woven into it. Products like 5.11’s Defender-Flex or LA Police Gear’s Terrain Flex pants come to mind, as they stretch to accept a gun.
Lastly, if you aren’t employing a sturdy belt, everything else can fall apart. Usually, this is a matter of finding the thickest belt that can fit through your belt loops.
While everything might seem copasetic when you’re standing in front of a mirror, your CCW setup can quickly become a nuisance once you start to move. The most-common complaints arise from sitting or bending, but there are also issues with vigorous activities like running or lifting. If you are experiencing discomfort in these scenarios, take a look at your holster’s hardware.
The best holsters today are adjustable for carry height. If your gun is hitting your legs when you walk or run, consider raising it up. If it digs into your skin when you sit or bend, it might be a little too high for you.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to try different holsters. Sometimes, the solution can be as simple as choosing something a little more minimal or switching to a classic leather design for its flexible properties.
Despite the wide array of options, it’s possible that you won’t find a holster that fits your particular body. This is where devices like holster wedges come into play. These sloped pieces of material attach to your holster to relieve pressure points or draw the top of your pistol closer to your body for better concealment. When using one for relief, simply connect it to an adjacent area to help float the gun and holster. If using a wedge to reduce printing, remember that opposites attract. If you need the top of your gun closer to your body, place the wedge below the centerline of your setup to pivot it toward you. If, for some reason, the bottom of your pistol is popping forward, attach the wedge above your belt.
Pop culture seems to dictate where we “should” be carrying our guns, but in reality, it’s our firearm and body style that truly directs our actions and commands our comfort. Just because everybody else is doing something doesn’t mean that it’s right for your lifestyle or body type. My friend with the six-pack abs and the job on his feet all day loves appendix carry; however, my job sometimes involves long hours at a desk, and I never pass on dessert. If you’re more like me, then perhaps the 8 o’clock position might make sense, as that part of your body isn’t typically pinned against your chair. Even though it’s fading in popularity, another viable option is to carry it on your ankle.
Get a Different Gun
I struggled with not starting this piece with this suggestion, but this is often what’s needed. A gun bought for target shooting or hunting might be too big to carry where you want. Features like exposed hammers, overly aggressive grip textures, or lack of holster options can also get in the way of comfort. If your budget allows, take some time to research other options and get the biggest gun that you can carry comfortably. Many gun stores will allow you to try them on before making your decision; just be sure to get permission first. Having multiple guns is also a way to partially negate the first suggestion in this piece, as you will then have the option to wear a gun around how you are dressed. Some people have a “summer gun” and a “winter gun.”
Finally, don’t ruin your efforts by touching your gun in public, which calls attention to it and is one of the most-common mistakes new concealed carriers make. Remember, too, your configuration may need to change over time, so keep an eye on what the market offers.