Gun Skills: Concealment, Part 2

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posted on October 2, 2023
concealment gear
Photo: Peter Fountain

Last month, we talked generally about concealment considerations—we advised you to dress for it, to adjust your holster to the extent it allows, to accessorize your holster to decrease printing even more, to consider carrying in a different position and, if all that fails, to get a different gun you might be able to conceal better.

This month, we’re going to go a little deeper into the same concepts; after all, any concealed-carry setup can be a bad one if you don’t know what to look for in your body, clothing, holsters and accessories. So, what do you look for?

Assess Your Body and Clothing
Let’s start with your body and what carry position you want to use. Everyone’s body is different, so the concealed-carry setup that works great for your bestie or your spouse may not work at all for you. So, what should be you be looking for when you carry?

1. Assess the general real estate:
Where are the best places on your body to carry for your situation? For example, people with shorter torsos are going to struggle more to carry on their torso—particularly for appendix carry and especially if they need to be seated a lot. They still may be able to carry higher on the torso, of course, but then accessibility becomes an issue. Perhaps it’s better for you to wear a blazer and carry behind your hip or to carry on the ankle. Perhaps you have larger legs that can discreetly support ankle carry best. Or perhaps you have a long torso and can easily support appendix carry even while seated.

2.Assess the contours of that real estate:
Look for the peaks and valleys on your body. What peaks stick out against your clothing—is your chest larger than your gut or vice-versa? Look to position your gun in a valley area—a place where the clothing you generally wear doesn’t end up right up against the body. So, if you have a larger belly, for example, the noon position isn’t likely to be ideal because you’ll be adding bulk to an already prominent area.

Adjust Your Holster Setup
Isolate what part of your setup is poking out and counteract that.

1. Look for holsters that are reliable but also highly adjustable for height and cant, but also which allow you to add claws and wedges.

2. First, consider your belt. The belt applies pressure to the whole setup. If you don’t like wearing belts, how else can you reasonably apply pressure to the holster area to bring it in? (Should you choose to use a corset holster, for example, it should be tight enough to apply pressure.)

3. Adjusting for height should hopefully be pretty obvious, but if your concealment setup isn’t working, consider whether moving your holster up or down an inch might help.

4. Adjust for cant and/or grip rotation. When guns print, it’s usually from the grip rather than the barrel. Many holsters come with “claws” or “wings” that will allow you to bring that grip closer into your body. These devices push the holster against your belt to help push in the gun’s grip. Slightly angling the holster may also help with concealment, particularly if it’s poking out on the side of your body, but you’ll have to be sure you don’t angle it in a way that negatively affects your drawstroke. Finally, you can add wedges to further bring in the grip. Remember, the key is to isolate what part of the gun is printing and counteract it, bearing in mind that you may need to adjust the area opposite of the problem area; for example, if the top of your setup is poking out, a wedge at the bottom of the gun is likely needed so it pushes the top against you more.

5. Try broadening the bottom of your setup. If you have a small gun with a small holster, it’s going to be top-heavy and more likely to print. Believe it or not, a smaller gun in a larger, broader holster will likely conceal better than with the smaller holster.

Many gun owners joke about how we all have a box of holsters we’ve been through and discarded for one reason or another, but thinking through your concealment setup in advance may help you prevent having to purchase so many. Still, remember it’s better to end up with a box of unused holsters than to give up entirely on concealed carry. Take the time to research online about how to conceal better and keep at it until you succeed!

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