Some preliminary thoughts about the carry part of concealed carry.

As we all know there are many different approaches to designing and making holsters for carrying a handgun concealed. I have tried and tested many of them, and written about many in this blog. I think the main reason why we accumulate so many different holsters over time is that we initially don't answer a fundamental question: what type of holster will I carry the most often and the most comfortably?

This is based upon the assumption that if one goes to all of the trouble to get a concealed carry permit, then one will be carrying a handgun whenever possible. What is the alternative? To guess when you will not be needing to protect yourself or others? How will you do that? So, given that many of us (not most, probably) who have a permit will have a gun on their person whenever possible, it makes sense that a holster has to be comfortable and useful enough to be with us constantly.

Concealed carry holsters have to meet basic criteria: be safe, provide quick and unencumbered access to the handgun, hold the weapon securely, be generally concealable and comfortable. It's the last part, "comfortable" that is the issue.

My opinion is that for most of us, the best carry position is the appendix followed by the cross draw. They a couple of important advantages: easy to access when sitting; and easily protected from grabs or from someone bumping into you and feeling that gun on your hip. But to effectively conceal in those positions, the gun and holster should be carried inside the waistband, or with an effective covering garment. Not always possible in warm weather. A really loose shirt will work if you carry in these positions OWB, but you will have places, times and positions where your gun will be obvious to bystanders. So, inside the waistband is called for in most situations. The bad part: comfort.

Holster makers have come up with various solutions to this IWB issue, and, if you carry long enough, and anything larger than an LCP-sized handgun, it becomes an issue. A good, firm leather holster for a medium sized handgun will, in order to offer a certain level of comfort, will be thick and wide. A good kydex IWB holster is much thinner, but will either stick you in the ribs with the slide (sweat) shield, or if it does not have one, with the pistol's slide. The hybrid models that provide a wide backing of leather with two clips and a kydex holster are difficult to put on and you have a foot-wide hunk of leather wrapped to your torso all day.

I think the same can be said about wearing one of these types at the strong-side positions, like 3, 4 or 5 o'clock for right hand shooters. Whichever position you choose, your pants and belt must wrap around the gun and the holster, creating a large bulge that is clamped to your body and is always there in your consciousness, pressing into your hip or stomach like a heavy parasite.

I used to dismiss those people who say or write that they just can't get used to IWB carry. I no longer do so, but have come to appreciate their position. I seem to naturally reach for an OWB holster for my everyday carry, especially around the house. If I'm going out for a half-hour or so, I am ok with IWB, but if it's going to be longer, especially if we are on a car trip for a day, I don't like it. I make my pistol accessible, but not on me, while driving. When I get out, it goes along too. But, more often in an OWB cross draw or on the strong side where I don't have to live with a hunk of leather, or kydex and a heavy handgun stuck in my pants.

Of course your mileage and preferences will vary. Many people don't mind IWB carry and it works for them. But, after a long time carrying I have come to the conclusion that I want a balance between access and comfort so I am tending to the OWB style for most of my carry situations.