Now that you've read the caption, you might think you can spot the Shield and magazine somewhere. The fact is that you and 99% of the other people who saw me dressed exactly like this last week had no idea that I was carrying a weapon. That's the idea.
When one first begins carrying concealed the temptation to check every wrinkle and bulge is difficult to resist. When you look down and see a fold out of place in your shirt, you know it is because your gun is printing. Maybe it is, but to the uninitiated, one fold or small bulge looks very much like all of the other folds and bulges, if they are aware of them at all. Which they usually are not.
If you have gone to all of the trouble and expense to satisfy the local and state bureaucracy in order to obtain your concealed carry permit it is important that you use it. In a recent survey there were a disturbing number of responses from people, with permits, who carry their guns only when they think they may "need to". What does this mean? That these people are fortune tellers, read the future, have spent the morning with a deck of Tarot cards perhaps? It's wishful thinking.
No one can foretell when and where the need to protect oneself or others from the threat of deadly violence will occur. A few minutes perusing the internet for incidents of self protection by citizens will quickly reveal that these things happen any time, any place, often for no discernible reasons other than that the perpetrators want your money and, or your life for twisted reasons of their own.
"Ooops..., wait a minute, I forgot my gun," is not the response one wants to have when bad trouble starts.
The only sane alternative is to pack your gun legally all of the time. All. Of. The. Time.
This is called playing the odds. Odds are that you will never need it. However the consequences of the odds not falling in your favor can be serious and vicious in the extreme, especially if you've foregone the means to protect yourself. This is not to say that the outcomes of violent encounters won't be harmful to you and other innocents, but at the least you will have the option to effectively fight back.
Maximize your odds.
Carry whenever possible. Find holster combinations that will not inhibit this. No holster makes a gun "so comfortable that I didn't know I had it on." That is just advertising bull. There are holsters that are less obnoxious to wear than others, but you are going to have to find a few that are tolerable, that you can get used to having on, like your belt or your shoes.
Wear your gun in a place on your body so that it is accessible whenever you need it. Standing, sitting, lying down, driving while belted in your car. Pocket holsters and behind the hip carry are popular, but when one is seated, which is more than half of the time during the day, they are very hard to access. The best places to carry are, 1. appendix, 2. cross draw, and 3. shoulder holster.
You can find excellent holsters made for these carry positions from many reputable makers. Spend some decent money to get quality holsters. They are as important to you as carrying a quality handgun. If you invest in holsters for more a couple of effective carry methods, you will have some flexibility in where you carry that you can vary according to circumstances such as weather and dress.
You should pactice shooting, of course. But also practice (without ammunition) drawing, presenting and dry-firing your guns from your holsters wearing the clothing you would normally wear with them. Violence most often happens quickly and by surprise. Most self defense shootings take place within three to five yards, or closer. You must be quick and you must be effective.
Practice how to aim your fire in close and quick situations. The old advice to line up the front and rear sights into the standard "sight picture" is not going to do you much good in these quick, close self defense scenarios. Practice focusing on the front sight only. It should be larger and well marked to stand out so it can be quickly acquired by your eyes. Better yet, combine a good, highly visible front sight with a laser sight.
Many of the objections to a laser concern reliability, operability and taking the time to pick up the red or green laser dot on the target. I consider a laser to be an aid which is useful in practicing target acquisition and trigger discipline during dry firing sessions, and as a possible sighting aid in a real gunfight situation. The important thing to remember is that the laser is another option in your tool kit. If you learn to shoot quickly and instinctively with your front sight, you also have the option of engaging with the laser should the situation permit. A laser is especially important in low light conditions, a period in which most criminal encounters tend to happen.
If you train without the laser, and again with the laser, you will have the option to engage with it or not. It is a good tool to have, yet does not make you dependent upon it.
In the photographs below, note that the LaserMax is designed to complement the form factor of the pistol, doesn't interfere with the grip or trigger guard and is light weight so that its presence on the pistol is not really felt. Is it always necessary? No. Is it there if I need it? Yes. Nice thing about the LaserMax is that one can control when it is on or off since it is not dependent on the shooter squeezing the handgrips. Sometimes I want to have a proper shooting grip, but I don't want the laser engaged. My choice.
Carry as comfortably as possible, with more than one good holster for options, train to be quick and accurate, consider a laser to increase your options and stay safe.