So, this year marks five years of me being a concealed carry permit holder and almost daily conceal carrier, and in that time I have learned a lot about me, and a lot about other people, and I just want to share my experiences.

So, first things first. Concealed carry isn’t something you can do 50%, or just add it into your current lifestyle. I tried, and failed epically. For me, I got my license right after I turned 21, and well, as most people, only got a crappy four hour class that didn’t teach me anything. I tried to add in the gun to my current clothing style, or lifestyle, and well it was horrible. Concealed carry, is something that will make you change your closet inventory, and lifestyle, in a hurry too.   So follow along as I discuss things that have made concealed carry lifestyle an easy one, and hopefully won’t spend all kinds of money on useless holsters, and other items that will just sit around and collect dust, like I did.

So, when you carry, in the first year or so, it is normal to be paranoid, and think that every person around you can see that you have a gun on you, and you feel like there is a big neon sign above your head that says “I am carrying a gun”. I admit, I felt the same way, and was beyond paranoid that people could see the outline of my sidearm. The truth is, people in public aren’t that observant, and really aren’t worried about you. Shoot, now a days it is almost rare to see people not glued to their phones. This is a phase that everyone will more than likely go through, and it is normal, just know that almost no one even realizes you exist, let alone that you have a concealed firearm on you.

When starting to carry, take the time to buy a great quality belt, I will never buy anything else than an SOE (Special Operations Equipment) Belt, as they are the stiffest, highest quality belt on the market, and well, John Willis (founder) is quite funny on his Facebook page, and doesn’t let customers walk over him. I am currently waiting on my SOE EDC (everyday carry), and in the meantime I use a 5.11 belt that was a spare, and the one I had to use in the police academy, and those work very well to hold up a full Police duty belt, so using one for concealed carry would be more than enough, if you don’t want to fork over $70 for an SOE belt.

Second, you will more than likely need shirts that are a size larger than normal. For me, 1 size larger, this gave me extra length, and a bit for room for the days that I carry outside the waistband.  Form fitting clothes will have to have their days, but generally, form fitting clothes are the worst to wear, as they will print (show the outline), and look like a sore thumb.

Choosing how you want to carry is a very important thing, as you have shoulder holsters, out of the waistband, inside the waistband, inside a purse, or bag, open carry and pocket carry. For me, I prefer to carry outside the waistband most of the time, as it is a bit more comfortable, and can really move easier. However, when I go out in public, outside the waistband isn’t the best idea, as it is harder to fully conceal the firearm. So when I am going out of the house for many hours, I will either choose in the waistband, or pocket carry. I prefer pocket carry, because out of all the ways to carry it is the most forgiving, and you do not have to modify the way you move, kneel, bend, as you would with the other ways of carrying. Of course, pocket carry will mean that you have to have a smaller gun, like a Smith and Wesson 38 revolver, or a 380, and for some people that is not an option. Shoulder holsters have such a small following these days, that I wont even discuss them, as only a few people use them, and I feel that they aren’t practical anymore.

So let us talk about inside the waistband carry. Inside the waistband is a holster that has a clip higher on the holster, and allows the holster to sit low, and inside the pants. This type of carry is one of the most common, and most concealable. The downside to this, is you will need to get 1 size larger pants or shorts, and more than likely a longer belt. Now there are two big players of holster that I feel are the most common when it comes to in the waistband carrying, a nylon holster, and Kydex. Now, the choice is yours when it comes to choosing the material that your holster is made of, but for me, the soft nylon, Uncle Mikes type holster is not an option, as it is nearly impossible to re holster one handed, and almost every time I would draw my sidearm, the holster would come with it, which is not good when you need to draw your sidearm in a self defense moment. So that leaves me with Kydex, and there are many options when it comes to kydex. From my experience, the two most common styles are a hybrid style, leather and Kydex, or a fold over design, which makes for a smaller holster, but big enough to get the job done. I have use both types, and well I love both, I like the fold over design for quick errands, and the hybrid design for longer errands, and both work very well, if you get them from someone who knows what they are doing. Dragon holsters is one of the best Hybrid holster makers, as is white hat holster, and cross breed, as for fold overs, I would only go with Philster. Both of the designs aren’t cheap, but will last you a very long time.

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As for open carry, which is another carry method I use often, while at my house, fishing, camping, hunting, and so on, I use 1 of 2 different holsters. I will either use my Safariland Level 3 ALS holster, which is a favorite among many police departments, or I will use an out of the waistband Kydex holster. Now, read your state and local laws when it comes to open carry, as every state is different. For me in Florida, I am allowed to open carry when on my property or at my residence, going to and from fishing, camping, hunting, and a number of other activities. Again, please check the laws that pertain to where you live, and follow them.

Now that I covered all of that, the most important thing I can pass onto everyone is, Train the way you carry. When the stuff hits the fan, and you need your sidearm, you want to be able to effectively get to that sidearm, and deploy it, and save your life, or someone else’s. There is a dozen articles and case studies about the effect of stress and adrenaline in a high stress moment. Basically, you will develop tunnel vision, you will lose some of your hearing, your fine motor skills will be thrown out the window, like a pissed off woman throws out her husbands clothes from a second story window. I didn’t think it would happen to me, and well it did, and it was scary at how the body reacts when the stuff hits the fan. So take it from someone who has to draw his sidearm more than once……..Train like you carry as much as you can, and make sure it is often.