“Concealed carry” is a term that is tossed about rather loosely when discussing firearms, self-defense, or other Second Amendment issues in public forums. Yet even with the rapid growth of concealed carry permit applications in the United States, little thought is given to the intended meaning of the word “concealed” once training is completed.
In his article “Depths of Concealment: How Deep is Too Deep?” at USConcealedCarry.com, author George Harris provides the definition used in reference to firearms:
“Concealment relevant to firearms or other weapons simply means carrying a weapon in a manner in which only the person carrying knows what, where, and even if he or she is carrying.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Basically, concealment is a series of compromises. It begins with your choice of weapon. Options such as weight, size, and print must be taken into consideration as does practicality. A deeply concealed weapon that is inaccessible when you need it defeats the purpose.
Accessibility should be the primary consideration regarding levels of concealment. Unfortunately, everyday attire can often cause retrieval issues when trying to draw the weapon. In an ideal scenario, the weapon should be accessible with either hand, but in most of the common concealment locations such as the inside-the-waistband holsters, ambidextrous drawing is next to impossible.
For women, the problem is very much the same, if not worse. Designers have managed to incorporate holsters into the fabric of bras, corsets, and other undergarments that, while definitely achieve deep concealment, are problematic for practical use once a woman is fully dressed. There are some women’s apparel options that have magnetic or Velcro fasteners that cut back on the time it takes to draw the weapon.
The button overlap is also more of an issue with female clothing. Menswear generally buttons with a left over right overlap, which favors right-handed access and draw. Female blouses and dresses are the opposite, which favors a left-handed draw. Given that only about 10 percent of the population is left-handed, this puts women at a disadvantage for these types of concealment options.
For waistband and apron holsters, the problem is more one of printing and comfort. Generally, clothing worn with these items should be 2 sizes larger. This would help reduce any chafing and the larger sizes allow the material to fall away from your body and your gun.
Normal men’s trousers make it almost impossible to carry a gun in the pocket without a noticeable print, although there are some brands that have looser pockets and there are some really tiny guns on the market now. But the best solution is to purchase pants with extra material in the pockets, specifically tailored for concealed carry. For women wearing skirts or dresses, thigh holsters are a reasonable option with fairly easy access.
Ankle holsters provide reasonable concealment and access options since most people aren’t looking there, but they aren’t particularly comfortable. Boot holsters where the gun is tucked inside the boot gives two layers of concealment and a little more comfort to the wearer.
In the end, concealment options vary widely and are dependent on many variables including clothing, climate, and potential threat. These factors aren’t always the same, so it’s important to have a flexible mindset and make the best decision each day to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Concealed Carry permit holders seem to be the only people unsurprised by the rapid and explosive growth of the market. Not only has the number of applicants continued to grow exponentially, but the industry has also spawned a growing number of related products, ranging from holsters to dedicated magazines such as the United States Concealed Carry Association publications.
Yet one niche market that has been largely ignored by mainstream media is the “packing parent.” Very little has been written on how to carry a tyke while carrying a handgun at the same time.
While there’s some controversy regarding whether carrying a gun around small children makes one a more or less responsible parent, most concealed carry permit holders agree that having children increases the need for being armed. Marko Kloos discusses the rationale in his article “The Packing Parent: The Fine Points of Carrying a Gun While Toting a Toddler” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“Not only are you entrusted with the protection of more lives than your own, but you’re also in a position that [doesn’t usually] allow you to flee from danger easily. When you have small children in your charge, your handgun is no longer a self-defense tool, but a family-defense device.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Maneuvering children through a day of errands, shopping, and ice cream is a herculean task on its own. Trying to keep a firearm hidden beneath your clothes or out of sight while emptying your purse looking for lip balm or napkins only adds to the misery.
As if that weren’t enough, most parents carry their toddler on the strong side, resting the child on their hip in the exact spot where their handgun would normally rest snugly in its holster. Some even use slings or harness-type products that are great for carrying the little ones, but unfortunately limit access to the belt or front pockets. Carrying a child on the strong side also increases the risk of weapon exposure, which has a high degree of causing a major scene in places like playgrounds, picnics, or public libraries.
For those reasons, it’s vitally important that a parent toting both a child and a gun be extremely vigilant about concealment, but retain easy access to said gun at the same time. Fortunately, there are two options that will allow one to safely carry both.
The fanny pack’s day as an acceptable fashion accessory is long past, but if you’re carrying a kid on your hip all day, nobody is going to raise any eyebrows at your fanny pack. You can easily conceal a mid-sized pistol in there along with a wallet and keys as well as have easy access to your firearm in the event of an incident at the same time.
Shoulder holsters are another carry option for parents with small children. A shoulder holster on the weak side offers the advantage of easy access for draw while at the same time keeping the strong side hip free for tiny hitchhikers. Unfortunately, the shoulder holster cannot be worn in the open in most states, so it’s likely not a viable option during the summer.
Being a parent means being a jack of all trades, including having the ability to protect someone who cannot protect themselves. Finding a way to carry a child and gun safely increases the odds of everyone surviving an attack, which is the philosophy of the concealed carry movement in a nutshell.
As more and more civilians begin to carry concealed, retailers are starting to make concealed carry outerwear to accommodate that market.
Yet despite the eight million supporters of carrying, you can still understand how difficult it can be to find appropriate and functional outerwear.
The Conceal Carry Jacket by Rivers West is made of high-quality fleece. When purchasing a jacket for to wear while carrying, you want to be sure you choose something durable.
The Conceal Carry Jacket is not only waterproof, but is also windproof so you will be able to endure any kind of harsh weather.
You also can’t go wrong with the waterproof guarantee and 10-year unbreakable warranty that comes with purchase.
Wondering how the jacket carries? There is a holster rig securely attached to the jacket in the crossdraw position.
Rivers West also offers two versions of the same jacket to accommodate both right-handed and left-handed carriers. The holster has a flexible pocket and a retention strap made of Velcro.
Better yet, the product includes the semi-rigid “conceal plate” that conceals any printing, making it virtually impossible for anyone to detect a concealed weapon.
In his article “Rivers West Conceal Carry Jacket” on USConcealedcarry.com, author Duane A. Daiker evaluates the function and durability of the Conceal Carry Jacket:
“I found the jacket to work very well. The holster provides adequate stability, and the conceal-plate does exactly what it is supposed to do. The jacket needs to be zipped, at least partially, to ensure the handgun is concealed. Having the jacket closed also helps distribute the weight of the gun across the shoulders, making for a more comfortable carry experience. Overall, concealment is very good so long as you can wear the jacket at least partially closed. (Read more about the Concealed Carry Jacket here)”
When you go to access your weapon, it may be a bit slower than you are accustomed to, but a jacket is never going to be quiet or as quick as a belt or other type of holster. Because of this, you’ll want to practice drawing before actually wearing the jacket and carrying your weapon, but practice makes perfect.
Another great thing about the Rivers West Conceal Carry Jacket is that it can accommodate a number of different handguns, both large and small. Are you looking for a jacket that comes in something other than black?
You’re in luck with the Rivers West that comes in black, charcoal, navy, olive drab, and taupe. At the time this article was written, the Rivers West Conceal Carry Jacket retailed at an MSRP of $139.99. You can view the entire concealed carry collection at www.riverswest.com
Author Jason Hansen does an excellent job outlining how to carry on your body while wearing a suit in his article “The Businessman’s Guide to Concealed Carry” on USConcealedcarry.com:
“First off, you need to decide where you’re going to carrying your gun while wearing a suit. The two ways that I recommend and how I personally carry are inside the waistband and in the pocket. I don’t recommend an ankle holster because we all know how often your pant leg rides up when you sit down in a suit—which means the world will know you’re carrying a gun. Another reason I don’t like to wear an ankle holster is because it takes too long to draw the gun. You need to be able to get to your gun in two seconds or less and that’s tough to do when you have to reach to the ground to get the gun. (Read more about concealed carry methods for the well-dressed here)”
There are alternatives to carrying on your person. It’s quite possible to carry inside a satchel, purse, briefcase or laptop bag. It will take you a few extra seconds to access your gun, but this might be a compromise technique that allows you to bring along your protection instead of having the firearm recognized through your dress shirt.
Another benefit to keeping your gun inside an external carrying solution has to do with being noticed. Say for example, you pull into the parking lot of a courthouse and you have your pistol in a side holster under your sport coat. As you pull up, you remember that you can’t bring the gun inside.
You may be noticed by security as you take the holster and gun off inside your vehicle and hide it. You’ll stand a good chance of receiving some unwanted attention at the metal detector and it may even result in a search of your vehicle as well. If instead you have the gun in a satchel, it’s much easier to either leave the satchel in your vehicle or discreetly remove the gun and put it under a coat on the passenger’s seat next to you.
At the end of the day, there is no one size fits all solution when it comes to carrying a gun. The best way to find the right answer for YOU is to try several different things before settling on a preferred carry method. Try some holsters on your body, tuckable, ankle etc.
Then try carrying in your briefcase, backpack or satchel. Imagine how long it would take to get the gun from all these different locations and use this newfound information to make the right decision for your lifestyle.