You have your concealed carry handgun; you’ve had your training. Now it’s time for a night at the movies with your loved ones and the question hits you: Where am I going to position my firearm? No matter how much training you or your customer might have had, several variables play into how to carry concealed.
So let’s take a look at some of the different styles of concealed carry that you as an instructor or retailer might get some questions about.
When it comes to what style is best, I would say: “It depends.” It depends on a lot of things: the way your body is built, the style of clothing you’re wearing, the weather and what you will be doing during the day. Answers to these questions might determine the type of carry your clients execute.
Let’s take a look at a style that is gaining popularity on social media and YouTube: appendix carry. I have my reservations on this position for a couple of different reasons. An AIWB (appendix inside the waistband) holster fits in the front of your waistband between your thigh and groin. This style of carry can be very fast. If you look at the path of the gun, it comes straight from the center of your body to your line of sight. There is no wasted movement.
But the huge drawback to this style of carry is the direction of the muzzle during carry and while you’re drawing the gun out. It’s pointed into your upper thigh — right where one of the largest arteries is located.
Analyzing some police-involved shootings reveals cases where officers began pulling the trigger well before the gun ever reached their eyes. Rounds impacted the ground in a straight line leading up to the suspect. Now, I realize these are isolated incidents, but it only takes one mistake, one “oops,” one time that your finger gets in the trigger early and sends the round right into your leg.
Another popular style of carry is inside the waistband, or IWB. For this style, the gun is carried on the strong side, tucked inside the waistband of your pants. The advantage to this is that most of the gun is between you and your pants so there is no “print” of the gun on the outside. The only thing exposed is the grip of the pistol.
Now, when selecting the proper holster with this carry, make sure the customer can get his thumb between the gun and body and the middle finger behind the trigger guard for a proper grip. Sometimes the gun fits so tight that you almost have to use two hands to free the pistol.
Some clients might ask about carry in different weather situations and environments.
In a place like Florida, carry options can be limited because it’s shorts, T-shirt and flip-flops year-round. Jackets are not too common for most of the year. In the colder areas of the world, layers and jackets can allow for an outside-the-waistband carry style.
But here are a couple words of advice for your customers who carry this way. I would suggest they not have more than one layer of clothing covering the firearm. This way there is not as much to get snagged on a draw. Also, if they’re wearing a jacket, recommend they put something in their pockets to add weight so the jacket will clear the firearm more easily. They can use an extra magazine, a flashlight or keys to do this.
As far as disadvantages to this style go, the big thing is that the gun is exposed and can easily “print” on the outside of clothing. Customers should always give the setup a once-over before leaving the house.
For people who like to carry larger full-size guns, SOB (Small of the Back) might be a carry choice. The firearm simply slides down the small of your back and the only thing exposed is the grip handle. Be sure to pick out the right holster for the job. I personally like this style, but if you find yourself in a car or sitting all day, it can become very uncomfortable. And since this might be a different position of the gun for your clients, they’ll need to train with it all the time to make sure they know where to go get the gun when it’s time.
Lastly, there’s the pocket gun. Companies like Smith & Wesson have developed guns that can simply slide right down in your pocket. The BodyGuard 380 is the perfect example of this.
With these guns you have to understand something. They are not meant to be shot from distances much past 10 yards. Can they be fired at 25 yards and be accurate? Sure. And also keep in mind that a traditional grip might be difficult on such a small frame, so make sure your clients brush up on single-hand shooting.
Be sure that you do something to protect the trigger while the gun is in your pocket. Companies such as UM Tactical make trigger guard holsters that simply lock in and around the trigger guard to keep the trigger from being pulled while the gun is in your pocket.
I have also seen where some people elect not to chamber a round during carry. They train to rack the slide first to chamber the round. Even with some of the limitations, you can’t beat the overall concealment and comfort.
Whatever position your client decides to go with, tell them to train, train and train some more to get used to that style.
If you decide to take a concealed carry class with a professional instructor, please understand if they do not allow for some carry positions such as AIWB or shoulder holsters. As a firearms instructor myself, I know that keeping everyone safe on the range is at the top of the priority list, and some of the techniques that the instructor is teaching you might be dangerous with those carry positions.