Concealed Carry Trends

It’s not just the firearm background check data proving the popularity of concealed carry handguns; a truckload of new concealed carry handgun innovations and accompanying gear make the case as well. From handguns to holsters to ammo to RMR’s to other accessories, the concealed carry category of the firearms market continues to grow.

Concealed Carry Trends


As for the handguns themselves, interest in concealed carry has not only brought many changes in design and improvements in functionality but also proven what’s tried and true. Autoloading pistol designs now yield smaller guns dimensionally but with more ammunition capacity. Remember how big of a deal it was when Glock introduced the Model 26 — a sub-compact pistol capable of carrying 10+1 rounds of 9mm? Compared to a five-shot snub-nosed revolver, the capacity increase alone made plenty of waves. Now we’re seeing multiple manufacturers produce 10+1 autoloading pistols significantly shorter, skinnier and lighter than the 26. 

Along with greater ammunition capacity, the latest concealed carry pistols are also more reliable. No doubt the availability of precision manufacturing equipment and increase in design know-how have contributed to there being relatively few pistols you can actually label as “bad.” Sure, some manufacturers still have a ways to go, but many other manufacturers learned and applied and proved that the legendary reliability formerly present in only several major manufacturers is now within reach of much smaller companies. 

And it’s not just manufacturers of autoloading pistols benefitting from the popularity of concealed carry. Revolver manufacturers have benefitted as well and shown, again, the worthiness of simplicity in this market. Five-shot revolvers are still a very popular choice. And innovation in the snubbie space has included adding an additional chamber to get to six shots, rethinking sight design, and improving purchase with better designed stocks.


Holster manufacturers have been stepping up their game during this season, innovating and expanding the functionality and durability of concealed-carry holsters. Indeed, Kydex has continued to be a popular choice, but leather remains in the material mix as well. And some manufacturers combine the two for hybrid holster solutions, while others offer holsters made with neoprene or other stretchy, comfortable materials. 

Carrying a concealed handgun at the 1 o’clock position (“appendix”) or otherwise in front of a waist grew in popularity, with people realizing that location offers very fast access. Holster designs changed to maximize the benefits of this carry location, with some offering a plastic “wing” meant to press against the wearer’s gun belt, effectively pushing the gun into the wearer, increasing the ability to conceal it. This type of holster works best when the wearer is relatively in shape, of course; otherwise it’s difficult enough to carry a handgun that has to fight with your gut.

Recently, several manufacturers have produced a wedge-type product meant to be affixed to the bottom inside of a holster that effectively applies pressure to the wearer’s body, forcing the grip of the handgun to lean in, against the wearer, again helping increase concealability.

Additionally, holster designs grew to include being able to affix a handgun to a firm panel, providing a secure means to storing a holstered handgun upright in a purse or shoulder bag. And fanny packs and sling packs showed up as a fashionable accessory for men and women — both wearing them like a sling with the main compartment basically right in front of the wearer’s chest. Fanny pack holsters, of course, had been around for a while, but now they’re back in vogue. These holster solutions provide a dedicated compartment for a handgun, usually a with a dedicated, universal holster and means of easy access.


Ammunition seems to enjoy significant attention when it comes to innovation, as manufacturers attempt to find just the right balance between bullet weight and velocity. Of course, bullet design plays a significant role as well. And with the popularity of concealed carry appealing to a wide range of shooters who are of every size, shape, and strength level imaginable, manufacturers have sought to make lighter-shooting loads that don’t kick as much but still deliver adequate stopping power.

Sighting Systems

Ruggedized miniature reflex sighting systems, or red-dot sites, were once the domain only of soldiers and police officers. Now they’re available for your average consumer. Both semi-auto pistol and revolver manufacturers offer red-dot-equipped or -ready handguns. These add a few unique functionalities to a handgun — and not merely a very helpful sighting system, provided you train up for it. Because a red-dot site is a significant physical addition to the top of a handgun, it needs to be eminently durable. Finally, holster manufacturers quickly accommodated some holster designs to allow these sighted handguns safe and secure carry-ability. 


General handgun accessories also kept pace with the concealed-carry trend. Although not so much an accessory but a way to add accessories, many handguns now come standard with a Picatinny rail for mounting a tactical light under the barrel. Shooters desiring to carry a spare magazine could do so by several means, including attaching a magnetized pocket clip to the magazine for easy storage in a pocket. Pants and shorts designed for concealed carry often include a dedicated pocket or two for carrying a magazine or a reload. Concealed carry shirts are very civilian looking — dressy, but with shorter tails and easy-open snaps disguised as buttons.

Other gear that has followed the concealed carry trend includes portable biometric safes and other locking mechanisms. Additionally, tactical pens and all manner of handheld lights are available as alternative self-defense solutions in case a concealed carry handgun isn’t the right solution.

Be sure to stay on top of the new products and the trends in order to help better inform your customers and provide more opportunities for cross selling. The innovation likely will only continue in the concealed carry category.


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