For many people, a pistol is a guarantee of personal safety in an often uncertain world. Whether you’re a civilian, a police officer or in a military trade that involves working out of uniform, a concealed handgun is an effective personal defense weapon that allows you to be unobtrusively protected and to escalate or de-escalate a situation as required. You’re not overtly threatening, but you have the means to defend yourself if necessary – it’s an ideal combination.
Of course the big question is, how are you going to carry? There are three factors you need to take into account:
- Concealment: A concealed carry option has to be unobtrusive. If it’s obvious that you’re carrying it can be awkward for a civilian; for military intelligence operators or some police officers it can be a disaster. The trouble is it’s not too easy to conceal a service pistol, and compact models often aren’t an option.
- Security: Your system has to hold the weapon and magazines securely even when you’re throwing yourself around.
- Access: You need to be able to deploy the weapon quickly and reliably when it’s needed; if it takes a few seconds of fumbling to draw, or to change magazines, you could be overpowered.
How to Carry Concealed
In the USA, the most popular solution has usually been shoulder holsters. These have a lot of advantages: they allow easy access when you’re driving, they place the weapon in a naturally shielded area, and with good closures they’re very secure. There are downsides too, though. They’re very hard to wear covertly in light clothing, such as you’d wear in a hot climate. You can’t wear one under a T-shirt, and if you wear an unbuttoned shirt over the top, it can easily blow back to reveal the weapon.
The British military prefer to carry handguns in the front of the belt. This is quite covert; a loose T-shirt or fastened shirt covers it easily while allowing fast, reliable access, and because it’s close to the genitals it can evade even a casual body search. On the other hand, it’s very uncomfortable when driving or sitting. There can also be security issues; some operators prefer to put the weapon directly in the belt, because if required, it’s easy to ditch a pistol and a couple of magazines but hard to remove a holster and pouches. A more popular option is a low-profile pancake holster, fixed to the belt but worn inside the waistband. It’s much more secure.
A new option is shirts with integrated weapon carriage, like the Holster Shirt from 5.11 Tactical. This is a T-shirt, with or without sleeves, that has a shoulder yoke with pockets for a handgun and ammunition. It has all the benefits of a shoulder holster but does a much better job of concealing the weapon. The yoke has a mesh structure that doesn’t trap body heat or sweat but hides the outline of the pocket contents. Wear an unbuttoned shirt over the top, and even if it blows, open you’ll stay covert.
If you need to carry a concealed firearm you need to keep it hidden, secure, and available. It’s worth spending some time finding the right solution. It’s a very personal choice and what works for someone else might not work for you. The good news is there are plenty of products available and one of them will do just what you need.