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Concealed Carry Methods and Holster Types - Best and Worst Ways to Conceal Carry

Everybody has a preferred method to concealed carrying a pistol. Whether it's a favorite shoulder holster, inside or outside the waistband concealed carry holster, or an ankle holster – one size certainly doesn't fit all for this community.

In this article, we'll discuss some of the best and worst ways to conceal carry a pistol. More importantly, we'll discuss why they're the best and worst way to conceal a handgun.

Worst Concealed Carry Method: CCW Purse

For women on the go, there aren't a lot of comfortable options to conceal carry a pistol. Yet, more women are comprising the ranks of concealed carriers. This is a great thing! It works out in cases such as this one from 2015, where a woman with a ccw in Pittsburgh stopped a would-be armed assailant.

However, quite a few do carry in their purse. A purse isn't a great place to carry a concealed weapon because it can be snatched or taken away. More importantly, it's the first target for a robber.

The same would also apply to a man (or woman) who carries in a backpack, satchel, messenger bag or briefcase.

Another thing to bear in mind is that guns in purses are uniquely susceptible to drop fires. While drop safeties are standard equipment on nearly every pistol made these days, the truth is that they are not infallible and purses are easily dropped. It's also easy for something to work its way into the trigger guard and cause an accidental discharge. For those with small children, another consideration is that purses are easily gotten into by tiny hands connected to inquisitive minds.

Google "purse gun" sometime, and you'll find examples where toddlers gained access to guns stored in purses. Sometimes they only fired the gun and hit nothing. Sometimes the results are tragic. While dealing with an IWB holster can be a hassle and it is an extra expense, it's nothing compared to the risks that you run with purse carry.

Popular Concealed Carry Method: CCW Shoulder Holster

all types of concealed carry methods

For those that don't wish to carry inside the waistband, one popular option is to use a shoulder holster. However, shoulder holsters can require a bit more effort than an IWB holster, which can scare some people away. Not that the perceived shortcomings can't be overcome, but it is something to be aware of.

In other words, you have to get shoulder holster carry just right or you won't conceal effectively. How you do that, though...is the rub, so to speak.

As to concealment, additional layers are just necessary, period. There's no getting away with it otherwise. Granted, how MUCH layering is going to be necessary is the trick. As a general rule, the bigger the gun you carry the more layering is necessary. Body type matters too. If your shoulders are wider than your hips, concealment will be easier for obvious reasons.

Shoulder holsters are oriented vertically or horizontally. The former is easier to conceal than the latter, though horizontally-oriented shoulder holsters can still effectively conceal a pistol for plenty of folks. Concealment with a horizontal shoulder holster will get more difficult

Some people will find a compact pistol can be concealed in either orientation with a roomy button-up shirt, worn unbuttoned or buttoned. Others may find that a light jacket may be necessary, and others still will find it only works with a bulky winter coat.

Gun selection also plays a role. Again, a moderately-sized compact may easily conceal in either position for many people. A subcompact will conceal easily for many as well. Full-size guns, however, will conceal easily for some people and not at all for others. A very popular shoulder holster and gun pairing is a 1911 with a vertical shoulder holster; the slim frame and length pair well in this regard. However, a Sig P220 on a relatively slim person with narrow shoulders in a horizontal shoulder holster...may not work out.

However, some just don't like shoulder carry. Some critics point out that you end up "flagging" yourself or others (meaning the muzzle is pointing at them) and that isn't in the strictest keeping with the tenets of firearm safety, though the truth is carrying inside the waistband flags your legs too. Appendix carry flags something even more sensitive!

Another common complaint is poor strapping, as a good shoulder holster will distribute the weight of the gun to more than one shoulder. This is the Achilles heel of shoulder holsters, as many people have found them uncomfortable.

In short, it's great if you can get it right...but doing so takes some doing.

Middle Ground Concealed Carry Method: CCW Ankle Holster

The Alien Gear Holsters ShapeShift Ankle Holster

It's not particularly easy to get access to an ankle holster. While concealed carry instructors have demonstrated some good techniques, it's sort of counterintuitive.

One of the biggest assets to a CCW is the ability to move around a potential battle space. Having to redirect focus from the target to the holster is a big issue. For those with weak ankles or heavier set – ankle holsters aren't the best option.

Ankle holsters work best only when they've been extensively trained with. For those who prefer a sub-compact or even micro-compact concealed carry pistol – it can be a viable concealed carry method.


Best Concealed Carry Method: Inside the Waistband ( IWB ) Concealed Carry Holsters

concealed carry holster methods

No surprise here. Inside the waistband holsters are the standard for concealed carry with good reason. They conceal well and with a good range of pistols. If you select the right holster, they carry comfortably as well. Many people find little to no extra layering is necessary, though some people might.

When looking for an IWB holster, It's important to find a durable, comfortable inside the waistband concealed carry holster that adjusts with the person's specs. Whether it's the standard 15° cant used by the FBI or a custom configuration better suited for ergonomics, it's the best way to keep a pistol accessible.

While there are quite a variety of inside the waistband concealed carry holsters on the market, the best incorporate a pad, clips, and a sturdy polymer holster that is custom fitted to the weapon. Fit and retention of the pistol is especially important, as this ensures the pistol stays exactly where it needs to be until it needs to be used.

If you're interested to see if your pistol is compatible with an Alien Gear holster, have a look at our Search By Gun page! You might also check to see if your gun is compatible with our ShapeShift Modular Holster System..

Do you have a preferred concealed carrying method that works for you? If so, share it in the comment section below.

Sam Hoober

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.