Absolute Essentials For Every Concealed Carrier
Every concealed carrier has a concealed carry essentials list. He checks it twice. He doesn't care if you've been naughty or nice. Okay, sorry, Holidays theme music is spilling over a bit.
No matter what, there are things that every concealed carrier needs to have to ensure he's effective. A handgun is certainly one, and one compatible with concealed carry. You'll also need a permit for said handgun, if required in your state of residence. Some backup magazines are a good idea, as is a good gun belt.
You'll also need a good concealed carry holster.
In this article, we'll go over the concealed carry essentials, how to get them, what to look for in the gear that you select and so on. Obtain these items, and you'll be ready for concealed carry.
Get Your CCW Permit
The very first step in becoming a concealed carrier is getting a concealed carry weapons permit. If you live in a constitutional carry state, chances are good you don't need a permit while you're inside that state. However, if you go outside that state, you will need a permit. You'll also need to know which states acknowledge your state's permit.
If you don't know where to start, google your state followed by “concealed carry weapons permit”. I'm a New Hampshire resident so when I googled “NH concealed carry weapons permit”, I saw the New Hampshire state's rules and regulations on the process to issue a resident pistol/revolver license. Always go to a site with “.gov” and is directly associated with your state. They will usually have that process laid out. And after a bit of reading and probably some printing of paperwork, you will be on your way to receiving a concealed carry weapons permit. The major exceptions are states that are extremely rigorous with their guidelines: namely New Jersey, Maryland, D.C., Hawaii, and some counties in California.
Once you have your resident CCW permit issued, you can then think about applying for non-resident permits in states that do not acknowledge your state's CCW. That's a subject for a later article.
Concealed Carry Training
Some states require a CCW applicant to complete a standard course prior to receiving his or her permit. If you're in one of those states, you'll likely find that your course will be great for initial familiarization with the laws governing concealed carriage, reciprocity, and a variety of self-defense issues.
If you're in one of the few states that doesn't have a training requirement, it's still recommended that you find a course that is certified through either the NRA or another major, accepted firearms organization. Not only will the course serve to give you a baseline on what to expect, it can also prepare you to deal with any of the concealed carry law hurdles you may encounter down the road.
Selecting A CCW Handgun
A lot of people just walk into the store and take a gun at first appearances. They may pick up a pistol and admire it, wave it around foolishly, or do all sorts of silly things.
Appearances, though, can be deceiving.
The right handgun for you isn't just about what fits right in your hand, it's also what you're comfortable shooting. While it's good to have a budget in mind, the best possible way to know what handgun is right for you is by shooting a variety of them at a range that offers gun rentals. This is a fast and fun way to learn about different handguns and decide which one you're truly comfortable with.
If you live in a state where it doesn't matter if you open carry or carry concealed, you're probably a lot less concerned whether or not your favorite handgun hides well on your person. For those of us who live in states, or live under conditions where it is more favorable to maintain a concealed carry profile – choose a ccw gun that works well with that.
You naturally pick this gun up and put rounds on target. It fits well in your hand, you've spent time at the range with it, and you trust its performance. These are factors that can only be determined with time and practice.
Not everyone was created looking the same way. Some of us have larger waists and others are long, narrow, and gaunt. It doesn't matter what you look like – it only matter that you can safely store that handgun on your body in a manner where it remains concealed. The first step, as mentioned above, is that you trust the gun to perform. There is no point in carrying a gun everyday that you do not feel confident about shooting.
Ultimately, selecting a carry gun is about balancing factors as you want a gun you can easily carry and conceal but that you also shoot well. In other words, get the smallest gun that you can shoot comfortably and accurately. For some people, that's a compact like the Glock 19, S&W M&P9 or an Officer-frame 1911. For others, anything less than a full-size just won't do. Other people still are totally fine with a snubbie revolver.
Selecting A Comfortable, Safe Holster
In this new age of marketing fandango glitz, a lot of manufacturers will rush to market a product that is not safe, isn't effective, but looks pretty. Your concealed carry holster doesn't need to look pretty – it needs to work and be comfortable to wear.
Before you ask, you need a holster.
The most popular holsters for concealed carry are inside the waistband holsters, including traditional IWB holsters and appendix carry holsters. They are easiest to conceal. With the right construction, they are also quite comfortable to wear.
Most people find the hybrid design to be most comfortable. This holster design combines a comfortable backpad and a high-retention polymer shell. Provided good retention, such a holster is secure when sitting, standing, jumping up and down – the gun stays put and your lower back isn't taking a beating.
Don't Forget About The Gun Belt
In the rush to get equipped, we sometimes overlook the small things. Going along with lower back stuff, if your belt sags or doesn't hold tight to your waistline, you could be inadvertently exposing yourself to long-term cricks and back pains as a result.
Gun belts are a "buy once, cry once" purchase. Once you've secured a good example, your carry will improve immediately. A good leather gun belt will last for years, so it's hardly something you'll need to buy on a regular basis.
Besides making carry more secure and more comfortable, a good gun belt also helps you keep concealed and the pistol secured. In this regard, it's also a piece of vital safety equipment just as a good holster is.
One is done, two is good, and three is very ideal. Because we always carry with a round in the chamber, there may come a time we need to change magazines. Having that extra magazine is more than just a “good thought” -- it's a lifeline in the event you're actually in a self-defense situation. While we all hope self-defense shooting situations resolve themselves quickly, there are absolutely no guarantees of anything in a gunfight. magazine carriers are important to keep on you for the extra ammunition capacity. Also, if you can, keep another in the vehicle just in case.
We live in an age where cell phones aren't just a status symbol anymore – they're our lifeline in an emergency. Whether it's calling emergency services to respond to a non-shooting incident or simply calling the police to ask for their assistance, a cell phone is something that we should keep on us at all times.
Other Concealed Carry Essentials
There are some other items that may be considered concealed carry essentials, depending on whom you ask. Whether they are or not could be considered debatable, though the utility of these items is undisputed.
For instance, a good EDC knife is a great piece of gear. Fixed or folder (the latter being most popular) having a blade on hand for opening mails and boxes is a good idea. If you can't get to your gun for whatever reason, it's also good for opening people if needs be. A handy tool and backup weapon for self-defense both, so certainly a good idea.
A growing number of people carry a tourniquet and/or a compact first aid kit, usually small enough to fit in a pocket. Also a great idea in case of a catastrophic event of some sort.
A flashlight is also a very good EDC item to have. Just like picking a carry gun, you want to get a light with the highest lumen count that's easily carried. You need illumination, but you don't need a Maglight the size of your arm to go everywhere with you.
Anything we missed? Sound off in the comments down below!
We'd love to hear suggestions for other concealed carry essentials or EDC gear that everyone should have!
About The Author
James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.