Firearms Food for Thought: Choosing a Gun to Fit Your Clothes…or Vice Versa?

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While this may not be the usual firearms or gear-specific post it is relevant to those of us who carry a gun for self-defense purposes. Whether your EDC is large or small caliber, semi-auto or revolver, five-shot or fifteen, the question remains. Do you select your chosen firearm to suit your wardrobe or do you adjust your wardrobe to fit your firearm? This is a question that arises on a fairly regular basis. It’sΒ one I’m asked by both men and women but, yes, more often by women (or men trying to get their wives interested in concealed carry). And it’s one I always answer the same way.

Carrying at home means I can open carry without any problem.

Carrying at home means I can open carry without any problem.

This is where we diverge from a simple question to an opinion, which is why I am asking openly for you guys to give your opinions in the comments below. Concealed carry is a major responsibility, one that brings with it many choices. Those choices include selecting a caliber, type and model ogun, method of carry (and means to do so) – the list goes on. Don’t even get me started on the importance of selecting the right ammunition, and I don’t mean just that it should be defense ammo over training rounds. Clothing is an issue for men and women alike but I will readily admit it is a bigger deal for some women. Men seem more willing to make changes to accommodate their firearm of choice whereas women have a tendency to shy away from major changes. In my opinion, that’s why the concealed carry purse market is doing so well. Change an entire wardrobe or buy a new purse? Far too many women go for the purse.

Some shirts are fine as long as an open jacket is used as camouflage. I've found the thick leather belt I wear with a gun is the only noticeable thing with this particular shirt.

Some shirts are fine as long as an open jacket is used as camouflage. I’ve found the thick leather belt I wear with a gun is the only noticeable thing with this particular shirt. (And yes, I am terrible at selfies.)

Tactically speaking, on-body carry is far superior to any method of off-body carry whether purse or fanny pack. But I digress. When I began CC more years ago than I care to admit I also altered how I dress. It took only a few spins in front of a mirror to realize I couldn’t properly conceal my pistol wearing a baby tee and low-riders. Concealing my pistol was more important to me than a cute top, so it was out with the old, in with the new – the new and baggy.

There are some who believe in making the pistol fit their clothes, and that’s where part of the spike in pocket pistol sales has come from. Small-caliber pocket pistols are lighter-weight and smaller overall which allows for far more carry options including ankle holsters, belly bands, corset holsters, even thigh holsters. Of course, there are things small calibers don’t offer, too.

What do you think? Should an EDC be chosen based on caliber and fit to the particular shooter’s hand or should it be chosen based on how well it works with the particular shooter’s favorite shirt?



katie.ainsworth

Katie is an avid shooter, hunter, military journalist, and Southern girl. Firearms are her passion whether at the range or on a spot-and-stalk after a big buck. She’s a staff writer at The Firearm Blog and writes about guns, hunting, and the military for various publications both online and in print such as Outdoor Life, Handguns, and Shooting Illustrated. Shoot her a message at ainsworth.kat@usa.com


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  • Mattb

    I’ve managed to conceal my FNS compact in an alien gear cloak 2.0 without any change to my wardrobe. I think this can be attributed to my rather wide shoulders causes a men’s XL shirt to drape across my back. There are enough options in both guns and carry options that I think currently it can be up to preference. If you want to dress in tight clothes then a single stack 9mm appendix can probably work and if you want to carry a full size you probably don’t care about adjusting your fashion for it.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Have to give props to the Aliengear holster as well. I’m definitely a fan, especially as it’s one of the cheapest around as well.

  • A.WChuck

    In hot and humid climates I think it is best to have a range of CC pistols from small to full sized. 97 degrees and 90+ % humidity with a cover shirt would draw lots of unwanted attention, IMO.

    • Cotter Sayre

      I live in Mississippi, and I have zero problems carrying my 1911 Government with two spare mags all year around — you just have to know how to do it. I simply wear an un-tucked XL shirt over the whole deal, and no one’s the wiser; and I’m not any hotter than if I weren’t carrying a pistol.

      • JiminKY

        Cotter, may we ask what size shirt you normally wear?

        • Cotter Sayre

          Sure. I normally wear a Large Tall, so a XL Tall or a XXL works like a charm.

          When I first started to conceal carry in North Carolina in 1995, I felt that even my tiny Beretta .25ACP was printing, but back then I didn’t realize that NO ONE ever really looks at you in public, so even if I were carrying a damn Bazooka, they wouldn’t really notice…

          • JiminKY

            Just wanted to check. You are doing the same thing I normally do, buy up one size for a covering garment.

      • John Corder

        i carry a smith and wesson 500 magnum with a full bandoleer. its really not that heavy inside the waistband and i just wear a tee shirt 4 sizes too big with an accompanying hoodie and PRESTO nobody sees it.

        all humor aside, for me its a compromise. I will never carry a metal framed gun. the advances of polymer in the last 30 years have left steel in the dust for all purposes except style or class.

        I carry a 9mm most of the time and a .380 when my clothing or deep concealment dictates otherwise. If i can open carry i often carry a .357

        • Cotter Sayre

          Thing is, John, “style and class” are extremely important to me, and I simply cannot be proud of a plastic gun (even though I own a few). And since I can get dependability and power, as well as style, in a pistol — which I do in my (tuned) 1911 — then I go for it.

          As they say, “Life’s too short to carry an ugly gun”!

          Not my photo, but the exact same 1911 model as mine:

          • John Corder

            Sure is a nice gun and a GI 1911 is on my short list, but seeing as I’m a millennial and therefore have no class… PLASTIC FANRASTIC!

            I feel on a purely practical metric I can’t bring my self to carry a full sized 1911 when other options offering more rounds same caliber or smaller, and both weigh and measure significantly less.

            As I say “life’s to fast to carry a heavy gun”

            But seriously to each their own. It’s good you carry, and every day.

  • Rick O’Shay

    My wardrobe, my carry gun, and my holster have all seen multiple changes since I first started carrying. I’ve learned that whatever my setup, there’s always something that could be a little bit better, and I modify it when it’s beneficial.
    I went from carrying a full-frame non-polymer handgun in an Uncle Mike’s holster, with a really badly fitting wardrobe, when I first started. Made some wardrobe changes and got a better holster. Decided within a week I was tired of lugging around nearly 3 pounds of gun in the small of my back, changed the location of my carry, traded the gun, and modified my wardrobe around those changes. Decided I didn’t like the holster in that carry location, and that the gun was still too heavy, so got a subcompact version of the polymer, and my first “nice” IWB holster. My wardrobe could now be a bit nicer, as the new setup was even easier to conceal. Did that for a year, decided that the subcompact had too many things that were irritating about it, changed the holster, gun, and wardrobe, with the main wardrobe change being getting a “real” gun belt that actually looked civilian, and didn’t embarrass my wife on dates. I don’t have the luxury of multiple carry guns to choose from, so a lot of my choices have been motivated on what will let me carry the most comfortably, and fit in well with the widest variety of styles from formal to casual.
    It’s an ongoing process. I won’t knock anyone in their carry choices, because chances are they’re not done changing it up yet. I’ve yet to meet any fellow carriers who aren’t constantly trying to figure out how to improve their setup.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    I had my tailor sew in a custom leather lined inner pocket into my favorite light jacket from Banana Republic to hold my P238 and a spare mag.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Shes got two 38’s and a pistol somewhere.

    • anonymous

      I don’t know if they’re 38s, but they look pretty damn special to me.

      • Sarig

        Grow up.

      • Nicks87

        Wow, I was going to recommend Katie do a review of the new 5.11 yoga pants but I thought it might be inappropriate, your comment was a bit too much. …and we wonder why we don’t see more women out at the range.

    • Steven Kopischke

      c’mon man

    • iksnilol

      Eh, at least she isn’t as vain as I am. I rig up the light and use a 10 second timer to take my full body selfies.

      Maybe I am a douchebag, I am not sure?

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Borderline
        I’d tone it down

        • iksnilol

          Does that mean I have to choose between lighting and the timer?

          Because the timer is fantastic! I mean, I can do the whole sexy “slightly looking to the side whilst one hand is carefree in the pocket” look.

          Then again, the lighting does really bring out my musculature and definition.

          I mean, it is basically inhumane to ask somebody to choose between those two. I’m pretty sure choices like that fall under the “cruel and unusual punishment” part of the Hague convention.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            You’re scaring me dude.

          • iksnilol

            I could be a freelance model, but I don’t have any contacts. Calvin Klein and Hugo Boss have yet to reply πŸ™

            #ModelDreams

  • Nicks87

    The nicer I dress, the nicer of gun I carry. Normally it’s a glock 26 in a vanguard 2 but when I dress nice (suit/tie) its my SP 101 in a custom Black Hills Leather open top holster. If I carry a full size pistol (Glock 17/41) I wear a hockey jersey or football jersey to cover it up.

    • Edeco

      If roaming around in crocs, sweatpants & gel print T-shirt, Hi Point?

      • Patrick R.

        Sounds like you spotted Alex C. making a beer run.

        • Nicks87

          That’s too funny, but I’m sure Alex is probably carrying a nicer piece than that.

          • I actually dont remember the last time I have carried a gun.

          • Nicks87

            Of course, your man servant probably carries your guns to the range for you.

          • Naw, Patrick isn’t always with me.

      • Nicks87

        Hi Point or a Kel Tec P32. πŸ˜‰

    • Rustle Wiltson

      Im as skinny as it gets without being scrawny or emaciated. 6 foot, 150 lbs.

      Appendix carry of a full sized glock is easy to conceal, even in a form fitting t-shirt.

      A 1911 hides even better but a 4.25″ barrel is probably as long as I could go for this wonderful mode of carry.

      • Nicks87

        I wear the jerseys more for the size of the holster than the size of the pistol. I like single retention holsters when I carry the bigger guns and they tend to be a bit more bulky.

        • Rustle Wiltson

          Yeah the bigger guns need two belt loops/clips to stabilize em.

          I really cant stand to wear oversized clothing. It makes me look sloppy and even a bit scawny.

          Good thing aiwb became popular. No more cover garments!

  • Harrison Jones

    This is something I struggle with as a thinner guy in a professional business atmosphere. I’m required to dress my best and that means slimmer clothing. This severally limits my options and rules out tuck able holsters.

    While things are more casual then they used to be that means no jacket or tie. I still can’t untuck my shirt. I easily cary a Glock19 AIWB in an Eidolon under a sweater or untucked shirt. The holster works extremely well for my body type. During the winter this isn’t an issue but I’m worried about the summer when a sweater will be to hot at work.

    I’ve considered wearing a suit but when properly tailored the Glock 42 is the smallest I can safely carry without printing. I don’t like true pocket guns as I can’t shoot them that well with my larger hands. I’ve also considered smart carry but in the time it’d take me to get my gun out I’d be safely away or dead.

    • tincankilla

      i’m the same. i don’t carry now, but i would likely pocket carry or use one of those old detective shoulder cross draws.

      • Harrison Jones

        I haven’t found a gun/holster combo that I feel confident with. The glock 42 is the smallest gun a feel proficient with and it looks like a have a pillow in my from pocket. The shoulder holsters print like crazy.

        • Phil Elliott

          Try out a Kahr CM9, thinner than a Glock 42. Carry mine at the 3:30 under an untucked shirt.

          • Harrison Jones

            I’ll have to look into that!

    • Bill

      You need a new tailor. I hate suits and sport coats, but when I’m forced to get one I wear my normal load and the tailor is able to alter the jacket/coat to drape properly. The really good ones will also sew in a reinforcement to keep guns with hammers from wearing the lining. I’d stick with leather pancake holsters, kydex is too bumpy, and my preferred Askins-style holsters are slightly less smooth. Forget about double vents. And shoulder holsters.

      Plenty of cops and armed civilians wear suits, I’ve never had any problems getting them correctly tailored. Understand also that you’re getting fashion advice from a guy who spends as much time as possible in jeans and Carhartts.

  • nova3930

    It depends. I live in AL. As much as I’d love to carry a FS pistol everywhere all the time, wearing a jacket or other covering garment is just not gonna work in August, especially if I have to be outside. As much as practical I tailor my wardrobe to carry, but where it isn’t practical I tailor what I carry.

  • Bill

    I’m starting a business providing mobile fast digital portraiture for women. When I become King of the Universe, taking selfies will be a capital offense. At least there isn’t a toilet in the background.

    Two issues are task and threat analysis. I have to carry a gun in plainclothes, and have to go into situations where it may be needed, so I carry the biggest pistol I can, Off duty I can shrink it a little, because the task and threat matrix is different, but I still only carry .380s and J Frames when I’m REALLY not interested in having to shoot someone.

    There’s also a perceptual issue. We pay a lot more attention to our bulges and barrels the other people do. Women have a distinct advantage, in that, um, people, ah, not to say men, er, tend to focus on different “attributes” that aren’t located near where a gun might be. Women can also use distractors that men can’t: a bow in your hair, a brooch, a set of larger earrings, or a necklace can draw visual attention away from where a gun might be.

    There was a classic training photo from the late seventies that was ALWAYS used as an example of this – shot from a cop’s eye perspective of an attractive young lady in a convertible, wearing a low-cut blouse barely concealing a bountiful bosom – 99% of the cops shown the picture never saw the pistol on the console, in plain view, next to her. Damn, I wish I could find it.

  • Matt L.

    Now granted, I’m just some dumb college kid/retail sales drone, so I don’t have to run around with a tucked-in shirt all the time, but the two pistols I have currently are a 5″ 1911 and a full-size M&P9. I’m not exactly a big guy at 5’6″, but I can comfortably appendix carry either of those guns and at least one spare mag, all day, without printing. Even in the Texas summer heat.

    • Harrison Jones

      A guy can certainly carry a big when with correct fitting slimmer shirts when carrying AIWB. The tucked in shirt thing kills that though.

      • Matt L.

        Yep… I’m actually in the process of searching for a new job, and quite a few of the companies I’m looking at require a tucked-in shirt, so that has me worried.

        On the plus side, I bend kydex as a little side business, so I’ll be able to play around with some different ideas I’ve had. Hopefully at least one of them will work!

        • Harrison Jones

          If you could make a fast holster that works with a tucked in shirt I’m sure you’d sell a ton! I’ve been looking hard to find something. I’ll be the first in line if it’s a solid product.

          • Matt L.

            You know, I think I may have just come up with something– I won’t go into details because I have no idea whether or not it’ll work. But if it does, I’ll let you know!

          • Harrison Jones

            I’d appreciate that!

          • Core

            I think most folks who carry in business attire or tropical wear concealed might enjoy a sub compact shoulder rig. Walther ppk, pps, Colt Mustang etc.

        • Rustle Wiltson

          Id suggest a .38 for pocket carry over a tuckable holster. The airweights/lcrs are the quintessential deep concealment firearm of choice. The curvature of the snub allows for an easier draw from deep concealment and even in small(ish) pockets, in a proper holster, it doesn’t look like a gun whereas the hard angles on a semi are clearly visible.

          My lcr is my true constant companion. I’ve carried it nigh on every waking moment for 4 years. When Im not working it becomes my bug to a more capable auto loader on the belt.

          Nothing in the sub-compact world is as effective and flexible as the venerable snub nosed revolver.

        • Dylan

          A tucked IWB holster is a great option. I can conceal a full sized pistol better under a tucked shirt than an untucked shirt in a Front Line Deep Concealment holster, and I am skinny. people who know I always carry think I am not carrying. As you play around with your ideas, contact me and I can tell you what to try.The photo is a full-size double-stack pistol in the Deep Concealment Tuckable holster.

          • Dylan

            Tuckable holster.

      • Some Guy

        I dunno I can make a PPQ disappear AIWB in a well fitted suit.

        granted my draw would be slowed but I think I prefer it to throwing a seacamp in my pocket or something.

        • Harrison Jones

          I can’t make that work and 90% of the time my jacket is unbuttoned.

          • Some Guy

            AIWB seems to be very dependent on body shape and how you wear your pants. I also tend to scoot a little closer to 12 than what is probably considered ‘proper’ appendix carry and use a holster with a 10 degree cant.

            Granted anyone who knows what they’re looking for would see the clips from my holster (with my shirt tucked, that is) but most people are not very observant.

  • JrO

    I also share the same passion as you Katie, in that i love firearms too. On the weekends I work as a part time firearm salesman (for a LGS), along with i run a security team for my church on Sundays.

    In my main work, we use lots of tools ranging from air, electric, and hand to build engines. I wouldn’t take a hammer and expect that be the only tool we’d use to build an engine, nor would i start with just a ratchet and socket set.
    Same goes for CCW.

    Most the week i carry a M&P Bodygaurd 380 inside the right pocket of my pants w/2 spare mags. Its the only chance i have at CCW in Mechanics pants.
    When it comes to Sunday mornings, i switch to a Walther PPQ w/2 spare mags, Emerson karambit combat, and Eden tactical flashlight.

    Defensive mindset is truely what its called to make conceal carry work. Either people have the want for it or not.

  • Daniel Philip Cook

    I dress pretty hipster. Slim jeans and all that. I usually wear either a T-shirt or an untucked button up, usually fitted also. I conceal a Glock 19 with an IWB desantis holster, sometimes with 2 magazines OWB and year round(Alabama, so warm climate). I do print sometimes(especially my magazines), but it’s so hard to notice if you aren’t looking for it. And, nobody looks for it. I have got rid of clothes because they didn’t fit the gun and often times buy my pants an inch bigger to accommodate both style and gun. When I’m shopping for new clothes, I always bring the gun/holster and check the fit, so to speak. I’m 6′ and slim, and I work my clothes around my gun and still dress how I like.
    Sub compacts sacrifice shootability(more recoil, less grip real estate, reduced sight radius), capacity, performance of the projectile(energy, fps). With that, I’ll fit my clothes to the gun.

  • USMC03Vet

    Chicks trying to show off their bits problems.

    • iksnilol

      I know, my girlfriend had the same bits problems. The bits didn’t attach securely to the screwdriver.

      Wouldn’t it be more correct to say it is a screwdriver problem and not the bits fault?

  • Jeremy Star

    I own multiple defensive pistols so I can mix and match wardrobe with pistol and holster. 98 and humid? I’m probably pocket carrying. 40 and I probably have a full size under my sweater in an OWB.

    Honestly the thing that concerns me more than anything is being proficient with whatever pistol you choose to carry. I’ve seen WAY too many people shooting a tiny Kel-Tec or P938 at the range and they are unable to hit anything because even though they can conceal that pistol, they can’t shoot it. Important reminder: Smaller Pistol = Bigger Recoil. Smaller Pistol = SMaller Sight Radius.

  • Twilight sparkle

    This is the type of article we need more of, that’s for writing this πŸ˜€

    I usually tell people to get guns smaller than what they think they will carry because most people I deal with think they’re willing to put in the effort to carry a glock 19 but they’re really only ready for a 42.

  • Kefefs

    I’ve never been one for tight-fitting clothes, so there wasn’t much of a wardrobe change when I started carrying. The main thing is I when I buy new pants, I have to get something a little loose since I’m almost always carrying IWB. For everything else there was no change as I’ve always worn looser tops. I wouldn’t say the shirts I wear are baggy, but they’re just loose enough to be comfortable. I’m carrying a 4″ Ruger Security Six right now in an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 2.0, but have a nicer (and trimmer) kydex IWB being made for it. Before that I carried a full-size FNS-9 with a TLR-3 in a kydex IWB. No problems carrying either under just a t-shirt.

    I think, when choosing if you want to adapt your gun or wardrobe, you have to decide which is more important to you. I was lucky in that all I needed was larger pants to start carrying. For other people they may want to also consider compromising with a midsize gun and a slight change in clothing instead of opting for a pocket pistol or huge, baggy clothes. I’ll also say that they absolute MOST IMPORTANT part of carrying is a good belt and holster. Those can make the difference between you being able to carry an S&W Shield or government 1911.

  • Orion Quach

    Glock 19 appendix no matter my clothing. Skinny jeans, khakis, tank top, shorts….will carry at the 4 if I wear a suit.

  • Michael_Walters

    I felt I’d rather buy one “good” gun than several guns. I’m comfortable with the 1911A1 platform (it’s what the USMC had me qualify on each year), so I chose a Ruger SR1911. Everyday CC means some adjustment in what I wear (loose shirts, vests). At some point I may buy a pocket pistol so I have more freedom in what I carry, but buying a CCP for my wife takes precedence. Money is an issue for some of us.

  • Eric

    I tend to choose clothes to fit the gun. Pants with strong deep pockets for when I want to pocket carry or pants that are a size larger or which have an expandable waist for when I use a IWB holster.

  • Dwaine Dibbly

    I find it better to own (and train) with one CC pistol as a way to build muscle memory in case you actually have to use it. Pick the smallest you can that will do the job without unwarranted compromises (yeah, that’s very vague) then make your wardrobe work with it. The smaller firearm gives you more wardrobe freedom.

  • Jim_Macklin

    First things first. Pick a gun that fits your hand size. For many men in particular, the small pocket pistol, such as an LCP is too small. The other side of the coin, the double column magazine 9mm and 45 ACP is too big for some men and almost all women.
    Once you have picked a gun with a frame/grip size that is “just right” you need to evaluate your skill level, what caliber can you handle noise/muzzle blast and recoil and fire accurately and with reasonable second shot speed. If you’re a new shooter, you might be advised to carry the .22 you bought for training in the basics and practice.
    With the proper ammunition selection, even 32 ACP might be enough gun. But 380 ACP is generally considered minimum caliber, 9×19 [ 9mm Luger] may be the most versatile caliber since it is chambered in guns in all size ranges. Revolvers in 327, 38 Special and 357 may be better for some conditions or desires.
    The 10mm, 40 S&W and 45 ACP are excellent caliber choices for the shooter who the gun fits and the caliber muzzle blast and recoil has been managed.
    NOW, select your clothes. Try to avoid the purse since it is a primary target for theft. You won’t have your gun in hand when the mugger takes your purse or brief case. Off body carry is a last resort.
    IWB conceals well if the pants/slacks are not too tight. Relaxed or Loose fit hides bulges. A good gun belt, not a Walmart $10 leather belt, is essential. Depending on waist vs. hp size, for comfort suspenders might be better that just a very tight belt or suspenders might be absolutely required to keep your pants up.
    Plan on carrying spare ammunition in a magazine or speedloader and a tactical flashlight and probably a knife.
    Good shoes too, women’s high heels don’t supply the sure footing needed to run if necessary or the support to carry several pounds of gear.
    Size comparison Ruger LCP 380 with Ruger LC9 9mm

    • Core

      Good advice. I don’t think a 32 is something to be scoffed at. I think it’s very effective in the hands of a well trained shooter. Same goes for a number of other mouse calibers. After carrying and training a 45 Auto for a decade now, having transitioned from 9mm, the 9mm seems lethargic. But, we know that’s not the case with proper shot placement.

  • VF77

    It’s a good question. After lots of trial and error, i finall decided i wasnt gonna try to change what i wear (just a jeans and shirt guy, or cargo shorts when its warm), so i got my edc’s to fit my clothes. Either a PPS (soon to be an M2!) IWB at 4 o’clock, an LCP custom in a pocket holster or my NAA pug on a neck holster. I wish i could do my G19 without printing, but just cant really pull it off well, and got a little gut, so cant do appendix with it, and dont really like it pointing at my package anyway. Did a 1911 LW commander IWB for a while, but the PPS is lighter and more comfortable.

  • Bill

    If it comes to it, there’s always ankle rigs. I try to avoid them at all costs, bt sometimes its your only option.

    Ken Null used to make upside-down should rigs for smaller guns that would work under a shirt. I don’t know if he’s still in business.

  • jerry young

    I carry concealed I have a sub compact for summertime when I wear shorts and t shirts and medium sized one for normal dress then a full size for those times when I’m going into a known bad area and don’t worry so much about the print or for use when heavy clothing is needed, I’m a little on the heavy side and IWB doesn’t work well with me so I change guns to fit how I’m dressed

    • rcantor

      So how do you wear the gun in each of those situations?

      • jerry young

        I have custom made Kydex holsters that a friend sells they pull the gun in tight and don’t have much of a print, they have excelent retension and full trigger coverage, I don’t tuck my shirts in so they cover , even a t shirt covers my sub compact

  • NoNamesOnTheNet

    I haven’t changed my wardrobe at all. I can still wear slim fit shirts, and my G20 (with TLR-1), and double mag carrier without issue. I carry IWB at 3 and 9 o’clock without fail, and depending on the scenario, I’ve got a G43 in Small-Of-The-Back with another two magazines in my pocket. Picking the right body position, and holster will do alot more for you than changing your shirt.

    But if you’re ever worried about printing, go hangout with your mom for a day. If she’s anything like mine, she’ll notice even the tiniest bulge–and then incessantly harp on it until you make it go away. If she doesn’t notice, no one will.

  • Bruce

    Yes

  • _NL_

    IMO the seasons also play a big part. In summer everyone dresses more lightly, so there isn’t enough fabric to cover the CCW and therefore I think a more “(sub)compact”/pocket gun is more favourable. In winter, when wearing thicker/more clothes or jackets one can easily carry a larger gun without too much printing.

  • Will

    Yes,
    All the above but I must admit cold weather makes it much easier.

  • Mike Vee

    I have a 34″ waist, but buy 36″ pants to allow extra room for my IWB holster. I also have different model pistols for summer and winter, as I’m sure most people do.

  • Steven Kopischke

    I am just beginning my CCW journey. I have taken my class, but not yet obtained my permit. I have tested a couple of weapons for on-person carry and have chosen to purchase a new weapon (Glock 43) and obtain a IWB holster so I can carry it at 7:00 (I am left handed). I am willing to adjust my wardrobe to concealed carry. I live in a warm, humid climate so summer and winter clothing will need to adjust with me. I will no longer wear my polo shirts or t-shirts tucked in, but untucked. I am not a big fan of the look, but it is the adjustment I am willing to make to carry safely.

  • Rustle Wiltson

    Pocket carry kind of sucks regardless but it beats many alternatives.

    In a proper pocket holster, if anyone were paying attention, which is highly unlikely, you can see I have something in my pocket. The holster breaks up the outline enough that the curvature doesn’t blatantly appear to be a gun.

    Those hard 90 degree angles on the semis almost always look like a gun and never draw as smoothly as the snub.

    Maybe try smart carry. Didn’t work for me. Kangaroo carry looked promising but I didn’t try it.

    When I get the money Im gonna try either kramer brand or Ritchies gunleather ankle holsters. Well designed but very pricey.

    You might be over- thinking how your airweight prints. I wear somewhat fitted pants and haven’t had a problem.

    Try again and ask a friend if they can see your gun or ask someone who may not know you carry what’s in my pocket? Most people are too absorbed in their own world to notice these things. Tactical pants are usually built right to accommodate pocket rockets and chinos work sometimes as well.

    Good luck and always carry.

  • Shrike30

    It’s just about priorities. If EDC isn’t that important to someone, and they stop carrying because it’s too much effort to conceal their firearm, then a smaller/more portable pistol is a good choice for that person. If they aren’t that bothered by modifying their wardrobe, they should go with the largest/most capable firearm they can carry.

    I ran a Glock 23 for a decade and was considering going to an M&P shield because I got tired of dressing around the gun. Didn’t really feel like halving my capacity in the process though, so I did some research, bought a couple of good holsters, and started ordering jackets and the like in 42L/Large Long instead of 42 or Large. A couple of years later and now it’s a G17 with a light 9 months out of the year, and the G23 converted to 9mm, appendix, in the summer when it’s t-shirt weather.

    I think it’s more important that someone be passably-armed reliably than it is that they be well-armed occasionally. I may not align with their priorities if that means a J-frame or a pocket .380 is the biggest they “can” carry but I also don’t live their life. And once people get in the habit of actually EDCing, it’s a lot easier for them to talk themselves into more capable firearms.

  • Jim Drickamer

    Instead of choosing guns to fit clothes or clothes to fit guns, how about choosing both to face situations? For example, someone who works in a pawn shop or gun store might opt for a full-size handgun in a strong side holster with a shotgun or rifle back-up under the counter. When that same individual is taking his wife out for dinner and a movie, he might choose a compact handgun in an inside the waistband holster fully concealed under his shirt. Different situations, different weapons, different levels of concealment. One of the most considerations is risk.

  • 1inidaho

    I am fairly big and I carry depending on the weather. In the winter I appendix carry a pocket 9mm because I wear a heavy sweatshirt all the time. In warmer weather I carry a M&P Compact on a outside the waistband Desantis Mini-Scabbard with a cover garment. Both are running Hornady Critical Defense loads.

  • Core

    Katie, this is truly a subject of great debate and one that is specific to an individual’s body shape. And it doesn’t get discussed enough by us males. I run into an issue due to my leg size. I have athletic legs from years of running and weight training. My legs are pretty dense and everything under the belt is good until I sit down in a vehicle or office chair. Luckily I have no butt per say and I can conceal it behind the hip. I hope to see more like this, because it’s practical discussion for EDC. And your selfies look fine to me πŸ™‚

  • Doug Wicker

    I do both depending on the situation β€” dress to the gun; select gun to match dress (mostly during hot weather, sometimes to suit the occasion). Regardless of what I carry I almost always carry outside-the-waistband, but do have a Galco Miami Classic to fall back on when wearing a suit.

    My carry pieces range from (most to least often) P99c AS 9mm, PPK/S .380, PPK .32, SIG P229 9mm, SIG P220 .45, SIG P220 Compact .45, FNX-9.

    • Phil Hsueh

      How do you like carrying the full sized 220 and how do you carry it if I might ask? I have a 220 in .45 as well and when I did a quick IWB test with a modestly loose t-shirt over I found that it printed really badly, of course I got the results with my Glock 22 as well. However, this was just a test and a crude one at that too, I just tucked them inside the waist band with no holster just to see what it might look like if I were to carry either one of them. But, since I live in LA County there’s very little likelihood that I would ever get a CCW since they’re well nigh impossible to obtain in LA County, but I still wanted to see what it might be like if I were able to get a CCW.

      • Doug Wicker

        I have a Compact SAS Gen 2 and a Carry Equinox. Both are only 7.1 inches in length rather than the 8.9-inch length of the full size. When I carry one of the it’s in a Don Hume H721 “Double Nine” OWB holster with a loose-fitting shirt. No problems concealing that way. But I usually only carry the SIGs at night, and very seldom even then. My primary carry is a 9mm Walther P99c AS, which gives me 10+1 rounds versus 8+1 with the Equinox and 6+1 with the Compact.

      • Doug Wicker

        I have a Compact SAS Gen 2 and an Equinox Carry, which are both 7.1 inches long rather than the 8.9 inches of a full-size P220. When I carry one of the P220s it’s in a Don Hume H721 “Double Nine” OWB with thumb break. No problems concealing beneath a loose-fitting shirt. But I prefer to carry a 9mm Walther P99c AS with 10+1 capacity, which beats 8+1 with the Equinox or 6+1 with the Compact SAS Gen 2.

  • DwnRange

    Big difference overlooked here with regard to “women” is the vast majority of women I have taught NEVER held a handgun before in their lives. TACTICAL does compute with these ladies which is why handgun caliber and purse carry have a greater appeal to the neophytes of gun handling – that and the fact that non-tactical gun handlers should never over look or give up the use of “SURPRISE” as a technique for those with less competent gun handling skills.

    IMHO it is okay for ladies with less tactical handgun skill to feint the use the “weaker-sex” aspect in order to draw the perp up close and shoot them outta the handbag. For many this will be the first time to find themselves in a robbery/assault situation and the hidden proper grip on the gun in the purse, a bit of deceit and some “please don’t hurt me’s” goes a long way toward putting the scumbag off guard, drawing him in and making him an easier target. As perhaps he is only after the purse to begin with….

    The first and last thought on the perp’s mind should be “this lady is armed” for you let me or any other experienced self-defense person too close and we will take that handgun from you, male or female, as Chuck Taylor’s disarming techniques work and have save my life on at least one occasion and may do so again should the situation occur again.

    Nice article btw

  • jbird

    CC purses, a purse snatchers dream! I’ve tried and tried, and I just can’t come up with one example of when carrying in a purse is a good idea. But I can come up with many examples of how it’s a bad idea.

  • This article is one of interest for sure, but what I find lacking in most articles like this, as well as comments of same, is the most important point of all, your individual protection and survival when you actually need to use that firearm, whatever one you choose and for whatever reason.

    You can tailor your clothing to your handgun, or visa versa, but if you do and you end up carrying a firearm that is not going to immediately eliminate the threat that causes you to have to use the handgun, then you are likely to be a victim, even a dead one.

    Let’s be reasonable, as well as analytical here. First and foremost you want to choose the weapon, first for its knockdown power and accuracy, second for your ability to use it and hit what you are aiming at, and third conceal-ability. In doing so you are likely going to have to tailor your wardrobe around the weapon.

    For instance if you buy a .380 semi-automatic pocket pistol and it conceals nicely in your wardrobe and makes you happy you feel accomplished and comfortable, however if you can’t hit anything with it and even if you do it does not stop the assailant from either getting ahold of you or shooting back at you, then your cute little highly concealable .380 likely just got you killed. How good does your wardrobe look with bullet holes and blood?

    Prioritization is paramount in any life or death decision, and believe it or not the selection of a personal defense handgun is a life or death decision. Your highest priority is your life or the life of a loved one. All else is secondary.

    So I think you can see what has priority here, and that is the handgun. Choose the one you can shoot most accurately and the one that can stop the assailant the quickest then tailor your wardrobe to the weapon. Let us not allow vanity to cost us our life or the life of our loved ones. Remember that situational awareness is not just about what is around you, but also how you prepare for what may come.

    Please do not become a victim.

  • 2ThinkN_Do2

    5 million articles later, we are still rehashing the same concepts. Knockdown power, how to choose the right gun, capacity, carry method, etc.. Yet one of the most important bits of advice from many articles on self defense would be: Awareness. As for the tool(s) you choose, and how you carry it; knowledge and ability to use them properly and accurately when the time arises is key. And of course, the ability to access the tool(s) safely and without hinderance. i agree with Katie, wearing the weapon is better than in a bag of any type that might be an object of attraction to a threat. I highly doubt one is walking around with the hand in the bag at the ready for retrieval at every moment.

  • What matters is that you do carry, do it all the time, can access it quickly, and are intimately familiar with your firearm. An Inside-the-Pocket holster with a 9 mm, 38 Special, or even a .380 always beats a .45 ACP at home in the nightstand. IWB is a quicker draw, especially if you’re sitting in a vehicle.

  • Fern Galooth

    I am an old retired fuddy duddy so I can get away with this, I have a shoulder purse, ‘man bag’ if you will that I can throw on anytime I leave the house. While I can’t claim to have 2 second access to my Glock 36, I believe that in the worst of circumstances, I can access the gun in 5 or 6 seconds and have the luxury of toting 3 magazines, a flashlight, knife, keys, pens, medications, a Leatherman multi-tool and various and sundry other items.

  • Bill Hickox

    Our author is a woman, and quite attractive. For her conceal carry is FAR more difficult because of her size and feminine shape. We all kind of expect a woman of her looks to be wearing clothes that more attractively adorn her body. We certainly don’t expect attractive women to be wearing sacks as clothes.

  • iksnilol

    I don’t really conceal carry due to laws.

    If I am expecting trouble I just don’t go there, if I have to then Tokarev under the coat and “stabby knife” or two in the sleeves.

    Luckily I haven’t had a need for any of that. Quick feet and critical thinking is best.

    • Matt L.

      Paraphrasing an old aviation saying: “The superior gunfighter uses his superior judgement to avoid needing to make a vulgar display of his superior skills.”

      • iksnilol

        Basically.

        πŸ˜›

  • Tony O

    I work at a gun shop, and I see so many women come in looking for a pistol for self-defense, but they’re not serious about it. They want a tiny pocket pistol, because A. bigger guns are for men, B. bigger calibers are for men, C. they don’t want to change their lifestyle, etc. The list goes on and on. And they always choose the guns I would never let my wife carry. And they’re always new to shooting, have only shot dad’s/brother’s/boyfriend’s gun once or twice. But they’re insistent on their choice. So when they come back complaining, as almost always happens, I just let someone else handle it. Still bothers the hell out of me. Like, I’m here to help you. Seriously. I don’t just want your money, I want to give you the best option for you, as a person not used to shooting/carrying. You can always work your way in, but you’ll be less motivated if you start off with a poor choice of gun.

  • Sparky1st

    After reading several comments, I am going to make one. I am 73 years young, my wife of way over half those years is my age +1 month, my weight, 165+-, her 86, yes 86 pounds. I have opted for a” photographers” vest, one of those 4-40 pocket things, I cary a Springfield Champion 45 1911 4 inch barrel, she covers with a House vest, very light. her choice of guns vary most J frame revolvers, some smaller autos’ Problem is she shoots much better than I do, so I like a larger cal. i.e. longer barrel. the vest thing works well for us and we live in the southern part of Arkansas.

  • wm

    great thread. I carry the Glock 26 because of this. it is the smallest pistol i am comfortable with and able to conceal in the summer and winter. Having a small waist the only way i can CCW comfortably is AIWB or 2 o’clock. one more note. i also train with a number of Glocks as they all feel similar, so in an emergency, i have muscle memory from all the training regardless of the different guns.

  • jhorenka

    Some may want to check out Ammo Quest on YouTube. The ammo tests are with smaller framed guns with short barrels. Even some of the new .380 ammo meets FBI penetration standards. So if gun size and ammo effectiveness figure in then the info there might be helpful.

    As for me I comfortably carry a 9mm Sig P938 with the Hogue rubber grips and everone, ladies and guys alike, that picks it up loves the feel. I carry with the Federal HST +P ammo (FBI standard). Stainless steel slide and aluminum frame so it is solid. Practically speaking all of this talk about gun size is more like chocolate or vanilla so the smallest gun that is easy to conceal, that makes nice holes between 12 and 18 inches long, would seem a good choice for most people with averge size hands…

  • Archie Montgomery

    I selected a serious defense arm (LW Commander in .45 ACP) and dress around it. Due to legal restrictions (which are both a blessing and a limitation) I can only carry one sidearm.

    I do have the advantage of being an ‘older’ male. No one expects me to dress in surfer shorts and a wife-beater undershirt normally. I wear long trousers, loose enough to allow normal breathing, shirts and oftentimes either a light sweater or jacket.

    My disadvantage is I am no more than 5’6″ tall (about 1.68 meters) and am a bit pudgy; but loosing weight. My climatic conditions include summers in the low 100 degrees F (high 30s C) range to below freezing; anything from dessert hot and dry to near tropical rain and snow blizzard conditions.

    My apologies, but other than some obvious changes to open carry belt holsters (dealing with ‘angle’ for women, I really do not have any brilliant ideas.

    I suggest one’s attitude and self (gun) consciousness affect one’s ability to successfully carry more than mechanics.

  • Adam

    We’re talking life and death stuff here. Unless you have a uniform or a dress code you pick a gun and dress around it.

    I’ve gone out in 100 degree weather wearing a loose button down shirt and full length pants driving a vehicle without AC in order to conceal a glock 17 and spare mags. Maybe in the summer if you’re going to be outside all day some compromises must be made because heat will probably be more of a threat than criminals, but for the most part you dress around the gun.