A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the advantages of carrying strong side and how it can be beneficial when it comes to training and consistency. Over the last two weeks, I’ve received a number of messages asking about different carry styles and what the advantages were for certain carry styles. You guys asked so I will happily break down the various carry styles and go through them. Let’s dive into the top 5 concealed carry styles.
Inside/Outside The Waistband Carry
Probably one of the most popular methods in carrying a concealed handgun is the inside or outside the waistband method. In my article last week, I talked about how easy it is to train and transition from range belts to concealed carry which streamlines the training process and builds reaction skills faster. With IWB and OWB carrying being one of the most popular you also have access to a wide variety of aftermarket support from belts to holsters and spare magazine holders. Depending on your holster selection and type of handgun, carrying inside or outside the waistband can be one of the most comfortable carry methods for all day use.
One of the newest forms of carrying concealed is the Appendix style carrying right in front of the body. Appendix style concealed carrying has become a favorite among younger concealed carriers and it has become one of the easiest ways to have a gun on your body that’s extremely fast to draw. Compared to something like the IWB/OWB option, Appendix carrying is right in front of your body which makes it extremely quick to clear outer garments and pull your handgun in a self-defense situation. With many new shooters starting at appendix, the aftermarket support for appendix holsters is increasing and now there are typically 1-2 manufacturers making holsters for any type of handgun on today’s market.
The biggest downside with Appendix carrying is the ability to sit down and bend comfortably during daily life. Every time I’ve tried to bend over while having a full or mid-size handgun in an Appendix holster, it’s always dug into my stomach and after a while can become uncomfortable. This is especially true if you’re a bigger guy with a little extra around your mid section since it will push on the holster more than someone with a washboard stomach. I know plenty of people who love their appendix holsters but if you’re a big guy, it may be better to find another option.
One of the more disputed carry methods by age has to be the shoulder holster. Carrying in a shoulder holster can have its benefits and the majority of people who carry in this method tend to be a bit older and experienced with carrying. Legendary holsters like the Galco Miami Classic II and Vertical Holster System are great options for comfortably carrying a larger handgun without weighing down your waistband. There are a few great options for having a shoulder holster is going on road trips and sitting for long periods of time in a vehicle. It’s incredibly easy to draw from a shoulder holster while sitting so I will occasionally throw one on for a cross country road trip or during the really cold Michigan months.
Another great option for a shoulder holster is when you need to be formal and wear a suit. Sometimes with certain cuts of dress pants, it can be difficult to carry an IWB holster. Depending on the size of the gun a vertical holster is best with a suit jacket to avoid printing. Probably the biggest disadvantage of using a shoulder holster is concealability in hot weather. It’s tough to effectively conceal a shoulder rig system when it’s a hot summer day. Crockett did a great job concealing it in his flashy white sport coat but in the real world, you would be really uncomfortable. Other than the summertime, having a shoulder holster as your carry method is a fairly fast and very comfortable way to carry a handgun.
Carrying on the ankle can be a great way to have a backup gun on your body without feeling cumbersome. Having a small snub nose revolver inside an ankle holster can provide some level of security while offering the all day comfort of having no gun on your belt. There are a number of LEO officers who swear by carrying an ankle back up gun. While the ankle gun set up provides a number of benefits like ease of use and comfortable carry, it’s not a great choice for carrying it as your main gun.
The biggest issue with carrying a concealed handgun on your ankle is how slow it is to draw. When you find yourself in a stressful situation, it’s not a natural motion to draw from the ankle. Instead of instantly pulling garments up with your free hand and pulling your gun with your dominant hand, you will be leaning down creating a target on the top of your head. When carrying a concealed handgun, the last thing I want to do is drop down and take my eyes off the threat. I want to keep eyes on the threat but most times you’ll have to break eye contact to pull the firearm from an ankle holster. I agree with the concept of it being a great backup gun carrying method if your main handgun goes down but as a main carrying method, I think there are better options out there.
I’ve written a few articles about different styles of off-body carrying over the years. Strangely, it’s always been a very divisive topic in the past. Off-body carry can be great in certain situations while putting the carrier at risk in other situations. A large percentage of women carry off-body with a handgun in their purse. Purse carry can be an easy way to conceal a handgun but it sometimes has issues. Having a handgun inside something like a purse which is associated with value most times isn’t a great idea because it makes you a target for the purse when your firearm is in there as well.
Having it in a computer bag that’s always with you while running errands can sometimes be faster to draw than if you had it in an IWB holster with a bag over time of it. Off-body carry is also great if you decide to carry something larger than just a pistol. With the level of unrest and violence in cities, a growing trend among people in the gun community is carrying a PDW style firearm. Whether it’s inside a backpack for daily errands or a truck gun, a larger firearm has its benefits. It can vary from a small MP5K or MCX Rattler, there has been an increase in aftermarket support for low profile bags that can carry larger size PDW weapons for daily use.
There are a number of other carry options and I may do a follow-up article down the road talking about other carry methods. Overall though, these have been the top 5 among the community over the last few years. I get questions all the time asking what the best method of carrying a handgun is for people. Honestly, I will typically say it depends on a number of factors. Depending on your lifestyle, body type, handgun type, and situation it can radically change what the best method is for you. Before picking it’s always a great idea to ask friends or people you know if they have insight. Some may even have an extra holster you can use to try out before spending money on a weapon system.
Personally, I still love the classic Inside the waistband method just because it’s comfortable and consistent with all my training when I’m using a range belt at the range. The methods of drawing and reloading are the same whether I’m at the range or carrying concealed so that consistency helps keep things simple. Let me know what your favorite method of carrying is in the comments below. If I forgot a carry method, don’t be afraid to drop it in the comments below and give me your opinion on why you love that method. If you guys have questions, feel free to shoot me a message on my Instagram page @fridgeoperator. Stay safe and thanks for swinging by TFB!