After weighing the pros and cons of carrying a concealed firearm one must decide what device to use when carrying. There are four important factors that must be considered; concealment, access, retention, and comfort. Let’s take a quick look at each and then I’ll offer some suggestions for their application.
First, concealment. It is very important that when you carry concealed, average observant people will not recognize you are armed. Secondly, you must have good, easy access to your gun. Lethal force encounters happen very quickly, quite often in about TWO seconds. If you are fumbling through layers of clothing or an inordinate number of retention devices, your gun may be of little or even no use as the encounter may have ended before you can even draw. The result could be catastrophic.
Good retention is needed to maintain concealment; you don’t want your gun falling onto the floor in the vegetable aisle of the local supermarket, but it also must be easily accessed. Finally, your concealment device must be comfortable or you may simply refuse to use it and leave you gun at home.
In addition to the needs described above, you must practice the fundamental rules of firearms safety, especially the NRA’s first rule: ALWAYS point the gun in a safe direction. Among other factors, this means that if you must draw your gun, you don’t sweep or in any way endanger other innocents. It is my opinion that the best carry device is a strong side holster. The holster may be outside the waistband (OWB) or my preference, a good inside the waistband (IWB) holster. For either, I prefer a Kydex or Kydex combination holster with a leather or synthetic back plate that molds to your body. A good OWB example is the Blackhawk Serpa and any of the Crossbreed IWB clones work extremely well. These are quality holsters that are quite affordable and will meet the needs of most CWP users.
Another popular carry method is the holster purse or fanny pack. These can be quite useful in hot weather when one is not likely to wear covering garments such as jackets or vests. If you choose either of these methods, be responsible and make sure you learn the proper presentation techniques for these devices.
Cross draw and appendix holsters offer good access for small pistols and revolvers. Again, you must get the proper training and practice the correct techniques if you choose these devices. Shoulder holsters create many problems with presenting the gun when there are any innocents in the area. I personally find them awkward and bulky and I recommend you don’t use them. Small of the back, ankle, and pocket holster offer good concealment and retention, but comfort and especially access can be a problem.
Choosing a concealment device is not rocket science, but it may involve some experimentation. Many of us have a box of failures. Do your homework, ask others, but most importantly remember safety is paramount when you make your choice.
Be safe and good shooting.