Concealed carry is one way that people can keep protection, in the form of a firearm on their person at all times. I have frequently written about the merits of concealed carry and even the best way to carry concealed in my opinion for those who so choose. For the law-abiding citizen, carrying concealed is one way to provide defensive capabilities to yourself should you end up in a bad situation and your life is on the line.
Recent events like the terrorist shooting in San Bernardino or any one of dozens of other examples of terrorism here in the US might be spurring millions to purchase a firearm for security. I agree that for me at least this makes sense, but carrying concealed isn’t a magical unicorn that will flawlessly offer you peace of mind and protection from all evil forces in a simple and convenient way. I don’t mean to imply that this option works for everyone either or that you specifically should carry concealed. It is an option that I think sober people who want to protect their families and loved ones should consider, but it isn’t for everyone.
There are a few drawbacks to carrying concealed that I thought might be worth mentioning for perspective and to showcase another side of this issue. I will say up front now that I have faced all of the situations I am listing below and still choose to conceal carry virtually everywhere I go, but I hope this does give someone considering carrying concealed a little more information to reflect on before you make your final choice.
One of our readers commented on a separate post about some of their perceptions about the drawbacks of carrying concealed and that prompted my list below.
One size does not fit all
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of handguns out there you could consider as your concealed carry weapon. Some weapons are designed with smaller frames and shorter barrels to ease concealment. Others are full-sized weapons not designed specifically for concealment that people choose to simply hide a little better, but if you aren’t showing that on your hip for the world to see it is concealed. This presents the first problem I had to deal with.
I wanted my concealed carry permit for a lot of reasons. Most of them are detailed in my post titled Obligation to Carry Concealed and if you are considering if this is right for you, I might recommend you read that article first. Once you do decide that carrying concealed firearms is something you want to pursue, I would first check out the laws in your state. The website USAConcealedCarry.com has a lot of useful information. I would also talk to friends and family you know if possible for their advice and perspective.
Back to my point. The first weapon I purchased for concealed carry was a Beretta Mini Cougar chambered in .40. I admit that I let the coolness factor of the firearm sell me more than the practicality. It was so beautiful and fit my hand perfectly. It shot well and with the regular magazine (not the extended grip) it was a good bit shorter. It was also heavy as all get out.
The completely steel frame of the Beretta I am sure increased some stability with shooting and was certainly more durable but fully loaded it felt like I was carrying a brick in my pants.
This didn’t last long so I figured I would downsize to something lighter. At this time I was working in an office so business casual was my normal dress. I couldn’t go with anything that stuck out of my pants and I wasn’t going to start wearing sport coats at a place where most people wore flip-flops and shorts to work so I started looking at .380’s and settled on the little Kel-tec P-3AT.
This fit in my pocket nicely and didn’t print much at all. I figured that all of my problems were solved and actually carried this weapon for several years. I guess I knew all along that the .380 caliber wasn’t ideal in terms of stopping power and decided that I needed to go back up to a larger caliber. I traded the used Beretta for a brand new Glock 22 chambered in .40. It wasn’t concealed size but I wanted to look for a different option and I had a lot of a.
This time I tried the Glock 30S chambered in .45 because not many people will argue that a .45 isn’t substantial enough, provided your shots are accurate, to take just about any man and some larger wildlife down. This was definitely a smaller profile but not small enough. It was too heavy as well so I was back to square one.
Carrying concealed isn’t always comfortable
My Glock 30S was about the smallest weapon of that caliber I could find without going really exotic. Besides, I am a Glock fan so it was good to have another one in the stable to go along with my 17 in 9mm, but the 30S was still too heavy and too uncomfortable in the small of my back for anything other than walking around. Sitting down all day, which is what I usually do, was painful. Trying to draw if I am in a vehicle driving was almost impossible.
The 30S did work if I could wear this on my strong side hip with a shirt that was untucked and I didn’t encounter situations where people touching me were possible but now I had to move my Leatherman and flashlight to my left side which felt odd. Additionally, I now had what looked like a Bat Utility belt. All of these problems caused me to continue looking.
But even when I found what I consider to be the best option in a firearm, holster and carry method for me, I still can’t go about carrying concealed every day without considering a lot of different factors.
- Where am I going today?
- What type of situations will I encounter there?
- What am I going to wear?
- What will I be doing all day?
I can’t simply roll out of bed and grab my gun because I might be traveling on business. I might be going somewhere that doesn’t allow concealed weapons and there is a possibility I could be searched. I might not be wearing clothes that lend themselves to concealment or my outfit needs to adjust.
Then there are other challenges that might present themselves. Going to the bathroom comes to mind and just about any carry method I have tried involves my pants. When they go down as they sometimes need to do, so does your weapon. If the belt is loose, your retention on that weapon can be lost so you sometimes need to juggle weapon placement while you are doing your business so it doesn’t hit the floor or show to the guy sitting next to you.
This also goes for when you are pulling your pants back up. I find that doing this with the weapon on the belt isn’t as easy as removing the weapon, adjusting your pants and belt and then seating the weapon in the holster. Makes a guy avoid going to the John at all costs. Not really, but it is something to think about.
Carrying in the summer offers the advantage of un-tucked shirts usually, but shorts don’t always come with loops large enough for a belt that will retain your weapon securely. Some of my shorts don’t have loops at all so if I want to carry concealed, I have to adjust my outfit. Then you have sweat so you either make sure you are oiling your weapon or the holster covers it or you wear a T-shirt and sweat more or some combination of all of the above.
Don’t even get me started on holsters. Each way you carry and each weapon could potentially require a different holster for the best retention, access and comfort.
Lastly, the position you carry your holster and your concealed carry firearm will likely cause some discomfort or further inconvenience in some situations. When I am carrying inside the waist band (IWB) bending over can hurt. If I am carrying on my hip, getting my wallet out is much more difficult. Side, my front pocket is covered a little. Small of back, pain when sitting plus I never know if I am showing without constantly pulling on my shirt tail.
Carrying concealed takes discipline
But before I dissuade anyone from carrying let me finish one last point and that is in order to be as proficient as you can with the simple act of carrying your firearm, let alone using it accurately, you need to practice. If you don’t carry your weapon every day, the chance that you won’t have it when you need it goes up. I look at my concealed carry as part of my EDC. It goes with me just about everywhere. Even to the pool. No, it isn’t in my swimming trunks but I have a plan for that and carrying everyday will give you the experience you need to figure out what works for you and how to overcome these minor annoyances I mentioned above.
I feel that after a lot of time and practice I have a system that works for me. I did purchase another Glock, the G43 in 9mm which is a very compact and light framed pistol. I carry that weapon IWB appendix and have for several months now so I alleviate many of the problems I encountered with other methods, but I still have to be careful bending over too far. I learned quickly to tie my shoes and then put the weapon in my belt.
There are many different things to consider before you carry concealed. The legal and moral obligations and ramifications of using your weapon in a defensive way alone should give you great pause. If you are confident you want to carry concealed, I applaud your efforts, but urge you to try many different types of weapons out before you purchase one. Decide where you will carry by trying each of the methods you think will work for you first before buying a holster. Talk to someone who does carry daily and get their perspective.
by Pat Henry