A Quick Tutorial On How To Carry Concealed

When I talk with people about what I do for a living, the conversation quickly turns to guns. People will either not be interested, be slightly interested, mention that they have a gun but don’t carry it, or mention that they have their concealed carry permit (if it’s needed in their state). Many people in these last two categories have the desire to carry concealed but lack some of the knowledge about how to carry concealed. There is a fundamental gap between the desire to stay safe and the habits needed to be truly effective with your defensive pistol. We like to think that just owning a gun is enough, as if somehow the mere presence of a firearm is enough to keep us safe. 

That idea could not be more wrong. 

There is a fire extinguisher under my kitchen sink. I’ve never tested it, nor have I bought another one and used it in my backyard just to see how it works and what I would need to do with it in an emergency. Knowing that I have a fire extinguisher in my home makes me feel a bit more secure, but I’ve never taken the time to learn how to use it properly. 

Making the connection yet? I’ll be remedying my lack of skill with a fire extinguisher this weekend and making sure the rest of my family knows what to do with it as well. In the meantime, here’s a quick guide on how to carry concealed, so you can not only have a gun nearby but also be a safe and effective gun owner.

Carrying Concealed Begins With Carrying A Gun 

That fire extinguisher under my sink does me little good if I’m out on the road in my car. Likewise, a gun under your bed does you little good if you’re out and about doing your daily routine. Carry your gun wherever you can, because you won’t get to decide when you’ll need it. 

And yes, I am getting a fire extinguisher for my car as well. 

Concealing a Gun Is Easier Than You Think

After you make the decision to carry, you need to get in the habit of carrying concealed. I wish there was something I could tell you that would be a shortcut to getting in the habit of carrying a gun, but there isn’t. The best I can tell you is, the more normal a given activity seems to us, the better chance it will become a habit for us. The more you do to make carrying a gun seem normal, the more you will carry one with you. 

In my case, I started carrying my first pistol, a CZ75, with me each night as I walked to my community post office locker. I lived in Arizona at the time, and Arizona is an open carry state.  So, I carried my pistol openly on a short walk each evening so I could get used to having it with me when I left the house. 

Shooting practical pistol matches is another way to get used to the weight of a gun on your hip. Your gun stays with you, unloaded, as you move around in between your turn to shoot. Wearing your gun around for two or three hours as you paste targets and reset the stage in-between shooters is an excellent way to adjust to the weight of a gun on your hip. 

Carry Comfortably

The next step is learning how to carry concealed. A holster is an essential part of this (we’ve talked about picking out a good holster here), as is a good gun belt to distribute the weight of your gun around your waist. All of this, however, needs to be concealed by a cover garment. There are essentially two types of cover garments, open and closed. 

Open cover garments are things like suit jackets and vests, which zip or button on the front but are usually worn open. Closed cover garments are things like untucked t-shirts or casual shirts. I usually use a t-shirt for my concealment garment because that’s how I dressed before I learned how to carry concealed. I live in Florida, so I rarely wear jackets. And even though I live in one of the centers of sport-fishing in the U.S., I don’t see people walking around town wearing fishing vests. When carrying concealed, the idea is to be as inconspicuous as possible. Using a concealment garment that makes you stand out from the crowd defeats much of the purpose of carrying concealed. 

Keep It Secret. Keep It Safe. 

One of the biggest fears I hear from people who are learning how to carry concealed is that their gun is visible under their cover garment. We call that “printing,” and it isn’t that much of a concern, until it is.

Let me explain.

First off, I agree with what my friend Lucas says over at Triangle Tactical. In today’s smartphone world, we are used to seeing people with awkward lumps of whatever on their hips, sometimes under a t-shirt, sometimes not. Therefore, it’s not as big of a deal if people see the outline of a carry gun as it was even ten years ago. 

However, I also agree with my friend Greg Ellifritz. Most people don’t care if you carry a gun. But criminals care, and they care a lot. A gun is a valuable resource for them, worth more than cash. So, make sure you’re not advertising the fact that you’re carrying a valuable resource on your person. Keep your gun concealed. 

It All Begins With A Look

Right now, there are a fair number of people who read that last paragraph and thought to themselves, “That’s ridiculous. I discourage crime by wearing my gun openly.” 

Look, I am not anti-open carry. I did so regularly when I lived in Arizona, and I support the efforts to bring it to Florida. However, a gun is just a part of your plan to stay safe. That plan begins with not looking like a victim. If you’re unaware of your surroundings or if you walk around looking nervous and tense, you look like a victim. Prey looks like prey, no matter if people can see your gun or not. Get your head out of your smartphone and start looking around. Carry a flashlight and use it when it gets dark. Rather than glance down at your phone, look around the parking lot when you walk out of a store. Your chances of being a victim drop dramatically when you stop looking like a potential victim.

Prepare For The Worst, Whatever It May Be

Concealed Carry Medical Gear

It’s easier than you think to conceal first aid gear on you.

Speaking of flashlights, carry one with you all the time. Carry some medical gear, too, and learn how to use it. Spare ammo isn’t a bad idea either. The chances of an armed citizen needing to reload their gun during or after a defensive encounter are very small. However, if the need arises, there really isn’t a substitute for extra ammo.  Carrying a spare magazine solves more problems than it causes, so I tend to have one near me when I carry concealed. 

We are not police officers. It is not our duty to rid the streets of criminals. That’s Batman’s job. Our goal is to avoid trouble and then de-escalate it if possible. Your concealed carry firearm, like any kind of lethal force, is to be used only in the gravest extreme. You can solve a lot more problems by learning how to think on your feet and use words, not fists. This will also help keep you out of court. 

Relax And Live Your Life

You know that feeling on Christmas Eve when all the presents are wrapped and everything is set for the next morning? Feels good, doesn’t it? That’s what it feels like when you learn how to carry concealed. It feels good to know that I’m capable of dealing with life’s little ups and downs. It feels good to know I have the gear and training to deal with almost any medical emergency around me. And it feels good to know I have the means and ability to protect myself and loved ones from the threat of lethal force. Owning a tool like a fire extinguisher is good. Knowing how to put out a fire with it is even better.