We spend quite a bit of time training new shooters that have either recently gotten their LTC or are preparing to do so. Many often ask us, “what is the best concealed carry method now that I have an LTC?”
Your profession, lifestyle, clothing preferences, whether you have children or not, and the climate where you live will all influence this decision. These considerations are specific to your everyday life and environment.
There is a prevalent mindset in the industry that you should always be prepared for the highest possible threat or worst-case scenario. Although this ideology has merit, most new gun owners aren’t going to shift right into carrying every day inside the waistband with a spare mag, light, and fixed blade for rapid deployment. Trial and error are needed to determine what you’re going to carry and how to do it comfortably.
Let’s get a broad overview of some methods of carry, when they may be appropriate, as well as some considerations for each.
Inside the Waistband - IWB
This term applies to a holster that rides between your body and your waistband. Carrying IWB allows you to conceal your pistol with a wider variety of clothing. T-shirts, tank tops, and hoodies can all be used as great concealment garments. Carrying in this manner usually requires shorts/pants with belt loops and belts though there are options for when a belt is not worn. IWB holsters can be worn anywhere from the appendix position to tucked behind the back.
Appendix Carry - AIWB
This carry method places an IWB holster just below your navel. This position allows high-speed acquisition of the tool not only standing but when seated. This can often be an unnerving type of carry for men because of the muzzle's direction. For this reason, some people prefer to run a DA/SA type pistol to know if there is any interference with the trigger during the holstering process.
Strong Side Carry - IWB
Using the same holster, some people prefer to run their rig in a 3~4 o’clock position or slightly to the rear. This orients the muzzle in a more comfortable direction than the appendix method. Although it can be somewhat slower than carrying on the front side of the body, it still provides a reasonably fast acquisition. One of the method’s downsides is the complication of drawing in vehicles, as it requires you to remove the seat belt and lean forward to acquire the pistol.
Outside the waistband - OWB
A concealment holster means that it rides closer to the body than a standard range or duty holster. With this method, you’ll need an open-faced garment to conceal it. Button-down shirts, vests, or coats of some kind will allow fast access. Living in a warmer climate may prevent you from utilizing an OWB carry style.
Carrying in a purse, fanny pack, or even a backpack is an excellent option for warmer weather and when you’re wearing an outfit that doesn’t allow you to carry in one of the above methods.
It's convenient, but it takes more time to deploy. Secondly, you no longer have direct control over your handgun. Bags can be stolen, and accessed by others very quickly, so you need to retain positive control of the pack at all times or place it in an inaccessible location.
- You don’t have to pick one method, but choosing one will be more consistent.
- It’s better to have slow access than no access. For some, choosing a more comfortable method of carry will result in carrying more often.
- If you carry in a bag or pack, we suggest a trigger guard holster like the Raven Vanguard.
- Some people prefer to carry it unloaded or “Israeli” to feel safer. Although racking the slide doesn’t take much time, we suggest training to a point where you feel safe carrying a loaded pistol.
- IWB style carry can result in “printing,” which shows the pistol's outline. Wearing looser and darker clothing will minimize this.
- If carrying OWB, ensure your cover garment is long enough to conceal it. Shorter jackets and vests will allow the bottom of the holster to show.
- Whichever holster you choose, it should allow easy reholstering of the pistol. Avoid the soft neoprene-type holsters and stick to Kydex or high-quality hard leather.
- 90% of the time, I run a G19 inside an HPG Belt Pack because I often wear gym attire.
- If I wear regular clothes and feel that on-person carry would be a better option, I carry my G19 in a G-Code Incog IWB holster in the appendix position.
- If in more rural and colder areas, I’ll switch to an OWB holster like the DSG Alpha with a coat over it.
- The only time I run a weapons-mounted light is if I am going to a movie theater.