By Sammy Reese, American Handgunner
The key word in concealed carry is concealed. In many jurisdictions, if you accidentally expose your firearm and someone reports a man with a gun, it’s a good bet you’ll lose the right to carry your gun, at least for the short term.
The wrong concealment attire is almost as bad as no cover garment at all. Let’s start with the “printer.” This is the guy who thinks for some reason wearing his little brother’s T-shirt will adequately conceal his holstered handgun and accessories. If you’re assuming people will just think it’s your cell phone, you’re wrong. My wife and kids are called upon frequently to check me out and see if I’m printing, or as my wife calls it “imprinting.” My son, Hondo, is so good at it he catches people out on the street — “Hey dad, that guy’s packing, I can see it through his shirt.” And he’s only 11.
Tactical vests — you know the kind with a 1,000 pockets on them usually found in coyote tan or ninja black — are great for when I’m teaching on the range. I can load ’em up with all kinds of gear, ranging from extra bullets and Band-Aids, to my secret stash of Jujubes. I’ve heard these vests called “shoot-me-first vests.” The bad guys will be able to pick you out of a crowd as the guy carrying a gun, and they’ll shoot you first, and then complete their armed robbery. Don’t be that guy.
Right: T-shirt with a loose-fitting cover shirt and tails out.
He’s got a 5″ Les Baer 1911 right there. See it? We didn’t think so.
Right way: Sammy’s Mountain Khakis’ Stagecoach Vest gets a lot of
workout hiding Sammy’s roscoe. Note Sammy’s happy face.
He’s actually smiling. No … really.
The Right Way
I’ll never be accused of being a slave to fashion trends (just ask my wife). My concern with fashion leans more toward: Do I blend into the environment, and can I go about my business without anyone knowing I’m carrying a gun?
Where I live it’s warm most of the year so I can’t rely on a heavy coat to cover up. Like holsters, I’ve had to try many different types of shirts to find the styles having the right cut and colors to conceal what’s hidden. Many of the “tactical” garment companies make “covert” garments specifically for concealed carry. I haven’t tried them all, but I’ve had good results with BLACKHAWK!, Woolrich and 5.11 Tactical.
If you are into pocket carry, make sure you use a pocket holster, and the pocket has sufficient room for not only the gun but also for your hand so you can draw. I don’t own any, but I’m guessing the new skinny-style jeans are not going to work for even the smallest of pocket guns.
If you live where you can get away with wearing a vest for a cover-up then do it. Just make sure it covers the way you carry and won’t get you shot or arrested. I have a stagecoach vest from Mountain Khakis that gets a lot of wear when it’s cooler outside. The length and cut of the vest is perfect for belt or a shoulder rig carry. I can conduct my daily activities without worrying about exposing my gun.
Wrong: Sammy’s “Shoot Me First” vest allowing a bit of CCW Peeking Out.
It’s not cool, it’s stupid — and you’re an idiot if you allow this to happen.
Carrying a gun is a huge responsibility. The gun cost a lot of money, and the holster, mag pouch and belt should have cost a few bucks too. Ammo and training add in another pile of cash, and now I’m telling you, you need a new wardrobe. Not exactly a whole new wardrobe, but make the most of what you do have. Augment that with some carry-specific cover garments and you won’t be “that” guy my son points to in our local grocery store with his gun printing. Who, by the way, was a local off-duty sheriff deputy, and I fronted him off by telling him my son could see his Glock right through his Chargers tee. I smiled, of course, as I said it. And so did Hondo, who pointed at the Glock and said, “That gun.” Grin. Now cover that thing up, and be safe out there.