Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: Large Pistol Concealment

Guns and Gear Contributor
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By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

Some people get real hung up on what gun they conceal and carry. Some insist it’s pocket pistols only; if you can feel the weight, it’s too heavy. Others insist the compact models that abound these days are the perfect middle ground between portability and performance. Others still insist that anything smaller than a Glock 19 (or something thereabouts) is just taking chances, or something to that effect.

It’s all hogwash; carry what you like and shoot well. After all, the gun that you have in a concealed carry holster is better than the one you don’t.

Anyhow, what if you wanted to CCW a full-size pistol? Some of them are enormous! How could a person carry one?

Easier than you would believe.

Start with the pistol itself. Thing is some full-size handguns are enormous, and that’s a fact. The H&K Mark 23 is massive. The FNH FNX 45 and FNP 45 are right behind it. The Sig P226 is a big ‘un and let us also not forget about the Beretta 92. The Sig P320 is offered in compact guises, but is still a big pistol.

Others, however, aren’t the bulkiest. The old hammer-fired guns have the edge here as the modern poly-framed striker guns have wide, heavy slides. 1911 pistols are actually quite slim for how big they are otherwise. The same can be said for Browning Hi Power and CZ-75 pistols. For these guns, the width is all in the grips and controls.

Glock 17s and Glock 19s (and the equivalent models in .40 S&W and .357 Sig) are rather svelte, as are S&W M&P pistols if one buys one sans manual safeties. H&K’s VP9 and VP40 pistols are certainly packable as well.

And so on and so forth; the point being that if you select a full-size pistol that’s on the slimmer and lighter side, it makes concealment easier.

Some, such as the aforementioned classics of yesteryear like the 1911, BHP or CZ-75, can be equipped with slim grips that bring overall width down to 1.2 inches or less, and that’s quite trim. Bear in mind that a J-frame is 1.3 inches at the cylinder.

Weight, however, is a price one pays for carrying a larger handgun. That said, an appropriate choice of belt (you need a big strip of leather or a good tactical belt, but they aren’t too hard to come by) must be made.

Plenty of carry holsters are out there, so it’s not difficult to find one that will work. It needs to offer good support and adequately cover the trigger guard. With a bigger gun, you will need a holster that’s comfortable to carry or else you’ll find reasons not to carry.

The big trick, however, is going to be in terms of holster placement and concealment. Even if you wear an untucked shirt, imprinting will happen until you get the placement dialed in. Usually, this only takes a few minutes of adjustment and experimenting to get down. What you’re looking for is to get the angle of the grip to come close enough the angle of your body so very little protrudes through the shirt.

It is just not that hard. However, it gets a bit more difficult if you wear a tucked shirt (printing is made worse) or if you wear slim fit clothing. Those wearing business formal attire on the regular will usually resort to wearing a high-ride OWB holster under a jacket, which is very easy but requires one to wear a jacket all the time, which can get annoying in hot weather.

The reason so many people leave their gun behind is that you get very aware of the goiter on your side, which can be annoying. You can live with it or get a smaller gun, That much is up to you. With that said, however, don’t worry as much about the size of your gun. You should carry what you want to and what works for you, but plenty of people conceal and carry a full-size every day, so you can make it work.

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit