By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
It’s close to the holiday season and the Black Friday sales, so let’s talk about a common item you might snag for a discount: pants. Specifically, pants and how they relate to concealed carry.
If you’re absolutely new to carrying a gun, you might be easily fooled into thinking you have to go out and get a new wardrobe by 5.11 Tactical. You don’t.
The thing is there’s no great secret to getting pants that work for concealed carry. There just isn’t.
However, there are a great many pairs of pants that are marketed for it. While some may have some features that are beneficial, the reality is that they’re just cargo pants and fools and their money are easily parted.
The point here is that you can honestly get perfectly fine pants for concealed carry at your local “Mart” or big-box department store or online without issue and without having to pay what the “tactical pants” companies want you to. Though some of them make some good stuff.
Okay, so what do you really need as far as concealed carry goes?
Basically you need enough room in the waistband to insert an IWB holster. That’s it. So long as you have that, you’re golden.
The old saw is to go one pant size up with any pair of pants that has a normal or relaxed fit. Some people find that isn’t even always necessary.
My experience is that it depends a lot on what kind of pants you’re buying and who you’re buying it from. With most jeans you probably don’t need to go one size up unless you’re wearing skinny jeans. I don’t know why anyone (male or female) would bother, but I digress.
Your mileage, of course, may vary. Point being, you just need some room in the waistband. If you can wear the pants without a belt, that’s too tight.
There should still be a little room, a little give, when the holster and gun are tucked in as well; too tight and it will camber the gun outward. So just get some pants with a roomy fit.
That’s it, really.
However, let’s get a little more granular for the newbies.
Are there any beneficial features to look for?
There are a few, and cargo pockets are not among them, unless you actually want them for your own purposes. If you find a relatively flat-packing IFAK kit that you want to tote with you as part of your EDC, it’s a natural storage location.
Spare magazines are best kept on the belt rather than in a pocket. Run some reload drills on the clock the next time you’re at the range, and you’ll see for yourself.
An elastic or adjustable waistband is a beneficial feature for concealed carry, and/or stretch panels built into the pants at certain key points such as the waistband itself.
For outdoor/active pants, having stretch panels in the crotch gusset is a definite bonus, but not necessarily needed for everyday wear for those who work desk jobs. If you’re on your feet a lot at work, it’s a huge benefit.
If cargo pocket you must – hashtag dad life – there are plenty of pants that have them.
While the large, bloused cargo pockets with flaps seem to offer ample storage, the truth is that they bump into things and snag quite easily. My experience has been any pleats in the cargo pockets will snag to the point of popping stitches in a matter of months.
Look for simple zippered side pockets. While there’s less storage space, the lower profile makes a big difference in terms of going about your day. They’re also much lower-profile in appearance, which may or may not matter to you.
As to the companies that make tactical and concealed carry pants go…
Proceed with the knowledge that they do not use uniform measurements between them nor between individual models of pant, but then again this is true for basically all clothing and all clothing companies.
It’s kind of like buying shoes or boots; not every shoe or bootmaker uses the same last for every model. That pair of typical work or outdoor boots may have plenty of room in the toe box, but you may have to order EE width for packer boots.
Make sure to read the comments and reviews; you should get an idea of what runs small and what runs roomy. In my experience, most of the tactical pants companies’ sizes tend to run pretty small, so I tend to order a size or two up.
You may have that same experience, you may not; it’s all up to you.
But what if you’re going to pocket carry?
First off, you probably shouldn’t. It’s the dumbest way to carry a gun. However, some people are just going to no matter what, so we might as well acknowledge a few things.
Get a pocket holster. Period. A loaded gun that isn’t carried in a holster isn’t safe.
Now, for pocket carry you need roomy front pockets, because putting a gun in any other pocket is absolutely moronic. Access is awkward or you wind up sitting on your gun, which is laughably bad.
You should be able to reach into the pocket all the way up to your wrist. The old adage was for the pocket to go all the way to your watch, with plenty of lateral room, so the gun and pocket holster can fit.
While this is certainly a lot of unnecessary blather, the idea here is to not let the sheer volume of options on the market convince you that you need something that you don’t.
Sam Hoober is a Contributing Editor to AlienGearHolsters.com, 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 aliengearholsters.com.