The decision to carry a firearm concealed on one’s person is an intensely personal one. As with handgun ownership in general, there are a number of factors that merit very serious consideration before one “straps on a gun” and walks out the door.
Is carrying a concealed weapon necessary for you?
Yes, you have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms but in many states a special permit is necessary.
If you don’t live in such a state are you willing to take the risk of carrying outside the scope and sanction of local law?
No, this is not a condemnation of unlicensed carry. Instead, the question is: are you prepared for he possible consequences of carrying without a permit? (For many, the answer will be a clear and resounding, Yes! For others, perhaps a no.)
This whole website is about responsible use and carry of a firearm. In taking up concealed carry, one is either a responsible citizen in pursuit of self-defense options or a cockeyed cowboy (cowperson?) looking to brandish or blast away with their weapon. If you are the latter, please go away. Or, at least, drop down to the holster listings and skip this narrative material.
And, just because you have a right and perhaps a license to do so, how at risk are you?
A firearm is an instrument of potentially lethal force for use when you or yours are in grave danger. Outside the home, this issue is not always clear. You may well want to learn all you can about this issue and the book, The Law of Self-Defense: A Guide for the Armed Citizen may be a very wise investment.
The 5 Laws of Concealed Carry
Your concealed handgun is for protection of life only.
Draw it solely in preparation to protect yourself or an innocent third party from the wrongful and life-threatening criminal actions of another.
2. Know exactly when you can use your gun.
A criminal adversary must have, or reasonably appear to have:
A) the ability to inflict serious bodily injury (he is armed or reasonably appears to be armed with a deadly weapon),
B) the opportunity to inflict serious bodily harm (he is physically positioned to harm you with his weapon), and
C) his intent (hostile actions or words) indicates that he means to place you in jeopardy — to do you serious or fatal physical harm.
When all three of these “attack potential” elements are in place simultaneously, then you are facing a reasonably perceived deadly threat that justifies an emergency deadly force response.
3. If you can run away — RUN!
Just because you’re armed doesn’t necessarily mean you must confront a bad guy at gunpoint. Develop your “situation awareness” skills so you can be alert to detect and avoid trouble altogether. Keep in mind that if you successfully evade a potential confrontation, the single negative consequence involved might be your bruised ego, which should heal with mature rationalization. But if you force a confrontation you risk the possibility of you or a family member being killed or suffering lifelong crippling/disfiguring physical injury, criminal liability and/or financial ruin from civil lawsuit. Flee if you can, fight only as a last resort.
4. Display your gun, go to jail.
Expect to be arrested by police at gunpoint, and be charged with a crime anytime your concealed gun is seen by another citizen in public, regardless of how unintentional or innocent or justified the situation might seem. Choose a method of carry that reliably keeps your gun hidden from public view at all times. Before you expose your gun in public, ask yourself: “Is this worth going to jail for?” The only time this question should warrant a “yes” response is when an adversary has at least, both ability and intent, and is actively seeking the opportunity to do you great harm.
5. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.
If, despite your best efforts to the contrary, you do get into some kind of heated dispute with another person while you’re armed, never mention, imply or exhibit your gun for the purpose of intimidation or one-upmanship. You’ll simply make a bad situation worse — for yourself (see rule #4).
Best Practices for Carrying a Concealed Weapon
Are you really ready for concealed carry? If you plan on carrying a weapon concealed for the purpose of self-defense, then you need to ask yourself this question and answer it honestly. Most states have some form of concealed carry law and more and more people are exercising this right.
I wholly support the right to carry concealed and have done so for several years, mostly as a police officer or federal agent. However, I believe that the majority of people carrying concealed weapons are not truly ready to deal with a life or death encounter.
The easy part of concealed carry is getting a permit to carry concealed, buying an appropriate handgun and a good holster in which to carry it.
That is just the beginning.
Not only do you need to train regularly with your handgun but there are several tactical considerations as well. I have heard people say they carry a concealed weapon, but only to scare someone, not shoot them. This is ridiculous! This kind of thinking, or “posturing” can quite possibly get you killed.
Most people do not think about the aspect of actually having to kill someone in self-defense, they just think how “cool” it is to carry a gun.
If you are not mentally and physically prepared to actually kill someone, then you should not be carrying a concealed weapon, because there are “bad guys” out there that are more than willing to take your gun away from you and kill you with it.
There are numerous reports of police officers that have been shot with their own weapons. A lot of them were not mentally prepared to actually shoot someone. Just because you are a police officer, federal agent or soldier does not mean that you are automatically able to kill.
As a Federal Air Marshal my team leader, who was a prior SEAL sniper, asked everyone on the team to read the book “On Killing”, The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.
In the book he describes how throughout the history of conflict, a large percentage of soldiers or combatants did not actually kill anyone, nor did they want to. They just went through the motions. They might have actually thrown a spear, shot a bow or fired a weapon, but they aimed over their opponent’s heads.
“On Killing” is a study of the techniques the military uses to overcome the reluctance to kill, of how killing affects the soldier and of the societal implications of escalating violence.
Most people are not mentally prepared to kill someone, even in self-defense. This is true today of not only armed citizens, but of police officers and soldiers as well.
Any kind of actual conflict is mostly mental. Why do you think fighters and kick-boxers trash talk? They are confident they are going to win. If you think you are going to win a fight, then you have overcome a big mental obstacle.
I have seen many reports on police officers that have been killed in the line of duty. The amazing thing is that a lot of the wounds were non-fatal. Just because you get shot does not mean you are automatically going to die! I am sure these officers must have thought they were going to die because they had been shot and mentally and physically gave up.
I have also seen reports on people that had been shot really bad and decided they were not going to die, no matter what and continued to fight! In the Air Marshal academy we were taught that Air Marshals never miss and they don’t die! The most potent weapon we can have is a focused mind.
Another aspect of concealed carry is situational awareness, knowing what is taking place around you. It amazes me how many people walk around “clueless” as to what is going on even in their immediate vicinity. Even if you elect not to carry a firearm, but especially if you do, you need to be aware of your surroundings.
The purpose of this is to see a potential problem or threat before it is too late to do anything about it. The quicker we can identify a possible threat means more reaction time and more options at our disposal.
One option is to take no action at all. For instance, if someone does happen to surprise you with a weapon and means to rob you, do you think you can draw your own weapon and fire fast enough to stop the assailant? Maybe you can, maybe you can’t. There are many variables.
If all you are carrying is a small amount of money and maybe a few valuables, then I would probably give them up to keep from getting shot or stabbed. If you have a lot of money on you or you can sense that the person means to harm you regardless of what you do, then you may want to take another course of action. There are too many scenarios to cover them all. Just be alert to your surroundings in order to maximize your reaction time.
Jeff Cooper came up with a color code to help us assume the proper state of mind appropriate to the various stages of readiness we might need. He defines the color code as such:
- Condition White – a normal non-combative state of mind
- Condition Yellow – a state of relaxed alertness
- Condition Orange – state of alarm
- Condition Red – defensive combat
I personally do not see any reason to be in condition white. I try to always be in condition yellow. It is not being paranoid, just alert.
When I walk into or out of a room or building I immediately check my surroundings. If anyone is coming toward me I do a quick assessment of them, checking their hands first to see if they have a weapon.
As I approach my vehicle I look around the general area noticing if anything seems amiss. If I see two or more people coming toward me with a purpose or if I hear a noise in the house late at night, then I would go to condition orange.
During any armed confrontation or when there are multiple assailants involved, I would go to condition red. If you carry a weapon you should always be in condition yellow. As you go throughout your day, or night, train your mind by assessing your surroundings and applying the color codes. Always play the “What if?” game. What will I do if “this” occurs or if that person tries to do this? Stay alert, stay alive!
Even though the body will do what the mind tells it, you do need to possess some skill and physical ability. I must say I am very disgusted with the physical state of most Americans. It seems that the country as a whole is very much overweight.
I have worked with many police officers and agents that in my personal opinion are a disgrace to the badge. These men and women were overweight, out of shape and could not run two blocks to save someone’s life, let alone their own!
It is no wonder we have the stereotype of a cops hanging around doughnut shops. A lot of officers look the part! I am not saying you have to be a body builder or tri-athlete, but any man or woman should be able to perform simple push-ups, sit-ups and run at least a mile or two at any given time.
I have worked with the “body builder” type officer also. Most of these types look good in uniform, but I found most of them very slow in hand-to-hand or close quarters combat.
I recommend a mix of resistance exercises and cardiovascular exercises. I like to run and do some kickboxing training. I do not use heavy weights. I use small dumb bells to work my entire body. Heavy weights lifted slowly train the “slow twitch” muscles (body builders). Lighter weights lifted more rapidly train the “fast twitch” muscles, as does hitting a heavy bag. These “fast twitch” muscles give you the speed needed for close-in fighting.
Find a routine that works for you and is enjoyable. Something that you will continue to do long term and not just for a week or two! I know how hard it is to continue a workout routine and a good diet, but it is something that we need to do.
Just like fighting, working out and is a big part mental. The diet just takes discipline and willpower! When I see someone that is overweight, I see someone with no discipline or will power. If you are an officer or agent that is overweight, shame on you! Maybe I am a little too harsh, but I have worked with some “high-speed” individuals and have been held to high standards.
If you are serious about personal safety or the safety of others, you need to take the necessary steps to truly prepare yourself. Not only mentally but physically as well.
Get a good handgun that is dependable, fits your hand and then train with it. Don’t just shoot enough to qualify for a concealed weapons permit. Shoot as often as you can in as many different conditions and situations as you can.
Continue working out or start a workout program. If you are in good shape you will be able to deal with stress much better. I would recommend reading Col. Grossman’s book, “On Killing”. It will give you some insight as to the mental aspect of killing.
Carrying concealed is much more than just carrying a gun. Carrying concealed could mean having to actually use it in a life or death situation and having to live with the possible repercussions, maybe criminal, civil or mental. Just prepare yourself the best you can. Like I said before, the most potent weapon we have is a focused mind.
What kind or size gun are you going to carry?
This is crucial because a decision to carry a large (or compact model of a) of a high powered gun is a decision to carry a heavy package. (Some liken it to carrying around a brick.)
It will always be tugging at your belt, your clothes, or any concealed carry rig. It’s also important because the gun you purchased for defense in the home may not be the one you wish to lug around. And it’s important because the decision to carry is for a means of self-defense.
You may not wish to blow the bad guy (BG) into the next county or fire ammo that may penetrate building, cars, objects (and persons) behind the bad guy.
Make no mistake, the issue of the size of the gun is multi-faceted and deserves serious consideration. You may ultimately decide that no one size will work for all situations. Many who carry continuously decide this. What kind of gun do you need? Click here for some more information on this.
This page began as a Holsters Page, and it does have a growing list of holster links below. But because most civilian carry of handguns is likely to be concealed carry, the information has a heavy orientation to information on the issues and implications of concealed carry of weapons (CCW).
BG = Bad Guy
IWB = Inside [the] WaistBand
LEO = Law Enforcement Officer
RKBA = [the] Right to Keep & Bear Arms
|Bang Corp. holster links pageE-Banner Gun Leather & cases links page
DMOZ Gun Leather & Cases links page
Google’s Gun Leather & cases links page
GUNSorg’s Gun Leather & Cases links page
|“Printing” & the “Tell” Printing occurs when the shape of your gun is evident through your clothes either by the drape of cloth over the gun or the transparency or translucency of the cloth. A tell is a giveaway that a gun is concealed either by behaviors such as constantly touching or adjusting the position of the gun or by the presence of clips over belts or tops of pockets. The author of Hidden in Plain Sight points out that very often, men carrying concealed handguns also carry a knife with a pocket or belt clip. Both printingand having a tell will make it easy for someone knowledgeable about CCW to tell that you are carrying a hidden firearm. Both need to be avoided. Printing can be avoided by the right holster and clothing. A tell is harder to avoid and takes continued awareness and practice.|
|DeSantis holster for the 5″ Walther P22DeSantis pocket holsters for a variety of small handguns
IWB J-hook Kydex rigs by FIST Inc. which also makes other types
Pocket Holsters hand crafted by Guru
For the Kel Tec P32 Zero Footprint Kydex pocket holsters
For the NAA 22mag/LR & Kel Tec P32, Kydex Neckchain holsters
From .22 to .45 Ankle Pocket small frame concealment rigs
For a variety of handgun sizes Graham’s Custom Gun Leather
Mika’s Pocket Holsters
And more Miscellanous Holsters at D&H; Firearms Accessories
or contact the webmaster to suggest a link.
|DO NOT “BRANDISH” YOUR WEAPONbrandish – verb
1. to move or wave a weapon menacingly and/or in various directions
To do so could get you arrested, could get your weapon confiscated, could cost you your CCW permit, could land you in jail, could cause you to be fined. Simply put, keep your concealed weapon concealed.
However, comma, if you are in an encounter and have to brandish your weapon to cause the bad guy to flee, get to a phone and call the police to report it immediately. Don’t allow the dirtbag to call the police first to report YOU for waving your gun around without cause. Hey, it happens.
|Ahem. A few words, guys, about the problems you may create by not wearing an appropriate belt. As we get older, our ability to keep our pants up under stress (such as when running) changes. Barring the use of suspenders, our chances that our trousers are likely to fall around our ankles goes up as the general shape of our bodies, especially our midsections, changes. Add to this quandary the extra weight of a firearm worn clipped to the belt and you have a surefire candidate for an embarassing situation. So, don’t be shy about investing in a good belt (1″ or wider), perhaps as much as in a fine holster.|
|WHERE TO FIND STATE-SPECIFIC CCW INFORMATIONPacking.org, THE best source for this on the whole web.
And, Frequently Asked Packing Questions, FAPQ on the same site.
|WHAT TO DO AFTER A SHOOTINGAFTER it is clear the threat has been neutralized,
excerpted from Clint Smith’s REALITY CHECK
in “American Handgunner,” January/February, 2003, issue
“When you decide to carry a handgun, you had better consider it’s now a tool of your trade. And, just like a plumber, you must be qualified with the tools of your trade. But, unlike a plumber, you must be willing to use those tools to defend yourself and your family.
“If you’re not willing to work to be qualified and not willing to use this tool — you should consider leaving the gun at home. And you need to consider whether you should own one at all. It’s not halfway. It’s all the way or nothing. You can’t shoot them ‘a little bit’ to scare them away.
“And let’s just say it out loud. If you shoot you’ll get sued. I’m not saying this is bad or this is good. It just is. If you shot Attila the Hun caught in the act of doing what he did best, you would still get sued…“Avoid the fight if you can, but if there is a fight, be in it to win. No rules, no quarter, and cheating is the order of the day. Yes, you’ll be sued. So what. You’ll be alive to be sued. Oh, and so you know, if you’re dead you won’t be sued. Or you won’t care.”
FIRST RULE OF GUNFIGHTING, REVISED
And while we’re on the subject of concealed weapons, let’s look at whether or not your knife can get you into trouble, avoiding surprises and perhaps more effective knives. Click here. Okay, so you have a permit to carry a concealed handgun, your defensive knife is okay, right? The law varies around the country and you need to be prepared for that.