Wearing concealed carry clothing doesn’t matter as much when you’re carrying an AR15 with a tactically configured upper receiver and body armor in the field in a combat or dynamic personal defense situation.
However, when the total focus is on concealing your firearm, then there are a few basic things you need to understand about the type of clothing you choose that adequately hides your handgun.
The Concept of Concealment
Concealed carry means you need to readjust certain aspects of your clothing and daily dress habits. Remember, you’re attempting to hide your firearm effectively, and the styles of clothing or accessory items you’re used to wearing may hamper rapid deployment and re-holstering of your pistol.
A single snag on a loose shirt or belt loop can often be disastrous and fumbling for your gun resting in the clutter at the bottom of your purse will produce the same type of disaster. So, you’ve finally decided to dress for practical concealed carry, now what?
The second decision you need to make is where you plan to carry your gun and what type of holster you’ll need. Outside the waist – OWB – on the side of your strong hand? Or do you prefer the same OWB holster strong side draw hanging on your weak side for a crossbody draw?
The same goes for inside the waistband or IWB. How will wearing either impact the speed and accuracy of your pistol deployment and how easily concealed carry happens are essential points you’ll need to decide before embarking on the concealment basics.
Whether it’s an ankle carry, a shoulder carry, middle of the back, or in a purse, how you carry your weapon means you need to focus on hitting the mark with two primary essential items. Deployment speed and how effectively you conceal your gun. When understanding the basics of concealed carry, think about this.
A loose untucked shirt may effectively hide your gun under normal walking or standing positions, but what about those times when you must reach up and pluck something from a shelf high above you? One single flash of a firearm that’s supposed to remain hidden may result in an alarmed citizen dialing 911 and reporting you to the police.
Innocent and inadvertently negligent as a situation like this may be, if the wrong person spies a gun that’s supposed to remain hidden, a simple trip to the store could turn into a nightmare. The primary goal of concealed carry is that only you, the bearer, should know of the pistol’s existence until it becomes necessary to expose it in a dynamic defensive situation.
Undershirts and Shirts
Concealed carry can either be a snap or more complicated, depending on your dress code at work. If the attire is business, a coat jacket or top may provide you with more options than business casual with the hem of your short sleeve polo tucked in.
Unfortunately, the market didn’t offer as many clothing options for concealed carry wardrobes as they do now. During those days, concealed carry usually resulted in tucking a pistol inside a belt on your pants or carrying it in the pocket of your coat or jacket.
These days, you’ll find the right type of concealment clothing such as shirts, slacks, and even undershirts.
For those of you who typically wear undershirts switching to a concealed carry undershirt won’t be much of an issue. If you don’t traditionally wear an undershirt, consider adopting them as part of your daily dress code.
These days, most concealed carry undershirts have a blended polyester and spandex weave that helps the undershirts fit snugly to the body. These same undershirts also come with built-in holster pockets to enable ambidextrous operation.
Things to Consider Before You Choose
There are a few things you’ll want to consider before you rush out to purchase or replace your entire wardrobe of undershirts. While these concealed carry undershirts do prevent inadvertent firearm reveal, some of the brands can make you hot when worn. Others, by the very nature of their snug fit, may seem a little too restrictive and might hinder access to your pistol.
One of the downsides of wearing a concealed-carry undershirt with a polo or T-shirt typically happens when it’s time to deploy your pistol. The time it takes to raise both shirt and t-shirt to get a firm grip on your pistol is a significant disadvantage.
The situation gets even worse when wearing a button-down shirt. Typically, you’ll need to unbutton the bottom two buttons so that you can get your hand beneath both the shirt and t-shirt to reach the holster pocket. Either with a concealed carry t-shirt and polo shirt, or a t-shirt with a button-down shirt, both aren’t elegant and practical solutions.
If you’re into daily concealed carry, you may want to consider replacing your wardrobe options with several concealed carry overshirts. At the same time, remember the price will be higher than a typical dress shirt, and the latest styles haven’t caught up with these overshirts just yet. Still, these shirts offer extra material in the places where someone may notice the bulge of a holster and extra-long tails that help prevent detection.
Jackets and Vests
Take note, when the temperatures get cooler, jackets and vests make concealed carry quite a bit easier. The problem usually occurs when you layer bundle after bundle to stay warm because even after layer upon layer of protective clothing, there’s still a chance of accidental exposure of your firearm’s hiding place.
Wearing a jacket or vest made for concealed carry means you can wear the heaviest coat or vest, and regardless of how thick the material is, you’ve got a much better chance of keeping your weapon hidden away. One great feature of wearing a jacket or vest made for concealed carry is that it provides you instant access to your gun and eliminates the need for a holster either on your hip or on your shoulder.
Staying warm and having quick access to your concealed carry weapon is always a plus, but either a concealed carry jacket or vest will present a few problems you’ll want to consider. If a time comes, and it probably will, where you need to check that winter coat for any expanse of time, you and your protection will part ways.
Additionally, some of the more standard concealed carry jackets and vests can’t handle larger frame pistols, and either may require another method when the temperatures rise.
Concealed Carry Fashion for Women
While some shirts, jackets, and vests, and even pants can handle cross-gender wearing by both males and females, companies manufacturing clothing and accessories for women are finally waking up and taking notice of the demands of female gun owners.
All in all, it’s safe to say that the companies targeting women who prefer concealed carry are finally meeting the demand. Designers are now introducing women-centric concealed carry products for the ever-increasing number of women gun owners.
These days, many companies focus on manufacturing purses designed for concealed carry, designer-style clothing, and even specialized holsters integrated into bras in epic proportions.
Not only is the industry concentrating on comfortable Spandex waistband holsters that are increasingly popular for women gun owners, but many are even manufacturing yoga pants with built-in holsters.
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