How often do you think about your belt loops? Some thoughts on clothing for concealment.

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Sometimes it’s the little things that affect us the most. For concealed carry, take some time to think about the little things in your wardrobe!

The other day I came across this article by Jeff Gonzales at the Trident Concepts blog. Jeff was examining the belt loops on his pants and discovered that not only weren’t they all the same size, they weren’t even consistent about placement. He then figured out that, with the holster he prefers to wear, those belt loops sometimes radically changed where he could carry his gun — and therefore how easily/efficiently he was able to access that gun.

The same is true for all aspects of your CCW wardrobe. I’ve found, for instance, that there’s a big difference in accessibility under a coat simply due to the length of the zipper: the further down I need to zip, the slower and more awkward it’s going to be to get the jacket out of the way so I can draw.

Those of you who choose pocket carry probably already know that the shape of the pocket opening makes a huge difference in how easy it is to get the gun out in a firing grip. The typical straight-across cut of the jeans pocket, for instance, makes it much harder for me to access a pocket holster than the angled slash you’ll find on a pair of suit pants.

That’s obvious, but what may not be obvious is how the pocket opening affects getting the gun out of the holster, without the holster coming out with the gun! A pocket holster which relies on its shape, such as having protrusions which catch on the pocket opening and allow the gun to come out by itself, often don’t work at all with the nearly vertical opening of the suit pants but work perfectly with jeans. The actual interface of the protrusion and the pocket depends on several factors, and you may find that you need to modify your draw to get consistent holster release.

The best method, however, may be to switch holsters to something like the DeSantis Nemesis holster, which relies on a very tacky outer shell which grabs onto the pocket fabric and works well in all pocket shapes. The only problem is that with the more confining jeans-type pockets, it may be difficult to get the thing into the pocket in the first place!

Another pocket carry issue: if you’re carrying in warmer weather and don’t have a covering garment, those deep vertical pocket openings allow people standing behind you to look right down into your pocket and see the gun! I had this happen one day during hot weather, when I decided to carry in the pocket of my khaki shorts. The pockets are very deep, so I thought I’ve be concealed, but my wife noticed that if I moved in just the right direction, the pocket bloused just enough to see the gun from behind. Switching to a pocket with a more horizontal opening solved that problem!

As you can see, just slapping your gun on without taking into consideration the clothing which will be hiding it may cause you problems. Take, for instance, the student of mine who was carrying a long-barreled auto pistol (a full-sized 1911) in a tightly fitted IWB (in-the-waistband) holster with a short covering jacket. The jacket wasn’t the problem, but the cut of his pants was: the pants were fashionably closely tailored in the hip area, enough that when he was walking you could see the muzzle end of the gun clearly outlined through the lightweight fabric. It printed far more than the grip did and was unmistakably a gun!

Whenever I change anything in my carry gear, I re-check all combinations. If I get a new piece of clothing (which I rarely do, since I tend to wear the same things year in and year out and buy multiple copies so I have a backstock) I’ll check it with every holster and every carry gun, just to make sure that I won’t have any surprises. I’ll do the same with a new holster or gun, and even a new jacket or pullover. You can also bet I check those pockets a lot more closely than I used to!

Men are lucky in this regard, since our clothing styles don’t change as radically as women’s clothing does. Women, on the other hand, need to check this far more closely (and more often) than we do.

Don’t be surprised by your clothing. Make sure that your carry gear is compatible with your choice of clothing by paying attention to the details!

-=[ Grant Cunningham ]=-


About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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