choosing your every day concealed carry clothing for ccw

Picking Concealed Carry Clothing

If you're going to concealed carry, clothing is an essential part of your everyday carry ensemble, along with a holster and a strong gun belt. Carrying does not stop and start with a pistol and holster, as there's much more to it than that.

The reason dedicated concealed carry clothing is necessary is to make concealing easier. If you're going to conceal, why broadcast it to everyone?

Choose CCW Clothing Around Carry Position

gun belt for concealed carry at the 3 o'clock open carry position

Don't go thinking you need a whole new wardrobe of CCW clothing - you might find your current wardrobe gets the job done. If so, don't worry about it and carry with confidence. However, not everyone will.

Some people don't worry if they end up printing to some degree. Though it's a good thing to be conscious of, it is something that people will only notice if it's something they know to look for.

That said, the best approach to CCW clothing is to be aware of how you carry or intend to. Waistband carry is the most popular, since it's the easiest and most functional in all aspects. However, each waistband carry method has its benefits and drawbacks when it comes to dressing to conceal.

If one intends to appendix or crossdraw appendix carry, that's where the bulge will be, so the lower abdomen and waist will need a bit more coverage. If carrying on the hip, a little more room may be needed in the waistband and perhaps a shirt with a longer tail. Same goes for kidney and small of the back carry.

If one is going to ankle carry, pocket carry or shoulder carry, that's where the tell-tale bulge of the pistol will be.

Those who intend to off-body carry, such as in a purse, briefcase, messenger bag or fanny pack won't have to worry. Granted, fanny pack carriers will have to be aware that they still have fanny packs and the 90s are over.

Dress for Concealed Carry Success

concealed carry belt dress for success

Once you know where on the body you intend to carry, then you can start looking at any concealed carry clothing that you might want to add.

Using a shoulder holster? Typically, there's no concealment without some sort of outerwear. However, a sufficiently roomy button up shirt can conceal a shoulder holster if the gun is compact, slim and held close to the body.

An IWB holster is the most easily concealed as a shirt can easily cover them up. You may want to consider the next size up or perhaps a tall size to sufficiently cover the pistol and holster. Additionally, you may want to consider getting the next pant size up to accommodate the pistol. A handgun and holster put an additional one to two inches of material inside the waistband, which may require additional room.

Some IWB holsters feature special belt clips that allow for a shirt to be tucked over the pistol and holster. That way, formal/business attire can be worn with only a couple of belt clips appearing on the beltline.

OWB holsters are more difficult to conceal, as many ride so low on the beltline that the muzzle protrudes nearly down to pocket level; concealment in that case may only be possible with outerwear. However, high-ride OWB holsters can be covered more easily, as an untucked shirt is sufficient if it covers past the belt. Seeking a tall size (as big and tall sizes are proliferate) may pay dividends in this regard.

A good sport coat is a fantastic piece of concealed carry wear, provided it isn't too warm to wear one. This provides the concealment necessary for shoulder, OWB or IWB holsters. However, a word to the wise: you may want to avoid modern "slim fit" or Italian cut suit coats. A classic cut allows a bit more movement. Also, mind the vents - a side vent can easily reveal a pistol.

Top tip for suit carry: get a jacket (or several) for every season. Seersucker suits are great for spring and summer, wools for fall and winter.

Those considering pocket or ankle carry may want to likewise avoid slim cut pants. "Skinny jeans" are a thing, even for guys (we don't judge, or at least don't want you to think that we do) and pocket and ankle guns will show. Opting for a straight-leg or finding pants with more cavernous pockets will help in this regard.

Top tip: when shopping for pants you'll pocket carry in, stick your hand in the pocket when you try them on. If you pocket carry, the pockets should cover the wrist. If not, the butt will protrude and you will print.

Dedicated Concealed Carry Clothing

dedicate a great concealed carry belt

There are also a wealth of companies making dedicated concealed carry clothing. It's a fairly broad category of goods including shirts, pants, outerwear and everything else in between. There's even - for lack of a better term - concealed carry underwear, with a pouch for a small pistol. Granted, these products are often not really purposed as underwear so perhaps concealed carry jock strap would be a better term.

A lot of concealed carry wear is marketed as or alongside tactical clothing, and many brands make both, with 511 Tactical and Rothco being good examples.

Some concealed carry shirts, for example, have quick-release snap enclosures for easier access. Some feature interior pockets, and many are given a somewhat larger cut than normal shirts. The additional fabric creates a bit more space between the garment and the body under the shoulders, so it hangs more freely and covers better.

Concealed carry pants often feature larger pockets for pocket carrying. Some feature a recessed section around pocket height on the outside of the pants, which is to keep the muzzle from snagging if worn outside the waistband and protruding down to pocket level. Some are just BDU-style cargo pants with a sticker price double what you'd pay at a military surplus store.

Many companies make a concealed carry vest, jacket and other outerwear. Typically they have pockets sewn into the interior of the garment that are roomier than the average jacket and are made with stronger fabric and thread as well. This is to accommodate a pistol in the interior.

Whether you feel you need dedicated concealed carry wear or your wardrobe is sufficient at present, dressing to conceal will help you do so.

Sam Hoober  

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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