When observing ‘a subject’ for the purpose of trying to determine whether or not that person is possibly armed, what is the first crucial trait that you should try to determine about that individual?

Here’s the answer, as well as the things to look for – how to know (suspect) that someone is carrying a gun:


Note: The following information is excerpted in part from the document, “U.S. Secret Service Training Guide: Characteristics of the Armed Individual” sourced from, for your interest…

(formatting and emphasis added)

…by looking for possible indicators such as Wristwatches, Writing, Smoking, Lighting Cigarettes, Holding/Moving Objects, etc. to help determine a favored side.

With that said, 88% of the people in the U.S. are right handed and the majority of those right-handed people who carry handguns illegally carry them in the right front waist band, loose!. WHY? Because they see it in the movies and it’s the “cool” thing to do…

An individual who carries a gun on their person will periodically touch that gun both consciously and unconsciously.

This is called a Security Feel.

• Touching
• Feeling
• Adjustments
• Stiffer Arm

Watch for conscious and unconscious body movements which may reveal that someone is carrying a gun.

Here’s a list of potential reasons and clues for indicative body movements and/or ‘security feels’ of the gun, and adjustments made by those who may be carrying a gun (especially those who carry as described above).

Check for:

• Cause for slippage of weapon and the conditions that may cause it
• Stiffer arm on gun side
• Holding
• Bending
• Macho feeling
• Running (from crime, rain, traffic, bus, subways, cab, etc.)
• Leaning
• Sitting
• Reaching
• Crouching
• Turning from view for adjustment
• Pulling pants up, down
• Pulling clothing down
• Shorter arm and leg swing on gun side
• Protective turning of armed side
• Arm over center of body, etc.
• Turn and hold in crowds
• Looking down at gun
• Arm or part of arm holding snug
• Security hold with elbow on gun
• Getting in/out of vehicles

While walking or running (especially in the rain), you will notice a short or stiff arm swing and short leg stride.

Look for features that stand out, attract your attention, and arouse your suspicion.

• Clothing: Does the clothing fit the season?
• Does the clothing match?
• Is the clothing loose, or baggy?
• In cold weather, is the individuals coat unzipped or unbuttoned?
• Look for the individual wearing only one glove.
• When concealed in a jacket pocket, hood, or bag, gravity pulls that weight down – Firearms have WEIGHT
• Look for uneven dip in clothing or bags.
• Tailored in/worn out, etc.- build of subject
• Does shoes/boots match clothing (conditions)
• Does work outfits match conditions
• Pants, belts (no belt loops, but is wearing belt)
• Ponchos (wide arms, etc)
• Chains, straps, hats, etc.
• Socks (use elastic as ankle holster)
• Pockets
• Hoods and drawstrings
• Color combinations
• Gloves (one hand gloved, the other in their pocket)
• Outer garments (Are jacket, pants, shoes coordinated for dress/work/leisure?) BULGES and certain body movements observed to discover the smallest/best concealed unholstered weapons.

(this info is via Secret Service, so unconventional means are listed as well)

• Waistband (Front side, crook of back, etc.)
• Pants (Pockets, cuffs, etc.)
• Pockets (Pants, jackets, coats, etc.)
• Hats (Including hoods of sweatshirts, jackets, etc.)
• Underwear (Protective cups, etc.)
• Shoes and boots
• Bags (Hand, backpacks, pouches, shoulder)
• Radios, cameras, video recorders (all sizes)
• Grocery bags, boxes, shopping bags, etc.
• Hollow books, newspapers, cigarette packs & boxes
• Holsters (Bought, made, stolen-All types)

What about your experiences? Have you ever noticed or suspected that someone else was carrying a gun? What were the signs? Any additional ‘tell-tale’ signs?

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