If You Carry A Gun Every Day, What Are Your Lessons Learned?

concealed-carry-lessons-learned

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms and was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments contained in the Bill of Rights.

With that said, some of ‘the people’ choose to carry a gun every day – and go through the licensing process within their state to do so (unless one lives in a constitutional-carry state in which your right to carry is simply recognized as such).

For those of you who do carry a gun every day, what are some of the things (lessons?) you’ve learned since you started doing so?

A few thoughts come to mind, including the following:


 
When you first start carrying (concealed), you tend to be somewhat self-conscious that everyone you see in public will see your gun. But after awhile you realize that people don’t notice and are not looking for that anyway… Instead they’re looking at their ‘smart phones’ ;)

An interesting exercise (a drill) for situational awareness is looking for others who may be carrying concealed. Looking for a tell tale sign – a waist bulge, ‘printing’, etc.. When you discover someone, then compare what you’ve seen to your own carry technique – and improve it such that others (who are looking) won’t notice like you just did…

It is very important to wear a purpose-made ‘carry’ belt that is stiff, wide enough, and will hold the holstered gun securely without moving around or sagging. A good gun belt will set you back a bit, but it’s worth every penny.

There are lots of holsters out there. A good one is a must for undetectable and reasonably comfortable concealed carry for all day, every day. Personal preferences will affect choices here, but I’ll bet that those of you who carry regularly have gone through a number of holsters until settling upon ‘the one’ that works for you…

One’s dress code will change to accommodate concealed carry – which itself will vary with the season. Summer months are the most challenging (e.g extra long shirts) while your options of carrying during cold weather present easy concealment.

 
Okay, those were a few of my thoughts. What about yours?

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41 Comments

  1. Carrying Concealed is something I have done for a very very long time. Probably before it was popular. While I’m not one that wants anyone to know at work or in my personal life, it’s a fact that “if you don’t like the fact I carry, ask me to leave, and I will”. Even here at work very few know I carry (or say if they do know), and the owner actually is appreciative I do.

    It’s interesting how the human body will adjust to anything new, like a new set of shoes or a new hat, once worn for a day or two it becomes unnoticed. The same with a well fitted holster/firearm, you will actually feel “out of sorts” without it.

    What’s really odd is when it happens someone finally sees your carrying it’s almost a surprise and they look shocked, the deer in the headlights thing. I feel very fortunate that the 25 plus years I have carried I have never had a reason to pull it from the holster for protection, I did at one time have to “show” the belt mounted holster, but Thank God that was it.

    I do at times (usually in the summer)use an ankle holster with a smaller 2″ 357 but not often. My clothing is chosen with concealment in mind, always a shirt or lite jacket that falls below the holster. It’s just who I am when asked why the long shirts and jacket. Also the longer shirts/jacket seem to conceal the other EDC “stuff”.

    One little bit of advice, if and when you get pulled over by a LEO, keep your hands on the steering wheel, do NOT make ANY fast unexpected moves, and when the officer addresses you have a discussion that you indeed do have a CCW Permit and you have a firearm on your person (or in the vehicle) AND tell them where you have the firearm/s. Let them know you have no intentions of being shot/killed for any misunderstanding than ask them how they would like to proceed, BEFORE you move your hands from the steering wheel. Always tell them when you are asked for your License, Registration and Insurance, where they are and make sure they know your going to reach for them, again MAKE NO FAST AND UNEXPECTED MOVES!!!! A ticket is NOT worth dying over.
    NRP

    1. a great point,, thnx for bringing it up. I always tell my friends to state “i am armed and no threat to you” the officer will give instructions on what to do ,, course if you are in new jersy, new York, mass, or Illinois you are in more danger from the police than the thugs if you carry

  2. For me, being a former police officer, carrying concealed has never been an issue. But I will share an embarrassing situation I once found myself in. I was wearing an elastic belly band holster for my Micro Dessert Eagle 380 while eating at a Chinese Fast Food restaurant. When we stood up to leave the 380 had worked its way up in the band and fell to the floor … it landed just right causing the base of the clip to break spewing rounds all around. For the people sitting near us, where you might think it would alarm them … they never even gave it any notice. Needless to say I never used the belly band again.

  3. NRP has some salient points for those who are not former LEOs themselves, when dealing with law enforcement while carrying. Another note, is that IF, you have a state issued CCW permit/license, it WILL show up each and every time your DL is “run”, or your personal vehicle plates are “run”. The new mandatory “enhanced” driver’s license have made this a reality, of, and yes, the DO show up in the Canadian provinces as well, if you are run by Canadian law enforcement.

    I’ve carried off-duty and personally now for the last 40 years, since I started out as a 21 year old rookie. I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years in carrying, but I dress around the main firearm as well as my BUG now. No, I’m not sartorially “splendid” but I still look decent and no one has tumbled to me carrying unless they’ve got within bad-breath distance. Now for the last many years, I’ve consistently carried in the same places for so long, I am unbalanced (physically of course-I know what you were thinking). I like reaching in the same places if needed. I do try to AVOID consciously all potential trouble I see, since I don’t feel like writing reports giving statements nor getting handcuffed for using my firearm legally-which IS what happens when you do.

    I am a firm believer one can dress around the gun and still effectively conceal your handgun/s from all but the most prying (and very experienced eyes). Our firearms are there for our protection and the more careful we are, the better. I’ve been experimenting lately with a shoulder holster system that I’m liking more and more each day, especially for road trips and potty stops, no more gun-sag while on the toilet or at the urinal. I’ve found for ME, that ankle carry is not comfortable at all, yet, many close friends use it to their advantage and love it. Whatever works for you, just legally carry.

  4. As an LEO, I really appreciate NRP’S ending comments. I have had a few people make very sudden moves to grab their wallet from back pocket. I don’t appreciate that, and they usually don’t like my reaction. Now, back to Ken’s post! I regularly carry concealed off duty. In my opinion, concealed is the best way to carry. Otherwise you are putting a target on your back. I have recently started carrying inside the front of my cowboy boots when I have a shirt that tucks in. In the winter I sometimes carry in the best pocket of my jacket. This is great until you need to take your coat off, which isn’t so great if you use the restroom while at a restaurant, so I avoid the breast pocket in such situations. I have also recently found my holster fits perfectly into a inner pocket of the side leg pocket of my cargo pants. It is completely unnoticeable.

    1. ChameleOn makes a very very valid point….
      “concealed is the best way to carry. Otherwise you are putting a target on your back.”. Personally people that are carrying open ARE going to be the first target in a “shoot-out” with the bad guys. They already know you have a gun, and are “probably” a macho hot-shot looking for a fight. How many hundreds of times have we all talked about OPSEC? I personally don’t want anyone knowing I’m carrying, if I need to put “it all on the line” I would be better off doing it at my discretion and not advertise.
      NRP

    2. I have to tuck my shirt in for work. Alien wear makes a IWB that you can still tuck your shirt in. It does restrict access, but with practice you can reduce this draw back.

  5. Every right carries a responsibility. I live in a constitutional carry state. I have always carried concealed out of town because of the big furry bears we have around here and the bad weather that makes open carry impractical. Everything is pretty cut and dry with nature. To carry in town around humans is a complete different story. If I am not carrying and I see someone speeding through a parking lot I might tell him to slow down. If I have a weapon under my coat I just shut up and go my way. I am more secure in that I can better defend myself in a direct violent threat but in chance encounter with rude or petty violence I must walk. If someone violates my space but poses no threat to life I am at a distinct disadvantage. I must just let it go and walk away, where if I am not armed I might push back a little. Carrying a firearm concealed is a double-edged sword. Even if you use it wisely and necessarily chances are you will go to jail and have to defend yourself in court to a jury that may not share your feeling about concealed carry.
    caveat emptor.

    Cheers

    1. Jury or no jury, I carry for a reason: Self defense! If I gotta eat crap from 12 people too stupid to get out of jury duty then it still beats bleeding out on the parking lot.

    2. I understand what you are saying. I also will walk away from the problem before it escalates when I might not if I wasn’t armed. No one in their right mind would want to have to shoot somebody if there was another way out.

  6. I got my CCW a few years back. So far I have not had any embarrassing moments. Yes I have noticed others carrying concealed. It is kinda funny how the ones who hate guns have no idea just how many of us there are, nor how many they pass each day. lol. Off subject but have yet to be able to find a good holster. I don’t wear pants with belt, thus making it very hard to find something. One day I will sit down at the sewing machine and make one. Till then I carry in a holster in my purse and keep a very good grip in the handles. My boss is ok with us keeping guns in our cars but not ok with keeping one on us on the job. Other than when we’re not allowed by law, my gun and I are together.

      1. Just wanted to say , I found a sticky type holster today. Only $12.99, so far so good. I went to the gun store to get a holster and also walked out with another gun. lol Just like going to the grocery store for one item. lol Thanks again

    1. a regular belt supported with a good pair of suspenders will solve the sagging holster problem.

  7. I carry all the time, never leave home without it.
    What I carry depends on the season, because of dress.
    I try to spot other folks who are carrying, wherever I go.
    There are signs you learn to recognize.

  8. Being retired lawman,I have a true story for you which happened in my town, years ago, concerning carrying concealed. At a local nightclub-strip joint, late one night, with the show going on and the music going full blast, a male patron suddenly fell backwards off his bar stool and lay, not moving, on the floor. Being unresponsive, 911 was called and the medics carried him away; everyone believing he had had a heart attack. And, of course, the show went on as if nothing had happened. Further investigation revealed that he had a .25 caliber bullet in the back of his brain. Still further investigation revealed that an undercover female cop, who was there at the time, carried her .25 auto in her purse. The purse was dropped, the gun discharged, striking the man in the back of his head, leaving no signs of him being shot, and with all the background noise, no one realized that a gun had been discharged. The man was a loner, with no ties to the community, so the event got no publicity, and the cop received a minor reprimand, advising her to carry her weapon more securely.

    1. Accident or not, it was murder and she got a reprimand! What if the roles were reversed and it had been a dead cop on the floor? How do you live with yourself? The murdered man paid taxes to pay that split tale cop’s salary and your retirement. MADNESS!

    2. The victim was not a loner he was with his wife and they were on their honeymoon. The wife received a million dollars from Palm Beach county in settlement and it got lots of attention on the news. I also knew the female officer involved and she still will always live with this on her mind for the rest of her life. It was NOT murder like one of the other posters rudely stated. It was a tragic accident, PBSO should never have issued her a non-standard pistol. 25 auto’s are garbage and not safe to carry.

  9. I have to say it. If I still had an abdomen like that one in the article, I’d open carry with that holster!

    So, to the sad point, I don’t look like that anymore and finding a holster to fit a more “Rubenesque” woman is impossible. So, I like many other women, resort to carrying in a purse. Not good if the purse is stolen. It’s a dilemma.

    1. @FloridaRoberto. Your post wasn’t on the blog when hit the submit comment tab. I am in no way making fun of the story about the cop dropping her purse! That’s sad and scarey!

  10. ‘Do not carry a .25 acp.
    If you must carry a 25 acp, do not load it.
    If you do load it, you may shoot someone.
    That will make him angry and he will do you bodily harm.”

    Jeff Cooper–

    1. They brought the guy into the ER with 3 GSWs to the head. 25 acp, he played dead. Not one bullet penetrated the skull. Maybe he had an unusually thick skull but it made me decide if I’m going to get shot I hope it is with one of those!

  11. Lesson’s I’ve learned:
    1) A small firearm is better than no firearm
    2) A stiff belt really is as necessary as everyone says it is
    3) A quality holster really is as necessary as everyone says it is
    4) Having more than one size firearm is key to carrying consistently. One for every occasion so to speak.
    5) The day you decide to leave it at home is the day you’ll wish you had it (happened to me twice. Won’t make that mistake a third time)

    Basically – Carrying must be convenient and comfortable. Otherwise it gets left at home. So do everything you can to make it comfortable and convenient.

    1. Forgot to mention that anyone who ridicules you for carrying anything less than a 45 is a tool. Pay them no attention. Odds are they are carrying a 380 too. Or they’ll make up an excuse why they couldn’t carry their full-size 1911 today :P

      1. I remember seeing or reading something somewhere about an FBI report that said the majority of gun fights take place within 20 feet, and a great number of those even less than 5 feet. At that range a 380 sounds just fine. Maybe one of those Ruger 380’s with the pocket holster. The only problem is that criminals always have the advantage of surprise and we’re in the reactionary position. So practice as many scenarios in your mind as you can and keep your reactions sharp!

  12. I am so used to carrying, I don’t even realize I have a full size weapon most of the time. It has become second nature.

    Also I have adjusted my wardrobe to accommodate carrying in all seasons to include vests, cover shirts, longer jackets and so forth.

  13. Having just recently got my CCW I can tell you the first time I carried I was nervous as heck. I almost walked out of the store I was in because I thought everyone knew I was carrying and I didn’t want to get into trouble. But then I told myself I have a license and I’m legal to carry concealed. Now it doesn’t bother me a bit.

    I have been more aware watching others to try and see who is carrying and who’s not.

    Living in FL the normal attire is a t shirt and shorts. I have a sticky holster that works great since I don’t wear a belt. Probably the only time I will say the heat and humidity here has been a asset.

    I was told awhile back that the LEO’S will know who has a CCW when they run your tag. But I keep my CCW license behind my DL and plan on giving both to the officer if I get pulled over. And I have always kept my hands visible when I have been pulled over before. Usually have everything they need before they approach my truck with my hands out the window and that’s where they stay. I want to get home and so do they.

    Adapt and Overcome.

  14. I’ve got a closet full of different holsters and carry rigs, but lately I’ve been using the SmartCarry. Fairly unique variation of appendix carry but really conceals when wearing business attire or even gym clothes as a gun belt isn’t needed because it has a built in belt. I also have found success with the GlockTech MIC and Dale Fricke Zaccheus style holsters when used in conjunction with a proper gun belt (I prefer Disse).

    All in all, find what works for you and always carry.

  15. I was an LEO at age 21. I am no longer an LEO and I am 53. I carry concealed at times but not all the time to this day. (because I work in a locked secure hospital setting as my day job)

    My truck has a key lockable strong box. which contains either a Kahr CW 9 or a Ruger LCR. (yes, they are loaded.) Keys for said lockbox are on car set-detachable.

    Car stop etiquette: I am not a white guy so I still roll down my window and place both hands on the driver side rearview mirror when I am pulled over (mostly during sobriety checkpoints during the Holiday season late at night on my way home from work.) In addition to keeping my wallet and insurance papers available for access, I also keep my company ID badge available for proof as well. (answering the question: What are you doing here at this late hour? by the traffic cop.) I explain where my information is located before I reach for it and I explain that I am a CCW holder and where my weapon is located. Most of the time, they have either asked me if I am a cop or where did I work. I answer that I did the job many years ago in Southern California and I no longer do the job. They are understanding at that point. Lastly, I address them as Sir or Ma’am throughout the contact.

    CCWer made some points that I have observed over the years: I carry small light weapons off duty and day to day because they are convenient and lightweight. Having a small gun is better than not having a gun at all. Leading to a story of 2 cops off duty: Me and a coworker went to a town outside our juristiction and were doing our laundry in a laundramat in a run-down section of town. We saw a drug deal go down outside in the parking lot and my friend got real quiet and nervous because he left his high capacity 9 mm at home in his sock drawer. I had my 5 shot chief’s special with me in my daypack and my 12 gauge pump shotgun in my truck outside. (I was going to shoot Trap that evening at the gun club) Any gun is better than no gun. End of story, they left us alone because we looked like a couple of dweebs doing our laundry, eating sandwiches and reading the paper.

    Weapon Selection: Today there are so many good choices of reliable, compact pistols and revolvers for civilians. LEOs are frequently limited to their department issue or a short list of authorized weapons. (When I was 21, Glocks were not invented yet. Ancient History folks)

    Urban Camoflage: Lessons from a dude I met that worked undercover narcotics in the San Francisco Bay Area. This guy wore spandex shorts and roller blades and played street hockey with a tennis ball. Many thought he was part of the LGBT community. He was a good cop and he made a lot of busts over the years. He carried his compact 9 mm within a small fanny pack that also held his shield, cuffs and walk-man (earbuds and cool shades completed his wardrobe ensemble.) He did NOT look like Officer Friendly straight off the recruiting poster.
    In my own life, I was and still am a redneck kid that grew up working on farms and ranches. Tossing a rifle or shotgun (or both) into the back of my truck is just the way things are done (That monster buck or covey of quail will suddenly appear when you were there to turn on the irrigation pumps).
    Within a city, I will stuff my pistol cases and ammo into a Safeway shopping bag colored Pink (Breast Cancer Awareness) or floral design. I like to advertise my lack of style. The shopping bag I use to carry shotgun shells and empties is from a Natural Food Store where the local Earth Muffins go to buy their organic sprouts. (I guess I am kind of Save the Earth crowd in that I reload my shells) Don’t Panic! It’s Organic!

    Wardrobe considerations: Try on jackets for fitting over your shoulder holster at the tailor’s shop. If wearing an over shirt/windbreaker un-tucked over your belt holster, sew small lead shot or split shot fishing sinkers into the bottom hem of the garment in order to have it “drape” naturally when you get out of a chair or car seat. Generally, you will find yourself wearing clothes that are 1/2 to a full size larger than you would wear without the holstered weapon. Buy inexpensive jackets as the constant carry will wear out both dress shirts and suit jackets sooner than the unarmed counterparts out there. Plainclothes cops still do not get paid a lot of money so leave the Dior and Armani for others to wear. Remember some jobs like VIP protection have very high standards of appearance for team members.

    To test comfort of a holster: Go on a hike with the new holster and count the number of times you’ve had to “re-tuck” the weapon back into place over the course of several miles. I like the inside the waistband holsters myself. I carry on the belt and wear a shirt over the holster with a cotton t-shirt between me and the holstered weapon. In a good holster, you should never have to “re-tuck” your weapon throughout the hike. If you do, you may want to consider another holster or type or method of carry. Also go to the bathroom with your holstered weapon and pop a squat. After you wash your hands, you will begin to lose all the romance and sense of adventure about carrying concealed 24/7.

    Today, I find myself carrying a lot but not 24/7. Over the years of police and private security work, I got tired of eating, sleeping and crapping with a weapon. I like going out and having a beer with my dinner at times. The aftermath of a shooting is bad enough. I cannot imagine how having a blood alcohol reading above 0.0 would complicate the criminal and civil court proceedings after a justified shoot. When I am off duty, I sometimes like to walk around slightly beer buzzed smelling the roses and there are no firearms on me during those times. I knew a few friends whose career ended prematurely this way.

    1. @ CaliRefugee
      You bring up a very excellent point that most CCW know, but at times may need to be reminded.
      Here in NM it’s legal to “carry” into a bar that sells food, Which 90% usually do. If your carrying you sure as hell better not even touch a drink or beer, not a single one. If busted you will go to jail for the night and you will lose your CCW license. Additionally you sure as heck better not get a DWI with a firearm on your person. The laws are very clear about that.
      Personally I do have a drink or two at my favorite bar, My House Only!!!
      NRP

  16. PS In Regards to the model in the picture: I dont look nothin’ like that and “My belly is bigger than hers!

  17. Some lessons learned: EDC means exactly that, ‘everyday’ specifically. As I’ve carried for some 40 years now, it is a habit and I don’t feel completely dressed without some firearm on my person. The size of the firearm, the number of rounds is not the crucial part of carrying for protection. It is having the firearm on my person in the first place and the ability to use it effectively. That being said, having some spare reload capability is a must.

    Everyday carry means that the firearm you choose will be subject to your day. What work you do. Sweat, dirt, belly-button lint in the barrel. Part of the habit of carrying must be also to keep the firearm operational and clean. Preferrably on a daily basis. At the minimum, a quick evening check for that ‘lint’.

    Needless to say the laws of the nation are varied. Where you are prohibited to carry must be known and you must be conscious of. This means that you must have somewhere to temporarily place your firearm when you must enter a building that is a ‘no gun zone’. A major problem is when the land itself is such a location. For example, any federal property such as the Post Office. I’ll not state one way or the other how to handle this simple problem other than to say that it could be a very serious problem if it ever arose in your life.

    If you live in a region that is neighbor to another state; and, if you periodically travel between the two – a permit may be required for each state with the associated knowledge of the differences in the laws regulating carry of the two states. Do not assume your permit in one state is recognized or will protect your right in another.

    Practice and the ability to reach or draw your firearm is the most crucial part of carrying. More so than the type, caliber or magazine capacity. Period. It does not matter if you have 14 rounds if you cannot bring to bear the firearm in a timely and accurate manner.

    Having additional firearms in your vehicle can be a good thing. For backup and the old “this one gets me to my truck where the bigger gun is; which then, can get me home to my rifle cabinet.”

    Finally, no person should carry with the desire to EVER use their firearm in reality. That being said, the phrase, “a good offense is the best defense”. In other words, to carry never means the ability to display, threaten, coerce or exert control over another person. It means to stop the threat in a permanent manner. Like a boy is taught, “you do not point a gun at anything unless you mean to use it…. you do not mean to use it unless you mean to shoot it”. And additionally, you must be ready to live accepting the responsibility for your action for the rest of your life.

  18. I use an “Uncle Mikes” concealed holster for my Ruger 380. I wear shorts most of the time, sometimes with out belt and it is very comfortable. I’ve been carrying for twenty five years and never had an incident where I even considered needing my handgun. Hope that continues.

  19. I buy clothing to compliment my carry weapons. I like IWB holsters for CC and have been using Alien Gear holsters with a good quality 511 belt. I almost always give myself a mirror check before leaving the house to look for printing. The colder the weather the less to worry about. Believe it or not there are different laws even for the amount of printing you are allowed in some states. I am always aware that I’m carrying but not worried about it. Took about six months to get in that mind set. I like to check others to see if they’re carrying just for awareness training. Only had one mishap with a magazine holder coming off my belt and dropping in a parking lot on the way to my vehicle. There were a few people around but no one paid any attention. Many occupied sheeple these days. I no longer use a kydex mag holder and either put the mag in my pocket or in a quality 511 mag holder that is secure on my belt. 13 dead in Oregon in a building that doesn’t allow lawfull firearm carry!! I either will not enter those type buildings or conceal and no one will know. God be with all those who lost loved ones due to a maniac today….

  20. I´ve lived mostly in South America since I retired back in 2004 and the country in which I chose to retire allows concealed carry (and even open carry outside the cities). I know it´s not the typical weapon for concealed carry, but I´ve been carrying it for so long that my Beretta 92F (9MM) feels like a part of me. In my SUV it goes into the center armrest but as soon as I step outside it goes into the crack of my pants in my lower back (no holster) and it´s not even a slight bother anymore – I always wear long shirts. If I know I´m gonna to sit down in public then I first put on the side holster (which I keep in the glove compartment) next to the two extra 15 round clips that are always on my belt. I´ve had to pull it out twice in the last 11 years, on one occasion I had to fire a shot in the air, on the other the visual impact was enough to solve the problem. I often notice others that carry concealed even when it´s just a 25 cal, so I suppose with my bulky 92F ¨SOME¨ may notice that I´m carrying too.

  21. I had an older man for a friend who taught me about pocket carry. For many people a holster on a belt is not practical. When I was first licensed I carried what I had: an FEG SMC (PPK). When I could afford it, I bought a Kahr PM40 and load it with Critical Defense ammo. It rides in my right hand pants pocket in a leather JPB pocket holster. I carried a spare reload in a nylon sheath in my left pocket. Very powerful, conceivable setup.

  22. Looking for trouble: Some people that carry concealed feel invincible and/or they would go looking for a fight or stand their ground in a public place where they have no business being. I have also noticed the same trend when a young man (usually) or woman obtains their black belt in any form of Martial Art. They have so much confidence in their own abilities that they stand in place as opposed to running for cover or helping others evacuate. The Black belt recipient just get their butts kicked by multiple attackers. Off duty cops frequently get killed with their own weapons or they are outnumbered and cut down from the flank or the rear. Gunfights are very fast and luck has a big part in who survives. These observations did not come from pushing a black and white, they came from the years of driving ambulance in large cities.

    Don’t be that person. Live to fight or smell the roses another day.

  23. Carrying concealed firearms every day, I’ve learned that the best gun fight is the one you never have. Situational awareness, preparation, training, and paying attention to your spidey senses will keep you out of a gun fight in most cases.

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