Once you decide to become a card-carrying, concealed-carry (CCW) citizen, you will find yourself asking two questions every morning: What should I wear? and How will I carry? You might want to throw a third question in there, too: Where am I going?
After you decide what to wear, that’s when you need to decide how you’re going to carry a concealed firearm. Will you wear your firearm on your body or off your body? These are the only two options available and they require not only different gear, but also different training.
5 Reasons For On-Body Carry
From your armpits to your ankles, you can wear a concealed firearm in many holster designs. Here are five reasons to carry on your body.
1. Keep your friends close and your firearm closer. Close can mean a faster draw, if the setup is right.
2. You will never have that “purse moment” when you frantically wonder where the gun is, if you know it’s holstered and on your person.
3. It is technically more secure to keep your gun on your person. It can’t get ripped off your body as a purse can be. Note: Wearing your gun in a back holster is often discouraged by self-defense experts. That’s because the first place a robber or rapist wants you to be is on your back.
4. Concealment is king here. Once you know what to look for in most CCW purses or bags, you can spot these types of carrying devices easily – and so can others. Heavier straps, zippers and compartments all make for a great carry bag, but they can also make for an easy target.
5. If there are children in the area, you absolutely need to know where your gun is at all times, but especially in this situation.
5 Reasons for Off-Body Carry
1. Off-body doesn’t mean you have to wear a fanny pack like Grandpa wears. Not only are there lots of attractive options for both men and women, like purses, briefcases and tablet cases, but there's another advantage: If you carry off the body, you might decide to choose a larger caliber and firearm, too. (Make sure you are comfortable with the weight of that firearm, though. It might be a long day, otherwise.) Another point is that women might encounter a few bumps in the road that make on-body carry difficult. Creative curves, disabilities and pregnant bellies might make it difficult to draw, and/or it is uncomfortable.
2. Another point that affects the ladies: If you are wearing an evening gown or dress, most will not accommodate any type of holster other than one that fits between your legs. Awkward. It’s called printing and you don’t want your gun to do it. You can buy CCW clutches with wrist straps.
3. For carrying in a vehicle, you can set your purse, briefcase or tablet holder on the floor or seat next to you. No need to unholster it and put it somewhere on its own (unless your state requires you to do so). And also, it’s difficult with some holster setups to re-dress in a parking lot or re-holster in the car.
4. Perhaps you choose to wear more trendy clothing that might include spandex, "athletic cuts" or tight-fitting fabric. If so, it’s time to look for a cross-body purse, little pack or other type of carry bag. Just make sure you can keep it close and attached in some way.
5. Maybe you are active. If you are doing something that makes you bounce up and down you have to ask yourself if you want to wear a belly band while doing this exercise, or do you want to put it in a front pack of some type? Note: I never recommend tucking a gun into a backpack unless you absolutely must. Talk about being hard to draw from!
Just to complicate the debate, here are two questions you should be asking yourself:
1. Where am I going? If there is a chance that you will be going to a federal building, school or any place that is against the law to carry, you had better have thought about this way before you stepped out the door and dressed for the day. Know your state’s rules and regulations regarding concealed carry and where it’s permitted, and where you’ll have to park 1,000 yards away and place your gun into a case, or whatever. This is why you must think about your schedule for the day as you dress for your gun. If you’re in an urban area, and need to go into a building where you cannot carry, think about how you are going to secure that firearm in a way that doesn’t brandish it before you do secure it.
2. Have I trained for this type of situation? For any of the above methods of carry, you must train – experts love the idea of dry-firing your concealed carry gun without any ammunition in the gun or in the vicinity at all. Imagine yourself in the worst situation, play the “what it” game in your head – food court at the mall, church, office, you name it. Are you confident with drawing from the method you've chosen?