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Concealed carry allows you to exercise your constitutional right to keep and bear arms for self-defense discreetly. However, not all carry positions are ideal. You should know which positions help you conceal your weapon while also letting you draw it quickly to meet unanticipated danger.
Not All Carry Positions are Equal
There are multiple concealed carry positions to choose from. Naturally, as someone interested in carrying a firearm for self-defense, you want to know the best way to carry your gun. For those new to firearms or carrying them, the sheer number of carry positions and holsters can be overwhelming. However, with the right attitude and a careful approach, you can find the perfect choice.
Good and Bad Concealed Carry Positions
There are a wide variety of concealed and open carry positions to choose from. However, the most popular positions are on your waistband.
Waistband holsters are probably your best option. When determining where you want to carry your handgun, you’ll often hear references to hour-hand positions. This is the clock-face metaphor that firearms enthusiasts routinely use to refer to carry positions. Your navel is at 12 o’clock, your right and left hips are at 3 and 9 o’clock, and the small of your back is at 6 o’clock.
Good Carry Positions
These positions are listed as “good” because they enable you to effectively conceal your sidearm while also providing access and security.
Your strong side is the hip that matches your dominant or firing hand. If you’re right-handed, your right hip is your strong side — 3 o’clock. This is probably the most popular carry position because it affords a superb balance of speed, access, and concealment.
As your gun is on your hip, you’re also able to rotate your body, blading it toward your target. This allows you to defend yourself with your support hand as you draw with your strong hand. For close-range fighting, you can fire from retention in this position easily.
To increase comfort and the speed of your draw stroke, your holster should allow you to adjust both the cant and the retention.
The primary disadvantage regarding strong-side carry is that drawing while seated is more difficult. If you’ve ever tried navigating a car seatbelt during a draw stroke, you know what this is like.
Appendix carry positions the handgun at 12 or 1 o’clock, where your navel is. This position is controversial and not without its detractors. Your muzzle is pointing toward your groin and femoral artery.
However, you can safely carry a gun in the appendix position if you use a well-made holster that won’t deform and diligently follow the firearms safety rules. Additionally, it’s easy to see your firearm and holster when drawing and reholstering. Use this to your advantage when carrying in the appendix position.
Appendix carry is one of the fastest positions available. Your handgun is right in front of you at all times. When paired with an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster, this is also one of the most concealable positions. A T-shirt or collared shirt can drape over your weapon, causing it to all but disappear.
Bad Carry Positions
Not every concealed-carry position is created equally. Some are useful, while others should be avoided. Mostly when a carry position is “bad,” this usually means that it’s hard to draw from or poses safety concerns, or both.
When you carry in the cross-draw position, the handgun sits with its butt forward on your support side. This is slower to draw from while standing than either strong-side or appendix carry. However, it can be useful for those in a seated position.
One of the classic concealed carry positions involves using a shoulder holster. Most gun owners have seen shoulder holsters worn by action heroes, police detectives, and bodyguards. While this method of carry looks cool, it’s less than ideal.
- Carrying a handgun in a shoulder holster requires you to wear a jacket. In the warmer months, and in the humid South and arid Southwest, this is not viable.
- Despite the cover garment, the harness can often be seen or felt through your clothing.
- You usually need to use two hands to reholster your weapon. At the same time, drawing your weapon can be slow.
- Although some shoulder holsters cant the handgun’s muzzle downward, several designs cant it horizontally. This means that anyone standing behind you is covered by your gun’s muzzle. Regardless of the design, if you bend over, you are liable to cover someone. For the purposes of training, you aren’t able to effectively control the direction your gun is pointing.
While everyone’s circumstances are different, you should avoid off-body carry locations if possible. However, carrying your handgun in a purse is particularly ill-advised. There are several reasons for this.
Anytime that your weapon is not on your body, it’s automatically less accessible to you. When you have to draw and present your weapon, you usually need it quickly. Anything that slows you down or complicates your ability to draw your weapon is a liability.
It also invites disarmament. A purse is the first thing a mugger is likely to target, and you don’t want to risk losing your means of self-defense. Many purses are only attached by a thin strap. A mugger breaking that or cutting it with a knife shouldn’t grant him access to your firearm.
Other Off-Body Locations
It may be tempting to keep your handgun in the glove compartment or trunk of your vehicle. However, unless this is a legal requirement, avoid keeping your weapon in your car. If a thief gains access to your vehicle, they’ve got themselves a new gun. Thousands of guns are stolen from cars every year.
Small of Back
Carrying your handgun in the small of your back is controversial. This is, in part, because it places the weapon and holster against your vertebrae. If you suffer a fall or are pressed against a vertical surface, such as a wall or car door, this can cause severe injury. Depending on how you carry, it may also force you to place your arm in an awkward and uncomfortable position to draw it.
Ankle holsters are popular for subcompact and backup handguns, including among police officers. While an ankle holster may work for you if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, it’s slow and awkward to access. It’s also limited to non-primary weapons. If you want to carry a full-size handgun, you’re better off carrying it in a waistband position.
Choosing Your Concealed Carry Position
Understanding what separates a good carry position from a bad one can help you determine the best option for you. You should opt for a carry position that maximizes speed, security, and comfort.
At the same time, it can help you avoid carry positions that can jeopardize your safety, reduce your access, or complicate your training. Choosing the right position lets you carry your weapon confidently. With training, you can draw your gun quickly and use it efficiently.