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Although there are many techniques and carry positions you can adopt to improve your concealment and prevent printing, you may find yourself needing just a bit more help.
These situations are when you might need a concealment device. Learn about the different types of concealment devices, how to use them, and when you might need them.
Why Do I Need a Concealment Device?
First of all, you might not need one. If your current concealment setup — holster, gun, wardrobe, carry position — fits your needs just right and provides you with proper concealment, you may not need to make any changes.
However, if you find that you could use something to help you print a little less, there may be options available to you, depending on your preferred carry style.
Types of Holster Concealment Devices
Most concealment devices belong to one of three categories: Claws (or wings), wedges, and belt clips.
Concealment Claws and Wings
A concealment claw (also referred to as a wing or mod wing) is a device installed on the lower portion of an IWB holster, below the trigger guard.
The claw’s purpose is to add leverage to the holster, angling the pistol grip towards your body, pointing the muzzle away from you in turn.
Most concealment claws are intended exclusively for Kydex IWB holsters featuring relevant mounting points (typically, two holes under the trigger guard area with 15mm spacing). These claws are made of hard plastic or Kydex, making them as durable as your holster.
Claw spines are fully reversible, making them compatible with both right-handed and left-handed holsters. Specific models may possess additional interchangeable risers, allowing the user to customize how much pressure the claw exerts on the belt, in turn adjusting the leverage rate. This feature may help you accommodate larger handguns.
Installation is straightforward, generally requiring no more than one or two screws and bolts. However, not all Kydex IWB holsters are compatible with concealment claws, and some holsters may feature non-standard spacing designed to accept only the holster manufacturer’s proprietary claws.
A concealment wedge is a piece of foam, rubber, neoprene, or similar soft material, designed for installation inside the holster, near the muzzle end.
The wedge’s purpose is similar to that of the claw; adjusting the pistol’s angle, causing the grip to point towards the body. The wedge achieves this objective differently; instead of canting the entire holster, the wedge cants the pistol inside the holster, causing the muzzle to point slightly forwards and away from the shooter.
Concealment wedges are popular with Appendix IWB (AIWB) carriers; the wedge offers extra concealment and additional safety, as it keeps the muzzle pointed away from the shooter’s crotch or thighs when standing upright.
Wedge kits are simple to install, typically requiring two screws and washers.
However, the holster must feature corresponding holes on the inside of the shell at the appropriate locations. This requirement causes each wedge kit to be proprietary; one manufacturer’s wedge kit will likely not function on another manufacturer’s holster.
Certain manufacturers sell wedge packs. These kits contain multiple wedges of different sizes, allowing the user to choose the one they find the most comfortable or concealing.
A potential disadvantage of wedges is that due to their construction, they are not reversible. If you are a left-handed shooter, you need a left-hand specific wedge compatible with your left-hand holster.
With a bit of time and a few materials, it is also possible to make DIY concealment wedges. This inexpensive solution may be attractive for shooters unwilling to buy an entire new holster just to benefit from the maker’s proprietary wedges.
Although holster clips exist in many styles and shapes, they all fulfill the same purpose: tightly securing your holster to your body.
A tight fit improves concealment by ensuring there is no play or looseness between your holster and waistband.
The simplest type of holster clip is the soft loop. Soft loop clips are miniature belts made of rubberized canvas material, usually compatible with gun belts between 1.5” and 2” wide.
Soft loops are inexpensive, secure (they only open in one direction), and highly concealable (almost impossible to notice on a belt). However, you need a gun belt to use soft loops.
The next most common type of holster clip is the FOMI clip. FOMI stands for Fold Over Mold Injected, referring to the polymer used in their construction.
FOMI clips are also called “universal clips” because they can be installed on nearly any IWB holster.
FOMI clips are simple to use and install. All you need for mounting on your holster are two screws and two corresponding pitches. When installed on your holster, the FOMI clip acts as a belt loop, allowing your holster to ride on your belt tightly and securely.
However, you need a sturdy gun belt to use a FOMI clip, and its width must match that of your belt to provide the best fit and retention possible. For example, you need a 1.5” FOMI clip if you wear a 1.5” gun belt.
Some shooters feel that the polymer used in a typical FOMI clip is prone to bending or breaking under significant stress. If you don’t trust plastic clips, steel FOMI-style clips exist but are rarer and more expensive.
If you need a method to secure your holster to your waistband without using a gun belt, products such as the Fabriclip or the Ulticlip may be your only solutions.
These metal clips function similarly to FOMI clips but rely on pinching or friction to apply tension to a gun belt, the waistband, or the edge of any fabric material. This method allows shooters to conceal a firearm even without a gun belt.
However, the locking piece on these systems tends to be stiff and difficult to operate (it is the tradeoff for secure beltless retention), requiring shooters to spend some time practicing and getting used to how they feel.
Which Device is Right For Me?
The short answer is that it depends. All of the solutions described above can only function with IWB Kydex holsters, but there is a near-infinite variety of holster styles and designs.
Your particular combination of holster model, handgun model, carry style, carry position, wardrobe, body shape, and personal preferences will affect whether you should use a concealment device; or even multiple.
It is possible to combine wings, wedges, and clips (although not every model is cross-compatible with each other).
Finding the most suitable concealment solution for your needs can seem intimidating; it takes time and experimentation, and it’s easy to end up with an entire drawer filled with old holsters and accessories.
However, don’t despair! Millions of concealed carriers have found the right setup; don’t give up on the search, and you will eventually find one that fits your needs.