Getting comfortable with concealed carry is a journey—one that I’m still on and will probably be on for a long time. That being said, I’ve come a long way! I’d like to share a few things that have enabled me to get comfortable in my conceal carry journey from a mindset and confidence perspective, and some words of wisdom based on what I’ve learned thus far.
But what about physical comfort?
Before we dive in, I want to touch on physical comfort for just a minute. I’ll be honest with you, concealed carrying isn’t always comfortable. YOU ARE LITERALLY HIDING A FIREARM ON YOUR PERSON. It ain’t gonna be like wearing your favorite sweatpants around the house. There are ways to make things more comfortable with different holsters, positions, tricks, etc., but the reality is that you will have times where your gun jabs you in the ribs when you sit down. Or the texture on the grip will rub your skin raw. Or your appendix carry will put pressure on your bladder so you have to pee every five minutes. There are definitely down sides to carrying in terms of physical comfort. Some things we get used to and it becomes more comfortable over time, but sometimes there is just nothing you can do about it.
However, sacrificing a little physical comfort in order to have the ability to protect and defend myself is a sacrifice I am more than willing to make. Safety > comfort. Always.
That being said, feeling comfortable from a mindset perspective is something we can absolutely control. Here are few things I did (and still do!) to get comfortable with concealed carry.
1. Carry at Home
Carrying at home made a huge impact for me as a new carrier. Before I ever ventured out in public with my concealed carry and as I was getting accustomed to my first gun, I carried at home with a clear firearm. I experimented with the whole set up—everything from my belt and holster to different shirts and pants. This helped me get used to the weight and bulk of the gun on me, how my gun would print as I moved in different ways, and what it felt like when I stood up, sat down, bent over, squatted, lounged on the couch, etc.
Once I felt comfortable with that, I moved to carrying a loaded firearm at home (chambered, of course), and then graduated to carrying in familiar places where I felt comfortable, like a friend’s house or my favorite Home Depot.
This is something I still do now, especially when I’m trying out a new holster, outfit, or carry position. When in doubt, carry at home first to get used to it!
2. Get The Right Gear
I’ve found that the right gear can significantly impact my ability to carry comfortably and effectively, and I learned this one the hard way. When I first started carrying, I was using a flimsy old belt that I’d had for years. It did me absolutely no favors when it came to carrying – it couldn’t support the weight of my gun and didn’t help me at all in terms of concealment. Luckily, a few trusted IG friends guided me in the right direction and I finally got myself a good, sturdy belt. WHOA. What a difference it made in my comfort while carrying.
Getting the right gear is just as much about acquiring said gear as it is about research. I now know it’s important to carefully consider everything! Remember how I built a list of requirements for my firearm (from this post)? The same idea can apply to the rest of my EDC as well. For example: I want my belt to be American made, leather, and NOT look like a gun belt. Or, I want a holster for hiking that is breathable and flexible, but is still safe and has the benefits of a kydex holster. Those ideas served as the starting point for my research that eventually led to finding the right gear that has enabled me to get comfortable with concealed carry.
I also find it important to remember: you get what you pay for. This is our safety we’re talking about here! I don’t want to just buy any cheap product because it seems like a good deal. I want to position myself to acquire quality products that will enable me to carry safely and effectively, and I’d encourage you to do the same. It might require a little extra time and money and some experimentation, and you might end up with a holster (or seven) that you don’t use often, but you’ll find quality gear that works for you and allows you to be comfortable and confident while you carry.
3. Train Train Train
Last, but definitely not least… TRAIN! For me, becoming proficient with my firearm and things like drawing from concealment go a long way in my comfort with carrying. And when I train, I train how I carry. You won’t find me at the range with a plate carrier or a drop leg holster or a battle belt or tactical boots because that is not the way I carry day-to-day and those are not things I would have on me if/when shit hits the fan. You’ll find me in a jeans, flannel, and Converse with my usual belt and holster(s) because that is how I carry and that is how I need to be prepared to defend myself.
The more I train, the more comfortable and confident I feel when I carry. Shooting is a perishable skill. Drawing from concealment is a perishable skill. If I’m not keeping up with those things, I don’t feel like I can effectively defend myself if the situation called for it—that is not a good feeling.
I still have so much to learn and a long way to go! It’s a never-ending journey and luckily, there are so many ways to get in the training that I need. I’m not able to get to the range as often as I’d like to right now, so a lot of my training at the moment is in the form of dry fire practice. This allows me to work on things like drawing from concealment, sight picture, reloads, and more whenever I have a few minutes to spare at home. Not only does this help me feel more comfortable while carrying, but it leads to more confidence at the range as well.
And finally, get formal training! I’ve taken a couple classes and have worked one-on-one with private instructors. This type of training is immensely beneficial. Not only do I learn so much in an environment where I can get immediate feedback from a qualified professional, but it also informs the training I do on my own and gives me specific things to work on. I look forward to prioritizing more formal instruction as I move forward in this journey!
What have you done to get comfortable with concealed carry?