As most who carry a gun can attest, inside the waistband is better for concealment, but there are some folks who just prefer outside the waistband concealed carry. It isn’t difficult to imagine why. It’s more comfortable to carry that way. You don’t need bigger pants or a bigger belt and your pistol and holster poke you less while you walk around, sit, or go about your appointed daily rounds.
The hitch, of course, is that effective concealment is slightly more problematic. Concealing an OWB rig with a t-shirt can be difficult or even impossible. This leads to wearing bigger clothes or more layers than you might want during warmer parts of the year. Some even resort to the dreaded cliche, the dead-giveaway of the
shoot-me-first concealed carry vest. Even in summer.
That can be difficult and uncomfortable unless, of course, you wear a suit all the time anyway. In that case, don’t worry about any of this and just keep on keeping on.
What can a person do if they’re determined to carry OWB, but still want to keep things on the down low?
The older salts among us are already aware of a lot of this, so this is really more for the noobs. There are a few tricks of the trade and that can help. Your mileage, of course, may vary, so you’ll have to do some testing and figure out what works best for you.
To start with, you need to pick the right gun and gear.
As for pistols, compacts and micro- and sub-compacts are the best starting point, with pistols of shorter lengths being better suited. The typical CCW gun these days is frequently something like a SIG P365, Springfield Hellcat, Kimber Mako or similar. They work well and allow you to carry plenty of ammo. But micro-compacts aren’t for everyone.
Those of us who prefer to carry a compact or full-size gun for daily carry (and there are plenty who do) will find that the Beretta 92, GLOCK 17 or — better yet — a government frame 1911 will either barely skate by or you’ll probably have to resort to another concealment method. Full-frame guns are awfully difficult to conceal when carried outside the waistband unless you’re wearing a coat.
Also, the thinner the pistol the better. Part of concealment is being able to keep that bump from being noticeable and that’s harder to do outside the waistband.
If you like to pack a wheel gun, you might be able to get away with a K-frame size revolver, but something like an N-frame just won’t cut it in all likelihood. Not to mention that you may give yourself back problems toting one of those every day.
Next is your carry gear, specifically the holster. You’ll do well to choose an OWB holster that rides high and tight. The closer you can keep the muzzle to the bottom edge of gun belt, the better. Carrying lower under an untucked t-shirt and you’ll have a hard time keeping it covered. And if it sticks too far out away from your body, it prints.
There are plenty of examples of such holsters out there. The old timers carried with leather pancake or Askins holsters, which work well for this purpose with a compact gun. Modern takes on the high-ride OWB are available from some pretty good gear makers as well.
Next is clothing. You can stick with the CCW vest, maybe adding a CCW badge if you really want. However, if you’d like to avoid those conspicuous cliches, here are a few helpful fashion tips.
Try shirts in tall sizes, if they don’t look too ridiculous on you. Another inch or two of hem length can make a big difference in concealability.
Short-sleeve button-up shirts are a great option as they satisfy most dress codes and can conceal a pistol fairly well. You can wear them untucked and still look presentable enough for the office. A nice roomy polo shirt also works well.
All of that said, placement matters a great deal. If you pick a good gun and holster, you’ll find it virtually disappears when carried in the right spot, but sticks out — “prints” prominently — in others. The four or five o’clock position generally works best, but you’ll have to find the best place for it to ride on your belt.
Will what you end up with necessarily work for everyone? No, but if you’re determined not to carry inside the waistband, you still have some very good options if you’re willing to do the work and experiment a little.
Be careful out there.