Methods of Carry

Chuck Bates

“Remember the first rule of gunfighting … have a gun.”
Lt Col. Jeff Cooper

I am often asked by students how should I carry? Knowing this is a very personal choice I try to educate the person on the various ways I have carried, iwb, owb shoulder holster and tell them what some people have told me about how they carry, purses and pocket etc. I am planning on covering various ways to carry with a few pros and cons. this is not a one size fits all subject and if I miss your favorite means of carry let me know.

OWB: Let’s start with my personal favorite the Outside the Waist Band Holster or OWB. Many find OWB to be very comfortable and good for carring something larger than a small firearm. I have carried a Smith and Wesson Shield up to a Glock 17 OWB. I like not having the firearm take up room in my pants and the easier access to me. However, being able to conceal it well takes a little more planning.

IWB: Inside the Waste Band, IWB can be comfortable depending on where it is carried and size of the firearm. I have carried the same Glock 17 mentioned earlier as well as a full sized 1911 in this manner.  Smaller firearms such as my Shield are very easy to conceal IWB For me IWBs are easier to conceal but also make drawing the firearm perhaps a little slower. There are all manner of holsters made for IWB including ones that allow you to tuck in your shirt and still cover the firearm.

Shoulder Holster: I have and use a Galco Miami Classic shoulder holster made famous on the TV show Miami Vice. I like this system especially if I am going to be in a vehicle for a long period of time. Shoulder holsters are easy to conceal, just throw a lightweight shirt over it. This type of carry also distributes the weight of a heavier firearm and ammunition well. Drawing from a shoulder holster takes practice and care as you are likely going to sweep your arm or a bystander. An advantage is when using the restroom you never have to worry about where to put the firearm.

Pocket Carry: Pocket carry can be comfortable and more concealable. Just slip the firearm in a pocket holster and it can disappear. The main limitation is size of the pistol, You would not be able to comfortably carry a Glock 17 this way, however a Ruger LCP or maybe a Shield would be possible. When pocket carrying you may be required to remove the holster and gun when getting into a vehicle because of the difficulty on accessing the firearm with a seatbelt on. With this method I believe it is important to carry nothing but the firearm in the holster in the pocket, no keys, gum or anything else.

Off Body: I have heard many instructors speak negatively about off body carry such as purse carry. Purse carry to me is viable but does take more care. If you have ever left your purse unattended this method might not be great. If you decide to carry with this method, I strongly suggest buying a purse built for carrying a firearm. Firearm purses usually have a compartment that has a holster secured in it by Velcro and is not meant to carry anything but a firearm. I know some women who, for one reason or another do not or can’t carry on body and a purse can work well for them. Drawing from a holster is slow and as mentioned before you should be hyper vigilant when using one. I suggest cross body carry to make snatching the purse more difficult. Many such purses have Kevlar or other material in the strap to make cutting them difficult or impossible.

Whether you choose leather, kydex, hybrid (combination of leather and kydex) Remember to buy a holster that fits YOUR firearm properly. Most firearms have holsters made specifically for them. Train with whatever method you decide on utilizing so that when the time comes you won’t be fumbling with snaps or other retention and will be able to smoothly produce the gun. Training can take place in your home with an unloaded firearm. Practice getting the firearm out and ready so if there is ever a need muscle memory takes over.

One weakness I see often with people is they will buy a nice 500 dollar + gun, a holster that can cost more than $100 and strap this holster to a $9.99 K-mart belt and wonder why the gun isn’t secure against their side. Invest some money and get a sturdy leather belt or even a belt that has a steel core running through it to secure your holster to.

Firearm expert Clint Smith states
“Carrying a gun is not supposed to be comfortable; it’s supposed to be comforting. The gun that’s with you is better than the one that’s home in the safe.”

All holsters shown available from

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