I get a lot of requests every week to talk about concealed carry. I’m asked about what methods work for me or what I think about specific methods. Often, I get a lot of questions about methods that I don’t approve of at all. I thought that I would combine all of those methods into one topic and do a little video on concealed carry “don’ts” or things that are, in my opinion, things that you shouldn’t do when you are concealed-carrying.
Remember that these are my opinions. People ask for my opinion. They aren’t asking me for statistical facts. They’re asking my opinions. Something I disagree with may work just fine for you, but these are my concealed carry “don’ts.”
The Mexican carry may seem like one of the most obvious methods not to use but I get questions about it quite often. Mexican carry, for those who aren’t familiar with it, involves taking your firearm and sticking it in the waistband of your pants with no holster and with nothing to support it. That is, of course, an obvious “don’t.” You have no trigger protection. You have no safety protection. You have no retention. I think it’s just a really, really bad idea. I don’t really think I need to go into depth on that. That is just a major “no-no.”
Mexican carry is something which you should just never do. Most people wouldn’t even consider sticking a cell phone in their waistband or of carrying their cell phone without any kind of a retention for fear of dropping it and of damaging something that expensive. Why would they consider doing it with a gun?
Let’s discuss pocket carry. I’m not going to say that pocket carry, in itself, is bad because it can be done very much in a right way. There are certain ways that people do it that I just don’t agree with at all. One is carrying it in your pocket without a holster. You should never pocket carry without a holster for the same reasons you shouldn’t mexican carry. There’s no trigger protection. There’s no safety protection.
There’s nothing to prevent the gun from shifting so that when you reach for it in your pocket it’s pointed barrel up at you. If you hit the trigger, you may hit yourself in the chest or shoulder. I’ve seen that happen. I haven’t directly seen it happen, but I’ve known of cases of that happening. Never carry it in your pocket without a holster. Always use a proper pocket carry holster. A gun is dangerous if you don’t maintain it in a proper and safe way and that is not a safe way to maintain your gun.
Another part of the pocket carry method that I don’t agree with involves carrying the gun in cargo-pants pockets. Cargo-pants pockets are usually button-down and I would never want to have to go through a button to get to my gun if I needed it. My opinion is that pocket carry in a cargo-pants pocket is just not a good idea. Zippers also aren’t a good idea. They will increase the time it takes for you to get your gun and also the time it takes to use it.
If you’re carrying just for the sake of carrying, I guess it’s fine, but if you want to be in a ready position you should never carry your gun in a cargo-pants pocket. It’s just not a good idea. It doesn’t make the gun readily available to you.
“S.O.B. carry” means Small-of-Back Carry. For those of you who are unfamiliar, that is when your gun is carried right in the center of your back in an S.O.B. carry holster. The holster usually has a strong cant to the right or left depending on whether you’re right or left-handed so that you can reach backward and pull your gun easily.
I have owned these holsters before but they are not a method of carry that I would recommend to anyone. A good example of why I wouldn’t recommend this method involves a person who I knew in Charleston. He was a state patrolman. One night when the bridge into South Charleston had frozen up, he stopped to give aid to some accident victims. He got out of his car. He slipped on the ice and he fell. He was carrying his off-duty revolver in a Small-of-Back holster. When he fell, he damaged his lower vertebrae so badly that he ended up being permanently disabled. He had to quit his job on the police force because of his disability.
Another example involves a person who lived across the street from me when I first moved to Washington. He was a disabled police officer. He was on the disabled list. The reason he was disabled was because during a shuffle his duty belt had shifted. He was shoved down. He fell and landed on his walkie-talkie, on the same place along his lower back that a Small-of-Back holster would be. He damaged his lower vertebrae, ended up disabled and had to quit the force.
The Small-of-Back holster is just not good from a safety standpoint on falling. If you’re going to get into a scuffle there’s a good chance you’re going to get knocked on your back. You don’t want to do that with a big piece of steel lying against the lower vertebrae of your spine.
Also, if someone knows you’re armed, it’s easy to come up behind you and to take the weapon from your Small-of-Back holster before you even know they’re there.
So, there are two reasons I don’t like Small-of-Back carry. First, I don’t like how unsafe it is to carry a big piece of steel against your spine like that. You can fall on it. Second, gun retention is an issue with it. Small-of-Back Carry is something I never recommend.
Shoulder Holsters are another method. I don’t know if you can see it or not. There is a shoulder holster actually hanging here that I use sometimes. Mainly, it’s just for a Halloween costume. When I’m James Bond it’s my PPK shoulder holster.
Shoulder Holsters are good holsters for certain circumstances, especially like wearing an open coat, like a suit coat. You won’t want to take the coat off but you can still have easy access to your weapon. The problem with a shoulder holster is that people who wear them can also end up wearing them under hoodies or pullovers of any type, or under a shirt, under a zip-up jacket, or something like that. It might be worn under a jacket that is buttoned up.
These situations just limit your access and it becomes very hard for you to get to your gun. Having to reach up under your arm to get at your gun is not a good thing. The only thing I have against shoulder holsters is that when you don’t wear them properly and you don’t wear them with the proper clothes, you make the gun hard to get to.
I do have one other small issue with shoulder holsters and that is that they don’t maintain a safe position for the barrel. A gun will probably not go off unless you’re reaching for it. However, if you shoot off accidentally while drawing the gun, where is that holster pointing? It is either pointing at people behind you or at your own arm or someplace like that. It is very hard to draw properly from a shoulder holster. There is a way to do it but most people aren’t going to do it that way.
Shoulder Holsters are not the greatest method of carrying a gun with certain types of clothing and there is also the issue of the muzzle and its pointing position. While you are carrying a gun in a shoulder holster, it is always at a pointing position and pointing at something that it shouldn’t be pointing at. The gun is not pointed at the ground like it would be in most holsters. Those issues are my issues with shoulder holsters.
Next, I’m going to address some dislikeable general aspects of holsters. These would be regular inside-waistband or outside-waistband holsters. Mostly, these are generic, non-fitted nylon holsters. I have seen so many guns belts with these types of holsters. They have poor retention. People sit down and their guns scoot-up out of them and fall out. I’ve seen it happen many times. I’ve even had it happen to me once when I was younger and I first started carrying.
I don’t like soft-sided, non-fitting nylon holsters that don’t have a retention strap. If you’re going to use a cheap nylon holster, use one that has a retention strap. A retention strap is the best thing way to improve this type of holster.
I also have a problem with holsters that have too much retention. I’ve had holsters that have had big rubber bands which snap over the top of the gun. These bands weren’t that easy to thumb-off. These bands will interfere with your use of a weapon if you have to use it in a tight situation.
I do carry holsters with retention systems. For instance, I use Bianchi’s CarryLok systems and I think they’re great. However, I don’t suggest using them if you don’t practice with them. You will have to get used to using your middle finger to depress the release in order to pull the gun. They’re great for holding big, heavy guns in but you have to practice with them if you’re going to use them. If you’re not going to practice with them don’t use them.
In general, don’t make your holsters too complex and don’t get ones that don’t fit your gun. Don’t try to use holsters with guns they’re not made for because an ill-fitting holster can mean a retention issue which can also mean that that gun could fall out on you sometime.
In summary, always make sure that your holster is as simple as it can be, that you practice with the ones that aren’t as simple as they can be and that you get holsters that are fitted for your gun. If you can’t find a holster that is fitted for your gun, make sure there is a retention strap.
Let’s talk about the gym bag carry. I often start forum conversations about how people carry their gun when they go to the gym. Personally, I carry it in a fanny pack. I often hear people say they put their gun in their gym bag and that they keep their gym bag with them at all times.
This, to me, is a major “no-no” because that bag is not in your control at all times. Usually you can’t see the bag when you set it down and go to work out, when you go to get on a machine or when you’re on a press doing presses. Someone could easily slip your bag away from you. It happens to people in our gym all of the time.
You are told, “Watch your bag. Don’t leave your bag anywhere that you can’t see it. Be careful about people stealing your bags.” Why would you put a firearm in something that is so easily taken from you?
My firearm is never out of my possession during the day. It should never be off of your body. If it isn’t locked up, then, I don’t think, you should ever be in a position where you are not in control of it. It might be better to secure your gun in a cable-lock system with a key lock or something on it if you are keeping the gun in your duffel bag but this isn’t ideal. A gun thief is still going to be able to overcome the cable-lock system once they get the gun out of your care. I don’t believe in putting your guns in duffel bags or in any other bag that you’re not going to have in your possession at all times.
I’m even “iffy” about purse carry with women, if they don’t keep their purse on them all the time. I have the same problem with one of my carry methods. I have a Maxpedition bag and my problem with it is that I have to keep it on. You won’t want to have to deal with forgetting your bag. If you take it off and set it on a table you won’t want to have to face the issue of going to the bathroom and forgetting to put it back on.
I don’t like for your gun to be in anything that comes off your body. I’m just not a big fan of that type of carrying when you’re at the gym at all.
Finally, let’s discuss ankle carry. I know that a lot of people love ankle carry, especially with small guns, but I am a big opponent of ankle carry. There are a couple of reasons why I don’t like ankle carry.
One reason I don’t like ankle carry is because your ankles and legs are the most rapidly and free-moving parts of your body. Think of how fast and how far your ankles are moving when you’re walking. They are at the far end of a pendulum. It’s like a whip. You’re putting extra stress on retention when you have something in an ankle holster. I just don’t like them. They aren’t safe from that standpoint. I don’t want to ever put my holster in the place that’s going to suffer the most stress from my daily activities.
Two, ankle carry weapons are hard to get to. Reaching down to your ankles in a stressful situation is not the best possible thing you could be having to do. It’s even worse if you consider the possibility of being in a scuffle with someone and ending up on the ground. It will be hard to reach your weapon and your reach could be easily blocked by your opponent. If I’m on top of you and I see that you are reaching for a weapon on your ankle, if I can see that your weapon is there, it is one of the easiest moves in grappling to execute a body block and to keep you from accessing your lower body.
You can beat on the back of my head and shoulders as much as you want to. I’m going to be able to block your access to your lower body. I’m going to be able to control your leg and take your weapon easily. Accessing your ankles is so easy, especially from an upper to middle body position.
I don’t have to do it long-term. I don’t have to do it long enough to put you in a lock or to keep you in submission. I just have to block your access long enough in order to pull a weapon off of your ankle. From a retention standpoint in a fight, it’s easier for me to reach your ankle that it is for you to reach your ankle. Carrying your gun on your ankle is just not a good idea, to me.
So, there it is. I’ve given you a big, long list of things that I consider “don’ts” when it comes to concealed carry. Remember, these are just my opinions. I hope you can take them with a grain of salt and take them for what they’re worth. Perhaps, you will expand on them with your own opinions. Please consider how they jive with what you think or how you disagree with them. Build a safe method of carrying based on your own opinions and maybe also using the information I just gave you.
Remember, like I said, these are just my opinions. I don’t want any flame wars over liking the ankle carry method, for instance. If you ankle carry you do so with acceptance that there are limitations to ankle carry. If you Mexican carry, then you Mexican carry with the acceptance that there are issues with that. So, this is all up to you. It’s all on you. I’m a firm believer in personal responsibility. You might find ways to make things work for you.
These have been, by no means, all of the “don’ts”. I’m sure that everybody out there can add 10 “don’ts” to my list. These may not have been all of them, but that’s all I’m going to cover right now because it gets hot under these lights and there is no air conditioning vent in my laundry room. It gets hot in here. As you can see, I’m starting to sweat already.
This has been my video on concealed carry “don’ts.”