Different Locations to Carry a Gun
For many people, the holster is their favorite gun accessory. There are a nearly infinite number of options when it comes to holster design, material, shapes, comfort, and so on. However, we all know that the kind of holster you use is fully dependent on the kind of firearm that you have. If your gun is less common than others, you will likely have a more limited number of holster options to choose from, especially when it comes to concealed carry holsters.
Despite that, the overwhelming majority of pistols still have at least a handful of holsters made for each of the nine locations to conceal carry a gun on your person (with the exception of one off body carry example) that we will go over in this article.
While the official definition of concealed carry does vary state by state, it essentially means that you are carrying your pistol out of sight. Almost all states require you to conceal with a CCW permit.
Regardless of what state you live in, each of these locations to carry your gun will work. Which carry location you settle on is up to you based on your preference. Ideally, your carry location of choice should meet the right balance between concealment, access to your weapon, and comfort.
Without any further ado, let’s get started:
BELT OR PADDLE OWB HOLSTER
This kind of holster is held outside your waistband and either loops over your belt or a paddle is secured inside your pants with the holster outside. OWB options are excellent for when open carry is allowed but concealed carry isn’t, or for police work. However, with a coat or jacket over it in cold weather, it can also be worn concealed. OWB holsters are available in a variety of different materials including nylon, leather, or polymer. The disadvantage to them is that they are the least easily concealed out of your options; the advantage is that it’s almost always faster to draw from an OWB holster than an IWB one.
STRONG SIDE HIP IWB HOLSTER
In this carry option, you wear your gun on your right or left hip in the same position you would in an OWB holster only this time the gun is carried inside your waistband. A shirt or jacket is then worn over the top of your pants to hide the exposed grip of the handgun. This is easily one of the most popular carry options because it keeps your pistol fully concealed and permits you to get a full firing grip on your gun before drawing; the drawback is it’s difficult to draw your weapon with your other hand if your gun hand is down. Almost all strong side hip IWB holsters will either have loops or clips that securely fasten to a belt, and like OWB holsters, they are made with a wide range of materials.
SMALL OF BACK IWB HOLSTER
This is often abbreviated as an SOB holster. The handgun is worn in an IWB holster that is tucked into the small of the back, most of the time in the six o’clock position. This is definitely a highly concealable option available to you if you desire, but nonetheless many firearms instructors will not recommend this carry option as a first choice. For one thing, it’s very uncomfortable when sitting down or driving. In addition, if you are thrown against or fall to the ground on your back and the concealed gun is pressed against your spine, it can cause damage to your vertebrae. This is why cops and detectives generally avoid SOB holsters even for their backup guns. But as long as you are willing to take the risk you won’t fall hard enough on your back and don’t mind the discomfort when driving, it is certainly an option to consider.
APPENDIX CARRY IWB HOLSTER
This carry location also makes use of an IWB holster that clips or loops to your belt. The firearm rests in the two o’clock position (for right handed shooters) in front of you about where your appendix is located. This is a more uncomfortable carry location for large or medium frame guns but works great for smaller ones. The advantage that carrying appendix has vs. strong side hip is that you can easily draw your firearm with either hand.
If you are against the idea of wearing your handgun around your waist, but still need your firearm and spare magazines or speed loaders to be easily accessible, then you should probably consider a shoulder holster. Granted, most kinds of shoulder holsters require a jacket to be worn concealed, but there are some smaller and lighter designs that can be worn under a normal T-shirt. Shoulder holsters are easily adjustable so any model can fit most body types. Your handgun can also be drawn with either hand and your spare ammunition is easily accessible.
An ankle holster is strapped right on or above either ankle and then concealed with your pant leg; it is obviously not an option for concealment if you are wearing shorts or a skirt. It’s also generally not an option for medium to large handguns, but for small firearms it works great. Ankle holsters can be uncomfortable for some but most people get used to them after extended use. The primary drawback to the ankle holster is it takes a slower amount of time to draw; for this reason, they are often preferred for a backup gun rather than a primary carry gun.
Obviously this carry location is with women in mind; the holster secures to the thigh for when wearing skirts or dresses. Like ankle holsters, medium to large frame handguns generally do not work well with thigh holsters as they can weigh it down, but smaller framed and lighter handguns work just fine for it.
This is obviously another holster location option with ladies in mind. Bra holsters attach directly to the middle of the bra and make the firearm totally concealed. Again, only smaller pistols work well for this carry option. In addition, there are generally a lesser number of bra holsters out there, meaning if your chosen CCW isn’t exactly a popular gun, there may not be a bra holster for it.
PURSE AND OFF BODY CARRY
This one is more popular with women to carry in their purse, but men can also carry a gun in their suitcase or messenger bag. Nonetheless, like SOB holsters, off body carry in general is not recommended as a first carry option by most experts. The reason is simple: your purse, bag, suitcase, or whatever must be with you at all times and you can’t ever let it out of your hands. But if you are forced to carry off body for whatever reason, there are a number of special purses and messenger bags that have concealed compartments for your gun.