Advice, Where to Begin?!

@Fred_G is spot on. Without a good belt you’ll never know what holster is or isn’t working. I don’t know how many holsters I went thru before I changed to a good belt and that was the biggest game changer.

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How do you dress? That’s a big one. Do you wear tucked shirts and khakis? Probably going to end up OWB. Loose shirt and jeans/cargo pants? Probably IWB. Suits and a suit coat? Pocket or shoulder.

These are examples but the point is you need to find a holster that compliments how you dress. But I 100% agree that you need to start with the foundation, if you’re looking at IWB or OWB then you are going to need a quality belt. It doesn’t have to be Bigfoot Gun Belts, there are others, but it’s a good place to start.

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To add to what the others have said, once you get a holster and carry gun, carry around your house. It will help you get used to having it on your body, and figuring out what position is the most comfortable for your daily activities (sitting, walking, etc). Carrying a gun should be comforting, not necessarily comfortable. But, not uncomfortable.

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I’m going to ask different questions.

What type of gun do you plan on carrying? Full size ? Compact, sub compact? 45, 9, 380? Revolver, Semi Auto?

I carry a Sig P238 in .380 in the summer, a Shield 9 mm in the winter. Both are appendix carry at about 112:30 . I’m not sure I’d carry anything bigger there.

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As most have been saying it is all very personal. And you will go through holsters until you find some you really like. I mostly carry a Glock 26 IWB but switch it up to OWB depending on what I am wearing and how they fit. OWB is more comfortable but is more likely to print. At times I will also carry in a shoulder holster, because of clothing. If I need to downsize, I’ll carry a Glock 42 in a pocket holster or ankle holster.

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New to the concealed carry world(still waiting on my license to come in)… and have been doing a TON of reading. But it seems more information is just adding more decisions to make.
Such as type of Holster, IWB, but what position, cant, ammo…

Was wondering if anyone could just give some pointers in where to look, what you do, why you do it? Needing a good starting point!

Have you already made some decisions yet, like what firearm you want to carry? If you can give us an idea of what your constraints are (office “non-permissive environment”, suit & tie vs casual clothing, etc) we can maybe be more specific in helping steer you in the right direction. I’ll post some about my experience below in case it helps.

There is some good advice already here in this thread especially from @Craig6 and @Fred_G . Ultimately though, there is a lot of trial and error as every person’s body shape and nooks & crannies is different. I too have a box full of old holsters.

If you plan on carrying on the waist, a good gun belt is super important. In fact, maybe the most important. A stiff belt helps prevent the firearm (and maybe spare mags, etc) from sagging your pants down, and keeps the firearm in the position/cant you placed it. Characteristics of a good belt is that is is stiff, durable, and adjustable in small increments.

I have a good opinion of Kore gun-belts (their leather ones fit right into an office environment), and I use Volund Gearworks “G-hook” belts daily. They have a normal weight one and a “slim” weight that is more flexible which I use when I have a lighter firearm and/or and moving around a lot (like yardwork). There are many reputable gun-belts around, those are just the ones I have experience with.

I personally carry appendix (link to EDC in another thread) as I found that to be the most comfortable and easy to conceal for me. I’m short (5’6" 170, built like a former athlete :slight_smile: so not super fit, but not chunky either). I’m a web developer, so I wear t-shirt and jeans/shorts/cargo pants every day (basically really casual, but not sloppy).

Carrying at 3 o’clock made my waist look really wide so I just looked like a square shape. No one could tell i had a firearm, but they could see i had something on my hip. Anyone remotely paying attention would assume it was a firearm.
Carrying at 4-5 o’clock-ish was actually really comfortable, and concealed very well when i was standing or walking around, but whenever i sat (remember I’m in t-shirts) it printed like a mofo, and every time I stood up i’d have to adjust my t-shirt over the gun since it had a tendency to slip in between the firearm and my body just a bit.

Carrying appendix works best for me in terms of concealment and comfort. Concealment, literally no one knows I carry except for the few people who know where it is and even then they can’t see it. Sitting down, standing up, twisting, etc it all stays put. It is a little counter-intuitive, but a longer slide length is helpful here as it prevents “tip-out” where the butt of the firearm leans outward. Think of your belt as a fulcrum point and you need at least a certain amount of firearm above the beltline in order to get a good grip, the remainder is below the beltline. If you have more above the line than below you are likely to get that “tip-out”. Even though I usually carry a Glock 26, it is in a Glock 19 holster. My Glock 43 holster is “long” to get a similar effect. Both holsters are from JM Custom Kydex. For AIWB having a “claw” of some sort helps tilt the firearm grip back towards your body. About 80% of the time I carry the G26, but sometimes just a certain pants/shirt/“i ate too much” combo makes it not conceal great so on those days I carry a G43 instead.

For comfort, it took some work to find just the right spot where it doesn’t hit a pelvic bone when sitting, and also adding a neoprene wedge was super helpful. You might carry right at 12 o’clock or maybe a little off to the side 1 o’clock or even further at 2-2:30 o’clock to find that safe spot. You may have to adjust when sitting down/standing up, but I usually don’t have the need to if I put it in the right spot to begin with.

I have a good friend who carries a Sig P250 in a belly band. He finds it super easy to conceal and is very comfortable for him.

If you have more specific questions, would be super happy to help answer and I’m sure others on here who carry on their hip (or shoulder, ankle, pocket, off-body)

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Sounds like everybody is giving great advice already - I will just chime in on the holster thing. Check out Alien Gear Holsters: https://aliengearholsters.com/ They have a 30 day test drive, so if you find you don’t like the way a particular carry method is working, you can send it back risk free and try another. And they have free shell swaps for life - so if you decide to change your carry gun, you can modify your holster for FREE. It avoids that “box of holsters” everyone keeps talking about. I have 2 holsters: a paddle (OWB) for a 1911 and a IWB for my Sig P238. I may not carry the Sig forever (thinking about getting a compact 9), but with Alien Gear, I know I can swap out my shell if/when the time comes.

(I’m also thinking about trying appendix carry, but the 4:00 position works for me, so not sure why I would change.)

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Great question and welcome to the world of protecting what you love.

Echoing what has been already written, find a USCCA Certified Instructor in your area or here on this forum. The Defensive Shooting Fundamentals course is the logical (some might say mandatory) next step in your education and training. Gear is personal as it must be comfortable and functional. As noted, many retailers and ranges will allow you to test drive equipment. Aside from that you are very much already on the right path by participating in this community and asking the questions. Best regards and let us know how your journey unfolds.

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As of right now, I have my M&P Shield 2.0 9mm… most of the time I’m in an untucked, button-down dress shirt(work), suit and tie(church), or basketball pants and t-shirt(everywhere else).

Work will be easy(rather AIWB or something similar), but still up in the air on church and basketball pants.

Appreciate all the great tips, guys!

I like that suggestion, @Craig6! As long as you’re being safe with the firearm and the trigger is covered, it’s a great way to find out what you like/don’t like. My only addition would be to train a LOT after you figure out exactly how you want to carry so that it’s instinctual.

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I would think a pocket holster in the jacket pocket or pants pocket for church. I wear jeans to church with an un-tucked shirt so AIWB works for me.

The shield might be a touch heavy for basketball pants.

I have a stealth gear holster, I hear good things about the alien gear.

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For basketball pants, look into a belly band. But make sure it’s a high quality belly band that keeps the gun secure and protects the trigger area.

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Alien Gear Holsters, they have a good warranty and are rather inexpensive.

My body and clothing choices allow me to often carry with my favorite holster, an OWB paddle Blackhawk Serpa holster, most comfortable and secure holster I’ve ever had.

Cant, just a lot of trial on that. Ammo, Hollow points always, I personally like Hornady with Flex Tips.

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As of right now, I have my M&P Shield 2.0 9mm…

Great choice. If you are still undecided on your ammo type, you have LOTS of great options. My recommendation would be Federal HST or Speer Gold Dots in either 147gr or 124gr. Hornady and Winchester make some great ones here too, and then you also have some smaller boutique ammo companies making good stuff (altho for liability reasons I’d choose one from a major brand). Luckygunner has a great compilation of data if you like numbers. Shooting The Bull on youtube has a great set of tests, and his final conclusion is here (as of May 2019). For a greater understanding of terminal ballistics in general and covering a lot of other calibers, this (slightly dated) article over at ar15.com is excellent.

most of the time I’m in an untucked, button-down dress shirt(work)

You’re right, this is the easiest :slight_smile: Any carry position at your waist should be good to go. You could maybe even go OWB in the right shirt.

suit and tie(church)

You can still go IWB or AIWB as long as your holster is tuckable. In fact, the tucked shirt “poofing out” over your belt line helps hide a lot.

If you carry appendix people can easily see the front of your pants with the jacket open, they may or may not notice the holster clips. Snaps are less noticeable (especially with a leather belt the same color), J-clips even less noticeable, and ulti-clips are even less noticeable than that.

You can also go with shoulder carry, or OWB strong side. Both of those may be visible if you happen to reach high for something or otherwise move the jacket out of the way temporarily. You could also pocket carry altho the Shield is probably a bit too big IMO for pocket carry, so you might need another firearm (as good an excuse as any to get another one :slight_smile: ).

basketball pants and t-shirt(everywhere else).

Basketball pants are hard. If they have a solid drawstring you might be able to use ulti-clips to attach the holster to the pants directly (since there is no belt). I’d worry about the weight pulling them down tho. Again, maybe an excuse to get a firearm that is even lighter :wink:

Otherwise I think a belly band would work great here.

Your last choice here would be off-body in a sling pack, fanny pack/utility belt, backpack.

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^^^^^ THIS!! I went for too many years wearing whatever kind of belt trying to keep a stainless Colt Officers Model in place. I ended up with a Bianchi B21 contoured bet. The difference in carry was HUGE and the difference in draw was even more profound. Nothing like draw practice where you have to hitch your britches up before each draw. Draw and Hitch, Draw and Hitch (add in Jeff Foxworthy voice from Cast and Tug).

For dress I ended up somehow (I honestly don’t remember how I got it) with a 1" Blackhawk gun belt in “carbon fiber” design that, while not as stout as the Bianchi, was much better than any dress leather belt I ever had.

Cheers,

Craig6

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A good belt yes, my belt it a reinforced work belt From Walmart, inexpensive and sold enough to last years of abuse. My current belt I’ve been wearing for years and I would estimate it has at least 6 months left of life to the stretching of the holes in it…

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I’m afraid the initial question is way too open ended. What works great for one person my be totally unworkable for another. You “will” need a good belt, then proceed from there with weapon type, size, how you dress and where you want to carry and what YOU feel is a safe carry method. Read Everything you can find. Oh, you Will wind up with a box of holsters. If at all possible, try before you buy, it will save you $$

The most important thing I can tell you is set aside as much money as you can afford for a training budget and seek as much training as you can get from qualified instructors with proven programs.

Being both an NRA and USCCA instructor that’s the two I can recommend without qualification but there are others out there.

Beware, though “tacticool” and “street warrior” mentality has become epidemic and there’s a whole lot of folks out there peddling pure BS.

No private trainer is going to make you into an invicible Navy Seal or Army Ranger no matter how good a line of BS they are peddling.

We have a whole lot of hard evidence and stat’s that show us what kinds of self defense scenarios are common and those are the one’s to train for.

My training priorities are simple.

Spend 70% of your time on the most common.

Spend 20% of your time on the less common.

No more than 5-10% of your time on the least common.

We’re not cops, we’re not vigilantes, the odds of you ever being in a deadly force encounter to start with are pretty slim considering our ever falling violent crime rates.

The most common such encounters you are likely to face are a home invasion, a parking lot robbery, a car jacking, or being an innocent bystander when you are in a business that is targeted for an armed robbery.

Learn good situational awareness, learn what to look out for, how to always keep a plan in your head leaving yourself as many options as possible and don’t do stupid things.

Lean conflict avoidance and deescalation techniques.

Avoid escalating conflicts such as road rage incidents. Does it really matter if you had the right of way and some jerk cut you off if you end up with a bullet in your head or your family gets shot up because you gave someone the finger and honked at them for cutting you off? Your’e just as dead and so are they whether you are right or wrong.

One of the best aspects of Joining the USCCA is the constant stream of good quality training materials that are made available to us for free. Make use of them, study them, and if you can get out and take the USCCA classes. No matter how much or little experience you have they will benefit you.

Another outstanding resource I can highly recommend is The Active Self Protection Network on Youtube.

Every day John will put up at least one new self defense scenario that has taken place, he breaks them down and evaluates what was done right or wrong or what could have been done better even if it wasn’t wrong.

He pulls these videos from all over the world and does an excellent job of giving you an accurate and unbiased breakdown of what went on.

You can join for like 4.00/mo and it’s absolutely worth the money.

Even if you don’t post actively/regularly here this forum is a very good source of information as well. We won’t all always agree but even when we don’t we have valuable discussions.

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Ain’t this the truth.

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@WildRose, that was the best reading on USCCA Forum.
Your post should be used as Welcome for new CCL owners.
Good job sir :ok_hand:

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