Starting Out Carrying

Hi all, I am new to CC and finally had my CCW come in so I am legal to CC. I just wanted to find out how other’s got started because of course, it can be slightly intimidating to go out into public with a firearm. I take the safety of others JUST shy of the safety of myself and my family. I would say the same amount of safety, but there won’t be much I can do for others if I get myself injured or worse. I am extremely determined to receive training and learn as much as possible for CC but with that, you must also practice.

Info for those wondering where I am at: Not new to firearms, newer handgun owner, and new to CC. I purchased a handgun after finding the one that fit me the best and my intended purpose, then researched and found a holster I think works best for my lifestyle, and purchased multiple gun belts to test including a NexBelt (which I love). I have broken down and cleaned my firearm and understand its workings along with any firearm owner, read the manual from the manufacturer, IN ITS ENTIRETY :slight_smile:

Here are a few questions I had for folks:

  1. When you started carrying, did you go all-in or occasionally at first? (Carry every day? Carry unloaded at first? Carry Loaded? Carry Loaded but empty chamber? Carry Loaded with live chamber? In some places but not others [aside from obviously posted])

  2. What made you most uncomfortable, if anything, when starting to carry? (Lack of training? What others might think? Will anybody see it? “What ifs”?)

  3. What things did you do to overcome said obstacles?

  4. What made you feel comfortable or what did you like about carrying at first?

The biggest question I have, and of course it is difficult now with all the at-home orders, when and where should I carry starting out. I would assume all the time but wanted to see what others had done as well. Thank you ALL so much, I am so glad to be part of USCCA to have such amazing training videos online, a community to help one another, and the safety net as a whole; the entirety of USCCA’s offerings. Also, feel free to add questions you might have! I think this would be great for other beginner concealed carriers.

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CC is a big step, I must assume you are new to firearms in general and CC in particular.
You must have looked at many weapons before make the leap. Did you by a holster when you bought the weapon? Do you have a gun belt, one that can carry the weight of the weapon without sagging? Have you made the weapon your own, in other words can you break down the weapon and clean it? You need to be one with your weapon, know when it is in the right position so that you are no moving the weapon and holster around, know that you are comforable with the weight and the size of the loaded weapon. Wear the weapon in your home for several days before going out with it. Make a note of how you carry, are you touching the weapon, moving the weapon does your arm hit the grip as you are walking?
Many things to keep in mind. A CC permit does not make you an instant gun handling expert. Practice and build your confidance before heading out of the door.
Good Luck
Larry

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Thanks Larry, I realize I should have put a lot of that information in my original post and will edit it to reflect that actually. Not new to firearms, newer handgun owner and new to CC. I purchased a handgun after finding the one that fit me the best, then researched and found a holster I think works best for my lifestyle, and purchased multiple gun belts to test including a NexBelt (which I love). I have broken down and cleaned my firearm and understand its workings. Keeping all that in mind, your tips are extremely helpful. Thank you!

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I would not suggest carrying a gun unloaded.
Definitely get an actual gun belt, it makes a huge difference. It is safer and more comfortable.
A lot of holsters have adjustable cant, experiment with different angles. Find one that you can get a good grip on the gun and does not "print’.
Carry around the house and your neighborhood to get use to carrying.
I subscribe to the EDC theory simply because I cannot see te future, so i don’t know when something bad is going to happen.

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Welcome to the community @WiscoViking!!

Great questions and I’m sure you will get a variety of different answers (all with good points for consideration).

  1. I started carrying part-time, but that was mostly a factor of not being able to carry at work so I was a weekend carry or after work carry kind of guy. The magazine was loaded, but initially (probably the first month) I didn’t carry with one in the chamber and the safety on. Now I carry with one in the chamber (I still use the safety and it’s part of my draw routine when I practice so I make sure it’s second nature to take the safety off as part of my draw.

  2. Yes, yes and yes…worried I wasn’t adequately trained for tough scenarios, worried what friends might think or the public if I accidently printed.

  3. Got training, watched a ton of videos, practiced at my range (draw fire on target) attended a variety of different trainings by qualified instructors (e.g. Rob Pincus, USCCA instructors, Retired police training officers) got me over that first fear. And not just training on drawing and firing, but how to defend against an attack on your person where you needed to prevent your gun from being taken from you and/or you needed to use the gun in close quarters. And as my confidence, skill and knowledge as a concealed carrier increased, the opinions of others didn’t worry me as much.

  4. I liked the feel of the weapon on my hip as it reminded me that should my life or the life of those I care for was in danger, I had another tool in the box to help deal with it (remember the gun is not the only tool you should be thinking about and consider using…verbal judo, pepper spray etc all have their place). Funny, when I carry, I become a much more polite driver.

To answer your biggest question…you can carry around the house (I do frequently). The more you carry the more it will become just another EDC tool like a cell ph or a knife (ok, not just like, but you’ll get used to it).

So try and seek out some local training from a qualified trainer, take advantage of all of USCCA’s training videos and partnerships, and then practice, practice practice (make sure you don’t have ammo in same room with you if you are dry fire practicing at home).

Good luck, keep coming by and asking questions and keeping us up to date on your progress and again, welcome to the community! :slight_smile:

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Thank you so much @JamesR! VERY helpful and really appreciate the welcome!

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Welcome! Well you definitely have a wealth of knowledge here!
It’s good to learn from others experiences!( Less expensive)
What I found most challenging was the wardrobe aspect. In the beginning I was paranoid about printing, through my clothing. What worked for me, is I only wear cargo style pants(lots of pockets!) I also wear an under shirt, usually wicking(under armour or nine line ) also what I found works for me is to wear patterned (plaids) button downs, over that. (Helps break up if you lean or bend down to pick something up) I found that the deluth breeze shooter button downs work best for summer and just good old flannel for fall and winter.
I wore constantly around the house, just to get used to the weight and extra mass on my hip. Oh yeah, I wear iwb, so I also ordered pants and shirts next size up. Gave more space and comfort.
The other thing is you need to ensure what ever you do make sure your rig is right! Don’t be jumping out of your vehicle in a crowded parking lot and start making adjustments.
Of course get some training so you don’t accidentally establish bad habits.
Welcome to the family! Good luck!!! :+1::+1:

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Thank you so much @James322!

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Welcome to the community!
I started carrying at home years before I received my permit. When I bought my first gun, I initially carried with no round in the chamber. It took about a year before I progressed to Condition 1.
Years of practice made it easier for me to transition when I became legally permitted to carry outside the home.
Pay attention to what you wear. It was most uncomfortable when I become a bit paranoid and worry that I’m printing.
Easy fix: Admit I’m not as fit as I’d like to believe and wear one size bigger.
Be safe.

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Welcome to the CC life. 1st of all, comfort and confidence comes first. Best way is taking a class. Learn the 4 gun safety rules. These will guide you to being a safe gun owner. Your gear is very important as you can tell by others response. As I have said to others, whitey tighties, boxers or G-string it does not matter, as long as you are comfortable. A good gun belt, a good holster, a good gun, and good practice. When you are wearing your gun do not feel for it, do not touch it, try not to adjust it. It is best to feel like it is not even there but knowing it is there.
I started carrying after being shot at twice in L.A. . I left L.A. and I still carried. It took time to feel comfortable wearing but, now I feel like if I did not have it, it would be like forgetting my wallet. I practice once a week at the range. I have also a laser gun for dry firing a practice once a day. I am a Certified Instructor but, I gain a lot from practicing and I get better all the time. I feel as though there is no perfection, only to work for perfection to get better. So, practice, practice, practice.

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Welcome to the family brother and be blessed.

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I started open carrying with a thumb lock retention holster then when I got my cc I made a conscious effort to carry as many places I could legally. Your thought process is sound I always carry one in the chamber, I try to stay as mindful and situationally aware you may print, or some other what if covid has helped that six foot space makes you assess your distance from people at all times. Practice practice practice then do it some more practice drawing from your holster with the clothes you wear the art of concealment is a like art it’s subjective. Remember not every encounter requires drawing your pistol. I shoot on my property I train to make shots just outside the engagement distance like 9 yards for 7 and closer I use playing cards and keep groups within the card field no bigger than the card close up it takes practice but he feed back pays off in muscle memory

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Welcome to the Community, @WiscoViking! (I hope that doesn’t mean your a Vikings fan… :thinking: :stuck_out_tongue: )

It sounds like you’re doing your research and taking this self-defense journey at your pace - which is the way to do it!

You’ll get a ton of suggestions here, choose what works for you. Some things will click and other things will not seem natural. Part of your journey will be pushing your limits and part will come easily.

The way I did it, I started carrying at home not loaded. Then I progressed to carrying with ammo in the magazine at home, then one in the chamber. Finally I carried outside of the home with one in the chamber.

Try not to fidget with the firearm when you’re out and about. It’s hard to do at times. Visit the restroom to adjust or wait until you’re in a vehicle to adjust. It sounds like you’ve got a good setup, but don’t limit yourself. If something isn’t working, try something else - you may have a good set up but you might find a great one! (Or a terrible one. :woman_shrugging:)

Keep asking questions! Glad to have you here!

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Thanks @Dawn! Haha, the screen name just refers to my primitive Norwegian heritage! GREEN AND GOLD ALL THE WAY :joy:! Thanks so much for the tips Dawn, yes I am making sure that I test things out for what works best for me and is physically comfortable and then focusing on social comfort of carrying. I think at this point yes I at least plan to carry in the home, in the vehicle and to the storage unit, camper, etc. Things of that nature before any majorly public spaces. All of these tips are so great!

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IMO, the most important aspect for CCW is finding a comfortable way to carry that fits your lifestyle. If carrying is uncomfortable or a hassle, you will find reasons to leave the CCW at home. For me, carrying a firearm is zero burden and therefore I carry it everywhere.

Your ultimate goal is to carry everywhere, with a round in the chamber, comfortably and securely.

I started just carrying around the house at first. I did this for a whole weekend before I started carrying outside, but in hindsight I should have carried just around the house for longer. It took a little while to get comfortable with this now 2lb metal block around my waist and be sure that it was not printing, it was still there (somehow hadn’t fallen out :rofl:) etc.

Carrying around the house, especially if you have mirrors or someone else around who can tell you if you are printing will reduce the need for you to keep checking your firearm and cover garment. You can also carry around the house without a round in the chamber until you get more comfortable with that. I personally was secure carrying with a round in the chamber because I understood the way the firearm works and what will and wont cause it to go off, but I understand that some people struggle with that. Having a really solid holster that covers the trigger is paramount to that feeling of secureity.

The first few weeks I think I carried maybe 60-70% of the time. Gradually increasing to pretty well 99.99999% today. The only time I dont carry now is when I know I am going to a place where they are not allowed, and I try really really hard to avoid those places at all costs. Start at home, then expand to quick trips out like for groceries or gas, then expand to longer trips out of the house.

And during all this, start keeping an eye out for signage about no weapons allowed. Some states, those signs carry the force of law, and other states its merely a suggestion. If its a legal sign, there are usually very strict guidelines on size, placement, and wording. If it falls under a “suggestion”, then it may be almost anywhere. You have to then decide if you want to continue going there or not.

The number one thing on my mind is “will others see it”. I was extremely self-conscious about whether or not I was printing, and to avoid tapping the firearm to make sure the shirt still covered it I looked in pretty much every reflective surface out in public. I went through a couple holsters before finding a winner, and today no one sees it. Even folks that know I carry (this is a small number of people) can never spot it even when they know exactly where it is. I am even comfortable being around anti-gunners because they will never know I have it and I then chuckle that they are actually safer with me around :rofl:

Finding the right holster and carry position. Everyone on here has a drawer full of failed holsters, its part of the right of passage I guess? Strong-side hip carry didnt work for me (body shape, I’m short), and where I typically wear my belt a 330-5 oclock carry would print like crazy if I even thought about bending over. Appendix carry has been super comfortable for me, just had to find the right spot on the belt/pants usually around 1230-130 and a good holster. It conceals super well.

In addition to the holsters, I learned which pant/short/shirt combination was maybe a little harder to conceal than others, and I purchased a second smaller firearm for that 10% of the time where I couldnt conceal my usual EDC firearm. Some folks don’t have to change their wardrobe to CCW, everything they wear just “works”. For the folks that can’t do that, you either have to dress around the gun or change the gun. I chose the latter, but some folks choose the former and both are OK.

To this day, I still struggle with carrying a spare magazine. Carrying a spare on my belt is mostly not a good option (again, body shape). So i will usually pocket carry a spare magazine (or two). One of my holsters is a sidecar, an appendix carry holster with a magazine holster attached and that helps solve the problem, but I don’t use that holster often.

I am very much a “get the right tool for the right job”. So having a tool for that very specific problem was comforting. It gave back the feeling of a little bit of control over my environment. If presented with a lethal-force encounter, I still dont have to draw and fire. Maybe I comply with that mugger, or maybe I run and hide from that mass shooter. But now I have the choice to fight back.

Start small. Go to get gas or the grocery store with it on. Don’t touch the firearm (its hard!), but you will have the opportunity to see yourself in reflections on other cars, store windows, etc. Use that to make sure you aren’t printing. Gradually work your way up to carrying more places and carrying for longer. You will find out what works and what doesn’t.

One piece of advice that isnt in your list of questions, but definitely get some sort of lockbox for your car. One day, you will find yourself about to enter somewhere and you realize you can’t have your firearm on you. Your only choice will be to leave it in the car, and without a lockbox you can only stash it under the seat or toss in the glovebox (or risk carrying where you shouldnt). They are cheap, you can find one on Amazon even you just need to temporarily secure the firearm against unwanted access.

I hope at least some of that helps! We are all here having started our journey at the same place you are. All of us took different roads so there is lots of advice no matter what your scenario is. Use the search box to find previous questions/answers and if you cant find it, post back in here and we’ll get you taken care of.

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Welcome to the life.
While I waited for my license to come, I would carry around my home. That helped me become comfortable with the idea of carrying a gun, all the time. The day my license came, making it legal for me to carry in public, I signed up with the USCCA. I have read, watched, discussed more training on this subject than any other. I highly recommend as much range time as you can, and any additional “professional” training you have acces and the financing for.

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Welcome!

I got my CCL in January of 2012 and shot fro fun at indoor ranges. I primarily got it to make purchasing easier with no intention of ever carrying.

I started to consider carrying in April 2019 and ran through some holsters for a while before I started carrying out of the house later that year. It took a while before I was comfortable carrying with it ready to roll (no safety, one in the chamber).

Getting training is key. As is practice. I believe in muscle memory, but not for just one thing, so I carry different handguns at different times. While they feel differently, they all work the same due to them being in the same condition, and location on my belt. I carry at about 3:30-4 o’clock and really don’t even notice anymore.

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Welcome! I know its been said, but get a good belt and holster. If you have a good holster and belt, you will be comfortable and you will carry more. There are threads on both, or ask and we all have opinions.

  1. When I started, I went all in. This is a matter of personal comfort. I would recommend it kind of like jumping in a cold pool. It feels cold, but once you are in, its fine as long as you dont get out. The more you carry, the more comfortable you will feel carrying. Check out the thread going about those of us who feel naked not carrying. If you carry enough, you will get to that point, even to the point you will try to avoid places that you cant carry at. But it all starts with carrying, so carry as much as you feel comfortable.

  2. When I first started carrying, I worried about being spotted. Well, let me tell you something, the only people who may notice are other CPL holders. Unless it is visible, people just dont pay attention and it is the farthest thing on their minds.

  3. You overcome by carrying more. The more you carry, the more you will notice that while you might feel different because you know you are carrying, the people around you will be exactly the same and will act no differently because they dont know, they dont care, and it is the farthest thing from their minds.

  4. If you are worried about it, do you have a trusted friend or significant other who you can model for? Someone who can go to the store with you a couple times to watch over you to give you confidence that you arent wearing a big sign that says you are carrying? I know that is a little dramatic, but in the beginning, that is how it can feel, and if you have someone to give you that confidence, it might help. Also, use mirrors beforehand and watch yourself as you move to see if you are showing/printing, not that its the end of the world if you do. And finally, dont get wedded to any particular piece of equipment. If a belt, holster, gun (I know, easier said than done sometimes) isnt working like you think it should, get something new. If its not working, not supporting, uncomfortable, etc. you wont carry as much. Think of it this way. What is the value of something if you know you are going to use it every day? And if you have questions, ask ask ask ask.

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WOW! @Harvey Thank you so much for the thorough and considerate reply! This is a MASSIVE help and I am already feeling immensely better about things. I wasn’t so much nervous but want to make sure things are being done correctly, legally, and most importantly, safely. Thank you!!!

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I say carry the way you feel comfortable don’t worry if the gun is printing at your home because no one is there. Try different holsters see which one would be comfortable. Practice draw and holster in front of the mirror and try different carry positions. Eventually you will find one comfortable enough to carry.

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