Both new gun owners and experienced gun owners alike have struggled with how to begin the concealed carry process. This concealed carry guide is a brief rundown, or checklist, to get you started successfully.
Below is a checklist of 6 steps to making your concealed carry experience as easy and simple as possible. Follow each of these steps completely and you will join the tens of millions of Americans who conceal carry on a daily basis.
This guide will help you with the following:
- What you need to know
- What you need to get
- What you need to do
So lets get into it.
1. Learn Firearm Safety and Laws
If you want to carry concealed, then you must know how to safely handle firearms, as well as the local, state, and federal laws. Below we will briefly cover them, as well as provide links for you to learn more.
Firearm Safety Rules
Learning the four rules of gun safety is extremely important when you are new to firearms. These rules, if followed correctly, allow users to handle and use firearms while remaining safe. These rules are as follows:
- Treat every gun as if it is loaded…always
- Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target
- Be sure of your target and what is beyond it
There are thousands and thousands of gun laws across the United States. While it is near impossible to memorize all of them, there is a way to be informed. Below is a link to the USCCA resource that provides a free interactive map that gives all the info you need for each state.
USCCA is a great resource for firearm education. We will provide more information about them further down in this article.
2. Choose a Concealed Carry Handgun and Ammo
View Our Best Concealed Carry Guns Article
View Our Best Self Defense Ammo Article
Choosing your carry gun is a task that will be dependent on the individual. Each person is different, and, depending on their needs, their carry set up will be different as well.
While deciding on your options, I encourage you to try out some of your choices at local gun ranges. You can rent guns at certain ranges, or even bring a friend to try out their carry guns.
What To Look For In a Carry Gun
When it comes to picking the ideal concealed carry gun, consider it as an art of balancing three critical factors – type, size, and caliber. The type of gun must align with your comfort and usage requirements. The size should cater to easy concealment but also manage recoil efficiently. Lastly, the ammo caliber is crucial, keeping in mind both the stopping power and your practical needs. Finding the right mix of these three parameters will guide you towards a concealed carry choice that offers peace of mind.
Your two main choices of handgun for concealed carry are going to be semi-automatics and revolvers.
Semi-automatics offer a larger ammo capacity and faster reloading, but require more maintenance.
Revolvers, on the other hand, are renowned for their reliability and straightforward operation, making them a favorite among some. The downside to revolvers is that they generally only hold 6 rounds.
Remember, comfort and personal preference play key roles in your choice.
When exploring concealed carry guns, size plays a starring role. Full-size handguns provide stability but might be tough to conceal. Compact models strike a balance between size and performance, while sub-compact guns are the easiest to conceal but require mastering recoil control. The ideal choice marries comfort, concealment, and capability in harmony.
Self Defense Ammo
Choosing the right self-defense ammo is crucial. Quality self-defense ammo offers reliable expansion, deep penetration, and sufficient stopping power. Remember, while your concealed carry gun matters, the ammo you choose can make all the difference when a critical situation arises.
It is extremely important to make sure and practice with your carry ammo. You want to make sure that it runs through your firearm reliably before you decide to use it daily.
Our Recommended Guns and Ammo
While there are a vast amount of options of firearms to carry, this is our short list to get you started. If you are comfortable carrying a larger handgun daily, then by all means do so. The three options listed below are not only our top picks, but they are three of the most purchased firearms in the United States.
- Sig Sauer P365 & P365 XL
- Smith & Wesson Shield Plus
- Glock 43X
Any quality brand self defense ammo can work, but like we mentioned above, be sure to test it out. You can check out our article listed below to see our recommendations.
3. Choose a Concealed Carry Holster
View Our Best Concealed Carry Holsters Article
A quality holster goes a long way in helping you carry safe as well as comfortable. The more comfortable the holster is, the more likely you are to carry. Follow the below guidelines to help you find the right holster for your needs.
What To Look For In A Carry Holster
Your holster goes a long way in helping you to carry safe and effectively. Using the list of options below, you can narrow down your holster choice. Don’t just settle for the cheapest holster, shop for quality.
From robust Kydex to classic leather, or a blend of both in a hybrid style, the material of your concealed carry holster matters. Kydex offers durability, leather provides comfort and a timeless look, while hybrids balance the best of both worlds. Choose the material that suits your lifestyle and comfort.
View our article Holster Materials Compared
Covered Trigger Guard
This one is simple…just make sure your holster completely covers your trigger guard. You also want to make sure the material that covers the trigger guard is firm and durable.
Some leather holsters can wear down over time and cause this area to become flimsy. If this is the case be sure to replace that holster.
Be sure that the holster you choose allows for any accessories you have on your carry gun. If you are going to carry with a light, optic, or any other extra features, your holster needs to be able to accommodate.
Decide Your Carry Position
Some holsters will work in multiple carry positions. However, some are made for a specific carry position, like appendix carry. Be sure you either know how you plan to carry, or purchase one that is versatile.
Off Body Carry
Off body carry (purse, backpacks, bags) is generally not recommended. However, if you are going to use off body carry be sure that the firearm is easily accessible as fast as possible.
An important thing to remember about off body carry is that you need to be in possession of your firearm. It is all too easy to forget and set your bag/purse down and walk away.
Our Recommended Holsters
These are our picks for the best holster companies on the market. Feel free to click the links and browse through the holster options that are available to find your best fit. Some of these companies have given our readers a discount code that saves you money at checkout.
Tulster Holsters: Save 15% with Code: CCS
We The People Holsters: Save 15% with Code: CCS15
CrossBreed Holsters: Save 15% with Code: CCS15
4. Choose a Concealed Carry Belt
View Our Best Concealed Carry Belts Article
A good belt made for carrying a firearm is often skipped by people new to concealed carry. This is a huge mistake, and one I made when I started carrying. Nothing adds to comfort like a well made carry belt.
What To Look For In A Concealed Carry Belt
When searching for the perfect concealed carry belt, focus on three golden features – it should be ridged for stability, durable to withstand daily wear, and adjustable for utmost comfort. A well-selected belt complements your holster and ensures your carry system is secure and comfortable. It’s the bedrock of a smart concealed carry setup.
Types of Belts
There are essentially two types of concealed carry belts on the market…leather and nylon. Both work great, it is up to you to decide which one meets your needs. The reason I tend to wear nylon is that is the belt that more often comes with more adjustability. I love that feature. However, if I am going somewhere and need to dress up a bit, I might wear my leather carry belt.
Adjustability of Belts
I LOVE my KORE Essentials nylon gun belt. Being able to slide the belt loose at any moment is a godsend for my comfort. KORE also offers leather belts with this feature as well, so if you want adjustability and leather…you can have both.
With the other common type of belt, adjustments are made by placing the pin through the standard holes. While this works fine, you just lose the ability to adjust on the fly.
Our Recommended Belts
These are our picks for the best options for concealed carry gun belts. If one of these three are not for you, be sure to check out our article listed below and see a few others we have reviewed.
KORE Essentials: Save 15% at Tulster with Code: CCS
CrossBreed Gun Belts: Save 15% with Code: CCS15
Relentless Tactical: Available on Amazon
5. Choose Your Other Needs
While accessories are endless when it comes to firearms, below are a few that you should definitely look into purchasing. Each of these things can be purchased to meet almost any budget.
Concealed Carry Insurance
If you are not going to drive without insurance, you probably should not conceal carry without it either. There are many options, but there are two that we recommend most often. These are listed in the article below.
View Our Concealed Carry Insurance Compared Article
If you are training and practicing like you should, a cleaning kit will be needed. While you can get some pretty elaborate kits, a basic kit is just fine.
Bedside Gun Safe
This can be optional depending on your circumstances. However, if you have small children it is highly recommended. You just want to make sure you choose one that allows fast, easy access while still maintaining security.
View Our Best Bedside Gun Safes Article
6. Get Training
Training is a must for all gun owners. You want to be as effective as possible, and the only way to do that is with quality training. If you are unsure on where to get training, a great place to check out is your local gun stores or ranges and ask them for recommendations in the area.
Online training is a great addition to in person training, however it is not a substitute. For quality online training check out USCCA as their membership comes with an enormous amount of online training.
In Person Training
In person training is key to learning how to shoot, carry, and perform under pressure. Be sure you choose a quality organization or individual as you want to make sure the training you are getting is legit.
Concealed Carry Permit or Constitutional Carry
No matter if you are carrying with a permit or under constitutional carry, make sure you know your state and local laws. Each state is different and it is up to you to know the law.
You can find many classes that cover these, however they do change often. Know where to find your local laws.
Concealed Carry Tips
Being new to concealed carry can be intimidating. Here are some important concealed carry tips that will help you get started.
- Carry Daily: It is better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it
- Don’t Fiddle: This is tempting at first, but the desire to adjust will go away with time. Just get comfortable carry gear and it will help.
- Practice: While training is super important, be sure to have some fun and just go practice often.
- Situational Awareness: Learn and practice this skill, it goes hand in hand with concealed carry.
- Learn First Aid: The truth is, you will probably need first aid more than your firearm. This skill comes in handy in many circumstances.
- No Brandishing: Always keep your firearm holstered in public unless it is needed for self defense. Your buddy can wait to see it when you are in private.
- De-escalate: Always try to de-escalate a situation or remove yourself if possible.
Concealed carry is a serious responsibility that requires consistent practice, knowledge, and discretion. From understanding laws and self-defense principles to selecting the right firearm, holster, and belt…every decision matters.
To learn more about concealed carry just browse around our website. We have sections that cover everything related to carrying a firearm. Carry Safe, Carry Smart, and Carry Daily!