Are you a bit husky or bigger than most people? If you need to shop in the “big and tall” section for regular apparel, it can be harder to find the right clothing that fits well and can equip a concealed carry holster. Many people have trouble with carrying comfortably, and for big guys this problem is amplified.
How do big guys carry concealed? For a large person to carry safely and comfortably, you must address three key issues...the equipment (the firearm, holster, and belt), the position you carry in, and the clothing you wear. Unfortunately, everyone's body is different, so you may need to try out a few options before you settle on what works for you.
It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable to carry concealed if you’re a big guy. In fact, there are even some ways to use your larger physique and stature to conceal your weapon. What most big guys complain about is discomfort from wearing the holster inside what may already be a tight waistline.
For the record I am 6' tall and weigh in at about 250lbs. I carry my Glock 19 or 43 behind the hip at about the 4:00 position. I usually carry in my Tulster holster. You can find a coupon code and other holster options listed on our Recommended Gear page.
Concealed Carry Options for Big Guys
When you choose to carry a concealed weapon (CCW), you’re going to want it to be comfortable. Why? Because most who choose to CCW do so consistently. Part of being prepared is being consistent. So, it’s not going to work if your holster is gouging into you or isn’t sitting comfortably under your clothes.
For bigger guys, finding good-fitting clothing can be hard enough. So, how do we CCW in comfort? Here are some things to think about:
Choose the appropriate firearm. The type of firearm you carry, as well as your body type, makes a difference in how effective the concealment of your carry will be.
Choose the best holster position. Finding the best position of the holster is crucial for optimizing all the outcomes. You want to be comfortable – and you want to be able to draw with ease when needed.
Minimize printing. If you’re carrying a concealed firearm, you don’t want the outline of your gun to be visible through your clothing. This is referred to as “printing” and is looked down on as improper exhibition of your firearm. Tight, ill-fitting clothing will not help this cause.
Ensure your mobility. None of this works if you aren’t able to move swiftly and quickly to draw your weapon when needed.
All of these factors should be looked into to make sure you stay concealed, comfortable, and mobile enough to draw.
What Type of Firearm Should a Big Guy Carry?
The type of gun you carry will have a big impact on how you conceal carry. Many people tend to carry a gun that conceals better than one they can shoot well.
Since this weapon may need to be used to defend your life, and potentially that of others, you should be able to shoot it well. There are many other ways to help you conceal your gun, but shooting ability is very important.
At the end of the day, there are three options when choosing the firearm to CCW:
- Conceal carry the gun that you can shoot the best, even if it’s harder to conceal.
- Carry the gun that conceals easiest, even if you don’t shoot as well with it.
- Learn how to shoot with the gun that is easily concealed.
I always recommend options 1 or 3... as ability and function are the primary concern.
Choosing Your Carry Position
There are just a handful of common places to carry: appendix, pocket, ankle, and behind the hip are among the most common. We’re going to talk here about the two most comfortable for big guys: appendix and behind the hip.
Unless you’re a particular limber big guy, the ankle holster will be a challenge. And pocket, well, you need a pretty tiny gun for that. And if you’re a big man, your big fingers might not be a match for a pocket pistol.
So that’s why we’re talking about appendix and side hip in this article. However, if you are wanting information on pocket carry, check out our article A Guide to Pocket Carry.
Using the Inside the Waistband Holster
Something that is definitely worth your money is a carry holster with high retention, adequate trigger guard, and can be stored inside the waistband. Many a larger man finds the inside waistband (IWB) carry manageable and easy. And they conceal well, even on a large frame. This is how I carry my Glock 19 and 43.
Many of the details will depend on your individual waistline distribution. You need to consider how this distribution works out when you are standing or sitting. If your tactical love handles around your waistline interfer with the carry when you are sitting, the IWB configuration won’t work for you. What can you do?
Appendix Carry for Guys with Muffin Tops
If you have some extra weight around this area, is the appendix carry a viable solution? The answer depends on where your gun is located. Whether the appendix carry holster will work for you will depend on where your hips hinge.
You should be able to squat and bend over with the gun sticking not shoving hard into your gut, then you’re good to go. If you can’t perform these actions, then you shouldn’t go with the appendix carry.
Those that have naturally higher waists and wear their pants closer to their belly button, rather than their hips have a lot of success with this carry. If you wear your pants really low, you may have problems with this form of CCW.
A good video on this subject is placed below. In this video they show how to carry AIWB as a big guy.
Best IWB Holster Positions for Big Guys
There are several different holster positions that you can choose from. These configurations will offer different advantages and disadvantages compared to each other.
You’re probably already familiar with this nomenclature, but in the following configurations, “noon” would be directly front and center, aligned with your belly button. (And not a recommended carry position, of course.)
2 o’clock Truffle Shuffle
This is the most recommended position to start with. You will find that you have a natural valley in between the love handles and the front girth. The good thing about this valley is that you can insert your IWB concealed carry holster inside. This makes it very versatile for sitting and standing as well as being very concealable.
It should go without saying that if you’re left-handed, then 2 o’clock will mean 10 o’clock for you.
Appendix carry holsters have lower profiles than the standardized IWB holsters. This may give the added benefit of improving your comfort when carrying at the 2 o’clock position if its footprint is smaller.
The main goal is to balance utility with comfort, and if you use a lightweight holster in this configuration then it will be less visible.
This is a good alternative to the 2 o’clock. This positioning will be directly behind the love handle which makes it fairly accessible as well as comfortable. If you experience back problems or usually drive long hours, then this could get tiresome.
However, if you walk around a lot and only drive standard commuting hours or less, then this setup will most likely work for you.
There is one glaring issue that the 3 o’clock faces, it usually isn’t that concealable for people of normal proportions. This is because the concealed carry holster in the waistband will jut out at least a couple inches from the waistline.
Most people won’t notice this, and it is a great configuration for your grip and draw. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the best concealment, but it's also the most comfortable position for standing and sitting.
Is OWB Carry Good for Big Guys?
I myself am an IWB guy, but I know there are many OWB guys and gals out there. If that is you, then yes, OWB is great for big guys. The only drawbacks to OWB carrying for a big guy are the same with any body type...if you are fine with those, then go for it!
Getting Comfortable in Your Holster
You may live in an area that is very restrictive about printing or revealing the outline of your firearm beneath your clothing. And you may find that carrying a concealed weapon in your clothing just feels a little uncomfortable. Here are a few quick tips to help out.
Comfort – Pressure and Heat
When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what your size is, CCW can take some getting used to. You’ll feel a little pressure from carrying a firearm in your trousers on a regular basis. A holster with a back pad will help distribute some of this pressure.
Carrying a concealed weapon can also get a little hot. Having something extra tucked in your waistband can trap heat in hot climates or in warmer months. You can get some neoprene backing that will have a much easier time wicking sweat away than leather, which will usually stick to the skin.
When it comes to printing or seeing the outline of the gun through the clothes, here are some helpful ideas:
- If you think you are printing, it’s going to cause you discomfort and self-consciousness. Prevent this by making sure you’re not printing.
- Wear good-fitting CCW clothes. There are a lot more options out there for CCW wear. Invest in some pieces that you feel very comfortable in and conceal your firearm well.
- Know the laws in the area you are in. The idea of printing may not just make you feel uneasy; it may be against the law. Some places consider printing akin to brandishing.
You will notice that I haven't mentioned what you hear all the time in forums when people ask about this topic. "Lose weight!" Of course that is the best option...but we know that. You shouldn't wait until you do lose the weight to carry a firearm though. Follow the things we mentioned in this article and you will be ready to carry. If the weight can be worked off, great...if not, at least you are going to be protecting yourself and loved ones.
Don't ever let your weight be a factor that prevents you from carrying. With determination and planning, it can be easy.