Here are 21 things that every concealed carrier should know. It doesn't matter if you are brand new to concealed carry, or have been carrying for decades...knowing the following tips can strengthen your skill set and improve your concealed carry experience.
1) Get Your License
It may seem obvious, but just for those new to the topic...don’t carry a concealed weapon if you don’t have a license. There are a few states that don’t require a license, and of those few, there are some that don’t even have a licensing process.
If a licensing process exists in your state, go get it! Not only will you know you are legal, but you will learn about all the laws to keep you legal.
2) Know Your Laws
Some states allow you to carry any deadly weapon, but others are firearm only. There are states that restrict you from carrying in a place of business where a sign is posted, while in other states you can ignore those.
A great resource to keep bookmarked is The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map and State Laws. This interactive map will give you a ton of info. It is free to use and has links to the sources.
Carrying a weapon is a minefield of potential legal issues if you don’t know your rights. Take the time to know what you are required to do and what you are allowed to do. Remember..."Knowing is half the battle!".
3) Get the Right Gun
Let’s get this one done early. There is not one gun that is the best for everyone, but you owe it to yourself to do the research and get a gun that that you are willing to trust with your life.
There are a number of good brands out there. For some assistance check out our article on the 21 Best Concealed Carry Handguns. Just be sure to avoid budget pistols. Get one of the trusted brands.
4) Get Professional Training
Shooting at the range and shooting in self-defense are two very different things. Take every class you can afford to take. It will pay in dividends. Too many people assume they are ready, and when the time comes, they find out too late that they are not. Of all of these tips, this is the one not to skip.
5) Practice, Practice, Practice
After, and only after, you have the training to beat any bad habits, be sure to start practicing and replicating what you did in training. Shooting is a perishable skill. Keeping yourself sharp should be a part of your Self Defense Success Plan.
Find a buddy and make it a habit to go to the range together. You can help hold each other accountable to practice. I love my time at the range with my brother...it is quality time well spent.
6) Carry Your Gun
I can’t tell you how many people invest thousands of dollars in the best firearm, gear, carry ammo, and dozens of hours of training...and then simply stop carrying their gun.
The only thing worse than facing down a bad guy with a gun, is having to do it unarmed. Be sure to maintain your level of commitment to defending yourself, your family, and your community.
7) Concealed Carry Insurance
Many people think this is just coverage for after a self defense shooting. And it does help with that. However, a good plan will cover much more than that.
I researched some of the top concealed carry insurance companies. While there are some quality companies out there, USCCA stood out as the leader. Due to that research, I always recommend USCCA's Self Defense Shield to my friends and family. Not only do I highly recommend it, but I have an Elite Membership myself.
8) Get a Good Holster
Don't get the cheapest holster you can find. However, this doesn't mean you have to spend a lot either. There are many great options on the market today. If you need assistance, check out our article Best Concealed Carry Holsters. It also covers what to look for in a good holster.
9) Get a Good Belt
The most often overlooked piece of carry equipment is the belt. Get something that was designed to take the weight of a pistol. Not only will it last much longer than your department store belt, but it will make carrying easier and improve your ability to conceal.
Our article Best Gun Belts for Concealed Carry gives you insight into what you need, as well as some great options.
I prefer to wear my Aegis Enhanced Ares Belt. The comfort it provides is amazing, as well as the benefit of having it easily adjustable. However, if you are looking for leather, then I recommend a Hank's Extreme Leather Gun Belt.
10) Carry the Right Ammo
Uncle Bob’s reloads aren’t what you should be trusting your life with, no matter how long he has been reloading. Get good ammo from a respected company and then make sure it functions well in your pistol before you carry it.
We cover what to look for and some recommendations in our article Best Self Defense Ammo.
Brands like Winchester, Speer, Remington, Federal, Sig Sauer, and Hornady all make excellent carry ammo. Leave the cheap full metal jacket ammo for your practice sessions.
11) Extra Magazines
Not only do I recommend carrying an extra mag or two, but you need multiple magazines for training and practice as well.
While some people carry their Glock 17 and its 17+1 capacity...others carry a more slimline or compact firearm. Either way, its always a good idea to have extra ammo and not need it, rather than need it and not have it.
12) Hearing Protection
Don’t shoot without hearing protection. It has nothing to do with being tough or ‘Manning Up.’ Sure, you won’t have time to grab your muffs when face to face with a bad guy, but until that time...don’t be an idiot. Wear your hearing protection.
I love my Walkers Razor Slim electronic ear pro. Being able to communicate while shooting is very handy. I even through in a few cheap ear pro muffs in my range bag in case I have guests.
13) Get A Gun Safe
We have a great article on bedside gun safes. A gun safe is especially important if you have little ones around. Having your gun locked up, but quickly available to you is a must. If you have the money, go with one that gives you quick access! I recommend the Vaultek Ve20 or the GunVault SV500 SpeedVault.
The Need To Know
14) Keep Your Firearm Clean
If you ever need to use your gun in self defense, you want it to work right? Well, you better make sure to keep it clean. This helps prevent malfunctions as well as rust. If you need some help, check out our 6 step guide on cleaning your handgun.
15) Nothing Lasts Forever
If you treat it right, a pistol will last a lifetime. However, your belt and holster will take a beating over the years. Belts will sag and holsters will lose their ability to retain a pistol. Kydex lasts longer than leather, but even it will wear over time. Know when these items are no longer functional and then replace them.
16) Dress for the Occasion
Some clothing options are simply better for concealment than others. This goes beyond what conceals a gun best, and into what is more comfortable and practical for carry.
You may find yourself buying pants that are a size larger than needed because they are far more comfortable. Shirts that were clingy but comfortable before will print badly on your concealed pistol. You may even find yourself wishing for winter when you can wear layers everywhere. You won’t need to change your whole wardrobe, but you will want to make some concessions.
17) Do What Works For You
Just because your favorite YouTube star says something is the best, doesn’t mean it will work for you. By all means, give it a shot but don’t take it as the Gospel Truth.
Many people swear by appendix carry. And it is a great carry method, however my tactical love handles make it difficult for me to carry there...so I carry at 4:00. Keep an open mind, but don’t blindly follow.
18) Don’t Fiddle With It
When you first start to carry you will probably be intensely aware of your pistol. It will feel foreign and probably a little uncomfortable. You will probably be stressed and almost self-conscious about it. This feeling will pass, but before it does, don’t make it worse and much more obvious by constantly messing with it.
If you used the right holster and gun belt, your gun will be there...no need to check it. If it crawled away, then its time for some new equipment.
19) You Are Not Alone
According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, over 17.25 million Americans have a concealed carry permit. The largest increase was seen in women and minorities. This doesn't even take into account the growing number of people who live in states that have constitutional carry...which brings the total number of people who conceal carry MUCH higher.
The fact is, you are FAR from alone. If you have time, listen to one of the many podcasts created by other concealed carriers. My favorite is The Handgun World Podcast...give Bob a listen and tell him that the Concealed Carry Society sent you!
20) Vote and Participate
Now is an important time to let your voice be heard by your representatives about your 2nd Amendment rights. That means don't only vote, but tell your elected officials what you want. Otherwise, they will think what they see on TV, is what you want.
Also, join a gun rights group. Many people choose the NRA, but there are many quality gun rights groups out there...both state and national. I'm a member of Gun Owners of America myself. Do your research and join a good one!
21) Be a Good Representative
In today's day and age, this is important. What many people think of gun owners is what they see in the media. Don't live up to those standards. Show them what law abiding concealed carriers are all about.
If you disagree with someone on gun laws, make it a point to use facts...not feelings. A little bit of decorum can go a long way in convincing. "You get more ants with honey" as the saying goes.
Try not to flaunt your 2nd Amendment rights. Sure, you can march down the street double fisting two AR-15s while wearing an Uncle Sam outfit and singing the national anthem...but then you are only preaching to the choir.
If you are going to march for our rights (and by all means please do), let people know that it is everyday Americans who support our cause.
Most importantly, teach others about concealed carry. Passing the knowledge on, and teaching others is very important. Not only will you be helping them gain the knowledge they need to protect themselves and their loved ones...but you might gain a training partner in the process.
There you have it...
While these 21 tips are not the ONLY things you should know, they are very important. To learn more, check out our FREE Guide to Concealed Carry! Also, browse around our site and if you don't find an article on a topic you are interested in...let us know down below. We love feedback and would love to hear your ideas about future articles.
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