If you listen to the internet, you might think that belt carry is the only sensible way to carry a gun. Any other way sucks on general principle, will get you killed, or result in Pluto plummeting from the sky into western Kansas. That’s probably OK though, considering Pluto isn’t a real planet anymore.
I like to be more understanding. While I do believe belt carry is probably the best all-around option, assuming you can, it’s simply not feasible for all people all of the time. Women may need to wear a dress instead of pants. Men may spend most of their day sitting or in a vehicle. Men and women may have work dress codes that make belt carry difficult or impossible. There are a million reasons why traditional belt carry may not be an option at all times.
Sometimes you just have to accept other carry options due to your circumstances. You might have to adopt a carry method that is a little slower or that offers more difficult access to your gun. Might that be less than ideal? Yes. Is it better than not carrying at all? Yes.
For example, if your work environment forces you to carry very deeply concealed, you might choose to carry my gun in an undershirt holster rather than not carry at all. Is that as fast as belt carry? No. Is undershirt carry better than not carrying at all? Yes. Could it make a difference in a surprise mugging? Maybe not. Will it help if you’re sitting at your desk and hear gunshots down the hall? Yes.
With that said, let’s look at a number of carry styles that may work for you, based on your particular situation. Note that I’m not including off body carry options like purses, packs or day planners. While I understand these might be necessary for certain scenarios, I would always choose a different non-traditional carry method. I prefer using a carry method that keeps my gun on my body, not in a bag that could be left unattended or taken from me. But that’s my personal decision and your mileage may vary.
For a single carry method, you’ve actually got a number of choices. There are inside and outside the waistband options. You can choose different locations on your belt line ranging from cross draw to appendix to behind the hip.
For inside-the-waistband carry, my number one pick is the Galco KingTuk. The large leather panel of the hybrid design stabilizes your gun and spreads the weight around. The use of Kydex for the gun pocket keeps the whole rig as thin as possible and your gun securely in place. For small to medium-sized guns, check out the super comfortable N82 Tactical holsters.
For outside carry, I like a good pancake-style holster. The large area and spread-out belt loops offer plenty of stability. One of my favorites is the Blackhawk! Check Six. It’s designed to be worn behind the hip and is heavily canted. This minimizes the length of cover garment you need to cover it up. If you prefer a less aggressive cant angle, take a look at the Mitch Rosen 5JR-EXP. If you want the convenience of easy removal, try the Galco Side Snap Scabbard. You can put it on and take it off without removing your belt.
There are a number of ways to carry a gun around your torso or belly area. The standard Belly Band is amazingly versatile if you invest some time experimenting with different placement locations while using an unloaded gun. You can wear it low, so it acts like a tuckable inside-the-waistband holster. The best part? When you tuck in a shirt or blouse, there are no telltale clips to give you away. You can also try wearing it higher, underneath a shirt or blouse. Last, but not least, a belly band can make a good cross draw solution.
Compression shirts for men and women feature an elastic holster under the arm. While harder and slower to access, concealment and gun security are both excellent. Your gun is completely hidden under a shirt and your arm aids in total concealment. If you evaluate this method, you must practice – a lot – with an unloaded gun. Drawing from under a pullover or buttoned shirt is a skill to be learned. Check out models from 5.11 Tactical and Undertech Undercover.