8 Ways To Spot Someone Carrying A Concealed Gun

The Hunchback of the Mall - Small of Back holster user

The Hunchback of the Mall – Small of Back holster user

Do you make these concealed carry holster mistakes?

It’s not particularly hard to spot someone carrying a concealed carry gun – even if you can’t see it directly.

While out and about on my daily life routine, I like to see if I can spot people who are carrying concealed. So I can sneak up behind them and yell BANG! Just kidding. Don’t do that. (Tweet This)

The concealed carrier spotting exercise does help to keep me on my toes and alleviate some of the boredom while daughter is checking out the latest Lily Pulitzer flip flops at the mall. It’s also a helpful exercise to keep your powers of observation tuned up – and to learn from others mistakes.

If you spot someone carrying, you can adapt your strategies to avoid that problem with your own personal routine. Or you can walk up to them and say “nice gun!”  (Tweet This)

Actually, on second thought, don’t do that either.

We offer this list to help you think about how to minimize the chance that other people know that you’re carrying a gun. Here’s a few things we see out there in the land of malls and 7-11’s…

1. The Hip Checker. Humans aren’t designed with a natural hand rest bolted on to the side of our midsection. Even those of us who are working hard to develop a bit of a spare tire have more of a hip curve rather than a flat shelf capable of supporting lazy hands.

If you see someone constantly resting their hand on something just a tad above the beltline, odds are good that they’re checking the position of their gun in either an inside the waistband, or outside the waistband, holster. (Tweet This)

Either that or they’re catching themselves just before scratching their backside in public.

2. The Pocket Pool Player. If you notice small children running frightened from someone walking around with their hand in their front pocket, their intentions may not be as inappropriate as you think. If you’re using a front pocket holster for a small revolver or pocket-sized semi-auto pistol, it sure is tempting to reach in there once and a while and play with it. The pistol, not the gun.

If you carry a gun in your pocket, resist the temptation to play with it in there. You might scare people. (Tweet This)

3. The Combat Fanny Pack Ninja. While one would expect to see lots of ever-so-slightly portly folks wearing fanny packs at someplace like Disney World, it’s not something you see quite as frequently in everyday life.

I rarely see folks sporting a Princess Jasmine fanny pack at places like Lowe’s, Home Depot or the Nascar National Museum. When I do, I’ll betcha they’re packing a fanny pack cannon. (Tweet This)

4. The Phake Photographer. There are plenty of jokes about people who wear those big photographers vests to cover up a belt-mounted gun. All kidding aside, those vests do make a pretty good carry garment. Lots of pockets for gear and extra magazines. Plus, the weight of the pockets-o-plenty garment helps to keep things covered up while you’re moving around. In reality, most non-gun people won’t think twice about someone wearing that type of clothing. Other than mumbling “geek” beneath their breath. Moral of the story? Look for the camera and press badge to see if they are shootin’ photos or guns.

While other concealed carriers may “out you” for wearing a photographers vest, I doubt many gang bangers will make the association. (Tweet This)

5. Modest Ankles Man. This type of concealed carrier is much, much easier to spot if the ankle holster user is wearing shorts. If Bermuda shorts aren’t in play, look for that person who’s nervous about crossing their legs while sitting down. Or the one who’s constantly adjusting the crease of their trousers on just one leg.

Pants have a nasty tendency to ride up and show those ankle holster when sitting. (Tweet This)

6. The Non-Committal Hugger. Ever had anyone give you that typical social hug with only one arm? Did they hug you from the side? No cheap thrills from a full torso grab even if your hugger had a crush on you in 6th grade? That person might have been carrying a gun. Or perhaps they have a rare case of aphephobia. Or perhaps haphephobia.

If you carry a gun on your hip, learn to hug gracefully from the opposite side. Folks might think you’re being awkward for other reasons. (Tweet This)

7. The Lead Purse Shuffler. If you see a lady constantly shifting her purse from left to right and back, while furiously popping Advils from a Wonder Woman Pez Dispenser, she might have some extra weight in there. Perhaps a Springfield Armory TRP 1911 with a couple of extra magazines?

If nothing else, carrying a gun in your purse will help develop those deltoids. (Tweet This)

8. The Hunchback of the Mall. The namesake for the hunchback really had more of a shoulder bump. Ours has their lump right above the waistline because they’re carrying a small of back holster. It’s a tough one to spot – until they bend over forwards and expose their carry, carry hump.

Carry a gun behind your hip bone? Beware of your lovely, lovely carry hump when bending forward! (Tweet This)

Who do you see out there?

Be sure to check out our book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters. It will teach you all the major methods of concealed carry and walk you through pros and cons over 100 different holster models. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters


  1. Adam Broussard says

    ” I like to see if I can spot people who are carrying concealed. So I can sneak up behind them and yell BANG!”

    LOL, this is why I subscribe. I love the humor. Also, well written article.

  2. says

    Hip Checker: Check
    It’s become a habit, upon rising, to make sure the chair arm hasn’t rearranged things while sitting.

    * and just mutter ‘geek’, under yer breath, while watching me drag one foot while shuffling along in ma shootmefirst vest

      • mikee says

        I’ve read that falling on one’s pistol in that position can severely injure one’s back. Just sayin’ is all.

        • says

          SOB draw is slow from every position: standing, seated, whatever. Most techniques taught for weapon retention of a holstered pistol don’t work worth a damn when the gun is behind your back like that. And yes indeed if you get knocked backward, having a big steel pistol between your spine and the pavement is going to hurt a lot and maybe injure you in a way that wouldn’t have occurred had you been carrying strong side, appendix, cross draw or pocket.

          • Justin says

            I was told a story by two Swat team guys about an officer they know that was carrying a back up in a sob holster and fell and slipped on some ice during a traffic stop and it injured him badly enough to put him into early retirement… Just for thought!

          • Mike says

            Everyone has heard that story, yet no one knows that guys name, department, or even city. I bet he knew someone who named their kinds Orange and Lemon, last name Jello.

  3. says

    The Hawaiian shirt has always been a dead give away. Especially if they have a mustache, a Ferrari and a chrome 1911. I was dragged to the mall by my better half last weekend and saw the guy in the Hawaiian shirt, shoot me first vest and a black fanny pack while carrying no camera. Some guys just stick out.

        • says

          When you get older, you can more readily get away with the untucked, button-up, square shirt-tail, classic Hawaiian shirt. At least, my wife tells me “You look like an old man!” wearing it.

  4. Addie says

    Constantly tugging the shirt down or rearranging it on one side.. Bulge along the belt line.. I went through 5 or 6 styles of holster before I found one that fit me and my clothing style. It has a slight tell, but its not what most would assume to be a gun.

  5. Melissa says

    I’ve found that Galco IWB holster works great for females that’s got some curves and it’s hard to tell and I wear anything from tank tops to dressy tops

  6. Ronnie says

    HaHaHa!!!!!!! you got me with the Hawaiian shirt and mustache, but I don’t own a Ferrari (O wait…he didn’t own one either). Summertime it is pretty tough to do a good job hiding anything with any size. I usually carry a Springfield XD Sub in a White Hat IWB holster.

  7. Adrian says

    Absolutely hilarious! I laughed so hard. :)

    I want to volunteer:

    9. The lopsider
    Either the jacket, pants or shorts display a clearly uneven balance of weight – almost as if a metal/polymer object weighing the best part of 20 ounces is in just one of their pockets.

    Fortunately, as newspapers are full of stories of morons staring at cellphones while blindly falling down uncovered manholes – the lopsider can get away with simply adopting a slant to their gait of about 15 degrees, thereby balancing the whole thing out.

    • Teke says

      The lopside can be offset by putting the cellphone in the other pocket.

      Then the weight gives them saggy pants. They fit in with G-Money

  8. Sara Ahrens says

    Yeah you are right on lol…also a puffy jacket in 100 degree weather. Another way to know if they used to carry concealed is when they show up at the hospital with an entrance and exit wound in the leg, thigh, or God forbid a bit further north!

    • FieroCDSP says

      Well, general awareness for one. It’s good practice so that you can easily spot the gangsta who walks into Circle-K with his Glock Mexican carried in his half uncovered boxers.
      It also helps to remind one of their own possible tells. Saw a guy in the store one fall evening who would have been just fine if his sweater had been a little longer. Stretched up to try on a jacket and it popped up to reveal his Springfield XD. I didn’t have the heart to tell him. Now I’m pretty careful about how my shirts hang and move with my gun on.

      • says

        You hit the nail on the head Fiero – this was written as a fun, tongue in cheek way to help folks thing about what *they* may be doing that displays their concealed weapon.

  9. LuLuBelle says

    Okay – Guilty – mine is usually in the small of my back.

    AND I work in an office were each of has a weapon on us someplace. Dang!

  10. Missy says

    This article was great! Just the other day my husband and I asked a guy to outfit our captain chair on the pontoon with a holster for the Glock. No problem! At our IGA store located in KY, my customers pack. You are probably never more than a few feet from a gun. Upon entering you will notice locals that gather at the tables, slowly drinking coffee are a mixture of retired law officers. Just the other day I was helping a lady out with her groceries, she said ” Your handle is showing.” I quickly said that I would be happy to go inside and remove my gun if it made her nervous and would be back to help. “No,” she said, no problem, I have them everywhere.” I also profile people who enter our store. Yes, there is a “look” for those who pack. They are aware, they are relaxed. They stand or sit with their backs toward the wall, always facing the door.

  11. Dan A says

    If I see someone with a knife in their pocket I figure there’s a reasonable chance they have a gun, too. Especially if they’re carrying a flashlight on their belt, too. Also, someone (say, at a grocery store) who’s carrying a bunch of things in one hand and nothing in the other.

    • Rob says

      I never worry about carrying stuff on my strong side. I figure if I have to clear leather (or kydex in my case) whatever I’m carrying can hit the floor. (unless it’s one of my children… they go on the other side)

    • "gunner" says

      @ dan,
      damm, you got me. left side, minimag light and leatherman tool in a belt pouch, left front, zippo lighter pouch. right hip “yaqui slide” rig for an m1911a1. another thing to watch for is the guy who keeps his right hand just slightly clear of his side, wearing a jacket. he’s unconsciously developed the habit o keep from knocking his elbow against the gun butt.

  12. Jimmie says

    What is everyone’s preference for where their significant others walks when walking side by side?Strong side or off side? Off side allows you to move your S/O behind you while you are drawing your weapon with your strong hand. Strong side allows you to move your S/O behind you with your strong hand, while putting your off hand up in defensive manner, then drawing if need to. Thoughts?

    • says

      I was always taught that the “Gentleman” walks on the outside of the sidewalk, so in that situation that’s how I handle that. Now as for everywhere else I have the person I am walking with (male or female) on my left. It gets kind of funny when my boss and I are someplace because he carries too, so force of habit has both of us always trying to be in “position A”.

        • says

          lol!!! I think we’d both be on it at the same time!! He watches my back and I watch his. Then the real twist is when his wife is around…. she’s packing too! We’d just sit back and let her handle it! lol!!

          Nothing sexier than a good looking woman with a handgun!!

    • eric says

      Just a thought but i was taught if your with your S/O and the need arisesto use your gun they go down face down. By pushing them behind you you are putting them in the line of fire if the opposer also pulls a gun. By them going down face down they are out of the line of fire and with a means to crawl to safety. Just my $0.02

  13. Doug H says

    In reference to what-to-do-with -the-SO, if you get accosted by someone who already has their gun pointed at you, pushing the SO behind you to “protect” them also gives the SO a chance to draw YOUR gun without being seen by the bad guy, and equalizing the situation…

  14. Bob G says

    I’m new to carrying concealed so I’ve been trying different things with different holsters. I’ve done the front pocket thing with guns both in strong and off side, in holsters to minimize outlining. I’ve done IWB and SOB. I even have a shoulder holster for my Judge. I still have not figured out what is best for me, but I have eliminated the SOB. One day I had to take my dog to the vet. As we waited, I slunk down on one of their bench seats and got comfy. When they called me and my dog to the back, I got up and went on in. Just a few minutes later, one of the office ladies came in to the examining room with my gun held between her forefinger and thumb, saying repugnantly, “Is this your’s, sir?” O.M.G.! Talk about embarrassing! I’ll never carry SOB again. I’d forgotten it was there; that should never happen and it was entirely my fault. I’ll never let that happen again. Shame on me! I did apologize to the office lady and the vet. Both said it was not a problem because they have people with guns in there all the time. (It’s a large animal clinic/hospital.)

  15. DeOrrin says

    This is great info and the humor makes this article fun to read several times especially to remind oneself that he does in fact “tell”. I’m bad at picking things up from the floor, its more like taking a knee at a football game except its picking up a little old ladies car keys that she dropped. Awkward defines that action well. Since I have only just started carrying and its still mid-winter I say concealling is quite easy, however i am not looking forward to summer. Its going to be hard to pull off jeans and plaid flannel in an arid desert climate :/

    • says

      That’s funny because it’s so true. Even with a good belt holster, that forward bending thing tends to create a telltale lump in the shirt as you bend forward! I do the same thing with the “taking a knee” :-) It becomes a habit pretty quickly doesn’t it?

      I don’t have problems in the summer. A good IWB holster with an untucked short sleeve shirt generally works fine. And if you wear something with a pattern, it breaks up any telltale outline even more.

  16. Gary says

    I often use a “Smart Carry” holster, which lets me carry my gun under my trousers, just below the waistline (i.e.: in my crotch area). To draw my weapon, I only have to reach inside my pants (which is not difficult to do). Advantages are that it is NOT noticeable (would likely pass a quick friskingby a bad guy) and it’s also very comfortable. I very seldom see people discussing this type of holster in these types of on-line forums and always wonder why.

  17. robet cosenza says

    i,m new to this site.i would ask if we the people,who are the real government have unalienable rights.then how do states like chicago new york and a few others get away with not abiding by the constitituion.i guess its corruption,dark money billionairs.i live in new york,i know i apologize for ny.i,v had premise/residence handgun permit for many yrs.do you see full carry laws becoming uniformed across the usa in the near future.meaning its hard to get a full carry in ny,but if the constitituion states we have unalienable rights.and i am a legal american citizen.then why is it so hard.and more importantly what can we do to fight states like ny chicago.and yes were on the phones every week with mr politicans and emails,and i,m a nra life member a long time now.any suggestions

  18. says

    Best carry holster for big guy is N82 holster pro-tactical model. BAR NONE. I have bags of holsters that do not work. Anything that has elastic doesnt work.(N82) NATE Squared holsters WORK. BIG pack pad, no digging. I cut for hay with mine on, Do outside work, sweat, NO problem

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