When you stop and think about it, all forms of concealed carry represent a compromise. Unless you’re stumbling through life carrying your gun at eye level, like characters on the Walking Dead, you’re always going to have to sacrifice some degree of speed, concealment and/or gun security with any carry method.
Let’s be clear about the carry methods discussed here. If you subscribe to the popular assumption that belt carry is the most accessible way to carry a gun, by definition, all of the methods discussed here are even more of a compromise. I get it. Belt carry is the best and only way to carry a gun. Any other methods are (fill in the blank: irresponsible, stupid, wrong, ridiculous, impractical, the worst idea ever, and will cause massive outbreaks of bunions.) But seriously, as handy and accessible as belt carry can be, there are simply times and situations where it isn’t an option. Some environments and situations require a little creativity.
For example, if you spend your day driving, a traditional IWB or OWB belt holster is less than ideal. A cross draw setup works better in the car but not as well once you get out because you have to cover it. Perhaps your work environment requires a neat and tidy tucked in shirt. Perhaps you wear a dress every day. Maybe you spend your days in a place that requires ultra deep concealment. Perhaps your employer isn’t as concerned with your protection as you are. There are a million reasons that you might need to resort to concealed carry tradeoffs.
Let’s explore a few, keeping in mind the three functions of a good gun holster:
- Allows quick and safe access to your gun
- Protects the trigger
- Ensures your gun remains under your control
In the early days, I had an embarrassing experience with a spandex undershirt holster. It was a model with padded pockets placed well below the armpit and angled toward the front. A small single patch of velcro kept the gun in the pocket. To make a long story short, I bent over to pick up something from the ground and a Glock 32 literally launched through my shirt collar, landing on the ground about six feet in front of me. Fortunately, designs have been dramatically improved since then and two “styles” stand out as solid performers.
5.11 Tactical makes a concealed carry undershirt with padded pockets on both sides. Two Velcro sections keep the pocket closed, thereby containing your gun and spare magazines carried on the opposite side. Be sure to use a gun small enough so that it doesn’t apply pressure to the Velcro closures or gun security will suffer.
Undertech Undercover takes a slightly different approach. The gun pocket is elastic and placed up high. Your underarm applies downward pressure on the grip, thereby keeping things secure. There’s also a strap, but I’m less enthusiastic about that as it’s one more thing to fumble with when you’re already reaching into your shirt. It’s slightly slower to access than the 5.11 approach, but gun security is better.
The biggest advantage of this carry method is fantastic concealment. The biggest disadvantage is quickly accessing the gun. You’ll have to move your outer shirt up and out of the way, or open a buttoned shirt to get to your firearm. Don’t count on being able to rip buttons off like in the movies, you’ll want to replace the middle area buttons with velcro tabs and “fake” buttons for your outer shirt. Oh, one more thing. Use discretion when hugging others.
By the way, there are styles and fits for men and women, so it’s an equal opportunity carry method.
Bellybands make the list for top unconventional carry methods because of their flexibility. You can wear it around your belly, of course. You can also wear it lower around your hips and it becomes the ultimate concealed tuckable holster. Everything is inside of a tucked in shirt and there are no telltale clips on the belt. You can also position your gun where you want: strong side, cross draw, appendix position or whatever floats your boat.
In particular, I like the Galco Underwraps Belly Band for three reasons. It’s wide and comfortable, which means you’ll actually use it. It’s got a bunch of pockets, so you can choose different locations in which to carry your gun and any accessories you want to hide, like knives, magazines or even a light. Heck, you can even use it for a small wallet or money clip if you’re worried about Fagin’s boys picking your pocket. What I like best, however, is that two of the pockets are covered with sturdy leather. This provides stability but even more importantly, a solid amount of trigger protection. It would be a real challenge, and very unlikely, for a foreign object or movement to be able to activate the trigger of a gun stored in one of those pockets.