Do I Need Bigger Pants For Concealed Carry – And How to Maximize the Space


Pant size is certainly a touchy subject for many Americans, especially with the holiday season right around the corner, but while this article is going to talk about perhaps going up in pant size, we guarantee it will not be caused by a health detriment. Quite the contrary, this article is talking about going up in pant size and how it could help expand your lifespan.

Concealed carry usually means that you're going to have to spring for a holster, and quite often that holster is going to be an IWB (Inside the Waistband) style holster.

Now, physics simply states that when you add matter to a space, it's going to take up that space, so the simple answer is yes, a pants adjustment will be necessary for concealed carry. Adding inches to your pants will make them fit differently and picking the correct sized pants can be a difficult process to perfect. Partly due to the fact that there's no source that has given any guidelines of what to expect with the IWB addition. We are hoping this will change that. Lets take a look at a new measurement system that we came up with called the WDM or Waistband Displacement Measurement.



Picture yourself standing in the department store looking at what new pants you're going to have to buy for your new addition to the waistline. You're probably just figuring that “close enough” is good enough, and I would guess that you are likely to just pick something a little bit bigger in order to be done with the process. However, there is a lot more to it than that. There is no pant size for someone who is 34×32+Glock 17. Plus, a Glock 17 is only one type of gun that you could be carrying around. What you would need is a measurement system to know just how much space your new holster and firearm are going to take up so that you can avoid guessing and checking and stop wasting your time.

Here is Rough formula to calculate Waistline Displacement:

= ((Width of gun at greatest point X 3.14 x 2) +  (Height of gun X .3)) X .2

*There are a lot of minor factors that vary from firearm to firearm but without making the math ridiculously painful this will get you within a tenth of an inch on any semi-automatic

measuring size of pants for concealed carry

Displacement for Glock 17: 1.4375 inches

Displacement for Glock 43: 1.1875 inches

Difference between the Glock 17 and 43 is .25 inches

Also consider that placement on the body can influence the size of pants you have to buy relative to WDM. If you carry in the small of back for example there is more flexibility on the waistband there and potentially a gap of space at the exact center of your back that the firearm can fill… thus requiring less addition to the waistline of the pants. Compare that to carrying the firearm on your strong side at 3 o'clock (or 6 o'clock if you are left handed). On your hip the waistline is generally tighter and the bone is less forgiving than your stomach or back and you will likely need to buy pants to allow for the full displacement.

There are some additional things that could change the WDM, and I'm talking about holsters here. It isn't a safe practice to have a gun just sitting by its lonesome in your belt. There's a lot of different holster types and materials that can affect the WDM. Kydex is a very rigid material for example. That will cause some bumps and crevices, each of which will add to the WDM. Leather, sort of along the same lines, is a thicker material. While it won't cause as many ridges to form, the overall mass of the holster itself can add even more space to the pants, causing a higher WDM. Canvas materials are going to cause the least amount of displacement. Canvas tends to be strong, but also very thin and flexible, unlike leather and Kydex. This will help in minimizing waistband displacement.

Now for a hit of hard reality. I've never been to the store and seen a pair of pants with a waist size of 35.4375 inches. So perhaps this whole article is of little practical use. For about any firearm you are planning on carrying around you should probably just buy pants that are two inches bigger… HOWEVER this does lead us to a more important and practical thought:


In calculating and learning about waistline displacement, the most important takeaway or lesson is relative to the extra (and generally wasted) space in the waistband. Look at the below picture and note wasted space that is created immediately in front of and behind the gun. That short distance in which the waistline has to come off the body and travel to and from the gun creates two gaps.


Personally, leaving a gap, where something useful and potentially life saving could go is ridiculous, but I do understand that there is going to be a difference of opinion regarding what else should go along with your firearm in your belt line. The two most obvious choices to fill that space are a spare magazine and/or flashlight… but HOW to leverage the gaps?


holster-spare magazine

Luckily, there is a holster that can do that. If anything that has been mentioned in this article has rang true for somebody out there, I'd like you to take a look at this: The Brave Response Holster. For those people who have had an issue with pant sizing or with wasted space, this wonderful holster takes a good bite out of the problems you have faced.

The Brave Response Holster has three utility pouches primarily designed for spare magazines. Two of these are directly in front of  the gun and the third is directly behind the gun allowing you to leverage the gaps left by the gun. If you previously would not have considered carrying spare ammo now you can do so guilt free and if you were already carrying a spare magazine on your weak side you can save about an inch in your waistline by moving to the Brave Response Holster.


You should also be able to see in that image, the fact that there is hardly any wasted space on that waistline. You've got your extra magazines, a tactical flashlight, and your firearm itself. Not this huge gap of air that's only letting through a nice cross breeze, instead of holding onto something that can enhance your safety.

So do you need bigger pants for concealed carry? Yes. It's likely you knew that or assumed it before even reading this article. How much space do you need, though? That you may not have known, but you certainly will now, with our Waistband Displacement Measurement. You'll also hopefully be aware of the amount of space that a lot of people are wasting with their holsters and current set-ups. Hopefully now, you'll also know that there is a solution to that wasted space in the Brave Response Holster.

Click here for more information on the best holster you'll ever own. 


About Jacob Paulsen

Jacob S. Paulsen is the President of provides in-person and online firearm training for American gun owners. The Company is currently teaching in-person classes in 25+ states with a team of more than 55 instructors. Jacob is a NRA certified instructor & Range Safety Officer, USCCA certified instructor and training counselor, Utah BCI instructor, Affiliate instructor for Next Level Training, Graduate and certified instructor for The Law of Self Defense, and a Glock and Sig Sauer Certified Armorer. He resides in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with his wife and children.


  1. Rodney Eden on March 30, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    Awesome info that most of us do not pay attention to. Easy for a first timer to buy a holster then when it comes time to arm up can’t figure out why someone forgot to tell the its impossible to button their pants.
    I have carried for years but was one of those first timers. Never gave it a thought until the time to carry arrived then it was like oh oh what now luckily I had a outside belt clip on.
    One thing folks might think about is a pants stretcher. Yeah no joke, I ordered one on line and wow did it work. I mostly wear jeans and that strecter will give you up to two extra inches at the waist and does not damage the integrity of the jeans. This item sure beats buying a new wardrobe.
    Hope this helped some of you.

  2. Andrew on March 31, 2017 at 8:39 am

    I did go up a size, from 34 to 36, and then my 36 pants started feeling tight… time to work out more… 🙂

  3. Ron on May 5, 2017 at 9:17 am

    I wear mine outside pants but inside the belt, the gun is between the pants and belt. Long Shirt conceals it well and is more comfortable then next to the skin.

    • Scott McEntire on March 19, 2019 at 12:52 pm

      I appreciate your effort here, I really do. But I guess I am not following your math. If the width is 1 inch, 1 inch x 3.14 x 2 = 6.28…. not counting the height. What am I missing?

      • Jacob Paulsen on March 20, 2019 at 8:06 pm

        Scott, if the width is 1 inch in order to calculate we would also need the height of the gun. Can I assume the height is about 2.5″? So here is the formula:
        = ((Width of gun at greatest point X 3.14 x 2) + (Height of gun X .3)) X .2

        So putting in your numbers: WDM= (1×3.14×2) + (2.5x.3) x .2 the WDM = 1.406

  4. duane baier on August 9, 2017 at 8:25 am

    Whst about a revolver like a snub nose 38. Does the measurements work the same

    • Jacob Paulsen on August 9, 2017 at 8:26 am

      Yes, should work the exact same way.

  5. Craig on August 12, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Looks a little sloppy around the trigger guard from the photo. How secure is the trigger guard area with this more flexible holster? Any chance the trigger can be moved by external forces on the holster?

    • Jacob Paulsen on August 12, 2017 at 4:00 pm

      The trigger area is strongly reinforced. We’ve sold about 40,000 of these and never had a single customer express any concern with the holsters protection around the trigger and trigger guard.

  6. BC on October 21, 2017 at 10:17 am

    I buy pants with elastic in the waistline. This extra stretch allows for a decent fit with an added conceal carry.

  7. Mikey on February 24, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Very informative commercial for your holster.

  8. Doug on July 9, 2018 at 10:51 am

    I tried IWB but didn’t like it for 2 reasons. First was having to buy new pants and the feel that my belt wasn’t really holding them up with something between it and my body. The second is that I suffer from “dunlaps” like a lot of men and women (you know, where your belly dun laps over your belt?) and the beavertail pokes you constantly (otherwise known as “muffin top”). LOL :-). So it’s OWB at 3:00-3:30 for me and new shirts instead of pants.

    • Doug on July 9, 2018 at 10:56 am

      Shirts are cheaper than pants.

    • David Butts on December 15, 2018 at 12:40 pm

      Try iwb at about 5: o’clock l have same problem with the belly but in that position I don’t even know it’s there. And you still have easy access
      Concealed pretty good also
      I also wear stretch waist band

  9. Ed K on August 3, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    My question is does that mean you have to now reach across your body in the event you need to reload? Or worse if you have your flashlight behind your weapon, you’d have to pull out the flashlight, transfer it to your other hand then grab your weapon. If you need them both in a life and death situation you’re either firing blindly or your dead trying to grab both. That is why most law enforcement and military keep their extra ammo and flashlight on the opposite side of the body.

    Unless I am completely way off base and reading this wrong what would your solution to that be?

    • Jacob Paulsen on August 7, 2018 at 8:31 am

      The holster was designed this way in order to allow users to have a few spare magazines without forcing the user to buy bigger pants as the holster takes advantage of the gaps in front of and behind the gun that are created by the firearm. Spare mags on the support side will require a bigger waistband. While most people do train to draw mags for a reload from the support side with the support hand, our customers and our team of instructors have found that with a little practice a magazine can be cross-drawn very easily from the strong side of the body. That doesn’t make it ideal, but it does make it functional. If the user carries closer to small of back a spare can also be reached around the back. Brave Response also makes a spare magazine pouch that can go on the support side but again it will increase more the displacement in the waistband.

  10. Mark on September 30, 2018 at 9:21 am

    I understand the WDM as it applies to the guns measurements but I didn’t see anything that accounted for the space the holster takes up.

    Did I miss something? Or does that not need to be considered?


    • Jacob Paulsen on October 3, 2018 at 9:32 am

      Good point Mark. I suppose that does need to be considered though for most holsters it would be minute. Less than a 1/4 inch.

  11. Doug Bull on December 15, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    Another thing to consider is tucked or untucked. Those of us that live in the colder climates and like to layer our clothes for warmth instead of wearing big bulky coats. It took me awhile too get used to leaving my shirt tail untucked without feeling sloppy. Some shirts just don’t look good untucked. CCW definitely requires a wardrobe adjustment in either case.

  12. TikiRick on December 15, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    I have one. I carry any one of these, .45 acp, 9mm, .357 Magnum revolver. Had to go up 4 inches for it to fit.

  13. Dan on April 5, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    “(or 6 o’clock if you are left handed)”

    *9 o’clock

    • Ken Curtis on March 7, 2021 at 11:49 am

      I was going to mention that, but Isaw your comment.

  14. George on June 18, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    I tried the general rule of 2 inches. With my P365, I had a ton of extra room. Where my pants bunched up with the belt awkwardly. So I’m going to try just an inch larger waist size and see. It really depends on the gun’s size, weather, and such. I love in florida, so you want to IWB with a shorts and wear a t-shirt to stay somewhat comfortable.

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