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Your Clothing Adjustments Are Giving Away Your Concealed Carry Gun

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It does not matter if you have been carrying concealed for years or days, you have undoubtedly spent much time wondering if your firearm is recognizable under your clothing. “Printing” is the term we use to describe the event when the outline of our concealed firearm is clearly and obviously recognizable.

What is considered printing, may be somewhat subjective. When I talk about it I am not talking about an incidental or unrecognizable bulge or lump under your shirt. Rather, something that even a person who doesn't know a revolver from a rifle would recognize as a gun.

Printing is one of the biggest issues holster manufacturers and concealed carry garment makers attempt to defeat. So we finally get that perfect gun and holster along with our newly minted concealed carry license, only to strap on our gear and see a gun-shaped bulge caused by our firearm.

What are we to do?

Well, there are some obvious real concerns about this, but an obsession about it can cause concealed carriers some unnecessary anxiety and fear that leads to bigger issues. So let's talk about the difference between the reality and fears related to printing, things you may be doing that are just as big of a giveaway as printing, and how can we prevent them.

Concern: No matter how good my gun is concealed, I can still see a small bulge under my shirt.

Reality: The vast majority of people don't notice that small bulge under your shirt. Most people do not immediately recognize a bulge under a shirt as a firearm. People carry large cell phones on belt holsters or insulin pumps and other medical devices which can cause small bulges under the shirt. The more you think about it and focus on it, the more obvious it will appear that you have a firearm. When you are looking in the mirror to see if you are printing, you know where you are concealing your firearm. So naturally, you will be super tuned in to even the slightest bulge and recognize it as a firearm.

Try This: Wear your firearm around your family or friends at home without telling them. See if they recognize you are carrying.

Concern: If I print, I will be breaking the law, and could get arrested.

Reality: Because state laws vary greatly, I will explain this in a generic sense (I am not giving you legal advice, and obviously as responsible gun owners we always need to understand our individual state laws). Brandishing or displaying your firearm usually needs to be accompanied with ‘in a threatening manner, or reckless.’ If you print, or even if your firearm briefly is exposed because of the wind or something similar, you likely will not have met the elements for criminal charges. Now if you are carrying concealed and print or have your firearm exposed while in a ‘no carry zone,’ this is going to be an issue, and not related to solely printing or having your firearm briefly exposed.

Try This: Understand your state laws pertaining to open carry and or concealed carry, and the elements of brandishing a firearm or deadly weapon. Our Concealed Carry App for smart phones is an excellent, free resource you should download.

Concern: I need to constantly check my firearm to make sure it's not exposed.

Reality: You shouldn't have to check your firearm constantly. If you have a good holster that is adjusted and set up for your body and firearm, it should not need to be adjusted. Initially, when you first receive your holster, yes, you should spend much time adjusting it and finding the best way to carry it on your body. You should figure out inside your home, the proper belt, undershirt or type of clothing you will be using long before you take your brand new concealed carry gun for a trip out on the town. In fact, constantly adjusting your firearm or clothing can be one of the biggest giveaways that the bulge under your clothing is not a cell phone, but rather, a firearm.

Please avoid these 4 common clothing/firearm adjustment giveaways:

  1. Constantly looking down at yconcealed-carry-gun-and-holster-ap-640x480-e1425573965725our waistline or looking in every mirror to see if you are printing: This will inevitably draw more attention to you and that slight bulge.
  2. Constantly reaching down to maneuver your firearm back into place: Adjusting your firearm will likely indicate its size and shape as something other than that cell phone. Additionally, you most likely will perform this maneuver as stealthily as possible, but it is these furtive movements that law enforcement key in on, and give the somewhat astute person that ‘gut feeling’ that something is different.
  3. Wearing clothing that is inconsistent with the weather in order to conceal a firearm: If you are wearing a hoodie sweater in July and don't live in Siberia, you are going to stand out. If you feel like the only way you can carry a firearm is to wear heavy clothing, even in the summer, you may need to reassess your firearm/holster combo or the location on your body you carry your firearm.
  4. Feeling your firearm and checking to see if it is still there: This is a dead giveaway that you are concealing a firearm. I have noticed people subconsciously running their hand over their clothing and actually causing their firearm to print through their clothing in the process. They most likely do not even realize that they are doing it, but it is this constant checking behavior that draws attention to your firearm.

If you are a new concealed firearm carrier, we were once there with you. We were contemplating every movement and step to ensure no one knew we were carrying a firearm. And even for some, this anxiety never goes away.

We should never become complacent about concealing our firearm because it can cause legal issues in certain situations and tactical problems in others; but, we do not want it to be a cause for anxiety to the point that we subconsciously or intentionally do things to draw unnecessary attention to ourselves and our firearm.

Get a gun you can control and conceal, and a holster that is safe and secure.

Test your holster adjustments and carry location at home, so you can be confident that they fit well and stay in place. Be yourself, act naturally, and remain alert.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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33 Responses to Your Clothing Adjustments Are Giving Away Your Concealed Carry Gun

  1. Core August 1, 2016 at 8:27 pm #

    Great article. I’ve been through all of it and it’s nice to see a summary for folks new to the game. All great advice.

  2. shogue01237 August 2, 2016 at 5:40 am #

    Great information. I’ve had a very hard time finding the best way to conceal because of my size and body shape. I’m 5’10”, but around 290lbs. The IWB method doesn’t work well as I seldom wear a belt and tying a drawstring tight enough to hold a clip on holster. Also the pull down on the one side is difficult to adjust to. I’ve found an in the pocket holster that works well, but didn’t fix the “pull down” from the weight. A pair of suspenders either under a T-shirt, or over a more dressier tucked in shirt has helped… Still not the best way to conceal, but can’t find many options for big guys…

    • Jacob Paulsen August 2, 2016 at 8:02 am #

      I’m a little bias because we sell them on our store but I think you should look at the Brave Response Holster. It attaches to the body, not clothing, and was designed by a self-proclaimed “big guy.”

      • BillyBob Texas August 2, 2016 at 8:46 pm #

        Yep, I have one – and LUV it! Very comfortable – I wear it all day and forget it’s there!

    • Yogi April 20, 2020 at 11:17 am #

      Shogue01237, I used to have the same problem 6’2′ 250# My solution was to loose weight. I am now still 6’2″ 202#. Problem solved. I feel better too. Please don’t take this as mean or an insult. By the way, I will be 80 this Thursday

    • James R McCracken April 20, 2020 at 4:40 pm #

      Being 6’4” and jumping between 275 and 290 regularly myself, I understand your pain. I find the 5.11tactical holster T-shirt is one of the best ways to carry

  3. Miles Fowler August 2, 2016 at 8:18 am #

    This has been a worry for me, too. I am kinda lazy, and so my default is a pocket holster which is easy to put on/in but not as easy to draw as might be. Put a handkerchief on top of it and it’s hard to recognize as a gun, but also harder to draw. My bad holster nightmare is that my gun will fall out on the sidewalk.

    Best solution has been a holster belt that works like a fanny-pack or, rather, a money belt. You wrap it on over your underwear but under your pants. It holds the gun in place, and it’s like having the gun conveniently in the waist band of your pants but without the danger of it falling out. Only drawback is the small amount of time and modicum of care it takes to put it on.

  4. BillyBob Texas August 2, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

    🙂 🙂 Come to Texas…..or any of the many other ‘open carry’ states…….Yes, I do NOT open carry – and try to conceal all the time…….but do not have to worry about something ‘showing’ by mistake.

    C’mon down !! If you’re the type of person who reads this….you are certainly welcome !

    • Amanda Adams July 1, 2018 at 2:33 am #

      I’d love visit Texas me and my dad got us some Taurus 9mm I love it but the criminals have more rights than the person holding the gun for protection we are learning newbies on everything but reading and learning and shooting them but I feel if I feEl my life is at threat I should have every right to protect myself not get stabbed or shot then try and protect myself I have alot to learn but I don’t like some of how it is thanks just thought I would share we are in arkansas jonesboro

      • Danofive0 April 19, 2020 at 9:28 pm #

        One big thing to remember.
        If you ever need to use your gun to defend yourself. Family.
        When the police come.
        NEVER, NEVER talk with them.
        Just give your name. And ask for a lawyer.
        And the right kind of lawyer. Then shut up.
        Until you have one with you.
        Don’t talk yourself into jail. You can do it very fast.

    • Dean Burney February 20, 2020 at 6:35 pm #

      Don’t nobody with a license get charged for showing a holstered pistol by mistake.
      In Portland and some other municipalities in Oregon you need a CHL or a Guard License to Open Carry, so Our police don’t see a crime there, because it isn’t one in our state.
      I’ve been carrying a pistol for 35 years and have never had a license violation incident.

  5. Jeff w July 2, 2017 at 10:34 pm #

    I have done what you have said, I wore concealed carry out without telling the wife. She did not notice one bit. I had to resist the ‘checking’ but I am glad I did it. Nice to see this in your article.

  6. JOE November 8, 2017 at 9:12 pm #

    I have bought the Brave Response holster. Im confused because it does not seem to accommodate my PARA 45 OR Walther PPX 9mm double stack. What am I doing wrong?

    • Jacob Paulsen November 8, 2017 at 9:34 pm #

      Joe, I just sent you a direct email. We’ll get it sorted out!

  7. John Blanck March 30, 2018 at 8:37 am #

    I purchased a Brave Response Holster two years ago after two previous purchases. It met my needs and exceeds my expectations, I am 5’-10” and 165 lbs. It is the ideal wrap belt holster and provides a minimal imprint when concealed. The extra pockets meet my needs for clips and a flash light, a great asset to have.

  8. Mtac May 19, 2018 at 8:06 pm #

    What if you live in an open carry state and possess A valid CCW and your gun is printing through a tightly fitting tank top (wife beater)?

    • Joshua Gillem May 21, 2018 at 7:42 am #

      Mtac,

      Thanks for the reply. In all honesty, I think it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish with your CCW. If you are trying to be discreet and “hide” the fact that you’re carrying, wearing such tight fitting clothes may not be a good idea. If you really don’t care if people see your gun, it shouldn’t matter. The reason why I say it like this, is because many of us who conceal our firearms do so with the “tactical advantage” mindset. In other words, if all hell breaks loose, you’ll have a tactical advantage because the bad guy doesn’t know you’re carrying.

      Thanks again for the comment.

      Josh

  9. Kathryn June 29, 2018 at 8:10 pm #

    I ordered the Brave Response Holster and wore my weapon all day while shopping for a new great grand baby, getting my nails done, and walking past police and security in a Walmart. All while looking cute in my 4th of July shorts and tank (loose) top. No one suspected a thing. I’m a heavy-set, 65 yr-old teacher who does not want to become a target. It is worth buying; especially for us big folks.

  10. P Kersey April 13, 2020 at 7:33 pm #

    Great info.

  11. Dan J April 15, 2020 at 9:53 am #

    i would like to go a step further and suggest any adjusting of the firearm or holster be done in a private location. I know this sounds weird but I was walking across a local bank lobby when my paddle holster under my coat (that I have been wearing for a couple of years) was pinching my hip in a rather uncomfortable way. I instinctively reached down to adjust it and in the process somehow completely dislodged the holster and gun and holster and gun fell to the floor rattling loudly on the tile. The retention of the holster worked flawlessly, BTW. Thankfully, there were no customers in the lobby at the time and I don’t think the tellers saw what happened. At least they didn’t act like they say anything. I quickly picked it up and slid it back on my belt under my coat as quickly as I could. Very embarrassing but educational moment. Yes, carry in a bank is legal here.

  12. Duane Baker April 15, 2020 at 3:06 pm #

    Thanks for the information in the article. I’m a relatively newbie as well about CC here in Minnesota. I haven’t seen a Brave Response holster yet. I find myself thinking, looking, and “checking” my Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm in a “We The People” holster. I suppose it’ll go away after time and comfort of carrying but it definitely is a hard habit to break.

  13. Gary Spitzer April 15, 2020 at 6:32 pm #

    One additional point I would like to inject here; if you intend to wear a belt mounted holster (ie: OWB, AIWB, IWB or cross draw) make sure you wear a real gun belt designed for the task. When I first started to carry concealed I was using just a regular western style belt. I had a couple of incidents where when I sat down in an Apple store to talk with a sales person, my gun and holster detached from my belt and fell on the floor. Of course, the people around me seeing this quickly emptied their bowels on the spot and called mall security. It can, does and will happen if you don’t carry intelligently in public.

  14. Gary Spitzer April 15, 2020 at 6:52 pm #

    One additional point I would like to inject here; if you intend to wear a belt mounted holster (ie: OWB, AIWB, IWB or cross draw) make sure you wear a real gun belt designed for the task. When I first started to carry concealed I was using just a regular western style leather belt. In one incident I was sitting down with the sales associate in a phone store. My gun and holster suddenly slipped off my belt and out of my pants onto the tile floor with a loud noise. A number of the customers and staff immediately wet themselves and called security. Even though there were absolutely no signs or markings warning this was a ‘gun free zone’, security came quickly and checked my I.D. and C.C.W. license and informed me that yess the entire mall was ‘gun free zone’ so that customers could feel safe from violent people. Well, those of us with a better grounding in reality recognize the fatal flaws in that reasoning.

  15. Gary Spitzer April 15, 2020 at 7:02 pm #

    I stand by my statements above. You censors should just relax and post the comments as written. I used no profanity, did not use the names of any individuals or businesses or threaten any violence or hostility. It is my “First ammendment ” right to speak my opinions freely without the fear of political censorship. It is completely un-Amereican to to ignore or try to circumvent this fact. Shame on you!

    • Joshua Gillem April 16, 2020 at 8:08 am #

      Hey Gary,

      We don’t make it a practice to censor anyone. We simply read all comments before allowing them to be posted because many of them are scammers and spammers trying to sell viagra or some other miracle drug and we’d honestly rather not have a gun blog about medicine. When you posted your comment nobody was working so your comments had to wait until someone came in this morning.

      Thanks for understanding.

      Josh

  16. Jim W April 19, 2020 at 9:22 pm #

    I carry either a G20 or G43, concealed. The problem is not the weapon, but the additional holsters. I wear a vest that does not “print” the gun & holster; however, adding the magazine holster causes both to print. Suggestions?

  17. croixmom April 19, 2020 at 10:38 pm #

    I love my Can Can Concealment Belly Band holsters. I have one for the small guns and one for the larger: SP101 .357.
    I am >60 small frame female that age has not been kind to. So yeah. I’m shaped like an apple. I’m 5’1″ so short torso. The most confident carry method is the belly band. Can Can Concealment is the best, in my opinion. I can carry my SP101 and there is no printing. It is completely comfortable.

  18. Paul April 20, 2020 at 1:04 am #

    I have had my CWP and been carrying for a over 16 years. I used to use IWB holsters. When my normal vehicle driven was a pickup truck, the extra room helped accommodate the space needed to keep me comfortable while driving. However, I am not a real truck person. I have driven cars most of my life. Cameras, Firebird and Mustangs. It is very difficult for me to use IWB and drive these. I have switched to OWB since. I primarily use kydex holsters. I do have a leather one or two for various guns. I also tend not to carry the subcompact that the Brave Response is designed for. I have one thats how I know. I also had one paddle holster. I have been thru many situations over my years carrying my weapons. I mainly carry weapons that are duty grade with 4″-4 1/2″ barrels. My primary now is a comander model 1911 chambered in 45 ACP. Anyone who has carried a duty grade weapon such as Glock, H&K, Sig, Beretta, Springfield, Walther and others, or a 1911 such as Colt, S&W, Wilson Combat, Bob Marvel, Ed Bauer, Nighthawk, etc. knows how heavy they can be. You can’t carry these weapons in just any type of holster and be concealed or without worry of something “blowing your cover.” You have to use a quality holster designed for these firearms for fit and concealment. Most if these holsters will not have clip on loops. They will have belt pass through loops. You have to put the holster on the belt as you put the belt on through your belt loops on your pants/shorts. As one previously also stated, I can not stress enough that a real gun belt be used. They are much stiffer so they can actually support the weight of the firearm and hold it against your body. They do take wearing a little while to get used to wearing though. They do not wear like a standard flimsy belt. Another tip I can give is to take a look at the newer slide buckle gun belts on the market. I recently purchased one and it made a big difference in the way you can pull your belt snuck properly without it becoming overly snug. I don’t waste my time looking at a lot of the newer holster ads. I know the quality brands out there and stick to them. With all the law enforcement and military ties I have, many of them try a lot of holsters so they tell me the ones that work properly and those to stay away from. All of this stuff plays a big consideration for me when I carry. Why? Because of where I carry. I have a very limited area I can carry and keep it concealed. While in ky vehicle driving, I shift it to approximately the 2-2:30 position on my side. Once I go to get out, I shift it to the 3-3:15 position as I am swiveling to get out. No one notices what I am doing. Plus my standard dress and demeanor makes people automatically assume I am LE or military anyway so they don’t think anything if I do have a mishap. Over my years, I have been thru dozens of holsters for my many carry weapons to find the best ones for me. Some I have worn around the house maybe 30 minutes and never wore it again. Some I’ve worn one day, a week and never wore again. You have to find one that works for you and is able to carry the firearm you carry. I am not a fan.of the Brave Response because it got too hot around my waist the one time I did wear it out the house. And it was not in the summer. It was actually only 70° that day. Plus it sagged under the weight on my 1911. Asni stated previously you have to pick a holster that will both support the weight of your carry weapon and will be able to keep it properly attached to your belt/clothing. I depend on nonclip on loop holsters because I know there is no way the holsternwill detach from belt unless the belt literally breaks or the belt loops on the holster breaks. I highly doubt that will occur with any of the holster I normally use. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good gun belt and holster, just make sure you get a good quality gun belt and holster.

  19. Wayne DeCloux April 20, 2020 at 11:50 am #

    It appears from the photos that the magazine holders are on the gun side.
    I never understood why manufacturers would do that. Manipulating my gun with my strong side hand it only makes sense to have the magazine holders on the weak side of the body.

    If I am incorrect about the pictures, my apologies to you but the criticism of holster makers putting one or more magazines on the holster side of the body is accurate.

    As it is, I wear tactical pants that allow me to carry two mags in two pockets on my weak side. Not ideal, but better than many holster manufacturers.

    • Jacob Paulsen April 20, 2020 at 3:19 pm #

      You are correct Wayne. It isn’t the ideal placement for a magazine. The designer of the Brave Response Holster did that because it takes up less space in the waistband and it can be built into the holster at no extra cost hopefully encouraging people to carry A spare magazine vs no spare magazine.

  20. Doug Martin April 20, 2020 at 4:45 pm #

    I have been using a Urban Carry G3 holster for my Sig P938 for about 3 months now, I Love It. Impossible to see the gun , no printing, impossible to drop the gun, and comfortable. Tee shirt , sweat shirt , sport shirt no problem . Tucked in or not , no way of seeing the gun. It takes some practice on drawing it quickly . But we all know handgun proficiency is practice, practice, practice. I rate it at a A+. Also a medium Leatherman sheath is perfect for a spare 7 round mag.

  21. John D Milton April 20, 2020 at 9:23 pm #

    Thank you for the article! Excellent!

  22. Angelo Alonzo April 22, 2020 at 3:25 pm #

    Excellent article with great information for new and seasoned carriers.

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