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CCW Tips And Tactics I

DC Reed/Director

Carrying a concealed firearm for person defense is a serious decision requiring a good deal of confidence in your personal abilities. It is a responsibility not only under the law but to yourself and those you would protect. It can permanently change how you dress, how you interact with others, and the standards for your behavior and decision making.

Regardless of your personal reasons for deciding to carry a firearm you will want to trust that it is a reliable and accurate weapon, and that you know what your abilities are to safely and effectively defend yourself with it.

This document is not a substitute for professional training nor is it an attempt to meet state laws regarding CCW training. It is simply some tips gathered from our courses and several subject matter experts to assist in your continuing training and safety.


The laws for Concealed Carry, often referred to as CCW, may differ from state to state but all agree on one critical matter. The firearm must be concealed. Generally the ability to adequately conceal a firearm is based on four factors: your body size/type, the size/type of the firearm, the type/construction of the holster, and the concealing garment(s).

  • a) Your body type and your size can dictate what you are able to conceal. A short-waisted and petit person would not likely properly hide a full sized 1911 handgun, whereas a long torso’ed or tall person may be able to pull it off. If you’re smaller, look for holsters and concealing garments that allow you to wear a handgun high and slightly behind your strong side hip –or inside the pants. (For instance larger framed or heavy persons may be able to wear a weapon at the hip level,but have a problem with inside the pants wear. Smaller framed people may not be able to carry a weapon inside the pants at all.) Try several different holsters and concealing garments. Remember, the goal of a firearms carried under your CCW permit is to be comforting, not necessarily comfortable. If too uncomfortable however, that firearm you need may be left at home or in the car.
  • b) The size and type of firearm go to your abilities to shoot accurately and just fast enough.You want a firearm that is accurate with enough power to do the job. Too powerful and it may be “too much gun” for effective defensive purposes. Larger weapons are the most challenging to conceal and require the greatest adaptation of your clothing, movement, and life style. Small, pocket-sized weapons may be easy to carry, but more difficult to draw and shoot accurately. 25 ACP and 32ACP weapons carry easily but are considered marginal for stopping an aggressor, while 9mm and 40 S&W fare much better in power but are larger and heavier. Choose first what you can shoot accurately, conceal effectively, and alters your lifestyle and movement the least. A complete alteration of how you dress,move, and act to suit a particular weapon requires a great deal of dedication and serious training. Whether that is worth the change is up to you.
  • c) Whichever size weapon you choose, you will need a holster. Holster type and construction is a Master’s degree discussion with strong opinions on many sides of the issue. Generally speaking, a strong side hip holster that holds the weapon securely and affords a proper grip while the gun is in the holster is preferred. It must be able to remain open while empty so that re-holstering can be accomplished with one hand. Holsters can be made of made of Nylon, Kydex (a hard plastic like material) and leather. Leather has a traditional look and feel, and is ideal for a belt holster. Kydex is popular for its rigidity, long life, and retention. Nylon offers the most flexibility, and is an ideal material for holsters that fit inside pockets. The key is security. A holster should hold a gun securely, but not so tightly that it can’t be drawn quickly. The balance can be difficult to achieve, but your life may depend on it. The holster must also be designed for the specific weapon to be carried. Never trust a generic “one size fits all” holster. This means likely you will spend more on the quality needed – but why spend hundreds on a firearm then go cheap on the main method of security as well as proper carry and concealment?
  • d) Where as in colder climates or seasons jackets and coats offer easier concealment; summer months and higher temps challenge concealment tactics. Wear shirts designed to be untucked or pants a little large to allow an inside the waistband holster. If wearing a belt holster, ensure you have a high quality belt that is designed to carry the weight and balance of a holstered gun (See almost all major holster and leather manufacturers’ brochures. They make belts as well.) Dress belts or regular clothing belts are insufficient and lead to a common CCW giveaway called ‘tugging’. This is where a person concealing a weapon often pulls up the pants or has to grip the holstered gun and shift their pants up under their shirt due to too weak/thin a belt or a too heavy weapon. Rule of thumb: if while moving, sitting, and walking normally the weapon/ holster combo shifts or hurts – something’s not right.

The main giveaway in concealing a weapon is behavior. Avoid touching or ‘checking’ your concealed weapon. Avoid holding one arm against the concealed weapon while the other moves naturally.

You can have a friend or family member look at you to determine if the weapon is visible through your concealing garment or if it presses against the clothing in such as a way as to reveal its outline (called ‘printing’).

Most CCW states have provisions against ‘Brandishing’ or similar language. Not properly concealing your weapon may lead to a suspension of your permit. Check your local state laws.

(Next in Part 2, Choosing a CCW Weapon)

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