Let’s start by looking at clothing. Work might make wearing a suit mandatory, and for most us “off the rack” types, you need to find the right jacket fit and a very low-profile holster. The usual options are pocket carry, belt or inside-the-waistband (IWB) holsters or a shoulder holster. For the latter, a lot depends on whether or not you have to remove your jacket during the course of a business day. More often than not you will have to, and that can make wearing a shoulder holster, or even a belt holster, a little tricky.
On The Shoulder
Most shoulder holsters are constructed of heavy-duty leather and do a good job of securing the gun, but they also add to the carry weight and gun profile. Excellent options are the Galco Miami Classic and DeSantis New York Undercover. The Galco is a horizontal design, so it is easier to conceal and rides higher, while the DeSantis is a favorite of law enforcement for its ease of draw.
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For those who have to remove their jacket frequently there is one very interesting alternative, a shoulder holster undershirt, or concealment T-shirt. These are available from a number of makers, including 5.11 Tactical, Kramer Handgun Leather and UnderTech. This type of carry works for men and women alike.
The designs vary according to need and gun type, but they all work the same way. The 5.11 Tactical holster shirts uses a shoulder yoke design to support the weight of heavier guns, while the Kramer and UnderTech designs use an elastic holster pouch sewn to the undershirt (usually one on each side). The only drawback to this type of undercover holster is that the outer shirt must be unbuttoned in order to retrieve the firearm. A concealment T-shirt can also be worn under an unbuttoned lightweight summer shirt in warmer weather, to facilitate carry without a conventional holster.
Another year-round approach to concealed carry with a suit is the IWB holster. For this particular means of carrying a compact or subcompact under your coat, the bulk of the gun (and the IWB rig) will be against your body and hidden from view, with the exception of the grips. This is a very effective carry method since guns can be worn in multiple positions. The four o’clock position behind the hip is often most comfortable, and for smaller guns specialized two o’clock IWB holsters like the CrossBreed Appendix Carry place the handgun in an easily accessed position forward of the hip. This carry style works with casual attire and for year-round carry where any type of outer clothing, even a T-shirt or a sweatshirt, can cover the gun’s exposed grips.
Stealth In Spring
Blazers and casual jackets offer a little more latitude and open up the discussion to several low-profile belt holsters. Many are little more than an open-muzzle scabbard for the frame of the gun; this type of belt holster adds almost nothing to the overall dimensions of the sidearm. Rigs of this style, such as the Bianchi Black Widow, Galco Quick Slide and DeSantis Mini Scabbard, offer over-the-hip and behind-the-hip positioning that is well concealed by an unbuttoned sports coat, jacket or shirt, and it will blend in inconspicuously with most attire.
Paddle holsters also fall into this same category and are easier to put on and take off than a belt holster. The general holster designs, however, are largely the same. Holsters of this style usually have a forward cant, which helps improve draw. Another option for warm-weather carry is a “small of the back” holster. Once positioned comfortably, the gun is well out of sight with almost any style of jacket or shirt tail, and draw is considerably fast. The gun’s profile is more easily exposed if you bend over or wear tighter-fitting outer garments, and it is behind you and less protected by your body. Conversely, it is almost imperceptible to others in the majority of carry situations.
If you are comfortable wearing a smartphone case on your hip, here is another brilliant alternative for carry, the Sneaky Pete Holster. It looks like a quality leather or synthetic (the company offers a variety of finishes) PDA or accessory belt case, but it is designed to carry a small-frame semi-auto or revolver! The Sneaky Pete uses a magnetic closure cover flap that is easy to open, and it allows you to carry your sidearm in open sight with any type of attire without anyone being the wiser.
When temperatures rise, holsters and guns can become a burden. The previously mentioned shoulder holster undershirts are a given here, but there is one other popular option for subcompacts that works perfectly in the summer and just about all year long: the pocket holster.
Pocket rigs are made for small semi-autos and revolvers and designed for easy carry in a front trouser or jeans pocket. Materials range from leather (usually rough-out suede) to keep the holster secure in the pocket on the draw, while others use a combination of nylon for the inside and a synthetic exterior with a rubberized texture to keep the holster upright and secure in the pocket. Most totally eclipse the profile of the gun and give the impression of a wallet being carried in the pocket. Some slightly larger pistols (and calibers) work well in pocket holsters, but it is best to have shirt tails or a jacket for added cover.
Cold Weather Defense
Cold weather makes heavy coats great for concealment, and most of the aforementioned holsters work. However, colder weather also allows for jackets and vests that are designed with integral holster pockets. Popular jacket and vest styles are available from 5.11 Tactical, Blue Stone Safety Products, UnderTech and Carhartt. Vests and jackets generally have secure interior pistol “pockets” or are set up to carry a hook-and-loop-attached holster on an inside pocket. Most are ambidextrous, so guns can be carried on either side.
With all of these options it is easy to dress around your concealed carry sidearm and while you might not be able to control the weather, with one of these options you will be able to carry your sidearm by the best means possible for any given temperature or situation, come rain or shine.
For More Information
Blue Stone Safety Products
Kramer Handgun Leather
Sneaky Pete Holsters