I have made many, many mistakes in my life. Some are hysterical to look back on and make for great stories. Some cause me to physically cringe as I’m falling asleep and will remain unspoken until the day I die. Or get sufficiently drunk. Anyway. The point is, you are supposed to learn from your mistakes. But you should also learn from other people’s mistakes whenever you can. That way, you don’t have to make the same mistakes as them. Instead, you can create brand new mistakes that are all your own. With that philosophy in mind, here are the top 5 mistakes I personally made while concealed carrying.
5. Am I printing? Crap, I’m definitely printing. I should pat my clothes and check.
This is something I think every concealed carry beginner has done. After all, concealed means concealed, right? So if you’re not sure if it’s covered, you should definitely check. Right now. Pat your shirt. Give the hem a tug. Is your holster caught on your t-shirt? What about your holster clip, is it showing? Should your holster clip be showing? Should you care if it’s showing? Crap crap crap better adjust your shirt again just in case.
Sound familiar to anyone? That was me. I couldn’t stop adjusting the way my clothes lay on my body to try and achieve the perfect conceal. It took me a long time to realize a few things. First, nobody is looking at my beltline. Nobody. Second, even if they were, 99% of people are totally oblivious. I cannot tell you how many stories I’ve heard from people who were printing or even showing their carry, and someone asked them about their insulin pump or blackberry or what have you. Of that last 1% of people, half are fellow concealed carriers, who don’t give a crap. So relax. Stop tugging at your clothes. Looking awkward and fidgety is what will clue people in that something is different about you.
4. I don’t need a belt, My pants can hold up my holster.
Yeah, that was me. Not the right call. I never had an incident with a dropped holster, but guys (and gals). Wear a belt if you’re going to have a holster. Guns are heavy and will pull your waistband down. If it’s not secured with a belt, nothing is preventing the weight of the gun from twisting your waistband, and the firearm positioning itself awkwardly. This means you’re either moving rigidly or always readjusting your pants (see mistake 5). Not to mention, of course, your draw won’t be quite as fast or as smooth since the holster isn’t where you’re expecting it to be.
Now, you may have some very stiff pants where this isn’t an issue. I would still recommend a belt because it helps to keep your holster exactly where you put it. People with clips that attach to the frame of your firearm instead of a holster are going to have the same issues. So wear a belt.
3. I don’t want to spend $65+ on a holster, this $30 one is just as good
Spoiler alert, it wasn’t. You get what you pay for is a true axiom, especially with holsters. Are there crappy holsters out there that cost $100? Probably. But you should still spend good money on a good holster. My first holster was a $30 piece of junk. It was friction retention, which there’s nothing wrong with, but the retention was adjusted by a screw in the holster. For some reason, that screw refused to stay put, and I ended up having to re-tighten it every week or so.
Anyway. I bought a better holster. Spend $65 or more on your holster, and buy from a reputable manufacturer. You won’t regret it.
2. I don’t need a round in the chamber, I’ll have time to rack the slide
For my number 2 pick, I’ve put something a little controversial in my little listicle. But I’m the one writing it, so I get to choose. I’ll admit that in no small part, this came from a place of not wanting a loaded gun pointed directly at my family jewels. Which, come on, guys. We’ve all had that thought. Not a fun one. There’s even a piece of fuddlore about not carrying appendix because “you’ll blow yer nuts off.” Israeli carry can work. You have to practice your draw until it’s one smooth motion that includes lifting your shirt, drawing your gun, racking the slide, and presenting to fire.
But I wasn’t doing it because I thought it was the superior method of carrying (in my opinion, it isn’t). I was doing it out of a really irrational fear that somehow my handgun would go off. I have since overcome that irrational fear, and carry one in the chamber.
1. I’ll Just practice My draw in these comfortable, light street clothes
For those who don’t know, I live in (but am amusingly not a resident of) Massachusetts. Massachusetts is cold as all get out for 6 months out of the year. That means I spend about six months out of the year wearing a jacket, gloves, and a hat. But that’s not comfortable to wear when in a nice heated range or apartment, at least not for more than a few minutes at a time. Especially not in the summer, when I first got my LTC. So I practiced my draw, wearing a t-shirt and jeans.
A few months later, one cold winter’s night as I was walking home from the corner store carrying a bag of groceries in one hand with the other shoved as far into my coat pocket as I could possibly get it, I realized that I had no earthly idea how I would draw from this position. Oops. Practice practice practice, and then practice some more.
Well, I’ve laid my CCW sins bare TFB readers. You may commence with the traditional roasting in the comments. Or, if you’re feeling merciful, you can regale us with some tales of your own beginner mistakes.
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