Someone told me recently that it’s impossible to comfortably carry a full size handgun every day. Maybe you believe this yourself. Hell, I used to believe it too.
I’ve got great news for you…you’re as wrong as I was.
Nothing is impossible. Actually, that’s not right either.
Nothing is impossible until you make it impossible.
Nothing is impossible for you until you make it impossible for you. Saying something is impossible is exactly what makes it impossible. Never hold on to beliefs that limit you. Only have beliefs that expand your horizons.
Carrying a full size pistol is actually a very easy thing to do. I can think of a lot of things that are difficult, and packing iron isn’t one of them. Whether or not you NEED to carry a full size pistol is another question for another day. Today, let’s assume you do.
How Can I Carry A Full Size Handgun Comfortably?
It’s very simple. There are only three things you need to focus on, other than your gun. These are:
A Proper Belt
The Right Holster
Before we cover these, let’s establish what a full size pistol is. Some pistols don’t come in multiple sizes, so we need some hard numbers.
Assume a barrel of 4″ or longer, weight of 1 pound 6 ounces or greater, and a large enough contact area to get a full hand on the gun. Why these numbers? Because these are the numbers of a full size Glock. Full size pistols approximate or exceed these numbers.
Is Your Physique Primed to Carry a Full Size Handgun?
You won’t find this on any other blog that drops content on guns. I’m not going to lie to you to try and get more readers. Your body is the #1 thing you need to address to pack iron easily.
You don’t have to be a body builder to carry a full size pistol comfortably. Don’t get it twisted. This is a very, very simple requirement. It’s also the most important.
If you’re a skinny guy, you’re going to have problems. You’re going to be too underdeveloped to easily conceal a full size handgun in warm weather. You’re going to be too physically weak to carry extra weight over long periods of time.
If you’re a fat guy, you’re going to have problems. You’re going to be big in the wrong places and everything you carry will print (show through your clothes). You might be too physically weak to carry extra weight, because you’re already carrying too much weight.
Certain parts of your physique need to be strong enough and developed enough to aid concealment. Whenever someone “dresses around the gun”, they’re making up for their physique. Dressing around the gun also doesn’t fix the fact that you’re a target if you’re skinny or fat.
Dressing around the gun is a stopgap fix.
Improving your physique is the cure.
Your upper back, chest, and shoulders need to be developed. They don’t have to be bodybuilder big. They just need to stretch the fabric of your shirt enough to have a “draping” effect on your waist. You want room around your waist for your gun.
Your waist and hips need to be as small as possible. You don’t have to have a great taper, but it damn sure helps. You need empty space for your gun to hide around your waist.
Developing your upper back, chest, and shoulders should prevent you from being too weak to support your gun. If you still suffer discomfort, you should read this post.
A Proper Belt for Carrying a Full Size Handgun
See the bend in the belt pictured? If you carry a big gun on just any old belt, this will happen to your belt in days.
What you need is a gun belt. Not the kind you see in cowboy movies, but the kind of belt made to carry a full size handgun.
Here’s my experience with your options:
If you’re like me and you like leather belts, understand that they WILL eventually wear out. A good belt will wear out in a year of every day carry. A great belt will last longer than one year. A phenomenal full custom belt will last several years.
I don’t recommend leather belts unless you view them as disposable. I don’t mind buying new belts, I want to wear them so I do. They get worn when I wear a suit and I don’t wear a suit very often.
I recommend web belts. They don’t wear out. The only thing that will wear out is the velcro on the belt. The friction of the buckle will keep the belt tight, and you’ll tie off the end of the belt like you did in middle school. (I usually just replace the belt when the velcro goes – they’re inexpensive belts.)
The belt is stiff and wide, yet still slim enough for whatever you want to put on it. You won’t have to worry about your holster or magazine pouch not fitting. Some leather gun belts are so thick, you can’t get your accessories on them. Not a problem with this web belt.
1.5″ width is plenty wide enough to carry the load of a full size pistol, and the belt will still fit most belt loops. Wider belts don’t always fit your pants.
This belt supports so well that I used it to carry two full size 1911s several years ago. The pistols stayed where I put them.
The Right Holster Makes Carrying a Full Size Pistol Possible
See the holster and pistol pictured? That’s a Hungarian Hi Power.
See the portion of the slide that’s been relieved (slimmed down) to make holstering easier? See how the holster has the same relief molded into it?
This is an example of a boned leather holster. The holster was made for this specific handgun. This is absolutely critical for carrying a full size handgun.
You absolutely NEED a holster that was made for your specific handgun.
A holster that was made for your specific model of handgun will give full support of your gun. Every area that needs to contact the gun makes contact.
It doesn’t matter whether the holster is made of leather, or kydex, or whatever else. Your holster must be made for your specific gun. It must be made to support the weight of your gun and keep it close to the body.
Now, this is another thing you could read everywhere. Here are two pieces of advice from my personal experience.
NO CLIP HOLSTERS
On Clip Holsters
When I say “Clip Holsters”, I’m not talking about “magazine pouches”. I’m talking about inside-the-waistband holsters that use a clip to attach to the belt.
See, I spent a lot of money to have a holster custom made. I had the holster clip made so strong that it would carry the gun on my pants even without a belt on. The clip was so strong it would keep the holster on my pants even with nothing to clip to.
Every now and then, it will still suffer the problem all clip holsters suffer…You draw your gun and the holster comes with it.
The clip will eventually jump your belt and you will draw a gun that’s still in the holster. Get a holster with loop attachments instead of clip attachments. The loops physically can not come off of your belt with upward motion.
Holster loop attachments are usually snap-on loops. If you’ve got them snapped positively, they’re not coming loose. This makes them superior to clip attachments. The only exceptions are clips that mimic loops, which are the best of both worlds.
On Nylon Holsters
Nylon holsters can and do work. They usually work best in an open carry situation. We don’t care about open carry situations, because we’re carrying concealed.
Even the best nylon holsters (and yes, there are some very high quality nylon holsters out there) don’t do two things that your holster MUST DO if you want to carry a full size pistol concealed.
They don’t hold the gun close to the body. They don’t support the gun very well.
The belt attachments they use are never as robust as the attachments on leather and kydex holsters. They don’t support your gun on your belt very efficiently. Since they don’t support the gun very well, they can’t keep the butt of the gun close to your body. The butt is the main part of the gun you’re trying to conceal.
So remember, no clip holsters and no nylon holsters. If you know of exceptions, by all means let me know so I can try them out.
How to Comfortably EDC a Full Size Handgun
Have the Physique That Makes Concealed Carry Easiest
Wear a Real Gun Belt
Use a Holster Made For Your Gun