You have decided to carry a concealed handgun and you might be nervous about the first time you decide to walk out the door with your gun strapped to your waist. Being nervous is completely normal. Almost every single person I talked to about his or her first time to carry was nervous and self-conscious. Before you step out, make sure you know exactly what your state’s laws are regarding where you can and cannot carry, how you carry, and if you will need a license or permit to carry. Federal law does not allow you to carry a gun into federal buildings such as post offices, courthouses, polling stations, law enforcement offices, and jails or prisons. This is a universal law and federal law restricts you from carrying your gun into these places. So don’t take it! Also, pay close attention to the laws regarding establishments that sell alcohol. It is illegal in most states to carry a gun into a place that sells only alcohol or more alcohol than food.
Before heading out, you will want to make sure that your clothing choice is comfortable, allows you to access your firearm quickly, and conceals it properly. In Texas, it is illegal to have a gun showing; not even an imprint of a gun is legal. An imprint occurs when you can see the outline of the gun underneath your clothing. Make sure your clothes cover it properly and completely. A wardrobe malfunction can get you into trouble.
You might think that everyone is staring at you and that everyone knows you are carrying a gun. It is normal to feel this way, but don’t worry. No one knows! They are all too preoccupied doing their own thing to worry about what you are doing.
To help ease some of the tension you may be feeling, I have asked many concealed carry veterans for tips and tricks to make your first time to carry more comfortable.
Plenty of people told me that smaller guns in pocket holsters are what they prefer. One concealed carry old-timer says, “One thing I learned carrying a gun over the years—the longer I carried a gun, the smaller it became.” Another agrees, “I conceal carry every single day and carry my small .32 in my front pocket without any added “gun junk.”
Along those same lines, I heard quite a bit of “It’s better to have something than nothing.” If your gun is too big and cumbersome to carry, you are less likely to carry it. Therefore, it is fine to carry the smallest caliber you feel comfortable using for self-defense.
Another important factor is how comfortable your holster is. Here is my journey in finding the perfect holster. Believe me, if you are not comfortable in your holster, you will not be carrying it, “the best holster is the one you forget at times you have a gun on.”
In Texas, concealed means concealed. You want to make sure you keep your gun covered. This requires the right holster and the right clothing. One concealed carry veteran says, “Make sure your weapon isn’t visible.” Many who have pared down their carry weapons from large frame to small frame say they did so because it just became too hot to wear jackets to cover the large guns like a full-sized 1911. For example, one person who carries says, “I carried a J-frame .38 Airweight. This is still one of my favorite guns to carry, but not too much fun to shoot. I could throw it into a front pocket in a decent holster and no longer had to have extra clothing to cover the firearm.”
A retired police officer who carries says, “Keep your driver’s license and your permit in the exact same location.” Do not leave the permit at home!
If you have been carrying for a long time, what do you suggest for newbies?