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What to Expect for Your First CCW

Do you remember your first time? All those emotions, feelings, and fears. Even if it was a long time ago, I feel it’s important never to forget your first time carrying a gun. What? Did you think I was talking about a different first? Get your mind out of the gutter. This is a firearms website. Calm down. I’m talking about the first time you concealed carry.

How To Carry a Concealed Pistol Comfortably and Confidently for the First Time

As a firearms instructor, I am often asked questions about how to carry a concealed pistol. What holster should be used? What gun should be purchased? Even what ammo should be carried?

What people always fail to realize is that carrying a gun is a huge responsibility. So much so that I have even seen a lot of people choose not to carry a pistol due to fear of doing it wrong.

When you carry a gun, you suddenly become much more aware. Your senses are instantly heightened, and you start noticing how others are looking at you. Don’t forget you will also have to plan your days better, and you may even dress a little differently.

Carrying a gun will be a unique experience, and there’s no one way of doing it that works for everyone. Here are a few tips and tricks to help first-time concealed carriers be more successful in the early stages of carry.

Holstering Your CCW

Other than a good pistol, you obviously need a holster to carry it in. No, tucking a pistol in your waistband is not the right way to carry. Unless you want extra holes below the belt. You need a holster that at least covers the trigger guard and provides secure retention without slowing down your draw.

Holsters, like everything when carrying, are all about comfort. If you are not comfortable physically, you will not be comfortable mentally either. There are almost endless possibilities when it comes to different kinds of holsters on the market. You will find that one holster is not enough, and each gun will potentially require multiple holsters for varying situations.

The most common types of holsters are outside-the-waistband (OWB) and inside-the-waistband (IWB). However, specialty holsters such as ankle, bra, compression, bags, belly bands, shoulder, or even yoga pants with built-in holsters are also options. The holster you choose is unique to you and your specific needs.

I always recommend carrying your gun as close to your body as possible. The goal here is not to let anyone know you have it. So, you don’t want the gun printing, and you definitely don’t want the bad guys to have access to your gun in a defensive encounter.

Bag carry is always an option, but I am not a huge fan of it for a few reasons. First, you could forget it in a bag. Second, unauthorized people might be able to get their hands on it. Third, if someone is going to rob you, what do you think they are grabbing first? That’s right, your bag.

Some women like to carry concealed in a bag or purse, which can be more comfortable for a first time carrier.

A Change in Lifestyle

Beyond gun and holster selection, carrying a gun is going to be a complete lifestyle change. This lifestyle change takes preparation, training, and, frankly, dedication. A lot of my students don’t carry because they don’t want to dedicate themselves to doing it properly, which leads to failure.

In addition, you might find yourself purchasing a whole new wardrobe to accommodate your new lifestyle. I buy pants that are at least one size larger in the waist than I need. This comes in handy during Thanksgiving dinner but also allows me to accommodate my gun and holster in/on my waistband.

I have also run into issues with shirts. For this reason, I created my own line of apparel on my website Specifically because I got tired of short t-shirts that had trouble concealing my gun. Whether it is because they were too short and didn’t properly cover my gun or were too tight and “printed.”

“Printing” is when your gun’s outline shows through your clothing and is a form of brandishing. If anyone feels threatened—which doesn’t take much these days—you could potentially find yourself in some legal trouble.

Short shirts can lift and reveal your pistol.

Comfort with Concealed Carry Comes with Time

The first time you carry, you are going to feel weird, which is normal. It will feel like all eyes are on you, and your gun is exposed for the world to see. Likewise, your holster will feel like it is moving around and won’t be comfortable. So, you will want to adjust it but will be afraid to for fear of showing you have a gun.

The main goal is to not draw attention to yourself while carrying a concealed gun. Trust me, your gun is not moving around as much as it feels like. But if you need to adjust it, head to the restroom or an area away from heavy traffic and adjust away. A good, sturdy belt will help reduce this feeling, as well.

The more you carry a concealed pistol, the more comfortable you will become with it. So much so that when you are not carrying, you will feel awkward and naked.

CCW Introduces a Heightened State of Situational Awareness

You’re going to experience new feelings that you may not fully understand the first couple of times you carry. I remember when I first started carrying my pistol, I found myself noticing everything going on around me. And I was very uncomfortable and nervous the entire time.

You may notice that you are watching everyone in public much more closely and are starting to pay attention to areas of cover or concealment. Likewise, you may even sit facing the door at restaurants, just so you’re aware of who is coming in.

This is called situational awareness and is a good thing. The more aware you are, the less likely you are to become a victim.

Practice CCW Regularly

The more you practice carrying a gun, the more successful you will be. It may sound funny, but carry your gun in your holster around the house before heading out in public. Become comfortable with how it feels to sit, stand, walk, and lie down. Understanding these feelings will help you be more comfortable when out in the wild with your carry setup.

Carrying a gun is going to make you feel uncomfortable and kind of awkward at first. However, it’ll also make you feel very safe and at ease at the same time. When you decide to strap a pistol on your hip, you are taking on a huge responsibility. One that will change your life forever, making you a much safer, more aware, and better overall member of society.

Always remember to be responsible, follow your local laws and regulations on concealed carry, and, most importantly, carry every day.

Pocket holsters can be a good option while wearing a suit.

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