How Many Different Ways Can You Carry A Concealed Firearm?


A concealed carry handgun has to fit on your body without being seen. There are limits to how far one can go. You have to take into consideration the following:

  • Your body type (i.e. tall, curvy, heavy, short, skinny, etc.)
  • The size of the gun you intend to conceal
  • The curvature of the location you intend to conceal it
  • The clothing you intend on wearing over the gun and holster

At its most basic, most people are stuck with three basic sectors of their bodies that can readily accommodate a concealed carry handgun.

basicconcealedcarryoptionsThose locations are:

  • Upper Torso
  • Waistline
  • Ankle

There are unique holster methods that go outside of these three traditional zones. For women, there are hip holsters, inside the thigh holsters, and belly holsters that all make use of the lower torso and hips. Men don’t have as many options, conventionally. An exhaustive list includes the following:

  • Shoulder holster
  • Chest holster
  • Inside wrist holster (unconventional)
  • Inside the waistband holster
  • Outside the waistband holster
  • Appendix carry holster
  • Belly holster
  • Hip holster
  • Groin holster (unconventional/uncomfortable)
  • Inside the thigh holster
  • Pocket holster
  • Cargo pocket holster
  • Calf holster
  • Inside the ankle holster
  • Outside the ankle holster

There’s actually a good reason why the chest/shoulder, waistline, pocket, and ankle are the four spaces that enjoy the widest selection of holsters for concealed carry handguns. They’re accessible from the standing, seated, and prone positions.

Concealed Carry Location Explained

The most common location for a concealed carry handgun holster is along waistline.

When you overhear concealed carriers discussing inside the waistline holsters, you’ll probably hear a lot of terms thrown out like, “I carry at 3 o’clock”


If we think about the waistline as if it were the circumference of a circle, we can roughly approximate our front as 12 o’clock, our right hip as 3 o’clock, the small of our back as 6 o’clock and our left hip as 9 o’clock. The actual placement of the gun in the holster will vary depending upon your needs.

When seated, a lot of people will prefer to carry at a 2 to 4 o’clock position. The 4 o’clock position is roughly around the back of the right love handle. The 2 o’clock position is edging towards an appendix carry — the location of the waistline that’s above the appendix. Depending upon your girth, the type of clothing you wear, and what your comfort level is, you can decide to place your inside the waistband holster at any of those positions to accommodate a seated arrangement.

For those who spend the majority of their day standing, they have the luxury of picking whichever location along their waistline is most comfortable to store and draw a handgun.

For people like mechanics or those who spend a lot of time on their backs, a position like 4 to 6 o’clock would probably be uncomfortable. The gun would likely dig into the flesh or be impossible to draw.

Waistline holsters can be affixed numerous ways.

  • Single clip exterior waistband
  • Single clip interior waistband
  • Double clip inside the waistband
  • Fixed belt loop outside the waistband
  • Fixed belt loop inside the waistband
  • Paddle holsters
  • Specialized undergarments

There are specialized undergarments — mostly for female concealed carriers — that allow a person to store a gun inside the waistband but without needing a belt or trousers.

Clock Method Not Limited To Just Waistline Holsters

The “clock” method of positioning a handgun holster is not limited to the waistline. For ankle holsters, many can be positioned so they face the inside or outside of the ankle. Chest rigs can also be positioned between roughly 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock without much issue. Shoulder holsters are predominantly made to position the gun at either a tight 3 or 9 o’clock position.

Positioning a concealed carry holster will largely be dictated based upon the design of the holster, the size of the gun, and the space available to position it. Shoulder rigs that let the handgun hang below the armpit offer limited adjustment. Waistline holsters generally offer the most options for positioning.

The best way to find your personal configuration is to test it at the range. You should practice drawing from your holster at a shooting range. This may lead to deciding to adjust the holster’s location to best suit your needs. The next step is to actively carry in that position. If you find that a holster impedes your movement or is uncomfortable, it’s probably time to find a new location for that holster.

Unconventional Places To Store A Concealed Carry Handgun

Perhaps the most unconventional places to store a concealed carry handgun are the groin and inside the wrist.

While popular movies like Taxi Driver made an inside wrist holster appear plausible, we generally don’t see a lot of concealed carriers choosing to carry at that location. This is because the size of the handgun is extremely limited in tight spaces like inside of the wristband.

The groin is another location to store a handgun but it offers extremely limited room to operate. It’s also not convenient to draw a gun from quickly.

Off Body Concealed Carry Options

In addition to the numerous locations on the body, there are also off body options. Both men and women sometimes store a handgun in a handbag, pursue, briefcase, or backpack. Most states consider a firearm that is not plainly visible to be concealed.

Generally, the following types of holsters for off-body are as follows:

  • Purse holsters meant to be inserted into a non-holster purse
  • Specialized purses with a fixed internal holster compartment
  • Backpack holsters
  • Portfolio holsters
  • Specialized briefcases with a fixed internal holster

We caution storing a handgun off body because of the possibility of getting the bag or purse knocked outside of your control. If the gun and holster are attached to your body, it’s much harder to separate you from the gun.

In conclusion, there are a lot of ways you can potentially store your concealed carry handgun on your body. We always recommend using a holster that protects the trigger guard and maintains good retention over the pistol. Beyond that, the rest is left up to your creativity and comfort level. Carry on!


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About the Author

GH is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry handgun is a Glock 26 in a Lenwood Holsters Specter IWB or his Sig Sauer SP2022 in a Dara Holsters Appendix IWB holster.

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