View Full Version : Help a CCW Newbie

January 3, 2006, 10:21 PM
Although I've been a gun owner for several years, I finally got my concealed firearms permit about two weeks ago. I've heard most people tell me that you feel different when you're carrying, but I wasn't sure what they may have meant. I tried carrying my weapon for the first time the other day, and found that it was far from what I had expected. First of all, the stupid car seats that are supposed to form fit your body really push my gun into my kidney. Secondly, I was petrified that my weapon would come uncovered, or fall out, or something strange would happen that would freak people out, causing some crazed old lady to scream: "Look Out! He's got a Gun!" Fortunately, none of that happened, but I did find it an unsettling experience. Does it get easier the more you carry, or are there better ways to carry that mitigate these fears more? Any help is great.

January 3, 2006, 10:34 PM
Yes, it does get easier. You are just going to feel for awhile like you have an enormous neon sign over your head flashing "HE'S GOT A GUN! HE'S GOT A GUN!"

I've been carrying since late October, and I still wonder sometimes at the fact that people DON'T notice. But really, think about it... we've all been taught not to stare at people, especially their well, you know. And nowadays, everybody carries a cell phone (and some people carry 2 or 3!) so a lump in your pocket or a bulge at your waistline is of ZERO interest to people.

Be careful, don't intentionally get careless, and you'll be all right.

Congratulations on getting your CHL!!!!


January 3, 2006, 10:34 PM
Pretty simple answer for you although it takes time.

#1 Check that your holdster is properly positioned
#2 Check the weapon and secure it in the holster
#3 take a quick glance in the mirror
#4 leave the house.
#5 under no circumstance think about the weapon at all once you leave the house, you had everything correct, the weapon was loaded and secure in the holster so there is no need to be frisking yourself to make sure it's there.

Wear it as often as you can and after about 6 months you won't even notice:D

??Comfort in the car seat? Suck it up, it's supposed to be "comforting not comfortable"


January 3, 2006, 11:11 PM
Springmom and SamD both gave you the goods.

I'll add one thing I do before leaving: face the mirror square, . . . starting with my arms fully flat against my sides, . . . lift the arms in big arcs outward from the body, . . . like you were making a snow angel.

Watch the mirror, . . . if nothing shows, . . . you're good to go.

May God bless,

January 3, 2006, 11:18 PM

12 years and counting (I'm good up to 2010 as long as I stay in Oregon).

It gets easier. I don't know if you carry a knife, but to make it easier, your wallet. You get ready in the morning and you stick your wallet into your pocket. The only time that you think about it is when you go to pull it out for whatever reason.

The firearm will become the same. And when you forget your "wallet", that is when you know that you've come full circle :).

A gun on my person (actually two now) is like clipping on your knife, getting into clean undies, and ensuring that your wallet, keys, and change are in your pockets.


January 3, 2006, 11:44 PM
You sound just like me a year ago. First time I put mine on one of the first things that happened was that I pulled up to a gas station and coat for my suit blew open a little and I was scared to death that somebody "MUST" have seen it :eek: I had thoughts that the cops could have been called and a patrol car my screetch up to the pumps at any second and demand to see my hands on the car and I'd have to answer a jillion questions for the next thirty minutes.
The gun at 4 O Clock on my hip also sticks into my back as well with those cup like seats that cars now have. I have learned to either live with it or tug the holster to 3 o clock at least when I am driving.
Other than that, I really don't feel any different, especially a year after having started carrying. I barely even notice the gun is there anymore, but always maintaining some awareness that it is in fact there and I need to be aware of how I move and making sure my coat doesn't blow open. It becomes natural.
Questions still come to mind from time to time and I either ask up my CHL instructor or post them on here.
About looking in the mirror, one thing I do when carrying under a suit or sport coat is that I turn to my back and bend over and see just how much of a buldge is showing. Is the grip of the gun sticking out? If so then make sure the holster ls leaning the grip part of the gun INTO you not away from you.

January 4, 2006, 04:38 PM
I went through the same anxieties. You will get used to it. What happened to me over the years is that I got more and more interested in carrying the smallest, most concealable gun possible so it can always be with me and go unnoticed. Thereby went my large 1911's and glocks. I moved in size to J frame Smith and Wessons and the flat Hk P7M8. I understand Kahr and Keltec pistols are even smaller. " Exploding credit cards," they are refered to.

January 4, 2006, 09:18 PM
Thanks for the good advice. My first gun was a Smith and Wesson Sigma Series 9mm, which I sold (Heaven forbid) to buy my now-wife an engagement ring. When I finally could afford another gun, I got serious about getting something good and very reliable, so I bought my HK. I love this gun: It's never jammed on me, it's easy to load and easier to clean. Oh yeah, it shoots great too! :D But it's almost 25 oz loaded, and it's pretty heavy. I have three holsters: A Belt Slide, a Pancake, and a Paddle, and only the paddle seems to dissipate the weight. Long story short, I bought a Taurus Milennium Pro since it was about 10 oz lighter, but at the range, I noticed it just wasn't the amazing gun the HK was. I think I'll start carrying the HK again, get used to the weight and the vehicular discomfort, and just get over being paranoid after I wear it for a while.

January 4, 2006, 10:04 PM
I was in the first batch of those teaching CCH here, guess thats been since 1999? Best thing I ever did was buy a QUALITY holser designed for carry. A good paddle holster suits me. You can slide it around your waist, unlike a belt rig. When your driving for a while, just remove the entire rig. In the winter a carry mostly with a shoulder rig. the most comfortable one of the many I have tried is the Miami Classic by Galco. I like the holster because it does not show with my winter jackets. Most leather coats aren't long enough to cover a belt worn holster.

The best investment I made was getting a vest made for concealed carry. These have plenty of lenght to hide a belt mounted holster. They are bearable in the summer too.

The last thing I think you should consider is a pocket gun. many are out there. I really like the Walther PPK line. They always seem to work, and hide well in jeans. Sometimes its nice to leave your larger gun in the dash when running errands, and have the pocket gun at hand if needed.

My wear with any type of clothing is a NAA single action, 22 mag. 5 shot gun that you can hide in your palm. It's the one gun you have no excuse for not carrying, assuming your not a nudist:confused:

Glad your carrying legal.

January 4, 2006, 10:18 PM
The last thing I think you should consider is a pocket gun. many are out there. I really like the Walther PPK line. They always seem to work, and hide well in jeans. Sometimes its nice to leave your larger gun in the dash when running errands, and have the pocket gun at hand if needed.

I had to run choir practice this evening, since tomorrow night is a festal liturgy in the Orthodox church and they HAVE to get things right ;) At any rate, I was directing for an hour with my S&W 37 snubbie in my pocket! Not a soul noticed. Understand that I am standing there IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY, arms raised, keeping time, and since I'm the one leading, everybody's looking at me. Not a hint of recognition. :cool:

So the feeling of the neon sign is in fact not reality. Just carry a gun that works with what you wear, and be aware, but don't fidget with it, and you'll be fine.

If I can direct the choir, packing, you'll do okay.


Dave R
January 4, 2006, 10:47 PM
are there better ways to carry that mitigate these fears more? Only suggestion I have is to "practice" carrying at home. Particularly if you are trying out a new holster or a new pistol.

There are some tricks and techniques that you'll learn over time. F'rinstance, you need to know what you're gonna do if you need to use a public restroom. First time I tried at home my handgun wound up in the toilet. Thankfully, before I had used it.

Also, if you're using an inside-the-waistband holster (IWB), don't bend at the waist to pick things up. Bend at the knees. Don't reach too high or you risk uncovering. Those kinda things. Practicing at home seems to help me.

January 5, 2006, 07:48 AM
It does get easier and you will lose the paranoia of someone seeing it. It will get to the point where you will feel uncomfortable without it.

There are a lot of different holster types and types of carry out there. It may take a while to find the one that works for you. Best bet is to find a good friend with that box of "didn't quite work" holsters and talk him into letting you try some of his. Otherwise you will end up with a box of "didn't quite work" holsters. Just part of the learning experience. Listen to others and what they have to say about the way they carry, but use only what works for you. Just because it is best for someone else does not mean it will be best for you.

Best advise I seen here so far is to carry at home. See what works as you go about everyday things at home. Yes, using a public restroom can be a problem with some types of carry. Don't do what a couple of people have done. Forgot your gun in a public restroom.

January 5, 2006, 08:07 AM
.....Are you carrying tonight? Actually I think my wifes questions was more along the lines of "did you bring your buddy?''
"I didn't notice"

Although when I first started carrying I was always asking her "does it show? can you see it?" After a while it just became natural. Good advice on the practice, and carry around the house. Springmom also hit the nail on the head "don't fidget with it" I was really bad with that until I found a holster I liked.

January 5, 2006, 01:23 PM
I was in the same position. You will notice that your wardrobe will change so you can comfortably carry concealed. You may notice you may choose to wear longer and loose button down shirts hanging outside the pants rather than a tight shirt tucked in your pants. You may want to wear an inside the pants holster, which does conceal the weapon even more, and you will find you will have a buy pants an inch or two wider in the waist to make the ITP holster more comfortable.
When I first started carrying, I didn't even want to put a round in the chamber and was always checking down to see if my shirt wasn't riding up and looking if people were looking at me, and so on and so on.

Now it's like I don't feel safe without the round in the chamber and even open carry once in awhile and don't worry what other people think. After all, I do have the right to do so. I came from Illinois where there is no carrying of firearms at all and I guess I'm so excited to have this new freedom given to me that I use it to the full extent. Concealed carry is better tactically, but I like to open carry once in awhile just to keep that right from fading away. If people don't practice their rights then that right may be considered not necessary by the people and eventually voted away or shunned at by people not familiar with those rights or that lifestyle.

If sitting in your car is uncomfortable, try looking at different methods of attaching a holster to your seatbelt or mounting some type of holster somewhere next to your seat or under the dash within reach and just transfer your weapon from your hip to the holster in your car when you drive.
A helpful hint while you are carrying is get used to squating down using your knees rather than bending over at the waist. Not is it only better for your back, but it also prevents the butt of your weapon from sticking out from the back of your shirt or your weapon becoming uncovered.

If you are a thin framed person, like I am, you may notice that you cannot hide those full sized guns as easy and as comfortably as someone with a large waistline and if you don't already own a firearm that you feel comfortable with and that conceals well against your body, you may just have to go buy another gun, which I had to do. I wanted to use my Beretta 92 and also have a full size 1911, but since those guns really stick out on me no matter what I wear, I went out and got a compact Glock 23 and with a ITP holster and with a long shirt over it, it keeps concealed pretty well.

January 5, 2006, 06:03 PM
For sake of not repeating eveyone else here so far, I'm not going to bombard you with the "tips and tricks". I will say though that it does get "easier" with time, and you will get comfortable with carrying. Actually, like me, you'll get uncomfortable with NOT carrying.

Like others have said, it becomes as natural as putting on your watch or slipping your wallet, keys, and knife into your pocket. Just do this though: Even though it becomes natural, DO be aware you are wearing a gun. Short story: Last night my girlfriend and I went to do some courier work (returning "lost" luggage back to their owners). I didn't realize until I was already a ways down the road that I left my gun and speedloader underneath the living room sofa and forget to put them back on before I left. (She's still slightly queasy about guns - slowly she's getting converted though.) I didn't panic about it - just felt a little uneasy though considering I've already delivered a bag to Hall Manor in Harrisburg, PA (I've watched 4 drug deals take place in this low-income housing development within 1 minute one night). Luckily, the deliveries last night were to quiet, rather rural communities (And I do have a 1/2 ton mini-cargo van which packs a lot more energy than my .38).

Anyways, enough blabbering. Stay safe, stay legal, and happy shooting.


January 6, 2006, 10:47 AM
I've been carrying for about 8 months now and find that I am getting more use to it. I still worry because I carry a full size USP .40 but for the most part you get use to it. I'm picking up a compact pistol with a good IWB holster though. I definetely recommend it. Also going IWB might make carrying your USP compact easier and better.

The one thing I keep catching myself on is eating out. Remember when you sit down in a restaurant that it can stick out depending upon the holster and what you are wearing. I found myself thinking about it alot when I was out to dinner last night.

Good luck and be safe.

January 7, 2006, 12:21 AM
I received my CCW last month here in Texas. I had read a lot on this forum and talked to other people who carry, and they all said the same thing: no one is watching. I remember when I first started carrying a wallet (with my junior high school ID and nothing else) - it felt like a ton in my back pocket! Then I remember starting to carry a pocket knife - I must be a redneck or something! And when I started carrying a key chain, man, I wondered how anyone did it all the time! But we all get used to it, and now I feel strange without my keys, knife, and wallet!

The first time I carried my pistol was to Wal-Mart, and I felt like everyone knew what I was doing. And I was carrying a Sig Pro 2340, a 4" gun, so it felt like a ton of bricks. But I carried IWB at 5 o'clock, and no one said anything. Since then, I have carried my .40 a lot of places, including eating out at several places. I am 6'-2" and 165 lbs., so most of my clothes fit pretty loose anyway. I usually wear 32" waist blue jeans with a pair of slick basketball shorts underneath. I tuck a t-shirt into the shorts, which keeps the t-shirt down around my waist. Then I tuck the gun and holster between my jeans and the shorts and t-shirt. Today I wore the .40 for nearly 8 hours, including going to Sams, eating with my family at Wendy's, and playing chase with my 4 year old daughter through a playground in a park! That included driving for nearly two hours as we ran errands. I really think the shorts/t-shirt combo really makes a difference in comfort.

But there are times that I cannot wear jeans or carry a large pistol. For those times, I carry my Kel-Tec P-3AT in a pocket holster. Three weeks ago I carried it in a suit pocket to a funeral (the funeral was 50 miles away). Then I tried carrying it while leading our Wednesday night Bible study. No one said a thing. Then a couple of weeks ago I carried it in my front pocket while I preached! I am a preacher of a small church and decided to see if anyone would notice. No one noticed a thing! A lady in the church received a new Colt Mustang .380 from her husband for Christmas, and she was carrying it and no one noticed. Her husband sometimes carries his .45 Colt under his vest.

At first I felt like I was wearing a sign - "I am Packing!" But I stuck it out (for me, about three weeks) and now it is getting pretty easy. Find a system that works, and trust that no one will notice. But don't quit and leave your gun at home! Stick to it and it really will begin to feel like carrying your wallet, keys, or pocket knife.


January 7, 2006, 01:01 AM
It took me a few days to get "into the groove" with my CCW but once I got over the novelty of it, it's just another thing. When I go out today, I don't even think about it. It's like my seatbelt. When I first started wearing it, I noticed it for a couple of days then it just "disappeared" when I got in my truck and put it on. Now, If I don't put my seatbelt on, it bothers me. I MUST put on muy seatbelt now in order to feel comfortable when I drive. Same thing with my CCW. If I go out, I MUST put my CCW piece on or I feel naked. I don't leave my house without my trusty XD9 hanging from my side! :)

January 7, 2006, 01:27 AM
Thanks for the words of encouragement, RevJim.

Almost no one really "looks" for another person to be packing which is probably due to the conditioning of our culture (few people carry guns as a percentage of the population). Everyone gets this feeling at first, however if you are doing it right, no one will notice.

Common mistakes I've seen (and committed occasionally) are;

Leaning away from the gun side.
Too thin of an outer garment (printing).
Unbalanced jacket weight (carrying in jacket pocket).
Need to "hitch up the britches".
Cheap/worn holster allowing butt to sag outward (printing).
Repeatedly reaching to check how secure it is.
Jacket too short.

When carrying you either stand upright or lean slightly into the gun side to allow a jacket to "drape". This prevents it from riding against your firearm and printing. Carrying something like a set of keys or similar weighted object in the gun-side pocket helps it drape plus adds weight against wind gusts. It also aids in sweeping the jacket aside when you draw.

The most common seems to be the sagging beltline, especially if you're out of shape. Round is a shape!:p) For snubbies on us "round" folks, start with a thumbreak holster. These prevent the gun from sneaking out of the holster and thus eliminate your need to keep checking if the gun is seated properly.

Silky underwear may feel good, but when combined with some IWB holsters it can sometimes help your shirt "ride up". This results in finding a lot of loose fabric around your gun's grip when trying to draw.

January 7, 2006, 01:40 AM
It absolutely does get easier.

Don't worry. Just check and make sure that your method of carry is secure, and also concealed in a way that will remain concealed, and you'll be fine in a little while.

You'll be thinking about the legality and morality and practicality of actually using the gun for a long time to come, but at least you'll stop feeling conspicuous about it.

For me, it became second nature. I only very rarely think about it, now. It's been about 12 years.

Congratulations on obtaining your CCW permit. :)


January 8, 2006, 12:47 PM
Thanks to everyone for your advice it's been really helpful. I finally went out and bought some new shirts, ones that hang a little bit lower on my body, and completely cover my weapon. I also bought a sport jacket, and when I wear that, it don't worry at all, since it provides 100% concealment. I see everyone's point, each time I do wear the gun, I feel less and less conspicuous.