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Old February 27, 2020, 12:59 PM   #1
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Handgun designs that are good for owb concealed carry?

I'm interested in learning what handgun designs and features of handguns lend to good concealed carry outside the waistband. I know a high ride holster is beneficial. I've also heard that the curved handle of revolvers lends well to concealing owb, but that some cylinders will show more bulge than others. Does single stack or double stack make a difference? Grip angle? Length of handle? Should I avoid ambidextrous controls that might print since I'm not left handed? This kind of stuff
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Old February 27, 2020, 01:34 PM   #2
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A pistol like a 1911A1 is flat. Even a full sized 1911A1 can disappear on one's belt. Nothing to stick out on most pistols. Any ambidextrous controls that might print would be far too big in the first place.
A lot will depend on the shape of the area one is trying to hide things and the clothes one is wearing though.
Revolvers tend to be wider, especially at the grip. The right holster and placement of said holster matters.
That high ride holster also puts the grips in a spot that can be hard to get at in a hurry.
Most of it is more about comfort for the user than anything else. And a lot of it is trial and error.
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Old February 27, 2020, 02:23 PM   #3
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Agree that a 1911 rides flatter than most (if you can find one that will run 1000 rounds out of the box w/o a malfunction), but most any single-stack will conceal better than a double-stack, and a shorter grip conceals better than a longer grip.

Also agree a high-ride holster, particularly coupled with a 5" 1911 barrel, is simply slower to deploy.

Many trade-offs when contrasting easy concealability with a decent defensive firearm: accuracy, capacity, felt recoil to name a few.

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Old February 27, 2020, 05:52 PM   #4
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Musings, in no particular order:
  • Revolvers tend to be fatter at the cylinder.
  • Flat-profile pistols (1911, BHP) seem to vanish pretty well, but now and again the butt sticks out.
  • That's why we have the bobtail, which smooths the profile down from the 90* corner on the butt of the pistol.
  • Pistols with really long slides will peek down below a cover garment, so there are some limitations there, but you don't run into them until you hit about a 4" barrel.

IMHO, for OWB concealed carry, the flat-profile subcompact (Shield, G43, XD-S, etc) is going to be really hard to beat. If you can't stand to carry something that small, there are lots of models between them and the full-sized pistols to look at. In large part, you can carry anything you want, if you're willing to put in the effort.
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Old February 27, 2020, 06:04 PM   #5
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Springfield Armory’s Hellcat is a great OWB, easily concealable 9mm. It’s flat (less than an inch thick anywhere), it’s light, it has a small overall size in any dimension. Great night sights too.
Say when.....
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Old February 27, 2020, 06:18 PM   #6
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In general (meaning there are exceptions), semi-autos are slimmer than revolvers. Once past that, a lot depends on the choice of holster. Some hold the gun closer to the body than others.

My choice is a 1911, Commander or Officers ACP size, in a leather OWB holster by Horseshoe Leather.
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Old February 28, 2020, 09:25 AM   #7
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I carry exclusively OWB and have found, if clothing choices abound, that you can conceal most anything. In that regard, I gave up tucked in shirts decades ago. So here a some choices.

In a large caliber, I like an Officer's Model type 1911 with an alloy frame of course. I've had no trouble concealing the straight grip model vs. the bob-tail. My Sig RCS in .45 does well in this regard, and still carries the traditional 7+1 load out.

For medium calibers, my choice has been either a S&W M36 or a M60, either with the 3" bbl. and adj. sights. Neither is a problem to conceal and does not print even when carried under a fairly close fitting t-shirt. Both guns have round butts, one with fitted wood stocks the other with Smith's compac grips.

For really small carry, where bulk is not wanted, my current choice is a Sig use it's invisible, plus you get the advantage of superb sights & accuracy, as well as increased capacity; but must settle for a 9mm load choice. Day to day, this is usually on my hip when I leave the house for town. At 20 oz., loaded, it's no drag on the belt.

Lastly, if I have to pocket carry, I have a S&W Bodyguard380 that will disappear nicely in a shirt pocket! It's not much, but it's better than a sharp stick.

As to holsters: I like and make an open top, tightly fitted version of the old Tom Threepersons design. The attributes are: minimal bulk, lined to protect the gun and to ease the draw stroke, and generally in black to minimize recognition if my shirt rides up. It rides high on the belt, and allows good access when worn at 3:00. Farther back, hinders access when seated.

Pic below: Sig P365 in high ride holster in usual position. Doesn't take much shirt overhang to hide.

HTH's and YMMv, Rod

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Last edited by rodfac; February 28, 2020 at 09:34 AM.
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Old February 28, 2020, 12:37 PM   #8
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Nothing anyone has posted yet is wrong. But it is kind of like letting me pick your domestic partner for you. I might do a great, okay or terrible job at it.

First thing I tell people who ask me in person "what gun to buy for XXXX" is...Don't buy anything. Let's go to the range and try some stuff out and pick what you like. I have a dozen carry guns from 12 ounce single stack polys to to J Frames to 44 ounce single stack 45s, even a G20, with a drawer of holsters. That let's them try a lot of options and sometimes, I am totally surprised by their choices.

Also, just my opinion, if you are going to carry OWB, Micro 9s and J-frame types are okay, but I'd prefer more capacity. In my locale, the majority of detectives in the PDs are carrying Shields, G43s or G19s in OWB holsters. I just think an additional 0.1 to 0.2 inches of the 19 over the Shield or 43 is not a big deal for OWB.

I am 95% IWB with a Kahr PM9 or KelTec PF9. A few days a year, the PM9 rides in a pocket holster. The remainder (call it 4%) is a 3" Officer's 1911 in a Horsehide holster. That is with a suit almost all the time. I have tried others and for me over the past 10 years, that has been the ticket.

To me, the G19 v. CZP07 is an interesting debate and while I carried a 19 for a few years, I will probably pick up a CZP07 for OWB carry this year. I prefer the trigger system on it over the Glock and my P09s have been amazing. I'd take either over the SA Hellcat with irons, but the Hellcat might get the nod with a RDS (which I have not yet needed to evaluate). The Tanfoglio Witness Elite is another interesting option, but the support does concern me a little.

Enough rambling from me. Short answer, get to the range and shoot a few, evaluate your cover garments and environment and then pick something and get to the range often for practice.
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Old February 28, 2020, 05:16 PM   #9
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This is an interesting topic and the answer really goes beyond the firearm to the holster and its design, the belt, body type, and clothing choices for success.

That said, here is an easy reading article that highlights 5 important considerations for handgun selection...

Last edited by URIT; February 28, 2020 at 05:46 PM.
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Old February 28, 2020, 05:31 PM   #10
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Concealability is a poor criterion for selection. You can conceal most handguns about equally. There are much more important criteria. Stick to those.

There was a time when I couldn't see how I could conceal anything bigger or heavier than an airweight j-frame. I hadn't really tried. Now I conceal a large revolver with a long barrel. I just wear a flannel shirt. My body-type isn't particularly advantageous. I'm very thin. I can appreciate that people of different body shapes may feel they're disadvantaged. We all have to make some amount of adaptation for how we are, but if we make a good attempt, I'm convinced we'll find it's not that hard to cover up a handgun.
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Old February 28, 2020, 07:42 PM   #11
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As Aquila point out, semi auto's are typically thinner than revolvers. That makes them a bit easier to conceal. Additionally, a good holster, I prefer leather, makes all the difference as well.

A thin gun, in a bulky holster won't conceal as well.

A good gun belt also really helps hold the entire rig and is often overlooked.
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