Cover That Thing Up…

The key word in concealed carry is concealed. In many jurisdictions, if you accidentally expose your firearm and someone reports a man with a gun, it’s a good bet you’ll lose the right to carry your gun, at least for the short term.

The wrong concealment attire is almost as bad as no cover garment at all. Let’s start with the “printer.” This is the guy who thinks for some reason wearing his little brother’s T-shirt will adequately conceal his holstered handgun and accessories. If you’re assuming people will just think it’s your cell phone, you’re wrong. My wife and kids are called upon frequently to check me out and see if I’m printing, or as my wife calls it “imprinting.” My son, Hondo, is so good at it he catches people out on the street — “Hey dad, that guy’s packing, I can see it through his shirt.” And he’s only 11.

Tactical vests — you know the kind with a 1,000 pockets on them usually found in coyote tan or ninja black — are great for when I’m teaching on the range. I can load ’em up with all kinds of gear, ranging from extra bullets and Band-Aids, to my secret stash of Jujubes. I’ve heard these vests called “shoot-me-first vests.” The bad guys will be able to pick you out of a crowd as the guy carrying a gun, and they’ll shoot you first, and then complete their armed robbery. Don’t be that guy.

Right: T-shirt with a loose-fitting cover shirt and tails out.
He’s got a 5″ Les Baer 1911 right there. See it? We didn’t think so.

Right way: Sammy’s Mountain Khakis’ Stagecoach Vest gets a lot of
workout hiding Sammy’s roscoe. Note Sammy’s happy face.
He’s actually smiling. No … really.

The Right Way

I’ll never be accused of being a slave to fashion trends (just ask my wife). My concern with fashion leans more toward: Do I blend into the environment, and can I go about my business without anyone knowing I’m carrying a gun?

Where I live it’s warm most of the year so I can’t rely on a heavy coat to cover up. Like holsters, I’ve had to try many different types of shirts to find the styles having the right cut and colors to conceal what’s hidden. Many of the “tactical” garment companies make “covert” garments specifically for concealed carry. I haven’t tried them all, but I’ve had good results with BLACKHAWK!, Woolrich and 5.11 Tactical.

If you are into pocket carry, make sure you use a pocket holster, and the pocket has sufficient room for not only the gun but also for your hand so you can draw. I don’t own any, but I’m guessing the new skinny-style jeans are not going to work for even the smallest of pocket guns.

If you live where you can get away with wearing a vest for a cover-up then do it. Just make sure it covers the way you carry and won’t get you shot or arrested. I have a stagecoach vest from Mountain Khakis that gets a lot of wear when it’s cooler outside. The length and cut of the vest is perfect for belt or a shoulder rig carry. I can conduct my daily activities without worrying about exposing my gun.

Wrong: Sammy’s “Shoot Me First” vest allowing a bit of CCW Peeking Out.
It’s not cool, it’s stupid — and you’re an idiot if you allow this to happen.

That Guy

Carrying a gun is a huge responsibility. The gun cost a lot of money, and the holster, mag pouch and belt should have cost a few bucks too. Ammo and training add in another pile of cash, and now I’m telling you, you need a new wardrobe. Not exactly a whole new wardrobe, but make the most of what you do have. Augment that with some carry-specific cover garments and you won’t be “that” guy my son points to in our local grocery store with his gun printing. Who, by the way, was a local off-duty sheriff deputy, and I fronted him off by telling him my son could see his Glock right through his Chargers tee. I smiled, of course, as I said it. And so did Hondo, who pointed at the Glock and said, “That gun.” Grin. Now cover that thing up, and be safe out there.
By Sammy Reese

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8 thoughts on “Cover That Thing Up…

  1. Harvey Meltzer

    What do think about the new “Pouch” offered by “SneakyPete” They really have a quality product. made to custom fit by brand and model of gun. Of course they cannot be mistaken for a cell phone maybe a tablet. I have tried many holsters but they either do not really conceal or are very uncomfortable. Here in Texas it is always short sleeves for me. Very hard to where any kind of shirt other than a polo or “T”.

  2. John Beissel

    Uncle Mike’s Mirage Size 15 is the only holster I have found that holds my medium sized .45 ACP close enough to my body.

  3. Gene Hofsetter

    Always look forward to your info on carry options.
    You mention the “shoot me first” vest or pack. I have heard this a number of times and would like to read about how many times that has actually happened… Someone wearing a “shoot me first” concealment item being shot first in a active shooting situation.
    Is this a reality or just a speculation that “it could happen”.
    Granted, I would not want to be the first but I am curious.
    Keep up the great writing and thanks to all at AH !

  4. Derek D.

    In regards to the Shoot me first vest. I know of at least 3 people who used to wear a “Shoot me first” vest. I point two of them out to my wife as carrying concealed. She disagreed with me at first. over time she realized these people ALWAYS had the vest on and would never remove them in public. Then I showed her a website where you could purchase them. Curiosity got the better of her and she asked one of the individuals spouse of it was indeed a cover for concealed carry. the Spouse was shocked that a Woman knew the spouse was carrying concealed. This prompted an invite for dinner which resulted in a dinner conversation about concealed carry and how our family knew the spouse was carrying concealed. When I advised them that every one knew about the concealed vest he quickly discarded it. He asked what I thought was the best Concealed carry garment. I simply told him he has to work with what is best for him. There is no ONE Cure all solution. I did tell him that in the Winter I was planning on getting a Brad Thor Tactical Alpha Jacket from Scottevest. Living in an area with a Local Ski Resort this jacket at least for me would blend in with the environment while allowing for concealed carry with ease of access, and not revealing concealed carry as blatantly as the shoot me first vest. but I told him THIS is MY preference. he needs to find what works for him

  5. Ray

    IYHO, which method of carry gives you the best options without “printing”.
    IWB, or belt carry? And which would you say is the more comfortable for daily carry?
    Thank you.

    1. Tim O'

      CrossBreed IWB is the most comfortable concealable I’ve worn in 40 years. Im retired LE, and it works great-given proper sized untucked or loose banded bottom dark color shirt.

  6. AlexH

    Shoot me first vest? After finding and reading a multitude of your articles you have written, I have come to the conclusion you have no idea what you’re talking about. In the magazine, your “imprinting” photo was clearly tucked around the weapon in a way that made it obvious it was a firearm, and the shoot me first vest is not a shoot me first vest, it’s a vest. You setup these scenarios wit the firearm showing and make it people sound stupid for carrying the way that is comfortable for them. If I want my gun to hang out, who are you to tell me its dumb? You shouldn’t judge enthusiasts by what the use to conceal. You “stagecoach” vest is ridiculous. I’d like to see you draw from that concealment quickly and efficiently, a zipped up vest must be quick for an expert like you.

  7. ARNIE

    I pocket carry every day a Taurus TCP (most used)or S&W airlight or Baby Browning each in a leather holster made by me. For the Semi Autos the holster also holds an extra magazine. There is no printing in jeans,shorts,casual trousers or dress pants! The only person who should know is the person who is carrying!

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