In this comprehensive guide, we will explore different concealed carry positions.
Both common and less common ones.
You’ll get the rundown on pros and cons of different methods such as strong side hip carry, appendix carry, pocket carry, and more.
We’ll also give you a list of concealed carry positions you should AVOID for safety reasons.
Ready? Let’s get started…
What’s The Best Concealed Carry Position?
We’re going straight to the juice today.
There’s a longer list below with pros & cons.
But if you’re looking for a quick answer…
Best For Beginners
If you’re just starting out with concealed carry, I recommend strong-side hip carry.
This position, also known as the 4 o’clock position (right-handed) / 8 o’clock position (left-handed), provides a comfortable and easily accessible spot for most people.
It allows quick access while minimizing printing (the outline of your gun showing through clothing).
Side carry is the most basic concealed carry position that you should master, before starting to try out other ones.
On that note…
Preferred By Advanced Shooters
The appendix carry, also known as AIWB (Appendix Inside WaistBand), is often preferred by advanced carriers.
Positioned at the 1 o’clock mark on your waistline, this method offers lightning-fast draw times but may require extra practice and attention to safety during holstering.
It may not be suitable for all; comfort level could differ depending on your body and what you do during the day.
For example, some folks find AIWB less comfortable than side carry when sitting.
The good thing is – most IWB holsters also work in the AIWB configuration, and tend to be pretty adjustable. So you can try out both positions with the same holster at home. See also the pros & cons of IWB vs AIWB carry.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Concealed Carry Position
There are a few factors you should know that influence your ideal concealed carry position. Let’s dive into them.
Your Body Type
Your body type plays a significant role in determining the most comfortable and effective concealed carry position.
For example, if you have some extra padding around the midsection (hey, who doesn’t love pizza?), certain positions like appendix carry might be less comfortable or harder to conceal.
On the other hand, slimmer folks may find it easier to pull off different waistband carry styles without printing.
The size of your firearm also affects how easily it can be concealed and accessed in various positions.
Smaller guns like subcompacts or micro-compacts are more versatile when it comes to choosing a carry method since they fit better in tight spaces such as pocket holsters or ankle rigs.
However, larger handguns might print with even side carry, so you might have to go for AIWB if you’re packing something with a bigger grip.
Last but definitely not least: easily accessible? You want a position that allows quick access with minimal fuss during high-stress situations while still keeping things on the down-low when needed (wink wink*).
Some popular choices include:
- Strong side hip carry: Offers easy access for your dominant hand and is one of the most common concealed carry positions.
- Appendix carry: Allows for a fast draw, but may not be comfortable for everyone (especially if you’re sitting down).
- Pocket carry: Super discreet, but not very accessible because of the pocket in the way. Just make sure to use a proper pocket holster, and carry smaller firearms.
17 Different Concealed Carry Positions: Pros & Cons
Alright, you’ve made it to the mega list.
Here’s a short rundown on nearly every concealed carry position you can use, along with their pros and cons.
IWB: 3 O’Clock Position (Side Carry)
The side carry, also known as strong side hip carry, places your firearm on your dominant hand side at the 3 o’clock position. This method provides easy access to your gun while maintaining good concealment.
- Pros: Easy access, natural draw motion, good concealment
- Cons: Can be uncomfortable when sitting or driving, might print more than AIWB
AIWB: 1 O’Clock Position (Appendix Carry)
The appendix carry positions your firearm in front of your body near the 1 o’clock position. It offers quick access but may not be comfortable for everyone.
- Pros: Fast draw time, easily accessible, less printing
- Cons: Potential discomfort when sitting
If you’re considering AIWB (appendix-inside-waistband) carry, consider getting a holster claw for deeper concealment. Here’s a quick rundown on holster claw pros & cons and when it’s best to use one.
IWB: 6 O’Clock Position (Small Of Back)
This position places the gun in the small of your back at around a six o’clock location. While it can provide excellent concealment, there are significant drawbacks to this method. We don’t recommend it – and as far as I know, nobody does.
- Pros: Decent concealment
- Cons: Difficult to access, potential injury risk if you fall on your back
IWB: 4 O’Clock Position (Hip Carry, Kidney Carry)
The hip carry or kidney carry positions the gun slightly behind your hip at around the 4 o’clock position. This method is popular for its balance of accessibility and concealment.
- Pros: Comfortable while standing or sitting, good concealment
- Cons: Slightly slower draw time compared to appendix carry
IWB: 10-11 O’Clock Position (Cross-Draw)
Cross-draw places the firearm across your body near the 10 or 11 o’clock position. It can be comfortable but may not provide optimal accessibility.
- Pros: More natural draw while seated
- Cons: Not good for anything else
The belly band is a stretchy band that wraps around your midsection, holding your firearm snug against your body.
- Pros: Conceals well with proper clothing; can be worn with (almost) any outfit, doesn’t need a belt; can be worn during sporting activities and the gym
- Cons: Uncomfortable in hot weather due to the lack of ventilation; bulky; difficult to get it tight enough so it doesn’t move around your waist, can ride up and down; the band needs replacement every 25 washes; usually not as secure as waistband holsters
Ladies, this one’s for you. Bra carry is a popular choice for women who want to carry a firearm without the need for a bulky holster. It involves attaching a holster to your bra, allowing you to carry your firearm in the center of your chest.
- Pros: Good concealment, provides easy access to your gun; great for smaller firearms; versatility in terms of clothing
- Cons: Can be uncomfortable over a longer carry period; Slower draw vs. waistband holsters; running & moving fast more difficult; Better with bigger cup sizes as the gun might print otherwise
Old-school, and something you don’t see often these days. With that said, shoulder holsters is still an option for concealed carry. Some people even use them.
- Pros: Comfortable weight distribution; leaves waist free for other accessories; easy access with proper training
- Cons: Need a jacket to conceal properly; lots of training needed; gun draw usually sweeps bystanders; bulky and heavy; expensive
OWB: Outside the Waistband
As the name suggests, this involves wearing a holster on the outside of your waistband, allowing you to easily access your firearm. OWB holsters are generally called “open carry” holsters, and aren’t made for concealed carry. Still, it’s possible to concealed carry with an owb holster if you cover it up with a longer jacket or a coat. See also the pros & cons of IWB vs OWB carry.
- Pros: Easier draw than IWB; generally more comfortable due to less direct contact with skin/body
- Cons: Poor concealment – you need to cover it with a long jacket, otherwise you’re not concealing at all.
Ankle carry involves wearing a holster on your ankle, allowing you to carry a smaller firearm. It’s a popular choice for carrying a backup gun, if you don’t mind something being strapped to your ankle.
- Pros: Deep concealment; can be paired with other holster types for backup carry
- Cons: Can be uncomfortable if worn for long periods of time; need to wear long and wide pants; only feasible for smaller-sized firearms; can’t draw on the move or while running; gun gets dusty & needs more cleaning; incompatible with bigger-sized guns
Pocket carry involves carrying your firearm in your pocket, usually in a pocket holster. It’s a good option if you can’t wear a belt for any reason, and your gun is small enough to fit in your pocket.
- Pros: Extremely concealed; easy to carry; no added bulk or weight
- Cons: Limited to small firearms; can be difficult to access quickly; may be visible through pockets; safety and security nowhere near IWB holsters
Purse carry involves carrying your firearm in a concealed carry purse or bag. It’s a popular option for women who want to carry a larger firearm or who don’t want to wear a holster against their body.
- Pros: Concealment; Compatible with any clothing; No risk of printing
- Cons: Difficult to access & draw; must be cautious of leaving your purse unattended with a weapon inside; Not as secure as waistband holsters
Off-body carry involves carrying your firearm in something other than a holster or on your person, such as a backpack or fanny pack.
- Pros: Comfort – off-body carry can be a comfortable option, as you don’t need to wear a holster against your body; Versatility – off-body carry allows you to carry your firearm in a variety of bags or backpacks, so you’re not limited when it comes to size and weight
- Cons: Security – like purse carry, off-body carry means that your firearm is not on your person, which can be an issue; Accessibility – drawing a firearm from a purse or a bag is slow, for obvious reasons.
Related: We made a list of literally every single holster type you can buy right now (even the ones you shouldn’t!)
Bad Concealed Carry Positions We Don’t Recommend
While there are numerous effective concealed carry positions, some unfortunately fail to meet the standards. In this section, we’ll discuss a few bad concealed carry positions that are either too complicated or unsafe for most gun owners.
Small of Back Carry
The small of back (SOB) carry position might seem like an easily accessible and discreet option at first glance. However, it has its fair share of drawbacks:
- Safety concerns: Carrying in the SOB position can be dangerous if you fall on your back. The impact could cause injury to your spine or even discharge the firearm. NOT WORTH THE RISK.
- Poor accessibility: Reaching behind you to draw your weapon is not only awkward but also slow – which isn’t ideal in a self-defense situation. You end up sweeping a lot of ground as you draw.
- Limited concealment: This position may print more noticeably when sitting down or bending over, making it less than ideal for everyday use.
Fanny Pack Carry
Fanny packs have made a comeback as a fashion accessory lately, but they’re not exactly our top choice for concealed carry purposes. Here’s why:
- Easily recognizable by criminals: Fanny packs scream “I’m carrying something valuable” – including firearms. Criminals know this, so wearing one could actually make you more of a target.
- Slow access: Unzipping and reaching into a fanny pack takes precious time during high-stress situations where every second counts.
Off-Body Carry in Backpacks or Briefcases
Carrying your firearm in a backpack or briefcase might seem like a convenient option, but it comes with some significant downsides:
- Accessibility issues: In an emergency situation, you may not have time to fumble through your bag for your weapon.
- Risk of theft or loss: Bags can be easily stolen or misplaced, leaving you without immediate access to your firearm when needed.
Best Concealed Carry Positions FAQs
What is the best CCW carry position for larger people?
The best CCW (concealed-carry weapon) position for larger individuals would likely be either appendix inside-the-waistband (AIWB) or shoulder holster options. AIWB can provide better concealment by using natural body contours while shoulder holsters distribute weight more evenly across their torso, reducing strain on hips and lower back.
What is the best concealed carry position for people with a smaller frame?
For individuals with smaller frames, an appendix inside-the-waistband (AIWB) or cross-draw holster might work well as they offer better concealment without adding bulk around their waistline. These methods also allow easier access in tight spaces such as vehicles or crowded areas where drawing from traditional positions could prove difficult.
Side note: We tried to write in an easy way, but if there’s still something that you find difficult to understand, here’s a quick list of holster terminology for beginners.
When selecting a concealed carry position, keep in mind:
Also, start with the basics (side carry) before moving into more advanced territory (such as AIWB carry).
Practice, test, try out different positions and holsters until you find something that works for you.
That’s all folks.