By William Starnes. Mar 22, 2024
Article Source

Reaching upward for something is a classic exposure risk situation.
The right cover clothing can help, but be aware regardless.

You carry a gun to protect yourself and others, but one key to keeping out of harm's way is to make sure people don't suspect you have a gun. If a bad guy knows you're carrying, it puts you in a dangerous situation by making you a target. Why, then, are so many people — both civilians and police — so careless about how they carry? I believe it's a combination of ignorance and complacency.

I can promise one thing: Bad guys are profiling people before they act. It's part of what they do, since their objective is to get away safely. Interviews with prison inmates have provided valuable information about how they picked their victims. If you walk in an awkward way, ignore your environment and the people surrounding you, they are more likely to select you. They're looking for victims and concealed carriers, and they know how to spot you.

After reaching up or bending forward, light fabric can
settle back onto the top of your gun.

Here's yet another reason to always use a pocket holster: A good one will
break up the outline or better yet, resemble a cellphone or wallet.

The Intentional "Accidental" Reveal

The most common mistake people make when they first begin concealed carry is intentionally displaying their gun. Most people are proud they're able to carry a gun and want others to notice, so they "accidentally" give themselves away.

You may be proud, but don't put yourself in danger. It could be a fatal error. Think about it: If you wanted to rob a bank who is the first person you'd likely shoot? The armed guard, because he represents the immediate threat to the success of your mission. The same applies to you. If you've revealed yourself at a gas station where a robbery is about to occur, you will be the "guard" taken out first. It's happened before and will probably happen again. Don't become a statistic.

Once people get accustomed to carrying as a regular part of their routine, these intentional displays usually go away. We're then left with the real mistakes people make out of ignorance or sloppy control of their behaviors.

The farther you go behind the hip bone with holster placement,
the more you risk the dreaded "bending over" printing.

Unnatural Movements

One common mistake people make is trying to be constantly on-guard. You'll see them resting their arm against their holster to hold it securely to their body. I've found this particularly true among police officers. Another giveaway is people who appear stiff and don't swing their arms naturally when walking. So too are awkward body movements when bending over, squatting or other activities. These are all forced movements people make to avoid anyone knowing they are armed. Your holster and gun may not be visible, but your body movements may still give you away.

Try bending forward while using an appendix holster. It can be difficult, uncomfortable and unnatural, so we try to compensate for it, and it shows. Reaching for high objects can pull your shirt up with your arm motion revealing your gun, so we tug our shirts down repeatedly. Most people won't take notice, but I can assure you criminals and police will. Being hyper-aware of things around you is also a clue. It's common for police because it's part of their training, but frequently turning your head from side to side and scanning the area is apt to be noticed as unnatural and will draw attention to you.

Blending in with everyone else is an art form, and it must be practiced to pull-off consistently. Most people are bad at it, so anytime I'm out shopping with my wife, I make it a game to pay close attention to everyone's behavior and how they move. I try to pick out unnatural movements and body language and identify who may be carrying. It's odd behavior on my part, but hey, I'm the guy who searches Disney World for unhappy employees for fun. Both activities can be entertaining.

Fabric matters. This material is too thin and "nylon-ey"
so it tends to show the outline of gun and holster.

These Blackhawk concealed carry shirts use both fabric type and
pattern to completely hide a holster and gun. The heavier material
doesn't get caught up on the gun, allowing more natural movement.

Try people-watching sometime and see if you can pick out odd behaviors. Then develop the skills to avoid duplicating those errors. An added benefit is you can use these skills whenever you feel uncomfortable in a particular environment. Knowing how to spot abnormal behavior may help you identify suspects before they act, thus giving you an advantage. Most bad guys telegraph their intentions before acting.

People's choice of clothing, bags and even their vehicles can reveal them. If you're wearing a shirt with a message like, "I support the NRA" or "I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6," then you're conspicuous. Likewise, if your bag looks like one that SWAT or an Army Ranger might carry … well, you get the point. Think about what a bad guy about to commit a crime thinks when he sees them.

I'm a member of many gun organizations and participate in gun-related activities, but usually nothing about my clothing or my truck gives this away. I've seen some gun owners carry this further by having peace signs and other anti-gun stickers on their car. Just keep in mind criminals might then paint you as someone who is harmless and a potential victim.

I know we're all trying to show our support for the Second Amendment and the activities we enjoy, and I'm not saying don't do those things. I'm just saying you should keep your mission in mind and if you choose to, do so purposefully. I've met a number of businessmen who carried discreetly for years, and I never knew until they told me. These are the ones who retain the element of surprise and can choose for themselves whether to engage or disengage in a violent situation rather than having a criminal choose for them. As the great strategist Sun Tzu advises, "Appear weak when you are strong and strong when you are weak" and also "mystify, mislead and surprise the enemy." These small but important details can make the difference between life and death. In other words, don't give yourself away.

Like all other skills, these must be purposefully developed and practiced in order to be useful. Just having the knowledge is not enough. You have to turn this knowledge into practical skills you can employ as required. It is not knowledge but practice that separates the true professionals from everyone else.


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