Choosing the ideal concealed carry position is like selecting the best handgun. There are many options available, and you’ll likely need to experiment before finding what’s most comfortable for you.
The right carry position can make a huge difference in comfort, effective concealment, and long-term efficiency. If you want to know how to wear a holster for concealment, here are the five most popular carry positions chosen by American gun owners.
With or Without a Belt?
It is essential to understand the two main categories of concealed carry positions. You can wear a holster with or without a gun belt.
Belt carry positions require a gun belt, but you can use the same belt holster to try different carry positions. For example, if you want to switch from strong side hip carry to FBI carry, simply adjust your holster from the 3-o’clock position to the 5-o’clock position. No other alterations are necessary.
Belt carry positions also work with multiple types of belt holsters. Whether you prefer to concealed-carry IWB or OWB, you can adopt the same belt carry positions.
If you don’t have a gun belt or prefer not to use one, it’s still possible to wear a holster. Several carry positions allow you to wear a firearm without using a gun belt.
Although each beltless carry method is unique, all require dedicated types of holsters. For example, a shoulder gun holster is necessary for shoulder carry, and you cannot use it for any other carry method.
Popular Belt Carry Positions
The three most popular belt carry positions in America are strong side hip carry, appendix carry, and FBI canted carry.
Strong side hip carry
Strong side hip carry is the most common handgun carry position in the United States. If you ask the average gun owner how to wear a holster, this is likely the position that immediately comes to mind.
Strong side refers to the position relative to the shooter’s body and their handedness. A right-handed shooter’s strong side is on the right. Therefore, strong side hip carry means a holster worn over the right hip, at the 3-o’clock position. A left-handed shooter’s equivalent is the 9-o’clock position.
The primary advantage of this carry position is the speed and ease of drawing. When standing with your arms at rest, your gun is right under your dominant hand. Even with an IWB holster and a cover garment, this position allows for some of the fastest draw speeds possible.
The main disadvantage of strong side hip carry is the difficulty drawing your handgun from your non-dominant hand if your dominant hand is busy or injured. It is also more challenging to conceal a gun riding on your right hip because it extends past your body profile, potentially causing it to print.
Appendix carry is one of the fastest-growing carry positions in the United States. The holster rides in front of the shooter’s body, typically at the 12-o’clock position.
The popularity of this carry method has even led to the rise of the Appendix IWB holster (AIWB), a type of concealment holster specifically tuned to make appendix carry safer and more comfortable. Although you can appendix carry with a standard IWB holster, AIWB holsters can conceal your handgun more effectively.
Appendix carry lets you access your gun quickly in most situations, even with your non-dominant hand or while sitting down. However, the larger the handgun, the less comfortable it will be.
The barrel’s position when appendix carrying has a notable drawback: It is pointed at your crotch or thigh while holstered, which can pose a significant safety risk.
FBI canted carry
FBI-style canted carry is not just a carry position; it’s also a specific holster angle. Traditional FBI carry places your gun behind your strong side hip, with your holster canted between 15 and 25 degrees forward. This carry method was first popularized by FBI agents, who found it a more comfortable alternative to traditional strong side hip carry.
The primary advantage of this carry method is the balance between draw speed and concealability it offers. The gun remains on your strong side, letting you reach it with your dominant hand quickly.
However, the holster’s behind-the-hip location allows your body to conceal your handgun naturally and more effectively than strong side carry, even when using an OWB holster.
The purpose of the forward cant is to orient your gun’s grip more comfortably, giving you more surface area to grab when reaching behind your hip and drawing.
The main disadvantage of FBI carry is that since it is both a carry position and a cant angle, you must own an adjustable holster and know how to configure it to use this carry position effectively.
Popular Beltless Carry Positions
The final two popular carry positions among American gun owners are for beltless carry. Although these positions are generally less effective for everyday concealed carry, they may offer situational advantages for gun owners with a specific lifestyle or requirements.
Shoulder carry requires a dedicated shoulder holster, which consists of a chest rig, a holster on one side, and in most cases, a magazine carrier on the other. When wearing a shoulder holster, you will effectively perform a cross-draw - pull the handgun from your non-dominant side with your dominant hand.
Shoulder carry lets you carry full-size and large handguns comfortably. It is also a popular option for shooters spending most of their time in a seated position. However, it is challenging to conceal unless you wear an additional cover garment, like a vest or coat.
Ankle carry is a popular carry method in law enforcement, consisting of a dedicated holster and a set of straps for mounting over the corresponding leg to your non-dominant side. For example, a right-handed shooter wears it on the left leg, gun presenting on the right side.
Ankle holster used on the TV series, NCIS
The classic ankle carry draw stroke is as follows: Take a knee, pull your pant leg up with the non-dominant hand, draw your weapon with the dominant hand.
Ankle holsters are easy to conceal and difficult to detect, as long as you wear pants and use the right handgun. However, drawing from an ankle holster is impossible from a standing position, and if you don’t wear long pants, you effectively cannot conceal this holster type.
Additionally, ankle carry is impractical with large handguns, making it suitable exclusively for compact pistols and snub-nosed revolvers (such as the backup guns used by police officers).
Choose the Best Concealed Carry Holsters for You
No matter which concealed carry method you prefer, you can find the right holster for your firearm at We The People Holsters. We offer high-quality holsters suitable for IWB and OWB carry, gun belts, magazine carriers, and other EDC accessories.