How to Concealed Carry in Formal Wear

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The last couple of years have been tough. As an extroverted, social person, the inability to regularly attend gatherings has hurt my core. Now, however, things are changing. Restaurants are filling, people are resisting, and I’m getting out more. Recently, my partner’s boss invited us to a 1940s-themed formal ball. As a concealed carrier, this presented a new challenge; concealing in a suit. Yes, I own a Walther PP. The temptation to carry it and pretend I’m James Bond is high, but I’m here to show you how to carry some more practical options. This isn’t an article on the best gun to carry concealed, however. I’m also writing this from a male perspective. Female concealed carry options are a whole other ball game.

Carrying In Formal Wear

The things that we need to consider when carrying in formal clothing aren’t that different from our day-to-day. The options are the same, but there may be some things you haven’t considered. The materials used can sometimes be less forgiving when it comes to printing. For those who are new, that means the outline of the gun shows through your clothing. Are you wearing a suit for work? Does your employer allow concealed carry? If not, your carry system may need to change. I’ll touch on more of these as we continue.

Outside The Waistband

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If the assumption is that we’re wearing a suit, that gives us the benefit of wearing a jacket. A jacket makes you look sharp, covers your dad body, and can help conceal an outside-the-waistband concealed carry holster. These holsters are the most comfortable. They also allow quick access to your gun, and give you a better chance of getting a good master grip on the draw. I also like this style because it has three belt slots, giving users the option of carrying the gun with the grip canted forward.

If you plan on carrying on the outside of your belt, make sure you know where you’re going and what you’ll be doing. Relying on a jacket to conceal your leather OWB holster means that it can’t be removed. Imagine you’re going to a wedding and you plan on showing off your best dance moves. When I dance, I tend to go overboard and get pretty hot and sweaty. If I know that I’m going to take my jacket off, I’ll look for a different way to carry my gun.

Inside The Waistband

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The way I typically carry in my daily life is inside the waistband (with some rare exceptions). I find that it gives me the most options with covering my gun. My clothing options are more plentiful, and so are my holster options. While it’s typically less comfortable than OWB, IWB carry also gives me better control of my firearm and ensures I’m the only one with access to the gun.

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Remember that we’re wearing a suit, which means that the shirt needs to be tucked in. For this, you’ll need a tuckable holster. A tuckable holster uses a special clip that will leave room for your shirt. This means that clearing your cover garment could be more difficult, as it needs to be completely untucked to gain access to your pistol. However, if you don’t plan on taking your jacket off, you can still use an IWB holster with the handle of the gun exposed.

Shoulder Holster

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Let’s not pretend that you don’t want a leather shoulder holster. They’re just plain cool. I’ve heard a lot of people say that shoulder holsters are no longer relevant, but I disagree. There is no wrong type of holster; we just need to be aware of tradeoffs. Under a jacket, my Glock 19 disappears. The shoulder holster, especially when oriented vertically, allows me to hide a much larger gun. This could be especially helpful during winter months when larger calibers are used in order to defeat heavy clothing.

Same as the OWB holster, a shoulder holster means your jacket is going to stay on. If you plan on leaving your coat on and dancing, remember what I mentioned earlier about material. Sometimes, suits can be made of lighter material. If you’ll be dancing with multiple partners, there’s a possibility that someone could feel your gun through your coat. One of the biggest detriments to the shoulder holster is the draw stroke. Be aware that there is a high probability that you’ll flag the very same people you’re trying to protect. Keep your finger off the trigger! Something I appreciate with the Falco shoulder holster is that it rotates. The gun stays in a vertical position until it’s needed. On the draw, the gun pivots to a horizontal position.

I will warn you, however. If you like to wear more tailored clothing, you may need a specific shoulder holster suit that’s less fitted. Depending on the gun you’re carrying, its bulk may show through the unforgiving jacket material.

Conclusions

These are only a few of your options for concealment holsters, but they’re my three favorites. While I usually don’t recommend ankle holsters, I’ll call it an honorable mention. It’s not perfect, but it does allow you to remove your coat, and people typically don’t look at your feet when scanning for weapons. If we think of concealed carry as a system, something else to mention is your belt. A lot of dressy belts are decorative and floppy. Be sure you have a good belt that’s made specifically for concealed carry.

So, what am I going to use at my upcoming formal event? I decided to carry inside the waistband. I’m not using a tuckable holster and am okay with keeping my coat on. The IWB option lets me open my jacket, but with a far lower chance of anyone seeing the gun. I like the speed and control that carrying inside my waistband affords me.

If you’d like to take a closer look at the holsters or firearms I’ve shown here, I’ve included links below. Remember to keep training, carry often, and stay vigilant (especially when you’re lookin’ good!)

Falco C602 OWB

Falco A602 IWB

Falco D603 shoulder holster

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