Top 5 Concealed Carry Mistakes

Frequently it doesn’t hurt to cover errors we see in concealed carry. Some folks are new to concealed carry while others maybe haven’t had exposure to what good choices look like.

#1: Not carrying your gun.

Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training estimated that of the people he stopped in his law enforcement duties, only about 20% carried their guns. According to a pew poll cited by American Handgunner, he wasn’t far off. Their numbers show 26% of concealed carriers carrying most of or all of the time.

You have a license. You have a gun. I think I see a solution here…

#2 Using a crap holsterĀ 

There have been several incidents of late where concealed carriers have had unintentional discharges due to the use of substandard holsters. Generally these are soft nylon with no rigid coverage of the trigger. They tend to be cheap and “universal” in fit. I prefer Kydex but leather can be a reasonable solution if it suits your tastes. Some of the more solid choices are

Raven Concealment Systems (RCS)

Blade Tech (Classic series)


Echo Delta Charlie (still under Strongside Concealment)

Keepers Concealment

Milt Sparks

Mitch Rosen

Don Hume

Kramer Gun Leather

Oh, and if you need you a retention holster, Safariland probably has what you need.

#3 Using A Garbage Belt

The first belt I bought was a Tony Lama ranger style western belt. It lasted six months before it broke. At that point, I wasn’t yet 21 but I got the idea that a gun belt was a better idea. Even then, I realized that carrying a gun was more demanding for a belt. I ended up with a similar style belt but made by Galco (long since no longer made). I used that belt for several years. As I recall it cost me about $60 vs the $30 for the Tony Lama. Whereas I still have that Galco belt and it served me well for carrying an HK USP40C and later a 1911.

Sure you can buy a cheap belt at Walmart. The problem is that most belts aren’t sturdy enough to carry a gun. Cheap belts tend to sag and allow guns to flop around in fairly short order if not immediately.

If a good belt costs say, six times as much but lasts twelve times as long, then what’s the actual better value? The $60 belt obviously.

#4 Not Getting Training

Greg Hamilton of Insights Training Center once pointed out that training wasn’t necessary to succeed in using a gun to defend your life. He’s right however, it sure tips the scales in your favor. Over the last couple years there have been several instances of people using their guns on shoplifters or vehicle thieves and end up in hot water. A good concealed carry class that covers the legal ins and outs of deadly force could go a long way towards preventing such incidents. Not only that, a good class can give you some material to work on and practice. Train to make your skills ingrained so that if you need those skills, you can spend your thoughts on how you’re going to employ them rather than on executing the skills themselves.

#5 Not Inspecting Carry Equipment

Sometime back there was an incident where a gentleman had a negligent discharge because his aged leather holster had developed a fold that tripped the trigger of his handgun. He had failed to identify that it was an issue despite the fact that the fold had formed quite some time ago. Examine your equipment for cracks, loose faster, folds, and anything else that could cause failures. If your carry equipment uses threaded fasteners, it doesn’t hurt to remove them, clean the threads, put a touch of loctite on the threads, and reassemble your equipment.

What about your gun? If it is a Glock, do you check to make sure your front sight is still tight? If running an aftermarket trigger, are all the roll pins still in their proper locations?

Gun cleaning can be entered here as well. Some will say they clean their gun after each range visit. Great, but if you carry your gun every day, but only go to the range once a year, that’s plenty of time to accumulate crud in your handgun and/or develop corrosion issues, etc. Others I know may shoot their gun weekly but only clean every month or two, if that. They do typically lube their defensive pistol more often

Check your light to make sure your batteries are still good. Also check that the switch is still in good working order. I’ve had tail caps fail on even the best lights. Shit happens.

Is your knife still sharp and does it open ready? Or has it been neglected to a point where it requires two hands to open? Is better suited to starting fires through friction rather than actually cutting anything? I’m not implying that we’re using the knife or self defense. Though if that is your thing, more power to you. I’m thinking more of the potential for injury from a dull tool.

8 Replies to “Top 5 Concealed Carry Mistakes”

  1. Good thoughts. I carry a Springfield 1911 Loaded (because I love shooting it and I am a big guy who barely notices a 1911 on his gun belt. See how I covered one of your points from this article plus answered part of the next article with one sentence?).

    That being said, I do have to remind myself to clean it regularly. I go to the range every couple months because I work two jobs and just don’t have a lot of free time. I have occasionally pulled it out and realized that there is a lot of crud built up on the hammer where it is exposed in my Galco leather belt holster.

    The only time I don’t follow your suggestions above (other than not having had official “concealed carry classes” as I am fairly intelligent and read a lot so I think I have that covered without a class) is that I often don’t carry in the summer when I am wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I rarely wear a belt on my shorts and so even my little Walther PPK, which makes a fine lightweight summer gun, doesn’t have somewhere convenient to hang. I probably, thinking about it now, should dig out that belt, even if it’s lightweight, and put the PPK on. That means that I also should pick up a Galco leather slide holster to keep it lying flat on my waist.

    Thanks for the advice. Just came over from Tamara Keel’s blog and having read two of your articles am thoroughly entertained and educated.

    1. You remind me that I have a Springfield Stainless Mil-Spec to finish building. I carried a 1911 for about 15 years. I didn’t end up moving to a Glock 19 until after the Gen 4 models came out as I couldn’t reliably hit the trigger safety lever before that.

      The cleaning discussion always entertains me.

      To me, the training classes (assuming they are with a clued in individual… that’s a whole different discussion), is more about technique correction than anything else. Video recording yourself while shooting can also reveal things like wasted movement, trigger control issues, etc. Sometimes classes can also reveal short comings in gear selection as well. Just food for thought.

      Oh how I wish I could get along with a PPK. A stainless one coated in Ionbond would be pretty cool but man would it need to be dehorned.

  2. All good points.
    Gotta put in a plug from Frontier Gunleather; John Bianchi’s new outfit. JB kept many of his old patterns and will still make some good leather concealment holster if you ask nicely. Stuff’s as good as Milt Sparks (and I mean that as high praise) and usually can be had in less time. Their belts are still among the best available. The “Bianchi” and Safariland stuff is in no way comparable to either of those brands of 40 years ago.
    I carry plastic in Kydex, but prefer leather for anything else.

    1. Interesting, I’ll have to check them out at some point.

      Yeah, I’d only look to Safariland for retention holsters. That is the niche where they’re hard to beat unless you have need for special accommodations.

      1. Nearly all of my leather holsters have a thumb-break; which is about as much “retention” as I want. I’ll leave those BH latchy-things to those who like them or are required to use them.
        I do have a VERY nice “pistol pocket” from Frontier for my 2″ Mod 64.
        Another great holster maker is Mike Meredith at Pocket Concealment Systems – ironically in Maryland. I don’t see any belts on his site anymore but the rig he made me 15 years ago is still running strong.

        1. Yeah, I’ve never been a thumb break guy. None ever seem to be quite where I want them.

          Interesting. I’ll have to have a look.

  3. For a belt, try a “Tractor Store.”

    Additionally, I have to travel through a corner of Maryland next month and understand they are checking out-of-state cars to see if you have a concealed carry permit. I do. But the Feds in 1986 put out a “peaceable transit” regulation that says to unload the firearm, put in a locked case, and out of reach. (Our minivan has storage under the second row seats.) So, what if a Maryland officer stops us? We’re travelling through to WV, and not stopping in MD – not even for gas or a rest room! Same as we handle Illinois.

    1. Interesting.

      I can honestly say I have yet to end up in Maryland. Haven’t yet had a single reason to visit.

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