November 28, 2021

First Time CCW: What Do I Need To Know?


I have been a firearms instructor and federally licensed gun dealer for about 15 years now. I have been asked a whole lot of questions about how to carry a concealed gun, what holster to use, what gun to purchase, and even what ammo should be carried. What people often fail to realize is that carrying a gun is a huge responsibility — so much so that I have even seen some people ultimately choose not to carry a pistol due to fear of doing it wrong.

CPL application with ammo and gun on top
Make sure you know and understand all local firearms laws that pertain to concealed carry before you start carrying.

When you carry a gun, you suddenly become more aware of your surroundings, your senses operate a little bit higher, and some people become sensitive to how others are looking at them. You also have to plan your days better and may even have to start dressing a little differently. Carrying a gun will be a unique experience for every individual.

Choosing Your Carry Gun

Choosing the proper gun can make or break your ability to comfortably carry. You have to choose a gun that is comfortable for you whether it’s a .357 Magnum revolver or a compact .380. It all starts with your firearm. There are a few things you always want to keep in mind when choosing a gun that could one day save your life.

Hellcat RDP with magazine and CCW holster
Finding a good CCW holster. like this DeSantis Veiled Partner, is only one of many steps in your journey towards being a responsibly armed citizen.

I know they say size doesn’t matter, but that is a lie when it comes to guns. Concealing my Springfield Hellcat RDP is a whole lot easier than trying to conceal a full-size 1911. Smaller guns are going to always be much easier and more comfortable for most people to carry — but harder to shoot well.

It is important to establish trust with your gun as well. A gun that has malfunctions at the range is probably not a great choice for carrying. If you do not have confidence in your gun, you will never be mentally comfortable carrying it. Remember, one gun will not always be sufficient when it comes to carrying daily. Different occasions may call for different guns and carry options.

How to Carry a Gun

You need a holster that at least covers the trigger guard and provides secure retention without slowing you down when drawing. Holsters, like everything when carrying, are all about comfort. If you are not physically comfortable, you will not be mentally comfortable. There are hundreds of different kinds of holsters on the market. You will probably need multiple holsters. You could carry your gun in an outside-the-waistband (OWB), inside-the-waistband (IWB), ankle, bra, shoulder, purse or compression shirt holster. They even make yoga pants with built-in holsters now. The holster you choose is unique to your specific needs.

Man drawing a Springfield Hellcat from concealment
Carrying a gun is a big responsibility; it is important to take it seriously and understand you are still not invincible.

I always recommend carrying your gun as close to your body as possible. The goal here is to not let anyone know you have it so you don’t want the gun printing and you definitely don’t want the bad guys being able to get your gun from you.

New Lifestyle

Carrying a gun is a complete lifestyle change. You cannot just go out and get a gun, holster, and concealed carry permit and start carrying. This lifestyle change takes preparation, training, and honestly dedication. You might find yourself purchasing a whole new wardrobe to accommodate your new lifestyle. I buy my pants at least one size up from what I need so that I can accommodate my gun and holster. I have also run into issues with shirts, so I created my own line of apparel that is available on my website at pewpewnationusa.com because I got tired of short t-shirts that I had trouble concealing my gun under. “Printing” is when your gun’s outline shows through your clothing. It’s a form of brandishing, and if anyone feels threatened, which doesn’t take much these days, you could find yourself in some trouble.

The first time you carry, you are going to feel weird. It will feel like all eyes are on you and your gun is exposed for the world to see. Your holster will feel like it is moving all over and you will be afraid to adjust it to make it comfortable. Obviously, the goal is to not draw attention to yourself or your gun. Just find someplace away from everyone and do all the adjusting you need. As time goes on, you will become comfortable when carrying a gun. So much so, that when you are not carrying you will actually feel awkward.

Emotional Mess

You are going to experience new feelings the first couple of times you carry. I remember when I first carried my pistol, I found myself noticing the situations around me. You may notice you watch everyone in public, start paying attention to cover or concealment areas, or even sit facing the door at the restaurant just so you can see who is coming in. The more aware you are, the less likely you are to become a victim.

Carrying a gun is a huge responsibility — one that will change your life forever and make you a much safer and more aware human. Always remember to be responsible, and carry every day.

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