There is a boogeyman in the concealed carry industry, which is called “printing” when carrying a concealed handgun. Printing occurs for any number of reasons including clothes that don’t fit well (like a shirt that’s too tight) to gear that is not performing well.
I’ll define printing simply as the outline of your gun showing through your clothes. If people around you notice it and know what they’re looking at, it could be a problem.
This begs the question, then —
How important is printing in concealed carry?
Most of the people you walk by on a daily basis won’t have any idea if you’ve got a gun, a cell phone, or a medical device under your shirt. Most of them won’t even look, because a lot of people just want to be left alone.
That said, there are some people who do look, and some of them are criminals. So, while printing is not something you want to obsess over, it is something that you should work out early on, and periodically check.
I, personally, don’t even think about printing anymore because I’ve got it worked out. Let’s take a look at some basics to help you get your concealed carry printing under control.
Concealed Carry Gun Belt
Every strong building needs a good foundation. The same is true with anything in life, including carrying a firearm for self-defense. A lot of folks believe that the gun is the foundation, and others think that it’s the holster.
I’m here to tell you that, while it’s all important, the leather gun belt is actually the foundation of any concealed carry rig.
The reason why should be obvious, but in case it’s not, it’s because a proper gun belt is sturdy and won’t allow your gun to sag or roll out, which in turn keeps it in place and prevents printing.
Another reason why it’s so important is because it’s the part of your gear that holds your gun and holster to your body.
You’re doing yourself a massive disservice if you use anything other than a gun belt that is designed to carry extra weight.
Next up is the gun’s holster. The holster is also important because it can be dangerous to use one that is not good, which can certainly be a topic for another day.
For now, we talk about the holster’s job in preventing printing in concealed carry. Printing is more noticeable on some holsters that sit further from the body. This is one of the reasons why some folks will only carry in an IWB (inside the waistband) holster.
IWB holsters inherently sit closer to the body than their counterparts do. If your current setup causes your gun to print more than you’d like, trying a holster that sits closer to your body may be a good idea.
Change Your Carry Position
You may also be willing and able to change which position you carry your gun in if some of the other stuff doesn’t work, or you cannot change something else. For example, people tend to print more on their hips than they do in the appendix position (12 – 1 o’clock).
Changing may be hard for some people, and I’ve personally been unable to switch. But I do know folks who’ve switched from the hip to the appendix with success and it is worth looking in to.
Your Clothes Matter
There are certain sacrifices you need to make if you want to carry a gun for self-defense. One of those sacrifices is that you may need to change your clothes.
There are some shirts that are designed for carrying a gun which helps it to print less. Another option is to wear a shirt that looks busier to help distort the outline of the gun you’re trying to hide.
The issue with this is you have to make a wardrobe adjustment and change all of your shirts to be like that.
Or, if you’re cheap like I am, you can just wear bigger shirts to help hide the fact that you’ve got a gun there. I’m probably a 2XLT guy, but tend to wear 3XLT shirts. The “T” means that it is taller than a normal-size shirt, which is essential being that I’m 6’4″ tall.
The final option we’ll talk about here is to carry a smaller gun, or, more specifically, a gun with a smaller grip that won’t stick out as much.
This is a sacrifice, like everything else because a gun with a smaller grip is usually harder to shoot accurately than a similar gun with a longer grip for no other reason than the simple fact that you can get all of your fingers on it.
That said, I carry a SIG P320 AXG Classic on a regular basis and conceal well. I know female concealed carriers who hide a Glock 19 on a petite frame. It can be done but it must be worked at.
How important is printing in concealed carry? While it is something that should be worked out, it’s not something you should obsess over.