Pocket Carry Part 3: Avoiding the Fine Print(ing)

by Keith Coniglio

You can’t predict or mitigate every scenario for discovery when pocket carrying, but there are some simple steps you can take to minimize your risk:

1. Become wardrobe conscious. Look for distinctive wear patterns on the outside of your carry pocket, especially around magazine floorplates or hammer spurs not completely covered by your holster. Also keep in mind that there are variations of material and cut in clothing. Gun and holster combos virtually invisible in your current cargo pocket may stand out when you switch brands, or even if your current brand outsources elsewhere. Don’t assume that buying “the same thing I always buy” will result in the same fit.

2. Get moving. Being undetectable as you stand before a mirror doesn’t mean your gun isn’t printing when you move. Rear pockets may droop and cargo pockets may swing oddly enough to attract attention as you walk. Front slash pockets on slacks and khakis tend to bloom open if you bend from the waist. There is no easy way to check this, but it is important. You may be able to make use of a cell phone video, but it would be best to have a trusted friend spot for you.

3. Be consistent. Humans notice patterns (sometimes subconsciously) and inconsistency draws attention. This is especially true among people who spend extended time together, such as coworkers. If you always drop your keys in your left pocket when you’re carrying, don’t switch to the right when you aren’t; if you place your phone in your shirt pocket when armed, always carry it there. Be aware of how low your pant cuffs hang when carrying, and don’t hitch them higher when you’re not. Small details matter.

4. Watch your back. When carrying in a back pocket, wear shirts long enough to accommodate the need to bend or lean forward from the waist, or to lift your arms above your head. These movements could allow your shirt hem to hook behind the holster or any exposed part of a grip. Also remember to lead with your shoulder or hands when leaning back against a wall, lest the unexpected “thunk” lead to uncomfortable questions.

5. Harden up. Bulk draws attention, so most pocket holsters are made of thin, soft materials. These don’t resist pressure well, however, and can leave distinctive impressions of cylinders and grips on surfaces like leather upholstery, or produce a rubbing effect outline when leaning against wet or dusty surfaces. Consider adding rigidity to your holster with kydex inserts. This thin, stiff material can be purchased online for as little as $4 a foot and becomes temporarily pliable after only a few seconds under a heat gun, allowing you to easily trim and shape it to suit your needs.

You’ve likely put a great deal of thought into choosing a firearm, defensive ammunition, and holster. Remember to put as much thought into your potential tells to avoid getting tripped up by “the fine print.”

Keith Coniglio is a father, software tester, NRA-certified pistol instructor, and devoted Second Amendment advocate. He is also the editor-in-chief of Descendants of Liberty Press, a site dedicated to rekindling Americans’ passion for – and defense of – their Constitutional rights and personal liberty.