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Top 9 Best CCW Positions: Concealment & Comfort

Inside waistband (IWB) to bra carry and appendix. We'll cover all the top carry positions for CCW...plus a couple you probably don't know about.

Choosing a spot to carry your gun is almost as important as the gun you carry. When it comes to choosing a concealed carry location, the ideal place for you is wherever you have easy access at the time.

PHLster Floodlight AIWB
AIWB

I know that kind of sounds confusing, but one location isn’t an end-all be-all for carrying a gun.  

Being able to access your gun quickly depends on the situation, the place you’re in, and what you are wearing. 

What I mean is, if you are in a vehicle and have to draw your weapon, would it be easier to access your CCW if it was on your hip versus at the 5 o’clock?  

Brownells Daily Defense Ankle CCW
This might be tough to reach in a car.

Probably.

If you are wearing clothing that’s more form-fitting, it’s harder to hide a concealed carry weapon. In these cases, you might want to look into an off-body carry.  

While the most common position is on your hip or by your kidney, take a look at some of the other options as we go through and see if they may be better for you depending on your day-to-day activities.

OWB Holster Bravo concealment

We’re going to cover some of the most essential carrying positions and our favorite holster for each. If you’d like more choices once you narrow down your position, check out Best Holsters.

Table of Contents

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Around The Clock: 1, 3, and 4-6 O’Clock

Carry positions around the waist are usually referred to by the location on a clock face.

For example, if you’re carrying on a hip, this would be referred to as the 3 o’clock position. That said, all of these positions have two options.

Option 1: Outside Waistband (OWB) Carry

OWB Holster Bravo concealment Blazer
OWB

There are different levels of holsters for your OWB carry depending on where along your body you are going to carry. The 3-9 o’clock positions are where you’ll usually see an OWB holster.

Editor's Pick (OWB)
55
at Safariland

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Option 2: Inside Waistband (IWB) Carry

IWB is probably the most common concealed carry choice. Because it’s inside your waistband, you can get holsters that allow for you to tuck in your shirt which hides the weapon even more.

Womens Concealed Carry IWB
IWB

Placing the holster and weapon inside your waistband lets you carry at pretty much any position around your waist. This opens up the door for an appendix carry, which is in front of your hips and off to one side.

Concealment Express G19 AIWB Exposed
Concealment Express G19 AIWB Exposed

Appendix carry offers a quicker draw for some folks and makes access to the gun easy.

Belly Bands

Womens Concealed Belly Band
Belly Band

A belly band is an ideal carry option for those who don’t wear a belt. They’re surprisingly comfortable especially if you have a smaller concealed carry gun.  

LCP Max in Hand
LCP Max in Hand

If your gun is a little heavier, like a compact or a subcompact with a double-stack magazine, it might not be the easiest weapon of choice to wear when being active.

If you have a smaller gun, like a Bodyguard .380 or an LCP,  you can easily wear a belly band and have your full range of motion and an easily accessible CCW in case your life is threatened.

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at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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Ankle

Brownells Daily Defense Ankle CCW Holster

To ankle carry your CCW, you’ll need a specialized holster. Typically these holsters have some sort of fur inside, often rabbit fur.

The holster is securely attached is around your ankle and lower calf. Obviously, you’ll have to wear pants that are a little looser fitting when choosing an ankle carry

The ankle carry option offers you a unique opportunity. It frees up your shirt choice to anything you’d like, and you don’t have to have a belt either.  

Womens Concealed Ankle Holster
Ankle Holster

Another benefit of an ankle carry is that if somebody comes up from behind and knocks you down, it’s much easier to reach for your ankle in many cases than it is to grab a gun that’s behind you in the 4 or 5 o’clock position.

It’s also less likely that someone will try and grab your gun from you if they see it.

47
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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Pocket Carry

Daily Defense Pocket Carry Draw Front Pocket
Pocket Carry

Carrying your CCW in your pocket is another common option. Many of the smaller guns like a .380 or .22 will fit easily along with a holster into a front pocket.  

While the draw is a little trickier, you can carry a weapon in many more circumstances than you might have with an IWB carry.

5.11 Eleanor pocket with M&P Shield
5.11 Eleanor pocket with M&P Shield

If you think a pocket carry option is right for you, look into some of the holsters available. Many times there are generic holsters that fit a specific caliber or shape weapon.

These holsters have a stickier material on the outside of the holster and a slicker material on the inside to make the draw quicker.

Something to practice with a pocket draw is pulling out just the gun and not the holster and the gun then needing to remove it from the holster before you can use it.

15
at Amazon

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Prices accurate at time of writing

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Shoulder Harness

I’m sure you’ve seen a shoulder harness before on TV. Many times detectives, police, and government agents will have a single or dual shoulder rig.  

James Bond in Shoulder Holster
Many incarnations of the legendary James Bond appeared wearing shoulder holsters.

This puts the weapon on the opposing side of your body because you’ll have to draw across your body.

So if you’re right-handed your shoulder rig will put the gun on the left side of your body that way you reach into your coat or shirt or whatever the case, and draw the weapon.

AlienGear Shapeshift Holster
AlienGear Shapeshift Holster Shoulder

This can be an extremely quick draw, but it’s a very obvious draw as well.

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at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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Bra Carry

Womens Concealed Bra Holster

Some bras are made with holsters built-in. Some fit more like a standard bra with the holster typically situated between and under the breasts, while others fit like a sports bra with the holster on the side, under the arm. 

There are also specialty holsters that can be affixed to most regular bras, though many multipurpose holsters with loops will also work with most bras.

Womens Concealed Bra Holster
Bra Holster

The quickest access holsters have the gun horizontal below the bra.

This allows you to pull up your shirt a little, reach up, and draw the weapon quickly. There are videos from manufacturers showing a pretty consistent 1.6-second draw and shoot times from under various style shirts.

60
at Flashbang

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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Thigh Carry

This carry option is predominantly used by women but is an underrated choice for men as well. While most people think of thigh carry with skirts or dresses, it can also work with loose shorts.

Womens Concealed Thigh Holster
Thigh holster

A thigh carry holster is meant for a smaller weapon like a 380. You could probably get away with a small 9mm, but it would depend on the weapon.  

In most cases, thigh holsters are used because there are no pockets or firm waistbands. Using a thigh holster also keeps the weapon on you, unlike an off-the-body carry in a purse or something similar.

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at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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Off the Body Carry

Off the body carry options are plentiful and have their own set of considerations and training needed to use them successfully.

Womens Concealed Purse Carry

When you have a weapon in something like a backpack, you need to keep that backpack on or near you at all times.

Otherwise, it’s like setting your gun on a counter and walking away.  

153
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Some of the off the body carry options are:

  • Backpacks
  • Purses
  • Handbags
  • Briefcase
  • Specially made binders or art portfolios that have concealed carry provisions.

For me, I consider having a gun in your center console or glove box to be in off the body carry as well. You don’t want to just toss a non-holstered weapon in your glove box because you never know what will happen.  

If you have some way to mount a holster into your glove box or console, it’s much more preferable.

Conclusion

Choosing where to carry is a personal preference. If you like an ankle carry or OWB, go for it. There’s no need to be uncomfortable just to make sure you have a gun on you, there are a lot of options. 

You can try a few to see what works best for your daily activities.

Alexo Athletica Leggings PPT Shirt
Alexo Athletica Leggings

Are you a jogger?  Then I’d recommend a belly band and a small 9mm or 380. They are light and comfortable. 

Do you wear a suit with a jacket all day? How about out a shoulder harness, ankle holster or a horizontal OWB holster at the 6 o’clock position?

Womens CCW Dress

The place you carry isn’t as important as the fact that you are carrying.

So, where do you carry? Tell us all about it in the comments! Also, check out our full recommendations of the Best Concealed Carry Holsters and How to Concealed for Women.

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13 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Bull o' the Woods

    Old guy with gut. I like 4:00 (or 8:00 if you're left-handed) OWB. In AIWB, gut pushes butt of gun out far enough that the barrel is pointed directly at the junkular vein. Do not like that. (Why are the models in this article so skinny?) Nowadays, if you are carrying a fanny pack, you telegraph to the world that you are either (1) a "friend of Dorothy" or (2) packing heat. Neither option is acceptable to me. Also, unless you practice a lot, fanny packs are notoriously slow on the draw stroke. At present, I'm wearing a 1791 four-way holster that allows me to switch between 4:00 o'clock (normal) and cross-draw (if I'm seated in the car). The 1791 is a surprisingly well-made leather holster for less than US$50, comparable in quality to Milt Sparks or Kramer. Mine is only about six months old and is just getting broken in. I would like to see more discussion about CCW options for persons who are overweight.

    March 17, 2022 9:20 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Douglas L Dicketts

    Left out of of consideration was the lowly and uncool fanny pack, as an old fart I no longer feel any need or desire to look cool, plus it's pretty comfortable.

    February 2, 2022 7:06 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mark

    Read an article or two several years ago about a women who drew her pistol out of her flash bang hoseter, the gun went off and the bullet went into her heart killing her almost instantly. To have the barrel that close to a vital organ makes me nervous.

    February 1, 2022 7:42 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Deb

    How come you let out abdomen carry for concealed carry?
    There are some people that abdomen carry, and that is another good option as well.

    January 30, 2021 6:12 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      John

      did the belly band, to some AKA 'abdomen carry' and AKA 'stomach carry'. just didn't do any pictures with it.

      January 31, 2022 10:17 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Brady Sanders

        Would you recommend the belly band

        August 27, 2022 6:46 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    James Pileggi

    I like a small 9mm in a Sneaky Pete holster in an OWB carry. It is easy to access and the holster looks like a cell phone case.

    April 14, 2020 2:21 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    YouLose

    So you must own a bazooka.

    June 4, 2019 9:49 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ronnie

    Interesting that you left out the cross-draw. I typically carry my SIG P938 in the cross-draw position at about the 9 o'clock position, only using the 4 o'clock position for those few times I feel like carrying something large like my Beretta 92. Cross draw has one draw-back: you sweep the muzzle across others when drawing. It shares this drawback with shoulder holsters. But is the 'danger' of this real, or a myth? I have never seen any documented incidents of a bystander being shot by someone while they were drawing from a shoulder holster or crossdraw holster.
    Cross draw does have several advantages, though: 1). the weapon is more accessible when sitting than with any other carry except the shoulder holster; 2) the weapon cannot be easily grabbed by an assailant behind you; and 3) fewer people look for a weapon concealed on the off-hand side.

    April 8, 2019 9:16 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Nick

    Iwb at 2 carry a sub compact 12+1 9mm with a extra mag at 10, set up works for me very quick efficient and carry everyday and everywhere

    February 4, 2019 7:35 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    John Grayman

    Come on, Guys! Nobody who knows what he's doing will carry an EDC at either 3, or 9 o'clock. That's the 'point of the hip'; and your pistol will stand out more from this position than from (almost) anywhere else.

    Me? I prefer to carry @ either 10, or 2 o'clock. (I'm ambidextrous.) It's very fast; and it wouldn't particularly bother me if someone were to occasionally get a glimpse of the gun.

    I usually carry a G-21 on the one side and a 17 round Arredondo magazine, vertically, on the other side. Gives me a total of 29 rounds on my person at all times. In the wintertime I, also, carry a secondary Beretta 3032 'Alleycat' in an outside coat pocket.

    Personally, I would never carry a primary pistol on my ankle. 'Why'? Because I know better; or to quote author Jerry Usher, 'Most bullets fly low in a gunfight; so why would you want to put your face down by your knees at the beginning of the fight!'

    Nowadays, I think that the Safariland 'ALS' is one of the best belt-mounted EDC holsters in the world.

    April 14, 2018 7:15 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      GaShooter

      Ummm, I OWB at 3:00. I IWB carried at 4:00 exclusively for about 10 years but age and arthritic shoulders moved me to OWB at 3:00. I do agree that the Safariland ALS is the best level 2 OWB holster on the market and each of my autopistols has its own dedicated ALS.

      December 30, 2018 2:30 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Stan Robertson

      Agree on the Safariland ALS. It's what I use.

      September 17, 2019 1:39 pm
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