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Concealed Carry for Big Guys: Holsters, Clothes & Tips

What’s up, my fellow big dude kings?

Today we are talking all about concealed carry and how to do so efficiently as a big dude

Concealing a Big Gun
Concealing a big gun as a big dude? It’s easier than you think!

We have our own challenges, and I think we need to address them.

As big dudes, we either have cultivated mass around our waist or sprouted like trees into the heavens — or, as is my case, both.

Carrying Concealed under the Propper Full Zip Tech Sweater
Carrying concealed always takes plenty of thought and experimentation, but what works for you might be different than what works for smaller people.

That presents some unique challenges when we start packing a pistol. 

So, we’re going to look at the three big issues big dudes see with concealed carry…concealment, access, and comfort

We’ll discuss the challenges (and advantages) to each and I’ll also give you some tips on how I navigate each.

Without further ado, let’s dive in. 

Table of Contents

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Concealment for Big Guys

Concealing a firearm presents a challenge to most people regardless of weight, height, gender, and body composition.

The big difference is the challenges they face. 

Concealing a Big Gun
There’s a gun under there, but you wouldn’t know it!

The challenges I face as a 270-pound, 6-foot-5-inch dude are a lot different than the challenges my five-foot-five-inch tall 110-pound wife faces. 

Womens Concealed Carry AIWB
Being tiny doesn’t offer any more advantages…just ask our Managing Editor, Jacki.

I can conceal a CZ P09 with a TLR-1 in an OWB holster without many people noticing…but it was a long road to figure out how. 

For big guys, finding clothes that fit while also allowing you to conceal a firearm can prove tricky.  

At my height, in particular, a 2XL shirt becomes a crop top when I raise my arms above my chest or even when I shrug my shoulders a good bit.

Even while carrying appendix or IWB, the grip of the gun is exposed when I move my arms at all. 

Concealing a Big Gun
Peekaboo!

That’s why, outside the waistband carry tends to be friendly for us of the bigger persuasion.

People are less likely to notice bulges and gun shapes when they are attached to someone who sits on the large side of life. 

On the other hand, with OWB, you need a shirt long enough to conceal the entire firearm rather than just the grip of the pistol. 

Big Guy Bellyshirt
No more reaching for the top shelf if you’re carrying in a regular ol’ tee shirt.

It’s critical to find shirts that are baggy and long enough to conceal your handgun, regardless of how you carry it. 

When I found a good brand of tall shirts, I bought a ton of them because they conceal my handgun regardless of how I move.

The Carhartt Workwear short sleeve t-shirts come in tall sizes and are perfect for concealed carry. 

I also stick to patterned shirts, flannels in particular. Patterns break up the shape or outline of the gun, especially when carrying a big ole OWB gun.

Dixxon flannels make tall sizes, and they freakin’ rule!

Holster and Flannel
Besties 4 lyfe!

Concealed carry shirts from 5.11 Tactical are also a rock-solid choice.

5.11 Tactical designs its shirts a little baggier around the midsection which helps conceal a gun.

Accessing the Gun

Access with outside the waistband carry is never an issue. It’s intuitive, fast, and easy.

Most people say the same about IWB and AIWB

OWB Holster Bravo concealment Blazer
OWB carry can also be a lot more comfortable to carry for people of all sizes!

Big guys know better. 

Accessing your gun from an IWB or appendix position is not always easy for big guys. Your access becomes compromised by that spare tire wrapped around your midsection. 

Proper Grip Front
It can be hard to establish a proper grip, like this, when your body is pushed up against the grip.

The fact is, when you are packing a firearm IWB, you deal with your mass smashing itself against your gun. 

When I was at my heaviest, my thumbnail would scrape the hell out of my waist as I tried to establish a good firing grip.

My stomach would press against the gun and make it almost impossible to establish the firing grip necessary to effectively draw the gun. 

Proper Grip
Proper Grip, from the side

That means big dudes must be more selective in their holster choice and position. 

When it comes to finding the right holster, you want to stay away from hybrid designs.

Don’t get me wrong — they are super comfortable. But, that soft, malleable portion is pushed against the gun and makes it even more difficult to draw your firearm. 

I prefer an all-polymer holster — be it Kydex, Bolatron, etc. Personally, I love the PHLster Floodlight for big guy IWB carry. 

It offers tons of room for adjustment and allows you to configure the holster for your body type. 

After that, I’d advise you to test your angles.

Appendix with Gun
It’s easier to hide the outline of your gun on a bigger body, but you also have to make sure that you can draw, too!

If your body is a clock, your 12 o’clock is your centerline, right at your belly button. 

With the clock in mind, there are three positions that work best for big guys.

These are your 2, 3, and 5 o’clock positions for right-handed carriers and your 10, 9, and 7 o’clock positions for left-handed shooters

watch your six
And your back is obviously 6 o’clock, hence the phrase!

The 2 (or 10, for you lefties) o’clock position provides a little slot between the belly and the love handles…more of a slightly compromise appendix carry position.

Here you can place a holster without that extra mass getting in the way of your draw. 

2 o'clock Holster Position
2 o’clock Holster Position

The 3 (or 9) o’clock position is the traditional strong side IWB.

This works well for big guys because their hips push the holster a little bit away from the body which makes it easy to assume a good firing grip on the gun. 

3 o'clock Holster Position
3 o’clock holster position

It’s the least concealed IWB position, but as a big guy, people are always less likely to notice lumps and bumps along the body. 

The rear 5 (or 7) o’clock position puts the weapon behind your hip almost exactly where your lower back dips inward.

This small dip allows you to get your hand around the gun and draw it quite easily.

5 o'clock Holster Position
5 o’clock Holster Position

However, it takes a big movement to reach the 5 o’clock position — there is no subtle way to do it. 

Also, it’s not the fastest means to draw your gun and can be compromised by how you sit.

Not to mention, it’s especially difficult for big dudes in normal-sized vehicles. That center console seems a whole lot bigger as you draw your gun. 

Grey Man Tactical RMP
Navigating guns and cars is tricky period — not matter how large your gun is.

That said, it conceals easily in this position and allows you to hide your weapon rather well. 

What’s really important is that you practice a lot.

Not just carrying the gun, but accessing it in various positions. Learn what works best for your body type. 

Us big kings are a diverse bunch, and what works for me might not work for you by any means. 

Appendix Concealed
You gotta play with the various body positions and figure out what works best for you.

Let’s Make It Comfortable

Last and actually least is comfort.

I put comfort at the bottom of the list because concealment and access are much more important than comfort. 

Gun Imprint IWB
No body wants to deal with an uncomfortable gun, but it won’t do you any good if you can’t draw it in time.

Uncomfortable things suck, but if I can conceal and access the firearm, then I feel confident in my carry option

That doesn’t mean we can’t take steps to provide comfort for tall and wide kings. 

First, get a good belt…specifically, a belt made for concealed carry. (We have some suggestions here!)

Best CCW Gun Belts, Thickness
CCW belts are a little thicker than your average leather belt for added support.

Crossbreed, Caltech, Magpul, Bravo Concealment, and many more make stiff belts aimed at concealed carry.

Invest in a quality gun belt, and you’ll increase your comfort regardless of how you carry. 

59
at Kore Essentials

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Next, while you can carry a large gun easier, you might not want to. A full-sized handgun is a competent fighting weapon, but it can dig in and grit and grind at you. 

Especially something with an aggressively textured grip. (*cough* CZ P10 series *cough*) 

Staccato XC Stippling Damage
Staccato XC Stippling also comes to mind…

With appendix rigs, the best way to ensure you have a comfortable carry experience is to utilize a good holster.

A good holster gives you the ability to adjust for both height and cant. It also, preferably, comes equipped with a claw to provide better access while being comfortable. 

Concealed Carry Gun in Holster
The Dark Wing Claw on the Orion holster by Dark Start Gear makes a world of difference for concealed carriers big and small!

Don’t forget you can always add a wedge made of foam to your holster to help with both comfort and concealment. 

For IWB or OWB, I do like a nice sweat guard. A sweat guard guards your gun against…well, sweat. It also keeps your belly from pushing its way to the gun.

Having your stomach rub against the steel of your slide is not comfortable by any means. 

What About Other Holster Options? 

We’ve been focusing mainly on waist holsters as these are the safest, most efficient, and accessible holsters on the market.

They are also the most common holsters out there. 

Assorted Concealment Express Holsters
Just a few waist holsters.

You might be asking, what about other holster options, though? 

You know we have belly bands, ankle rigs, and of course, shoulder rigs.

AlienGear Shapeshift Holster
AlienGear Shapeshift Holster Shoulder

When I was at my largest, the most comfortable position for me to carry was a shoulder holster. 

You need a good shoulder holster, though, not a crappy nylon one.

The Galco Miami Classic is a favorite, and I use an all-leather Gould and Goodrich rig myself. 

As a big guy, you can conceal a shoulder rig under your arm without creating a big bulge by any means. It’s also comfortable and accessible, especially when seated. 

I used to drive a ton at a job I had years ago, so a shoulder holster was the perfect choice for use in my small company vehicle. 

259
at Galco

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

When you wear a shoulder holster, nothing around my wide waist can pin the gun in an inaccessible way.

It’s the only way outside of OWB, IWB, and appendix carry I’d suggest for concealed carry. 

Don Johnson Miami Vice
They also give you that Miami Vice vibe!

But again, DO NOT SKIMP on a shoulder holster. Spend the money, or you’ll feel it. 

Conclusion

Concealed carry as a bigger guy doesn’t have to feel impossible. It all centers on finding a good holster, the right on body placement, and investing in a good belt to pull it all together.

Want some AIWB knowledge Go to Spencer Keepers of Keepers Concealment
If you want some further CCW knowledge, specifically of the AIWB variety, check out Spencer Keepers of Keepers Concealment.

At my heaviest, I weighed 335 pounds, and after I lost 55 pounds, I found that concealing a firearm got much easier.

I know that’s not easy, quick, or possible for everyone, though, so hopefully, the above tips help you carry in the now.

If you’re a larger dude who’s cracked the code on CCW, share your tips & tricks below. Need a little more help? Check out Dressing Around Your Gun and the Best Concealed Carry Holsters we’ve tested!

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19 Leave a Reply

  • John

    For the jeans people; The "Levi Strauss Signature" series in the "premium super flex" variety is perfect for IWB concealed carry. The "Lee" jeans "active stretch" series jeans are also perfect for IWB concealed carry. Get your real waist size in these (actually measure your waist at just above the hip bones), the material and waist band will stretch to allow the IWB holster - if they are too snug when you do that then go up one size.

    June 20, 2021 8:25 am
  • John

    For you t-shirt people...a company called "Port & Company" makes T-shirts which are great , untucked, for IWB concealed carry. Get them in your normal size tall, for example "2XL Tall". They are roomier in the chest and at the waist than normal T-shirt sizes and length will cover things if you need to reach up. You can get these various places, i get mine at jiffyshirts.com.

    June 16, 2021 6:42 am
  • Barry Hirsh

    I'm surprised (well, not really) that you're article is silent on cross-draw carry. When my metabolism reached the point where I acquired a tire, I found that moving my strong-side OWB 4 o'clock carry to a 9:30-to-10 o'clock cross-draw carry solved a bunch of issues. Serendipitously, I found a product that's the cat's BEEhind, from Wild Bill's Concealed Carry Holsters - a cross-draw speed scabbard. It uses good quality thick cow hide (unlined), has exactly the right friction-fit for retention, and, due to my beer gut body structure, has the perfect butt-forward cant. It's actually a high-ride, neutral cant holster, so It also can be used for 3 o'clock strong-side carry, but cross-draw with the beer belly it cants slightly butt-forward naturally. It also draws slicker'n snot on a doorknob, and conceals quite effectively beneath a photog vest or loose-fitting Carhartt of Dickies work shirt.

    It solves the comfort/concealment/ease-of-access issues beautifully.

    June 14, 2021 2:07 pm
  • Bob

    Wear your pants at your true waist line, over your belly, not snug around your hips under your belly. The bigger you are, the more it helps. Helps with the comfort, gun not jammed tight and harder to access for the draw. T-shirt doesn't expose grip when lifting arms, and pants are loose around the groin helping hide holster/gun. Also does away with plumbers butt. ;-)

    June 12, 2021 11:42 pm
  • John

    Aside from the other tips offered for clothing I'd like to mention one that's not thought about too much, and that's modifying pants for IWB. It can be really hard for people of all sizes, especially the ladies, to find pants that are very well suited for their IWB carry and still fit well in the waist area especially for the the ladies. So get the correctly sized waist without the IWB holster in the pants you want and modify them for IWB carry. You could go up a size also but even then that waist band is still only going to be so big and it might not "stretch" well enough to accommodate the IWB holster for maximum comfort (unless you have a elastic waist band to begin with)

    Have a friend who swears by this and several in our circle of friends have adopted it as well and swear by it. Of course these are guys who carry all the time no matter where they go either for duty purposes or off duty, so they have modified the pants they use when they carry.

    This modification is simple but needs a sewing machine, a little sewing skill or someone who can sew for you, and some elastic band that matches the waist band width on the pants. Its going to be difficult to put this in words without pictures showing it in progress but I'll try.

    1. Determine the area on the pants where you will situate the IWB holster. Mark the width of the holster in that area on the pants waist band with seamstress chalk.

    2. Cut the pants waist band at three evenly spaced points within those marks from step one. The cut is across the width of the waste band from top to bottom of the waist band. Cut two pieces of the elastic band the same length which is the length needed to pass the outside two cuts by 1 inch when finally sewed down in the last step.

    3. Sew the edges of the cuts and at the bottom of the but (the keep the material from tearing) with a thread that matches the pants color.

    4. Spread open the cuts to form a V open at the top by 1/2 to 3/4 inch (depending on pants and/or desired), then across the three gaps from the cuts and for at least one inch past the cuts and along the waist band on each end - place the two elastic bands layered on on top of the other and parallel to each along the inside of the waste band and pin it in place across each gap cut with the elastic band forming a small "hill" or hump of minimum 1/4 inch above parallel to the cut towards the pants inside. (note: although 1/4 inch minimum for the hill is recommended some people use a little less then 1/4 and some more, but if )

    5. Now on each side of each edge of each cut - 1/4 inch, sew down the elastic band. Then sew down the elastic band on each end outside the two outside cuts.

    With all materials in place and the skill needed a pair of pants can be done in 20 - 30 minutes max.

    The cuts and sewing are covered by your belt. Choose, if you can find it, an elastic band that matches the color of the pants but since its going to covered by your carry belt of 1.5 to 1.75 inches its not going to be noticed really.

    Now those pants you want to use for IWB carry, the ones that are correctly sized for you in the waist to begin with without an IWB holster can be used with an IWB holster and still fit fine like you wanted them to fit. Note that some people may need a little more of the elastic band "hill" but the minimum should be 1/4 inch. Some people have reported they only needed two cuts, so use an old pair of pants you don't mind ruining to experiment with but the three cuts doesn't hurt to have.

    June 12, 2021 12:56 pm
    • John

      "Sew the edges of the cuts and at the bottom of the but (the keep the material from tearing) with a thread that matches the pants color. "

      was suppose to be

      Sew the edges of the cuts and at the bottom of the cut (this keep the material from tearing) with a thread that matches the pants color.

      darn big fingers and spell check

      June 12, 2021 1:02 pm
  • Mark

    I'm a tall guy - 6'4" - and a little oversized(260) as well. I've found that LL Bean makes nice shirts - Long and short-sleeved, button and polo shirts, in classic cut (no taper) and Tall lengths. These fit and look good untucked. I carry a shield IWB at 9-o'clock (lefty) and it's never visible. Lands End has dome good tall choices too.

    June 8, 2021 6:16 pm
  • John

    Big guys IWB concealed carry jeans tip: If the zipper fly is "pouched" out and not laying flatter when standing like in the jeans pics in the article your pants are too small and its probably contributing some to your IWB holster discomfort. You need to go up at least one size - and move to a "flex" waist like for example the Wrangler "Comfort Flex Waist Jean"

    June 8, 2021 8:18 am
  • John

    If you wear T-shirts as the outer garment when you conceal carry consider NOT spending as much as some places want for tall sizes, instead get them at whole sale prices. The Gliden brand of T-shirts, tall sizes, works fine for concealed carry for bigger guys. The same goes for the polo stye shirts, you can find these at whole sale prices for half of what 511 tactical and other places sell them for.

    I've done a few years of research tracking down clothing for "casual" concealed carry for my use. Every time I would end up ruining a shirt in line of duty I would need to spend another $50.00 to $70.00 bucks for a shirt from one of the "tactical" or "uniform" name brands because it was more suitable for concealed carry. The surprising thing I found was that contrary to these name brand "tactical" and "uniform" suppliers claims most of these places don't actually make their own shirts (or pants) but rather they are made by someone else then rebranded for the "tactical" and "uniform" supplier brand. So I initially set out to find the same polo shirts but at lower prices and came across the original manufacturer in the process who also makes suitable T-shirts. Purchasing that original manufacturer brand name is less than half what, for example, the 5.11 tactical costs for a polo shirt and the T-shirts are a lot less than others.

    Not trying to endorse any particular source or manufacturer - but the article does ask for sharing tips & tricks - and cost is a factor. So my tip for cost is - if you want to save some money you can get concealed carry suitable Gliden brand T-shirts for less than $10.00 (averages around $5.00 for most models) and (5.11. Tactical concealed carry style type) Gliden Polo shirts for less than $30.00 at jiffyshirts.com - in the tall sizes. Just search for "big and tall".

    June 8, 2021 7:35 am
    • Scott

      I have been reading PPT for a long time, never commented before. Wanted to comment this time to say thanks to John for posting this thing about Polo and T-shirts. I read this the other day and immediately ordered from them. Order arrived today and the polo shirts I got were perfect for me for concealed carry.

      June 10, 2021 3:01 pm
      • John

        Your welcome.

        Oh, forgot to post this earlier but another place for big-n-tall guys at whole sale prices is bigntallapparel.com - its got lots of shirts for men and women that are suitable for concealed carry.

        June 11, 2021 5:10 am
  • Daniel Lagunas

    6' 0" at 380 lbs. Yes I'm fluffy. As Matt pointed out, there's an indention at the 2 o'clock area to fit a gun, and it will not stick out like a tumor. I'm carrying a Smithfield XD Sub-9 mm in my Aliengear holster. The material on the backside does not cut into me. Plus, my pants are a little big on me. I also wear the holster low (Aliengear allows it by moving the clips) in my pants. Now one thing you do have to remember is that AG's holsters are held in place by 2 belt clips. And even in the summer, I wear a t-shirt and a thin shirt on top. I've though about getting a leather holster for my XD and see if it is more comfortable to wear, especially during the summer.

    June 7, 2021 3:05 pm
    • John

      Do not get an all cowhide leather holster. Cowhide backing is ok if it has a backing but for the holster part you want horsehide leather . If you must go leather holster for IWB go with a horse hide leather. I have a Galco Royal Guard 2.0 IWB holster I wore for a long time and I really liked it and was OK for summer use but not the best if you started sweating and were wearing it against skin - its horsehide with a metal reinforced mouth that makes holstering easier unlike a lot of leather holsters that kind of collapse making holstering and draw a little more difficult. The Galco is pricey though at presently $168.00 if you get it from Galco - but, you can get the same Galco holster at the Glock Store for $124.00 where its called the "Worlds best Concealment Holster", you select one from the chart that matches the size of your Smithfield its going to work fine for you. A little secret about leather holsters - your particular model may not be listed but because leather has to be broken in to fit properly even if molded for the weapon, if you select one that fits a gun that's the same in size as your non-listed model and break the holster in with your gun the holster is going to work fine for you.

      For IWB though, for me, I'd still go with a Kydex holster on a leather backing like the Desantis Intruder but I like the Alien Shape Shifter 4.0. I've been using since I got it as a gift. I have the Alien shape shifter 4.0 holster with the Core Carry Pack, and although sometimes I use it OWB I mostly use it IWB and its very comfortable even against the skin and I forget I am even wearing it. I've also used the Desantis Intruder IWB and its very comfortable too. The Alien shape shifter seems to be a little better for summer wear especially next to the skin because the backing material wicks sweat away.

      June 8, 2021 5:22 am
  • Matt

    Really good to see this. I'm 5'9"/290. Made feel better that what I've been doing is common. I use that little indention between the front of the gut and love handles at 2 o'clock as well, with the the spare mag at 10 o'clock. SA XDS Mod2 in a Vedder holster IWB. Baggy t-shirts do the trick. Yes it digs and I get the same marks on me as in the picture, but it's generally comfortable, easy when standing/walking, only gets pokey when seated. That's for the validation.

    June 7, 2021 8:45 am
  • Tim

    I’m a bigger guy, I EDC a sig p365 in a raven concealment vanguard 2 holster. It adds no width or bulk to the gun, secures confidently to my belt and is easy to draw from. I use the Kore essentials belt and it is also a fantastic quality belt, I’ve used it every day for the last year and it shows minimal wear. Lastly for me my clothing as far as shorts and jeans for EDC is anything Viktos.

    June 6, 2021 2:08 pm
  • Russ Colombo

    How about the Sneaky Pete thingy?

    June 6, 2021 10:45 am
    • Kurt

      Sneaky Pete's are nice, but I think are best for compact .380s or 9mm. Older brother swears by his.

      June 6, 2021 3:45 pm
  • John

    Glad to see an article addressing "big guys" and concealed carry. Although I appreciated the article it is very much incomplete and there are some who can not in all situations carry OWB for one reason or another like for example in some store chains which do not forbid carry outright but frown upon open carry or even sometimes for duty purposes.

    Plus, the article doesn't even bother to address pants and IWB carry. Pants may need to go up in waist size (maybe two waist sizes depending on the individual) to accommodate an IWB holster. So if for example, you are still wearing that 36 waist because you have fooled yourself into believing your are still in your 20's and look really hot in those slim fit jeans, but you are really 50'ish or more and that 36 waist is really snug and you struggle to snap/button that waist close then yeah your going to need to go to, for example, at least a 38 waist or better with, depending on the individual, possibly a "stretchy" waist.

    A quality Kydex IWB holster is good but for a big guy it may not be ideal. So think about the position in which you will carry IWB, and don't be swayed by a holster being Kydex. Contrary to the article do not shy away from a malleable hybrid design or other malleable design if its going to be what works for you, and don't be afraid to mix materials either. I went through about a dozen different holsters and spent a pretty penny finding one that worked for me for IWB and it turned out to be an Hidden Hybrid Holster kydex on a leather backing. My OWB holster is a leather Desantis F.A.M.S. holster which I wear mostly in winter months when the coats come out, or when I am going to wear a suit. Nothing beats leather for that classy look. For a hot weather wear OWB I also sometimes use the Desantis under the loose fitting shirts but I mostly use an Alien Gear ShapeShift Core Carry Pack in the OWB configuration. To be honest though I started using the Alien Gear ShapeShift because I got it as a gift but I like it, however, in terms of the price and the "over engineering" it would not have been my first selection had I been doing the shopping as there are lower priced alternatives just as good or better.

    For big guys any shirt, especially T shirts, that will extend below your crotch area will most times be ok as far as ride up is concerned but for reducing printing ditch the stuff that's more form fitting especially "compression" material stuff like Under Armour and maybe consider going up a size especially in summer months where you don't wear layers of clothing and casual wear that a little more loose is very acceptable.

    Darker colors are better for concealed carry overall but especially for the big guy doing IWB or OWB concealed. If you are not wearing a coat and for example are wearing T shirts or other shirts then go with darker colors. Darker colors, especially black, tend to make "bumps" from the gun less visible because of the way the human eye works just like they tend to make people look slimmer because of the way the human eye works. If you go with a multicolored short like flannel you should also be OK if the short is sized to accommodate concealed carry.

    June 6, 2021 10:09 am
    • John

      "If you go with a multicolored short like flannel you should also be OK if the short is sized to accommodate concealed carry."

      was suppose to read

      If you go with a multicolored shirt like flannel you should also be OK if the shirt is sized to accommodate concealed carry.

      darn spell check

      June 6, 2021 10:29 am
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