There are a ton of resources out there for anyone looking to get the most out of carrying a concealed handgun. Reviews for the newest carry pistols, holsters, and gadgets are always popular, and there are plenty of training schools and shooting sports to help you hone your skills. We like all of that stuff as much as the next guy, but we also recognize that while it’s fun to talk about gear, training, and shooting techniques, it’s not always practical for everyone to immediately put that stuff into action.

So if you’re not sitting on a ton of cash and free time, rather than tell you “tough luck”, we’re passing along a few easy, practical concealed carry tips that you can use now. These are the kind of seemingly obvious aspects of concealed carry that probably got a brief mention in your carry permit class, but you may not have given them any serious thought since then. So if time and money (or maybe winter weather) are keeping you away from the range, these reminders can still help you maximize the potential of your self-defense readiness.

Check out our video below for an explanation and demonstration of today’s tips. The rest of the post provides some additional details and links to resources for further reading.

(Pro Tip: Every Lucky Gunner Lounge video has a closed captioning icon in the top left corner in case you don’t want to hear me yap through the whole thing.)

Three Free and Fast Concealed Carry Tips

1. Weekly Inspection and Function Check

The video shows how to do a quick function check of your carry gun every week, but just in case you’re wondering “is this really necessary?”, take a look at this post from a few weeks ago. The revolver shown there had been carried around for days even though it was completely non-functional. The problem was internal, and would only have been made apparent by attempting to fire or dry-fire the gun. There are also plenty of reported cases of carry guns with corrosion damage from sweat, or pocket lint that could obstruct the action or barrel of a carry gun.

Even if your gun handles the neglect with no ill effects, what about the holster? A worn out holster may not hold the gun securely, or could even cause an accidental discharge. Ammo isn’t safe from wear and tear, either. A round that is repeatedly chambered and cleared day after day will start to exhibit problems, too. Check for bullet setback and deformation of the rim and case body.

There are plenty of resources online if you need a checklist for inspecting your carry gun’s basic mechanical function. Add to any of these lists a simple visual inspection of the firearm’s exterior to spot-check for dirt, debris, corrosion, or broken parts. It doesn’t take much to develop a fairly quick but comprehensive inspection routine. Performing this check regularly will reveal the vast majority of issues that could potentially disable your gun at the worst possible moment.

2. Accessibility

If you ever have to defend yourself, there’s a really good chance you won’t see the danger coming, and will have literally just one or two seconds to react. What happens if you’re taken off guard, and need to draw your gun while quickly backing away from an attacker, pushed up against a wall, knocked to the ground, or sitting in a cramped booth at a restaurant? Does the draw stroke that you practice at the range from a relaxed standing position still work in these scenarios?  How accessible would your gun be if an attacker’s first move was to step out from behind a parked car and shove you to the ground while you’re carrying an armful of grocery bags? These are the kind of situations when we’re most vulnerable and look like easy targets, so they’re the first kind of situations to consider when contemplating the viability of a given concealed carry method.

Shooting from a swing at an IDPA match
Action pistol competition is an excellent way to become exposed to unconventional shooting positions. This stage at the 2012 IDPA Nationals required competitiors to fire at targets while laying down on a swing.

 

One of the best ways to counter the disadvantage of this kind of vulnerability is through practicing the draw stroke from various unconventional positions on a regular basis, both at the range and through dry-fire drills. But even if that’s too time consuming for you, at the very least you can spend some mental energy on contemplating the different body positions you might end up in when you have to draw.

I’m not suggesting you allow your everyday life to be consumed by contemplating every possible “what if” that comes to mind, because you’ll never be able to plan for every contingency. On the other hand, if you spend the majority of the day sitting down, for example, and your carry gun is in a holster behind your hip that you can’t reach when you’re in a chair, maybe it’s time to think about how you might work around that. Oftentimes, a solution is as simple as changing the direction you face your chair, but it could also mean a complete re-thinking of your carry method and gear. It just depends on your specific situation.

The important point is to at least give a little thought to the “what ifs” to uncover the most obvious flaws in your self-defense plans. There’s always more you can do to become better prepared, but this mental exercise requires very little effort compared to the potential benefits of the “I never thought of that!” moments.

3. Maximize Capacity

Most people I talk to who carry every day seem to favor carrying a small gun the majority of the time. They may occasionally pack something like a Glock 19 or a 1911, but more common are sub-compact, single-stack semi-autos. With such limited capacity available in these guns, it’s really surprising to hear that many of these folks don’t top off their magazines after loading their gun for carry. If you’re stuck with only seven or eight rounds in the magazine, it just makes sense to endure the few extra seconds it takes to eject the magazine after you load the chamber, and fill the mag back up to full capacity to give you that +1 in your low-capacity pistol.

Revolver with empty chamber
Carrying a semi-auto without topping off the magazine makes about as much sense as leaving an empty chamber in a modern double-action revolver.

 

The best stats we have available suggest that, regardless of caliber, an average of 2-3 handgun rounds to a vital area are required to incapacitate an attacker. On top of that, it’s estimated that most people are only about 50% as accurate under the stress of combat as they are on the range. And that’s one of the more optimistic figures you’ll run into. So let’s suppose the magazine in your pistol has a six-round capacity and you don’t bother topping it off after you chamber a round. If you’re attacked and It takes three shots to stop the bad guy, you’re leaving exactly zero room for a “below average” kind of day for marksmanship. Oh yeah, and what if there are two bad guys?

I know not everyone can or will always carry a gun with higher capacity. I personally carry small guns sometimes myself. But it’s a calculated risk, and I know I’m making a compromise by doing so in order to carry a gun I can effectively and comfortably conceal. I certainly don’t want to compromise any further by failing to load the one extra round my gun can hold just because I couldn’t spare the extra second or two. Loading the extra round doesn’t cost anything in comfort or concealability — all I lose is a little time. There is simply no logic to the mentality that says, “I can’t conceal a gun with a 15 round mag, so I might as well just stick this 7-rounder in my gun and be done with it”. Eight is still a lot less than 15, but it might be the one extra round that makes all the difference in the world.

One quick word of caution: This is all assuming that your gun does not exhibit any reliability issues when loaded to +1 capacity. Make sure you test this at the range, and don’t carry +1 if it causes your pistol to experience any malfunctions that it would not have otherwise.

Any Concealed Carry Tips We Missed?

Have you been carrying a while and have some other strategies that are both free/cheap and quick to implement? If so, sound off in the comments below, and maybe we’ll mention it in a future post.

 

Do you top-off the magazine in your carry pistol?


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  • Joyce Ann Butler Nichols

    Great tips! I really like that your video was captioned as I am hard of hearing. Makes learning much easier.

    • LG Chris

      Thanks Joyce, glad you enjoyed it. We always like knowing when people find the CC option useful.

  • Shirl Greenberg

    Great to know I am doing things right!!!!!

  • George Schoelles

    STOP Useing the Slide Release….Gezus

    • LG Chris

      Why?

    • Tyler Bock

      If you are going to have him do that, at least call it a slide stop haha

  • Ben Giordano

    yes—enjoyed it

  • Cinda Lewis Miller

    Thanks for the tips!!

  • Edward A. Mangrum

    Great tips. Please do many more.

  • Russell McCune

    Hey good tips, but have you checked your total length of the bullet that you cycle thru your weapon over and over? I have found that repeated cycling causes the bullet to be pushed down into the shell, eventually causing feed issues.

    • LG Chris

      Yep, I mentioned that under point #1: “Check for bullet setback and deformation of the rim and case body.”

    • Russell McCune

      LG Chris oops, I guess I could read also, all I did was watch the video. Thanks, better that I realized. Good Luck

    • Mordechai Nahum Rabinowitz

      a) move the repeatedly fed cart to training case after 3 chamberings, if you have this problém. BTW it’s probably the only real problem of Lapua CEPP.

      b) get quality carry ammo. for example, the Sellier&Bellot (who produces ammo for Federal, BTW), just because of this issue introduced bullets GLUED into the case throat in addition to tapering the case. never had a bullet pushed in since. if you’re legally restricted to FMJ (like we are), then in 9mm Luger I can recmmend their 139 grain truncated cone subsonics.

  • Dwayne Martin

    Yes I enjoyed the tips and found them useful. Please keep them coming.

  • Ward Shute

    As a Law Enforcement Officer carrying a semi-auto, I rotate my mags in the weapons, primary and back-up. I always carry a spare mag

  • Valerie Holthus

    thanks for the tips!

  • Mack Posey

    Full mag with 16 rounds. One in the chamber.

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  • John Correia

    Great stuff. I shared it to my self-defense company FB page as well. Keep this stuff coming!

  • Gary Greeny

    You might mention the option to also carry 2 extra magazines, (loaded of course), and most importantly to practice the process of shooting, dropping the mag, reloading, and firing. This requires practice, practice, and then more practice.

  • Errol Best

    I always carry 2 extra hi-cap mags…both turned the SAME way so I can load by feel and not have to look at them….

  • John Norvell

    Thanks for the great tips!

  • Jackie Slimmer Langholz

    Good tips.

  • Vicki Herrill

    Love the tips …ty

  • Brenda Blanton

    Great tips. Especially like the reminder about accessibility.

  • Nancy Jo Long

    Great tips. Please post more. Thanks.

  • Dana Kay Brenner

    Love these tips! Great video, please post more when you can.

  • Jerry Ammann

    if you must carry with a empty chamber under the hammer at least load a spent cartage in it so as cushion the firing pin if it drooped

    • Stephanie Richards

      Makes sense……at least to me!

  • Stephen Van

    Shouldn’t you carry extra mags too? Just a thought.

  • Scott Clark

    I would like to what holster you where using

    • LG Chris

      For which gun? There were several holsters shown in the video.

  • Scott Clark

    The one you where using in the car with the seatbelt tip

  • Scott Clark

    Thanks

  • Nick Cressy

    Great tips… Practice Practice Practice!!!

  • Tina Rich

    Not only carry an extra mag but a back up pistol. In cases of more than one attacker and no time to install the extra mag

    • Mikerbike

      This time of year (Winter) I continue to carry a G19, but back that up with a .380. Wearing a heavy winter coat it can be tough to find the gun in a hurry. The .390 pocket pistol rides well in my coat pocket and easy to reach. I just don’t hang up my coat in a restaurant… Both are loaded with one in the chamber.

  • Craig Washu

    it was well done and would like to see different topics as well…thanks

  • Lynn Schmidtke Seigler

    Great tips, thanks

  • David Haralson

    My carry is a Bulldog that has five bites and is prepared for all five……………..

  • Terry Riebling

    I will never carry a “convenient” sidearm. I carried a Colt 1911 for 40 years, switched to a S&W 9mm M&P, became disabled and now carry a Bersa, 15 round, .380 with Hydra-Shok ammunition in the magazine – and a spare magazine. I accept the reduction in power of each round and know that in a real fight (I’ve been in three,.) my accuracy is no where near what I do on the range. If I miss 50% of the time with this pistol I need only 6 rounds to incapacitate the assailant, leaving me 10 rounds to deal with another bad guy without changing magazines – assuming 15 in the magazine and one in the chamber when the balloon goes up. Keep up the good work – and your service is the best I have ever encountered.

    J. Terry Riebling – Author: Seal Warrior – Sniper’e Eyes

  • Scott Parmelee

    Great tips. Keep them up. On a side note I would never carry a gun that was not 100 % reliable. If it has an issue with plus 1 it would not be my carry gun.

  • Frank Guemmer

    Excellent tips! More please?

  • Jerry Ornstein

    Great tips!! keep ‘em coming…I carry a Ruger LCP every day and will now start topping off the magazine. I also occasionally carry my S&W M&P 9MM, that one I top off.

  • Gene Ruryk

    I like that S&W M&P 9MM.

  • Mike Moritz

    Awesome vid with common sense tips that i didn’t even think of. Like topping off my mag, #BONUSROUND!
    Great job and would love any future tips you can give.

  • Michael Heider

    G17 gen 4. No fucks or restictions given.

  • Evon Shires

    Good info…please do more!

  • Mordechai Nahum Rabinowitz

    maybe some folks need to be reminded that, unlike mid-fight, at home you have all the time of the universe to make your gun ready for duty. you’re at a safe place where nobody is shooting at you, at the warm comfort of your place, with all the ammo you have in the vault, and topping up the mag only takes like 5 seconds. is THAT really worth putting any extra risk against your LIFE and lives of your beloved?

  • Bob Gardiner

    Good job would like more

  • Bethany Crawford

    I travel with two mags for S&W M&P 9mm Shield. Never without them!

  • Annie Truden

    I liked the shirt tip. Do the other two. More tips would be great!! Always up for learning more. I carry the xd subcompact 9I’m. I chose it for the caliber and the mag capacity and I carry the other mag loaded

  • Ulfr Dokkr

    Good tips.
    If I might add a couple more. ..
    Get empty handed(martial art/self defense) training. A gun is a distance weapon, if your attacker is actually on top of or shoved up against you, you need to be able to extricate yourself from that position. Drawing a gun in that position increases the risk of it being used against you.
    Secondly, carry a back up weapon. Or two or three. And learn how to use anything and everything as either a weapon, a shield or a distraction. In the above positions, a pocket or boot knife, keys, ink pen, even the pointed spine of a paperback book properly applied can give you the moment and distance needed to get to your firearm.
    Dependence on the gun alone is foolish.

  • Vickie Lutz Jamison

    Yes..alot of info

  • Thomas Fess

    I have a summer carry and a winter carry. Summer = kel-tec PF9 – full mag, not chambered. I have kids and its just an extra precaution for me. I practice chambering in my draw. Winter = Glock 26 w/Xgrip + G19 15rd mag. I always carry an extra full magazine. I fully understand it take 2-hands and adds minimum of 1 second to the firing time. It is the calculated risk I choose to take. I carry everyday and it is the standard I have chosen with small children.

    • Chris W. Langer III

      Actually, there are a few ways to chamber a round using one hand.

    • Thomas Fess

      Chris W. Langer III yep, you’re right and know a couple, Sights etc, but in general that is one of the down sides to an empty chamber, 2 hands and more time.

  • Vanessa Long-Beckman

    Great tips! Would love to see more

  • Kristina Larsen

    Excellent tips thank u :)

  • Troy Martens

    I like the tips. Thanks.

  • Lori Osborne Gilbert

    Liked ir

  • Jesse Durland

    really liked this … please do more

  • Donnie Thorpe

    Great tips. More please

  • Michelle Thomas Van Dolah

    Thanks for the tips. I would like to hear some for us that prefer revolvers as their cc.

  • Deanna Pickman

    Great tips! Thanks for posting!

  • Theresa Kneebone

    very helpful tips..would like to see more

  • YaYa Gypsy

    Great tips!! Thank you!!

  • Grant Hoekstra

    Dry fire. Dry fire. Dry fire.

  • Robert Braaten-Grant

    In states that limit your rounds to 10…..You basically just use the largest caliber you can get in the smallest gun.

  • Steven Singer

    Great Video, While in NJ i can’t carry I find this very informative. thank you

  • Daryl Kuszak

    Good tips.

  • Daniel Hartman

    MORE!!!

  • timmy

    excellent tips. keep them coming. you can never learn too much.

  • Hillbilly

    Tips and reminders are always worth listening to, especially for an old guy that forgets. Keep em comen!!

  • Susan Sullivan

    Great advice. . Loved it

  • Sam

    Great video for those who have been carrying for a while and for those who are new to it. The only thing I noticed is at the being of the video when you went to re-holster you curled you trigger finger up as you holstered your pistol. Maybe it is the instructor in me. That is a bad habit to get into. I’ve seen on more than once people have a ND because of that. That is my two cent.

  • Frank Mahoney

    Always find this information useful. Thanks for the updates!