From personal experience, the art of conceal carry when you’re a bigger guy or gal really comes down to what works best for your body. I quickly found that the popular appendix carrier didn’t work for me, while anything on the opposite side of my trigger hand that required me to cross-draw was out of the question with my belly being in the way.
So, how do you conceal carry when you’re fat?
Mastering the conceal carry when you’re overweight depends on the type of gun you’re trying to conceal, the holster you’re using, and how your weight is distributed around your body. Most bigger dudes and plus-sized ladies find positions around the waist, on their dominant side, that align with their body shapes work best.
Below, we’ll take a look at all the positions that you can conceal carry in and discuss which conceal carry technique works best for different body shapes. I’ll also give you some tips for keeping your weapon concealed, but accessible, as a bigger dude (or dudette).
How to Conceal Carry as a Fat Guy
The easiest way to describe a lot of the positions around the waist is by naming them on the clock. As you check out this section, be aware that 12 o’clock is the area in the middle front of your body. This will help you understand what I’m saying about placement without having to go overboard on the descriptors or draw out a diagram.
Best Holster Positions for Big Guys: 3 O’clock and 5 O’clock Carry
As a general rule, my preference for concealed carry is around the waist. I generally use a gun belt or attach a holster to the belt I’m already wearing. While I do like concealed carry clothing in some cases, the layers are a little bit much for me in the summertime when I naturally sweat more as a fat person.
Three o-clock carry (or 9 o’clock for the lefties) is a good choice for guys that are round without their belly sticking out as far. The problem with this position is that the butt of the gun usually sticks out and might show its print under your shirt. Adding a wedge or claw (see my note toward the end of the section) may help with this.
Positioning your gun in the five o’clock position is a great option (and also one of my most preferred, unless I’m driving a long distance). I find with my typical clothing choices, the back of my shirt is fairly loose back there and my backside is relatively flat compared to the rest of me, so it’s easy to avoid printing. Of course, you’ll want to be careful about bending at the waist instead of the knees in this position.
Why the Appendix Carry Might Not Be the Best Choice For Fat Guys
Now, every fat guy isn’t built the same. For the average big guy with a belly that sticks out over their waistband like mine, traditional appendix carry doesn’t always work.
Appendix carry involves positioning your holster at around 12-2:30, aligned with your hips. While this works well for guys that have room there, all the holsters I’ve tried in this position really cause the butt of my gun to dig in, especially while seated.
That being said, an appendix-carry style of holster may work well for guys if they wear it a little lower, so it sits under the belly as long as it’s comfortable. It is a great way to keep your gun well-hidden and easy to access. Check out this video for some tips on the appendix carry as a bigger guy.
IWB vs. OWB
One of the big decisions you’ll have to make regarding positioning is whether you want the gun and holster tucked inside your waistband (IWB) or if you’re going to let it hang on the outside of the waistband (OWB).
With inside the waistband carry, it can be uncomfortable if you put it in the wrong spot. The butt of your gun or the entire holster also might press into your side or stomach uncomfortably if your pants are too tight.
However, IWB carry is really the best option for concealment. With everything except the handle being inside your pants, it stays concealed better when you’re moving around. Plus, as long as your waistband has enough wiggle room, it should stay pretty comfortable. Just be sure to choose a moisture-wicking material like neoprene in the summer instead of leather, which will stick to the skin when you sweat.
OWB carry has the benefit of easy access to your gun since you don’t have to pull it out of a tight waistband to use it. It also doesn’t press into your body as much, so it can be more comfortable if you usually wear your pants a little tight. The drawback is that you have to really plan your outfit around it to be sure the bottom of your holster is sticking out when you move around or bend forward.
Left Side or Right Side Carry?
Generally speaking, you should conceal carry on whichever side you shoot with. If you have a bigger belly like I do, it’s tough to cross-draw your weapon, even with an ankle or thigh carry. Movement is much smoother and more efficient when you draw from the easiest access point and that’s why I recommend putting your weapon on whatever side your trigger finger is on. Of course, fat people can be flexible, too, so that might change based on your fitness.
Add a Wedge or Claw for Better Concealment
I’ve found as a bigger dude that my belly moves when I move and it might press against my gun if it’s at my waistband. The best way around this is adding a wedge or claw.
Wedges work by pushing the butt of the gun outward a little, causing the end of your holster to stay inward. Since they are made of foam that usually conforms to your body, it’s a great way to personalize your holster to your body shape for better concealment.
While wedges work with your body for concealment, claws use your belt but have the same idea. Usually, they are integrated and may come along with your holster at purchase.
What About Pocket Carry?
Pocket carry might be a viable option depending on the type of gun, the size of your holster, and how deep your pockets are. For me personally, though, it’s not really my favorite option. I find it doesn’t give me the same kind of security that I feel with having my gun secured to a belt or a holster.
What About Small of Back Carry for Big Guys?
Some people also position their gun in the small of their back, at 6 o’clock. Personally, I find this position awkward to reach around to, even with my longer arms from being a guy that is both big and tall. It’s all too easy for printing to become an issue as well, and the last thing I want is someone coming up from behind me and disarming me when I don’t see it coming.
Choosing the Best Holster for Conceal Carry
When it comes down to it, the average guy has a lot of options when it comes to conceal carry. Like me, you probably aren’t the average guy and that means that each type of holster has its advantages and disadvantages.
I’ve seen a lot of holsters out there, including ones for your shoulders, ankles, and thighs, holsters designed to go inside (IWB) or outside (OWB) of your waistband, belt holsters, and belly band holsters. Concealed carry clothing is another option.
As a bigger guy, I’ve found ankle and thigh holders require bending or awkward stretching of my arm. Plus, doing these as a cross draw isn’t really an option with my gut in the way.
Shoulder holsters are a matter of preference. They’re fairly easy to conceal, but I do find that there’s a slower draw time than holsters positioned around the waist or hips.
IWB or OWB holsters, gun belts, and belly band holsters for fat guys are some of the most viable options, in my opinion. They keep your weapon handy and stay pretty well, especially when made of the right materials. And belly band holsters do come in larger sizes!
Concealed carry clothing is also a great option, giving you peace of mind that your weapon is close but also well-hidden. It can be easily worn under other clothing. The only real downside is the price, especially once you get into the larger sizes.
Why You Should Wear a Belt for Concealed Carry with a Waist Holster
Wearing a belt with your pants or shorts has a few benefits when you’re trying to conceal carry. The first benefit is really about how it makes your pants fit, especially since clothing sizes vary so much between manufacturers.
When you’re a big guy, wearing a belt gives you the ability to adjust the fit of your pants so you can give yourself room for a holster without worrying about your pants falling down.
The other benefit of a belt is that it provides a flat, rigid surface to lay your holster against. This keeps it from flopping around and keeps it securely at your waist, right where you want it to sit.
Fortunately, there are a lot of different trendy and casual styles for big guys that you can add a belt to. Belts also look great when paired with khakis, jeans, shorts, and even golf pants (which are a solid choice for bigger guys).
Clothing Choice Matters, Too!
Even though concealed carry is legal in many places, either with or without a permit, it’s always best to avoid printing (basically showing the print or outline of your gun/holster under your clothes). Some people react badly to guns, regardless of laws or permits. (There was an incident in Florida in 2015 where a man was tackled by a bystander while buying coffee creamer- simply for having a gun that he was legally carrying at the time).
When you truly want your handgun concealed, it’s important that you don’t wear tight, form-fitting clothes that are going to show off everything you have. Choose well-fitting shirts and practice things like reaching and bending, so you know your shirt isn’t going to rise too far and show off your concealed carry to the wrong person.
Whether you’re big and tall, short and fat, or somewhere in between, there are plenty of clothing options that look great and fit well. Shirts that are tighter across the chest and less form-fitting around the belly generally look best on big guys, since they accentuate your chest and arms and make you look more muscular (even if you’re fat). Polo shirts, button-down shirts, and golf shirts are all solid wardrobe choices.
How to Conceal Carry as a Full-Figured Woman
The ladies are going to find that a lot of the same tips I’ve provided for the guys are also going to apply to them. Here’s a quick run-down of what you need to know about conceal carrying while plus-sized.
Make Smart Clothing Choices
The ability to truly conceal carry has a lot to do with what you are wearing. Like with the guys, you want something that has a solid waistband. This means that elastic-waist jeans would be a better choice than leggings, which aren’t really rigid at all and don’t give you a place for a holster to sit securely. Dress pants would also be a good option, especially if they can be worn with a belt.
Of course, there are other types of conceal carry that work well even when your clothing won’t hide or provide a secure place for your gun. Purse carry, an ankle or thigh holster, or even a belly band holster are all great options if you don’t want to carry around your waist.
What Type of Holster Works Best for the Plus-Sized Woman’s Body?
Like with the guys, every woman’s body has a unique shape and what works for one woman doesn’t always work well for another. My wife has told me that even though a bra holster works great for concealing, she has the hardest time drawing because it’s hard to find the gun when she reaches for it, but we have a friend that we shoot with who absolutely swears by hers.
For women that are bigger in the tummy area, anything cross-body, or a thigh or ankle holster, really depends on your flexibility and how easy you want it to be to access your gun. If you have a shorter waist area, it’s harder to pull your gun from the hip area smoothly to shoot, so a hip holster may not work for you.
Women with bigger hips might struggle with appendix or hip carriers too since printing becomes a problem with some styles of shirts. A wedge or claw might improve how it sits on the body. Belly band holsters are a good alternative as well, especially since you can position them higher or lower on your belly depending on how your shirt fits.
Finally, women have the option of a purse carry as well. There are purses designed especially for concealed carry and these work best for this style since they usually have a side pocket that gives you easy access to your weapon if you need it.
Like with a lot of things, there’s a unique set of challenges that comes with conceal carrying as a bigger person. You’ll need to consider the shape of your specific body and learn what works best.
Hopefully, these tips on how to conceal carry when you’re fat have helped out the bigger dudes and plus-sized ladies get an idea of which types of holsters are worth trying for their bodies. It is very possible to conceal carry when you’re big, you just need to learn what works best for your body type.
Feel free to drop any extra tips I might have forgotten or positions that have worked well for you!