Finding the best concealed carry position is a personal journey. It's about what matters most to you: comfort, quick access, or impeccable concealment.
Let's explore the world of concealed carry positions and discover the options that strike the perfect balance for your needs.
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Carry Position Names and Terms
If you’re starting CCW carry, you may feel overwhelmed with all of the terminology you see on reddit or other forums. Let’s cover all the terms associated with popular concealed carry positions so you understand them.
- IWB (inside the waistband) carry: wearing the gun tucked inside the waistband of one’s pants, with or without a holster.
- OWB (outside the waistband) carry: carrying the firearm outside the waistband of the pants in a holster.
- Appendix carry: carrying in the front of the body, typically at the 1-2 o'clock position (for right-handed individuals) or 10-11 o'clock position (for left-handed individuals). Usually carried inside the waistband, it is termed “appendix inside the waistband” carry and abbreviated AIWB.
- Strong-side hip carry: carrying on the dominant side of the body, usually at the 3-5 o'clock position.
- Small of back carry: carrying the gun at the 6 o'clock position on the back, just above the waistline.
- Cross-draw carry: carrying on the opposite side of the dominant hand, allowing for a cross-body draw motion.
- Shoulder carry: carrying the firearm in a holster attached to a shoulder harness, allowing for concealed carry under a jacket or coat.
- Ankle carry: carrying a small gun in an ankle holster, typically on the inside of the non-dominant ankle.
- Pocket carry: carrying a small gun in a front or back pocket.
- Off-body carry: carrying a gun in a bag, purse, or backpack, rather than on the body.
- Belly band carry: using a stretchable band that wraps around the torso to secure the firearm, allowing for concealed carry around the midsection.
- Bra carry: carrying a gun in a specialized bra holster, typically between the breasts.
- Thigh carry: carrying a gun on the inner or outer thigh, using a specialized holster.
Concealed Carry Positions Diagram
The following diagram from Gun Goddess shows the different IWB carry positions “around the clock.”
IWB Carry Positions
Each IWB carry position has its enthusiasts and detractors. Experiment with different positions “around the clock” to determine which works best for you.
Carrying at 12 o'clock means your gun is positioned right at the front of your body, below the belly button. It's a comfortable choice if you sit a lot since it doesn't dig into your body when seated. Plus, it allows for quick and easy access to your CCW gun whenever you need it.
Appendix (1-2 O’Clock)
In appendix carry (AIWB), the gun is positioned at 1-2 o’clock for right-handed people. For left-handed people, it is at 10-11 o’clock.
With AIWB, your gun is easily accessible at the front of your body, allowing you to draw quickly whenever needed. While this position is comfortable and concealable for most people, keep in mind that certain body types may find it more difficult to conceal.
Kidney Carry (4-5 O’Clock)
Kidney carry means your gun is positioned at 4-5 o’clock (or 7-8 o’clock for lefties).
While this is one of the most comfortable positions, it can also be a little awkward to draw from because it sits directly behind your hip. Larger pistols are typically not suited for this position.
Adjusting the cant of your CCW holster is one way to make drawing easier from this position. Tilting your gun's grip toward your hip can make it easier to reach.
Small of Back (5-6 O’Clock)
Carrying at 5-6 o’clock (6-7 o’clock for lefties) can be comfortable and easy to access.
With your gun so close to your spine, you run the risk of spinal injury if you fall or are pushed into something. Not only that, but lying on your back makes it impossible to draw your weapon.
Even drawing from this position can be dangerous. Because you have to reach all the way behind you to access it, the small of the back is one of the most difficult CCW positions to draw from. Because drawing is so awkward, you run the risk of muzzling yourself or someone else in the process.
Cross Draw (10-11 O’Clock)
In this position, your concealed carry holster is seated between your weak side hip and navel at the 10-11 o’clock position, or 1-3 o’clock for lefties.
While this position is no longer commonly used, it does allow for easy concealment and access when drawing.
When carrying in this position, an adjustable holster is essential so that you can adjust the negative cant so that the grip points toward your belly button.
No matter which IWB position you choose, our memory foam pad will make it comfortable.
Outside the waistband is a popular open carry choice. It works less well as a concealed carry option, unless you’re wearing concealing outerwear, such as a long jacket. OWB carry is generally more comfortable than IWB carry, and provides excellent accessibility.
- OWB carry offers increased comfort compared to other carry methods, as the holster is worn on the outside of the waistband.
- With OWB carry, the firearm is readily accessible without the need to lift or adjust clothing.
- While not as concealable as IWB carry, OWB holsters can still provide effective concealment with the right clothing choices and positioning.
- OWB holsters may not be suitable for all types of clothing or situations.
- OWB is much more visible, and is generally worn as an open carry, rather than a concealed carry method.
Here are some popular OWB options.
- Strongside carry (3-4 o'clock) is the most common OWB position and places the gun on the dominant side of the body. It provides easy access, a natural draw motion, and good concealment under a cover garment. Adjusting the cant of the holster can optimize comfort and accessibility.
- Open carry (OC) refers to carrying a firearm openly visible on the hip or thigh. This method may be subject to legal regulations, depending on the jurisdiction. Check out our reciprocity guide to learn more about regulations. Open carry can provide quick access to the weapon and act as a deterrent, but it also attracts attention and may affect social dynamics.
- Cross draw (9-10 o'clock or 2-3 o'clock): in cross draw carry, the gun and concealed holster are positioned on the opposite side of the body, allowing for a cross-body draw motion. This method offers good accessibility, especially for individuals who find it challenging to draw from their strong side, but it requires extra caution to avoid flagging oneself or others.
- Small of back (6 o'clock) positions the gun and holster in the center of the lower back. While offering good concealment, this position can be uncomfortable when sitting and may pose safety risks if falling or landing on the back. Drawing from this position requires reaching behind the body, which can be awkward and potentially muzzle oneself or others.
Alien Gear Springfield Hellcat ankle holster. Image source: https://aliengearholsters.com/springfield-hellcat-ankle-holster.html
Ankle carry is a concealed carry method where the gun and holster are securely attached just above the ankle bone. The gun is positioned on the inside of the leg, allowing for easy access with the non dominant hand.
While not as commonly used as other carry positions, ankle carry has its pros and cons.
- Ankle carry provides excellent concealment if you are wearing pants or trousers that cover the ankles.
- Ankle carry is great for a small backup gun.
- Ankle carry allows for quick access to the firearm when seated.
- Ankle carry doesn't work well for midsize or large guns.
- Drawing from an ankle carry position requires bending down or lifting the pant leg, which can slow down the draw speed compared to other carry positions.
Springfield Hellcat Shoulder Holster. Image source:
Some people prefer shoulder holster carry for larger handguns. In colder weather, a coat or jacket will keep any firearm concealed.
Wear a single-side shoulder harness if you want to carry one firearm or a double-side harness if you want to carry two guns—or if you want to pack accessories, such as magazine carriers, flashlight holders, and knife pouches.
- Distributes the weight of the firearm across the shoulder and back, reducing strain on the waist and hips.
- Allows for quick and easy access to the weapon.
- Well-suited for concealed carry with outerwear, such as jackets, coats, or blazers.
- The biggest drawback is a higher risk of printing or accidental exposure compared to some other carry methods.
- Requires outerwear to conceal your weapon.
Belly Band Carry
Belly band holsters keep your firearm close to your body while also providing a stable and secure carry position.
- The elastic material conforms to the body's contours, providing a snug yet comfortable hold. The adjustability of the band allows for a personalized fit, accommodating different body shapes and sizes.
- Belly band holsters can be worn in multiple positions around the waist, including appendix, strong-side hip, or even small of the back.
- Belly band holsters excel at deep concealment, as they can be positioned underneath clothing such as shirts, dresses, or loose-fitting tops.
- Belly bands typically feature multiple pockets or holsters for carrying not only the firearm but also additional magazines or other essentials.
- Belly band holsters can cause heat and perspiration buildup, especially in warm weather or during physical activity.
- Only work well with certain types of tops.
- Not as quick a draw as other carry positions.
Off-Body Concealed Carry
Another option for carrying a concealed weapon is in a bag or other compartment. Off-body carry is convenient and flexible, but more risky in some regards.
The different off-body carry options are:
- Bag or purse carry: carrying a firearm in a dedicated compartment or holster within a bag or purse is a common method of off-body concealed carry.
- Backpack or briefcase carry: another option is to carry your gun in a dedicated compartment or holster within a backpack or briefcase.
- Fanny pack carry: they can be worn around the waist or slung across the shoulder, providing quick access to the firearm.
- Off-body carry holsters: some specialized holsters are designed to attach to specific objects, such as car seats or backpacks.
- Off-body carry allows for easy concealment and quick access to the firearm without the need to physically carry it on your person
- Off-body carry can accommodate larger firearms that may be challenging to conceal comfortably on the body.
- It often includes dedicated compartments or pockets for storing other essential items such as wallets, keys, phones, or personal protection devices.
- One of the primary concerns with off-body carry is the potential for theft or unauthorized access to the firearm.
- Often, you don't have immediate access to a firearm.
What is the Most Comfortable IWB Carry Position?
Of all the different IWB carry positions, AIWB carry is commonly considered the most comfortable carry option. While it’s not for everyone, it’s probably the most popular IWB. Here are some of the things people like about AIWB.
- Good accessibility and quick draw
- Great concealment and minimal printing
- Comfortable for sitting and standing
- Compatible with different body types
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What are the Best Concealed Carry Positions for Fat Guys?
If you’re a big dude, what works for other shooters may not work for you. You'll need to experiment and find the concealed carry position that works best for your body type.
Here are the most commonly used holster positions for larger men or women.
- Appendix carry is ideal for larger men because it eliminates the need to bend or twist your body to draw your firearm.
- The 3 o'clock position is comfortable for many people because it mimics the natural position in which you carry items such as your phone or wallet.
- 4-5 pm carry is a popular position among many people because it's both comfortable and concealing.
What are the Best Carry Positions for Sitting?
Sitting is one of the most common situations we find ourselves in, and it can often create uncomfortable angles for concealed carry. While seated, you don't want your weapon digging into your side, but you still need it to be easily accessible and concealed. So here are some of the best carry positions for sitting down.
- Appendix carry while sitting keeps the gun near your body and makes it easy to reach. It's also a popular carry position since it provides good concealment and is comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Having a good appendix carry holster is an essential step for having a comfortable appendix carry. To make your holster even more comfortable, our holster pads are here to help.
- Strong side hip may be more comfortable than the appendix, and it is still conveniently accessible while standing or sitting.
- 3/9 o’clock OWB is a very easy position to draw from, and allows for larger pistols. The main issue is that many people have difficulty concealing it. The size of the pistol, the size of the person holding it, and the clothing they wear all play a major role in this.
- Shoulder carry is great for sitting because the gun is above your waistline.
CCW Positions FAQ
What is the easiest position to conceal carry?
The easiest position to concealed carry for one person may be extremely difficult for another. Factors like body size, body shape, body composition, lifestyle, and fashion all affect how easy or difficult a position is.
Appendix carry is easy for some and difficult for others. Ditto for other IWB positions. Or for belly band carry, bra holsters, and other carry options. The most important thing is to find what is easiest for you and go with that.
What is the best concealed carry position for sitting?
The appendix carry position is often considered the best for sitting due to its accessibility and comfort. Carrying the gun in front of the body makes it easier to draw while sitting and reduces discomfort from the gun digging into the body.
What is the best concealed carry position for fat guys?
Appendix carry or cross draw positions usually work best for fat guys. Finding the right CCW holster for bigger guys is also essential when they want to have good concealment and ease of draw, while distributing the weight of the firearm in a way that works with their body shape.
What is the 9 o'clock carry position?
The 9 o'clock carry position refers to carrying the firearm on the left side of the body for right-handed individuals (or the right side for left-handed individuals). It is typically achieved using an IWB gun holster positioned near the hip. This position offers accessibility and is commonly used for strong-side carry.
What state is the hardest to get a CCW in?
The requirements for obtaining a concealed carry weapons (CCW) permit vary by state, and are determined by a state's gun laws and regulations. While it is challenging to pinpoint a single state as the hardest, some states with stricter regulations and more rigorous application processes include California, New York, and New Jersey.
What is the 3 o'clock carry position?
The 3 o'clock carry position involves carrying the firearm on the right side of the body for right-handed individuals (or the left side for left-handed individuals). It is a popular choice for strong-side carry.
Which firearm carry position offers the least control?
The small of the back (6 o'clock) carry position is known to offer the least control among firearm carry positions. This position involves carrying the firearm at the lower back, which can impede a quick and smooth draw. It also poses safety risks, as drawing from this position may involve muzzling oneself or others.
What is the best CCW position for skinny guys?
For skinny individuals, the appendix carry position often works well. It allows for excellent concealment, as the firearm can be positioned to contour with the body's natural curves. Additionally, appendix carry offers better weight distribution and minimizes printing, making it a comfortable and discreet option.
Should you conceal carry every day?
While the decision to conceal carry every day is a personal one, it is highly recommended for those who possess a concealed carry permit and are trained in firearm safety. Carrying every day ensures consistent personal protection, as threats can arise unexpectedly.
What is the best cant for concealed carry?
A slight forward cant, typically around 15 degrees, is often preferred as it aids in concealment by reducing printing and allowing for a more natural and accessible draw.
What is the benefit of a leg holster?
A drop leg holster allows you to draw your firearm more quickly than a traditional hip holster worn on a carry belt. This can be important in a self-defense situation where every second counts.
What are the different types of holsters?
Here are the main types of concealed carry holsters:
- Inside the waistband holsters
- Outside the waistband holsters
- Bra holsters
- Belly band holsters
- Thigh holsters
- Chest holsters
- Pocket holsters
- Shoulder holsters
- Ankle holsters
- Cross draw holsters
- Belt holsters
- Paddle holsters