If you are carrying a concealed gun, choosing shirts for your wardrobe can be a challenge. Your work situation, your body style, and how you want to carry are all factors to be considered when choosing shirts. There are some shirts on the market that are deemed by the manufacturer to be “concealed carry shirts.” These are certainly an option that you should consider.
However, there are times when you just can’t wear an oversized t-shirt or an untucked button-down dress shirt to conceal your inside the waistband holster. How do you deal with those situations without looking less than stylish or risking an inadvertent flash of the gun at your waist? There are some tricks and tips that can help you cope with these situations.
Looks Aren’t Everything, But They Are Important
We all want to look stylish, no matter the situation. Yes, there are times when the grunge look is in, but those are usually not when you are too worried about how you look in order to keep your gun concealed effectively.
You need to consider how to choose shirts that work with the rest of your wardrobe and fit into the environment in which you will work and play. These can be broken down into two main categories:
- Work Environment
- Recreation Environment
The choice of shirts for each of these environments may overlap. Under some circumstances, you may find that the polo shirt you wear on casual Friday at work is perfectly suited to a trip to the supermarket. These are not hard and fast divisions. Remember, the idea is to find what works for you and tweak your wardrobe around those ideas.
The goal is to look good, be comfortable, and effectively conceal your weapon. Finding ways to do that while meeting the demands of your work situation, your own comfort, and style is the key.
Concealed Carry Shirts – Analyze Your Environment
The largest problem with purchasing concealed carry shirts is in the styling. Most shirts advertised as “concealed carry” are tactical by design and don’t fit in very well in many social and business situations. In fact, some of them scream “I’m armed!” and don’t really help with the obvious goal of carrying concealed – to remain inconspicuous.
Concealed Carry at Work
The first thing to consider before you start shopping for shirts to wear to work is whether your employer allows you to carry concealed at their business. Once you have made that determination, you face a few other obstacles.
- Does your employer have a dress code or require you to wear a uniform?
- What kind of work do you do?
- How do you want to carry your concealed gun?
The Business Environment
Your employer may not have a stated policy on how you are to dress for work, but social conventions are often as strict as your boss’s rules. If you are an executive or work in a professional situation such as sales, cultural rules often require you to wear a business suit or sports coat. This usually requires a dress shirt and tie. Unfortunately, other than having shirts custom tailored, there are no real concealed carry shirts made in a standard dress shirt style.
This means that you must compromise or find workarounds. Here are a few tips to buying dress shirts that can help you deal with concealed carry:
- Don’t buy fitted shirt styles – Fitted dress shirts are usually cut with a taper toward the waist so that you don’t end up with unsightly pleats or folds around the waist when tucked into the waistband of your trousers. This doesn’t leave much room for a shirt tuckable inside the waistband holster. Opt for a standard cut shirt that will give you that extra bit of room at the waist.
- Look for shirts with longer tails – There is a difference in the way shirts are manufactured as far as the length of the tails of the shirts is concerned. A longer tail offers more material to tuck into the waistband of your trousers. This makes it much easier to stay tucked, especially if you are using a tuckable inside the waistband holster.
- Consider wearing an undershirt with a built-in holster – Several companies make undershirts with concealed carry holsters built into the shirt. These shirts offer the convenience of a shoulder holster without the hassles. Most of these undershirts work well enough that you can remove your suit jacket or sports coat when you are working without any danger of exposing your concealed carry gun.
The Casual Work Environment
Many workplaces today have adopted a more casual approach to employee clothing. Casual button-down shirts and polo-style shirts are the most common types of shirts now seen in the workplace. These types of shirts offer many opportunities for concealed carry.
Whether you tuck your shirt into your waistband or wear it untucked, there are some things you can do to make it easier to carry concealed.
- Consider how you will carry – There are other options beyond carrying on the outside of your waistband. Many companies now offer tuckable inside the waistband holsters that are comfortable and easy to wear. Ankle holsters are still an option, as is the choice to carry in a waist pack or some similar means.
- Buy a size larger – Typically, casual button-down shirts and polos only come in standard sizes. It may be advantageous to purchase your shirts a size larger than normal to gain a bit of extra room at the waist and some extra length on the hem, especially if you are wearing the shirt untucked.
- Avoid clingy or stretchy materials that fit close to the body – The body-hugging materials popular with a lot of people these days are not the best choice for concealed carry. The very nature of the fabric precludes making that concealed carry gun invisible.
Concealed Carry While Relaxing
Most of us don’t work all the time. Hopefully, you have enough time to get out and have some fun as well. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stay vigilant, as you never know when disaster will strike. Bad guys don’t look the other way simply because you are out relaxing.
Choosing shirts for casual or recreational wear is much like choosing shirts for work. You have more latitude in styles than what is required for the workplace, which does make it a bit easier to choose shirts.
Almost any style of casual recreational shirt can be adapted to concealed carry. Many of us choose t-shirts with crew or V-necks as our favorite form of casual wear, and these are ideal in many ways. They are usually cut full at the waist. Going out with an untucked t-shirt is accepted almost universally.
A few things should be remembered when choosing casual recreational shirts.
- Consider what you will be doing – Take into consideration the activities you expect. This can make a difference in the shirt you choose as well as how you want to carry. Are you going for a casual walk around the park, or do you anticipate more strenuous activities?
- Choose materials that work with you to conceal your gun – Some materials work better to conceal a gun. The stiffer cloth is usually better at hiding the profile of a pistol. Tighter form-fitting cloth tends to mold around the profile of the gun, making it obvious what is underneath.
Types of Concealed Carry Shirt
As mentioned above, concealed carry shirts can come in a variety of sizes, styles, and cuts for the occasion. Depending on your needs, there are several options when choosing shirts for concealed carry.
Other than the tips and tricks listed above, your options for choosing dress shirts for concealed carry are limited. If you need special fitting, the only real option is to have your shirts custom-tailored to your specifications. This can get expensive but maybe the only viable alternative to attaining both fashion and security.
Your options get better in the casual wear department. Some manufacturers offer casual shirts that are designed for concealed carry. While many of these are more tactical in nature and look, as more and more people begin to concealed carry, manufacturers are seeing more market potential and are making more options available.
Several well-known manufacturers of tactical wear now offer casual and recreational style shirts. There are even Hawaiian print shirts being made, especially for concealed carry.
Concealed Carry Undershirts
Otherwise known as holster shirts, these concealed carry shirts solve many of the problems with carrying concealed daily. If you are in the habit of wearing an undershirt, this is not a big step. If you have not been a normal undershirt wearing kind of guy, this may be a big transition.
The downside to wearing holster shirts is the material from which they are made. Typically, the shirts are made of a spandex or lycra material that is designed to fit tightly around the body to keep the concealed gun firmly in place. A pocket holster is built under each arm into which the concealed carry gun is placed.
This makes a secure and well-hidden means of carrying a concealed gun. It also means that accessing that gun can be difficult when wearing an outer shirt. Safely removing the gun from the holster shirt can be a challenge and required practice to master.
There are several manufacturers that offer their take on the holster shirt. They all have some features in common and differ mostly in how the actual carry holster is designed. Here are our picks for the best holster shirt.
5.11 has one of the most complete lines of men’s and women’s tactical and concealed carry clothing available today. The 5.11 Tactical Holster shirt comes in a V-neck or crew neck design, and is a fantastic mix between comfort and protection.
5.11 has a women’s version of the holster undershirt as well as a sleeveless model for those of you who prefer that. You can find these shirts in either black or white, depending on your needs or preference. The shirt’s specifications include:
- Incorporates a mesh shoulder yoke for more comfortable and cooler wear
- Dual side holster pockets for ambidextrous carry
- 80% polyester and 20% spandex construction
- Durable and long-wearing
Consumers rate the 5.11 holster shirts as some of the best on the market. The reviews are consistently high with very few negative comments. The chief complaint was that the 5.11 holster shirts tend to be hot to wear during the summer months.
If you prefer a more accessible design, ConcealmentClothes produces a complete line of holster undershirts that more closely resemble an underarm shoulder holster arrangement. The polyester and spandex undershirts have an exterior traditional style holster fixed under the arm of the shirt. The holsters feature a hook and loop security strap to keep your concealed carry gun snug in the holster.
ConcealmentClothes also includes extra pockets on the holster shirt to carry your EDC or an extra mag. These holster shirts are available in several colors, sizes, and in women’s styles as well.
No list of concealed carry holster shirts would be complete without Tru-Spec represented. Tru-Spec equipment and clothing has long been the choice of military and law-enforcement operatives. In the past few years, Tru-Spec has broadened its line to include concealed carry clothing and equipment designed to meet the needs of undercover operatives. If it’s good enough for the pros, it’s good enough for us.
Like the other manufacturers, the Tru-Spec concealed holster shirts are a blend of spandex and polyester to allow the shirts to fit snugly while wicking away moisture from the body. The Tru-Spec shirts feature a pocket type holster arranged under both arms of the shirts allowing ambidextrous, or double, carry.
The Tru-Spec shirts also incorporate a long tail to help keep the shirt from riding up over the waistband of your trousers.
Keeping it Concealed
At the end of the day, the goal of any concealed carry shirt is to keep your weapon concealed. Ideally, only you will ever know that it is close by and accessible. Accomplishing that can be a challenge, but it is not impossible. A little out of the box thinking, some careful choices of wardrobe and a few tips and tricks are all that is usually required.
I hope that this article provides you some understanding in all those areas and makes your concealed carry shirt choices a little easier. If you are looking to round out your wardrobe with jackets, vests, or other types of clothing in addition to shirts, check out our comprehensive guide to concealed carry clothing as well.