What’s It Like To Carry A Concealed Weapon?

By Marvin Marroquin Updated: 01/06/2023 9 min read

What is the best way to work through the fears and concerns one may have in carrying a firearm?

Carrying a gun is a huge responsibility and it can be very intimidating. The more you handle your weapon, the more comfortable you are with it. If you handle it with great care and respect, making it a point to consistently train with it in a variety of situations, you will find that it will naturally become an extension of yourself.

When you first start to carry, you don’t have any experience, and all sorts of questions and scary scenarios start to flood your mind. What if it falls and goes off? Is everyone going to look at me weird? What if I get pulled over? Is my shirt too tight? Will people notice? What will they say?

Not everyone can tell you’re carrying

The moment I walked out of my house, I was already convinced everyone knew I had a gun on my hip. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me. Women clutched their purse as I passed by. Police officers followed me everywhere, and called for backup as they waited to approach me. Bank tellers threw their hands up and begged me not to shoot. Except, none of it was true and it was all in my head.

You’ll feel like people are staring at your hip and just know what model Smith & Wesson you have, the caliber you’re using, and how much ammo is loaded in the magazine. In reality, the general public is completely oblivious to concealed weapons. Even in a state like Florida, where they practically hand out permits like candy, the thought of someone carrying a concealed gun just doesn’t cross their mind.

If someone does know, it’s usually because they’re trained to look for it. These are probably people whose profession requires them to be mindful of body language or “printing” (when your clothing takes the shape of your gun because it’s too form fitting). I remember walking into a jewelry store to help my brother look for an engagement ring. The security officer wouldn’t buzz us in because he knew I was carrying. I put my gun in the car and returned to the store. When I asked what gave me away he replied, “I have friends who carry all the time, I can just tell.”

You become one with the gun

Eventually, you get over the awkwardness of carrying a concealed weapon and it actually becomes a normal part of everyday life. Just like you have to put on socks, pants, and a belt, your outfit isn’t complete until you also put on your holster and gun. In a strange way, you’re simultaneously aware and you forget it’s with you. In the jewelry store scenario I mentioned, I was aware that they weren’t going to allow me to bring it in, but at the same time I never thought to take it off because I forgot I was wearing it.

If you have an “open book” type of personality, you may feel the need to talk about and share your experience with others. The gun becomes a crucial part of your lifestyle and it may be natural for you to open up to others about it. Although, I’d suggest resisting the urge to do so or at least be extremely selective who knows. While it is exciting to talk about, some thing’s are best kept to yourself.

The gun has become such an extension of myself that I started to change my clothing to accommodate it to my lifestyle. I started wearing looser fitting clothes to avoid printing. I even thought of buying a second gun, one much lighter and compact, to take with me while jogging or wearing a suit. You’ll find that you will even start to compromise the clothes you like to wear in order to conceal your gun.

You’ll see a shift in your demeanor

The first thing to change will be how you carry yourself in public. You’ll start to be as low key as possible so as to not draw attention to yourself. You’ll start to address people in a respectful manner, always using excuse me, please and thank you. Your mindset changes when you understand you’ve given yourself an inherent responsibility to the people around you. You’re not only protecting yourself, but also the company you keep and even the community you’re in.

I remember going to the ATM late one night and when I pulled up there was a woman already using it. I parked my car and waited patiently until she was done. Moments later a burgundy SUV with dark windows and loud music playing pulled up on the curb behind her. The woman looked back and her body language conveyed she felt uneasy. I got out of my car and stood about 15 feet behind the SUV with my gun drawn out and at my side. I saw the driver notice me from his side view mirror and then took off. I holstered my gun and waited about 10 feet behind the woman. The woman turned around, said “Thanks” then quickly walked back to her car.

When you understand the weight of responsibility that comes with concealed carry, you begin to pick your battles wisely. Maybe it starts with something small like allowing cars to merge in front of you during rush hour traffic instead of getting frustrated and honking your horn. These days, small incidents can be quickly escalated into a serious altercation. Knowing you possess a weapon that can take someone’s life will cause you to think twice about your actions. Things like a car cutting you off in stop-and-go traffic are no longer worth the headache.

You become more aware of your surroundings

When I started carrying, I became much more aware of my surroundings. I started seeing things that I had never noticed before. You’re always aware of exits and come up with a strategy to use them if a threat presents itself. Within 30 seconds, you’ve already decided on what you’ll use to take cover if needed. You can identify potential threats and conspicuously monitor their movement.

As a concealed carrier, you begin to visually scan your surroundings. You quickly realize that the more you can see, the more you’re prepared to react appropriately. This is incredibly important because simply being reactionary can be dangerous. You want to be aware ahead of time of what you’re reacting to. The truth is that when a threat presents itself, you might only have seconds to react. Assessing your surroundings beforehand can keep you from making a huge mistake or shooting the wrong person.

I vividly remember a time when I came out of a local Walgreens and found a punk kid rummaging through the glove-box of my car. I had left my gun at home but decided to approach him anyway. Sarcastically, I asked if he found what he was looking for. He ignored me, turned around and got into another car. In this scenario, I was foolishly reactionary. I didn’t see the two cars parked near me with seven other suspicious characters waiting for him. What if I had escalated the situation and assaulted him? Even worse, what if I approached him with my gun? I’d probably have seven other guns pointed at me.

You have to use wisdom when carrying. You’re not a super-hero. Don’t even pretend to be. You’ll only get yourself hurt, and probably get others hurt at the same time. Keep your gun holstered, and only pull it out if you intend on using it.

Training becomes part of your lifestyle

As a concealed carrier, you’re always researching and looking for ways to adjust to this new lifestyle. Make no mistake, it is a new lifestyle. You’ll find yourself an expert on the laws in your state, and the one next to you, should you live near the border. This is especially important because any violation can result in fines, an arrest, or even having your carry permit revoked. You need to know how to travel and transport your gun. There are also places you need to be aware of that won’t allow you to bring your gun such as schools, government buildings, and parks.

You’ll find yourself practicing how to unholster your weapon and draw from different positions. Can you fire your gun accurately with your non dominant hand? Can you draw your weapon from a seated position? How about in a car? These things become important to you when you start carrying. Most people will live their entire lives never thinking about how to defend themselves in these different scenarios. Now that you’re walking around with the means to defend yourself, it’s crucial you understand how to use it. Carrying a concealed gun doesn’t automatically make you Jason Bourne. Practice. Practice. Practice.

You’ll also want to train in defusing a situation without ever having to use a gun. Remember, not all threats will require you to pull out a gun and start firing. You should be able to quickly assess that using a gun is truly the last resort. Training how to deescalate altercations is so important because, honestly, pulling out your gun should never be your initial reaction. We don’t leave the house hoping for the chance to use it. We want it there in case we need it, while simultaneously hoping to never need it.

The main point I’d really like to drive home is if you’ve been thinking about carrying a concealed gun, or hesitant to take that step because you have concerns, don’t over analyze it. The important thing is that you become comfortable with the gun, that you respect it and you continue to train with it. If you do, it will become easier to carry it day to day. If you have an attitude that says, “I got this”, then you’re not the kind of person who should be carrying at all. That attitude shows that you don’t respect the weapon. However, if you carry yourself with a sense of duty, honor and respect, one who isn’t cocky or arrogant, but rather humble, you’ll have the level of maturity it takes to be a responsible gun owner.

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Marvin is a nonpartisan, unapologetic, no-compromise advocate of the Second Amendment. He encourages his readers to value the principles of individual liberty and responsible gun ownership. He enjoys going to the range and helps people feel comfortable around firearms. Our Second Right is an outlet for his passion of firearms and the unalienable right of self defense.