How to Conceal a Full-size Handgun | Is It Doable?

Private firearm owners are a great deal in society. However, the main challenge is carrying their arms in public without causing problems. There are two ways to carry your firearm, open carry or concealed carry. However, this article focuses on the concealed method. For a pocket pistol, it is very easy to conceal it. What about a full-sized handgun?

Many people consider carrying a full-sized handgun impossible, but we're here to tell you that it is possible. This article guides you through concealing a full-size pistol which is important for such a firearm.

There are many factors when it comes to concealing a full-size handgun. The factors include clothing, access, body type, and handgun weight. Let's first look at what is considered a full-size handgun?

What Is Considered A Full-size Handgun?

You must understand what a full-size pistol is. Full-size pistols are the commonest size of handguns. These handguns are five or more inches in height and have a barrel length of 4+ inches. Full-sized handguns are generally 7+ inches in length and 1+ inches in width.

These pistols carry many rounds; some carry 15 to 20 rounds. In some of these handguns, magazines are doublestack hence have two rows of bullets in each magazine. However, not each full-size handgun has this. Such handguns are easy to shoot. However, they are heavy and hard to conceal.

Full-size handguns include Smith & Wesson M&P9 2.0, Glock 19 5th Generation, Glock 34, Glock 17, Sig Sauer p226 and p320, CZ 75B, and the Ruger American Pistol.

a pistol

Some benefits of full-sized handguns include:

  • Less recoil because of the extra weight gives you good control than a smaller gun.

  • Better accuracy from its size and features

  • A big magazine cartridge provides you with a good amount of bullets at a go. You won't have to reload often in case of emergencies.

Now let's dive into it.

How to Conceal Carry a Full-size Pistol

Concealing a full-size handgun involves many factors, and clothing, body type, and equipment are major factors.

Recommended Concealed Carry Options for a Larger Gun

a person's leg with ankle holster and pistol

The best thing about choosing a place for concealing your gun is that there are many options. The options are appendix or hip carry, shoulder holsters, ankle carry, or a briefcase or pack(off-the-body) carry.

Ankle carry is highly recommended for carrying a full-size pistol though it is uncomfortable to carry it there every day. On the other hand, off-the-body carry is least recommended unless there's controlled access.

Appendix and hip carry require two types of belt holsters, outside the waistband holster(IWB) and inside the waistband holster(IWB).

What Is the Right Clothing?

Deciding to carry a full-size pistol affects what you wear. Considering you're carrying a big handgun, you're required to dress around your firearm. To carry such a handgun, you need to forget about skin-tight clothing since this exposes the handgun easily. A good option when you're carrying a full-sized pistol is darker clothes that hide the framed print of your gun.

When it comes to the actual clothing, it depends on your style. Nonetheless, tune your style for comfortable carrying of the firearm. It is often advisable to wear a jacket that fully conceals the gun. Dressing around your firearm may be difficult in the actual world because of the semi-formal setting to fit work environments. The outfit is already a challenge, but a little overdressing won't hurt unless it makes you a direct target.

a male person wearing a jacket

How Body Type Relate to Concealing a Full-Sized Pistol

It would be best if you placed your full-size pistol where you can comfortably carry it without causing any alarm. Handguns need to lie in the flattest position of your body, where the height and length of the gun are least noticeable—a handgun leaning out whatever part of your body increases the chances of visibility. A fat guy and a skinny guy may have a challenge regarding the body factor.

Stuffing a handgun on the front of your pants is dangerous to carry a gun, but it is the most popular. Usually, the stomach area is a flat and easily accessible part of the body. The chest area is usually bigger than the stomach; hence the natural form of a t-shirt breaks up a handgun's width.

The body structure above is relative to a particular type of physique. Your physique can determine where you carry a full-sized handgun. An athletic body saves you a lot of time finding the perfect spot to conceal a full-size gun. The huge difference between the waist and shoulder and chest area makes it easy to conceal a bigger gun on the belt.

Furthermore, any top fits drape down, leaving a good space to slip in a full-size pistol. However, such body types make it hard to conceal full-size handguns on a horizontal shoulder holster because the muscles under the arm push the gun outwards.

Alternatively, a vertical shoulder holster may serve well, but it needs you to wear something like a leather jacket to conceal the gun from the rear.

Nevertheless, if you focus weights on the waist area, belt carry is uncomfortable since the full-sized handgun digs to the side. Moreover, it makes it obvious that you have a gun. There's also an option of small of the back carry positions though it is not easily accessible. Because it is the position with the least padding on the waist, some people prefer carrying their guns here. You can do much about your physique to conceal your gun by getting good shape to reduce the effort of finding a place to conceal full-sized pistols.

Choosing the Right Holster and Belt

Holsters are not for concealing guns only. They keep them stabilized and in the same place for you to reach them. There are different types of holsters, including belt holsters, either IWB or OWB. OWB holsters include paddle holsters belt holsters. 

There are also ankle holsters that are strapped on your ankle. We also have thigh holsters limited to women wearing skirts or dresses (see best women's handguns). Lastly is the shoulder holster worn over the chest, leaving the gun pocket to rest over your ribcage.

handgun holster

Why the IWB Holster?

Choosing between the IWB and OWB holster mainly factors in speed. It requires two hands to take out a gun; hence it is faster to draw a gun from a belt holster and makes it possible to use one hand. You can wear a jacket over the IWB, but it doesn't make any difference. It gives you a concealed advantage because the IWB holster is invisible even when the jacket rides up.

Also, it would help if you matched your holster with the outfit your wear. If you own a full-size black gun, consider buying a black holster and wear it with black pants. This reduces the chances of seeing the gun. If you have different colored full-size handguns, it's not advisable to use the same holster for all. IWB carry is not limited to single stack full-size guns; double stack guns fit too.

IWB is not majorly meant for absolute comfort. Nonetheless, it is not uncomfortable. One disadvantage of having a big gun on the waistband is that you'll need to look for pants that fit you and the gun perfectly. Besides that, you'll need to look for a flexible belt to avoid moving the gun around.

a person carrying a gun on his belt

Ankle holsters are not recommended because they do not accommodate all handguns, and the ankle is not easily accessible. Shoulder holsters require a jacket for you to conceal a gun fully. Thigh holsters are not practical for both genders since you cannot wear them under your pants. Conclusively, the IWB belt holsters are the best when it comes to concealed carry.

Quality Wins

It would help if you went for a quality belt when dealing with a full-sized gun. Since such guns carry some weight, your belt needs to be strong enough to sustain the load. A regular belt not designed for guns may break over time.

Other than the belt, your holster needs to be of good quality. Kydex holsters are perfect for full-size handguns. They are strong and last long, and at the same time, light. Kydex holsters also have a sweat guard to keep sweat away from your gun. A good holster saves you the money and time of looking for a new holster.

a person carrying a handgone on the belt


Now that you know all the dynamics involved to conceal carry full-size handguns, you know which type of pistol you will carry and the outfit for it. Furthermore, you know the perfect place to store your full-size handgun, depending on the location and accessibility. You have preferences for handguns now; it is easy to choose an option for carrying your gun. 

In addition, if you’re looking for a well-balanced pistol for protection and looking for something more lightweight and compact, 9mm pistols, apart from being ideal for home defense,  are very easy to manage when carrying on your person.

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