Choosing the right concealed carry shirt can make a difference in your daily life. The ideal shirt covers the firearm, minimizes printing, and allows quick access.
The key is to balance the shirt’s fit and how you carry it. You may gravitate to a form-fitting holster shirt, but this limits your ability to quickly and easily access your gun.
A good concealed carry shirt is comfortable and looks like a casual t-shirt or polo, but it must also be able to hide a gun with no limitations on movement. This requires high-quality fabrics and strategic, clever construction in the shirt design.
The fabric should be somewhat stiffer, too – the form-fitting material of many popular shirts can often make it obvious there’s a gun under it. In contrast, a more rigid cloth hides the profile better and makes it easier to draw the weapon without catching on anything.
Look for shirts with longer tails, too – these give you more material to tuck into your waistband and further hide the holster.
A few holster shirts feature pockets on both sides, ideal for holding multi-tools, a knife, extra weapons magazines, and emergency or medical gear. The inside of the bags is padded to reduce printing, and the outside is covered with mesh that breaks up the outline of your handgun to maintain concealment even in high-motion environments.
Concealed carry shirts are just about covering up and hiding a gun, but that is only the beginning. The best concealment shirts have high-quality fabrics and strategic construction. They anticipate your movement and provide access to your gun without limiting your activities.
For example, some shirts feature longer tails to help keep the shirt tucked in when wearing a waistband holster. Choosing a shirt with this feature makes it easier to stay hidden, particularly in windy conditions when a loose shirt may blow out of place and reveal your firearm.
Other shirts have elastic holsters stitched on both sides, making them ambidextrous and allowing you to draw from either side. Some manufacturers also replace the shirt buttons with snaps, reducing friction during the gun draw and making your cover garment faster. You can even find shirts with pockets for additional ammo or other gear and concealed pockets in the chest and arms.
A concealment carry shirt must have pockets big enough for a weapon and the necessary accessories. These include magazines, tools, multi-tools, smartphones, and emergency or medical equipment. Ideally, the pocket is placed low on the body for off-hand draw.
Another thing to consider is the fabric thickness. Thin fabrics tend to print or show the darker outline of a handgun through a cover garment. This problem can slow the draw and be a safety hazard if the gun shifts during movement.
If the shirt prints or you need help clearing the cover garment to access your weapon, there are better concealed carry shirts. Instead, try a holster shirt like 5.11 Tactical’s shirts. The company offers a crew and V-neck holster shirt for men and a tank top for women. These shirts have elastic holsters stitched to both sides and are ambidextrous. They also have a zippered pocket for extra magazine storage.
For a concealed carry shirt to be helpful, it has to do two central jobs: hide the gun and facilitate its easy access. A form-fitting shirt that hugs the body and creates tight clothing over a firearm does not work for concealed carry, as this limits its ability to clear or otherwise access a weapon.
A classic option for concealed carry is a long or short-sleeved button-up shirt worn untucked with an IWB or OWB holster. This is a practical cover garment because it looks like a regular shirt, provides enough room inside for the firearm and holster to hide, and looks presentable.
Poplin is an excellent fabric for concealed carry because it is stiffer than most other fabrics and less likely to show an outline of the gun. A peplum shirt can also help with concealment because it cinches in the waist and adds a little extra material to the top of the shirt.