How to Carry When You Carry a Little Extra Weight

How do you conceal carry when you’re not exactly slim and trim? Take heart. It can be done!

Let’s face it: not everyone who carries a gun is a lean, mean fightin’ machine. Some of us (present company included) carry a few extra pounds around the midsection and other parts of our anatomy. We might picture ourselves in our own fictional mirror as the image we once were in our youth or like a newly minted soldier right out of boot camp, but that’s probably not realistic to where we are today.

This extra poundage can cause us to rethink how we carry a gun. For example, it may not be impossible to carry appendix-style with a gut, but it’s a lot harder and likely a bit uncomfortable. So appendix carry it typically reserved for the slim and trim among us – the ones who look good in the real mirror, mirror on the wall.

So if appendix is out, what options does that leave us? Where can we comfortably carry a concealed gun that is easily accessible yet won’t print? Here are a few options.


The second most popular carry position behind appendix is strongside hip, typically on the four o’clock position (eight o’clock for you wrong-handed, er, left-handed folks). Carrying a gun strongside hip lets you move, sit, stand, and do whatever you need without a muzzle and holster digging into your upper thigh when you sit and printing when you stand. Having the gun slightly behind you does make drawing and reholstering a bit more challenging, but that’s where practice helps. I’ve been carrying this way for years and have no problems getting my gun out and back in as needed.

Strongside carry holsters typically have two clips spaced apart to help support the gun and make carrying a lot more comfortable.

Belly Band

A belly band gives you options that fixed holsters don’t. One, it also lets you carry when you’re not wearing a belt. For example, let’s say you’re exercising every day to lose the weight mentioned in the title and want to wear gym shorts because, well, you’re going to the gym. How will you carry a gun? A traditional holster with belt clips won’t work. But a belly band will.

Second, you also have many carry positions available with a belly band. Like it in front, the side, 4 o’clock? Simply twist it around your waist until the holster is where you want it.

Bag Carry (Pac Mat)

A less than ideal but viable option is off-body carry, also called bag carry, where the gun is stashed in a bag or purse. This arrangement is less than ideal simply because you have less control over the bag, plus it’s harder to get to the gun if you need it in an emergency.

The two biggest challenges with bag carry are getting to the gun and getting the gun out of the bag. Take a backpack, for example. It’s on your back, but the threat is in front of you. You’ll need to swing the backpack around to the front to unzip the pouch containing your gun. While this is not an impossible task, it takes a great deal of practice through lots of repetition. It needs to be muscle memory.

Once you’ve swung the bag around, can you extract the gun from the pouch? Is the gun even where it’s supposed to be? This problem is easily solved with a Pac Mat, a holster on a board that keeps the gun positioned so you know exactly how it is oriented and can quickly grab it for the correct draw.

Chest Rig

This one is not really a true and practical everyday carry option, as wearing a gun on your chest can be 1) awkward and 2) illegal in some areas. But if you’re camping, hiking, or generally galivanting in an area where it’s legal and not awkward to open carry, or you can cover the holster and gun with a vest or jacket, a chest rig might be a great option to keep the firearm at the ready. The beauty of a chest rig is it’s nowhere near the waist, so your circumference doesn’t matter. Plus, it doesn’t get in the way if you’re wearing a backpack.

So while a chest rig may not be the common choice for everyday carry, there are certainly times when it is a good option and perhaps even the best one.

There are plenty of ways for folks with a bit more around the middle to easily conceal carry no matter which option you choose. Don’t leave your gun at home just because you carry a little extra weight.


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David Workman is an avid gun guy and a contributing writer to several major gun publications. As an NRA-certified instructor, David trains new shooters on basic handgun skills and CCW requirements and is a strong advocate for training as much as possible. “Real-life shootouts don’t happen at a box range.”




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9 thoughts on “How to Carry When You Carry a Little Extra Weight”

  1. James Lagnese

    The IWB holsters aren’t great for heavier folks either. You have to get even larger pants to accommodate it, which means they’re too big if you’re not carrying. Not sure what the answer is. Maybe SOB? Then there’s carry in a car which presents even more limitations.

  2. I purchased a crossbreed high quality inside waistband holster for my 1911, as an incentive to lose weight. At the current time I carry a Glock 30 in a shoulder holster. And I wear a Canadian tuxedo over that.

  3. I tend to chest carry right now I prefer a shoulder holster but don’t want all the extra clothes when it’s 90 outside. Hubby was concerned that if I go for my 43x that God forbid the person might see my bra…pffft who cares. I really like the western holster low on the hip but even though we can now carry whatever way is comfortable with you I don’t want everyone to know I am carrying.

  4. I agree with a previous comment about IWB holsters and how impractical they are in the land of the “big guy”. I carry strong side with either a paddle/belt holster (depending on the gun) in the 3 o’clock position and it works perfectly. I also like to use my Galco shoulder rig when I’m wearing a jacket. I own several types of holsters and really enjoy them all, the ones I first mentioned are just the most practical.

  5. My favorite for edc are the bulldog holsters. Looks like a cell holder or pouch. Carry strong side on belt or clip.

  6. I am both short and fat. I carry my 320XCompact or my VP9SK on strong side in a Crossbreed Reckoning every day @ 3 o’clock with 0 problems. The claw makes it basically hidden. Its comfortable with great access. I love it and reckoning is my go to holster. And believe me… I’ve got the love handles to make it not work if it wasn’t going to work.

    It works just fine. 🙂

  7. Michael Easley

    I am 6’2″, and 290lbs. I bought the reckoning system and carry IWB at the 4 o’clock position all the time. It’s incredibly comfortable. I didn’t need to get a bigger size pair of pants either. Not only is this holster comfortable and light weight, it also never prints on me. I can access my firearm from sitting, standing, or even in a vehicle.

  8. 90% of the time, I am wearing a T-Shirt for my upper body. I’ve tried various IWBs such as the Crossbreed mini-tuck, Crossbreed Revenant, Warcat Tactical and a few others. They have a tendency to dig into my hip when I carry strong side.
    I’ve even tried a couple different belly bands and found that they just don’t work for me.
    I was very surprised to find that using a Blackhawk TecGrip IWB holster outside the waistband but inside the belt is very comfortable and is actually more concealable than the other IWBs that I’ve been using. If I have to draw, I will have to be exceptionally holstering as it the holster will collapse. But it is quite comfortable, and almost invisible.
    Long story different methods may have to be tried.

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