Concealed Carry Corner: Traveling While Carrying – Big Things to Avoid

One of the best things about being a gun guy and traveling is having the ability to meet great people and go on some fantastic range days. I’ve had a ton of fun meeting new shooters and having different perspectives at different range days. I’ve also had the opportunity to shoot a few amazing guns […]

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While Selling Trucks and Guns, this Shop Owner Trusts Sig (VIDEO)

What two things go great together in Texas? You might be thinking cowboys and rodeos but, in this case, it’s trucks and guns. Meet Chris Moss, owner of Hill Country Truck Store and Firearms in Canyon Lake, Texas.

But he isn’t just the owner, he’s also a member, so to speak. He explained he picked a Sig Sauer P365 as his every day carry because of the capacity. The compact pistol comes with two 10-round magazines from the factory. And now that Sig offers a new 12 round mag, Moss said he thinks you just can’t beat having the that kind of capacity in a concealed carry gun


The Exo Strike Force holster Moss is trying out. (Photo: Don Summers/


Hill Country Truck Store and Firearms storefront, Canyon Lake, Texas. (Photo: Don Summers/

“It has a very crisp trigger pull with a reset, has minimal recoil, and as a compact 9-millimeter,” he said. “I appreciate the gun’s sleek design, and the size is perfect for every day carry.”

Moss said he likes to keep things simple, so what he carries and what he has in his home for self-defense takes the same round. “If I’m ever in a situation where I’m scrambling for ammo it’s always going to be 9mm,” he said, naming Hornady’s Critical Defense as his favorite. “It’s 115 grains of reliable, threat stopping ammunition.”

Prior to carrying the Sig, Moss leaned toward the popular Heckler & Koch VP9 SK. “I am a huge (Heckler & Koch) fan but when Sig came out with the 12-round magazine, I switched saying ‘you just can’t beat that for the money,’” he said.

Moss is currently trying out a new holster, an Exo strike force style, that carries an additional magazine.

“If ya’ll feel like having fun and exploring what we’ve put together at my place, (also known as the “Redneck Toys R Us”) look us up and come on by,” he said.

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Tactica Belly Band: Concealed Carry Holster for Beltless Carry

belly band

The Tactica Belly Band features a molded shell on a fabric band. (Photo: Jacki Billings/

Concealed carry without belt loops offers a unique problem to the concealed carry world. How does one safely retain a firearm on body in gym shorts, leggings, skirts or dresses without the security of belt loops? While a host of belly band style options exist on the market, there’s one more that’s recently entered the scene – Tactica Defense Fashion’s Belly Band Holster.

The Tactica Belly Band brings a slightly different take on the belly band style touting itself as a more comfortable and secure concealment option; but does it stack it up to other models and will it make for better on-body concealed carry?

Tactica Belly Band Basics

The Tactica Belly Band brings together fabric and a hard-shell molded design, spinning them into one, complete concealed carry design. The belly band offers an elastic, neoprene band fitted with a molded shell in the effort of providing a more secure alternative to the classic fabric belly band. Fastened to the front of the belly band, the shell is canted in what the company says is a more natural grip. The band wraps around the carrier then loops through a strap ring before fastening and securing with hook and loop. The addition of this extra security measure, the strap ring, continues the Tactica Belly Band’s move towards security and retention.

The neoprene band features a steel spring which adds structure and stability while allowing the carrier to tote a gun without that familiar, fabric floppy feeling. Like most belly bands, sizes are specific – starting at small and running to XXXL. In order to ensure a proper fit, Tactica does list its sizing information on site so gun owners can measure for precise fitting. Due to its molded holster, the Tactica Belly Band also requires gun owners to input gun manufacturer and whether they are right or left handed.

belly band

The draw with the Tactica Belly Band is slightly different than other belly band models and requires practice to perfect. (Photo: Jacki Billings/

The list of gun makers is rather small with most of the popular concealed carry handgunsGlock, Kimber, Ruger, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Springfield and Walther – represented. However, the company is fairly new, so it’s likely that more gun makes and models will broaden that list in the future.

Concealed Carry with the Belly Band

Having tested and evaluated a slew of belly band models in the past, I was curious how the Tactica Defense Belly Band would stack up against competitors. Initially, I noted that its band seems smaller than other belly bands, occupying less space around my midsection. A plus if you tend to get hot and sweaty under loads of fabric, the smaller width feels less constricting.

The addition of a molded shell also elevates this design. Demonstrating the seriousness with which Tactica takes safety, the molded shell protects the trigger while safely retaining the firearm. Retention itself can be adjusted through a set of screws and key wrench, all provided in the nifty zippered pouch the belly band ships within. When the Tactica Belly Band arrived, its retention was a little too tight for my liking. Struggling to remove my Smith & Wesson M&P Shield from its grasp, I adjusted the retention to a healthy balance of security yet access.

While we’re on the topic of the molded shell, it’s important to note that its design differs in that the shell is canted. While wearing, concealed carriers pull the gun from an almost horizontal angle versus a straight vertical draw. The aim is better concealment and what the company says is a “more natural draw” for the carrier. While beginners venturing into the concealed carry world for the first time might be satisfied with this draw, those of us accustomed to no cant in traditional AIWB will find the draw takes some time to feel comfortable and familiar. This is definitely a system owners should train on, putting in time to draw and dry fire before committing to carrying.

belly band

The belly band conceals well under looser fitting outfits. (Photo: Jacki Billings/

Due to its canted design and lack of a claw, wedge or other accessory, the Tactica Belly Band won’t work with every outfit in the closet. Despite providing a deep concealment style, the shell and orientation brings with it some bulk. I wore the Tactical Belly Band in a variety of outfits during the course of testing, eventually learning the holster worked best with looser fitting clothes. In t-shirts and more fitted blouses, the grip of the gun stuck out too far causing an odd-looking protrusion from my midsection. Moving it lower, below the belt line helped some, but negates the purpose of the belly band which is designed to be worn a little higher.

belly band

Under tighter t-shirts, the gun protrudes alongside the belly band. (Photo: Jacki Billings/

This lack of concealment in tighter fitting clothes is common among belly bands with a kydex or molded shell. It’s the nature of the beast, so to speak, when adding extra layers to a system; however, the safety of a molded holster design far outweighs the fashion limitations. It’s also worth noting that when partnered with looser clothing or patterned fashion styles, the Tactical Belly Band excellently conceals the firearm. With a looser blouse, the belly band covered my Shield with no one the wiser.

Though I experienced difficulties concealing the Shield in every outfit in my wardrobe, the Tactica Belly Band worked exceptionally well at staying in place. Jogging after my kids, running errands and just generally moving about my house, the Tactica Belly Band stayed put, not straying from its original position. I credit that to the company’s decision to add a steel spring embedded into the band material in addition to its strap ring. The belly band’s fabric feeds through the ring and doubles back on itself partially to secure with hook and loop. This tiny addition makes all the difference in adding structure to the belt, which helps it maintain some rigidity even with a loaded 9mm in place.

Final Thoughts

Entering into a crowded concealed carry holster market is dangerous business, but Tactica Defense Fashion does so with the backing of a holster that meets the needs of female concealed carriers. Blending safety, retention and the ability to wear yoga pants into one holster, the Tactica Belly Band serves as a good option for those looking for versatility without belt loops. The Tactica Belly Band retails for $69.99.

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5 Best Handgun Options for Concealed Carry

When planning to buy a concealed carry handgun people tend to conflate “best” with “small,” but small relates to different people in different ways. Six-foot-two Bert weighing 240 pounds may see a compact pistol as small in his ever expanding waistband whereas 5-foot-4 Ernie weighing 120 pounds finds the same gun too big for his skinny jeans. Therefore, “practical” might be the preferred definition. The best concealed carry handgun is what’s most practical for you.

As the term implies, a concealed carry handgun is one you could carry without alerting others to the gun’s presence. The goal when selecting a concealed carry handgun is finding one that gives you a sense of security, but also holsters comfortably and remains hidden until you access it. While this list will mention brands and specific models, their use will illustrate attributes of handguns as they relate to concealed carry. Here are the five best handgun options for concealed carry.

1. Compact Handguns

Beretta PX4 Storm Compact

Beretta PX4 Storm Compact

Gun manufacturers tend to scale down their full-size handguns to fit the compact size as a way to offer another option. That way, the gun itself includes many of the same features as its full-size counterpart but in a smaller package. Features like an accessory rail or adjustable sights and a larger magazine capacity make compact pistols a desirable option for carry. But how practical is it to conceal a compact handgun?

When making a compact pistol, gun makers typically cut down both the barrel and grip by about an inch. What remains is a balanced pistol that allows almost all shooters to utilize a full three-finger grip. While the size reduction does make the gun more practical to conceal, in many cases a compact handgun is comparable to a full-size handgun and maybe still too big to conceal for anyone with a medium to small frame.   

The Beretta PX4 Storm Compact is a good example. The Italian gun maker took the full-size pistol and reduced the barrel from 4 inches to 3.27 and the grip from 5.51 inches to 5. The changes make the capable duty weapon still large enough for service yet convenient to carry either open or discreetly.   

2. Snub-nosed Revolvers

Smith & Wesson Model 36

Smith & Wesson Model 36

The term “snub-nosed” applies to a revolver with a frame of any size but with a barrel length of 3 inches or less. That description makes it notably different than semi-automatic handguns (besides the cylinder, obviously). Instead of a shortened barrel and grip, a snubby is determined only by how short the barrel is.

Snub-nosed revolvers became popular as concealed carry took on a more mainstream appeal. The benefit to a snub-nosed revolver is simplicity. No matter the quality of the gun or ammunition, the cylinder will rotate with every pull of the trigger.

When people think snub-nosed revolver, they typically envision a Smith & Wesson J-Frame, an indicator that applies to a range of Smith & Wesson revolvers. Although traditionally known to be chambered in .38, there are actually a variety of calibers. On top of that, many economical brands like Charter Arms and Taurus Firearms produce models that closely resemble the Smith & Wesson design.

3. Subcompact Handguns

Kahr CM9

Kahr Arms CM9

Much like compact handguns, gun makers tend to smush their full-size pistols even more to make their subcompacts. While the smaller dimensions make them much easier to carry, they tend to be harder to shoot. You’re controlling the same caliber on a much smaller platform. None is more demonstrative than Glock pistols.

The Glock 26 is noticeably smaller than the standard Glock 17, yet, still a 9mm Glock pistol with Glock action, superb capabilities and a relatively high round count for its size (10 rounds) thanks to its double-stack magazine. It’s just the grip now only allows for a two-finger hold on a rather bulky handle.

However, other manufacturers start their designs as subcompacts. Kahr Arms, for example, specializes in concealed carry pistols. These are usually smaller, slimmer and more intuitive than the subcompact in a series. A slim subcompact is attributable to the magazine design, what’s called a single-stack in which cartridges fill in one top of one the other.

4. Slimline Handguns

Glock 43

Glock 43

A slimline pistol is a subcompact, but we’re identifying it as a category on its own because multiple reputable brands have altered duty-pistol designs to fit the bill. Glock, for instance, has the Glock 4343x and 48 — and Smith & Wesson has the M&P Shield. The effort was to create a smaller gun with the familiarity of their popular base models.

While slim pistol designs are comparable to subcompacts, the identifying factor is that they measure in at about an inch in width. The slimness makes them easier to conceal and the functionality more intuitive. These designs are possible, again, because the manufacturer redesigned the gun around a single-stack magazine.

5. Pocket Pistols


Diamondback DB9

Diamondback DB9

Some call these “get off me guns” since they’re designed to be used in a sudden, reactionary way. Like when a robber tries to ambush you as you try to enter your car.  In that scenario, things like sights and trigger pull matter very little as you pump lead into the attacker from an arm’s length away.

The best way to identify a pocket gun is when it fits in your pant’s pocket with ease. For such uber concealability the tradeoff is often limited caliber options and reduced magazine capacity. It’s a delicate balance. Gun makers want the gun to hold as many rounds as possible but of a caliber large enough for you to successfully defend yourself.

Traditionally, derringers are seen as the ultimate pocket pistol, but advancements in technology have changed that. Diamondback Firearms, for example, started making handguns ideal for life in balmy Florida, where summer lasts a mere 11 months out of the year. With a Diamondback pistol your options are .380 or 9mm and whatever color matches your cargo shorts that day.

Conceal and Carry On

No doubt, smaller is certainly easier to conceal and carry, but smaller isn’t always practical. The best concealed carry handgun should strike the right balance for you. What’s easy to handle and what’s easy to carry.

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TFB Review: SIG Sauer P226 Elite – 10,000 Rounds Later

Intro Over the weekend, I figured out I hit the 10,000 round mark with my SIG Sauer P226. It made me think about my history with this gun over the last six years, and how well it has performed. When I first purchased the P226, it was a basic Enhanced Elite model with the E2 […]

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USCCA Concealed Carry Expo unveils Proving Ground Live

Proving Grounds Live

The Proving Ground Live event kicked off May 17 to a packed crowd. (Photo: Jacki Billings/

The Concealed Carry Expo was a flex of concealed carry muscles, lined with vendors, attendees and seminars are centered on personal defense, but nothing proved as powerful as the Proving Ground Live.

Proving Ground Live builds on the U.S. Concealed Carry Association’s Proving Ground concept — a series of training DVDs that showcases scenarios and then analyzes the events so concealed carriers can grasp a better understanding of personal defense situations.

The Proving Ground Live kicked the concept up a notch by introducing a true-to-life situation played out live in front of USCCA members. The event kicked off with an introduction by USCCA CEO and founder Tim Schmidt. Elaborating on the Proving Ground idea, Schmidt detailed how the training is relevant to the concealed carry community.

“We’ve been doing the Proving Grounds for about two years and the scenarios are getting better,” Schmidt told the crowd. “ I think tonight is going to be a great show that will pave the way for even more cool shows in the future.”

Proving Grounds Live

USCCA Founder and CEO Tim Schmidt addresses the crowd at the start of the event. (Photo: Jacki Billings/

Handing the program off to Kevin Michalowski, Executive Editor of Concealed Carry Magazine, the audience witnessed two pre-recorded Proving Ground altercations to give them an idea of what to expect. Each scenario was followed by a discussion with Michalowski, the participant in the scenario, attorney Tom Grieve and Associated Editor of Concealed Carry Magazine Beth Alcazar. After watching two different situations unfold and the reaction of USCCA employees on the screen, the event moved into the live version. Cordoning off the area and preventing guests from standing or moving around during the event, Michalowski explained the chain of events.

Jessica, a recent USCCA employee with only 12 weeks of concealed carrying to her name, was the star of the show. Equipped with a stress vest — which would track any hits on her and also alert her with a small electric zap — Jessica was told that she would be meeting her friend Kris for a chat on a park bench. What Jessica didn’t know was a deranged man claiming to love Kris would present a gun. First, in an apparent suicide, then turning the gun on Jessica and Kris. Jessica reacted, firing off one round in under 0.6 seconds. The bad guy was down.

Proving Grounds Live

A pre-recorded video from the Proving Ground videos plays ahead of the event. (Photo: Jacki Billings/

Immediately after, a shaky Jessica was brought to the stage to relive her experience, hear expert opinions on her reaction and take audience questions. “I like to say that when somebody pulls out a gun, something bad’s going to happen,” Michalowski said as the panel began picking apart Jessica’s actions. “You shot him one time and I asked you about that on the way up (to the panel stage.) We don’t always get that immediate reaction. We want you to continue shooting until the threat stops.”

Proving Grounds Live

Attorney Tom Grieve talks about the legal aspect of a self-defense shooting. From left to right: Kevin Michalowski, Jessica, Tim Schmidt, Tom Grieve and Beth Alcazar. (Photo: Jacki Billings/

The event served as another learning opportunity for Concealed Carry Expo members. The panel tackled questions about how to deal with a suicidal individual, how to interact with 911 operators and police in addition to what happens following the legal use of deadly force.

All in all, USCCA members walked away with an understanding of the responsibilities of armed citizens and the scenarios they should be mentally playing out in preparation.

Proving Grounds Live

USCCA members flooded into the event excited to gain knowledge on self-defense scenarios. (Photo: Jacki Billings/

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Taurus adds Viridian Grip Lasers to 856 Series Revolvers

Taurus 856 & 856UL w/Viridian Laser Grips

Taurus is now offering their 856 & 856UL with a Viridian laser grip module. (Photo: Taurus)

Taurus has announced they will be offering their Model 856 and 856 Ultra-Lite revolvers with new options that include a factory-installed Viridian red grip laser.

The new Viridian models offer a dual sighting system as a backup for the standard serrated ramp front/fixed rear iron sights in daytime use and give better performance in low-light situations. The laser, incorporated in the right side of the grip, is billed as having a 25-yard range in daylight and up to one mile at night. Adjustable for both windage and elevation, the laser module has a battery life of up to four hours.

The 6-shot DA/SA handguns both feature 2-inch snub barrels that yield a revolver that runs 6.55-inches in terms of overall length. Chambered in .38 Special +P, the 856 and 856UL vary in weight with the standard model tipping the scales at 22.6-ounces while the Ultra-Lite is a trimmer 16.3-ounces.

Offered in either black or stainless finishes, MSRP on the new laser-equipped models vary from $469 to $489 depending on options.

For a look at the base models, which carries in both new and certified pre-owned models,  check out the below videos.

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