How to Spot Someone Carrying a Concealed Handgun

You’re at a convenience store late one night and some scumbag is talking trash with the cashier. Is he packing heat?

It’s post-SHTF and you’re bartering junk silver with Farmer Joe for a few chickens. Two guys across the road see you bartering goods and trot towards you. Are they hiding handguns?

The idea behind carrying a concealed handgun is that you gain the element of surprise – which is huge. If you know what to look for, what mistakes people make, you might be able to remove that surprise advantage from a scumbag.

The following graphic was published in the New York Times in 1992. The artist, Megan Jaegerman, interviewed Detective Robert T Gallagher from the NYPD. She wrote the following about her interview:

He was a New York City policeman for 18 years, who for much of that time worked as a plain-clothes undercover detective (anti-robbery tactical unit, confiscating illegal firearms) in Bronx & Manhattan, 6pm to 2am shift. He got very good at picking out people carrying weapons. So good that he received 1984 Governor’s Police Officer of the Year Award. The great achievement was not just making gun arrests (1200 of them), but making them stick. The letter nominating him said he had ‘an almost flawless conviction rate’. I believe he put it at ‘99.99’.

That’s the whole point of his observation–not just to get a gun off the street, and then maybe have the arrest thrown out, which apparently happens too often–but to get from arrest to conviction and jail time. It’s all about probable cause, he explained. First identify suspicious demeanor, appearance, behavior (which don’t qualify as grounds for arrest), and then wait for probable cause, or legal grounds for frisking and/or arresting someone. He pretty much had to watch for enough clues to justify suspicion, which would allow him to stop a suspect. Then he’d identify himself as a policeman, and then he’d watch for the hand reaching toward the waistband, or the guy instinctively turning away, and pulling his arm in to his side. That would combine to give probable cause for a frisk. And when there’s a frisk and a weapon, there’s an arrest, and apparently with Gallagher, very often a conviction. The sequence is necessary, in the context of suspects’ rights and legal requirements for arrest–evidence must exist that rises above suspicion to probable cause…

Here is the graphic image on spotting a hidden handgun. Click the image for a larger version.

If you look at this post from a different angle, it could be called How to Further Conceal a Handgun. If you carry concealed, you now know a few extra measures you can take to hide your piece. Don’t do things that might give you away. Start with a good holster.

– Ranger Man

13 comments… add one
  • Bitmap September 17, 2010, 8:13 am

    Start with a good holster and a good, stiff belt. You won’t find a good belt for this purpose at Walmart, Home Depot, Macy’s, or any other store unless they specialize in this sort of thing. Belts designed to hold up your pants and look good won’t cut it.

    Reply
  • TFF September 17, 2010, 9:14 am

    Sorry Rangerman,

    This is cop propaganda to a large degree. This may have been true at one time but relying on this will get you killed if you are not careful.

    I cannot understand why in the hell you would glamorize a cop who served his entire career in arugably the most corrupt and abusive police deptartment in AmericKa who made his fame a fortune by pissing all over citizens Natural Born and Constitutional rights and liberites.

    Granted he likely took a LOT of dirtbag thugs off the streets but how many decent, tax paying, law abiding citizens did he crap on during his rein of abuse? Ahhhh, but I digress……..

    Back to the main theme here……….

    Times have changed Bro……..and so have the guns and tactics. A man or woman wearing nothing but shorts, a Tee shirt, and flip flops can walk right up on you carrying and YOU or the erroneously idolized Detective Robert T. Gallagher would be totally CLUELESS.

    Concealed carry is exactly that nowadays largely due to cowardly, panic stricken, hoplophobic cops and SHEEPLE. They have a really bad characterist of “spring loading to the dumbshit position” anytime they see or suspect ANYONE has a gun be it legally carried or otherwise. The best course of action is to carry so absolutely NOBODY knows you are armed.

    Most SHEEPLE and idiot cops have become brainwashed with too much Hollywood bravado and equate a bigger gun to being more effective and affording more safety. Partially true to a small degree. A gun that attracts the attention of hoplophobic idiots like cops and SHEEPLE is useless and will get you arrested or killed in short order. Just in case anyone needs a review……….cops are trained to piss in their pants and fire every bullet in every magazine they are carrying FIRST and ask questions LATER. Cops DO NOT think or reason in a logical or rational manner. They are trained to react first protect their ego and then their personal safety. YOUR safety is of no concern to them.

    A truely concealable handgun may make some folks snicker but they ARE very effective with the correct ammo and good training. They are NOT the ideal self defense firearm but in these silly, crazy, and hoplophobic times we live in, about the only practical option especially in hot weather.

    For instance a .22 magnum or .32 acp can bring down a 1,800 lb. bull in the blink of an eye with the correct shot placement……….do you think it would be any less effective on a human being weighing about 1200 lbs. less???

    These are NOT firearms to get into any extended fire fight with…..just a “get off me gun” to defend yourself with in a bad or trapped situation. ANYTIME you can run, walk, or any other way……get away WITHOUT firing a shot is BEST remembering this as your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th option. Shooting someone is your LAST and ONLY option left when you are in mortal fear of eminent jeopardy of your life or safety.

    Don’t think these weapons are that concealable??? Have a look for yourself. The NAA mini’s are hardly much more than a big key chain fob. A Beretta Tomcat 3032 Inox with a bit more imagination and attention to detail can be almost as easily concealed.

    http://www.naaminis.com/magnum.html

    http://www.beretta.com/Defence-Pistols-Carbines/Defence/Pocket-Pistols/3032-Tomcat-Inox/index.aspx?m=82&f=2&id=777#cps

    There are many other options out there that are just as concealable. Just remember, if you cannot conceal it 100% so that NOBODY know you are carrying, it is pretty much useless and a potential leathal personal liability.

    Remember…….cops are covered by “limited immunity” which translated means they can shoot your ass whether you are legal or not and get away with it with not so much as an “oooooopps! My bad!” YOU on the other hand face a legal civil and criminal “Mount Everest” to overcome should you use your firearm or be stopped and arrested for carrying one illegally.

    As much as I disagree with the premise, I strongly recommend obtaining a legal concealed carry gun permit if your state allows for them and do it the right way.

    Reply
  • Spook45 September 17, 2010, 12:53 pm

    1st, in a post-fan situation, you likely NOT be standing in a local stop-n-rob because it will probly be, closed, burned, already looted etc. 2nd, in todays world, over 36 states have some form of legalized carry, so in more cases than not, some one carrying a gun in a stop n rob at night is likely just exercising some common sense, I dont go in those places without my gun, why would anyone else. 3rd, if you are in that situation, unless you yourself are confronted with a threat, you should watch listen and be a good witness or in a post fan situation where there is probly no cops to call and no courts to go to, the smartest thing to do is EXTRACT and avoid conflict or even detection if you are able. the 3rd is what will help KEEP you alive is you are STILL ALIVE after a SHTF situation.

    Reply
  • wheedle September 17, 2010, 8:02 pm

    Don’t waste your money on a Maxpedition shoulder bag thinking you have the ultimate rig for your concealed weapon. It shouts, ” I carry a gun.” In fact, most of the guys I see toting one are cops. I walked up to an off duty officer toting one, commented how nice a bag it was for carrying a weapon, and he actually took it off and handed it to me with a 45 ACP pistol in it, so I could feel the weight ! ( I found out he was a cop by asking if the gun was his duty weapon.) A MOLLE type holster hand stiched inside a quality laptop case or Jansport day pack will provide more concealment than obvious gear specifically made for carrying a weapon.

    Reply
  • Greg September 17, 2010, 11:05 pm

    A good belt and holster can hide a lot, I carried a Glock 21 for several years in the Florida heat with only a large button up shirt covering it. No one ever noticed a thing.

    Reply
  • 3rdman September 18, 2010, 1:06 am

    I agree a good belt and holster is what you need. I carried a fanny pack for a while but that just screamed gun.

    From reading TFF’s post I guess we are all just idiots. Thank God we have him to guide us, Not! He is sure putting out some of his own Propaganda in that hate filled posting towards LE.

    Reply
  • Hokie Magnum September 18, 2010, 8:29 am

    I have 3 different pieces I swap between for CCW. My selection primarily depends on the weather. It’s not so much about printing, for me, as it is comfort.

    The way I look at CCW – you’re carrying it holstered a LOT longer than you’re waving your double fisted titanium gold desert eagles in anger. I echo everything said about a good holster and belt. It’s just as important as the gun itself. I swear by Comp-Tac Minotaur holsters and belts. They’ve always served me well.

    Only thing more important than either is practice. More dangerous than an undead jihadist wallet snatcher at 7-11 is white knuckled suburbanite with no conceptual logic on how to effectively use a handgun beyond 2 trips to the local gravel pit.

    I’m not a fatty so profiling is an important topic for me. I carry in the lower back or on the ankle. Only printing issue I ever have is if I bend over to grab a grocery bag, pick up one of the kids, tie a boot, or extract my katana from a slain orc.

    As for caliber – pfft. I agree with the poster above in that a 22lr will bring down a bull. Even still….one can’t deny the factual arguement than although a 9mm may expand…a 45 ACP will never shrink. My calibers for CCW mojo include the 45ACP, 9mm, and 32 Auto. Everything else in my safe is too unweildy to be of any use playing hide n’ seek.

    Your mileage may vary, cheers.

    Reply
  • astn September 18, 2010, 7:16 pm

    Ignoring the problems of New York City and their stance on (against) personal protection. I don’t think the information presented is bad, it’s just presented without stripping away the arrogance and superiority presented in the original article.

    You shouldn’t ever assume you’re going to spot everyone with a concealed weapon, but all the “tells” above are pretty classic. Many people carrying a weapon (particularly illegally) don’t have a lot of experience with it, so have noticable tells. Even those who carry daily may have tells that indicate a weapon, though that would be based more on bad learned habits early on rather then inexperience. Being aware of the various tells can help you play a game of ‘spot the gun’ as well as improve your awareness of your own carry.

    Reply
  • Bubblehead Les September 18, 2010, 11:26 pm

    Actually, this is a good refresher on some of the ways to carry concealed. But there’s a difference between carrying concealed and carrying hidden.

    Concealed carry means to me that you have a Weapon ( usually a pistol, although knives, pepper spray, personal Taser, etc.) are within easy reach and quickly deployable in case of trouble. That usually restricts you to somewhere around the waist , in a pocket near the waist, or in a shoulder rig or a vest.

    Hidden carry means you have a Weapon available to you, but it’ll be slower to deploy. Any one can stash something in a Backpack, but how quickly can you get it out? For example, one can take a 12 Gauge Coach gun, break it down into 3 sections, put it into a large Backpack and hit the Appalachian Trail with it w/o anyone being the wiser. But if you run across a P.O.’d Blackie Sow with Cubs, it’ll take awhile to get it out. But if you have it put together in your tent at night when the Blackie come around, you’re good to go.

    Speed of Accessibility. It all come down to what you choose to carry, what clothes you must wear while in public, and what is most comfortable for you.

    My $.o2, of course.

    Reply
  • Hokie Magnum September 19, 2010, 9:00 am

    I absolutely agree with what you’re saying. I’ll only add that, in my view, it’s best to expect that everyone is carrying a firearm.

    “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. ” – Robert A. Heinlein

    Reply
  • No ME Preppy September 19, 2010, 6:05 pm

    Another thing about that .22 va an 1800 lb bull is that the bull is usually restrained, the shot is almost always between the eyes, AND it’s always at point blank (less than 3 feet). In my book, if you’re carrying something smaller than 9mm or 38 special, you’re asking to get shot back.

    Reply
    • rd March 18, 2011, 10:38 am

      Actually, if you check the statistics, outside of military conflicts, more people are killed by .22s than any other caliber. Partially this is due to idiots who somehow think that .22s are safer and less lethal, which results in lapses of proper weapon safety. The other reason is that a .22 fired into the chest cavity of a human being won’t exit, but will instead expend its considerable velocity bouncing around.

      To be fair, this is second hand information that I received in a gun safety training course taught by a certified instructor. I unfortunately do not have links to the materials that were referenced in class.

      Reply
  • ChefBear58 February 8, 2011, 4:50 am

    I know this is an old post… but I am still trying to reading through most of the ones from before I found this site!

    @TFF- I think that you are painting a picture of all police officers as “bad cops”, trying to get a promotion at the expense of the public. Sure you see it in the movies all the time, and the media seems to report on the worst situations that happen, but with roughly 1 million police officers in the US; If the majority of the police acted the way you are trying to portray them there would be non stop news broadcasts about officer involved shootings, or rampant corruption. PERSONALLY, I am in school to become a police officer, specifically a Game Warden. I have absolutely no problem with people carrying firearms, if they follow the laws and regulations in their area and handle them responsibly. I always have been and always will be a supporter of the 2nd amendment. The fact that some officers out there harass people and may engage in questionable behavior to obtain arrests does not reflect the actions of the majority of police officers in the US. Remember that just because the man/woman is wearing a badge does not mean that they think they are better than everybody, they are human just like everybody else. They make mistakes and can even act like a complete ass, again just like everybody else.
    If you look at the statistics of officer involved shootings, you will see that the numbers “match up” pretty closely to citizen on citizen shootings… MOST (the vast majority) involve defense of themselves or someone else, which is their job. Contrary to what you might have read on the internet, most departments impose more strict penalties on their officers for discharging their firearms than a citizen would face (in some circumstances). Most folks don’t realize the pride the majority of police officers take in their job, the badge they wear is a symbol of public trust and MOST police officers pride themselves on the fact that they are in a position to protect the public from the dregs of society; And they are in a position to help not only individuals, but the entire community through their actions.

    As far as spotting a concealed firearm, when I carry EVERYBODY knows. Here in VA we are allowed to “open carry” without a permit, a permit just allows you to conceal the firearm, and you can carry in a few areas where you are not allowed to open carry. I completely agree with the folks who have mentioned GOOD (getting out of dodge) whenever possible, rather than confronting a threat. As proven throughout history, a tactical withdrawal can save your life! Personally when I carry my pistol it’s a .45 Rock Island Armories M1911 GI model.

    Another “trick” I have learned over the years for spotting someone carrying a concealed firearm. Watch their eyes and body language, “printing” is obvious but there eyes can be pretty close, if not just as obvious. Someone constantly watching others around them, especially watching their hands and eyes, seeming to look away rather than make eye contact, or even trying to appear to look past someone when they are looking straight at them. Granted, it’s not perfect, anyone using this idea would probably suspect me of carrying all the time (I just like knowing whats going on around me). Around here though, that kind of behavior is fairly out of the “norm”. Seeing somebody with their “head on a swivel” around here definitely throws up some red flags.

    Reply

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