Metro-tactical

You guys might have noticed from the few pictures that I’ve posted that I’m a pretty little guy.  To be exact, I’m 5 foot 6 inches tall, and weigh about 150 pounds, which means I’m small (visual evidence here).  Combined with that, I like to dress well.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself metrosexual, more like metrotactical.

One of the problems that I encounter with my daily carry rigs is a combination of those two factors, one I’m small and two I like to dress well.  The problem is that “well dressed” usually entails “clothes that fit well”, which is another way of saying “clothes that you can’t conceal a damn thing under”.  When that gets coupled with me being little, concealing a respectable firearm in a decent caliber can become something of a challenge.

So, say you’re like me; you’re a young, upwardly mobile professional who likes to look good, but also likes to carry, what kind of options do you have?  Well, since I’ve been dealing with this problem for several years now, I’ve got a good list of things that work and things that don’t work.

The first thing I take into account is jackets; in spring/winter/fall practical concealment is a lot easier because I can wear one of many of my lighter jackets which will cover anything up to a full size Beretta 92FS.  But I still have to take into account concealing said firearm if/when I take my jacket off, which is essentially why I build my carry strategy around what I can conceal in summer time.

Rule numero uno for little guy concealment is that you have to pick your clothes around the gun, not the gun around your clothes.  For example, most of the time I carry the aforementioned 92 series gun – a fullsize 9mm.  It’s big but light, but too big to just drop into pocket.  So it’s got to be in a holster, either an IWB holster or a belt holster.

I generally carry with inside the waistband holsters, because it allows me to still wear a motorcycle or bomber jacket without worrying about the bottom of my holster poking out under the jacket if I move.  Knowing that I’ll be carrying IWB, I honestly buy most of my trousers at least 1 or 2 inches larger than my actual waist size.  That allows me to get the firearm into the holster with my belt securely fastened without feeling like I’m going to bust out of my jeans.  So like I said, rule number is dress around the gun.

But pants are the easy part; a good pair of Dockers khakis or Levis combined with a proper leather belt has more than enough tensile strength to support even a fully loaded 16 round 9mm.  What about shirts?  Personally, I can’t stand feeling the gun pressing into my skin, so I always wear and undershirt, which has the added benefit of protecting any exposed parts of the firearm from the harmful oils in my skin.  So, undershirt, jeans, and IWB holster; so far so good.  But what goes over the undershirt?

The answer to that depends on the season.  In summer, I wear a lot of untucked polo shirts, or long sleeved button-downs with the sleeves rolled up, a lot like the shirts here.  I generally prefer darker colors, because in the event that I am printing with the butt of my firearm, it’s less likely to be obvious with a brown shirt than it is with a white or light blue shirt.  If you go with a polo, make sure that it’s not too tight in the waist area, because then you’ll end up printing your firearm right through the shirt.

In the colder seasons, a good sweater can work wonders.  Again, with a good IWB holster, a well fitted sweater can and often does conceal a 4 inch revolver quite handily.  You can also keep the long sleeved button down, and just roll the sleeves down for a bit of extra warmth.

Now, you’re mileage on this may vary, because what works for me might not work for you.  But if you’re like me, and you want to dress well while carrying your concealed firearm, it is possible.  To summarize my methods:

  1. IWB holsters are the way to go
  2. Buy your pants one or two inches too big to accommodate your carry gun and holster
  3. Wear a good belt
  4. Undershirt
  5. Untucked polos/long sleeve button downs of a dark color.

Follow that advice, match your holster to your shoes, and then you’ll be metro-tactical like me.

13 comments for “Metro-tactical

  1. January 23, 2008 at 10:13

    So, if my leather IWB holster matches my leather hiking boots…

    Does that make me metro-tactical?

  2. January 23, 2008 at 10:20

    Only if you intentionally matched them.

  3. January 23, 2008 at 13:37

    I didn’t get a sense of scale from the photo.

  4. January 23, 2008 at 13:43

    It’s a big tree?

    I don’t really have a lot of pictures that would give a sense of scale, other than some PR stuff I did for the Coast Guard about a million years ago.

  5. Rob K
    January 23, 2008 at 15:59

    Hey, you’re like a younger version of me! I’m 5’6″ and, five years ago, I was about 150. I came up with pretty much the same conclusions. Except I’m not metrotactical and I don’t care about dressing well. My first carry gun was a Taurus PT-101. I decided it was just too big for comfort, so I switched to a Colt Commander.

    I don’t worry too much about printing, or even letting it be seen in my waist band if my shirt tail happens to get flipped back or something. People see what they expect, and most people don’t expect to see a handgun in someone’s waist band. I don’t think 90% of people would recognize what they were seeing, and would assume that dark thing at my waist was a cell phone or something common like that, things they do expect to see.

  6. Rob K
    January 23, 2008 at 16:02

    And how old are you in that picture anyway, twelve?

  7. January 23, 2008 at 16:08

    That picture was taken last year when my wife and I were up in Michigan. I’m 25 in that picture.

  8. Noops
    January 23, 2008 at 17:37

    I came to some similar conclusions. I’m about the same. I’m 5’6″, weigh 154, and have a 30″ waist. I prefer slim, but not necessarily small automatics IWB. I usually carry a P7M8 or a Ed Brown 1911 in a Milt Sparks VM2. Thin-ness seems to work better for me than compact. I was surprised how well I could carry a full size 1911 and conceal it with a really good holster like the VM2. I seem better able to conceal either of those pistols better than say a USP Compact or a Glock 19, even though they’re smaller framed in every other sense. I even prefer the P7 over a Glock 26 for that reason.

    One other thing you might consider though. I often wear suits or nice business casual. I often carry a USP Compact 9mm in the “holster pocket” of a Maxpedition Tactical Attache. All the gear that a good little yuppie shooter needs in that bag. Place for the required Apple MacBook pro, lots of pockets, and a nice little place that doesn’t even look like a pocket that’s closed by velcro and can safely (and very well concealed) hold a USPc, 2 mags and a 2-battery surefire. It’s even pretty quick to access. Train with it though. It’s not like a 3 or 4 point draw system. It takes a little getting used to.

  9. January 23, 2008 at 17:40

    Git yo’seff a Posse baby and have so’body else carry fo you! At least you CAN carry, unlike us here in the Bay Area.

  10. January 23, 2008 at 18:41

    yeah im about to get ccw legal myself and its odd because im looking through my closet and realizing that over half of my clothes aren’t suitable… for the most part, the pants are ok, but almost 75% of my shirts are too short… i am a fat man, so that is a problem too… im 5’9″ 230 or so… and i have found that a lot of polo shirts tend to have a shorter front than back, which is damn annoying… if i need any extra cloth anywhere its to cover my fat belly… so im faced with looking for a new wardrobe…

  11. January 24, 2008 at 21:37

    Jeez, what’s with all you tiny guys here?

    I’m 5’10″ and if Tamara swings by, she’s got an inch or two on me.

  12. DJK
    June 30, 2008 at 16:55

    I didn’t get a sense of scale from the photo either…can you stand next to a quarter? ;) Just playin.

  13. Robert
    December 10, 2008 at 12:19

    I found your site yesterday and enjoy your insights.

    I’ve only recently decided to carry, and my clothing became an issue right away. Initially the CCW was my old S&W Mdl 36, and I quickly found that IWB holsters are damned uncomfortable (for me). I upgraded to a Springfield 1911 (EMP=3″ bbl) last month which compounded the problem.

    I’m now using the belt holster that came with the EMP and wearing ‘hipster’ jackets or untucked shirts. This works fine but fashions change and eventually untucked shirts will become uncool.

    I suppose I’ll have to try ‘Mexican-carry’ IWB with loosely tucked shirt — or like you, buy two separate wardrobes.

    Keep up the good work.

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