Avoid These Signs and Hints That Suggest You Are Carrying A Concealed Handgun

Avoid These Signs and Hints That Suggest You Are Carrying A Concealed Handgun

We patriotic and law-abiding citizens that are licensed to carry concealed handguns for self-defense do not want to tip off the bad guys and gals that we are carrying a hidden gun. It is a tactical advantage for us good folks to not readily display our hidden guns nor to even hint or indicate in any way that we may be carrying. If we do, it could be a matter of life or death for us; or perhaps a fine or maybe arrest. Most first-time concealed gun carriers (CGC) are very nervous and even paranoid about carrying their gun in public. They don’t want to make any rookie mistakes or have a negligent discharge. They are cautious and wary of what others’ actions might be, feel everyone is looking at them, and know for sure others know they are carrying. These suspicious feelings and uneasiness about “getting made” or making an obvious carry mistake eventually disappear and CGC get more comfortable carrying. Some even say you have to first “get the Wally Walk under your belt.”  What is the “Wally Walk?” What are some typical carry mistakes?

I remember the first time I heard the term “Wally Walk” and did not know what in the world folks were talking about. Well, the “Wally Walk” is viewed by some as a right of passage for those who just recently got their Concealed Carry license or permit to carry a concealed handgun. The newly-licensed CGC puts on their concealed carry gun and holster with their cover garment and goes outside with them for the very first time. Their first trip carrying is to visit Wal Mart to walk around and shop for at least 30 minutes. The goal is to be calm, cool, interact casually with others in the store, not reveal your concealed carry gun, not draw attention to it, and not make any carry mistakes… to see if anyone notices it or mentions it. The concept and term are even defined in the Urban Dictionary.

The "Wally Walk" Right of Passage: Carrying His Concealed Gun?

Aside from the very evident and suspicious emotional behaviors and the epiphany of seeing part of a gun revealed, there are physical clues that may alert others that you are carrying a concealed gun. The truth is your hidden gun is not as obvious to others as you first believe it is. Recognize that it probably is barely noticeable to others, most folks do not often stare at others stomach or waist areas of the body, most do not think “gun” when there is a waistline bulge, and those that do notice are probably other CGC or police officers who will not give you problems about printing and a “possible” gun. Other than the large, obvious gun-shaped bulge or the gun sticking out from the cover garment, it is very difficult to know if someone is carrying a concealed firearm. In one Phoenix Police Department case I read, the police officer did not know if the crazy-acting individual he stopped for probable cause for a routine matter was carrying a concealed weapon or not and did not search him. Sadly, he discovered that the illegal alien acting suspiciously who he stopped for the minor offense of jaywalking was armed with a concealed weapon with no permit and did not hesitate to use it. The 33-year-old officer and family man was shot in the face at point-blank range and was killed in the line of duty by the bad guy. It is very difficult to determine if someone is armed with a concealed handgun and your very life may be in jeopardy. Remember criminals do not have our same value system, goals, and priorities, behave differently than most of us, and will not hesitate to harm you to satisfy their own egotistical goals and priorities. Some have killed to maintain their perspective of control and when challenged. Sadly, I recall the “In Cold Blood” true story by Truman Capote in 1966 with research help from Harper Lee, who passed away this week. All four family members of a small farming community in Holcomb Kansas were brutally killed by murderers because they thought they had a safe with large amounts of money in it. But, the murderers wanted to show they were in control and killed them and left with just a few dollars and a portable radio, after finding less than $50. in the safe.

Another possibility is that the suspicious bad guy or gal with the weird behavior may not even want to take the chance you have a gun and might even avoid you as possible prey. I guess what I am saying is that the concealed carry situation is very uncertain and has a lot of inherent risks and considerations. Awareness of situational factors is key. Also, recognizing physical signs are important. It seems a lot of people do not really notice or even care that you are carrying. But what if they do? Are there some suggestive and revealing signs and clues to indicate you are indeed carrying a concealed gun?

Recognize it may even be a crime in some jurisdictions to point to your hidden gun, mention that you are carrying a gun, partially display it, or draw it to threaten someone, even if it is unloaded or cannot even fire. Although GENERALLY, it is not a crime when your gun “prints” or shows the gun’s outline through your clothes, it could be a legal problem if you have a gun in your hand and do not even point it at someone. This varies significantly from state to state and among jurisdictions. “Printing” is a non-legal term that describes when the outline of your concealed gun can be seen through your cover garment, even though it covers it. If you have a concealed carry permit or license, in almost all states your handgun must be concealed and hidden whenever you are in public or else it probably will be a crime (situational.) What qualifies as “concealed” and “printing” varies a lot among states and jurisdictions, so know the laws in your area from reliable sources. Aside from legal concerns, those carrying concealed do not want others to know that they have a hidden gun for their own safety reasons. They will take extreme actions to cover-up their gun and avoid any clue or physical or visual evidence that they are carrying. Those who carry handguns should know the telltale giveaways that could jeopardize their legal concealed carry handgun being recognized by the bad guys and gals. So what are some gestures, cues, evidence, clues, behaviors that alert others that you are carrying a hidden gun? Here are some actions and signs that announce you have a weapon on your person. When I first started carrying, I think I did not truly understand every one of these, but so far I am still here, had no problems, and have not been arrested. I have learned my lessons and behaviors and want to avoid any signs or hints that I am carrying.


1. Constantly touching or feeling the concealed gun through the cover garment to ensure its presence – this draws attention to it and you; may involve sub-consciously resting your hand on the gun;

2. Having your arm very close to your body on the side where your gun is located to protect, stabilize, guard, and help hide the gun;

3. Instinctively turning away or shifting the gun-side of your body to the opposite side when meeting someone or being approached by someone directly in front of you;

4. A quick adjustment with your hand in a circular motion to reorient the gun and move the barrel downward, after or while walking, after descending stairs, after stepping upwards, or after some gun motion or position movement;

5. Having a shorter walking stride on the side where your gun is holstered in your pocket or in the waistband or outside the waistband because of restricted leg/side movement; may include noticeable uncomfortable walk because weapons are hidden in boots or shoes or causing discomfort and a shorter gait;

6. Coat, jacket, vest, or cover garment fits unevenly with garment side with gun or pocket with gun sagging, swinging, and hanging lower than other side due to the weight of gun; 

7. Steadying or bracing the gun with your hand when walking (especially fast), exercising, or running;

8. Cover garment opening or appearance does not match climate season or weather, e.g., shirt, coat, vest, jacket or cover garment is buttoned, zipped, or closed to help conceal gun in hot, humid, southern weather… or is wide open and not zipped to allow quick draw and access in cold, freezing, blowing snow northern weather;

Pocket Bulge is a Clue

9. Recognizable irregular-shaped bulge or mass is created from holstered, the concealed gun when extending/reaching with arms, bending down, kneeling, or sitting, or when body bends forward or backward from the waist;

10. Having a shorter arm swing on the side where your gun is located due to a tendency to protect, stabilize, and guard the gun; and

Mismatched Clothes and Unusual Patterns, Colors & Designs Attract Attention

11. Cover garment design & style do not match, e.g., an extra long coat is mismatched and not compatible with other different-season clothing or garment styles, patterns, designs, colors, or trends when combined together; wild prints, patterns, and mismatched clothing attract unnecessary attention.

Well, I hope some of these ideas and physical signals that may hint that you are carrying a concealed gun help you to be safer and have a peaceful and comfortable state of mind. Maybe you know other physical signs or hints that reveal you have a hidden handgun?

Continued Success!

Photos by author.

This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney in your state or jurisdiction for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense, stand your ground law, and concealed carry. This is not legal advice and not legal opinions. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever. Safety First! 

© 2016 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.


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"Col Ben" is retired with 30 years service in the U.S. Air Force, with joint services Special Ops duty and training, and is Air Force qualified as "Expert" in small arms. He is a Vietnam-era Veteran. Ben is an experienced NRA-Certified Pistol Instructor, NRA Range Safety Officer, and FL Concealed Carry License Instructor. Ben recently wrote the book "Concealed Carry and Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection" (second printing) with 57 comprehensive Chapters about concealed carry and handgun principles, techniques, and tips for both experienced and new shooters. His reference book is endorsed by several organizations and is available on his website at FloridaHandgunsTraining.com. Contact him at ColBFF@gmail.com.
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last picture be “pimpin” or c.carry?? LOL.


Both my brutha, they be pimpin in so much style ya’ll nevaaa notice dey piece!

Dwayne Dillon

Nice information

R P Daniels

Sorry Sir. I must disagree with several points you made here.
1st: Have your gun print WILL get you at least stopped and questioned by LE. Several states consider this displaying and may subject you to arrest. Have a trusted person watch you walk, bend down, stretch, bend over, move and stand with your weapon on. Does it show? If so, change your clothes and buy new ones or get a better concealable holster. Remember, if the police can “see” your gun so can criminals. Cover up and be safe.
2nd: Instinctively turning away your gun side away from people approaching you is a trained and learned behaviour. LE officers do this as they are trained to not expose your weapon to others, especially criminals. You can learn this behaviour and perform it subtly so it is not obvious. It is a safe practice and can save you from a gun grab.
3rd: Holdng or having your arm close to your body to protect your gun can be accomplished without giving away your possessing a concealed weapon. As long as you don’t touch or adjust it, this should be unnoticeable. It may also help you to prevent a gun grab by a criminal or others.
4th: If you use a pocket carry in your coat or jacket, balance the extra weight with weight in the opposite side pocket. This will eliminate the sag, and alleviate the swing when you walk.
5th: And a point unmentioned here. Get a quality holster, LE grade and don’t cheap out. Buy a holster specifically designed for your gun, and learn how to draw unencumbered from it, quickly, quietly and ready to shoot. Finger off the trigger, firm grip everytime, and correct presentation with good sight alignment. Know your target and what’s behind it. And never put your finger on the trigger until your ready to shoot. Be prepared mentally, psychologically and physically for the decision to shoot and the aftermath. And train, train , train: Regularly and under the supervision of a qualified instructor. Eliminate bad habits, improve accuracy, and practice safely. Be safe. Stay alive.


Very few (if any) states consider printing to be displaying or brandishing, while there are some over zealous LEO’s out there, it’d highly unlikely you’ll get arrested especially if you have a ccw license/permit
As for your point on if police can see it, so can criminals, while it may be true, the majority of people (no matter their chosen “profession”) are going to notice as they simply aren’t that observant, and that includes police who won’t simply notice either unless they have a specific reason to be looking at you,


@RP Daniels

Agree and disagree:

First, some states may have weird laws regarding concealed weapons (Maryland, New jersy, other Nazi states) but many do not. Here in Virginia open carry by any individual who can legally own a gun is legal, so it sin’t that unusual to see armed people going about. Even the police don;t really bother you about it. The real key here is to know the laws of your state.

Second, agree 100% with you about the holster. If you have a quality holster that fits well, is comfortable and secures your weapon, you are far less likely to do all the touching and adjusting stuff.

Col Ben

Yes, it varies so much from state-to-state. Like I said in the article, and you reiterated, know the laws of your state and jurisdiction. SUCCESS!

Col Ben

Thank you for your opinions. Many reflect what I said in my article. Please understand that I am not practicing law, nor giving legal opinions nor advice. I understand as a layman that Statute 790.053 currently says that a person who has a valid concealed carry license in FL, and who is lawfully carrying a concealed firearm, may “briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight
of another person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.” This was not the case just 2 years ago here, as it was a crime. So the statute now allows you to briefly show your friend your gun or show the firearm if acting in
self-defense, but you cannot show the firearm because someone has angered you or you want to put the other person in fear. This is now a crime in FL. This varies SIGNIFICANTLY among states and jurisdictions. The FL statute allows open carrying of a firearm as an exception only when going to or returning from a hunting, camping, or fishing trip or to a range to shoot. Regardless of the exceptions, the safest thing to do is keep your gun concealed unless it becomes absolutely necessary to use it in self-defense or transport it per law.
Continued success and Be Safe!

Col Ben

I forgot to mention in my reply to you below several of my earlier articles here that give my 10 Criteria for Selecting the Proper Holster and the pros and cons of the many types. There were 3 related articles in 2014, 4 in 2015, and 1 so far in 2016. My March 4, 2014 article presents my 10 criteria, as does one of the 57 chapters in my new book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials.”
I appreciate your comments.

james lagnese

RE # 3: What should we do when approached? Do police keep their gun side away? RE # 5: I have a funky gate without carry a gun from a bad back and knees. Not sure I can cure it. 🙂 What is the best way to ensure that these don’t happen? I would imagine having the right gear helps and knowing how to use it. “Mexican” style carry doesn’t it. Sometimes our body shape with dictate how we carry too. Lots of factors to consider.

Col Ben

Hi James. Yes both of your questions relate to the situation and most certainly one’s medical condition affects the response/action. I wish there were universal, fixed answers to your 2 questions, but alas many factors involved. Yes holster, belt, carry garment, etc. affect this. All the Best my friend.

Randy Jacobsen

James I have the same issues due to a bad back. I’m also a small guy at 5’8 and 170lbs. Carry a 4.25″ M&P40 and even with a great holster it’s tough to not print all the time when not wearing an over shirt on top of my normal shirt. Granted I work as the deputy coroner for the Sheriff’s dept and most never knew I carried till I asked them to hold my gun while I had to crawl under a house to drag a deceased out. They were all shocked what I pulled out from my hosted inside my waistband. I was wearing slacks and a 3 button collard shirt tucked in like I do at ever lyrics call I go on for them for the last 3 years. I think confidence plays a huge factor in avoiding a lot of the signs as well as being open to the fact that you can ignore the fact you’re carrying all while knowing and it being on your mind. I also have my wife check to see how I’m printing when I just wear a shirt over my EDC.


Good article.

Many of your points are fairly subtle things, but it’s all good advice. There is a nice big gun show here every three months and my wife and I like to go. Afterward, we go out to eat nearby to the venue, and it’s always fun to try to spot those who are carrying at the restaurant.

I do think the article should have talked about getting a good holster and about the different positions for carry. Appendix carry may be one of the most popular for some because it is easier to present quickly from, but, it has disadvantages in terms of movement and comfort when sitting or leaning down. Likewise, a good holster with solid retention and comfort will go a long way to reducing some of the constant “checking on my gun” motions.