For many gun enthusiasts, having a well-maintained pistol with an HE-509 sight sitting on the slide is essential for home defense, target shooting, or even competition. One of the best reasons for concealed carry is having the means to protect yourself in public places without a local citizen spotting your weapon and calling the police about a terrorist with a gun walking around.

There are several means of carrying a firearm in public away from prying eyes, but understanding what style works for you means understanding all the available types and techniques on the market today. These three examples of concealed carry styles are the most popular and should help start you on your way.

Inside The Waistband or IWB Holster

One of the most practical and popular methods of carrying a concealed pistol is using an IWB holster. Whether you wear the holster on the hip, behind the back, or even on the non-dominant side of your hip for cross-draw deployment, an IWB holster provides multiple concealed carry methods wrapped up into a single holster.

IWB holsters effectively hide most of the pistol and keep the gun close to your body. These concealed carry holsters also help you avoid the difficulties you may experience when attempting to deploy the firearm from a pocket holster, or worse, an ankle holster.

Although an IWB holster answers many of the challenges of concealed carry, there are a few drawbacks you’ll want to consider before rushing out to purchase one. Any holster worn inside the belt, pressing against your hip for hours at a time, may prove uncomfortable for you.

Remember, the holster must be wide enough to accommodate and secure the pistol and might require pants with a larger waistband to make it work comfortably. If you’re all about maintaining the perfect fit of stylish clothing and a baggy pair of pants won’t do, you may want to consider this following concealed carry style.

Outside the Waistband or OWB

While concealed carry in a holster outside the waistband manages many of the same options as an IWB and is a lot more comfortable, there may be times when your pistol is not as concealed as you think it is. To make concealed carry with a gun housed in an outside-waistband holster work, you’ll need to cloak it with a shirt worn untucked, a vest or jacket, or a windbreaker or light jacket.

One drawback with this style of carrying is if you’re trying to maintain an inconspicuous look, wearing even a light coat in the summertime heat will draw the gaze of everyone around you straight to your hip.

Although an OWB holster is probably one of the most comfortable methods of carrying your protection around, it also requires you to always focus your situational awareness on things going on around you.

Depending on the attire you choose for the day, an outside-waistband holster often creates a bulge on your hip easily spotted by the practiced eye. Also, when pulling that bag of coffee off the top shelf, remember as your arms go up, so does the hemline of your shirt or jacket, potentially exposing the muzzle of your handgun. However, if you discover a way to resolve these few challenges, an OWB holster is probably one of the most comfortable concealed carry methods.

Shoulder Holster

A shoulder holster might be the exact concealed carry method if you like the super-cool television movie style of holstering your gun beneath an armpit. Cool look aside, for those who aren’t comfortable with an inside or outside waistband holster, you may want to consider a shoulder holster. There are a few challenges you’ll need to overcome, though.

Remember that a shoulder holster, regardless of whether it’s a single- or double-gun affair, is sandwiched between your shirt or blouse and the jacket or coat you’ll need to wear, regardless of how hot it is outside. Although concealment works when your jacket is buttoned, or your windbreaker zipped up, one errant breeze will be all it takes to peel back the bottom of an unbuttoned coat or blazer to expose what you’re carrying.

Even if you manage to overcome the clothing challenges of a shoulder holster concealed carry, there is still one other hurdle to consider. Effective holstering and deployment typically require the pistol’s grip pointing ahead to allow cross-draw deployment. Using a shoulder holster for concealed carry means the business end of your firearm is pointing behind you. It also means during deployment, the barrel of the gun arcs horizontally away from you as you attempt to sight your target, which can potentially harm those beside you during an accidental discharge.

The Most Concealed Isn’t Always the Best

There are, however, a few styles of concealed carry that hide your gun entirely from sight, but freeing your handgun from its hiding place, results in awkward situations that can end up putting you in a potentially life-threatening condition.

As you may or may not know, both IWB and OWB concealed carry methods are fairly gender-agnostic, meaning they’re suited for either male or female concealed-carry enthusiasts. However, a few styles cater more specifically to women than men, such as the thigh or bra holster. The thigh holster is a highly comfortable and more effective method of concealed carry simply because a dress or skirt always does a far better job at the total concealed carry of a firearm than a pair of pants.

Most thigh holsters are lightweight and secure to the thigh with either Velcro or stretch elastic, making them highly comfortable with the handgun nestled beneath the protection of a few yards of fabric. Unfortunately, regardless of how comfortable the thigh holster is or how well it conceals your firearm, there are a few noticeable detractions for wearing one.

When trouble starts, you may be required to flash a little more skin than you’d like to deploy your handgun. The complication even worsens when wearing a pair of pants and using a thigh holster to conceal your firearm. Remember, the intent is to hide your gun properly but deploy it quickly and with as few complications as possible, so consider how you intend to carry your pistol and how easy you want deployment and re-holstering to be before making your final choice.