Summer is a great time of the year when people are more active and happy with all the sunshine, pool parties, gardening, and fireworks. However, carrying comfortably during the “dog days of summer” can be challenging. Wardrobes change in the summer, with shorts and shirts replacing coats and jackets. Different activities, from casual outings to physical exercises, can impact the choice of firearm and carry method.

Decisions are often based on convenience rather than necessity. While it’s possible to carry a compact or full-sized gun in the summer, it requires careful consideration of carry choices and commitment. With the right strategies and gear, summer concealed carry can be seamless and comfortable. With a few tips and recommendations you can maintain effective concealed carry during warmer weather, ensuring both comfort and security.

Challenges of Carrying Concealed in the Summer

Summer brings a unique set of challenges for those who carry concealed firearms. As temperatures rise, so do the difficulties associated with maintaining comfort and discretion. Understanding these challenges is the first step toward effective summer concealed carry.

The heat and humidity of summer can make concealed carry uncomfortable. Sweat can lead to chafing and irritation, especially when a holster is in direct contact with the skin. Lightweight and breathable materials become essential for both clothing and holsters to mitigate discomfort. When selecting gear, consider moisture-wicking fabrics that help keep the body cool and dry. Concealed carry shorts can offer both comfort and adequate concealment.

Summer clothing, while great for keeping cool, often provide less coverage and can make it more difficult to conceal a firearm effectively. The reduced coverage from summer clothes can limit where and how a firearm can be carried. Traditional inside-the-waistband (IWB) and outside-the-waistband (OWB) holsters might print or be visible through thinner fabrics. Pocket holsters, belly bands and ankle holsters can provide alternative options.

Summer often brings an increase in outdoor activities such as hiking, running, and attending social events. These activities can influence the choice of concealed carry clothing, firearm and carry method. Concealed carry in summer clothes needs to be adaptable to various situations, ensuring that the firearm remains secure and accessible regardless of the activity.

Choosing the Right Firearm for Summer Concealed Carry

While a full-sized, high-capacity pistol might provide the best level of protection, it isn’t as comfortable to carry in hot weather. A lightweight 9mm mid-capacity (10- to 12-round magazine) pistol strikes an ideal balance between comfort and capability. Three possible options are listed below.

  • SCCY CPX-2 9mm
    The SCCY CPX-2 is double-action and striker-fired, has a 10-round magazine capacity and weighs 15 ounces. It is a bit larger than the modern micro high-capacity pistols. Stick with the nitride slide for the ultimate rust protection.
  • SIG Sauer P365 9mm
    This revolutionary striker-fired pistol introduced the micro hi-cap 9mm to the market. The excellent trigger makes it very accurate. Several variants are available, including an XL version with a 12-round magazine. The P365 weighs 17.8 ounces.
  • Springfield Armory Hellcat
    The Hellcat, with its 11+1 capacity, is billed as the world’s highest-capacity micro 9mm. It is striker-fired, with a superb trigger that has a Glock-style safety lever. Weight is 18.3 ounces. Its Tritium sight system is the best of the breed.

Subcompact Pistol Options

Subcompact pistols are light, portable, convenient, effective enough for self-defense and easy to conceal. That makes them ideal for summer concealed carry. However, you pay for the portability, ease of concealment and light weight with a higher difficulty of operation. A subcompact has a short sight radius, which makes it less forgiving to aim. You also need to consider how light weight and reduced grip surface area impact control. As long as you know the trade-offs and practice accordingly, there are some great subcompact options from which to anchor your summer carry strategy.

  • Smith & Wesson Snub-Nosed Revolver
    There are too many variants to list here, but you can get a Smith snubby in steel, aluminum, scandium and even polymer. That allows you to make some specific weight versus recoil trade-offs. A steel model will be heavier to carry but gentler on the hands. The ultra-lightweights offer effortless portability but will wake you up in the morning when you pull the trigger. 
  • Ruger LCR
    Its shrouded (internal) hammer won’t get caught up on clothes when you’re pocket-carrying or on shirts when you’re carrying on a belt. You’re better off shooting double-action-only anyway for defensive use, so there’s no reason to worry about the exposed hammer for summer carry. The LCR offers a variety of caliber options, including .38 Special, .357 Magnum, 9mm, .22 LR, .22 WMR and .327 Federal Magnum. The polymer frame combined with Hogue Tamer Monogrip really soaks up recoil.
  • Glock 43X
    It’s just large enough to get a full and proper grip, and the very un-Glock-like contoured grip shape is near perfect. You get a lot of surface area contact between hand and gun, which makes shooting feel soft and gentle. This is a gun you’ll want to use at the range so that practice won’t be a painful chore. The 43X packs 10 rounds plus an extra in the chamber. Since it’s a single-stack and appropriately part of the Glock Slimline family, it’s thin and easy to conceal anywhere on the waist.
  1. Beretta APX Carry
    The design goal of the single-stack Beretta APX Carry is to provide a revolver alternative for people who like the peace of mind of the longer and heavier trigger pull. The travel is about ¾ of an inch, also almost identical to snubby trigger movement. The overall size is almost identical to a classic snubby with a 5.6-inch length, 4.2-inch height and 0.9-inch width. What’s different is the 6+1 standard capacity and fast reloads with the extra eight-round magazine. So, in the same package size, you get revolver-style safe carry, more capacity and faster reloads. And because it’s a semi-automatic, you’ll feel less recoil.

Finding a Summer Concealed Carry Holster

One summer carry challenge is that your clothing may not support traditional carry methods. During excruciatingly hot days, neither inside-the-waistband (IWB) nor outside-the-waistband (OWB) carry is very comfortable. And when it’s 90 degrees or more, wearing an undershirt under a T-shirt to protect the skin can be unbearable. Fortunately, there are some alternative carry options to consider.

Belly Band for Concealed Carry

A belly band is exceptionally versatile. As it requires no belt “anchor,” you can carry it with virtually any type of clothing. An additional benefit of a good belly band like the Galco Underwraps Belly Band is that it allows you to carry in a variety of configurations and at different ride heights. Angled gun pockets allow strong-side, appendix or cross-draw placement. By reversing the band inside-out, you expand your options for placement and cant angle of your handgun. Worn at waist level, it acts like an IWB holster with its own self-contained belt. In that configuration, it’s even tuckable. Worn higher, it’s a good solution for various outdoor activities.

Concealed Carry Clothing

To enable easy carry, enterprising holster companies like Dene Adams have created yoga pants with a self-contained holster system. These leggings have multiple carry-position options and optional Kydex trigger guards or full Kydex holster inserts for extra gun security.

Another ultimate flexibility alternative carry method is a pair of compression shorts. Available for men and women, these shorts have elastic holster pockets sewn into the hip area. If you’re wearing gym shorts or any other attire without a belt, this can be a good alternative. As with traditional IWB carry, you’ll still need a shirt to cover the handgun grip. Check out UnderTech UnderCover for options.

In the summer, a simple shirt cover garment has to do more work, as you won’t be relying on outerwear to help conceal those gun bumps and bulges. Shirts with patterns tend to help hide the outline of a concealed handgun, as does material with a little more structure. Those nylon tees and polos, while comfortable, like to wrap themselves around the shape of your concealed firearm.

Take a look at dedicated concealment shirts from Blackhawk. These shirts are designed to hide your gun, and they contain a hidden feature especially useful for alternative summer-carry methods. The “buttons” are actually snaps. To access a handgun concealed underneath in a compression T-shirt or belly band, you can just “rip” the shirt open, and the faux buttons will unsnap.

Off-Body Options

A concealed carry fanny pack is a versatile option for summer concealed carry, even when wearing minimal clothing like a swimsuit. Despite being considered a fashion faux pas, the fanny pack has significant advantages. It completely seals the gun from view and, with a proper holster attachment inside, safely carries it with any outfit.

Fanny packs can be found in sizes large enough to carry a full-sized gun, but smaller versions are preferable for being less conspicuous while still accommodating a compact firearm. Available in many colors, bright colors might actually be less noticeable than traditional “tactical” colors like black or coyote. With a little practice, fanny packs allow quick access to a gun and can also hold other essentials like keys, a wallet, or spare magazines.

For women, purses designed for concealed carry are a practical option. It’s crucial to choose a purse with a dedicated holster compartment to prevent negligent discharges. Items like lipstick containers can inadvertently enter trigger guards, posing a safety risk. By using a purse specifically designed for concealed carry or ensuring the gun is securely holstered inside, women can carry concealed confidently and safely.

These options help maintain comfort and accessibility, making them ideal for warmer weather.

Mastering Summer Concealed Carry for Comfort and Safety

Summer weather carry has always presented a unique set of challenges. There are some differences to consider for summer concealed carry. Sweat and humidity can wreak havoc on holsters and guns. You’ll be wearing fewer clothes, so concealment takes more forethought and planning. Sometimes, you won’t have the option of wearing a belt, so alternative carry methods might be in order. After you decide on a carry method and the best concealed carry gun for summer carry, don’t forget to get comfortable using it. Train like your life depends on it because some day it might.


This article is a compilation of previous blog posts authored by Tom McHale, Scott W. Wagner and Ariel Vitalia.