“Dress Around the Gun” Needs to Die.

We’ve all heard it. Whether at our first concealed carry class, or at the gun store when shopping for our first pistol and/or holster. In order to effectively conceal a firearm one must “dress around the “. The intent of this mantra is to suggest that carrying a firearm does require adjustments to one’s normal routine. True practice of self defense is after all a lifestyle unto itself. However, this credo has become the battle cry of the intellectually and socially lazy. Any time someone encounters a challenge with justifying their newfound lifestyle with their day to day routine, these words will be parroted, as if to suggest that the person in question just isn’t trying hard enough.

I say this is a tactic of the intellectually and socially lazy because it requires no thought or analysis. It automatically assumes that the gear selection is infallible, and that the subject is somehow failing in the execution. This could very well be a possibility, especially for someone in the early stages of their EDC evolution. There is, however, another alternative to consider: It is indeed possible that the protagonist is simply trying to press equipment into service in an application that is inappropriate for their “operational environment” to use popular buzzwords.

It all boils down to the most abhorent and offensive C-word imaginable within this community…


If you’re an investment banker, business consultant, contract attorney, or medical professional, your daily risk profile probably differs greatly from a cop serving felony warrants or an operator in a Tier 1 military unit. So why then would you insist on trying to use and carry the same handguns that they do? Their daily uniform is primarily built around carrying the gear that they need, and concealment is rarely a concern for them (unless you’re talking about hyper specialized units, and those guys generally don’t put out a bunch of information for public consumption).

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s still worth at least trying to carry a “full sized” handgun (Glock 19 or similar) when and wherever possible, but we have to accept that for us regular dudes leading regular lives and not engaging in high risk behavior, we are more likely to encounter scenarios where our loadout is be more reminiscent of a boy scout than your favorite character in Call of Duty. Like Pat Rogers is famous for saying: “Mission drives the gear train”. For those of us for whom the pistol is not part of the job, there is only so much compromise that we can make within our wardrobe before it starts to deviate outside the norm of our environment, thus drawing unwanted attention and possibly resulting in undesirable outcomes.

It’s important to remember that the aforementioned “gear train” consists not only of our everyday carry tools, but the clothing with which those tools are covered. Clothing selection should be purposeful, depending on what it is the wearer is trying to accomplish. Those goals can be anything as functional as protecting against inclement weather to something more social like trying to communicate authority and dominance in a board meeting. You wouldn’t wear a 3-piece suit to the beach, and you (hopefully) wouldn’t wear board shorts to a staff meeting. In between those polar extremes is a wide swath of grey area, and we want to go armed in as much of it as possible.

For that reason, I feel strongly that the phrase “Dress around the gun” really should be replaced with the more appropriate “Dress for the gun”. A subtle change to be sure but, as Aaron Cowan is fond of saying, “words mean things”. The phrase “dress around the gun” has been perverted into this incantation that, if not properly explained or understood sounds like a direct order. If it comes from someone with more experience or authority, it runs the risk of being taken at face value, with no understanding of the underlying message.

Suggesting that someone “dress for the gun” seems like a logical statement, but it doesn’t stand on its own; it inspires further questions and discussion. Plus, telling someone to “dress around the gun” is arrogant, and assumes that you know the most appropriate way for the other person to live their life. It’s a very personal decision. The analogy I like to use is picking out someone’s carry gear is like picking out their underwear. You need to be very familiar with them for your recommendations to be of any real use.

At the end of the day what’s more important than anything is that the carrier is aware of not only the realistic performance capabilities of the tools they’ve selected, but of themselves as well. Once you have a good grasp of those two factors, you can work a firearm into your lifestyle accordingly. It will require some adjustment, but it shouldn’t require you to completely reinvent yourself.

So let’s see if we can get this to catch on. “Dress around the gun” is dead. Long live “dress for the gun”!


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