Chris Baker set up this grossly obvious example of "printing" for an article at LuckyGunner that pretty much agrees with this article.

Chris Baker set up this grossly obvious example of “printing” for an article at LuckyGunner that pretty much agrees with this article.

The secret to not being obvious about carrying is to just do it and get used to it. Yes, cops nab gangbangers all the time because they can see the kid futzing with his holsterless appendix carried gun. Don’t be that guy and you’re OK.

Here’s the big secret: nobody cares that you carry. Only you, and whatever subset of “yours” that you tell. (Our advice: that subset should start at “nobody,” and only change if you have a really good reason to). Seriously. Cops don’t care, in most jurisdictions. They’re not looking for your gun — they’re looking for nervous patterns of behavior, yes, which are often seen in people carrying unlawfully. 

Cops are aware that a lot of people carry guns legally. Even in a place like Boston or LA where a mere citizen can’t get a permit, the streets teem with official carriers from over a hundred Federal agencies (even Amtrak), not to mention state and local fuzz, judges and prosecutors (some of whom carry because they really fear people they’ve put away, and some of whom have a Walter Mitty thing going).

Cop attitudes to lawful carriers range from “nobody should carry but the Thin Blue Line” (a smaller set than you think, but it exists) to “the more lawful carriers out there the better” (which is a common opinion in law enforcement, even in places like Massachusetts and California). Like the rest of society, cops disagree about these things, but the cop that’s going to hassle a lawful carrier is rare. (True, he’s more common in a place like those mentioned above, or New Jersey).

Criminal attitudes to lawful carriers are easier to explain; to the extent that they think of them at all, they’re frightened of them, but mostly they don’t even think of them. The average criminal expects the possibility of armed resistance if he jacks, say, a drug dealer or gang member, but it never occurs to him that he might meet it from a little old guy or a young lady.

The criminal that jacked an open carrier recently is illustrative. We can’t ask him, being as he’s dead, but it’s likely he never saw the compact Glock on the petite woman’s belt. We suppose you could say he felt its sting, before he ever saw it. We have observed that often, where someone is open carrying and the people around him or her are completely unaware of it. (OC has long been legal here, although it’s still very rare). We’ve also seen the knowledge cascade, where one person notices the firearm and nudges those nearby, until they’re staring at the carrier. After a while, when they see he’s not bent on bloodshed, they go back to what they were doing and more or less forget him or her.

Assuming that it’s lawful for you, carry now. Carry always; get used to it. Carry securely, and don’t draw the pistol unless you mean to use it — think of it like a Gurkha’s kukri: if the situation does not call for drawing blood, don’t take it out.

The sooner you’re blasé about it, the sooner that small percentage who did notice you at first when you were nervous and kept touching it, tunes you out also.

This entry was posted in Weapons Usage and Employment on by Hognose.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

43 thoughts on “Worried About “Printing?” Don’t.

John Smith 

….and plaid. Plaid works well.

Leslie Bates

But if you wear a plaid shirt with woodland camo trousers some people will think you’re weird.

Not during hunting season
Raoul Duke
That really depends on where you’re at. In some places, that’s considered “dressing up nice”. 🙂

I asked my nephew, the deputy, what he thought about CC. He said the Dept. could care less and assumes everybody is armed and goes from there. Course they also assume everybody is an asshole until proven otherwise. Cops being cops.

As to CC for me; I don’t worry so much about printing as much as fining a place to put it. Actually I’ve given up carrying one. Be embarrassed if anyone found out. In my little corner of Wisconsin, even the biker bars are friendly. My Brit GF had one tipsy biker profusely apologizing for talking (a little) aggressively to her. She’s a psycho therapist so it wasn’t hard to do. Funny though.

Needless to say, I’m not near Sub-Saharan Milwaukee or the Peoples Republic of Madison but do know what Uffta means which tells you what the demographics are.


I’d apologize profusely to a “psycho therapist”, too! They WILL go crazy on your ass and fuck you up!


At least you didn’t put another extra space three letters on too.

Raoul Duke

I started carrying guns regularly, at the age of 18… my state at that time allowed you to get a CCW before you were old enough to buy a pistol from a dealer! 🙂

Back then, I was absolutely CERTAIN that everyone knew I was carrying a gun. It felt so weird, it made my shirt look funny, etc, etc, etc.

Twenty-five and more years later; I carry a gun every day- a larger one than back then, with a spare magazine or two, or even a back-up gun. I’m totally comfortable with them now. In fact, I feel strange if I don’t have them.

What changed? I use better holsters, now, with stiffer and better belts. They are expensive, but you get what you pay for. I now look for clothing that is long enough and cut right to cover the gear.

The biggest change, though, was my attitude and awareness. I realized that most people couldn’t I had a gun, just by looking at me, and in fact, most people are so wrapped up in their business that they don’t look, or even care, at most other people.

Funny thing, as personal electronic devices have proliferated, the herd at large has gotten even less prone to spotting concealed weapons. Not to mention that if you see someone who IS aware of their surroundings these days, they bear watching- they are either good or bad, but a player in the game, nevertheless.

John M.

I met a friend at a bar the other night and had to stuff the gat in the glove compartment. A fellow came out of the bar for a smoke and stood about six paces from my car at about the 10:00 position. Well-situated, in other words, to observe what I was doing. Which I don’t prefer. As soon as the bluish-white glow lit up his face, I knew that I had the ~10 seconds needed to get the gun stowed and the glove compartment locked. I was right.

So the smartphone-related decline in the general populace’s SA can be useful.

-John M.

I CCW a full size 1911 with two spare mags every day all day everywhere I go. I dont care if anyone sees it or not because I have the permit my over lords give me to carry and its an OC state with a looooooooong history of people carrying. As is the state my home most closely borders. Which now has constitutional carry, I never worried about anyone knowing or seeing. It still amazes me people will carry smaller and less effective than an already not very effective, handgun because they don’t want to give up their shorts or skinny jeans and tight shirts to show off their ripped body. Eye rolls..

Tom Stone

Not an option for me unless I make a sizeable contribution to the reelection campaign of someone who is a pustulent excrescence on the body politic.

And attend the ONE course the sheriff approves of coincidentally run by a relative.

Do I need to mention that it’s more expensive than Gunsite even when I include travel and lodgings?


Just can’t bring myself to stick a gun there.

Boat Guy

Nor I. A Dope Cop of my acquaintance told me he did so (before the days of “appendix” et al) but that was the only exception to Rule #3 that ever made any sense to me. It also made me very glad not to be a Dope Cop.

Phil Wong

The late holstermaker extraordinaire Bruce Nelson was a Dope Cop in CA, and his groundbreaking “Summer Special” IWB holster was originally developed for appendix-carry in his UC role…

cm smith
Nelson didn’t carry in the current fashion of the appendage position. His version was “forward of the hip” at about 2:30 in a slightly muzzle to the rear rake. See Pistolero, 1980.

Dan in Ohio

Everyone is on there cell phone. No one will notice if you are “printing”.

John Smith

There is a great deal of truth in that…

John Smith

I carry a pistol with me wherever I go. I live in a state that exceeds the national average for violent crime and in a small city that ranks 5th overall in that unfortunate category within the state. I will retire in June (the only REAL PCS) and we will withdraw from the coast and all of its people and problems. Hopefully we will find Mayberry- but even that won’t change my practice. I will carry everyday.

Who sees that matters little to me, within reason.

I carry a full sized pistol because I have never heard anyone emerge from a fight saying “God I’m glad that pistol was so small”.




Much good and wise experience in the comments above. 17 years ago, I fled the Peoples Republik of New Jersistan for the freedom of the gunshine state of Florida. I went through the levels of concealed carry. From the small easily concealed mouse gun to the present with a compact 1911 or a Sig 229. Nobody notices, nobody cares, – – – – – – except you. Best advice from above? Always carry, all the time, every time.

You do not have the ability to choose when you will need your best friend. The opposition does that.

Jim Scrummy

I use to IWB carry, but now that I am too fat for that (something that has to change), I OWB carry. Unfortunately, where I work having a gack on the property, in your vehicle hidden, can get you a misdemeanor.


I love reading about carry concerns from guys who haven’t seen their belt buckle in ten years and wear upwards of a XXXL Hawaiian shirt. You’ve got bigger problems than whether you carry a full size 1911 or an LCP, guy. Get that on its way to sorted out and worry about your gun after.

John Smith

Yeah…heart disease and cancer are 1 and 2 as a means of “shoving off” in America…..

Boat Guy

On those rare occasions when I’m mildly concerned about printing I will ask Bride to check me out; since she’s a Thunder Ranch alum she knows what she’s looking for but those are usually times when I’m dressed-down and wearing a shirt over a t-shirt. When “dressed-up” I don’t worry; my jackets were all cut with me wearing a 226 OWB and spare mag.


If I ever see somebody open carrying when I am out and about with my wife I always ask her later if she saw the guy at the place wearing a gun: she is about 0 for 40 on noticing.

Boat Guy

Bout right in my experience OC’ing – and that was my Bride pre-Thunder Ranch, now she frequently nudges me just about the time i’m noticing.


I read this somewhere and my anecdotal evidence bears it out; if you see somebody with a knife clipped in their front pocket they are much more likely than the average person to also have a (somewhat) concealed pistol.

John M.
KB Dave

Same here.

John M.

“Even in a place like Boston or LA where a mere citizen can’t get a permit…”

LOTS of people have permits to carry in Boston and LA. But not many of them LIVE in Boston or LA. Judging by the map you posted a couple of months ago, it’s not too terribly hard to find one of Massachusetts’ stamp-sized Boston suburbs that you can live in that will cut you a permit on a de facto shall-issue basis. In LA, you have to drive to cross county lines. I believe permits are doable (but expensive) in Ocean County, and supposedly San Berdoo county is pretty much shall-issue. Both MA and CA have permitting regimes that led administrative subdivisions issue permits on behalf of the entire state.

NYC on the other hand, has its own CCW laws and permit process. No non-NYC carry permits are valid there.

-John M.

 Cap’n Mike

True about Massachusetts Permits John. Some places they are not bad to get, others they are nearly impossible.

Though technically legal in Mass, I would not recommend anyone open carry inside the Rt 128 belt.

The Hoplophobia is strong here, and they would probably call out a SWAT team.

I have seen the response for a kid carrying an air soft rifle, it was ugly.

Bad guys with illegal guns don’t use holsters, so they are constantly worried about the gun being visible or falling out of thier waist band, so they constantly touch it, and often drop it while running away from the cops.

I can only recall one time I was talking to a legally armed person when I noticed they were carrying.

I saw the brown leather strap of his shoulder holster against his white T shirt going around his neck under his jacket.

I asked if he had a License To Carry, he showed it to me and we continued on with the paperwork for the car accident or whatever we were doing.

Hognose is right.

You should carry your gun so much that when you forget it one day, you feel naked and go home and get it.

John M.

I grew up in MA (just outside the 495 beltway) and saw precisely 0 open carriers in my time there.

I have heard that if you are caught printing or accidentally flash your gun, you can be denied your permit renewal, or moved to a restricted class A for “bad judgment” in some places in MA.

-John M.

Cap’n Mike

You are correct John.

The way I have heard of it happening is as follows.

A licensed carrier is in public. A Hoplophobic citizen spots his gun and calls the police.

The police over-respond to a “man with a gun” radio call. After the armed citizens LTC is verified, and the 20 cops that responded go back to what they were doing, one of the cops is annoyed enough to write a letter to the armed citizens licensing authority, requesting that the LTC be rescinded. A hearing is then held with the licensing authority.

The friend of mine this happened to was fortunate enough that he convinced the Chief of Police of his town not to rescind his permit.

Begging for your constitutional rights.

Such is life here deep behind the lines in Masshole Land.


Re: “printing” (illegal in FL, last I checked), I’ve been told by strangers on a few occasions that my gun was visible through my clothes. They were unconcerned, simply presenting the mention for my own good. Like flashing your brights at a car so they’ll turn their ligjts on and not get pulled by the cop two blocks down the road. They weren’t afraid I was a criminal or scared to be around me etc.

Re: pawing at/checking/adjusting your gun because you’re new to carry and nervous, those aren’t always the reasons. I’ve been carrying a gun every day (or near as damn it) for the last 14 years. I still “check” my gun any time I get out of the car, leave a restaurant, etc. It’s a part of my self-patdown routine:

Left hand taps:

Car/home keys on beltline

Gun in FLP or 8 o’clock

Right hand taps:

Work keys on beltline

Knife in FRP

Phone in FRP

Wallet in BRP

Habitual and automatic, learned long ago so I dont lose or misplace my things. I even do this around the house. And frankly, it’s not weird. It’s just like an old man poking at his pocket for his billfold or his glasses or pen tucked into his shirt pocket.

I guess the difference is that routine doesn’t present as fidgety or nervous.

Oh, also I tend to rotate my P-32 downwards in my pocket when I sit down across from anyone as in a restaurant or movie theater etc. Probably unnecessary, but I’d rather have a one-in-a-trillion AD graze the side of my ample hindquarters than punch a hole in a date/friend/stranger.


I’ve found that I can do just about whatever I please, so long as I look like I know what I’m doing, and make friendly eye contact with anyone I encounter.

Cops don’t question the guy that’s walking with purpose and tells them to “have the best day you can!” with a smile on his face. That goes double for the unseeing herd that is the public.


Oh, and you can do ANYTHING if you have a clipboard and look busy, so long as you don’t stop in public view.



I am adding a clipboard to my “arsenal.” Do you recommend a specific model?

Not really. Cheap & distressed looks more legit, maybe? Toss a cheap plastic clipboard in your truck bed for a week, that should do it.
A tablet doesn’t work – yet. Digital may be part of our conscious observation, but the clipboard bypasses everything right to the subconscious, somehow.
Sabrina Chase

One of the kind that has the storage compartment for papers underneath. People try not to make eye contact with people with forms. For extra camo, scuff it up with an orbital sander, smear a few dabs of 40w oil, and attach a “Safety is Job One” sticker.

Or just about any credible, nonlethal “no one would carry it if he weren’t on a mission” object, like a tool box or heavy duty orange extension cord. A 2×2 cardboard box will even get people to open the doors for you.
Once just for laughs I spent the whole day at work carrying tools-from place to place- rake, shovel, ladder, empty water bucket. I didn’t hit a lick at a snake and the boss gave me that attaboy look several times.
Back… probably in the 1960s, G. Harry Stine helped a museum acquire a sample of a particular air-to-air missile from Davis-Monthan AFB. According to his account, he showed up at the front gate with a pickup truck and a clipboard and not only got the missile, but the use of some guys to load it for him.
He knew the model number and its approximate location among other things, but he credited the clipboard for the success of the operation.

I’d say printing can be an issue in non-permissive environments… but a well-designed holster allows even a service pistol to be carried absolutely incognito in the NPE, in most kinds of clothes.

Given proper equipment selection, one can pretty well always carry a gun big enough to fight with.


Regarding cc in NYC, they only honor a NYC permit. Even upstate NY CC permits specifically state not valid in NYC. I’m retired NYPD living outside the state, and I still get a pucker when I visit although covered by HR218. Behavior triggers cops, appearance not so much.

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