Choosing the right holster for concealed carry is important for people in any state, but what about the laws in Illinois? Are there specifics that you need to be aware of when you carry concealed, whether as a resident or non-resident, in Illinois?
First and foremost, it is necessary to understand the Illinois law that pertains to both residents and non-residents carrying concealed. Non-residents may NOT carry a concealed gun on their person without an Illinois License to Carry. There is an allowance for non-residents who are licensed to carry in their home state, but that allowance only gives them permission to keep a loaded gun in their car. Therefore, non-residents without an Illinois License to Carry have no reason for a holster while in the Land of Lincoln.
Second is the issue of “printing” and what “concealed” means. In some states, if the gun is detectable under your clothing due to the “imprint” it makes through your clothing, you have committed a crime. However, in Illinois it is less clear. Since the law has passed in July, 2013, not a single permit has been issued, nor has the law been able to be tested in court. However, it does specify that your firearm must be “completely or mostly” concealed.
The meaning of “mostly” concealed is obviously open to interpretation. However, the legislative intent (made clear during the House and Senate debate of this bill in Springfield) is that momentary or accidental exposure of the gun is NOT to be considered illegal. In other words, if your jacket rides up or the wind blows your shirt open and someone catches a glimpse of your gun, you are protected by the law.
Whether printing is also protected will no doubt need to be interpreted by the courts. The long and the short of it is that you should choose a holster, and a place on your body to wear the holster, that eliminates printing or accidental exposure.
So the, what is the best holster / position for concealed carry in Illinois? Unless you are wearing a jacket, the most difficult way to carry concealed will be with a hip holster. While that is tactically among the best locations to carry, it is also the most difficult to conceal totally.
A small gun, like a.380 or other “pocket pistol,” is easily concealed with a pocket holster. The holster should be selected to ensure that it covers the trigger for safety, keeps the gun oriented properly for quick deployment, and provides a “blocking” imprint that is not distinguishable as a gun when the clothing is tight.
The other really effective holsters for those who would carry concealed in Illinois are shoulder holsters and ankle holsters. However, ensure that you train in drawing from these holsters as they present very real challenges in quickness (ankle holster) and safety (shoulder holsters – think about sweeping unintended targets with the muzzle when drawing).