Concealed Carry: How to Get Started


Concealed Carry and acquiring a CCW, or concealed carry weapon permit, can seem daunting. We wanted to put together this list and outline on how to get started conceal carrying a defensive pistol as a new shooter. This is a quick guide on how to get a carry permit.

Certification and Permitting for a Concealed Carry Weapon or CCW

It’s super easy to figure out how to get a carry permit. Depending on your state, you may need to take a class in order to qualify for your CCW, conceal carry weapons permit. Classes can range from a single, in person, 8 hour classroom setting. Some classes or states require time behind the gun logged with the instructor. States like Rhode Island, requires an AMY-L Shooting qualification with a score and in the LARGEST caliber you plan on carrying. Ex: When I got my Rhode Island out-of-state CCW, I qualified with a 9mm. I shot near perfect. The examiner was baffled why I didn’t qualify with a 45ACP. I said I had no intentions of carrying or shooting a 45 ACP in the state of Rhode Island. She was still baffled. You will have to research your CCW state requirements. Print yourself a checklist and start crossing them off the list as you complete them.

P365XL in a ANR DESIGN Master Blaster Sidecar Holster

Constitutional Carry States and CCW Permits

There are many Constitutional carry states in the US. 26 or 27 states have passed Constitutional carry. This means, if you’re a law abiding citizen, you have the legal right to carry a gun and protect yourself in that state, and no permit is needed to lawfully conceal carry a firearm. This is fantastic, but we always implore you to pursue a home state CCW, or conceal carry permit. For example, New Hampshire is a Constitutional carry state, but our pistol permit covered a 26 state reciprocity BEFORE the other 26 or 27 states adopted Constitutional carry. The out-of-state Utah permit is the best conceal carry permit to acquire. It has a 31 or more state reciprocity. Reciprocity is other states recognizing your home state carry permit, allowing you to legally carry in another state. With Constitutional carry becoming increasingly popular, this may not be necessary for your to carry in your surrounding states, but with the Utah out-of-state conceal carry permit being so easy and accessible; get it anyway!

Types of Handguns

Semiautomatic pistols are your standard, modern day handgun. Glocks, Smith & Wesson M&P, FN 509, Sig Sauer P320, etc. Any handgun that fires a projectile every time the trigger is pulled, mechanically expelling the spent casing, and auto loading the next round into the chamber. In the family of semiautomatic pistols, there are many variations including Single Action Only, Double Action Only, and Single Action / Double Action. Revolvers are not considered semiautomatic, even though pulling the trigger each time, yields a fired shot; the chamber is not auto loaded.

Zev HyperComp X with Surefire X300U-B Light and Trijicon SRO

A modern day, semiautomatic, striker fired pistol is certainly one of the most common. Striker fired pistols operate by the trigger releasing the mechanism that is holding the striker firing pin back to the rear of the slide under spring tension. As the slide of the gun reciprocates under fire, it resets the striker back to being in spring tension. Striker fired pistols include Sig Sauer P320 series, CZ-USA P-10 series, Glock, Canik TP9 series, Smith & Wesson M&P series, Walther PDP series, FN 509 series, and more.

Single Action Only, or SAO, handguns are typically hammer fired pistols with manual safety levers. The trigger only drops the manually cocked hammer (from physically cocking the hammer or racking the slide to cock the hammer). Single Action Revolvers, such as, the classic Colt Single Action Army 1873, are cocked manually and the action of cocking; rotates the cylinder. The iconic 1911 is also a SAO with a hammer and a safety. SAO pistols tend to have much lighter triggers than striker fired, SA/DA, and DAO pistols. The presence of the safety, allows the manufacturer to confidently reduce the poundage of the trigger with the failsafe of the safety.

Staccato XC – SAO with Grip Safety, Manual Safety, and Cocked Hammer

DAO, or Double Action Only pistols are firearms that the function of the trigger actuates the cocking of the hammer, and the release of the hammer once the fire control mechanism has reached a certain timing in the operation of pulling the trigger. You cannot fire the gun in single action in any capacity. Popular DAO pistols are Smith & Wesson 442 series “hammerless” revolvers. These are great because the absence of the hammer makes the gun really easy to pull out of a pocket without getting it snagged, and pulling a 12lb trigger-pull to run the gun. Operating DAO pistols is challenging and takes the most practice of any gun to master. DAO guns tend to have much heavier trigger pulls and an absence of a safety due to the poundage on the trigger. Trigger staging is a necessary skill to learn to accurately take longer distance shots with a DAO firearm. Trigger staging is the act of slowly, and deliberately pulling the trigger so carefully that you get the fire control mechanism to the point where it is easy to finish the trigger pull with very little motion. This allows the shooter to take a much more accurate shot with the gun. This can be analogous to a Archer shooting a compound bow; a ton of energy to get the bow drawn, but once drawn, it is easy to control and release.

DA/SA Revolver 38 Special

SA/DA, or Single Action / Double Action pistols have multi-function. If the hammer mechanism is under load and cocked, the gun fires with a more typical SAO style release of the trigger. They can also generally be carried in the “quarter-cocked” position and operated DA to cock and release the trigger. SA/DA guns often have a decocker feature that is integrated into the safety. Guns that operate as SA/DA are often Beretta 92 series pistols, CZ75 series pistols, older HK models, Baby Desert Eagles, and more. SA/DA is a nice capability if you want some added safety of decocked during CCW, but the ability to take smooth SA shots. Some SA/DA guns do not have a decocker and must be manually decocked, if you want to carry decocked. This can be a tricky maneuver if you aren’t experienced with your firearm. I like to decock so my webbing between the thumb and index finger can cushion the hammer during the decocking operation.

Picking Your First Handgun

This is almost an impossible recommendation for any seasoned shooter making a suggestion to a new CCW permit holder looking to buy their first handgun. All guns were not created equal. Picking a firearm is actually quite challenging. Our BEST suggestion is that you head down to the nearest rental range and try an absolute plethora of pistols. Pony up the cash and rent a bunch, run a ton of ammo through each gun, and systematically cross models off your list. Most people buy a pistol and end up moving on to greener pastures at some point.

Staccato XC in 9mm with Surefire X300U-B and Holosun 509TX2

Here are some quick lists of pistols we recommend based on size. These are truly the only guns we trust carrying after all the years in this business.

Micro Pistols:

  • Glock 48 MOS
  • Sig Sauer P365 XL
  • Smith & Wesson CSX
  • Smith & Wesson Shield 9 Plus

Compact Pistols:

  • Glock 19 MOS
  • FN 509M
  • Beretta 92G Elite OR
  • Sig Sauer P320C RX
  • CZ-USA P-10 C OR
  • FN 509C Tactical
  • Sig Sauer P229 RX
  • AREX Delta M 2.0
  • Staccato C2
  • Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 C
  • Walther PDP 4″ C
  • Walther Q4 SF
  • CZ-USA P-01 De-cocker
  • CZ-USA P-01 Omega

Full Size Pistols:

  • Glock 17 MOS
  • Glock 34 MOS
  • Beretta 92X OR
  • CZ-USA P-10 F OR
  • CZ-USA SP-01 Tactical
  • CZ-USA CZ75 B
  • FN 509
  • FN 509 Tactical
  • FN 509 LS Edge
  • Sig Sauer P320 FS RX
  • Sig Sauer P320 X5 Legion RX
  • Sig Sauer P226 Legion SAO RX
  • Sig Sauer P226 RX
  • AREX Delta L 2.0
  • AREX Alpha
  • AREX Zero 2
  • Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0
  • Staccato P
  • Staccato XC
  • Walther PDP 5″
  • Walter Q5 SF Match

What Ammunition to Choose

Ammunition choice is a terribly deep rabbit hole to dive into. Historically, trigger phrases like “stopping power” have been used to entice uneducated persons into selecting a particular caliber over others. Stopping Power is a phrase and not a unit of measure. Don’t be fooled. 9mm is the all-around most common carry caliber in the US. Ballistics and projectile design has evolved so much in the past ten years. There are very hot, very effective defensive ammo for 9mm that has fantastic ballistics against soft targets. We personally prefer 9mm for the effectiveness, availability, controllable recoil, and easy to make follow-up shots. The goal when defending yourself is to put as many holes in your attacker, in the same spot, as fast as possible. Remember, you are ACCOUNTABLE for EVERY missed shot on a target in a defensive situation. You want a gun and caliber that is not only useful, but controllable. Different guns function better with certain types, and grain weights of bullets.

Glocks tend to run everything, where 2011’s tend to have to have specific pound recoil springs to run certain pressure and grain projectiles. Ex. A Glock 19 can run 115gr JHP through 147gr JHP, 115gr +P JHP, and more; the Staccato P comes from the factory with a 7.5lb recoil spring that is best suited for 115gr ammo. 147gr, higher pressure ammo could cause issues. I have put with recipe on a blown out 8lb spring and both my light and optic ceased to function for the shock of the recoil. Both devices had to be replaced. There is no one answer to this question. You must read your CCW pistol’s manual, test ammo, and pick one that does what you want, and what you can control.

Glock 19 with Delta Point Pro using DCC Monoblock Clips on a Leather Belt

Firearms Maintenance

Firearms maintenance is a controversial topic. Many folks clean their guns as soon as they get home from the range. There are some issues with this that I have found with experience. You just get home, you only put 200 rounds through the pistol and now you are wanting to clean it immediately. If you are an inexperienced person in gun maintenance, you may want to wait till the next range visit to clean your gun BEFORE headed to the range. There is a higher likelihood of incorrectly reassembling your CCW or defensive weapon, and having a firearm that is actual not functioning that you are choosing to defend yourself with. The gun ran fine at the range with 200 rounds, simply lock the slide to the rear, and apply lubricant to the high-wear points visible, give it a few racks, and dry fire; jam up and stow in your holster. If it worked at the range, it will work in a defensive situation. Once you have mastered assembly and disassembly of the defensive pistol and are absolutely confident in your abilities to check operation of the firearm and trouble shoot any issues, should you clean after the range. I personally clean my defensive carry guns only after a few thousand rounds and ALWAYS lubricate after the range.

Zev OZ9 Craighead with Surefire X300U-B and Holosun 508TX2 GR

Our favorite gun cleaning solvent is Breakthrough Clean and can be purchased HERE.

Breakthrough Military Grade Weapon Cleaning Solvent – 2 fl. oz. Spray Bottle

  • Non-water based distilled petroleum solvent that has no carcinogens or hazardous waste materials
  • No odor, is non-staining, removes all fouling, while completely evaporating, leaving absolutely no residue behind
  • Truly pH neutral, which means its safe on your firearm’s wood, plastics, polymers, Cerakote and/or hydroprinting
  • Cleans efficiently, dramatically reducing the duration of cleaning and frequency between cleaning
  • Has a flashpoint of 150 F and is therefore considered non-flammable
  • Made in the USA

Our favorite lubrication is Breakthrough Clean HP Pro found HERE.

Breakthrough Battle Born HP Pro Lubricant and Protectant – 2 fl oz bottle.

Battle Born HP Pro Lubricant and Protectant is a blend of high quality, 100% synthetic gun cleaning oils. This anti-rust, anti-foam, non-toxic, odorless lubricant is treated with extreme pressure and anti-wear additives to provide ultimate and lasting corrosion protection and lubrication under a broad range of temperatures (from -65°F to 507°F). This innovative gun lubrication solution is safe for all metal, plastic and polymer components.

  • 100% synthetic
  • Withstands extreme temperature range
  • Rust and corrosion protection
  • Odorless
  • Non-Toxic
  • Non-Hazardous
  • Non-Staining
  • Protects against wear and friction
  • Water and moisture resistant
  • Made in USA

Picking a CCW Holster

There are many ways to conceal carry a pistol. There are your standard IWB, or inside-the-waistband holsters. There are AIWB, or appendix-inside-the-waistband holsters. Lastly, classic pancake-style OWB, outside-the-waistband holsters; that hug tight to the body and can be worn with a shirt or jacket over the rig to conceal it. To save some reading, please check out these series’ of videos showcasing some of the items we have to offer for holsters and concealment.

Sig Sauer P365XL “Master Blaster” Holster

Inside the Waistband Holster

This is a holster that goes INSIDE the belt between your long-johns and your trousers. Typically clipped onto the outside of an exterior belt. IWB holsters use garments for concealment. There are “tuckable” versions of IWB holsters, that can be worn with suits. Some holsters also utilize a concealment wing or claw.

AIWB with Claw Holster Paired with a NeoMag T-Post and Alias Receiver

“Utilizing a Concealment Claw, this holster is designed with the highest level of concealment in mind. The users belt applies positive pressure on the claw, turning the firearms grip into the body. Made with the highest quality materials available, our KYDEX holsters are built for hard use, standing up to the punishment of our sponsored competition shooters and everyday users. Our Appendix inside the waistband design allows the user to carry their firearm primarily appendix but also a wide variety of other positions respective to the user’s body type, tactics and personal preferences. Each KYDEX Holster is CNC cut and handcrafted in the USA. All ANR Design holsters come suppressor sight ready up to 0.450″ tall.” (Quick Ship IWB Holsters).

Classic Outside the Waistband Holsters or “Pancake” Holsters

The term “pancake” holster is nicknamed from having to sheets of KYDEX or leather, stacked on each other and formed over the mold, similar to a stack of flapjacks. They are generally worn with the belt threaded through the loops, and sit nice and tight to the body. They can be worn with bigger or baggier garments over for concealment. This is a very popular style of holster for plain clothes operations of Military or Law Enforcement. “Each OWB has adjustable retention. Our Outside the waistband holsters are designed to hug the body limiting the chance of hooking or snagging objects while performing everyday activities. Vacuum formed, two-piece construction, single op-formation ensures the highest level of fit and rigidity. Each pistol holster is custom made to order and handcrafted in the USA. All ANR Design holsters come suppressor sight ready up to 0.485″ tall.”(ANR Quick Ship Standard Outside the Waistband Holsters).

Tactical Outside the Waistband Holster or Duty Holsters

These are holsters that are mounted to a “battle belt” or duty belt. They are a permanent fixture of the belt system. Some tactical outside the waistband holsters have quick detachment components to ease in the changing of the system over to a different firearm without having to build out an entirely new belt kit. ANR Design makes our Nidhogg series. It is a modular Tactical outside the waistband holster that has three mounting solutions for different manufacturers of quick detach systems. For a full list of ANR Design OWB Holsters, check out the builders HERE.

Nidhogg Tactical OWB in Multicam Arid

“ANR DESIGN NIDHOGG Tactical Outside the waistband is a unique design incorporates mounting for Safariland QLS Fork, G-Code RTI hanger, and also fits the Blade Tech Tek Lok and other mounting from Blade Tech (Blade Tech mounting options not included during ordering). Nidhogg Series Tactical Outside the Waistband holsters are CNC cut and vacuum formed for accuracy and precision fit. All ANR Design Nidhogg holsters are Optic cut, Suppressor Sight Height, and Threaded Barrel ready.  Designed for right-handed Shooters only. Customer is responsible for sourcing their own Female RTI Disc set up, or Safariland Q22 QLS Female receptacle. We do not provide the female belt mounting options. Nidhogg holsters come with the MALE Fork or Hanger ONLY. All ANR Design holsters come suppressor sight ready up to 0.450″ tall.”

Holster Maintenance

Holster maintenance is very important. Similar to pistol cleaning, and maintenance, holster maintenance can lead to a better maintained pistol, and reliable gear. IWB holsters tend to fill with lint and debris dropping off the body. OWB holsters pick up all sorts of debris from the environments they are being used in. If the finish of your gun is a priority to maintain, then clean the exterior of the gun and the interior our your holster often. Sweat and dirty can build up, wearing the exterior finish of the pistol, faster.

Tightening hardware, and checking Loctited screws is also very important. Having a holster go down can lead to NOT being able to carry your gun safely. ALWAYS own TWO of the same holsters, and backup hardware so you are never unable to carry. Check out this video Ian, ANR Design Operations Manager, made about cleaning your kit.

Professional Firearms Training: Introduction to Conceal Carry

Always seek professional training when you first dive into the world of CCW. You can only learn so much on YouTube, and hitting the range yourself. You need a professional to critique you, in order to drive your skillset and abilities higher. Seek out local instructors that are CERTIFIED and VETTED. There are so many phonies out there, so be careful who you give your money to.

Diversity of instructors is equally as important in class taking and formal instruction. If you can afford to, train from as many different instructors and school houses as possible. One instructor’s methods are not absolute. You need to sample many schools of thought and apply the range of knowledge to your shooting training and abilities. You will not grow as a shooter if you do not invest in diversity of information. Take as many intro level conceal carry classes as possible.

We are located in New Hampshire, and we are so lucky to have two of the best training companies in the country here locally. The Sig Sauer Academy, and Ridgeline Training Center.

Firearms Training at Home: Dry Fire Practice

Tons of different ways to train in the comfort of your own home, with just a dry gun. You could be working on your draws from concealment or from your belt, you can set up targets around the house to randomly draw and press trigger at, you could even practice drills with a shot clock. Dry fire practice is VERY important. A bad habit new shooters always pick up is, flinching or anticipating recoil. Anticipating recoil is the act of involuntary flinching the muzzle down before or during the trigger press. Dry fire practice can actually help get rid of this habit! Pressing the trigger, and the gun not going bang helps teach the brain to not flinch, since the gun isn’t firing.

There are also interactive tools that can help as well:

SIRT Pistol SIRT Training Pistol. This was the very first training tool that I began with. The almost full weight gun, with weighted magazines is great for getting the gun up, and it feeling correct. The trigger has 2 functions. As you press and prep the trigger to the wall, a green laser emits from the muzzle. Once the wall is pressed through, a red laser emits. When aiming at targets, you can observe the quality of your trigger prep and press with the green laser. With the red, you can see the steadiness and control you have when pressing the trigger and overcoming the wall. It’s a great tool for trigger control, trigger prep, and follow through. Usually cost $379.00 give or take.


  • Weighted gun
  • Weighted Mags and ability to reload
  • Laser Emits for trigger prep and press


  • Household pets go bananas for lasers
  • Weighted mags are not that durable and can break or deform dropping on hard flooring
  • There is no reciprocation or functionality of the gun other than mag changes and trigger press
SIRT Training Pistol in Glock Configuration.

Coolfire trainer Coolfire Trainer. Coolfire Trainer can be purchased for around $315.00 or more. This is the most interactive training tool for use with your personal firearm. It has a laser in the muzzle of the barrel assembly that fires when the gun reciprocates. Empty mags create mag lock and allow for true reloads. There’s only enough juice for a handful.


  • Uses personal gun
  • Simulates reciprocation and recoil
  • Slide locks the gun
  • Laser pointer to show where shots were placed
  • Fits your personal holster


  • Have to recharge the CO2 system every 15 shots
  • Have to stock and store replacement CO2 charging bottles
  • Laser Pointer excites household pets
  • CO2 bottles can be finicky and keeping them warm helps the recharge of the barrel
  • Noisy – Cannot train if you’re trying to be quiet in the house
Coolfire Trainer for 2011.

Mantis Mantis X10 Elite. The Mantis X10 Elite is a small accelerometer type device that Bluetooth connects to your mobile device. It has all sorts of training tools in the app. In app games to play with your gun. It presents data in the form of quadrant graphs and makes suggestions on your trigger press. Mantis X10 Elite is the most affordable of the training tools that we recommend, weighing in at $249.00.


  • Uses personal gun
  • Very detailed reasons for bad press in form of graphical representation
  • Affordable


  • Doesn’t fit holsters
  • Sensitive and sometimes accidently triggers
  • There is no reciprocation or functionality of the gun other than mag changes and trigger press and manual slide reset
Mantis X10 Elite

Advanced Firearms Training: Continuing Firearms Education

After you are confident in your basic abilities in conceal carry and training, it’s time to amplify your education. Take challenging classes and push your gear and skills to constantly grow and be a forever student. Again, make sure to take classes from vetted schools and individuals.

We are located in New Hampshire, and we are so lucky to have two of the best training companies in the country here locally. The Sig Sauer Academy, and Ridgeline Training Center.

Sig Sauer recently opened up the SEC, or Sig Explore Center, located on site of their Academy. The Sig Sauer Academy is World famous, and has trained or hosted Tier One units, International and National SOF units, civilians, Law Enforcement, International Law Enforcement, Celebrities, and more. They truly have a state of the art facility that they have passionately poured millions of dollars into. Check out the Sig Sauer Academy HERE!

Alex’s Battle Belt Setup

Ridgeling Training, Ridgeline Training, is a fantastic facility. Also known around the World for it’s countless SOF training that is conducted there. They are a very dimensional facility with shoot houses, mock city streets, gorgeous ranges, a sniper tower, and plenty of vehicles to work around. They are also located adjacent to the Team O’Neil Rally school! Team O’Neil has been conducting training for SOF for over 20 years and MIL training makes up more than 50% of their clientele. This target rich and capabilities rich location has proved fruitful for both companies who have a partnership packages for their customers. You’re a SOF unit that wants to learn driving, rally, vehicle recovery, and then do it all again with firearms, look no further than this kick ass team!

Alex clearing a plate rack at Ridgeline Training

Don’t let all that awesomeness deter you. Both Ridgeline and Team O’Neil take civilian customers and can elevate your capabilities to the Moon, if you have the cashflow to do so.

In Closing

Pack gats, protect yourself and your family, and be the best shooter you can be. Take your fitness and health seriously. The only way to become an apex shooter is the have the skills and fitness behind it. We hope this article serves you well to guide you on how to get a carry permit, and more! Please leave questions in the comment section!

If you like what you see, please check out other ANR Media by following the link below!

Here you can find the ANR Design Website, YouTube, Facebook Business Page, Twitter, and Twitch Accounts! Podcast Streaming!

Amazon Music




One comment

  1. Why is ANR Design so badass and hard core?
    Y’all have no right to go that hard and you do it anyway. It should be illegal to go as hard as ANR

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Quick Ship

Quick Ship Options Available

Rush Production

Rush Production Options Available

Lifetime Warranty

Purchasable No-Questions Asked Lifetime Warranty