Not everyone has an easy time concealing their handgun.
IWB holsters are great but require you to wear certain clothes. OWB holsters are comfortable but aren’t concealed unless you have a jacket or vest covering them.
Instead, many people turn to vests to conceal their guns. CCW vests either allow you to pass your hand through the pockets to get to your holster or contain an internal gun pocket, so you don’t need to wear an additional holster!
Some gun vests are ventilated and good for summer. Others have quilted insulation that’s good for winter.
Some are leather, suitable for riding a motorcycle. Others have more classic styling. Still, others have many pockets, making them great for hiking, hunting, and photography.
Finally, a good vest helps you look fashionable. Why not add a level of style to your CC outfit?
The 9 Best Concealed Carry Vests of 2019: Outdoor Empire Reviews
- Best cheap #1: Wyoming Trader’s Texas
- Best cheap #2: Milwaukee Leather Denim Club Style
- Best for the money #1: Legendary Whitetail’s Canvas Cross Trail
- Best for the money #2: Rothco Plainclothes
- Best overall #1: BlueStone Safety
- Best overall #2: 5.11 Tactical Covert, Style 80016
- Best leather: SOA Anarchy Outlaw Biker Club Style
- Best lightweight: Rothco Lightweight Professional
- Best motorcycle: The Bikers Zone SWAT Style
|Category||Best cheap||Best for the money||Best overall|
|Product|| || ||
|Material||10 oz. canvas||100% cotton||Cotton and Polyester|
|Colors||Black||- army green|
- big game field camo
|Extras||Magazine loops and internal pocket||4 interior utility pockets||- many pockets
- handgun pockets have an elastic retainer
|Pros||More gear storage than expected||Very tough||Available in sizes up to 6XL|
|Cost||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
1. Best Cheap Concealed Carry Vest #1: Wyoming Trader’s Texas Concealed Carry Vest
- Material: 10 oz. canvas
- Style: Western
- Colors: Black
- Extras: Magazine loops and internal pocket
The Wyoming Traders Texas concealed carry vest is a simply styled black vest with six buttons on the front. It’s made from 10-ounce canvas.
Western yokes cement this vest as something a cowboy would wear, so it goes great with jeans and a Western-style shirt.
The front of the vest has two hand pockets and two slip chest pockets. You’ll find more pockets on the inside, along with a large number of elastic straps. These loops can hold your handgun, along with several backup magazines and a few more items of gear.
The elastic is one-size-fits-all, which unfortunately means it won’t fit all handguns. When you get this vest, put the gun in the holster and move into a bunch of different positions. If the gun falls out while you’re bent over, you may need to add some Velcro for better retention.
Unfortunately, the buttons are not snap buttons, which slows down how quickly you can open the vest. It still looks stylish worn open, though.
- Classic Western style
- More gear storage than expected
- Elastic loops may not fit all guns
- Slow access to your firearm
The Wyoming Traders Texas concealed carry vest is an economic choice for carrying your handgun and ammo while looking stylish, but it’s hard to quickly draw your gun.
2. Best Cheap Vest #2: Milwaukee Leather Denim Club Style Vest
- Material: 14.5 oz. cotton denim
- Style: Biker
- Colors: Black
- Extras: Single panel back for club patches
The Milwaukee Leather Denim Club Style Vest is a black biker’s vest. It looks just like any other black denim biker vest, except it has a gun pocket hidden inside.
There are five buttons on the front, which go from the open collar down to the waist, to help keep the wind from flowing into the vest. Those buttons are snap buttons, so you can easily pop open the vest when you need to draw your pistol.
You may have to experiment to find the best way to carry your gun in this vest because there isn’t an internal holster. Instead, there’s a pocket that doesn’t hold the gun as securely as a proper holster.
Some people also seem to have trouble finding the best fit. The company recommends measuring your chest and adding 2 inches, but it’s cut to fit people with a bit of weight to them.
Some people have seen success by measuring their stomach. Others just order one size smaller than their normal size.
Also, there’s a lot of black dye on this vest. Wash it a couple of times unless you want your other clothes stained black after getting caught in a rain shower!
- High-quality construction
- Dye needs to be washed out
- Fits best on people with a bit of a belly
Milwaukee Leathers’ Club Style Vest is well-made and inexpensive but may be too bulky on athletic bodies.
3. Best Concealed Carry Vest for the Money #1: Legendary Whitetail’s Canvas Cross Trail Vest
- Material: 100% cotton
- Style: Rugged
- Colors: Army green, big game field camo, black, charcoal, and twig
- Extras: 4 interior utility pockets
The Legendary Whitetails Men’s Canvas Cross Trail Vest is a popular vest, but there’s a catch.
There was a manufacturing error for the current style, which resulted in a missing fastener. This piece of fabric was supposed to help retain the gun in the pocket, but since it’s missing, Legendary Whitetails is marketing this vest as having utility pockets.
Those pockets are still great for concealing a firearm, though! Many people still use this vest to carry their gun.
That being said, this vest looks like a Carhartt vest but is better all around. The hardware and fabric are heavy duty without being overly stiff. The outer shell is a soft-washed, heavy-duty cotton canvas, while the inside is a quilted polyester for warmth.
So, this vest is rugged enough for construction or hunting in harsh environments.
There are two slash hand pockets and two chest pockets on the outside. Inside has four “utility” pockets, wink, wink.
The shoulders are reinforced to handle a heavy metal object’s weight.
Many people report that the vests run a size large, so take that into consideration when ordering.
- Comfortable yet conceals anything hidden in the utility pockets
- Very tough
- Not suitable for warm weather
While Legendary Whitetails doesn’t market the Cross Trail Vest as a concealed carry vest, it still does so very well without being terribly expensive.
4. Best Vest for the Money #2: Rothco Plainclothes Concealed Carry Vest
- Material: Polyester
- Style: Photographer
- Colors: Black, khaki, and olive drab
- Extras: Many pockets, vented back
The Rotcho Plainclothes Concealed Carry Vest is the same as their Outback vest except for the inclusion of a concealed carry pocket.
On each side of the vest, on the inside, there’s a concealed carry holster. It’s an open, top pocket closed with Velcro. This limits the size of the handgun you can carry. Larger guns will block the Velcro from closing and smaller guns will slide around.
Thankfully, it’s easy enough to add Velcro to the inside of the pocket so you can use a holster pouch, such as the one from 5.11 Tactical.
Even beyond the holster, this vest has almost too many pockets to count. Some are closed with Velcro and others are closed with zippers. There’s even a map pocket inside the back, which is perfect for hiding important belongings from pickpockets.
The back is also vented and has mesh to keep you cool, even when hiking, making this vest is good for most of the year. But it won’t help keep you warm in the winter.
You can zip up the front of the vest or use the single button snap.
- Lightweight and comfortable in the heat
- Many pockets
- Holster pocket may require modification to fit your specific firearm
- Not good for winter
The Rothco Plainclothes Concealed Carry Vest can hold lots of gear, including your pistol, without looking too bulky or causing you to overheat. However, the holster pocket won’t fit some guns without adding more Velcro.
5. Best Overall Concealed Carry Vest #1: BlueStone Safety Concealment Vest
- Material: Cotton and Polyester
- Style: Photographer
- Colors: Black, olive, and tan
- Extras: Many pockets, handgun pockets have an elastic retainer
The BlueStone Safety Concealment Vest is another photographer’s vest, except made to a very high standard.
This gun is excellent for concealed carry because it contains two gun pockets, one on either side. Each one contains an elastic retainer, so they can hold compact handguns all the way up to full-size pistols.
A brass snap holds each gun pocket closed. The entrance is angled up slightly and is close to the top of the front zipper, so you can draw your gun at a moment’s notice without having to open your vest.
There are six magazine pouches for when you need to reload, three along each side’s bottom. There’s also a zippered pocket inside both sides for even more storage.
The front has a multitude of pockets as well, some Velcro and some zippered. All of the zippers are high-quality YKK zippers. There are three D-rings for attaching more gear and a US flag.
You can buy this vest in sizes from Medium to 6XL. Chance are good that you’ll need to order a size up.
It’s also heavier than it looks, even without filling the pockets with supplies.
- Available in sizes up to 6XL
- High-quality construction
- Surprisingly heavy
The BlueStone Safety Concealed Carry Vest is well made and conceals two guns and their ammo very well, but it weighs more than expected and doesn’t allow your back to breathe while hiking.
6. Best Overall Vest #2: 5.11 Tactical Covert CCW Vest, Style 80016
- Material: Polyester
- Style: Soft Shell
- Colors: Battle brown, black, dark navy, moss, and storm
- Extras: Water- and wind-resistant, pass-through pockets
While most of 5.11’s gear is aimed at on-duty professionals, they have good CCW gear as well. Item 80016 is a Covert Conceal CCW Vest, which would not be out of place in the big city.
The 5.11 Covert Vest is a soft-shell vest with a polyester shell. Though soft, it is resistant against both water and wind. It may be too warm during the summer months, though.
While this vest does have hidden internal pockets, they’re not designed to hold a firearm.
Instead, this concealed carry vest is designed to hide a firearm holstered on your belt. Ambidextrous pass-through pockets allow you to access your firearm without removing the vest.
Those hidden chest pockets are great for holding important documents. They can also conceal a small tablet computer! The external chest pocket is on the small side, however, and may not be able to hold your smartphone.
- Doesn’t look like a concealed carry vest at all
- Large hidden document pockets
- Lets you use your preferred holster
- Weather resistant
- Middling quality zippers
- Perhaps more expensive than it needs to be
The 5.11 Tactical Covert CCW Vest is great for wearing during fall, winter, and spring to keep you safe from the weather while covering your OWB holster.
7. Best Leather Concealed Carry Vest: SOA Anarchy Outlaw Biker Club Style Vest
- Material: Cowhide leather
- Style: Motorcycle
- Colors: Black
- Extras: Both button and zipper front closure and single panel back
Sometimes you need a good leather biker’s vest. The SOA Anarchy Outlaw Biker Club Style Vest is a great biker’s vest.
It is made from genuine cowhide leather, not the cheap sewn-together patches you often find for sale at discount leather shops. The leather is thick enough to survive a slide without being heavy enough to cause you to overheat when stopped at a stoplight.
The back is a single panel of leather, so you can add a large club patch.
The front closes with button snaps for a speedy draw or a zipper to keep the wind out while you’re riding your motorcycle.
There are four pockets on the outside and four on the inside. The external chest pockets are small and not good for much. There is one Velcro internal pocket that’s good for a magazine. There’s also a zippered internal pocket.
The main draw, however, is the two gun pockets, each one closed with two snaps. They keep your gun in the pocket until you need to draw it.
The vest is tapered. This is good for thinner people but may not fit those with larger bellies.
- Classic biker style
- Comfortable, high-quality leather.
- Tapered style won’t fit everyone
The SOA Anarchy Outlaw Biker Club Style Vest is great for bikers who want to conceal a handgun, but it won’t fit bikers with beer bellies.
8. Best Lightweight Concealed Carry Vest: Rothco Lightweight Professional Concealed Carry Vest
- Material: Cotton and polyester
- Style: Safari
- Colors: Black and khaki
- Extras: Magnetic buttons and vented back
Some people, like me, have trouble concealing a handgun in the heat. The Rothco Lightweight Professional Concealed Carry Vest is perfect for such people because it’s a very lightweight vest that’s good for wearing during the summer.
The fabric is a 60/40 cotton/polyester blend for strength without weight. The back is vented to allow air to circulate, which helps keep you from sweating.
There are four external pockets and six internal pockets. Two of the internal pockets are open-top gun holster pockets, closed with Velcro. They are well designed enough to carry a wide variety of handgun sizes without trouble.
The other internal pockets are sideways magazine pouches, also closed with Velcro. These are easier to pull mags from than the vertical magazine pockets most typically found in CCW vests.
The front pockets have magnetic buttons for easy access to your gear. The vest closes with either a zipper or a single patch of Velcro. I would have preferred Rothco to have added multiple Velcro closures, but those are not too difficult to add yourself.
Like many other CCW vests, these tend to run a size large.
- Good handgun pocket and mag pouch design
- Very lightweight and well-ventilated design
- Not as effective at concealing heavyweights due to the lightweight design
If you need a lightweight vest to keep you cool while carrying during the summer, the Rothco Lightweight Professional Concealed Carry Vest is a great choice.
9. Best Motorcycle Concealed Carry Vest: The Bikers Zone SWAT Style Vest
- Material: Buffalo leather
- Style: Motorcycle
- Colors: Black
- Extras: Adjustable side straps and out-seam gun pocket
Bikers come in all shapes and sizes, so a single style doesn’t fit everybody.
The Bikers Zone’s SWAT Style Vest is not quite a club style vest, but it’s close. You do have the single back panel for cleanly adding a club patch. The vest’s lining has zippers, so you can easily sew on that patch, too.
What makes this vest so good is the adjustable design. The side panels are spandex and sport three straps, so you can lengthen or tighten the vest to fit your body, even if you put on weight!
The rest of the vest is made from premium buffalo leather. Buffalo hide is tougher than cowhide, so this vest will keep you safer in a slide.
The front pockets have vertical zippers and can’t carry much. The internal pockets are better but can’t be accessed when the vest is zipped shut.
The gun pocket, however, is on an outside seam, meaning you don’t need to unzip your pocket to draw your firearm.
- Adjustable design
- Out-seam gun pocket
- Very large size range
- No hand pockets
- Only one gun pocket, so this vest may not be a good choice for left-handed people
The Bikers Zone SWAT Style Vest is perfect for bikers and other people who need to conceal a handgun and have trouble finding a vest that fits, though the CCW setup is not ambidextrous.
Why Choose A Concealed Carry Vest?
In my opinion, not enough people wear vests. Not just CCW vests, but other types of vests as well.
They can keep you warm in the winter. When it’s summer, a good photographer or safari vest helps you carry loads of gear without making you sweat too much.
Many bikers already wear leather vests. They provide effective armor against an abrasive slide and can be layered under a motorcycle jacket for additional protection. Also, without a vest, where would you put all of those patches?
Plus, some outfits just don’t look right without a vest. A classic style vest can bring together an entire look.
Now, add all of those advantages to the following:
A CCW vest can help you conceal one or more handguns.
I have trouble concealing pistols. I haven’t found an IWB or OWB holster that works; each one prints!
CCW undershirts work a lot better, but that’s an awkward draw and requires an overshirt.
CCW vests, however, go on easily and carry a pistol without printing. Plus, they can cover an OWB the holster or even a shoulder rig.
Without a vest, about the only gun I can conceal without printing is an NAA Mini Revolver. CCW coats are too heavy to wear most of the year, so vests let me conceal a pistol whenever I want to.
That’s in addition to the other utility they bring to the table, such as hidden document pockets.
How To Choose A Gun Vest?
Concealed weapon vests, unlike a lot of other gear, are more personal preference than any other factor.
So long as the vest fits you and you think it looks good, then the vest will probably work for you.
If you still need help deciding, then these words of wisdom may be able to help you.
Some vests have a holster, typically made of elastic. Others have a pocket, gun-shaped or otherwise, often closed with Velcro or a snap button.
You’ll see reviewers talk about their guns fitting or not fitting in those gun pockets. Often, guns will slide around in them, as they lack retention.
Just so you know, almost every CCW vest holster sucks.
If your gun fits in the holster perfectly, then great! You lucked out. Most of the time, you’ll have to add a pocket holster to keep your gun more secure.
Pocket holsters are not expensive, so I wouldn’t sweat too much over whether or not your gun falls out of your vest when you do handstands.
What’s more important is how easily you can draw your gun.
After you get the vest, practice drawing and reholstering your firearm (while empty, of course!). Once you’ve decided you’re happy with the vest, then add some Velcro and a pocket holster.
Deciding on which concealed carry vest to buy is an individual choice because, unlike lots of CCW equipment, your choice will heavily depend on your personal style.
There are other considerations to keep in mind, but a biker will probably never wear the same vest as a cowboy.
Motorcycle CCW vests are designed to be worn on a motorcycle, naturally.
These are almost always leather, though some denim biker vests are made as well. Motorcycle vests made from denim may match the style, but I wouldn’t depend on them while riding because leather far surpasses denim in abrasion resistance.
You can find many cheap biker vests made from patchwork leather. These are made from leather scraps and are rarely worth the price. Manufacturers who make those will cut costs elsewhere too, which is not something you want with a concealed carry vest.
Most motorcycle vests are in the club style, so they have a single-paneled back suitable for adding club patches.
Photographer vests are typically made from cotton, polyester, or both, and have a large number of pockets. They were more common before photography went digital but are still often used to aid in taking pictures outdoors.
Safari and fishing vests are very similar because they both have plenty of pockets for hobby equipment.
Fishing vests are the lightest and are mostly mesh, which makes them a poor choice for concealing anything, let alone a gun.
Safari vests are lighter than normal photography vests but not as light as fishing vests. They are warm-weather vests, and the concealed carry versions are good for carrying lighter CCW firearms.
These tough vests are used by construction workers and hunters, both people who venture into areas filled with sharp objects that can cut apart less-durable vests.
Some people like this style as well. Indeed, rugged vests are often insulated and are the best style for wearing in the cold.
You can wear a heavy gun with a rugged carry vest without any trouble. At least, until it gets too warm out.
Softshell vests are often made from fleece or polyester. They resist water and wind, which makes them great for biking or running during nasty conditions. They’re also casual and good for normal day-to-day wear.
However, softshell vests aren’t as stiff as other styles, so most softshell vests intended for concealed carry don’t hold the gun themselves. They instead allow your hand to pass through the vest to access a holster on your belt.
Softshell vests are the least conspicuous of all concealed carry vests, so if you carry in a gun-unfriendly city, you probably want to wear this type of vest.
These vests are great for a classic cowboy outfit and look good with jeans, cowboy boots, and Western shirts.
You don’t have to go full-cowboy to enjoy this style, though. Western vests can be worn casually as well, though they often lack the storage capacity of other vest styles.
Material and Weight
What your vest is made of is important.
Generally, tougher materials hide guns better. Soft cotton fabric will show the gun’s outline while heavier cotton won’t bend as easily and will hide it.
However, heavier materials insulate you better. So, if you’re wanting a CCW vest for summer, avoid the thick cotton or heavy leather. Light cotton or cotton/polyester blends are better.
If you want to protect yourself and your gun from rain, then chances are you’ll want a softshell vest. Those are water resistant, while cotton vests collect water and dry slowly.
Naturally, if you plan on carrying while riding a motorcycle, you want leather.
You need to match your situation with the vest you want to buy.
Top Carry Vest Brands
BlueStone Safety’s customers are law enforcement and security professionals. They specialize in load-bearing vests that are better than the average.
If you want a custom-made vest, one which works with your body to support the weight, BlueStone Safety is a great choice. They even produce their own level IIIA armor panels.
However, BlueStone Safety produces more than just body armor. They also have a wide variety of holsters. You can get classically styled leather holsters for your revolver or concealed carry holsters. They even make car holsters and desk holsters!
So, it’s no surprise that they used their security and law enforcement expertise to come out with one of the best concealment vests on the market.
Though made with military and off-duty police in mind, their concealment vest is perfect for civilian usage.
BlueStone Safety is located in Wisconsin and manufactures their products, including the body armor, in the United States.
Also based in Wisconsin, Legendary Whitetails was established as a direct-to-consumer company aimed at equipping deer hunters.
Legendary Whitetails was founded by the president of Safari Club International’s Wisconsin chapter, Larry Huffman. He helped write a series of books about the top bucks hunted in America.
These books were so popular that he was inspired to create his own line of merchandise. Rather than slap his name on inferior products, Mr. Huffman decided to sell high-quality hunting clothing.
His family still owns the business and continues to produce apparel for hunters and their families. They have branched out to other hunting culture products, so there is even car-related Legendary Whitetails gear.
Legendary Whitetails actively engages with their customers both in person and online, so you know they care about the quality of the products they sell.
If you’ve ever been in a military surplus store, you’ve seen Rothco clothing and gear.
Military surplus clothing and gear has been a mainstay of American culture since World War II. Rothco started as Morris Rothenberg & Sons, a dealer of surplus products in Manhattan.
Their supply eventually ran out, but demand didn’t, so Morris Rothenberg & Sons turned into Rothco and started manufacturing their own gear. They went from selling unused military clothing to making their own gear, then to selling their clothes to the military.
Rothco moved to Long Island, close to major highways and an airport. They learned how to distribute their gear better than many other military surplus companies and became one of the top suppliers of such equipment for stores around the nation.
Military, tactical, and outdoorsman gear is all produced and sold by Rothco. Now, they do seem to focus on volume over quality, and not everything Rothco sells is as durable as it should be. Some of it is hit or miss.
I’ve had good experiences with Rotcho products, but I know people who haven’t.
However, Rothco’s concealed carry vests are more than good enough for daily wear.
Rothco is also heavily engaged in charitable work. They are active with at least 14 charities, and Rothco employees regularly volunteer with some of these charities as part of their job.
These charities include Answer the Call, General Needs, Long Island Cares, and even a Rothco Summer Camp Scholarship Program.
Make sure to check our our other guides:
- If concealed carry vests do not fit yours style you can also consider ankle or shoulder carry.
- If you need something warmer, check out tactical jackets.
- Need to carry more stuff? Then take a look at shooting vests.