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14 Dec 2023
13 Dec 2023
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Gun Guide: How to carry a firearm safely

Gun Guide: How to carry a firearm safely

Table of Contents


Owning a firearm comes with benefits like being prepared for self-defence and having a firearm at hand where crime prevails, can save the owner and his family’s lives. Once you have obtained the necessary licence to own a firearm, you may prefer to carry it with you on occasion.

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Choosing a spot to carry your gun is almost as important as the gun you carry, but the ideal place for you would be wherever you have the easiest access to it when needed.

Carrying a gun legally in South Africa

According to the Firearms Control Act carrying a legally owned firearm is legal under all licence types in South Africa and requires no additional permit providing you follow the rules in a public place:

  • A handgun must be carried in a holster or similar holder specifically designed, manufactured or adapted for the carrying of a handgun and must be attached to the person, or in a rucksack or similar holder.
  • Any other firearm must be carried in a holder designed, manufactured or adapted for the carrying of that firearm.
  • A firearm must be completely covered and the person carrying it must be able to exercise effective control over such a firearm.

A firearm owner that needs to carry his firearm around, should choose a firearm that is both comfortable to shoot and to conceal, since you do not necessarily want anyone to know that you are carrying a firearm. Larger firearms is often outlined through clothing, while compact handguns are more comfortable and discrete to carry, but often come with smaller capacities.

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Different ways to carry a gun safely while having it ready for quick action.

Being able to access your gun quickly depends on the situation, the place you’re in, and what you are wearing. You never know when you might find yourself in a situation where you need to protect yourself with the use of force, so a growing number of people choosing to carry concealed firearms. 

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In South Africa one is being forced by law to carry a gun concealed and there are a few basic rules that apply to all methods of carrying a gun:

  • The Muzzle must point in a safe direction and be under control
  • The Safety must stay “on” until immediately before a person is ready to shoot
  • The carrier’s finger must be outside the trigger guard
  • A holster must completely cover the firearm’s trigger to keep it from accidentally snagging while holstering or unholster

There are a number of different ways to carry a concealed gun, as well as different type of holsters to use.

Inside Waistband Holster

An inside waistband holster, also known as an IWB, keeps a firearm safely secured at your waistband, usually with a clip that clasps over your belt.  The IWB holster is a popular carry method because the gun can be drawn quickly, and it allows you to carry a concealed firearm without wearing a lot of clothes during the typical hot summer days of South Africa. This can however only be done with narrow guns that are of a medium size.

Outside Waistband Holster

Outside waistband carry, also referred to as OWB, is similar to the IWB method but the handgun is resting on the outside, like the name suggests.  The biggest benefit of carrying your gun in an OWB holster is that you can carry a larger handgun more comfortably while still having it as accessible as with IWB.

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A disadvantage of OWB carrying is that, to keep the firearm concealed, you need to wear long garments that are able to cover your weapon even when you bend over or extend your arms.

Belly Band Holster

You can get maximum coverage with a belly band holster, which is an actual band that is wrapped around your midsection and has an inside pocket for the firearm. When worn, your gun is pressed closely against your middle with the main benefit that it makes your gun practically invisible.  With this method, however, you probably won’t be able to access your firearm as quickly as you would with IWB and OWB options. On the other hand, belly bands often come with additional useful pockets where one can store extra magazines.

Since this concealed carry method presses your gun close to your body and could become covered in sweat, you should make sure that the belly band is made from a high-quality waterproof material.

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These strong-side carrying methods allow one to easily access a gun without having to reach across your body and with very basic movements that are easy to master with a little bit of practice.

Shoulder Harness

The shoulder harness holster is a more traditional holster that is worn over the shoulder with your gun holstered and suspended underneath your arm.  This type of harness makes carrying bigger handguns more comfortable and come in three styles, with the muzzle either angled to make it relatively quick to draw; horizontal, where the gun is drawn straight across the body (best for guns with short barrels); or vertical, with the muzzle pointed down, which is the slowest way to draw but the best for large-sized guns.

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Pouch Carry

With the pouch carry option, the pouch is strapped to your side, but the firearm is quite inaccessible as you have to open the pouch to draw the gun.  It also draws unnecessary attention even though the gun itself is not actually visible.

Ankle Carry

An ankle holster is a convenient way to comfortably carry a backup pistol concealed.  You need to make sure however that your pants will conceal your gun, and that they are easy to roll up if you need to draw the gun. For these reasons it is not clever to ankle holster your primary weapon, but it is perfect for a backup gun.

Pocket Carry

If you own a compact pistol and aren’t keen on wearing tight pants, you may consider using a pocket holster which keeps a pistol safe and secure while resting comfortably in your pocket.

A pocket holster is easy to conceal, but you are limited to small pistols. 

Understanding the use of firearms in self-defence


Concealed carrying is extremely empowering, knowing that you are prepared to step in should anything happen to yourself or others around you.

When shopping around for holsters, you want to find one that fits comfortably and keeps your gun secure.  After that, practice drawing your gun until it becomes second nature. 

Air Guns: Do’s and Don’ts for using Air Guns in South Africa

Now that different ways to conceal carry a gun have been discussed, owners should remember to always double check the safety of their guns before putting it into a holster, and also remember the following:

  • Never draw the gun with your finger on the trigger, keeping your finger straight and off the trigger until you intend to fire.
  • Never carry your weapon into places where you are not allowed to.
  • Make sure to keep your gun as concealed as possible if open carry is not permitted.
  • Always remove the entire holster before removing the firearm when disarming yourself.
  • Always treat a weapon like it is loaded.

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May you carry a firearm in public in South Africa?

Yes, you may carry a firearm in public if it is completely covered and the person carrying the firearm must be able to exercise effective control over such firearm.


Is it safe to carry a gun in your pocket?

No, it is not safe to carry a gun in you pocket except if it is a small type of gun and it is carried in a pocket holster.


Does the Firearms Control Act prescribes where on your body you must carry a gun?

No, you can either carry a gun in a waistband, belly, shoulder, or ankle holster.

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