If you have a concealed carry permit, you may be wondering what the rules are when traveling across state borders. Known as reciprocity, it’s important for everyone with a permit to understand what these rules are and how they apply.

What is CCW Reciprocity?

As you already know, there are no federal laws in the U.S. that govern your right to have a concealed carry permit. It’s up to each state government to decide whether citizens have this right. For this reason, concealed carry laws vary from one location to another.

Most states will allow you to carry in some way, but not all states will allow you to cross state borders while you’re carrying.

In some states, permits have agreements built-in that honor licenses or permits from other states. It’s important to note, though, that not all states have these rules. Let’s say that you have a CCW permit in Georgia. You can cross over into South Carolina while carrying, but you can’t carry in California. You’d need to apply for a concealed carry permit if you wanted to carry legally while you were in the state.

Because reciprocity varies from one state to the next, it’s important to check with local law enforcement before carrying.

Concealed Carry States

Understanding which states issue concealed carry permits is also important. Most states allow residents to carry, but not all do. That right is denied in American Samoa and Northern Mariana Islands. And even states that are May Issue (i.e. may decide not to issue you a permit even if you meet all of the requirements) rarely issue permits in practice.

Here’s a basic rundown of states that are Shall Issue and May Issue, and whether each state recognizes out-of-state permits.

Shall Issue

  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Does not recognize out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Vehicle carry only for out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Does not recognize out-of-state permits.
  • Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • New Hampshire. Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • New Mexico. Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • North Carolina. Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • North Dakota. Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Rhode Island. Vehicle carry only for out-of-state permits.
  • South Carolina. Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • South Dakota. Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Unrestricted. Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • West Virginia. Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Partially recognizes out-of-state permits.
  • Recognizes out-of-state permits.

May Issue

  • Does not recognize out-of-state permits.
  • Does not recognize out-of-state permits.
  • Does not recognize out-of-state permits.
  • District of Columbia. Does not recognize out-of-state permits. No-issue in practice.
  • Does not recognize out-of-state permits. No-issue in practice.
  • Does not recognize out-of-state permits. No-issue in practice.
  • Does not recognize out-of-state permits.
  • New Jersey. Does not recognize out-of-state permits. No-issue in practice.
  • New York. Does not recognize out-of-state permits.
  • United States Virgin Islands. Does not recognize out-of-state permits. No-issue in practice.

As you can see, most states are Shall Issue, but there are quite a few May Issue states, too. Some of these states, like the District of Columbia and New Jersey are No Issue in practice, meaning that it’s not always easy to get a permit.

It’s important to remember that even if a state does recognize out-of-state permits, it does not necessarily mean that they will recognize yours. Again, it’s important to check with local law enforcement to see if it’s legal for you to carry.

What are the Best Concealed Carry States?

Which states are the best for concealed carry? The top states with the friendliest laws include:

  1. Easily the best state for concealed carry. Permits are issued to residents even though they’re not required.
  2. Getting a permit is cheap, and there are only a handful of prohibited locations for carrying.
  3. No permit required, but the state will issue them for residents who want to travel to reciprocal states.
  4. Like Alaska, Wyoming doesn’t require permits to carry, but will issue them to residents traveling to reciprocal states.
  5. No permit required, but reciprocity is an issue if you live in this state. Vermont won’t issue you a permit, so other states can’t honor a permit that does not exist.
  6. New Hampshire. Permits are less than $5, and the only restricted locations are courthouses.
  7. A great state for concealed carry, but permit fees are a little higher than neighboring states.

What Is The Best Way To Conceal Carry?

Concealed carry is really only designed for one purpose: lawful defense. And if you find yourself needing to defend yourself or your family, your weapon needs to be easily accessible. There’s a right way and a wrong way to conceal carry.

Holsters are the most widely accepted way to conceal carry, but you’ll find a few different types out there.

Belt holsters are, in theory, the best option – particularly if you’re wearing a heavy jacket. Weapons are virtually impossible to detect in this case and are easily accessible. The only problem is that wearing a heavy jacket is not always practical.

The SmartCarry holster is another popular option, but does have one caveat: it sits under your pants, wrapped around the top of your hips. Essentially, it’s a holster that’s worn inside of your pants. The weapon is easily accessible through the front top of your pants, which makes this a better choice when wearing light clothing.

Shoulder holsters may work well if you’re wearing a jacket or driving through a bad area of town. However, it may cause issues in certain public places as your weapon can easily be seen.

Some gun owners prefer ankle holsters, which can work well depending on the situation. They easily conceal the weapon, but make it difficult to draw.

Simply put, belt holsters are the obvious option if you’re wearing a heavy jacket. In other circumstances, the SmartCarry holster may be the better option or even an ankle holster Belt holsters can still work with lighter clothing, but need to be positioned properly to avoid being hassled when out in public.

Understanding reciprocity laws, which states are the best for concealed carry and how to carry is important for all gun owners. But what happens if you’re forced to use your concealed weapon in self-defense? Even if you were in the right, the legal fees to argue your case can be monumental. Self-defense insurance can help.

Protecting Yourself with Self-Defense Insurance

Did you know that your homeowners insurance does not cover any acts of self-defense? If you’re forced to defend yourself from a home invasion, your home insurance policy will likely do nothing to help you. Furthermore, your home insurance won’t cover you for concealed carry liability, or legal costs associated with a criminal defense charge.

Self-defense insurance can provide you with this vital protection. Most companies that provide this type of insurance offer coverage for:

  • Criminal defense reimbursement – if you are acquitted of charges.
  • Civil suit damages
  • Property damage
  • Bodily injury

Some will offer protection for multiple family members, while others will only cover you – the permit owner. Before settling on any plan, be sure to find out exactly what’s covered and what isn’t, so you can make a smart decision when choosing a carrier.

If you live in a “stand your ground” state, you may not necessarily need insurance. In these states, civil suits cannot be brought against those who use deadly force in the act of self-defense. That said, there’s still a good chance that you’ll spend thousands of dollar proving to the courts that you acted in self-defense.

Self-defense or concealed carry insurance is something that all gun owners should consider investing in. Should you ever have to use your firearm to defend yourself or your home, it’s comforting to know that your insurer will reimburse you for your criminal defense fees.