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How to Pick a Concealed Carry HolsterHow to Pick a Concealed Carry Holster
By Al Evan
Remember those great John Wayne movies where the “Duke” strapped on a big six shooter and it struck out from his body at about a 45 degree angle?
Well some folks still do that. They toss on a coat and think they have their weapon in a concealment holster. (They will only have that thought until a police officer steps behind them and wishes “don’t move” into his ear.) Our friend may, and probably is, completely legal but if you look like you are carrying a gun, you will draw a crowd.
So the big question is: Why have a concealed firearms permit if the weapon isn’t concealed?
First of all, consider the weapon before you consider where to conceal it. Big revolvers take up more bulk than big automatic pistols. In other words, your .44 magnum with an 8” barrel is going to be a little harder to conceal than your trusty Colt .45. There is a chance the tell-tale bulge of the revolver will be noticeable than the flat side profile of the Colt. That makes it easier to conceal carry the Colt on your hip than the .44 magnum.
Let's discuss pistols first. One of my favorite concealed carry holsters for almost any automatic pistol is the Israeli-built Fobus paddle holster. This one is molded to the shape of the gun and the gun fits nice and snug in it. (You don’t want it too snug because that means you might be fighting the problem at the most critical time.) Up until this design came along, most holsters clipped to the belt or had a belt loop. This one doesn’t. It goes over you pants and the paddle fits snugly against your hip. There is a slight forward angle that give a nice natural motion when you draw. Sorry, no more up and back violent moves like the Duke. This one is as smooth as 007 at a beauty contest.
There are also concealment holsters made to fit inside of the pants so the natural profile of the clothing you wear will help to nicely conceal the weapon. Think Andy Sipowicz and you'll get the picture. The fanny pack holster is also still available.
If your weapon has a bulky profile, use your body to conceal it. That means you are better off with a shoulder holster where both your jacket and your arm will help hide it. Shoulder holsters come in two basic varieties. One, I like to call it the John Wayne, is much like his hip holster only it is now it is moved up and positioned next to your rib cage. Caution. If you are a heavy guy, shoulder holster straps may show much like bra straps do. In that case, you could again here “don’t move” and that won’t come from someone who thinks you're "stylin."
The other shoulder holster is one that holds the gun in more of a sideways position rather than up and down inside your arm. It too, uses the arm to help conceal things. This is a good choice if you like to reach across the front of your body and draw your weapon.
Let's don't forget the little guy. We can’t discuss concealed gun holsters with discussing the concealed ankle holster. This holster is not designed for something bulky. It’s designed for a small backup handgun. Your pant leg will conceal things nicely if you are wearing the right size pants. Tight pants are out if you are planning to use an ankle holster. The ankle holster will strap to your legs and position the weapon up and down. There is nothing fancy here. It’s backup.
Those are the basic types of concealed carry holsters. Different manufacturers take different approaches to concealment holster design. Some folks like leather better than the molded plastic. Some like the micro fabrics because they wick the moisture from the weapon and prevent rust if the weapon is left in the holster. Some enclose the entire gun. Others enclose the trigger area and leave the barrel sticking out. And some, well some look just like what the rest of the guys have and you gotta have it, too.
But even John Wayne would whisper this one last thought in your ear…practice big fella.
Like anything with firearms, practice drawing the weapon--unloaded of course. You want to know what it feels like to remove it properly from your concealment holster. A tactical situation is not the time to be fumbling with a holster trying to remove a gun. Wear the jacket you will be wearing. Be familiar with what problems jackets and coats can cause and find a comfortable way to overcome those situations.
And always remember, never pull a gun unless you have to but if you have to…but make sure it's almost instinct when you do. That’s the secret of a good concealed carry holster.