Friday, May 28, 2010

What came first? The gun or the holster?

Or maybe I should clarify. When you CC, what rig/holster/waistband/pocket/purse do you use? And did you pick your carry style to fit the gun, or the gun to match your carry style? And how many false starts did you have before you found what worked for you?

I ask because I’m curious how it compared to my experience. My first pistol was a .38 Special snubbie picked up cheap from a friend when I left an unpredictable relationship and happened to move in next to a guy who heard voices in his head and had a penchant for leaving long, rambling letters in mayonnaise jars on the front porch. He was quite nice to me, but rumor had it he ended up stabbing his brother in the gut. Apparently he was aiming for his mother. But, I digress.

Michael W. came up one weekend with a bunch of holsters and we spent part of the day establishing that due to the way I’m built, nothing that had anything to with carrying on a waistband worked for me. I’m 6’ tall, which you’d think would give me plenty of room, but I’m long of limb, and short of waist. When standing, my elbows rest below my waist - just about on my hip bones. Any holster worn in the vicinity of my waist is going to stick out at an angle and/or sit so high up in relation to my elbows, that the I have to bend in half to grab the grips. Well, that and the grips will be about 4" from my armpit. (Ask me how I know.) That pretty much left me with a shoulder rig as I’ve got plenty of arm length to reach across my front. (Yes, I’m aware of the drawbacks of reaching across to draw my weapon. Rule #3 is your friend.) And please don't suggest an ankle holster, because my pants aren't long enough to cover one. Especially when sitting. I’m a bit of a freak, I know.

Then there was the fact that it took me all of 30 seconds to decide I HATED that pistol (well the trigger anyway. It probably felt a lot like this one) so I decided to pretty much start over with a clean slate.

Luckily, I’m married to Shorter Half (a gun geek to end all gun geeks*) and we started with the hypotheticals. What size pistol? How many rounds vs. how much stopping power? Where am I going to carry this thing and how am I going to conceal it? How heavy does it have to be before I decide it’s not worth carrying? How expensive/available is the ammunition, and how heavy is it? Can I hold/carry/interact with Sweet Daughter while wearing this rig?

Then we went to the closest retail establishment with lots of dead animals hanging from the walls, and I started looking for a new pistol. And looking. Until I found something that purred when I picked it up. Because, if I don’t like the gun, I’m not going to carry it. And it works with a shoulder holster, which sits on the same side that I carry my purse, and tucks in nicely in the hollow of my waist.

I ended up with a Springfield XD in 9mm. With a Galco shoulder rig. And luckily I’m always cold, so a light jacket in the summer is par for the course for me anyway, which makes concealment easier.

So, what do you carry, and how did you chose?

*This is not to say that Shorter Half is the most knowledgeable gunnie out there (although if you count the sheer mass of mostly useless esoteric information he has between his ears, I’ll wager he’s near the top of the list), just the geekiest.


  1. When I got my CHL and started carrying daily I learned very quickly that the guns I loved to shoot the most at the range were not the best for daily concealed carry. A full size 1911 doesn't conceal well in a Texas Summer. And that full steel frame doesn't like to be covered in sweat all day either.

    A lot of holsters later, I made a discovery.

    When you're carrying every day, the holster and it's support system matter more than the gun. You may or may not ever "use" the gun, but you WILL use the holster every day. It has to be comfortable enough to wear all day.

    So, I kinda reverse engineered the carry system. I started with a holster that was comfortable to wear all day, then found a gun that worked in that holster.

    I wound up with a 1.5 inch belt from The Belt Man, and a CTAC IWB from CompTac. In it, I stuff a XD in .40. (Either a Sub-Compact or Standard, depending on the season)


  2. I had the gun, needed a way to carry it.

    Mine is patterned on a full-sized SIG, but is not identical. After many false-starts at a gun shop that was very helpful in the fitment (Guns and Ammo Warehouse, Manassas, VA), I settled on a Galco "Concealable" OWB. Later on, I added a Milt Sparks "Versa Max 2" IWB as well. I am using the IWB regularly and it is very comfortable (although I think the Galco has a slight edge in comfort, at least for me). YMMV but this is what works for me.

  3. Being that I live in the Volksrepublik of MA, where the slightest hint that I'm carrying puts me in a world of hurt, I opt for concealment uber alles...

    I prefer pocket holsters, specifically the DeSantis Nemesis, for my S&W model 38 revolver or my Kel-Tec P3AT.

    I've already got one for the Kahr PM9 I hope to get someday...

  4. Nancy,

    I started with the pistol first, then found the best holster for it -- after a couple of missteps.

    I think that deciding what you are going to carry will help determine where you carry it.

    My thought was to find a firearm that I could shot well and wouldn't be impossible to carry. Figuring out how to carry it was simple after that....and I haven't even explored all the options.

  5. I agree with Alan, I started with the holsters, looking for ones that fit well and were comfortable and picked pistols to go in them.
    This process of making sure you are comfortable helps to ensure you will actually CC every day.

    I eventually found I have two carries that work for me. One is a Desantis gunhide G3 pocket holster. It blends in well and doesnt print anymore than a wallet, and actually prints as if it is a wallet. Since I tend to wear lightweight pants with lots of pockets much of the year, this is always an option.
    My other is an Uncle Mikes Size 15 inside the waist belt clip holster.
    Both are very easy to mount and unmount, both are comfortable and both carry my gun securely, so I don't have to constantly check to see if its there.
    Just FYI, I carry a Ruger LCP 380 in the pocket during the summer and when wearing something more than shorts and T-shirt, I wear a Sig P229 inside the waist. None of that kidney carry crap for me though, I have no wish to shoot myself, I carry on my right hip/butt cheek.
    Since I work at home, my most often 'go to gun' is the Remington 870 12G sitting next to my computer desk. You know, just in case the laser printer gets ornery. This shotgun is the one firearm in the house my wife rolls her eyes about most often.

  6. Uncle Mike's Pocket Holster and a S&W snubbie is what I carry most. Second place is a Milt Sparks VersaMax IWB with a SIG 229, but that rig is a bit bulky because of the pistol.