Photo by Mitch Kezar/Windigo Images
The decision to carry a firearm for personal protection raises the critical question of how you plan to carry. Having a firearm on your person requires that you find a solution that fits your lifestyle and local ordinances, and meets basic criteria for comfort and ease of access.
Keeping a weapon or two on my body became a daily reality in 2000, when I entered into law enforcement as a profession. Shortly after this, I began to experiment with different methods of carry, both on and off duty. I now carry pistols (plural) on me just about daily, and I have arranged my lifestyle and clothing to accommodate this choice.
For the first few years, I carried one pistol–a full-size Government Model 1911–and additional magazines on my belt when I was not in uniform. I carried them in an older OWB (outside the waist band) holster and magazine pouch made by Davis Leather Company, which is no longer available, and that worked brilliantly. This kept the pistol anchored close to my body, and ease of access to both pistol and magazines was great. Total concealment when carrying this way was never my concern, and above all I was comfortable most of the time.
How you carry is a matter of preference, but here are some things to keep in mind when making your decision.
On Your Hip
Leather is slowly being phased out of the carry world in favor of Kydex and other nylon products. And not without reason. Kydex is lighter than leather and less bulky, and it will not stain your clothes the way a leather holster can, depending on the dyes used in its construction. With this transition, I decided it was time to see if Kydex would fit my criteria for comfort. The simple answer is yes–it has become as comfortable to me as leather has been in the past. With a sturdy belt to keep your pistol and magazines up around your waist, Kydex will not let you down. Currently I opt for holsters and magazine pouches made by Griffon Industries in California. They are well made, and Griffon will work with the end user to tweak a product to his liking. The specific model I wear is the OWB holster. ($130; griffonindustries.com)
In Your Pocket
To me, the Holy Grail for comfortable concealment is pocket carry, and for this I also use a Kydex holster. Pocket holsters blur the outline of the pistol. But you must buy clothing that will accommodate carrying and, most important, drawing a pistol. A lot of my pants and shorts come from REI. I test the pockets to make sure my Colt Defender can enter and exit with ease. The holster I use most frequently is the Pocket Holster from Aholster Co. ($34; aholster.com)
On Your Ankle
When I’m wearing pants, I add an ankle holster to the mix. I carry a Defender or a small J-frame in the Tuff Ankle Holster by Tuff Products. The pistol is tightly secured in the holster, I can grab it with ease, and I’m able to loosen or tighten the holster around my ankle to the desired pressure. I really like this option when driving long distances. Carrying this way, I can reach down to my ankle and produce a firearm rather quickly. ($45; tuffproducts.com)