Today I talk about making sure that your wardrobe doesn’t interfere with your carry setup. Jeff Mau at Tenicor and Spencer Keepers have touched on this subject, so definitely go check them out and follow them as well. Most dudes aren’t familiar with the concept that pants have different “rise” (the distance between the waist and the crotch). This measurement can either facilitate or hinder your EDC. Also, if like me you have a bit of a “successful lifestyle body”, you might fall into the trap of wearing their pants too low on the hips instead of at your natural waist. Given that we’re all hold up and eating our anxiety, you might find this info useful over the next few weeks.
In case you’re wondering, the products featured in this video are:
There’s a lot of doom & gloom, and a lot of artificially inflated panic going around right now. It’s a prime opportunity to work on our social fluency and emotional control. Interpersonal interaction is easy when both parties are having a good day and emotionally stable. When one of them’s agitated, if you’re still able to get to the desired result, then you REALLY know your skills work. Just because the situation isn’t ideal doesn’t mean we can’t leverage it to our benefit. Here’s a few suggestions on how to make this time of social distancing a bit more palatable.
Toilet Paper Shortage? Try this and thank me later.
It’s really important to approach information with a little skepticism and a critical mind.
Just because someone did XYZ job doesn’t necessarily mean they have the expertise to comment on a given subject.
Over the last 6 months or so, I’ve seen an uptick of folks with impressive resumes putting out bad information on several subjects related to the defensive world. It’s troubling because a lot of folks will take their commentary as an endorsement, without doing any deeper research of their own.
In most of these instances, I choose to chalk it up to knowledge bias: They’re so accomplished that stuff seems easy or obvious to them that might be more difficult for us “regular earth people”. You spend enough time around enough highly capable people, and it’s easy to get an inflated view of what base-level abilities are. Defensive driving & correcting a skid are probably a lot easier for Mario Andretti than it is for you or me.
Unfortunately, there are those out there that appear to be trying to capitalize on their backgrounds for their own gain, and aren’t interested in the quality of the info they’re putting out as long as it turns into more sales. Thankfully, they’re easy to spot.
Regardless of who your chosen experts are, it still bears asking “why do they have this opinion?”. If their explanation stops at “Because I was X”, that’s just a fancy way of saying “because I said so”, which is an unacceptable answer in my opinion.
If someone takes exception to being challenged (provided you’re not being a dick about it), that is probably a clue.
Please be selective about who gets your money, as well as your intellectual and emotional resources. We are in the golden age of good information that’s readily accessible. We owe it to ourselves to create a non-permissive environment for derp and myth.
#2 Flashlight: I’m currently using the Fenix PD35. It seem to strike a good balance of cost and performance. Full Disclosure: I have not taken a formal low-light class yet, so my flashlight has not been formally pressure tested.
#3 Less Lethal: The Shivworks curriculum really highlights the value of OC. My 2 preferred are the POM and ASP offerings. Each has its own pros and cons, and I’ll go into those in a separate article.
#4: Intermediate Force: I’m partial to saps, even though I’m a relatively new adopter. It offers the ability to modulate the severity of the force applied depending on if you strike with the flat or the edge, and the area you choose to target. If you want to see if it’s right for you, Boston Leather is a decent place to start. They’re well built and not super expensive.
#5: Deadly force: While I generally don’t carry a blade for defense anymore (that’s it’s own story), if you are truly spread thin, I’d rather see you buy a decent quality knife than a dubious quality pistol. That being said, I’m not supremely qualified to really comment on budget pistols, so I’ll defer that over to Claude Werner The Tactical Professor, who’s done quite a bit of research on that subject. Greg Ellifritz over at Active Response Training also has some insightful commentary that I think everyone should see.
*DISCLAIMER* The links above are part of the Amazon Affiliate program. If you order through those links, I receive a small portion of the purchase price.
If you’re still here and reading my material, I’ll assume that you share my interest finding that balance of how to effectively dress for the gun. Either that or you’re being held against your will, in which case blink twice and we’ll send help.
Now before you go out and spend a ton of money on a new wardrobe (something I would never recommend), there are a few tips, tricks, and tweaks that you can apply to your existing clothing. The thing to remember above all else is that fit is king. The properly fitting garment can fall & drape exactly the way you want it. And that is actually the focus of my first to points:
Avoid clothing that’s too tight: This one should be pretty obvious. Over the last couple years the trend seems to thankfully be moving away from overly fitted, almost painted on looking clothing. I don’t think much needs to be said on why this would be detrimental to concealment. We all like to joke about the guy in his shmedium Grunt Style t-shirt trying to hide a duty sized pistol in a hip holster. If your clothing hugs every curve and contour of your body, then any additions made to those curves & contours, be it a firearm or tacos, will be immediately apparent. That being said, I doubt this one will be a real issue for a majority of the people that read my posts.
Avoid clothing that’s too loose: There are actually 2 major reasons for this one. Firstly, baggy clothing tends to look sloppy or careless. This can set a negative impression, and is unflattering. Aesthetics might not be the top priority, but that’s not to say it isn’t important. The second aspect is a little counter-intuitive. Baggy clothing can highlight a concealed firearm almost as easily as tight clothes can. How is that? Baggy clothing means there’s a lot of extra fabric flapping around, so your daily bending, twisting, and moving can result in that extra material settling on the shelf that’s created by the grip of your pistol. If one side of your shirt is bunching and gathering unnaturally, that’s the type of irregularity that can invite further scrutiny.
Belt selection is critical: Typically when you’re dressing up, that means a tucked in shirt, which in turn means your belt is visible. Even if you’re wearing jeans, a “tactical” belt like the Wilderness Tactical Instructor belt or the Ares Gear Ranger belt will look out of place. Even something lower profile like the Mastermind Tactics (formerly Graith) Specialist is too conspicuous in my mind. Ares Gear tried to get around this with the Aegis, but it’s still scuba webbing. Typically dress(ier) belts mean leather. Just make sure the leather you select is appropriate for the environment. If, for example, you’re in a button down shirt with jeans & boots, a beefier leather gun belt like the 1/4″ thick offerings from Mean Gene, but if you’re in chinos, slacks or suit pants, you’ll need something that doesn’t look like work wear. You may have already read my article from last month where I compared the Kore Essentials and Slidebelt, which are my previous and current go-tos.
Your pants play into the concealment of an IWB holster! Most dudes, especially dudes that have a less than athletic build like myself will be inclined to pick pants that are less constricting because that’s more comfortable. This unfortunately creates a problem. You want your waistband to help snug the gun up against the body. Additionally, I’ve found that pants that are a little more fitted in the crotch, seat, and thigh tend to keep the holster body in place and prevent shifting. I’m not suggesting that the waist of your pants needs to be so tight that it’s cutting into you and leaving marks or red spots, but there should be at least some notable level of pressure from the waistband against your body.
Pant rise is important: For those unfamiliar, “rise” is the distance from the waistband to the crotch of a pair of pants. “Wait, you mean to tell me they’re not all the same?!?!?”. Well no, in fact they’re not, nor is one type universally effective. Depending on your build and the length of your torso, standard (high) or mid-rise pants might be moppropriate for you. The most common mistake that most guys make (again, especially those with the “successful lifestyle body”) is that they wear their pants too low. This can negatively impact your concealment by causing the gun to ride too low and/or create hot spots and discomfort. Your natural waist is typically at the level of your belly button, possibly down an inch or two. Most guys wear their pants on their pelvis, which is too low. The other issue is that wearing pants with the wrong rise too low can impede movement. The crotch of the pant is now lower than it should be, which means your legs are joined further down than they are naturally.
Shoe selection matters! Dressier shoes tend to have leather soles. Leather soles tend not to have the best traction. Traction is kind of important if you’re having to physically manage another person. You’re probably thinking “Well that’s an easy fix. I’ll just wear nothing but rubber soled shoes then!”. While that will work, I’ve yet to see a rubber soled shoe that actually looked like it belongs with a suit or dress pants. Thankfully there are some hybrid options out there, where rubber studs or sections are built into a leather sole, giving you better traction without looking like you’re wearing orthotic shoes or a uniform duty oxford.
Get friendly with your tailor: Most clothing off the rack doesn’t really fit anyone all that well, it just fits a lot of people okay enough that they’ll buy it. A good tailor can help tweak and adjust any garment to serve a specific purpose for you, and make sure your clothing is working for you instead of against you. And, speaking of tailors, there are a few specialty adjustments you can have your tailor make to your wardrobe:
Reinforcing your waistbands: Most of us carry guns and other support gear on the belt line. Other than work wear and denim, most slacks and suit pants are more delicate and not well suited to supporting weight. Having your tailor reinforce the waists of your pants will help to prevent sagging, and have the added benefit of more material that will keep your holster clips and other gear from wearing holes in your pants.
Extra belt loops: Alongthe same line as a reinforced waist, you may find it beneficial to have extra belt loops added to your trousers. This helps more evenly distribute weight across your belt, and prevent the waistline of your pants from sagging. Very important for any tools carried along the mid-line or in the pockets.
Extra lining in your jackets: This is primarily for the hip-carry crowd. If you’re using a jacket as a cover garment, you’ll want to have an extra panel of material sewn into the coat where it rides over the gun. Doing it this way will allow you to only have to repair the panel instead of having the entire jacket re-lined after it gets shredded by the rear sights and/or cocking serrations on your carry gun.
Breakaway buttons: Generally, when a man is standing he should have his jacket buttoned. Well if he now has to access a pistol under that jacket, he has to either tear it open, unbutton it, or try to pull it high enough to clear the holster. There are some companies now that are doing breakaway buttons. Essentially, it’s a normal functioning button & buttonhole, but instead of the button being sewn directly to the jacket, it’s sewn to a snap so that it can perform normally, then in an emergency it can be pulled open without damaging the garment. I’m actually talking to my tailor now about doing this to all my suits & sport coats.
Weight in the hem of your coat: The old bodyguard trick was to keep a spare magazine in the strong side coat pocket. That way, when you went to clear the cover garment, there was enough inertia and hang-time that it would keep the jacket from floating back into the path of the draw. Personally I find a magazine in the pocket too conspicuous. I have heard of guys having weight sewn directly into the hem of the jacket under the liner to the same effect.
Beware of neckties! The fabrics that they use for ties have a pretty high tensile strength. Especially when you consider that good ties are 5 or 7 fold material. That’s a lot of fabric wrapped around your neck. If you’re not careful it can easily turn into a leash or a noose. That’s why all of the uniform neckties I’ve ever seen have been clip-on. It’s super difficult to strangle somebody with a clip-on tie…………..allegedly. I’m not suggesting you replace your Hermes ties with clip-ons, just making sure it’s something you’re aware of. Look at it critically, and ask yourself if there are any modifications you can come up with to make your neckties “safer”.
This was intended as a very high-level primer, and as something to spark more questions and dialog.
Do you feel that anything was left out? Which of these would you like me to go into more detail on? Please let me know in the comments.
Recently, and I mean VERY recently, I’ve started toying with pistol-mounted miniaturized red dot sights (MRDS). This is another very trendy topic, so I’ll do my best to avoid the aspects that have already been covered by other, more experienced folks in this space. The purpose of this article is purely to share the experiences of a pure novice, and hope to articulate some of the things that might interest you if you’re flirting with the idea of putting a dot on your gun.
In short, the dot frees up bandwidth. What do I mean by this? Well, for me at least, there was a certain amount of brainpower and focus that I had to dedicate to ensuring proper sight alignment; that is making sure the front sight post was in the rear sight notch as well as ensuring that whole package was where I wanted it on the target. When you’re a mediocre shooter like myself, and still need to focus on your grip and trigger, that’s a lot of different directions to pull your attention all at once. By reducing the number of things I have to focus on in the sighting process, I’m suddenly much more aware of what’s going on with my trigger press and grip.
For me personally, my eyes don’t work well together. Something about them both vying to be the dominant one. I dunno, I never really paid it much attention, but suffice it to say for me it takes some active concentration to stick with either front sight focused or target focused shooting. Plug the red dot into that process, and now it’s a lot easier to stick with threat focused shooting and the dot just kind of existing in between my eyes and the target.
There’s another added benefit, especially for newer shooters that are still trying to master their draw, trigger press, and recoil control. The dot is a lot easier to keep track of unconsciously than even a fiber optic front sight. That means that if you do an analysis immediately after a string of fire, it will likely be much easier for you to actually identify what you’re doing well and what you may need to correct.
Using myself as an example, if you look at my Instagram post from November 13th, this was literally my first day shooting the dot. And even though I didn’t shoot as well as I do with conventional iron sights (no surprise) I was able to better articulate why and what needed to be fixed. The dot gives you a ton of info as to what your gun is doing in recoil, if your grip is truly consistent, how good your presentation is, etc.
If you are going to go down this path, there’s 2 basic options you can go with: Either A) you get an MOS or other modular platform that takes mounting plates if you really don’t know what kind of dot you want to get or B) since pretty much everything other than the ACRO and Delta Point uses an RMR pattern, just bite the bullet and get a slide cut for an RMR type optic. I was fortunate enough to have purchased a gun that just happened to already be cut for a red dot.
If you find yourself struggling trying to improve your draw and presentation, or if you’re fighting yourself and just can’t seem to put a finger on what exactly you’re doing wrong, spending a little time with a dot gun might give you the necessary info to self diagnose. Before I shot those FAST drills, the only time I had behind the dot was maybe 30 minutes of just dry draws (no timer). I was able to pick the dot up about 90% of the time, without having to hunt for it.
Currently I do occasionally find myself searching for the dot on the draw, and alot more if I’m shooting from the high ready like in some of the CSAT drills. Mostly I think the thing that’s costing me the most time is over-confirming the dot on the target, but I’m not exactly sure yet. More experimentation is needed, and I’ll be making another IG post about shooting that CSAT course of fire (not at the actual class, a local range likes to use that series as part of their monthly skills & drills)
If you’re like me, you sometimes wrestle with the idea of “Do I really deserve to explore this upgrade, or am I just trying to buy the skill I don’t have?” Well the videos make it pretty apparent that just sticking a dot on your slide won’t make you a better shooter, but it just might give you the information to help you progress to being a better shooter.
If you’re interested in actually taking a formal red dot pistol class, the best ones out there that I’m aware of are offered by Scott Jedlinski of Modern Samurai Project (Whose class I’m hoping to get into at Tac-Con 2020), Aaron Cowan of Sage Dynamics who is basically THE industry expert (or at least keeper of data) for MRDS info, Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts. That’s not to say there aren’t other worthy instructors out there, those are just the 3 I’m immediately aware of that teach dot specific coursework.
What are your thoughts on the pistol red dot? Are you dot-curious? What other questions did I leave unaddressed? Let me know!
If you do want to get yourself some MRDS gear, you can get dot-ready slides and optics from Big Tex Outdoors. Use the promo code SUITUP and save 15% at checkout!
If there is one thing that the EDC crowd obsesses over it’s belts, right after gun brand, caliber, sight type, carry position, shooting style, holster type, holster brand…point is we like geeking out over gear. We’re always looking for that thing that’s going to give us that little edge (as long as it isn’t dry fire practice or working with a shot timer).
There’s already tons of videos and articles out there about the best belt for XYZ, or the new hotness, so why would such a niche page like mine want to wade into such an overly saturated pool? Simple really. Dress belts are generally too delicate to effectively support a gun, and most of the purpose built gun belts out there, while wonderfully effective, can be so robust as to look out of place through the belt loops of dress slacks or a suit. Case in point, the Mean Gene Shooter’s belt is advertised at “just over 1/4 inch thick”. Well, when you’re going for a sleek, streamlined silhouette, that’s a lot of hide to have hanging off your hips.
When it comes to any inside the waistband carry, but especially appendix, most of the conventional wisdom on belts is actually counter productive. Super rigid belts make it harder to conform to the contours of your body. This means that the belt can actually be pulling the gun away from you, increasing printing.
With traditional belts with holes, usually most people find that one hole is uncomfortably tight, but the next one down is too loose to where the gun flops around. Before these ratcheting belts came on the market, the only options we had for micro-adjustability were either web belts or the Wilderness style, neither of which is really appropriate in a suit. Now there are options that give us the functionality we need along with a more approrpriate aesthetic, and at almost half the thickness of a leather gun belt, these ratchet belts are definitely worth considering.
I was first introduced to Kore Essentials by one of YouTube’s gun personalities. It seemed like a pretty great solution: a dress-looking belt that was purpose built for carrying a gun! What more could you ask for? So I ordered up a couple. Now this was about the time that I was also experimenting with appendix carry so, not knowing any better, I opted for the more rigid kydex-reinforced belt that they offered at the time. For those unfamiliar, these belts are cut-to-size, so you trim it down yourself and then attach the buckle. The micro-adjustability of the ratcheting system was not only convenient, but it also made appendix carrying much more comfortable. I even ran the belt through ECQC, and it didn’t fail. The leather was a little worse for wear, but that’s to be expected when you’re rolling around in the gravely dirt of Austin.
After wearing these belts daily for a few months, I did notice a problem. The release latch on the buckle was so pronounced that it was wearing a hole into the front of my pants. This was especially problematic with lighter fabrics like on my slacks and suits. My immediate solution was to not tighten the belt down as much, but that of course made the holster less stable. I’ve been told that Kore has subsequently updated the buckle design, but I cannot confirm if that redesign fixed this issue. I have no reason to doubt that it has. Update: After looking at the website, the buckle design still seems to have the same configuration. This leads me to believe it would have the same issue.
The second thing that I’m not super fond of is that the leather started to de-laminate from the kydex and bubble up. It’s pretty unsightly, and so now the belt is all but unusable unless my shirt is untucked, or if I’m wearing a jacket all day. I’ve made do, but I found myself wanting a better solution. I tried a couple of their non-kydex reinforced fashion belts, but still ran into some of the same concerns.
I’ll be honest, I ignored Slidebelts for a while because I saw their ads for the “Survival Belt” with the integrated blade and fire steel, and pretty much wrote them off. It struck me as a ridiculous concept. I randomly decided to give them another look, and was encouraged that they specifically identified different quality tiers of their belts on the website (top grain vs. full grain). I ordered a set of their top grain belts, a black, a brown, and a walnut, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I got:
Firstly, the buckle design on the Slidebelt is far superior in my mind. It’s sleeker, and there are no protrusions to wear into your clothing. Also there’s a much wider selection of buckle options, which is nice. The next thing that struck me was that their belts come with a slightly more pebbled texture to them than the Kore ones, which I happen to like. Also, the smooth face of the Kore belts caused dimples and separation to be much more apparent, causing the belt to show its age much faster.
Now I’m not crazy that the inside face of the Slidebelt isn’t finished. Aside from the fact that it makes the measurements harder to read when you’re sizing the belt, it just feels a little sloppy. And for a product that’s ~25% more expensive (MSRP) than the Kore belts that do have a finished inside, it does feel like they cut a corner there.
Overall, they’re both perfectly serviceable choices. I can’t speak to how well the Slidebelt will hold up over time, but based solely on how they felt coming out of the box and the buckle design, they’ve unseated Kore for my everyday dress belt option when I’m carrying a gun. The construction is solid, and they’re a little more upfront about the materials they use. Kore does list the type of leather in the product descriptions, but you have to dig for it. I DO know some folks that are having belts made out of shell cordovan, and commissioning them from bridle/saddle shops, but at that point you’re essentially going bespoke, and that’s a little outside the realm of most of my audience.
Now will these products survive the rigors of a plain clothed executive protection detail? Something where you’re having to run rifle mags, a radio, and who knows what else on your beltline? No, probably not. They will however support my standard loadout until such time as I can get one of those snazzy custom cordovan numbers…which is probably going to be a while.
If you’re so inclined, and you wanted to pick one of those Slidebelts up, I’ve linked to both the Black Top Grain Leather, Brown Top Grain Leather, and Walnut Top Grain Leather belts that I own. Yes, these are affiliate links and I get a small percentage if you purchase. No, that in no way influenced my decision to favor Slidebelt over Kore. It really came down to the buckle design and finish. I’m hoping to explore more of the discreet gear & apparel, so any help towards that goal would be greatly appreciated!
We’ve all heard it. Whether at our first concealed carry class, or at the gun store when shopping for our first pistol and/or holster. In order to effectively conceal a firearm one must “dress around the “. The intent of this mantra is to suggest that carrying a firearm does require adjustments to one’s normal routine. True practice of self defense is after all a lifestyle unto itself. However, this credo has become the battle cry of the intellectually and socially lazy. Any time someone encounters a challenge with justifying their newfound lifestyle with their day to day routine, these words will be parroted, as if to suggest that the person in question just isn’t trying hard enough.
I say this is a tactic of the intellectually and socially lazy because it requires no thought or analysis. It automatically assumes that the gear selection is infallible, and that the subject is somehow failing in the execution. This could very well be a possibility, especially for someone in the early stages of their EDC evolution. There is, however, another alternative to consider: It is indeed possible that the protagonist is simply trying to press equipment into service in an application that is inappropriate for their “operational environment” to use popular buzzwords.
It all boils down to the most abhorent and offensive C-word imaginable within this community…
If you’re an investment banker, business consultant, contract attorney, or medical professional, your daily risk profile probably differs greatly from a cop serving felony warrants or an operator in a Tier 1 military unit. So why then would you insist on trying to use and carry the same handguns that they do? Their daily uniform is primarily built around carrying the gear that they need, and concealment is rarely a concern for them (unless you’re talking about hyper specialized units, and those guys generally don’t put out a bunch of information for public consumption).
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s still worth at least trying to carry a “full sized” handgun (Glock 19 or similar) when and wherever possible, but we have to accept that for us regular dudes leading regular lives and not engaging in high risk behavior, we are more likely to encounter scenarios where our loadout is be more reminiscent of a boy scout than your favorite character in Call of Duty. Like Pat Rogers is famous for saying: “Mission drives the gear train”. For those of us for whom the pistol is not part of the job, there is only so much compromise that we can make within our wardrobe before it starts to deviate outside the norm of our environment, thus drawing unwanted attention and possibly resulting in undesirable outcomes.
It’s important to remember that the aforementioned “gear train” consists not only of our everyday carry tools, but the clothing with which those tools are covered. Clothing selection should be purposeful, depending on what it is the wearer is trying to accomplish. Those goals can be anything as functional as protecting against inclement weather to something more social like trying to communicate authority and dominance in a board meeting. You wouldn’t wear a 3-piece suit to the beach, and you (hopefully) wouldn’t wear board shorts to a staff meeting. In between those polar extremes is a wide swath of grey area, and we want to go armed in as much of it as possible.
For that reason, I feel strongly that the phrase “Dress around the gun” really should be replaced with the more appropriate “Dress for the gun”. A subtle change to be sure but, as Aaron Cowan is fond of saying, “words mean things”. The phrase “dress around the gun” has been perverted into this incantation that, if not properly explained or understood sounds like a direct order. If it comes from someone with more experience or authority, it runs the risk of being taken at face value, with no understanding of the underlying message.
Suggesting that someone “dress for the gun” seems like a logical statement, but it doesn’t stand on its own; it inspires further questions and discussion. Plus, telling someone to “dress around the gun” is arrogant, and assumes that you know the most appropriate way for the other person to live their life. It’s a very personal decision. The analogy I like to use is picking out someone’s carry gear is like picking out their underwear. You need to be very familiar with them for your recommendations to be of any real use.
At the end of the day what’s more important than anything is that the carrier is aware of not only the realistic performance capabilities of the tools they’ve selected, but of themselves as well. Once you have a good grasp of those two factors, you can work a firearm into your lifestyle accordingly. It will require some adjustment, but it shouldn’t require you to completely reinvent yourself.
So let’s see if we can get this to catch on. “Dress around the gun” is dead. Long live “dress for the gun”!
In April of 2020, 6 months after this article was originally written, Keepers Concealment debuted the Cornerstone; their first tuckable holster. This has become my prefered option for iron-sighted handguns.
Since I started doing this back in May, one of the most common questions I get on a regular basis has been about tuckable holsters. I’ve touched on it a couple times, but I figured that it would help to have a dedicated post to which I can direct people.
Now a lot of companies attempt to cater to the business professional market, but their offerings are lackluster to say the least. Here are some of the images that come up when you do a general Google search for “Tuckable Holsters”. As you can see, none of them are particularly discreet, and definitely not what I would consider to be concealed
Now, before I get too deep into my personal preferences it helps to understand what you’re looking for and the “why” behind it. Thankfully Jon Hauptman of PHLster Holsters has put out a great tutorial on his YouTube channel that explains the general principles of concealment. Spencer Keepers also addresses this in his AIWB Skills class, which I’ve taken and strongly recommend.
I started appendix carrying back in 2012, and my first AIWB “holster” really wasn’t. It was the Raven Concealment Systems Vanguard 2 (the original configuration, before they introduced the wing). Holsters are expensive, and I didn’t want to invest a ton of money in this experiment, but $20 was a manageable gamble. Over the span of the last 7 years, I’ve experimented with multiple configurations from various manufacturers, some well known, some boutique. Through the course of my trial and error, here’s what I’ve found that works best for me:
The Holster Body:
I’m not going to go into too much depth on this, because for the purpose of a tuckable holster, it’s arguably the least important part of the equation. Now that’s not to say it doesn’t matter, but as long as it’s from a reputable maker, is of quality construction, has mounting holes low on the body to accept tuckable clips, and is long enough, you can probably make it work for you. My personal litmus test for a holster maker is that they actually train regularly, preferably in the realm of applied violence (i.e. not just square range or competition shooting), or at least solicit input from people in that arena. This is a good indicator that they’ve actually pushed their designs to the point of failure. My preferred tuckable holster is the KSG Armory Doulos. Gabe is a solid dude, and a master of his craft. It’s reassuring to run across your holster maker at events like Tac-Con. It shows that they take it seriously, and aren’t just trying to capitalize on a trendy market.
The Attachment Points:
As mentioned previously, there have been multiple different attempts in this arena. Most of them have simply been hasty retrofits of existing attachment methods pressed into service on a tuckable platform: Soft loops, j-hooks, over-hooks, and clips of various sizes/shapes have all been tried. The problem is that they are not suitably discreet, and generally look out of place, as can be witnessed in the photos above.
The Ulti-Clip was getting a lot of press and love over the last few years. It kinda works and it’s certainly secure, but I found the camming flap to add an unnecessary level of bulk that creates a bulge behind the belt, and I have some real concerns about the finishing of the edges and the wear & tear it would create on the cover garments.
In my mind there has only been one truly successful solution to this problem: The Discreet Carry Concepts Mod 5.1 – HLR Discreet Gear Clip™ – Behind the belt – SHS clips. Not only are they the lowest profile option, resulting in minimal bulk behind the belt, but they’re amazingly secure. There are numerous reports of these clips surviving the vigorous force-on-force evolutions of ECQC. Here’s a comparison of how the DCC clips look behind the belt compared to the RCS Overhooks. Nothing against the RCS hooks per se. I was pressing them into service in a role for which they weren’t intended. Mostly because I hadn’t discovered the DCC option yet.
One other thing that bears mentioning: For most guns, it behooves you to have 2 attachment points, and to have those 2 points be as far away from each other as possible. This distributes the weight more effectively, as the waist of the trousers is the only thing supporting the weight of the gun. A single point or narrow spacing can result in the clips sagging below the belt, and defeating the purpose of this configuration. Also, the trousers need to fit correctly, which is probably more snug (not tight) than most men are used to. The pants themselves need to offer a certain level of tension to keep everything in place.
No, not that one you basic, alcoholic degenerate.
This should be pretty self-explanatory after Jon’s Concealment Principles video above. The function of the claw is to drive the grip of the pistol in towards the body. This is one you’re going to have to play with to see what combo will work best with your build, holster, belt, etc. The big 3 on the market are the RCS VG Claw, the ModWing, and the Dark Star Gear Dark Wing. I’ve tried all 3. For me, I like the teeth on the Dark Wing. I’ve found that it helps to keep the cover garment tucked in and in place. Some folks don’t find the claw to be necessary. Try it yourself and see what works best.
The wedge serves 2 basic functions: First it helps push the muzzle away from the body and therefore presses the grip of the pistol in towards the body. Secondly, it increases the surface area of the holster that’s pushing against your body, reducing hot spots and discomfort in what Matt Jaques calls “The Lego Principle” (i.e. if a Lego were the size of a loaf of bread, it wouldn’t hurt when you stepped on it. It only hurts because the pressure is applied on such a small area). Again there are 3 basic styles of the wedge. Some holsters like the PHLster Classic and the Tenicor Velo have a wedge molded into the body of the holster itself. I have no personal experience with these types, but based on what I know about the guys that use it in their designs, I can’t imagine it’s anything but effective. Then there’s the rubberized RCS Wedge. Personally I’m not a fan of these because I’ve found that they don’t really have enough give to be comfortable, and they offer a relatively small surface area, unlike the integrated wedges mentioned previously.
My preferred are the squishy wedges, attached with heavy duty velcro. Not only does that method let you adjust the ride height of the wedge, but the little bit of give results in increased comfort over a long period of time (I’ve done an 8 hr drive wearing holsters like this). Keepers Concealment (my other preferred holster manufacturer) makes what they call the “Gabe White Wedge” which is 2” thick at the base, and offers amazing concealment. The only drawback I’ve found is, because of the type of foam they use, it does have to be replaced periodically (~6 months with daily wear for me). Dark Star makes a wedge that I’ve been playing with as well, and it seems to hold up a little bit better over the long term. It’s more expensive up front, but it seems to be slightly more optimal long term solution. Either way you can’t really go wrong.
By now you may have noticed that no one supplier offers everything that goes into my preferred tuckable rig. That’s usually how it goes. You’ll buy an “off the rack” solution, and then play with it for a while. You’ll find something that’s less than ideal for you, and replace it. It’ll either improve things or it won’t. Lots of the guys that are making good holsters today started out because they couldn’t find something that satisfied their exact needs. At the end of the day, what works best for you will probably be a Frankenstein-like amalgam of parts from a couple different sources.
Everything that’s been discussed thus far is built around my default carry pistol, which is a Glock 19. That’s right, I’ve found a way to conceal a full sized handgun in a reasonably effective and discreet method that suits about 85% of the social situations I’ll find myself in. Some folks prefer to opt for a single stack pistol (Glock 48, Sig P365XL, etc). If that works for you (or you just really want an excuse to buy a new toy) go for it.
Hopefully this has proven useful. Like with most gear-related solutions, the most effective answers tend to be more principle-based instead of there being a singular, blanket statement that’ll work for everyone. Please feel free to post any questions that you have.