courtesy of MIKE STRAW:

Let’s discuss holsters. I’ve already touched on materials, and similarly, a holster is an intensely personal choice. Whatever your decision, you have to live with it, sometimes twenty-four hours a day. A poor choice may prove more than uncomfortable, it could prove deadly.

A major consideration is that a legal defensive weapons permit holder mustn’t appear legally defensively armed to the casual observer. A holster should cover the pistol’s trigger guard and should hold it friction tight without safety straps. I’m going to limit my discussion about holsters in regard to being worn by women.

Unless you’re proficient in Massad Ayoob’s Cover Crouch, wearing an ankle holster may be as rapid a draw as a leisurely trip to the morgue. The “small of the back” holster can be difficult for some to access, especially when their back is up against something -like a car seat. Further, try sitting in a wooden restaurant booth wearing one -that distinctive “clunk” will draw the unwelcome attention of both cops and crooks -so much for tactical surprise. Worse, if for any reason you land on your back, that snap you hear will be your legs volunteering for early retirement. Crossdraw implies that that as you draw, you’ll “cross” something. That “something” invariably includes you, which is why all shooting organizations, most clubs and ranges, and some agencies bar their use.

A paddle holster sure sounds great -easy on and off. When you’re nervously sitting on a public toilet, what do you plan on doing with it? A clip-on holster may show, print, or worse -fall off. Both these styles offer “convenience” at the expense of safety. First, before you wear it, where’s your legal defensive firearm-locked away in a desk? Why? It can’t protect you there. Second, if you reasonably expected, however remotely, to ever have to use your legal defensive firearm, do you really want a holster that the lethal threat to your life can remove with two fingers?

A strong-side in-the-waistband holster has the whole world going for it, except one tiny little detail: you can’t safely get your legal defensive firearm out of the holster without running into your soft body armor, necessitating your aiming the muzzle in an unsafe direction to bring it up. Don’t take my word for it- try it yourself. Or, if you prefer, go without a vest- it’s your funeral. Remember, with any in-the-waistband holster, you must buy pants one to two sizes larger than normal to accommodate the holster.

A pager holster, where you draw up the pager or other small item to expose the legal defensive pistol, has the disadvantages of being of the crossdraw type, and only holding smaller-sized legal defensive pistols. There’s the crotch holster, typified by Thunderwear. Some folks object on principle. There’s the bellyband style holster. I think they tend to end up around your knees, but that’s just me.

What about a fanny pack? I think by now that any tactical surprise is about equal to that of the photographer’s vest and incorporates the crossdraw drawback. Hey -if you really want to go “undercover,” wear both the photographer’s vest and a fanny pack. Who’d guess? I know -a pocket holster. Not for a Desert Eagle!

O.K., how about a shoulder holster? James Bond had one, what could be wrong with them? Again, they fall into the “crossdraw” category, and further, into the Horizontal and Vertical styles. The horizontal style is entirely without redemption. The entire time it’s worn, your muzzle is coldly covering the person behind you, whether he knows it or not.

When you draw it, you must cover an arc of one-hundred-eighty degrees, covering you and most of the world in between. The vertical can be somewhat more manageable, with some conscientious practice: certification would be nice. This, of course, excludes those vertical shoulder holsters that anchor the legal defensive firearm to the belt, in essence, merely a crossdraw holster with an unnecessarily complicated harness. When you draw, first be sure your non-dominant arm is constantly above the muzzle. I keep my non-dominant hand and elbow no lower than the level of my head, bringing my non-dominant arm in front of me at a forty-five degree angle. The muzzle must still describe the same one-hundred-eighty degree arc, but with the vertical style, it can at least be kept pointed at the floor until the sweep has been completed, then adding the non-dominant hand to the grip. This requires training and practice.

Given this caveat, this style of holster can be cautiously employed as a means of securing your secondary legal defensive firearm. Be sure to keep your finger off the trigger and on the index. We’re running out of holsters! The best choice for use with your primary legal defensive firearm is a quality strong-side belt holster, where the legal defensive pistol can be effectively concealed by merely draping a T-shirt, untucked shirt, sweater or jacket over it. It’s secure, and positioned correctly, it’s the fastest draw, although not as fast as having the legal defensive pistol already out and aimed at the threat with your finger already on the trigger.

Even if this particular circumstance were both legal and practical, according to Doctor Lewinski’s study, it would still take you at least three-hundredths of a second before you could squeeze the trigger from the moment you perceived the threat. The single difference of having the finger safely indexed instead of negligently on the trigger, as universally portrayed in every frame of celluloid emanating from Hollywood, costs an additional six-hundredths of a second, effectively tripling the time necessary before a justifiable shot can be taken.

I prefer wearing a holster utilizing the “FBI cant,” (now there’s an interesting turn of phrase) which blends the legal defensive pistol into the body’s contours, is more comfortable for me and offers an excellent initial three-finger grip. Beware of cheap, poorly-made holsters, particularly of nylon, which tend to collapse after the legal defensive firearm has been drawn, setting up a potentially disastrous situation when it becomes necessary to re-holster by feel under stress. Imagine your legal defensive firearm attached to a parachute: the only thing keeping it from coming loose and dropping you thousands of feet to your gory death is your holster and the belt it’s attached to.

Would this scenario alter your perception of the “best” holster and belt? It’s exactly the type of stress your cheap, used equipment will be subjected to when angry, three-hundred pound prison weightlifting champion “Mongo” grabs your holstered legal defensive firearm and proceeds to lift you off the ground, equipment belt and all, violently shaking you at the end of it like a rag doll! Remember, I’m discussing a specific requirement here: daily carrying the most likely needed equipment comfortably.

If you have different circumstances, like an executive protection specialist, where the suit you’re required to wear won’t allow a belt wider than one and a quarter inches, then your situation calls for a different approach: tailor it to your needs -one size doesn’t fit all. The exact position on your outer equipment belt is a tricky one, as it must be behind your pants seam, your pants outside seam, but far forward enough to allow you access to your wallet. For some people, this places the legal defensive pistol directly over the hipbone, causing uncomfortable pressure. For others, the legal defensive pistol rubbing, even through cloth, causes painful ulceration of the skin.

This is a touchy subject, as some folks suggest moving your wallet to the opposite side and re-habitualizing yourself to it’s position there, citing that you’ll never accidentally expose your legal defensive weapon that way. True, but you’ll also miss out on acres of important free practice draws using tactical imaging, and if the threat has previously seen you pull your wallet out, he’s going to be mighty suspicious about why you suddenly prefer the opposite side. I believe that by keeping your wallet where it usually is and working around it, you’ll put on a much more convincing act when the threat illegally demands “your money or your life.” No holster at all is unacceptable.

Recently, a gentleman stuck a diminutive three-eighty legal defensive pistol in the same pants pocket as his keys. When he went to grab his keys, he discovered that they’d become entangled with the trigger of the pistol -by the “bang.” A legal defensive firearm stuck in your pocket or pants belt line will fall out when running and will shift just from walking, requiring you to put your hand on it to keep adjusting it, calling attention to the fact that you have something suspicious there.

Predatory criminals who habitually illegally carry stolen firearms don’t use holsters so that when the mercenary proxy-guardian “police” suspect them of having committed a felony by doing so, the predatory criminals can simply find the nearest Dumpster or drain and dispose of the evidence, your stolen legal defensive pistol. If you choose to carry without a suitable holster, whom do you most closely resemble? ‘Nuff said.

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