By Stu Chisholm
Detroit, Michigan –-(Ammoland.com)- One of my biggest gripes with my original concealed carry class was that, after all of the drilling on safety, the law and qualifying, nobody really explained any of the methods and strategies for actually concealing and carrying a firearm on a regular basis.
I had to learn a lot on how to carry from posting on chat forums, reading blogs and websites, and mostly trial-and-error experimentation.
To make matters worse, it seemed as if the holster industry was doing everything it could to make things difficult.
99 WAYS TO HIDE
Oh, they’ve got PLENTY of options! But it can be an expensive and time consuming prospect to discover all of the advantages and disadvantages not discussed in the advertisements. A perfect case-in-point: IWB (In the Waist Band) holsters. My first one was all leather and looked as solidly built as a saddle. It had a clip on the side so that I could wear it with just about any belt at about any position. The drawback: when you draw your gun, it flattens like a punctured tire, making easy reholstering an exercise in undignified flailing. (NOT something you want to do in full view of others!)
Another one I tried had a reinforced upper opening, resisting the pancake effect. When wearing it, though, it adds width to your gun. What’s the point in getting the thinnest gun you can buy if you’re going to then add another half-inch of girth via the holster? It also provided the option of being able to tuck-in one’s shirt for that ultra-concealed, “day at the office” look. I never really pulled that look off, though, because unless you’ve got a substantial paunch – even moreso than mine – and place your holster “appendix style,” which makes sitting difficult for me, it then looks like you’ve got a big, squared-off robo-hip.
In short: everyone knows you’re hiding something. They’re just too polite to say so.
Then there’s my BUG (Back-Up Gun) option. I’ve tried many, many ankle rigs over the years before I settled on my current configuration. Some were wonderfully made leather masterpieces and others were cheap $20 gun show specials. The leather gets very hot and can chafe the skin. Cheap holsters absorb sweat and, after about a week on the job, smell horrible. Washing them can make them sloppy and saggy, and thus very short-lived. Unless you like to wear thick knee socks even in the summer and strap your holster extremely tight, which is none too good for circulation, then you may get “gun slosh” – that side-to-side movement as you walk or run. If it rides the top of your shoe or boot, you’ll be wearing holes in the shoe’s upper. Some come with a calf strap which prevents the gun from falling with your socks, but adds more heat and sweat.
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Then there are the women; the fastest growing segment of the shooting community. I feel for them. As a budding instructor, I’ve worked with more than a few trying to find ways to let them dress as “girly” as before – a good idea, since any sudden change in appearance lets friends and family know “something’s up” – yet conceal a decent-caliber defensive firearm.
Some really smart ladies have done some amazing things with existing holsters, modifying them for thigh carry underneath a skirt, as evidenced by their YouTube videos. Others have used belly bands with jeans or loose-hanging blouses, and then, of course, there’s the infamous “Flashbang” bra holster that is actually a good option for most women. I have two main complaints with it: it doesn’t work for extremely small-busted or extremely large-busted women. In the former, the gun easily “prints” unless the blouse is extremely loose, and in the latter, the gun is hard to access. (Guys… stop laughing. Let’s be mature here, okay?) For most, though, a small revolver, .380 or 9mm semi-auto is easily hidden in a place usually off-limits to eyes and strangers. But that’s just a couple of options. Women need several, since their clothing is far more varied than men’s and generally is designed to be light and revealing. (Note: Looper Law Enforcement, helmed by Lisa Looper, invented the Flashbang and has many other solutions for both women and men at their website.)
So you can imagine my delight when a friend called me from a gun show in breathless excitement about a new company she’d found: Telor Tactical. (Yes, this is gonna be a bit of a commercial.) Not only was she excited that Telor had addressed a lot of the problems above, but she also knows how I think: I’m a firm believer in cross-platform problem solving. See, whenever I have a problem, before I spend the time and effort to invent a brand new solution, I look around the web to see if anyone else had the same, or similar, problem and how they might’ve solved it. This is the tack that Telor took.
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The company’s founder, David Leverett, spent some 20 years designing, developing and manufacturing medical and orthopedic equipment. He knows the human body and what people need to live in/with wheelchairs, artificial limbs and other medical appliances. He brought all of this knowledge and experience to bear on holsters and certain tactical products.
A great case-in-point: his T-fit ankle holster (as in “fits you to a T”) which uses a special panel that is sealed in plastic. Once opened to air and placed inside the holster, the user wears it on his/her ankle with their preferred carry gun and the holster literally molds to the wearer’s leg and gun, providing a completely customized fit.
The materials are very lightweight, and like an air cast, allow air to flow freely around the holster, producing less sweat and, therefore, less odor and more comfort. And all for well under a hundred bucks!
Dave and his crew also gave some thought to the problems women face and came up with their own version of a thigh holster called the “Comfort Air.” It uses the same airflow technology to help the ladies stay cool and comfortable while keeping their firearm both handy and secure. Unlike some of the others I mentioned above, this is not a modification of an existing product; no cutting leather and experimenting with endlessly variable positions. This is purpose-built for women who don’t want to be restricted to pants all the time. Maybe you kilt wearin’ men might think about it, too.
Okay, so that this isn’t a complete commercial for Telor Tactical, I’ll fess-up to my own ankle holster solution. It started out with an Uncle Mike’s Nylon holster sized to my Kel-Tec 9mm semi-auto pistol. It has a nice fit and easy thumb-break retention strap that you can reposition as you see fit since everything is held together by Velcro. It has a nice, wide strap which is also secured and tightened by Velcro. (True confession: while it doesn’t chafe, I do prefer to wear socks under it.) It has the advantage of not loosening up as the day wears on. It WILL drop, however, and Uncle Mike’s originally provided a calf strap made of wide elastic to hold it up. But elastic only lasts so long, and like an old pair of underpants, had to go bye-bye. What to do?
The problem was easily solved with a $2.50 carpenter’s web belt from Home Depot. After sizing it to my upper calf (just below the knee) and cutting off the excess, I used some of that to be the dangling support strap. The web is some tough stuff to work with, so I had to drill holes and use pop rivets to secure the strap to the belt. I also put a layer of super glue under it and glued a piece of soft fabric to the back, so the rivets don’t meet skin. I cut a taper at the end of the support strap and carefully glued on some Velcro. The result: a super-strong, well-secured and mostly comfortable ankle rig for under $30! It may well outlast the gun. (Another view here.)
Got some great ways to conceal that you’ve come up with? Please share them with me and maybe they’ll appear in a future article. Send yours to: [email protected].
About the author:
Mobile DJ, business owner/entrepreneur and author Stu Chisholm was born in Detroit, Michigan. A columnist for the DJ industry trade magazine, Mobile Beat, Stu’s series on “DJ Security” contained a controversial segment on concealed carry and the use of guns. It was later included in, and expanded upon, in his book, “The Complete Disc Jockey,” published in 2008. Running a business and pursuing what he considers logical security measures, Stu obtained his CCW permit in the state of Michigan in the late ’90s and later became active in the gun rights movement. He joined the grass roots group MCRGO, the Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners, helping to reform Michigan’s concealed carry law in 2001. Stu remains an active DJ, writer and activist, and is currently collaborating on an upcoming science-fiction book set in Detroit’s near future. He is married to cable television producer, Janette Chisholm and lives in Roseville, Michigan.