The popularity of slim, single-stack, concealed-carry pistols is unmistakable. They are thin and comfortable to carry. Many concealed-carry proponents are jumping on the slim gun bandwagon because it encourages daily carry. With a slim gun, you can generally just slip it into your daily attire without much effort. While there are many different options available, each dress situation may require a different holster. Let’s look at a few of them.
“Rest assured, however, that no matter what you carry, there’s an everyday carry option that’s right for you.”
The beauty of a slim carry gun is you can be active! The CrossBreed Modular Belly Band is a relatively new holster that fills a specific need. It features an elastic band with a Kydex holster attached via Velcro. The elastic band also features two sewn-in pockets for magazines and a larger one suitable for handcuffs. CrossBreed provides with additional purchase an adhesive-backed Velcro square that you can attach anywhere you may want a holster. The tight-fitting holster is great because the weight is supported, and it will not sag like a belt holster might. It keeps the firearm close to the body and does not print as a belt holster could. The draw stroke is not as fast or efficient, which is a tradeoff for the advantages it offers. It can be a bit hotter to wear compared to a normal holster, too.
The carry method I felt most in need of was a good active carry. It was by some coincidence that, when I was really thinking about how to solve my carry problems when trying to jog, I saw an email announcing the CrossBreed Belly Band. It seemed like the perfect solution for me. My biggest issue was, when trying to exercise, it is not ideal to wear pants just to wear a belt. Pocket carrying in athletic shorts also left much to be desired. The weight of the pistol jostling around in large pockets, being supported only by an elastic waist and string, was very frustrating. The belly band solves those problems by keeping the gun up close to your core. The gun doesn’t have the chance to flop around or get pulled down by an uncooperative waistband.
For standard inside-the-waistband (IWB) carry there are many popular options. PJ Holsters makes a fantastic line of Kydex holsters for many pistols and in several different configurations. The holster shown has slip-over clips that do not require you to thread your belt through to carry. This is a treat for people who need to slip the holster on and off multiple times a day. The holster is very thin and light compared to a leather holster. It provides great retention, is sweat proof and stays open while the pistol is drawn, allowing for easy re-holstering.
Before discovering the PJ Holster, I had a standard leather IWB holster. It served me well for a couple years after buying my first Kahr, but after a while the metal clip got bent up to the point of being an issue. The problem was the clip flared out at the bottom, and many times while sitting it would catch the arms of the chair and bend. The simple, sleek clip design that PJ Holsters employ eliminated this problem. When I get ready to put on the holster, I simply insert the muzzle end into the waistband and use my fingertips to curl the clip outward while pushing the holster into place. Once the holster is fully seated, I simply squeeze the clip to the belt to ensure the lip fully seats onto the belt. After doing this simple procedure the holster stays in place all day.
Another popular IWB holster type is the Kydex/leather hybrid. CrossBreed Holsters manufactures the MiniTuck holster specifically for smaller guns. It provides all the benefits of the PJ holster but includes a leather backing, which can enhance comfort. The routine for putting on a hybrid holster is a little more involved compared to the Kydex PJ holster, but it is not too bad. I have found it easier to put on by loosening the belt and top button of the pants, then insert the holster where desired and clip both clips around the belt. Then button the pants, snug the belt and insert the pistol into the holster.
Are you stuck in a suit every day? Does belt carry not appeal to you? If so, a pocket holster may be an ideal solution for you. Pocket carry is incredibly comfortable for most users, however the draw can be slower than other options. The flat profile helps prevent the gun from printing. Another advantage for pocket carry is the ability to inconspicuously grasp the gun in preparation for a draw. This is hard to do with just about every other method of carry. Pocket carry really shines in comfort. The biggest drawback to pocket carry for me is that it sacrifices a pocket that I would normally dedicate to my phone, as it is recommended that you do not carry anything else in the same pocket to avoid confusion while drawing. You also have to be more selective when purchasing pants to ensure they have an adequate opening to get the pistol in and out efficiently.
An ankle holster provides a carry method when no other carry method is feasible. The main requirements are that you have pants that are long enough to conceal the holster and that the grip of the gun isn’t long enough to create pant-leg fit issues. CrossBreed graciously supplied its small auto ankle holster for this task, and with it I carried a Kahr CM9 (Read the full review!) with no issues. The holster has an adjustable calf strap affixed with Velcro, which suspends the main holster via an adjustable Velcro strap. The main holster has another adjustable Velcro strap that wraps around the ankle. The holster itself is made of nylon and has Velcro thumb-break retention.
The weight that a gun-encumbered ankle holster places on one leg takes some getting used to, but once your body adjusts, ankle carry can be a fairly comfortable mode of concealment.
Based on my experience with all of these different options, I would recommend the following: For exercising or suit carry, a belly band such as the one manufactured by CrossBreed may be ideal. If you can’t realistically carry on the belt and think the belly band isn’t for you, then ankle carry or pocket carry might be the answer. If you are carrying a very small gun, my preferred carry method is pocket carry. For just about all other situations I think IWB carry is the most versatile and allows for the fastest and most natural draw. We have focused on slim, single-stack semi-automatic handguns, but most of what has been said can easily translate to double-stack or larger autos as well as revolvers. The only carry method I would not recommend for a double-stack gun is pocket carry. The thickness creates too many opportunities for it to print and also creates a more difficult draw. Ankle carry is debatable, but I think something along the lines of a Glock subcompact would be acceptable in an ankle rig. With all the different carry options available, it is no wonder that single-stack carry guns are so popular. Rest assured, however, that no matter what you carry, there’s an everyday carry option that’s right for you.
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