The Top 10 Concealed Carry Holsters

Galco's Miami Classic II shoulder holster rig.

Galco’s Miami Classic II shoulder holster rig.

Holsters have been around a long time, almost as long as Cher has been using doilies for costumes. Over centuries of use, innovation has flourished. We’ve come a long way from the times when Scottish warriors carried sharp objects and their Visa debit cards in their sporrans.

Like Moore’s law for microprocessors, which states that computing power doubles every 18 months, holster innovation is also growing at an exponential pace. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen established companies and garage engineers alike develop entirely new ways of carrying a gun everywhere on the body. And I mean everywhere.

Let’s take a look at my view of the top 10 concealed carry holsters.

napoleon-flashbangThe Flashbang

Since the Flashbang is accessed by pulling up the shirt, then drawing from the chest area, you can use your own imagination to work out the origin of this holsters name.

This one works best if you have some form of breasts. Technically you don’t need them, but the holster is designed to mount to a bra, so there’s that.

The holster itself attaches to the center of the bra, and the gun is held in place, oriented horizontally, by a clamshell molded kydex pocket. To draw, simply grasp the handgun grip and pull straight down – this releases the gun from the clamshell mount.

I can vouch for concealability, but not comfort, as I’m not equipped to use a bra. I’ll rely on the dozens of women I’ve met who swear by this design.

Galco KingTuk

The Galco KingTuk IWB holster.

The Galco KingTuk IWB holster.

Do you know how, when you get in a really sweet luxury car, the doors make that firm and satisfying “click” instead of “clank” when you close them? That comes from attention to the finer details of product design. If you’re into that sort of quality, then you’ll love the Galco KingTuk IWB Holster.

It’s a hybrid inside-the-waistband design, like others on the market. It features a large leather back panel that goes between your gun and tender body parts. A kydex shell is molded to the contours of your specific gun model. The difference between the KingTuk and others on the market is the quality. If you live in a warmer climate where humidity and sweat are common, you’ll notice that the leather backing holds up over time. You’ll also notice that the kydex shell is made from a thicker material and that someone at Galco took the time to buff and smooth the edges. I carry a full size, and full weight, 1911 in one here in the swamp sauna of South Carolina and after more than a year of heavy abuse, it still looks brand new.

N82 Tactical

Here’s one that surprised me. I almost passed it by as it looks so simple and, quite frankly, boring. That was almost a big mistake. After taking the time to evaluate the N82 Tactical holsters, I found there’s serious engineering in this one that really makes a difference.

A pair of N82 Tactical holsters with Springfield Armory XD-S pistols.

A pair of N82 Tactical holsters with Springfield Armory XD-S pistols.

Like hybrid designs, it has a large panel that separates your gun from your body. Rather than a horizontal panel orientation, it’s more of a vertical egg shape. The backing itself is three layers of different materials that accomplish different things. Next to your skin is a suede lining that breathes and provides some friction to help keep the holster stationary. Next is a layer of neoprene. If you’ve seen Jaws or been to Sea World, you’ll know that’s the stuff they use to make wetsuits. This middle layer keeps body moisture and rust-inducing sweat away from your gun. It also keeps stray gun oil or preservatives away from the suede lining and your body. The layer closest to the gun is leather to provide a little cushion and protection for your gun.

This holster is insanely practical and comfortable to boot. I find myself using it quite frequently with a Springfield Armory XD-S.

Oh, by the way, N82 is pronounced “Nate squared” as a couple of guys named Nate founded the company.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

 

Grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips. It will help make you a better shooter and the envy of your range in no time.

NRA Annual Meeting Day 3

Day 3, while a bit quieter than the first two days of the NRA Annual Meeting, had plenty to offer. Here are a few of the interesting finds.

The Story Behind the Galco VHS Holster and Beretta M9

Part of the fun of wandering the halls of the NRA Annual Meeting is learning interesting back stories. Way back in 2005, troops deploying to overseas combat zones were buying Galco’s VHS (Vertical Holster System) for their issue Beretta M9 pistols. Why the Galco VHS? When zipping around foreign countries in helicopters, handguns must be carried in a muzzle down orientation, which the VHS is designed to do.

The Galco VHS Vertical Holster System

The Galco VHS Vertical Holster System

In early 2005, Galco was temporally sold out of the holster due to the large number of troops deploying. A customer called in to order one for “civilian” use and was told they were backordered and the reason why. He ordered his holster, then asked if he could pay for an “extra” that Galco would donate to a soldier headed overseas. The light bulb went on and the folks at Galco started theHolsters for Heroes program. Donations flowed in and over $100,000 worth of holsters were given to our men and women in uniform.

Now you know the rest of the story.

Burris XTR II Extreme Tactical Riflescope with FastFire Red Dot

In the midst of the total chaos known as the NRA Annual Meeting, I was fortunate to get a tour of the new Burris offerings from Marketing Director Lori. What jumped out at me was the XTR II. Here’s why.

Burris_XTR-II-1

Here’s the new Burris XTR II on a Beretta ARX 100

It’s a dual focal plane tactical scope. Not first focal plane, not second focal plane, but both. With a first focal plane scope, the hash marks indicate consistent trajectory at any magnification zoom level, but the reticle itself shrinks and grows as you zoom in and out. With a second focal plane placement, the reticle itself appears to stay constant size, but the hash marks only indicate proper bullet drop at one magnification level.

The new Burris has a lit horseshoe reticle in the second plane, so it stays the same size for quick short-range shots at any magnification. The ballistic drop compensation pattern is in the first focal plane, so 400, 500, 600 and 700 yard hold points are accurate at any zoom level.

The mounted FastFire Red Dot is useful for quick, shorter range shots. it’s also a great way to spot distant targets. Get in the vicinity using the FastFire, then shift your eye to the scope for a magnified view.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

Book Signings and More at the NRA Annual Meetings

Galco Book Signing Event Insanely Practical Guides Tom McHaleI’m happy.

I think it’s because, thanks to the folks at Galco and Flashbang (two of my favorite holster makers and all around swell folks), I’ll have the opportunity to meet all sorts of NRA Annual Meeting attendees. I’ll be doing daily book signing events at both Galco and Flashbang booths and offering special deals for all four of our book titles:

The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters, 2nd Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Insanely Practical Guide to Reloading

The Rookie’s Guide to the Springfield Armory XD-S

Although insanely chaotic, I LOVE the NRA Annual Meeting. You’ll see people from all walks of life mingling together like it’s no big deal. New products, seminars, gun giveaways, nice people – the Annual Meeting has it all.

We’ll be covering the event here and at our social media outlets. You can also keep up with Daily articles at Beretta USA. Early next week, we’ll do a “Best of NRA Annual Meeting” wrap up over at OutdoorHub.

If you’re gonna be at the NRA Annual Meeting, stop by one of the book signings and say  hello – I’d love to meet you in person!

Friday

Galco, Booth 5464 10-11am

Flashbang Holsters / Looper Brand, Booth 4401 3-4pm

Saturday

Galco, Booth 5464 10-11am

Flashbang Holsters / Looper Brand, Booth 4401 4-5pm

Sunday

Galco, Booth 5464 10-11am

Flashbang Holsters / Looper Brand, Booth 4401 2-3pm

Hope to see you there!

iPad? iGun! iCarry In Plain Sight With The Galco iDefense

New for 2014, Galco takes the day planner concealed concept to the next level.

The Galco iDefense is a day planner type design that’s engineered to hold an iPad. It fits all iPads Generation I through IV, but obviously not the iPad Mini.

The Galco iDefense supports your iPad in a usable position while hiding a gun and spare magazine underneath. Image: Galco Gunleather.

The Galco iDefense supports your iPad in a usable position while hiding a gun and spare magazine underneath. Image: Galco Gunleather.

What I like about it is its split personality. Some day planner solutions are simply a big holster that looks like a day planner. You can’t open it up without exposing your gun. This one has a dedicated gun compartment accessible via a separate zipper. Outside of that is the iPad holder. And it doesn’t just hold the iPad. It also includes a support brace that will prop your iPad up at about a 45 degree angle. This allows you to use the iDefense while speaking at a podium, sitting at a table, or even while relaxing in a lounge chair. Should you require the services of your handgun, it’s easily available just underneath. This presents a really interesting carry option for those “exposed” speaking in front of groups.

A view of the dedicated gun and spare magazine compartment. Image: Galco Gunleather.

A view of the dedicated gun and spare magazine compartment. Image: Galco Gunleather.

The holster pocket features sewn-in elastic bands that hold a medium to full size handgun. As it’s a one-size option, the support bands aren’t large enough for a micro pocket gun like the Ruger LCP. But that wold defeat the purpose anyway. The big benefit, as I see it, is the ability to carry a full size gun in plain sight. There is also an elastic band intended to carry a spare magazine.

The Galco iDefense is available in brown or black.

This. Is. Cool.

 

Be sure to check out our book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters. It will teach you all the major methods of concealed carry and walk you through pros and cons over 100 different holster models. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Finding Holsters For Light And Laser Equipped Handguns: The Impossible Dream?

Just a few holster options for light and laser equipped handguns.

Just a few holster options for light and laser equipped handguns.

If you’ve been around here before, you know I’m a big fan of lasers for home defense and carry guns. I’m also a fanatical, raving, and kind of creepy bit of a holster geek. But, until recently, I’ve been hard-pressed to equip all my carry guns with lights and/or lasers.

Finding holsters for light / laser carry guns can make you as frustrated as Mike Bloomberg at a Colorado recall rally.

Why? Finding holsters for laser-equipped guns has been quite the challenge. Of course I’m talking lights and lasers that are mounted up front, usually under the barrel. Lasergrip offerings from Crimson Trace and guide rod lasers from LaserMax can use standard holsters without modification.

There’s no blame in this. It’s simply a math problem.

Holster makes already have to account for 13,786,667.43 different models of handguns, with new shapes and sizes hitting the market hourly.Add a half-dozen laser companies to the mix, each offering several different models, and then what?

There are more possible gun / laser / holster combinations than the number of White House excuses for the Obamacare  performance. (Tweet This)

But hope glimmers on the horizon. Recently, I have working with some most excellent holster options for laser-equipped guns. Each of the manufacturers below make different products for different guns, so the examples here are just that – examples.

Oh, and if you’re a Crimson Trace user, check out their new holster guide. It’s updated constantly with new products from Galco, DeSantis, CrossBreed, Fobus, Blackhawk!, Mitch Rosen, Blade-Tech and more.

CrossBreed SnapSlide

The SnapSlide is a great solution for this Springfield Armory XD-S with Crimson Trace Laserguard.

The SnapSlide is a great solution for this Springfield Armory XD-S with Crimson Trace Laserguard.

I’ve been testing one for the Springfield Armory XD-S equipped with a Crimson Trace LG-469 Laserguard and I find it neat-o. The belt loops are spread apart enough to offer great stability. The Kydex holster shell keeps the whole thing slim, which aids concealment. The best part? The rig is designed to ride very high so it’s much easier to conceal with a shirt or jacket that most other outside the waistband holsters.

Check the CrossBreed website for all available light / laser options.

DeSantis Speed Scabbard

An open top design, The DeSantis Speed Scabbard is all-leather holster is made for a number of light / laser options like the Crimson Trace Lightguard or Laserguard for Glocks.

I really like the holster. It’s an outside the waistband model without a rigid mouth. I don’t have trouble re-holstering it as the leather is sturdy enough to keep the mouth open. It shapes well to the body and offers great gun security – in fact you’ll want to break it in to smooth out the draw.

I used one at the 2013 Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational with a Glock 17, Crimson Trace Lasergrips and a Crimson Trace Lightguard.

Galco Meridian Concealed Carry Purse (or most other models)

Ladies, this one is specifically for you. If you choose to carry in your purse, be sure to do it safely.

Don’t let your gun flop around in a main purse compartment along with all sorts of other daily paraphernalia. (Tweet This)

That’s asking for trouble. Not only will it be hard to find your gun during an emergency, you run the risk of something getting caught up in the trigger – with potentially disastrous consequences.

Got a laser on your Smith & Wesson Shield? No problem!

Got a laser on your Smith & Wesson Shield? No problem!

If you choose purse carry, be sure to keep your gun in a dedicated compartment. That’s where a quality holster handbag like the Galco Meridian shines.

The Meridian is a fine-looking and functional handbag with a magnetically closing outside compartment, main interior compartment and separate interior compartment. Most importantly, it features a dedicated gun holster compartment accessible via a lockable vertical zipper on the exterior. Inside this compartment is a sewn-in holster pouch with a Velcro retention strap which can be removed if you prefer. We found that the retention strap is unnecessary with the medium size guns in this purse – it will stay in the holster pocket just fine.

The Galco Meridian is available in black or chocolate-brown. Galco makes a variety of styles with similar concealed carry functionality.

Comp-Tac MERC

Comp-Tac makes an excellent and insanely adjustable hybrid holster. That means it has a large leather back for stability and comfort and a Kydex molded gun pocket.

Now, Comp-Tac offers their MERC holster - MERC stands for Most Economical, Reliable, Comfortable by the way – in models ready to go for mounted lasers and lights. The list of supported models will almost certainly change, but at time of publication, Comp-Tac offers Crimson Trace and LaserMax for guns including the Springfield Armory XD-S, Smith & Wesson Shield and Kahr P9. One of the neat-o things about the Comp-Tac offerings is the flexibility. Everything is adjustable including retention, depth, cant and even the color of the belt clips to help it blend in to your existing wardrobe. Check out the Comp-Tac web site for more information.

Galco Stow-N-Go

The Galco Stow-N-Go is intended for simple, deep concealment. It features an open-top design for quick access, a reinforced mouth for one-handed reholstering and open bottoms to let dirt fall out. A vertical orientation allows for different carry options. You can use it behind the hip bone or in an appendix position. The exterior of the leather is a bit rough to help keep the holster in place via friction with your clothes.

CrossBreed SuperTuck

I love the hybrid inside the waistband holster design. The big leather backing provides comfort and stability, while the kydex gun pouch offers great security without adding thickness to the holster. Now that CrossBreed is making models compatible with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Laserguards, you can easily carry a pistol equipped with both laser and light. It’s a great solution.

N82 Tactical

The N82 holsters have some interesting innovations.

Spurred on to entrepreneurial enterprise by the belief that holsters should be both comfortable and comforting, the dynamic Nate duo and a rental squad of Oompa Loompas created a basic design that makes for an inherently wearable, yet solid and secure inside the waistband holster.
N82 Tactical Original Models allow lots of inside the waistband options for laser and light equipped guns.

N82 Tactical Original Models allow lots of inside the waistband options for laser and light equipped guns.

The N82 is a multi-layer affair. A large backing panel goes between the gun and your tender midsection skin areas. The panel is large enough to completely cover the gun and all or most of the grip — depending on the specific model. This keeps sharp and abrasive metal and wood stuff away from your belly. A belt clip is affixed to the gun pocket so the whole mess is tucked inside the waistband with the clip securing to your belt. Pretty simple.

Here’s where the layering comes in.

The body side of the panel is made from soft suede. N82 Tactical chose suede for several reasons. It’s a natural material, so it allows your skin to breathe and feel cool — even in hot and humid climates. Another reason for the suede lining is that it has a friction coefficient. Yeah, I told you we wouldn’t get into quantum physics and material dynamics in this book, but hang in there for a second. Since the whole suede area has some “grip” it serves to spread the weight of the gun over a broader area. Not that we’re calling your area broad or anything. OK, enough of the fancy science.

Sandwiched in the middle is a layer of neoprene. If you saw the movie Jaws, or have been to Sea World, you’ll know that this is the stuff that diver’s wetsuits are made of. It’s waterproof. While you probably won’t be diving with your N82 Tactical holster, the neoprene barrier does in fact create a moisture barrier between your sweaty broad area and your expensive gun. Even if you sweat, your gun stays dry. Within reason of course. The other reason behind the neoprene moisture barrier is to prevent the leather portion of the holster from becoming mushier and mushier over time. Three out of four Nate’s believe that leather doesn’t ever stop breaking in. It continues to get softer and softer over time, especially with exposure to moisture. We’re not sure what doctors and dentists believe.

The outer layer is leather. This provides structure and stability and a safe backing for your gun whether it be steel or polymer.

The original model, or Standard Series, utilizes a stretchy material to secure the gun to the leather holster panel. N82 got a lot of feedback from law enforcement customers that they loved the comfort of the tuckable design with its stretch band holster pocket, but needed additional positive retention for more active situations. Like the ones you see on every episode of CSI Las Vegas.

N82 makes a the original series holster for a number of guns with trigger guard lasers. When you go to order one for your specific gun, you’ll see laser options if available for that model. I’ve used one with a Springfield Armory XD-S and Crimson Trace LG-469 Laserguard with great success.

Recluse

Here’s a new, and patented, design worth a look. There are two basic models of the Recluse Holster. The OS models are open-sided while the TS models, as you can probably guess, are two-sided. The common element between the designs is the forward-facing solid leather flap that entirely hides the outline of your pocket gun.

The OS models feature a concealment panel on the outside. This completely breaks up the outline of the gun. The inside half of the holster is technically, kinda-sorta open. That’s where the patent comes in to play. Affixed to the leather holster is a molded plastic trigger block. This block is shaped to match the inside of the trigger guard of a specific gun. Molded into the block is a cutout that exactly matches the profile of the trigger.
To holster your gun, insert the muzzle into the bottom pouch, then shift the gun sideways so that the trigger block moves into position and the trigger is locked exactly in place per the trigger cutout. Once in place, the trigger is protected and secure.

To draw, you insert your fingers between your gun and the solid front panel to achieve a firing grip. The gun will come away from the trigger block sideways and can be withdrawn from your pocket.

The TS model is a little different. Rather than relying on a trigger block, this model features an interior leather panel. The interior leather flap is only attached at the bottom of the holster. To draw your gun, you shove your fingers between the leather flap and the gun, thereby creating space for a solid grip.

When you order direct from Recluse, you’ll see laser options on the product page where available.

I’m just scratching the surface here – and that’s a good thing. The holster market is exploding with options for lights and lasers on concealed carry guns.

Guns ‘n Guts: Galco Underwraps Belly Band Holster

The Galco Underwraps Belly Band holster is all about options. Which is why we use it a lot.

The Galco Underwraps Belly Band holster is loaded with pockets to carry guns, magazines, gear, cash and credit. Even handcuffs if you're into that.

The Galco Underwraps Belly Band holster is loaded with pockets to carry guns, magazines, gear, cash and credit. Even handcuffs if you’re into that.

As a belly band design, there is no required “fixed position” for mounting this holster system on your body. You can mount it low around your waist. You can mount it just a tad higher so half of the band is inside your pants and half above the belt line. You can even mount it higher on your torso, maybe around solar plexus level. The higher mount method is particularly handy for a cross draw setup where your strong hand reaches across your body to draw the gun. The gun is mounted with barrel pointed down and bottom of the grip facing forward.

Wear it high, above the belt, or low, partly under the belt line - your choice.

Wear it high, above the belt, or low, partly under the belt line – your choice.

The Galco Underwraps Belly Band holster has two leather pouches sewn into the wide (and comfortable) fabric band. As there are two gun holster pockets of slightly different shape, you can either carry two guns, or you can use the opposing side pockets to mount a single gun in the exact placement you want. The band also features two elastic fabric pockets sewn into the band. These are handy for just about anything — spare magazines, handcuffs (if you’re into that sort of thing), wallet, credit cards, emergency money, flashlight, pocket knife, cell phone, night vision goggles, or whatever else one might want to carry discreetly.

The Galco Underwraps Belly Band holster is also fully ambidextrous — simply flip it inside out. At time of writing, it’s available in either khaki or black.

The Galco Underwraps Belly Band holster comes in four different sizes — not only to accommodate body dimensions, but also to account for where you want to wear it. So be sure to measure your desired carry area before ordering.

Be sure to check out our book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters. It will teach you all the major methods of concealed carry and walk you through pros and cons over 100 different holster models. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

 

Some Pocket Carry Options: The Galco Pocket Protector Holster and PMC Magazine Carrier

A pair of pocket carry options from Galco.

A pair of pocket carry options from Galco.

Galco makes some handy pocket holster for pocket guns like the Springfield Armory XD-S. It’s a rough side out leather design, which helps keep the holster in your pocket when you draw. There is also a leather “hook” cut into the top of the stabilizing panel which is intended to catch on the inside of your pocket, making sure the holster stays put when your gun is removed.

Note the rough leather exterior and hook design. Both features help keep the holster in your pocket when the gun comes out.

Note the rough leather exterior and hook design. Both features help keep the holster in your pocket when the gun comes out.

The open top of this holster is molded to the profile of specific gun so re-holstering is easy. I also find that the extra-sturdy leather stabilizing panel keeps a fully loaded semi-auto stable in my pocket. I’ve had less sturdy pocket holsters that were not strong enough to hold a top-heavy gun in the upright position in my pocket.

Simple and effective. I use this one a lot.

Galco PMC Pocket Magazine Carrier

I’ve gotten in the habit of carrying a spare magazine in my support side pants pocket. No, it’s not some high-speed, low-drag tactical thing. I’m a high-drag kind of guy anyway. It’s more a result of ease and convenience. Having things to conceal on both sides of my body just seems like a chore and carrying magazines on my belt spoils the one comfortable side of my body that I have left.

The problem with carrying a magazine in the pocket is that it flops around as you walk, sit and do whatever else it is that you do. If you ever need to grab it quickly, it is almost guaranteed to be in the “wrong” position. For example, when I use a belt magazine carrier, I want the spare magazines oriented with bullets facing forward when mounted on my support side. Then, when I grab a spare magazine from that location, my index finger is already lined up on the front of the magazine. Inserting it into the pistol is then smooth and effortless. When that magazine is flopping around in my pocket, it might be facing forward, backward or even upside down. I’ll almost certainly have some fumbling to do to get it into my pistol.

Galco build the PMC Pocket Magazine Carrier from sturdy to keep a loaded magazine oriented properly in your pocket. The rough exterior and “hook” design help keep it in your pocket as you remove the magazine.

Galco build the PMC Pocket Magazine Carrier from sturdy to keep a loaded magazine oriented properly in your pocket. The rough exterior and “hook” design help keep it in your pocket as you remove the magazine.

The Galco PMC Pocket Magazine Carrier holds the magazine at a 45 degree angle exactly how I want it. Galco makes the carrier out of sturdy leather that is “inside out” and full pocket width. The firm leather keeps the whole thing stable inside of your pocket, while the rough outside creates a friction grip on the inside of your pocket. This helps prevent you from pulling the carrier out with the magazine. That would certainly be embarrassing in a life or death self-defense situation.

This works great in pants pockets, but helps with other carry locations too. I’ve used it in larger cargo pants pockets and it’s large enough so that it doesn’t spill over sideways. You can also use it in a coat or blazer pocket. Ladies, it also makes a great purse carry accessory. Put this in an interior pocket and you’ll know exactly where your spare magazine is.

 

Learn more about lots of other holster solutions in our book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters.

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

10 Things I Like About the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield

Less than one inch wide, the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield packs up to 8+1 rounds of 9mm.

Less than one inch wide, the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield packs up to 8+1 rounds of 9mm.

Much has been said about the Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Shield. A true pocket-sized 9mm, it’s smaller in almost all dimensions (except height) than a Glock 26 and can easily be concealed in a milliondy-seven different ways. Pocket, inside the waistband or outside the waistband holster, ankle, purse, fanny pack, crotch carry holster, you name it. The less-than-one-inch width goes a long way to making this handgun exceptionally portable.

Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm Galco 1963 Even with the Crimson Trace LG-489 Laser installed, it weighs almost exactly the same as my morning cup of coffee. Coincidence? I think not. Both are life-saving devices and daily necessities.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1935 I like that it’s a 9mm. Of course you can now get the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield in .40 Smith & Wesson. Although 9mm and .380 ACP have lot’s of similarities on paper, I see a noticeable performance difference when each load is shot through tough clothing barriers. The extra velocity of the 9mm helps it expand more reliably than most of the .380 loads I’ve tested. I’ve found the Shield to be a very controllable gun, even with its small size and light weight. It’s a gun that’s enjoyable to shoot just for fun, unlike many other pocket cannons.
Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm Galco 1960 The Shield has a positive safety. Without getting into the debate of whether or not you need one on a striker-fired pistol, I will say that it’s comforting on a gun that may be carried in a pocket holster. The safety lever is inset to the frame and unlikely to move without deliberate action, so you can choose to carry with the safety engaged or not. Moving from safe to fire position is very easy with the shooting hand thumb, assuming you’re right handed. The safety is not ambidextrous, so lefties have a little more work to do.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1933 I like that the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield will fire with its magazine removed. I don’t really appreciate that the lawyers at Smith & Wesson chose to print “CAUTION – CAPABLE OF FIRING WITH MAGAZINE REMOVED” right on the slide of an otherwise very attractive pistol. Can someone please put the lawyers back in their aquarium?
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1928 I like the capacity options. The more concealable standard magazine gives the Shield 8 (7+1) rounds of 9mm while the extended magazine adds one more for a total of 9 rounds. This is a great compromise of capacity versus size.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1940 Both front and rear sights are dovetail mounted and easily adjustable for windage. I found elevation on the test gun to be right on target. Notice how the rear sight surface is grooved to reduce glare around the sighting dots.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1937 The trigger on the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield simply rocks. For a striker-fired pistol, it’s exceptionally smooth and crisp. It’s got just about 1/4 inch of take-up prior to a 6.5 pound crisp break. If you like to keep your finger in place until reset, you can count on just about 1/4 inch forward travel before a positive reset click. The Shield has one of the best striker design triggers on the market.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1936 The flush magazine configuration with 7+1 capacity makes this a true pocket gun. Try it with a Galco Pocket Pro holster! I like this configuration with the extended magazine stowed elsewhere as a backup.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1931 I dig the grip texture. It’s sure, even with sweaty hands, but you don’t lose traction during shots. Even more importantly, when using an Inside the waistband holster like the Galco Stow-N-Go, it won’t abrade your insides nearly as much as Gilbert Godfried’s voice abrades your ears.
Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm Galco 1962 How about a grip-activated laser? The Crimson Trace LG-489 Laser for the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield mounts just in front of the trigger guard. Just grip the pistol and the laser is on. Couldn’t be simpler.

Are You An Innie Or An Outie? Concealed vs. Open Carry

An excellent way to start a good old-fashioned bar fight, or at least an internet happy-slap chat spat, is to gather two groups of gun people. One who believes in Open Carry and another who believes in Concealed Carry. Then ask them whether Cher is a true Diva or not. While we won’t attempt to solve that debate here, we will briefly define each in the context of holster selection.

Open Carry [oh-puh n] [kar-ee]

  1. Act of possessing, wearing and transporting one or more firearms in a publicly visible and immediately accessible manner on one’s person.
  2. Proponents believe that clear visibility of armed status will deter evil dudes from doing evil things.
  3. See also: Lone Ranger, The Terminator, Wyatt Earp
Galco Small of Back Holster

Here’s an example of “open butt carry” with a Galco Small of Back Holster. Technically you should use a cover garment as “open butt carry” is kind of ridiculous.

At the time of this writing, only 7 states had no provision at all for legally carrying a gun via open carry. On the other end of the spectrum, about 12 states allow open carry with little if any restriction — excepting of course areas where guns are not allowed by Federal law or other restriction. All of the others have some provision for open carry. Some require permits to do so. Others have country and city ordinances that impact open carry.

Many proponents of open carry insist that a right not exercised is a right lost, and therefore want to increase the incidence of open carry to make it mainstream. A related benefit to frequent open carry is that over time, the general public will become desensitized to seeing guns in public. After encountering law-abiding citizens throughout their daily travels, and seeing no adverse impact, folks will figure out that citizens exercising open carry are in fact normal too. You have to admit that desensitization works. When Paris Hilton hits the New York club scene with 3 ducks, Ryan Seacrest and an ill-tempered llama, who even notices?

Concealed Carry [kuh n-seel-duh] [kar-ee]

  1. Act of hiding, withdrawing, and removing a gun or other weapon from public observation while still keeping it accessible on one’s person.
  2. Proponents believe that it’s better to give (by surprise) than to receive. Proponents also believe in the tactical advantage of remaining anonymous until the time and place of their choosing.
  3. See also: Armed citizens, Domestic Terrorists (as seen by the media), Sneaky Bastards, Responsible Law Abiders

Concealed carry is far more prevalent legally speaking. Only one state in the union has no provision for concealed carry, and that is Illinois. At the time of this writing, lawsuits are in progress aiming to change that. Also, the District of Columbia has no concealed carry provision, unless you are a high-ranking politician and therefore not subject to laws for us little people.

Gun Words Explained!

Terminology Alert: Distrikt of Columbia

The District of Columbia is a foreign dictatorship conveniently located between Maryland and Virginia. Holsters are generally not used there as carrying a gun is outlawed for common people. One notable exception is “private parts holsters.” Politicians like to send photos of those with their cell phones.

Your personal carry decision, and therefore, your holster selection decision, could more likely to be a tactical issue than a legal one. Barring political objectives mentioned, many concealed carriers believe they hold a tactical self-defense advantage when no one else knows they are armed. Concealed carry theory suggests that the only time you want a potential threat to know about your gun is the instant when it is used. If your gun is visible, you may, in fact, deter crime. Or you may become the first target. We won’t get into that tactical debate in this book.

For our purposes, the outside the waistband holster section features holsters most appropriate for open carry. If you’re not worried about hiding your gun, you might as well choose the carry method that is both most accessible and most comfortable. For most folks, that would be via a belt holster with the gun mounted outside the pants or skirt.

Read more about hundreds of ways to carry a gun in The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Buy The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters at Amazon.com

Holster Review: Galco Miami Classic II Shoulder Holster

The original design behind the Galco Miami Classic II shoulder holster is way older than Don Johnson’s Miami Vice character. In fact, it was launched by the Famous Jackass Leather Company (Galco’s former name) in 1970. The original models were made for the Chicago Police Department.

But Hollywood does have a habit of latching on to cool things. In James Cann’s 1981 movie Thief, he wore an original Jackass rig. By 1984, a weird series of events led to actor Don Johnson carrying his Bren 10 (and later Smith & Wesson 645 and 4506) in a Jackass shoulder holster rig for the hit series Miami Vice. And the Miami Classic holster was born.

Galco Miami Classic II Shoulder Holster

Galco Miami Classic II Shoulder Holster shown with a Springfield Armory 1911 TRP

I’ve been wearing a Galco Miami Classic II shoulder holster almost daily for several months and I’m starting to get spoiled. Wow. This is an incredibly comfortable setup — even for carrying a large, heavy gun like a full-sized Springfield Armory TRP 1911. And the design lends itself to carrying spare magazines with equal comfort and ease.

Galco Miami Classic II front

Galco Miami Classic II shoulder holster in use

The Miami Classic II shoulder holster is really a holster system. A “spider” harness consists of a custom Kydex panel in the back with 4 swivel joints. Leather straps are connected to the Kydex plate. These leather straps form two “loops” that go around your arms. From the back, you see an “X” pattern of leather straps, but the front just has a single strap coming over each shoulder and disappearing behind each arm. The idea is that you wear a jacket or blazer that’s open in the front to hide the leather straps, holster and magazine pouches.

The gun winds up positioned in a cross draw position — horizontal with the muzzle pointed straight backward. The magazines hang on the strong side and are accessible with your support hand.

As this is a system, Galco offers interchangeable holster and magazine carrier modules. You can buy one harness system with different gun holsters and different magazine carriers. Our test model included a 1911 gun holster with a dual single-stack magazine carrier. The magazines were also positioned horizontally and we found access to be consistent and fast. As a side note, Galco offers a 4 magazine carrier option if you need to gear up.

Galco Miami Classic Belt Straps

The optional belt straps really increase overall stability.

Comfort with the Miami Classic II rig is outstanding, whether standing, sitting, walking, running, biking or driving. Having the gun on one side and magazines on the other resulted in a very balanced setup with all the weight easily distributed across both shoulders.

If you’re going to use this setup, there are a couple of things to be aware of. Muzzle and trigger discipline are the first. In the carry position, the muzzle points straight behind you. Also, when you do any sort of cross draw, the muzzle can cover people and things that are located on your support side. Practice with a muzzle down swing can minimize this risk. Just be aware of these issues before considering a shoulder or cross draw carry option.

Obviously you’ll need some type of appropriate cover garment for the Miami Classic II shoulder holster. Blazers, suits, and open jackets are perfect. We found that the Miami Classic II shoulder holster encouraged us to “dress up” a little more than usual. While you may not get scouted for a starring role in a new detective series, you’ll still look suave while carrying.

You can find the Galco Miami Classic Holster at Brownells.com

Galco International Miami Classic Shoulder System
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Learn more about lots and lots of gun holsters in our new book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters, now available at Amazon.com!

The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters - Now available at Amazon.com

The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters – Now available at Amazon.com

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