Holster Review: Simply Rugged Cuda IWB / OWB Holster

The Simply Rugged Holsters Cuda is shown here in the outside-the-waistband configuration.

The Simply Rugged Holsters Cuda is shown here in the outside-the-waistband configuration.

Today’s neat holster design falls squarely into the “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?” category.

While Simply Rugged Holsters makes a number of different holster designs, the shiny one that diverted my attention away from the squirrel was the Simply Rugged Cuda model. Here’s why.

To use the Cuda as an IWB, flip the straps over the front - that's it.

To use the Cuda as an IWB, flip the straps over the front – that’s it.

It’s all the rage out at Gunsite these days.

But seriously, while that’s not the only reason Simply Rugged got my attention, it’s a big plus. The guys and gals at Gunsite certainly know what the heck they’re talking about, and I would be foolish not to take a close look at gear they wear themselves on a day-to-day basis.

The Simply Rugged Cuda is a combination inside-the-waistband (IWB) / outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster. By combination, I mean you can easily convert it from one to the other. Other designs on the market allow you to perform this exorcism by screwing and unscrewing clips or gun pouches or whatever. The Simply Rugged Cuda design has the conversion capability built-in – with no reconfiguration required.

Here’s the secret. The holster itself is a classic pancake design with three belt loops. Depending on which loops you use, you can wear the holster as a traditional strong side outside-the-waistband with standard or canted angle or a cross draw outside-the-waistband on the weak side. Simple enough, right? What Simply Rugged has done differently is add leather straps that hang downwards on the back (body side) of the holster. When you want to wear the holster as an inside-the-waistband, you flip the two straps over the top then down the front. The holster goes in your pants while the straps with snap loops are exposed to latch onto your belt. The beauty of the design is that you leave the straps in place when wearing as an OWB and they don’t get in the way. You can literally move this holster from OWB to IWB in no time flat because there is no reconfiguration. It’s hard to explain, so check out the pictures here to see how it works.

Here's the Cuda in action as an IWB holster.

Here’s the Cuda in action as an IWB holster. Image: Gunsite and Simply Rugged Holsters.

The Cuda model is hand molded to your specific firearm and Simply Rugged will happily work with you to design a holster that fits your gun, Lasergrip and light configuration. No one can guarantee a fit for every combination, but if you don’t see your specific gear combination listed, be sure to check with them first as offerings are always changing. One more thing regarding the Cuda design. The holster is made of thick leather, and while the mouth is not technically reinforced, I’ve had no problem re-holstering even while carrying inside-the-waistband.

When used as an outside-the-waistband holster, the IWB straps hand out of the way on the back.

When used as an outside-the-waistband holster, the IWB straps hand out of the way on the back.

If you prefer a holster with a hard reinforced mouth for absolute frictionless one-handed re-holstering, check out the Defcon 3 model. It’s got a layer of (proprietary trade secret unobtainium) sandwiched between the layers of leather to keep the mouth open at all times. All other features and options are similar to the Cuda, so you can get the Defcon 3 with IWB straps too.

Both Cuda and Defcon 3 designs are open mouth and secure your firearm with fit and friction. This is working out just fine on my Cuda model for a Smith & Wesson E-Series 1911 with a tactical rail. If you feel more comfortable with a top strap, check out some of Simply Rugged’s other designs – you’ll find a variety of models all geared towards heavy outdoor use.

Since you’re wearing a holster every day, or should be, you might want to take advantage of customization options. For example, the holster shown here has the optional basket weave pattern on the exposed side of the holster. BBQ gun anyone?

If you want to learn a whole lot more about different approaches to concealed carry and holsters, check out The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters, 2nd Edition 2014.

It’s on sale now along with our other shooting books!

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.

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Carry In Plain Sight With Blackhawk!’s Diversion Carry Slingpack Holster

The Blackhawk! Diversion Carry Slingpack is a great solution for those times when traditional belt carry just won’t work.

The Blackhawk! Diversion Carry Slingpack is a great solution for those times when traditional belt carry just won’t work.

Do you walk? Jog? Ride a bike? Wander aimlessly?

If so, you might check out the Blackhawk! Diversion Carry Slingpack as an off-body carry option. This single-strap sling pack looks sporty – as in some activity that involves a ball, not a gun. After all, that’s the whole point of Blackhawk!’s Diversion line – to blend in with common, every day activities.

Like other single-strap sling pack designs, the idea is to carry this small pack on your back. When access is needed, it rotates around your body, presenting itself on your chest with a hidden gun compartment zipper facing straight up. So, like other sling pack designs, the draw motion involves rotating the pack to the front and opening the zipper compartment first. This is simply the tradeoff for situations where a more traditional carry method won’t work for you.

The Blackhawk! Diversion Carry Slingpack is designed with a teardrop shape for the pack itself. This allows you to configure the interior holster so the heavy part (grip) of your gun is on the bottom – at the widest part of the teardrop. This helps to stabilize the pack as the heaviest portion of your gun is at the bottom of the pack.

The pack is also ambidextrous. You switch sides by clipping the bottom of the strap to one of two female clips on either side of the pack. Gun compartment zippers are on both sides of the bag and each side has two zippers with large rubber coated loops. You can configure the pack to work over either shoulder and access your gun with a left to right or right to left unzipping motion. It’s super flexible.

The primary strap does not favor right or left shoulder carry, so it may not lay perfectly flat across the top of your shoulder, but that’s the price you pay for the true ambidextrous configuration options.

The pack has three exterior compartments. The primary space doubles as a concealed carry gun pouch with a solid back covered with hook and loop material. A separate holster is included that attaches to the hook and loop backing. The holster has a retention strap if you want to use it, but you don’t have to. The main gun compartment has a mesh pocket that has zipper closures on both sides, so you can safely store other gear in the main compartment, in addition to your gun. The outside of the pack has two additional compartments, one large and the other small. The larger compartment has a strap and hook to fasten a key ring. The two exterior compartments are handy for things like wallets and cell phones so you don’t have to open to gun compartment to access those.

As you can see, the pack is small and completely non-tactical, by design.

As you can see, the pack is small and completely non-tactical, by design.

How does it perform? Like any sling pack, vigorous movement will encourage the pack to rotate towards the front. The more weight you have in the pack, the more it will want to move towards your side. The pack worked great and remained stable while walking or hiking. It also tended to stay in place while biking. If you’re going to be doing something exceptionally active, you may want to consider a traditional two-strap backpack.

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

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

 

A Comfortable Holster For Big Guns: Blackhawk! 3 Slot Pancake Holster

The Blackhawk! 3 Slot Leather Pancake Holster features not 2, or 4, but 3 belt slots. Tricky huh?

It’s for good reason. The placement of the belt slots allow for side, behind-the-hip, appendix or cross draw positioning.

The Blackhawk! 3-slot pancake holster spreads out the weight of a large gun like this Springfield Armory 1911.

The Blackhawk! 3-slot pancake holster spreads out the weight of a large gun like this Springfield Armory 1911.

The holster backing is large and does a great job of distributing the weight of even large and heavy pistols. We’ve been using one with a full sized Springfield Armory TRP 1911 for quite some time and it makes a perfectly comfortable all day carry option.

The 3-slot belt loops allow a variety of traditional and cross-draw placement.

The 3-slot belt loops allow a variety of traditional and cross-draw placement.

The holster, especially the trigger guard area, is nicely molded to the specific gun model so we found fit to be excellent. There is a thumb-break snap at the top to aid gun retention. We found releasing the snap to be, well, a snap, with a natural draw motion.

It’s a nice holster — especially for larger guns.

 

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

A Slim, Yet Effective, Concealed Carry Combo

Researching my forthcoming book, The Rookie’s Guide to the Springfield Armory XD-S, I’ve been doing quite a bit of experimenting. As a result, I’ve stumbled on some pretty fantastic concealed carry combinations, one of which is the Springfield Armory XD-S, a Crimson Trace LG-469 Laserguard and the CrossBreed SnapSlide outside-the-waistband holster.

One of the really nice things about the Springfield Armory XD-S is that it’s thin and “short” enough to easily conceal using an outside the waistband holster. And it doesn’t matter if you prefer fewer (5+1) big and fat .45 ACP rounds or more (7+1) slimmer yet faster 9mm rounds. The exterior dimensions of the gun and laser combination are exactly the same.

For OWB carry, I particularly like the CrossBreed SnapSlide holster for a few of different reasons.

The CrossBreed SnapSlide shown here with a .45 ACP Springfield Armory XD-S with a Crimson Trace LG-469 Laserguard and CrossBreed SnapSlide holster.

The CrossBreed SnapSlide shown here with a .45 ACP Springfield Armory XD-S with a Crimson Trace LG-469 Laserguard and CrossBreed SnapSlide holster.

Like the IWB counterparts, the leather back and kydex holster pouch give a great combination of “thin” yet comfortable. The portion of the holster on the outside of the gun simply cannot be thinner with any other material than Kydex.

The generous leather panel and widely-spaced belt loops offer great comfort and stability with a 1 ½ inch or 1 ¼ inch gun belt. I had no problem adjusting the carry position from anywhere between 3 and  5:30 positions, assuming a right-handed configuration.

Note how high the gun rides with the CrossBreed SnapSlide holsters. Hardly anything extends below your belt.

Note how high the gun rides with the CrossBreed SnapSlide holsters. Hardly anything extends below your belt.

The SnapSlide holds the XD-S high relative to the belt level which aids in concealment. This high positioning and short barrel of the Springfield Armory XD-S mean that hardly any of the gun extends below belt level, so an untucked shirt or blouse easily covers your gun.

The three together make an outstanding concealed carry package that’s light, trim, comfortable and functional.

White Dog Holsters for Lightguard and Laserguard Equipped Handguns

While testing my shooting in the dark skills, or more accurately lack thereof, at the recent Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational, I became sold on the concept of using a light on my carry gun. While I’ve used lasers on carry guns for years, I found the combination of light, laser and pistol fast and intuitive.

Here's a Springfield Armory TRP Government size 1911 with a Crimson Trace Lightguard. A great carry combination if you can find the right holster.

Here’s a Springfield Armory TRP Government size 1911 with a Crimson Trace Lightguard and Crimson Trace Lasergrips. A great carry combination if you can find the right holster.

While there are lots of tactical gun-mounted lights on the market, the introduction of the Crimson Trace Lightguard was a game changer for concealed carry. The Crimson Trace Lightguard is slimmer than the frame of the gun, does not protrude in front of the muzzle, features instinctive activation, yet still manages to throw 100 lumens of light towards your target.

In short, it adds hardly any weight or bulk to a carry gun.

But there’s always a “but” right?

In this case, the “but” is that you need to find a holster that is molded to accept the Lightguard. Yes, you can use a general purpose “pouch” holster, but if you want good retention and security resulting from a perfectly form-fitted holster, you need to find one that is made specifically for your pistol with a Crimson Trace Lightguard mounted.

Why look at that! It's a custom holster that's Lightguard ready!

Why look at that! It’s a custom holster that’s Lightguard ready!

Sounds simple enough, but here’s where exponential math gets in the way. If you multiple the number of lights on the market times the number of gun models on the market, you get a number even larger than Michael Moore’s waist size. It’s somewhere around half the diameter of the moon as measured in inches. This presents a near impossible situation for holster makers as they would have to produce 43 gajillion models to meet all the desired combinations.

Here’s where White Dog Holsters steps in.

You can tell Devin is a military guy as the attention to detail is great. Note the raised opening for the Lasergrip!

You can tell Devin is a military guy as the attention to detail is great. Note the raised opening for the Lasergrip!

Devin is one of those guys who saw opportunity and did the American thing – started a business to address said opportunity. While he makes standard holsters out of kydex and/or leather, he seems to be developing a niche of holsters designed for Crimson Trace Lightguards, Laserguards and Rail Masters.

I just ordered the holster shown here. It’s the White Dog Mutt design which is a tuckable inside-the-waistband holster with a kydex gun pocket and leather backing. it’s similar to the Galco King Tuk. The difference is that this one is molded to be Lightguard and Lasergrip friendly.

I just started using this, but can already tell it’s a winner. The leather backing is solid and well-finished. The kydex is perfectly molded with all the right detail touches. The clips are adjustable for desired cant angle and comfort.

The bottom is open to let debris fall out, but note how the kydex is curved over the muzzle to aid retention and support.

The bottom is open to let debris fall out, but note how the kydex is curved over the muzzle to aid retention and support.

But again, there’s always a “but” to the story. Devin is also a guy who serves our country and has just been called to a deployment for a couple of months. This means you’ll have to wait a bit to order a holster from him. Keep checking the web site, he’ll be back making holsters before you know it.

 

Gun Holster Review: Blackhawk Day Planner Hides Your Gun In Plain Sight

The Blackhawk! Day Planner Holster is available in small and large sizes to accommodate your choice of carry gun. We’ve been testing the large model which has been able to handle all of our full size handguns like Beretta 92s, full size 1911s, full size Glocks, and more.

The Blackhawk! Day Planner Holster - a nifty way to hide your gun in plain sight.

The Blackhawk! Day Planner Holster – a nifty way to hide your gun in plain sight.

The case itself is dedicated to the gun and a spare magazine. There are no compartments for office supplies. This makes sense as you don’t want to be opening this case unless you really, really, need to.

From the outside, it's just an ordinary day planner.

From the outside, it’s just an ordinary day planner.

The day planner features a dual zipper design, so you can configure it to open from either end. Or, keep both zippers centered if you prefer. The two zipper design is important as it allows you to configure the unit specifically to your needs. You can decide on specific orientation of your gun in the case, and which side you want for primary access. Every time you open the day planner, your gun will be oriented in a consistent direction.

The case itself is made from 1000 denier CORDURA® nylon outer material, whatever that is. The important thing is that the material is sturdy and tough. This day planner is not going to wear out until long after the Housewives of Los Angeles stop pole dancing. It also features a form-fitting canvas strap across the spine. It’s just big enough to get your fingers through, but small enough that it doesn’t flop around and catch on things.

The gun is retained by an adjustable strap that attaches to the velcro backing. Did I say velcro? Sorry, I meant to say hook and loop. That’s what all the tactical folks call velcro these days. This strap is made from thick canvas-like material and is adjustable to fit different pistol widths. This band is wide enough to cover the trigger guard area of your pistol or revolver and hold it firmly in place. There is an adjustable elastic cord that can go around the grip or rear of the slide to keep your gun solidly tucked in to the band. A separate velcro-backed piece with an elastic loop is used to secure a spare magazine. Both components are velcro (hook and loop, right?) backed so you can place them independently wherever you like. Just place each in its desired location, test your placement and access with an unloaded gun, and you’re ready to go.

Insanely Practical Tips Guns and Shooting

Insanely Practical Tip

Do NOT leave this behind in the conference room! Staple the carry strap to your hand if you need help remembering!

If you’re the church going type, and it’s permitted in your locale, this makes a great Sunday go to meetin’ carry method as the day planner looks very much like a bible case. Just sayin’ you know?

More gun holster info 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

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The Good, Bad And Ugly of Carrying A Gun On Your Belt

Here’s an excerpt from our book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters. It’s available at Amazon.com.

There are dozens of ways to carry a concealed handgun these days. You can carry in your pockets. In your undershirt. With an evening gown. Under your desk. Under your belt. Over your belt. Across your shoulders. Even in your underwear.

With all those options, most trainers still recommend good, old-fashioned belt carry. Is it right for you?

The Good

If you idolized John Wayne, Annie Oakley, or Roy Rogers in your childhood fantasies, all of your cowboy quick-draw fantasies come true with belt carry. While you may not be as rustic looking as Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter, you will be walking around carrying a real gun on your hip. And that’s gotta count for something in terms of living out a childhood fantasy.

Does this holster make me look fat?Waist carry methods — either inside your waistband or outside your waistband (more on that later) — give you fast and consistent access to your firearm with your dominant hand.

Waist carry methods also give you excellent control over your firearms — at almost all times. One noteworthy exception is when you’re predisposed on the porcelain throne. You have to plan for that particular quality time, so your shiny new gun doesn’t clatter onto the bathroom floor. This is especially embarrassing — and kind of gross — in public restrooms. Nothing will make you want to sell your gun faster.

The Bad

Driving a car with this carry method can help you discover new levels of pain and suffering from gun-induced kidney massage. And if you are wearing your seat belt like a good boy or girl, the strap relative to your body position can make it really difficult to get to your gun easily. You may want to keep the cigarette lighter charged as a last-ditch defense for close encounters of the criminal kind!

You’ll need what concealed carry commandos call a “cover garment.” In plain English, this is some form of upper body clothing that is untucked. It could be a shirt, coat or jacket, or better yet, a photographers vest. You know, the ones with just under 37 million pockets and zippers? Because everyone who wants to look natural and not out of place wears those. They fit in just about anywhere. Disney World, the mall, city parks, golf courses, and of course, Star Trek conventions. But as fashionable as they are, chances are, you will never be photographed by GQ or Glamour magazine while wearing a fake photographers vest. So give up that dream.

A serious opinion about photographers vests: Please note the key word, opinion. There’s a lot of internet commando debate about photographers vests. Many experienced veterans of not even one gunfight deride them as “shoot me first” vests. The idea is that “everyone” knows that someone wearing a photographers vest is carrying a gun. Here’s the opinion part. I’m not so sure about that. To those of us who are geeky about things like holsters (!) it is a clue that a person is carrying concealed. To anyone else? Doubt it. Think about all the people you encounter in your daily travels. Even the ones that aren’t performing the “walking while texting” interpretive dance. Are they really paying all that much attention to you? Even outside of New York City? Are they going to look at your wardrobe choice and make judgements about your armament status? Doubt it. If you like it, and it works for you, wear it!

The Ugly

If you choose to carry a gun with an ‘inside the waistband’ holster, you really need to buy pants at least a full size or two larger than normal. That means that the hot clothing salesperson on whom you have a secret crush will think you’re fatter than you really are. Just something to consider.

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

The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters – Now available 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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