Category Archives: Carry Options

Do You Tell Your Kids You Carry A Gun

A letter to the editor from a reader asked about carrying concealed, while also dealing with wranglin’ little kids from baby-sized up through toddlers. His concern was all the bending, stooping and picking up could indeed cause his hidden gun to print or become dislodged in the daily juggling process.

The letter brought back memories of when my wife and I would venture out with our first baby. I’m pretty sure we had enough gear for five or six kids even though we were just going to the park for just a few hours. Every new parent goes through the process, and by the time number two is a few weeks old, the process is streamlined into something more manageable.

When my firstborn arrived I was carrying a 1911 IWB, a spare mag on my belt and a J-Frame in my pocket. This was my off-duty load-out every day and everywhere I went. I made sure I always had on a proper cover garment, and when I was carrying a baby or gear, I did it on my left side to keep from accidentally exposing my gun or having a little one use it as a foot rest. Was it difficult to manage at times? It sure was, and then some, but I chose to go armed to protect my precious cargo, so I made adjustments to how I dressed and how I moved around.

I’m not going to tell you what you need to carry and how you should carry. The decision of what and how is a personal one and must fit your lifestyle. It may take some modifications but there’s a way to go armed and not risk exposing your gun.


From an early age my kids were taught gun safety and concealed carry etiquette. My son has an amazing eye and is probably the best I know at catching people printing. “Dad, check out that guy. I can see he’s carrying a Glock.” My kids knew I was a cop — there was a police car parked in the garage so there was no hiding it. I taught them being a police officer or carrying a gun isn’t always cool with everyone you meet so we don’t talk about it. It took some time, but they caught on.

I made sure there was no mystery concerning the guns and all the gear, so they never felt the need to seek out and “play with” any of it. I also took them to range and exposed them to as much as possible.

While out and about I taught them to hold my left hand and to not tug on my shirttails. While driving in the truck I started playing games with them to put their heads down and hands over their ears — when I said “Ears!” — it was a fun game with a practical side. My plan was, if a carjacker wants my truck and it was just me — it’s all theirs. But if my kids were strapped into their car seats, my plan wouldn’t include giving my precious cargo to the carjacker so things were going to get noisy.


This changes everything when it comes to managing
your concealed-carry gun situation!


When I was a cop my plan for dealing with most issues off duty was to simply be a good witness. As an armed citizen, I still follow the same rules. Yes, I carry my gun but I’m not planning on getting killed trying to be a hero. I have thought through what I would do if X, Y or Z happens. Almost all of those immediate actions were null and void if I was with my family. Evacuating them to safety or protecting them was my only mission — and it should be yours, too.

Trouble has a way of finding us, even if we do our best to avoid it. If you’re prepared for every possible scenario you can think the odds are tilted in your favor — but they still might not be. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different methods of carry, and if you have to downsize the gun you carry or modify how you carry so you can transport the baby and the ruck full of bottles — then do it.

If you have questions about carry options or problems you need to work out for your concealed carry strategy, shoot a note to and I’ll get it. If I don’t know the answer we’ll figure it out one way or another.


By Sammy Reese

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Best Gear For Your Mission

Carrying a gun for personal protection goes a lot deeper than just strapping on a gun. I look at concealed carry as more of a practical martial art. It takes more than just putting on a gi and tying on a belt to be proficient. You have to practice your art the same way you would employ it in real life. The old training axiom of “training like you intend to fight because you will be fighting just like you trained” is one of those hard rules we can’t BS our way out of.

I was recently working on draws from concealment with a student and he seemed very hesitant — moving excessively slow. I asked him why he was moving like a slow robot. He said he’d paid a lot of money for his leather holster and didn’t want to wear it out practicing.

We took a break and I went into the fight-like-you-train mantra. I told him if he was worried about tearing up the expensive holster he should buy a Kydex-type holster with similar characteristics his daily carry rig had, and get back to training realistically.

I let him borrow my Contact Concealment holster and mag pouches for the remainder of the training session. At the end of our training I had him do the last few reps with his leather rig to make sure everything felt the same. He saw the wisdom and bought a Kydex holster. What he found was he liked it so much he ended up using it for daily carry.


Kydex may not be as “warm” as leather or break-in with a
patina of its own, but it takes a licking and keeps your
expensive leather gear from taking a beating while training.

Open Parachute

I know more than a few gun-people who are very closed-minded when it comes to guns and gear. At a writers event several years ago, a well known writer refused to use the provided Kydex holster. He was mumbling about how a “… real gun guy always uses leather and this plastic stuff was sacrilegious.” During a break I tried to impart the wisdom of how alternate holster materials can be used to save the high dollar leather rigs for daily wear. It was met with a snort and more mumbling about not being a real gun guy if I used plastic junk. I tried, but there was no way he was going to get it.

Parachutes and brains work much better when open. I’ve had a main chute malfunction — and I can tell you it’s an unforgettable event. I was never so happy to see my reserve pop open. As a student I’ve found myself in classes where at first I didn’t see the wisdom in the new piece of gear or technique, but by keeping an open mind, learned new things. I’ve also tried new gear and techniques and found out they weren’t going to work for me — but still put them in my toolbox for passing on to others.


This is an original Lou Alessi rig Sammy’s used a lot
over the years. It sees limited range time thanks to
his other Kydex rigs being used for training.

The Mission

Your mission is to assess what your concealed carry needs are so you can be the most prepared you can afford to be. I don’t have all the answers but I do have a huge number of resources at my disposal. If you have questions, reach out and I’ll help get you sorted out. Find me at and Roy will pass your note along to me.

If you’ve been reading Handgunner for a bit, you may have sensed I’m very passionate about the importance of the good guys having the best gear and training they can afford. I take the responsibility of this column very seriously, and you should take your own role in your own protection even more seriously.


By Sammy Reese

For more info:, (828) 729-3415

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Nelson Holsters

I have no idea how it happened, but it did — I got “old-ish.” There I was sitting in my shop admiring some new holsters just delivered by the big brown truck when the words came out of my mouth — “They sure don’t make stuff like they use to.” The holsters laid out on my bench were built like Peterbilt Trucks — rugged and handsome at the same time. I looked around the shop to see if someone else was in there with me — nope, I was alone. I thought it had to be a ghost of my dad or grandfather because I don’t say things like that. Um … er … make that used to not say things like that.

The holsters I was admiring in my shop were made by Mr. James Ervin Nelson of Nelson Holsters. James, like many holster makers, came about making holsters out of not being able to find the perfect holster, so he created his own. James comes from a family of leather workers so the transition to holster making made sense.


Using medical-grade neoprene as a backer for the holster keeps moisture off the
holster and gun. It makes carrying a full-size pistol, dare I say — more comfortable?

Hybrid Design

Life throws rocky roads and big bags of avocados at us some times. We have a choice to negotiate the rough terrain and make a bunch of guacamole or throw our sucker in the dirt and do nothing but complain. When James’ wife Jana was diagnosed with severe epilepsy he quit his job as a firefighter/EMT and got schooled up as a CNA so he could take care of his bride full-time.

James filled his downtime with perfecting his holster creations and started selling them to friends and family. James still wasn’t satisfied with the comfort level of the IWB holsters and started to experiment with combining a neoprene backing to an IWB holster. He quickly found out he was onto something.

The XCalibur is the result of combining an overbuilt, aka “built to last” leather holster with the modern twist of sewing on a neoprene backing. The holster looked thicker than a normal IWB rig, but I soon got used to it and after some break-in, I found myself uttering the familiar phrases: “Why didn’t I think of that?” and “He’s really on to something.”

The medical-grade neoprene serves two functions. The most noticeable is providing cushioning and blocking moisture from the holster and gun. For those who are dedicated to carrying IWB everyday, these exceptionally built holsters combined with the neoprene make hauling around a big gun more comfortable. And comfort translates into actually carrying the gun rather than leaving it at home.


The Avenger design is a timeless one. James pays tribute
to it by building a handsome yet very rugged version of his own.


Quality components and attention to detail sets
the Nelson XCalibur apart.

Avenger Style

The Avenger-inspired holster needs no introduction. The design is timeless and a huge favorite for belt carry. The Nelson version is simple, and like the Xcalibur, built to last for a few generations. It’s hot out here in San Diego for most of the year, so CCW is mostly IWB but when it cools off some, outside the waistband is my favorite way to carry.

The Avenger design keeps the gun close and makes for fast, or in my case, almost-fast draws. The reinforced opening makes for smooth re-holstering without having to use your fingers to hold the holster open. By they way, if you have a holster requiring two hands to re-holster, give it to your dog as a chew toy.

It’s easy to see from spending some time using Nelson holsters and gear, James takes pride in his creations and makes sure attention to detail is put into every product crossing his bench. It’s kind of like how stuff was made in the old days. See, I can’t stop saying old guy stuff now. Best I get used to it, eh?


By Sammy Reese

For more info:, (828) 729-3415

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International Handgun Leather

American-Made Quality.

In a society where newer is supposed to be better, we can all fall victim to the “I gotta have the newest (fill in the blank)” syndrome. I have a box or three of purchases I thought were going to be the newest greatest widgets. As more birthdays pass I’m still excited about new guns and gear, but now I tend to wait a bit and see how things work out before I rush out and buy new stuff. I’m a few generations behind on my iPhone because it works and I’m not willing to go through the headaches of version “Eleventy-Nine” working out its bugs on my time.

Ian Martin believes simple is a good thing. And I don’t mean cheap when I say simple, because when it comes to quality gear you tend to get what you pay for, and a lotta times “simple” gear is of high quality. That’s why it’s good. Ian Martin has been at the helm of International Handgun Leather (IHL) for over 20 years. He’s been involved in shooting sports at the highest levels for more years than he would like me to tell you, but I’ll brag some about Ian because I know he won’t. See, Ian was one of the first group of USPSA IPSC Grand Masters.

Ian’s love of shooting is what drove him to start making simple but very effective holsters and accessories, all proudly done right here in the USA. Every holster, belt and accessory is handmade in the IHL factory using only the highest quality leather and components.


Simple works here. IHL’s Trifecta delivers a top-quality
holster, belt and mag pouch.

Quality & Comfort

Ian’s first love, as with many of us, is the 1911. But please don’t send hate mail, because I asked Ian to make gear for my S&W SHIELD in his medium brown color. I still have quite a few 1911’s in my safe but this spring/summer my attire has been shorts and T-shirts and the SHEILD hides really well — and the gun shoots.

For “hidden all day and comfortable doing it,” the Ultimate Trojan IWB holsters worked better than Ian hinted at. I live with some back issues and some types of IWB holsters feel like I’ve got a Tasmanian devil tucked into my pants. The UT molded to my body in short order and has proven to be a great addition to my EDC gun. The sweat/bite guard keeps the gun off of my skin and the reinforced mouth on the UT works as intended. Doing the re-holster hustle on collapsed holsters just doesn’t work for me nor should it for you.

To compliment the IWB UT, Ian sent his Summit Classic OWB holster. The Summit is minimalist in design but high in function. It also has the sweat/bite guard. The craftsmen at IHL put a lot into such a small simple package. The Summit is designed to ride higher on the belt, but since it’s for a smaller famed gun, it doesn’t get in the way and it easily conceals under a loose fitting outer garment.


IHL’s Ultimate Trojan IWB rig was comfy and
according to Sammy, formed to his body shape fast.


The Summit Classic is an outside-the-waistband holster.
Sammy liked the fact it rides a bit high, but is still
solid and easily concealed.

The Trio

To make the perfect carry trifecta, Ian sent a single vertical magazine pouch and what I would say is the most important part of any carry system — one of his 1½” Gunfighter belts. I talk about belts a lot and I guess I always will. It makes no sense to me when folks spend lots of hard-earned money and guns and a holster and then use a three-buck swap meet hemp belt. The belt is the foundation of your carry system so don’t skimp on it.

Ian and the crew at IHL have proven “simply designed” gear from quality components made by hand from the best craftsmen will beat new and flashy any day. IHL makes holsters ranging from CCW to cowboy action, so if you need leather, they most likely make it.
By Sammy Reese

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Nate Squared Tactical

Professional Model

I learned a long time ago not to criticize the cuisine until I had a taste. I’ve made some assumptions about a piece of gear just by looking at it and found I was wrong. I don’t think I need to break down the word assume to this crowd.

I’ve bought a few pieces of gear thinking I’d found “the ultimate” — fill in the blank — and found it was all hype. I’ve also made the mistake of saying something looks like a piece of junk without trying it, only to later eat a huge helping of crow when I found out it worked better than advertised. It takes a while to get the taste out of your mouth when there’s a boot and pile of crow in there.

I’ve had the opportunity to see all kinds of holsters and gear, ranging from exceptional to scary, and everywhere in between. When it comes to holsters, especially inside the waistband (IWB), what feels great to me might feel like a live porcupine to someone else. It’s rare there is such a huge difference in what works, but we are all built differently.

A common theme when I’m talking to holster makers is comfort — “mine is the most comfortable holster ever made.” Always makes me think, “I’ve heard it before. Prove it or at least let’s see if it works for me.” My good friend Clint Smith has a saying “Guns are supposed to be comforting not comfortable.” While I agree with comforting, I have to confess I like it even more if it doesn’t make me need a shot of morphine at the end of the day.


As an IWB (Inside The Waistband) holster, make sure you buy
your pants an inch or two larger and loosen up your belt some.
If you try to use your regular pants, you may find things a bit
tight, depending on your build.


The back is genuine suede and helps the holster
to stay put and keep you cooler at the same time.


Several years ago Nate Beard and Nate Johnson were having a chat about what was missing in the concealed carry holsters they were using. Many a great idea has been born from a simple conversation like that. Nate “Squared” (Get it? Two Nates?) Tactical Holsters was created out of a need for something not currently available. The Nates wanted a holster designed to keep the gun secure, yet with 100 percent of the gun off of the wearer. The backing had to be flexible enough to allow a smooth draw and the material had to provide a moisture barrier to protect the firearm. The problem was neither of them knew anything about sewing or building holsters, so they did it the old fashioned way — they learned how.

At first glance the professional holster didn’t capture my eye like a fully-carved leather rig, but it’s unique enough to make me take a second look. I’ve pretty much learned my lesson now and I wanted to find out for myself if the N82 holster would work as advertised.

The Professional Model is a combination of several technologies combined to make a very comfortable yet secure holster. The three-layer system starts with a backing made of suede. Suede is naturally grippy — it holds onto the skin or undershirt helping to keep some of the weight off the belt. The suede also keeps things feeling cool. Summer has brought high 80’s and low 90’s days so I found out just how cool suede really is.

In the middle is a piece of neoprene designed to help keep the holster flexible while providing a barrier to protect the gun from moisture and the body from gun oils. The other half of the sandwich is oil-tanned leather. It helps keep the flexibility and smoothness in the draw stroke and protects the finish of the pistol.


Red arrow points at triggerguard retention system,
a simple detent in the plastic, but it works well.

A Unique Feature … Or Three

the “holster body” is made of an extremely durable polycarbonate. Built into the body is a very simple triggerguard retention system. A very slight twist toward the body releases the firearm. It took me about 10 draws to get it down. I even tried it while lying with all my body weight on the holster. Once I got my hand on the gun my body weight didn’t impede me drawing the gun.

The last part of the holster is a super tough pivoting metal clip. It’s adjustable for cant and the clip has a unique tuck-in-the-shirt feature. If a tucked in shirt is how you dress, the Professional works as advertised, but keep in mind the shirt can only be tucked in so far. If the shirt tail is long it will bunch up. Remember what Clint said about comforting?

After some daily wear I’ve found the Professional to be everything the Nates told me it would be. It’s comfortable sitting, or walking around. It doesn’t shift around and the suede backing makes all the difference. Before I head out I do a few practice draws just to reinforce the slight twist needed to complete the draw.

If you carry a handgun IWB, the holsters made by the Nates are worthy of consideration. They are proudly made in the USA and come with a lifetime warranty for normal use — not eaten by your dog.
By Sammy Reese

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Going Southpaw

One split second of inattention and I ended up in the emergency room. Luckily I was able to bypass the packed waiting room and enter through the Fire/PD entrance. The charge nurse saw me with one of the local cops and gave him a strange look since I wasn’t in cuffs. When he said, “He’s one of us and he cut himself” her expression changed from “Okay, not a crook,” to “I’m sure this baby just has a scratch.” When I pulled back the bandage she jumped up from her seat and called for the trauma doc to meet us in Room One. Luck was on my side again when the doc said I missed the tendons by millimeters, and I would need a bunch of stitches —12. He also said my hand would be pretty much useless for a few weeks — maybe longer — depending on how it heals up.

At this point most of you are saying “So what, Sammy cut himself and what does it have to do with Carry Options?” My brain fart injured my dominant hand and there was no way I was going to be shooting with it or doing much of anything else with it for a while. For a guy who carries a gun every single day this was going to be problem — or was it? I’m one of the fortunate ones — I’m partially ambidextrous. With practice, I can do just about everything with either hand or foot. I’ve been practicing shooting both handguns and rifles from both sides for years. I’m not as good going southpaw, but it’s very doable for me. My problem was I’m comfortable carrying my back up for a left-hand-draw — I had never carried my primary gun left-handed, and I didn’t have a lefty holster.


Ouch! A moment of inattention brought Sammy
12 stitches in his dominant hand. Suddenly he
had to learn to shoot lefty. What if the injury
had occurred during a fight for his life?

Righty Becomes Lefty

I borrowed a lefty IWB rig from a southpaw friend to see if I could make it work. Like anything new it felt weird, and with only having the use of one hand it was even stranger. I was able to work out 1-handed draws to the point my muscle memory started to take over and it became natural.

Since I was going to be out of right-hand action for some time, Trent at CrossBreed sent me a lefty Super Tuck Deluxe. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do a reload in a timely manner, so my plan was to transition to my backup J-frame if my Glock 19 ran out of ammo or if I had a malfunction. Rather than rest on my dry practice, I went to the range and put in some live-fire training. I had to work out the cover garment issues with a 1-handed draw, and my shooting felt slow and less accurate. The more I practiced the smoother I became and accuracy picked up. This isn’t the ideal situation, but I had a truckload of lemons so lemonade it was.


Healed up and back at 100 percent. But Sammy’s transition
training has left him more adept and experienced at shooting
left-handed now. The trick is to get up to speed — before you need it.

Lessons Learned

Other than the most obvious lesson — not to damage my dominant hand — my injury has changed the way I practice and train for real life. My right hand could’ve been damaged in the middle of a fight, and if I couldn’t run the gun with my left hand, someone else would be writing this column talking about training for worst-case scenarios. The notion we will rise to the occasion has been proven to be bunk. We rise to the level of our training. I’m thankful the trainers I’ve had reinforced being able to shoot with both hands.

I’m back to full duty with my right hand, I’ve got an ugly scar and a cool war story, which is total BS. I’m telling people who ask: I got in a knife fight with a honey badger. If you want to know the real story it’ll cost you a cheeseburger and a coke.
By Sammy Reese

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Practical Exotics

Exodus Gunleather

This year at the SHOT Show, I was paying a visit to Ed and Lisa Strange at their Wicked Grips booth and met Carl Collins, who was helping out and showing some of his holsters. Being the tactile guy I am, I couldn’t take my hands off of the Illusion holster Carl handed to me. As my eyes took in the beauty of the Cape Buff creation, my hands examined the meticulous detail in every stitch and contour. When I asked Carl if he was a one-man shop he smiled and in a smooth-as-molasses drawl he said, “My better half and I make ’em all.”


The more traditional Slide Pancake in Cape Buffalo is rugged and beautiful.
You don’t have enough days to wear this holster out.

Getting Started

Carl told me he was raised shooting rifles and shotguns but didn’t get serious about carrying a pistol for protection until about eight years ago when he took the CCW class. He immediately began the quest to find the perfect holster and just couldn’t find what he wanted, so he started to tinker with making his own. After some trial and error he began to get requests from friends to make them holsters. With the help of Internet forums, word spread and orders began flowing.

His better half, Amy, gave making holsters a try and she found she was a natural. Carl took on making holsters and accessories full time and Amy continues helping out part time. Carl said, “I know its cliché, but behind every successful man is a great woman and I wouldn’t be doing what I love if not for her love and support.”

Every so often I come across holsters made for concealed carry and wish I had a reason to open carry. When I opened the box from Exodus Gunleather, I had one of those moments. Other than BBQ’s or hunting I don’t let anyone know I’m carrying. There’s no reason to let the bad guys know you’re armed.

These holsters are truly works of art. All four sample holsters are flawless in fit and finish yet remain 100-percent functional for all day carry. When I yelled for my wife to come take a look at the new holsters I had just unpacked, she gave me the “what now” response. When she saw them and picked them up, her tune changed. “Beautiful really doesn’t describe them, does it?” I nodded my head in agreement as she moved from from one holster to the next. “Way too nice for a Jar Head like you,” she mumbled as she walked out of the office. She’s right — way too nice for me.

What I didn’t realize when I met Carl at the show is he focuses his efforts into making holsters for 1911 pistols. I’m a big fan of the 1911, but my every day carry gun is a Glock 19 (no hate mail please). I was surprised to find a note in the package saying the two Glock holsters were the first two he’s ever made. Could have fooled me, the craftsmanship is identical to the two 1911 holsters.


Double-thick and fully-lined Illusion made from Giraffe. Too cool
for words — you have to strap it on to really appreciate it.


Brown Cape Buffalo Illusion — way too nice for me.

Illusion Holster

The Illusion holster is a new twist on an old concept. The Pancake holster, as you see in the picture, has the belt slots cut into the holster body. The Illusion has tunnels on the backside of the holster making for an ultra-smooth appearance and very tight to the body carry. The addition of the sweat guard protects your clothing and skin.

The bad part is having to cover these functional works of art. While wearing the holsters I found myself wishing I was still a cop and had to go to court in a coat and tie so I could see the look in everyone’s eyes when I took my jacket off in the waiting room. Since there are (hopefully) no more days in court, I’m trying to figure out which one I’m going to wear to the BBQ this weekend.
By Sammy Reese

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Unconventional Carry

I’m a huge proponent of on-the-body carry. If you need your firearm to save your life and the only gun you have is in your trunk or desk, it might as well be locked in a safe. For a secondary weapon or backup, I can see the benefit. My wife can’t get a CCW permit in the state of California (don’t get me started) but if “it” hits the fan, I can give her my backup from my person — or from what I call an “unconventional carry” system.

Giant fanny packs are lumped in with the “shoot-me-first” vests, so I tend to avoid anything looking like it has a crew-served machine gun in it. Manufacturers have recently come up with carry options looking like everyday gear, so let’s take a look at some.


How we dress often dictates how we can carry concealed firearms. The folks at Sneaky Pete Holsters use the hidden-in-plain-sight concept. The SP holster is designed to carry a variety of guns, magazines and even a box of ammo if you so desire. The holster attaches to your belt via traditional-style loops or with heavy-duty metal clips. To my eye the holster looks like a high-end leather phone holder. If you need on-the-body carry and a traditional holster won’t work, take a look at what SP has to offer.


Keeping with the hidden-in-plain-sight concept, Nat Stevens of Tuff Products enlisted the design help of Ichiro Nagata to help him with some concealed carry gear specifically designed to not look like it was for carrying a gun. You can fit a small pistol or revolver and a few other items in the Taclett Jr. without loading it up so it pulls down your pants. Tuff uses the best materials to ensure the gear never lets you down.


BLACKHAWK!’s Diversion Carry Racquet Bag allows you to covertly carry an SBR or a takedown rifle (up to 29″ segments) in what looks like a racquet bag. I’ve had my takedown Model 94 .30-30 riding around in it and no one has had a clue what’s inside. Yes, it’s in two pieces, but isn’t that better than being home in my safe? An AR goes together pretty quickly with practice, and I’m getting faster with that 94. The racquet bag is just one of many options from BLACKHAWK!


VANQUEST Messenger Bag “Not another messenger bag,” was what I muttered to myself when I saw this, but like most times when I jump to conclusions — I was wrong. The guys at Vanquest really put some thought and heavy-duty materials into this bag. I’ve been using the bag as my traveling office of sorts. Laptop or iPad ride in a protective cocoon, along with all my other stuff, including a Glock 19 and two spare magazines. You don’t have to root through a pile of stuff to find your gun and gear.

One of the nice features of the bag is the blaze orange interior. Seems weird at first, but trust me it makes finding things much easier. The layout of the bag’s compartments are well thought out and the materials ensure you wear out before this bag does.
By Sammy Reese

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Contact! Concealment Holsters


During a recent tour of a holster-making factory, the tour guide was busting my chops about always writing about non-leather holsters. Since I was a guest, I was polite. Truth be told, I’m an absolute leather junkie. My grandfather owned a custom leather shop making one-off briefcases and woman’s handbags. Before I took over this column — previously named Handgun Leather — I had already acquired several boxes of leather and a few Kydex holsters.

What I discovered during lots of hours on the range teaching is that kind of intense training wears leather holsters out. So, I experimented with Kydex rigs made with a similar draw-style as my leather holsters. I’ve broken my fair share over the years, but as much as I tried to break and wear out the C!C holsters, they still look and perform as they did right out of the box. My torture test was cut short by an injury to my dominant hand (more on this in a future column). Prior to earning the nickname “Lefty,” I performed countless draws from both holsters and the mag pouches on the range and wore them under a cover-up for daily carry for several weeks. What I discovered was I want to order a few more for other guns I like to carry.

What makes C!C holsters so rugged are the materials and craftsmanship going into each rig. Every holster and mag pouch is made from 100 percent American-made components. Holsters are made from 0.08″ Kydex, the beefy belt loops are made from 0.125″ Kydex and the hardware used is top-notch. C!C uses black oxide Chicago screws and slotted binding posts combined with A-grade rivets in every holster and accessory.


I thought the holster for a light-mounted gun
would be bulky and hard to conceal — I was wrong.

A Kydex Alternative

When I was asked by a reader to take a look at Contact! Concealment holsters (C!C) I had to search the net to find out more about the company. At first glance I liked what I saw, and seeing an endorsement from Paul Howe, I knew right off the gear must be rugged and dependable.

I sent off an email and less than 30 minutes later my phone rang and a very guarded Bruce Weiler was asking if Sammy Reese from American Handgunner had emailed asking about his company. In my prior two careers (USMC and LE) I’ve made a few brothers from other mothers. I guess it’s the camaraderie that builds a bond you don’t get from working in a cubicle. After about 20 minutes I found Bruce and I were cut from very similar cloth.

We are both passionate about teaching cops how to stay alive with firearms and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. My body is a bit beat up from the two previous jobs but I really enjoy training BJJ. Bruce is on a whole different level; he’s the owner of his own BJJ School. We found our conversation had drifted off course but we managed to get it back to holsters. Bruce told me he would send two different holsters and some single mag pouches. “Try your best to break or wear them out,” he challenged.


One tension screw would do, but not for C!C. Two tension points
ensures your mag will be there when you need it.

Test Gear

he two OWB holsters I evaluated were made for a Glock 19. I had one holster made for use with a Streamlight TLR-1 and the other was made for just the gun. I had thought the holster with the light would be hard to conceal, but I was wrong. It carried just like the one without the light. The belt slots are spaced perfectly and lock the gun to my hip. I used them both during long hours of teaching and had no issues.

I prefer to use two single-mag pouches so I can adjust them more easily around my waist. Bruce’s formula for just enough pouch body and two adjustment screws, combined with the rugged loops and hardware, has made these mag pouches my daily rigs regardless of what type of holster I use.

I will always have a soft spot for the look and feel of leather. But with companies like Contact! Concealment making rugged, affordable, highly functional gear — I’m also a fan of Kydex.
By Sammy Reese

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Cover That Thing Up…

The key word in concealed carry is concealed. In many jurisdictions, if you accidentally expose your firearm and someone reports a man with a gun, it’s a good bet you’ll lose the right to carry your gun, at least for the short term.

The wrong concealment attire is almost as bad as no cover garment at all. Let’s start with the “printer.” This is the guy who thinks for some reason wearing his little brother’s T-shirt will adequately conceal his holstered handgun and accessories. If you’re assuming people will just think it’s your cell phone, you’re wrong. My wife and kids are called upon frequently to check me out and see if I’m printing, or as my wife calls it “imprinting.” My son, Hondo, is so good at it he catches people out on the street — “Hey dad, that guy’s packing, I can see it through his shirt.” And he’s only 11.

Tactical vests — you know the kind with a 1,000 pockets on them usually found in coyote tan or ninja black — are great for when I’m teaching on the range. I can load ’em up with all kinds of gear, ranging from extra bullets and Band-Aids, to my secret stash of Jujubes. I’ve heard these vests called “shoot-me-first vests.” The bad guys will be able to pick you out of a crowd as the guy carrying a gun, and they’ll shoot you first, and then complete their armed robbery. Don’t be that guy.

Right: T-shirt with a loose-fitting cover shirt and tails out.
He’s got a 5″ Les Baer 1911 right there. See it? We didn’t think so.

Right way: Sammy’s Mountain Khakis’ Stagecoach Vest gets a lot of
workout hiding Sammy’s roscoe. Note Sammy’s happy face.
He’s actually smiling. No … really.

The Right Way

I’ll never be accused of being a slave to fashion trends (just ask my wife). My concern with fashion leans more toward: Do I blend into the environment, and can I go about my business without anyone knowing I’m carrying a gun?

Where I live it’s warm most of the year so I can’t rely on a heavy coat to cover up. Like holsters, I’ve had to try many different types of shirts to find the styles having the right cut and colors to conceal what’s hidden. Many of the “tactical” garment companies make “covert” garments specifically for concealed carry. I haven’t tried them all, but I’ve had good results with BLACKHAWK!, Woolrich and 5.11 Tactical.

If you are into pocket carry, make sure you use a pocket holster, and the pocket has sufficient room for not only the gun but also for your hand so you can draw. I don’t own any, but I’m guessing the new skinny-style jeans are not going to work for even the smallest of pocket guns.

If you live where you can get away with wearing a vest for a cover-up then do it. Just make sure it covers the way you carry and won’t get you shot or arrested. I have a stagecoach vest from Mountain Khakis that gets a lot of wear when it’s cooler outside. The length and cut of the vest is perfect for belt or a shoulder rig carry. I can conduct my daily activities without worrying about exposing my gun.

Wrong: Sammy’s “Shoot Me First” vest allowing a bit of CCW Peeking Out.
It’s not cool, it’s stupid — and you’re an idiot if you allow this to happen.

That Guy

Carrying a gun is a huge responsibility. The gun cost a lot of money, and the holster, mag pouch and belt should have cost a few bucks too. Ammo and training add in another pile of cash, and now I’m telling you, you need a new wardrobe. Not exactly a whole new wardrobe, but make the most of what you do have. Augment that with some carry-specific cover garments and you won’t be “that” guy my son points to in our local grocery store with his gun printing. Who, by the way, was a local off-duty sheriff deputy, and I fronted him off by telling him my son could see his Glock right through his Chargers tee. I smiled, of course, as I said it. And so did Hondo, who pointed at the Glock and said, “That gun.” Grin. Now cover that thing up, and be safe out there.
By Sammy Reese

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