Big-Guy CCW Challenges

When big isn’t always best!

Most of the remnants of Garrett’s trial-and-error phases.
Most holsters he just hated got sold or traded.

These are the holsters and guns Garrett carries most, always taking into
consideration where he’ll be going. Working cattle on the farm or a trip
to the city call for very different rigs.

Carrying a gun is a chore. It’s uncomfortable and intrusive — a burden even. Chances are if you’re reading this, you strap up every day before leaving the house. For us bigger guys there’s a whole new set of challenges to overcome though. While it’s true you don’t know what you don’t know, I’ve made some blunders along the way, and I’d like to share those with you.

I had just turned 21 and was working my way through college. The idea of having the cash to walk into a local store and buy anything more than a pocket-sized Nerf blaster was almost laughable. Dad came to the rescue with a GLOCK 36 on loan.

I didn’t know where to look for a holster, and a five-minute search on the internet yielded a slide-mounted clip rig promising to “secure the gun as safely as a full holster.” Never mind the fact the trigger and trigger guard were left exposed — a shining beacon for Murphy and his law to come knocking. The solution was yet another hasty search to find a little plastic plug to go behind the trigger. For a grand sum of 15 bucks I was in business!

The factory base plates on the magazines fit as flush as any GLOCK mags do, and for the life of me I couldn’t get a good grip to draw the darn thing. This is the first time I realized my physical size might be a bit of a speed bump in the world of concealed carry.

The GLOCK 17 fits Garrett’s huge hand well and draws perfectly
when combined with an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 2.0.


I’m 6’6″ and I weigh 240 lbs. I did most of my growing early in life and I’m no stranger to the struggle being of extraordinary size presents. I can’t remember one time in my life I was able to walk into a store and take home a pair of shoes that fit — on the same day. Now it seemed holsters might be the same challenge.

When I graduated college the G36 served as my graduation gift from my parents, and I’d found a good woman willing to marry me, so my focus shifted from streamlining my concealed carry setup to tying the knot. Fast forward about a year and I found myself married and working at a jewelry store as an apprentice. Security being paramount, the old man and his son who both owned the place carried every day and I was also encouraged to do so if I felt comfortable. I wasn’t a very experienced pistol shooter in those days and I felt I needed more than just the eight rounds of .45 ACP my GLOCK held. I traded an old shotgun for a Taurus PT92 and shortly after realized just how many options were available for holsters. I settled for a high quality, comfortable IWB holster for this full-size firearm.

When Garrett carries the Ruger LCP2, it’s usually so he can quickly arm
someone else. His own hands are just too big for this pocket pistol.

A perfect fit! Garrett found Springfield’s Hellcat the perfect balance
for his needs — compact, light and enough grip to get ahold of.

Learning Curve

The giant butt of the pistol gave plenty to grab onto and the holster was the most comfortable thing I’d ever worn. My darling wife bought me my first dedicated gun belt for my birthday that year, and I didn’t know carrying a gun could be so comfortable.

Several years passed and my carry rig saw no changes. I wish I could say the same about me, but combine marriage and some age and the resulting shape tends to be round. I started to realize just how heavy my stainless 92 was.

I started searching for something else that would work for me. Every Saturday for months I made my rounds to all the gun stores within 10 to 15 miles, holding firearms of all shapes and sizes to try and find the “magic gun” to solve all my problems. Everything I came across in the compact or sub-compact range, and within my budget, just didn’t fit. I couldn’t get enough of my hand on the gun to feel at all in control, much less to draw it from concealment.

I settled on a GLOCK 17. I liked it well enough, and my holster was still relevant through swapping the molded shell for one designed for the G17. I carried it for a year before running into the same problems, though, compounded by sciatica from a too-tight belt and a too-big gun. It was then I decided I’d had enough and went a bit off the reservation.

I tried everything. Smaller guns, different holsters, outside the waistband, shoulder holsters, revolvers, ankle carry, appendix — the list goes on and on. For one reason or another nothing seemed to work. I struggled forward carrying whatever didn’t cause me physical pain and could still be deployed fairly rapidly. I’d spent a small fortune on holsters at this point — the Rubbermaid tub in which they live was getting full, and none accomplished the fit and comfort I was looking for — so I set out to make my own.

Practicing proper gun safety becomes a little scary when the pistol is so small your finger is longer than the muzzle!

Carrying an ankle holster around the upper portion of a boot
feels much more comfortable than carrying it on the calf.

The Adventure Begins

My first holsters are in a landfill somewhere, and by definition, I think the term “holster” is generous for the atrocities I made at the start. As my skill progressed, I was able to experiment with different holsters with little to no additional financial investment. I could acquire a new gun and within a week have a holster for it. Having the freedom and ability to decide against a particular aspect of a holster and make a new iteration better than the first has really helped me to enjoy carrying a gun again.

Springfield Armory came out with their new Hellcat, and from the first time it filled my palm I haven’t looked back. For my needs it’s the perfect balance of size and capacity, and the darn thing fits my hand like it was made for it. I have a few commercially available holsters for the Hellcat, as well as a half-dozen of my own creation, and I almost never leave home without it.

As a big guy my journey has been a rough one, and perhaps you can relate. I’m sure smaller-framed folks have some issues as well, and maybe some are similar. It’s an amazing thing when you find the setup that just flat works for you. While I feel I’m in that stage of the game, maybe things will change in a few years. I believe the key is to remain flexible and try new things — ’cause that’s where the magic happens! 

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