… That Don’t Break The Bank
By David Freeman
I just turned 69, have been hunting and shooting for 62 of my 69 years, but never held, fired or owned a semi-auto handgun until approximately 10 years ago. Even in the Army when I was issued a handgun as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, it was a .38 Special S&W Model 10 revolver.
What changed 10 years ago? I found myself thinking about a changing world, one in which I might have to defend myself and my family and decided I wanted to carry a gun at all times. The Ruger Blackhawk .357 with a 10.5″ barrel I had for home defense obviously wasn’t going to work for concealed carry, so I consulted a friend who was a gun guy, and he suggested a 9mm semi-auto that was affordable: a Taurus 24/7 in 9mm.
Along with my wife and our youngest son, I attended the Texas Concealed Handgun License Course. At the end of the day, my son suggested I might enjoy teaching that course. He felt my background would enable me to be good at it.
For most of my adult life, I’ve been a flight instructor (first in the military, later as a civilian), and I’ve taught software classes for years. I love guns, and I honestly believe it’s important for people to learn to defend themselves and to become safe and proficient with firearms. Taking up my son’s challenge, I became an NRA Instructor, a Range Safety Officer, a Texas CHL Instructor and a Texas Hunter Education Instructor. Before I knew it, I had a pretty extensive handgun collection and was a gun store owner.
If you’re going to teach about handguns and advise people about buying handguns, you’ve got to know a lot about them, right? What better way to learn about them than to own them, shoot them, clean them and carry them? This brings us to the subject at hand: holsters and other carry methods.
Crossbreed IWB Holster designed for Taurus 24/7.
Much to my surprise, the Crossbreed Holster designed for the Taurus 24/7 works well for
these handguns and more: (clockwise from the top) CZ-P07, Beretta PX-4, Glock 19,
S&W M&P, SIG SP2022, SAR K2, SIG P226 and SIG M11A1
This D.M. Bullard holster molded for Colt M45 with rail works equally well for all of these
1911’s, some with 5″ barrels and rails, some with 4.25″ barrels and no rails.
For me, having a bunch of guns has not equaled having a bunch of holsters. My first concealed carry holster was a Crossbreed SuperTuck Inside the Waistband (IWB) model, purchased a little more than nine years ago for a Taurus 24/7. Crossbreed molds the Kydex for their holsters to a particular gun, but that first holster worked for the Taurus for which it was designed, and it was also a good fit for the Stoeger Cougar. When I added a Beretta PX-4 Storm to the arsenal, I was pleased to find it also fit in the original Crossbreed. A couple of years later, I bought a Springfield XDm, my first 45, and was actually surprised to find it rode well in that same Crossbreed Holster, as did a Smith & Wesson M&P, an FNX 40, Sig P226, Sig SP2022 and probably some others I’ve forgotten. One holster, custom molded for one particular handgun, actually worked quite well for a number of other handguns.
I’m sure the holster maker doesn’t want me saying this, as they may think some people might broadly interpret how a gun “fits” into a holster, so take my comments with a grain of salt. I do recommend buying holsters fitted for particular guns, but in my case, a bit of experimenting left me confident the new fits were okay too.
Fast forward a bit. My gun store manager showed me a custom leather holster made by D.M. Bullard Leather Mfg. and suggested we might want to carry them in our gun shop. By then, I’d become a 1911 fan and had a couple of full-size Government Models and several Commanders with 4.25″ barrels. The Government Models both have rails, so I ordered a D.M. Bullard custom leather holster for a Government Model Colt 1911 with rails, and I use that same holster for all seven of my 1911’s. If it fits a gun with a 5″ barrel with a rail, it will work just fine for a 4.25″ barrel with or without a rail.
That D.M. Bullard holster is what they call their Dual Carry holster, which means it can be configured for Inside the Waistband (IWB) or Outside the Waistband (OWB) simply by reversing the belt clips. I like the metal clips, but it can also be ordered with plastic J hooks or leather belt loops allowing for tuckable IWB carry.
The first D.M. Bullard holster worked so well for my 1911’s, I wanted one for my double-stack 9mm’s and .40’s. I chose one custom-molded for a Sig P226. I expected it to work with a Sig P229, Sig M11-A1 and Sig SP2022, but found it also works with my Beretta PX-4, Full-Size M&P, Springfield XDm, FNX-40, SAR K2, CZ-P07 and that original Taurus 24/7. They all fit snugly, providing Level 1 retention. There’s no danger of them falling out, they all draw smoothly and easily, and the holster is incredibly comfortable.
A D.M Bullard holster molded for SIG P226 works with all of the guns previously carried in
the Crossbreed holster molded for the Taurus 24/7 and has also been known to carry a 1911 Commander
all day. But I caution you to make sure the fit is adequate and safe for your own gun. I’m sure the
maker doesn’t recommend you swap gun fits, but in all honesty, in the real world, many autos are
so similar, fits can often be shared with different models.
A good gun belt provides excellent support for an IWB holster, along with a spare mag carrier.
This is not a gun belt and will not provide the needed support.
“Sticky” holster used for appendix carry also works well for pocket carry or any other
position around the waist, with or without a belt.
If you’re going to carry a gun in a holster, start with a gun belt — not just any belt, a gun belt. Belts made for carrying guns in holsters are thick and sturdy and often reinforced. Belts made for holding your pants up aren’t. Get a gun belt. Crossbreed makes them, D.M Bullard makes them, practically all holster makers have gun belts in their inventory. A gun belt, okay?
A big seller in our store is the Sticky Holster which works for people who don’t wear belts (be it scrubs, leggings or beltless pants). The Sticky Holster has no loops and no clips. It uses compression in your waistband or friction in your pocket to hold the gun securely. They are made from a soft, non-slip material doing an excellent job of holding the holster in place as long as there is sufficient compression. There are several sizes. The LG-6 fits most of my carry guns, although they recommend an LG-1 for the 1911s. We sell a lot of the MD-4 size which works for most of the single-stack 9s, 40s or 45s such as the S&W Shield, Springfield XDs, Glock 42/43, Bersa BP9CC, etc.
Sticky Holster comes in various sizes. Its tacky material holds the holster in place with just friction.
ComfortTac’s Belly Band holster can be worn inside or outside of the pants, above,
below or on the waistline. It eliminates the need for a belt.
Bianchi’s Foldaway holster is a sort of “one size fits a long list of handguns” option.
Belly Bands and Options
Belly band holsters have worked well for many of our smaller-framed customers who need or like to wear tight-fitting clothing. They can be worn in or outside of pants/shirts and above, below or on the waistline. They are sized and fastened with Velcro and come with a pocket deep enough for a small-to-mid-sized handgun and usually a separate, smaller pocket for a magazine. The gun is held in place purely by compression. I like the ones having some padding such as the ComfortTac from Comfortable Carry Solutions.
You can generally count on the traditional holster manufacturers to have options that work for a variety of handguns. One such manufacturer is Bianchi with their Model 101 Foldaway. Roy Huntington mentioned he uses one of these for a variety of guns, so I thought I’d give it a try. When I saw how reasonably priced they were, I ordered two — one to fit almost all of my mid-sized semi-autos and another for 1911’s. When they arrived in a flat envelope, I was skeptical. When I poured the contents of the envelope out on the table, I started laughing.
But when I put one on and slipped a 1911 in between the single strip of leather and my belt, I stopped laughing. We have open carry in Texas now, and although I’m not personally a fan of open carry, I could use this OWB holster with a shirttail out to cover the gun and be comfortable, well-armed and concealed.
David was very surprised at how comfortably and securely the Size 10 Bianchi Model 101
Foldaway carried this Ruger 1911 Commander.
Size 16 of the Bianchi Model 101 Foldaway easily carries most of the common
double-stack semi-autos such as the SIG M11A1.
The Langforth Messenger Bag can easily double as a laptop case, concealed carry shoulder or hand bag.
Sometimes off-body carry is the only viable option. The Messenger Bag by Langforth is something I found interesting because more and more states are allowing concealed carry on college campuses. Both men and women would be comfortable with this while walking across the campus, sitting in a classroom or riding a bike. It’s really a small laptop case. Made from canvas and leather, it has a rugged, aged look anybody would be proud to carry.
It looks like it’s fastened with buckles, which would make it very slow to open if you needed to get at your gun, but the buckles are just for show. The flap is actually held down by magnets. With the carry strap over your shoulder, a quick snatch will put your handgun within your grasp. And the handgun could be anything from a BodyGuard to a Desert Eagle because of the variety of pocket sizes.
Another option for off-body (but very handy) carry is Uncle Mike’s Small Notebook/Day Planner Concealed Carry Case Holster. You can walk into any meeting, coffee shop or other legal venue with this in your hand and nobody around you will think “gun.” Simply unzip the bottom portion of the planner, slip your hand inside, and your handgun is ready for action should it be needed. The only caution for this and other off-body carry methods, including purses, is to not set it down and leave it — even for a split second!
My goal here is not to provide you with every option available, but to get you to think creatively. There are hundreds of holster and carry method makers out there and there’s no room here for all of them. So shop around, use the pages of American Handgunner, read the on-line articles, check out ads, etc. to help give you ideas.
When you get a new gun, you may already have something enabling you to carry it comfortably. When you’re challenged with a new environment, or perhaps dress code, a slight adjustment to your carry method may be all that’s needed to keep you armed and dangerous to anyone who may wish to do you harm.
The flap on the Messenger Bag is held closed by magnets, a quick snatch makes your handgun readily available.
This fake Day Planner by Uncle Mikes is ideal for discrete carry of a small handgun. This type of
carrier is available in various sizes accommodating larger guns if desired.
The D.M. Bullard Dual Carry, which can be set up for IWB or OWB, custom built for Sig P226,
handles all the same guns just as well.