Hiding Your Heater

Holster Picks & Tips

People can be ingenious when it comes to protecting their lives. There are dozens of ways of carrying a handgun, but what is important is if it works for the individual. Ideally the firearm should be concealed in all circumstances, absolutely secure, easily and quickly accessible, and so comfortable we are hardly aware of it. Of course, we live in the real world, which means making tradeoffs. Let’s consider what might work best for you.

The KRCF (King of the Range, Carbon Fiber) is an OWB design in the Carroll Shelby line by Cobra Gunskin.
This holster line was endorsed by the late Carroll Shelby, famed racing driver and designer.

Make Your Choice

The most common carry methods are variations of four basic styles: waistband, pocket, shoulder or ankle. There are many variations with waistband carry: inside waistband (IWB), outside waistband (OWB), strong side, crossdraw, appendix and small-of-back. A famous photo of Wild Bill Hickock shows him wearing a sash around his waist holding a pair of Colt Navy revolvers.

Personally, I like to carry on the strong side, either IWB or OWB, worn on the trouser belt, with the muzzle from vertical to canted back 10 degrees or so. No doubt I’m influenced by years of competition but such carry just feels right, and drawing the gun from this position is second nature.

This mode of carry does many things well. Especially with IWB, the gun conceals nicely even under a light jacket. Given a quality holster, the gun is secure under most circumstances and if additional security is needed the gun is right under the elbow. The draw is about as quick as you’re going to get from a concealed carry position, and it is as comfortable as any position.

Disadvantages? The gun is fairly hard to access with the weak hand, and it does require a covering garment. If temperatures are too hot for such a garment, I go to pocket carry, generally a J-Frame S&W in a Mitch Rosen “Pocket Softie” holster.

At the other extreme, bitterly cold weather can require a full-length parka and make a belt holster nearly inaccessible. One solution is to put the gun in a parka pocket, but I prefer a shoulder holster. The gun is readily accessible by partially opening the parka. You do need to wear a light vest or jacket as well, to cover the gun when the parka is removed. Actually, when the wind chill is 40 degrees F this is no hardship.

I’ve never given ankle holsters much consideration. I should note, Mas Ayoob and editor Roy Huntington use ankle holsters on occasion. Both have carried sidearms longer, and in more interesting situations, than I have. Clearly for some circumstances it is an option to consider.

When circumstances make a covering garment impractical, these two designs by Mitch Rosen come into their own.
Top, Pocket Softie (with S&W 442) is my favorite pocket holster. Bottom, the Workman model (with S&W 38)
can be worn inside waistband under a tucked-in shirt.

In really cold weather a long parka makes a belt holster hard to access. A shoulder holster
such as this Galco shoulder holster with a Colt Cobra is a good alternative.

Need For Speed

Carroll Shelby was a legend by the time he died in 2012, but even as early as the 1960s he was a highly successful and respected race car driver and designer. How his name came to be associated with a line of holsters is an interesting story.

One of his biggest fans was a young man named John Parlante, whose grandfather, father and uncle were all involved in making holsters. John greatly admired Carroll Shelby and the AC Cobra and Shelby Cobra cars. When it came time to establish his own holster-making firm he named it Cobra Gunskin. The firm made, and continues to make, a fine line of leather holsters.

When Parlante decided to add a synthetic line he got in touch with Shelby and sent him some samples to review. I don’t know if Shelby was into guns or shooting but he appreciated quality, and the result was a licensing agreement to use the Shelby name.

The holster pictured (at top) is an OWB design called “King of the Range” pancake style. This is the KRCF (carbon fiber) version just added to the line. The body of the holster is carbon fiber with a leather back and straps. Made for a GLOCK 22, the holster fits the gun perfectly. The trigger guard is covered while at the same time the grip frame is open to the base of the guard with nothing to obstruct immediate acquisition of a full-shooting grip.

Leather was chosen for the straps as it will stretch and flex slightly for better fit. The belt I used was a thick sharkskin model, and initially it took considerable effort to fasten the snaps. After a few hours’ wear the fit was just right.

The KRCF does everything I could ask of a strong side holster. It is comfortable, concealable, easily accessible, and the synthetic holster stays open for easy reholstering. Plus, it is attractive, very well made, and the price is more than reasonable for the quality delivered.

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