Hauling Heavy Hitters

By Mark Hampton

Chest rigs and hunting handguns go together like ice cream and peach cobbler. Large, heavy hunting handguns can be a bit more challenging to carry than a J-Frame in your pocket. It’s essential whatever method you choose should be comfortable for long journeys — and safe. I’ve found chest rigs to be among my favorite for certain handguns and circumstances. Luckily for us, we have several great options, almost too many to mention. But we’ll give it a shot.

A new chest rig to hit the radar is the M72, Yukon Hunting Rig from DeSantis. This holster is made of heavy ballistic nylon in solid black. The harness can be adjusted for different angles or to accommodate a shirt or jacket. This rig is available in two sizes to fit most large semi-autos or un-scoped revolvers. Mine fit a large 10mm 1911 from Rock Island Armory. I wore this holster riding around the farm for several days, but the Yukon Hunting Rig kept things comfy. For large revolvers, the holster comes with a speed loader pouch and cartridge loops. It also features a quick release buckle keeping the firearm safe and secure. This is a functional rig at an affordable price.

Windhill makes some of the finest custom Kydex holsters around. I have two of their Kydex solutions, one for a GLOCK Model 40 with Leupold’s Deltapoint Pro reflex sight and one for a custom Ruger Blackhawk. The Kydex material is 0.08″ thick and defines durability. The strong, wide, nylon web rides comfortably over your shoulder and keeps the holster next to your body. These holsters are smooth on the inside and waterproof. Windhill offers an assortment of colors, including some nifty camo patterns.

Windhill Holsters (for revolvers or autos) provide
a lot of protection for the hunting handgun.

Galco’s Kodiak Hunter is a well-made leather rig designed for scoped
revolvers. Build quality is without peer.

The DeSantis Yukon Hunting Rig keeps your handgun close to the chest.

Leather Works Too

Another favorite chest rig is Mike Barranti’s Northwest Hunter. This bandoleer style holster is designed for large revolvers, with or without a scope. His Northwest Hunter is a top choice for many handgun hunters. From experience carrying a scoped, Freedom Arms Model 83 .44 Mag., this holster is ideal for packing a large handgun over extended periods. The holster can be easily adjusted for wearing over a coat. If it sounds like I’m fond of Barranti’s Northwest Hunter — well, I have another one coming for a Ruger Bisley Hunter in .41 Mag.

Wes Daems, the hide-stretcher behind 7X Leather, provides a most comfortable chest rig. Wes makes his chest holster designed for anyone wanting to carry large handguns in the outdoors. The 7X Leather rig can also be worn with a backpack. I’ve been carrying several scoped revolvers in my chest holster and it’s never caused any discomfort. This rugged, well-designed holster comes with a 6-round cartridge slide, earplug case and leather maintenance cream. Wes makes his rigs for most Rugers, S&W’s, 1911’s and Freedom Arms revolvers.

Barranti’s Northwest Hunter is one of Mark’s favorites and has traveled with him
around the world on his hunts.

Galco Gun Leather makes a premium shoulder holster dubbed “Kodiak Hunter.” This well-made chest-style holster is designed for revolvers, with or without scopes. The cross-draw carry rig is comfortably padded with an adjustable shoulder strap. The retention strap can easily be released with a glove-friendly release tab. The quality holster comes with shoulder and torso straps. Regardless of revolver style, the Kodiak Hunter makes a comfortable carry holster.

Simply Rugged makes a mighty fine chest rig offering a lot of versatility. Rob’s Chesty Puller suspension system is designed to accept one of their pancake holsters. This is a set of straps suspending the holster on your chest. These straps connect through the belt slots on the holster. I’ve used this system with 1911’s and scoped revolvers on many hunting excursions. Simply Rugged has definitely incorporated a unique method for carrying large handguns at an affordable price.

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