Ankle Carry:
Backup, Or Primary

— Or Primarily A Back-Up?

“Having a gun” is, indeed, a good idea if you need one. People who carry guns for defense (or even sometimes because they have to, like cops), often default to the easiest, most comfortable way possible. It’s only natural to get lazy when it comes to something you do constantly, almost automatically. But it’s not always smart. Ankle holsters fit into that category, and I fit into that profile of being lazy — at least in the past.

During my entire police career, if I had long pants on I had an ankle gun on — all the time, every time. I always had a back-up gun of some sort. Several officers saved themselves because they used their back-up guns to shoot a thug off of them. If I had shorts on working the Harbor Unit, I had an NAA .22 Magnum mini-revolver, a lightweight J-Frame or, believe it or not, a cut-down Charter Arms Bulldog .44 Special (oh gosh, that wasn’t authorized, but I’m retired so can admit it now) hiding in a front pocket .

But what I’m embarrassed about is I often — even usually — wore either that J-Frame or the Charter in an ankle holster off-duty, as my primary gun. During my time as a reserve in the 1970’s, and during my early San Diego PD career later, the game was the same. But in retrospect, I’m not convinced my carry method was a sound idea. Yes, I didn’t violate the “have a gun” thing, but to get to it required a judicious application of bodily contortions. Fast? Not in the least. As a matter of fact, it was slow and often sort of fumbly to draw it.

If you’re right-handed you wear the gun on the inside of your left ankle. Then to draw, you kneel, dropping your right knee to the ground, your left leg bent as you claw your pants hem up, hopefully clearing the top of the gun’s grip, then yank the gun out. Meanwhile, don’t forget, you’re not exactly mobile in this pose, so you need to engage the bad guy while kneeling, or jump back to your feet and go to work. Hopefully the bad guy(s) have been so amazed by your grace and fluid movements they have paused to watch you.

Sometimes, if my Spidey-sense was activated, I’d sort of pause behind a car when walking out into a dark parking lot, lift my left ankle and, leaning on a hood while I drew the gun, slip it into a coat pocket while I entered the “bad guy” zone. Once in my car, I’d stuff it back into the ankle rig. Which, by the way, isn’t always easy. But a plus is when driving, if you keep your pant’s hem above the grip, it does make a convenient “driving” holster. You just reach down and presto, you’ve got your gun in your hand. Just remember to pull your pants hem back down.

Security can be an issue too. Cross your leg and the world sees your gun. Mas Ayoob says to pull your sock up over the whole thing and that works, but can get uncomfortable. Also, some holsters aren’t very secure. During my early police career I had a leather, thumb-snap ankle holster. While on a spirited foot chase one night, I saw a shiny object suddenly appear at eye level, flipping over and over. I watched it, wondering what sort of UFO it was as the street lights glinted on it as it spun. Then it dawned on me — it was my stainless S&W Model 60 dancing in front of me. In one of those “I can’t make this stuff up” moments, I snatched it out of the air, stuffed it into a pocket and kept up the race. After the dust settled I figured it out. I had kicked my ankle holster with my off-foot, efficiently unsnapping the thumb break, allowing the next running step to launch the gun into orbit in front of me. Oops.

It was soon after, I discovered Renegade’s “virtually impossible to lose a gun out of” ankle rigs and have worn them or their modern iteration ever since that day, some 35 or more years ago. Today, you can get the same rig from, still called the Renegade, and please use it with my blessings. But I get ahead of myself.

Renegade made soft ankle rigs in their day (that’s an original holding the cuffs), and today The Wilderness makes
the Renegade, complete with real shearlling liner and surgical elastic. That’s Roy’s old Charter .44 in the picture.

Pocket holsters Roy has carried include (L-R): BLACKHAWK!, TUFF Products, Thad Rybka and the
factory-supplied one with his Ruger LCPII. All work just fine.

More traditional leather rigs (L-R: Rosen, Tauris and Ritchie) work fine and often incorporate elastic
straps, kydex and other blends.

Thinking About It

In retrospect, I had it all wrong. I don’t think you should ever-never rely on an ankle rig to hold your primary gun. Cue hue-and-cry and hang-wringing contingent. As a back-up spot it’s nearly perfect. On the ground fighting? You might be able to reach an ankle. Sitting in the car and getting a surprise handed to you? The handy ankle gun is right at-hand. Primary gun out of ammo, broken, lost or stolen? Ta-Da, all is not lost as you kneel to get your back-up into play. And, people don’t think to look there. Well, most people don’t.

About 100 years ago I was in a house in a rough part of town taking a report. A young man, about six or seven was walking around and around me checking me out. Kids often check you out to look at your Batman Utility Belt. Then, abruptly, he knelt, patting my pants leg right where my J-Frame sat. As he stood up nodding knowlingly, he crossed his arms, saying, “That yo’ frowdown gun?” as he looked at me accusingly. I’m not making this up, honest. “Um, er, uh … nope, it’s an ankle weight I use to help me exercise my injured left ankle,” I muttered. He harrumphed, turned on his heel and strutted off. Something abou the set of his shoulders said, “Like I believe that.” Something to keep in mind if you wear an ankle rig.

In a perfect world? I think a high quality ankle rig you fall madly in love with makes impeccable sense. Make sure it’s very, very secure, then carry your back-up gun there. And practice drawing from it, but make sure you do it safely, etc., etc. I think you’ll be surprised at some of the antics it may take to go from “I’m standing here” to “I’m standing here with my ankle gun in my hand now.” Also people will stare — and frequently point — wondering what you’re doing while you’re busy drawing the gun.

Alternatives? Pocket holsters are simple, good ideas and work amazingly well. Also the gun is at-hand, literally. Going from yellow to orange alert? A casual hand in the pocket looks right at home. Going to orange with an ankle holster? Kneeling abruptly and hiking up your pants leg in the aisle at Home Depot might be awkward and draw undue attention. There’s that pointing thing again. I’m just saying. And of course, there’s always belt carry, IWB, shoulder holsters, various back-packy/bag ways and a near zillion variations on the themes. Just make sure your primary gun is handy and the ankle rig is reserved for a safe and sane back-up gun plan.

Of course, that’s just my opinion based on my limited experience over the past 42 years or so, and I might be completely wrong. Gads … has it really been that long?

Hyskore Target Hound

I’m always on the lookout for easy-to-manage target stands which are also as tough as possible. The Target Hound (#30291) is made of steel, assembles with four bolts and holds either 2×4 or 1×3 uprights. You can also attach 2×4 stringers along the bottom rails to extend the foot-print for more stability. I put some cheap casters on mine and now it’s a piece of cake to roll it out of the garage, do a quick sight-in, then back it goes. Wonder Dogs Scout and Amelie approve and often supervise the process. The Target Hound can be broken down fast and easily carried in a duffle or trunk. At $34.99 (I saw them at Midway for $24.99, shhh …) you can’t go wrong. , Ph: (631) 673-5975, email: [email protected]

Jack First Gunshop

Nancy First, daughter of founder Jack First, was kind enough to send me their giant three-book catalog set containing tens of thousands of gun parts. This is basically “if you can name it, they have it,” especially when it comes to old, out of production, scarce and impossible to find stuff. They are also making parts themselves. While they have a website, if you can’t find it there, you really need to call and chat with Nancy. She’ll actually go to the “box” with the bits and look to see what’s there for you. No fooling. Try that stunt at some big name company, eh? Ph: (605) 343-9544,

Caspian Damascus Parts

Since 1983 Caspian has been just about the go-to supplier of high quality frames, slides and parts for 1911 lovers. Professional builders, hobbyists, retail gun stores and others all rely on Caspian. This year, they’ve lit a fire under their Damascus parts and you can now get all sorts of goodies from them for your “ultimate” 1911 project. It’s remarkable what even a few Damascus parts like a slide release, hammer, trigger, slide, etc. can add to a custom 1911. Check out what they’re doing at:, Ph: (802) 472-6454, email: [email protected]

1911 Link Pin Punches

SDM Fabricating — that brilliant gun-guru Scott Mulkerin — has come up with something sure to make anyone with a 1911 happy. The fumbly-job of trying to knock out a link pin on the barrel usually takes three hands. Scott has made a sort of “kit” of three punches. One “sets” the pin just deeply enough so you can insert the link, then you can use a hammer to set it flush. The next punch will move the pin out just far enough so you can remove the link for replacement, cleaning or fitting the lugs. The final punch will completely remove the pin from the lugs. Simple, sure and well made. Find ’em at:, Ph: (330) 723-3098, email: [email protected]

Alaska Paracord Products

Our friends at Diamond D Leather in Alaska turned us on to these. Invented by a young Alaskan, Grayson Davey when he was 12 in 2013 (later named manufacturer of the year in Alaska!), the concept stems from a survival incident he was in on the river. After three days of freezing, he returned and invented the Survival Bracelet, Fire Bug and Fish ’n Flame. Each contains mil-spec emergency fire starting gear and other survival items depending upon the model. One is a bracelet and the others are a sort of fob you can attach to a pack. The paracord wrap can be used for any number of things and the bracelet even comes with a built-in whistle. This is brilliant and even more so because a young man realized the need, and started a business to fulfill that need. Well done! Find ’em at:, and you can get them from Diamond D, Ph: (907) 631-4212.

OT Defense Stippling Kit

I’m a sucker when it comes to helping start-ups and even more when it’s a vet. Dan Batchelor (of Powder River Precision) brought Micah Huyett to our booth at SHOT 2017. Micah is a one-man shop called Oregon Trail Defense (well, his wife does all the actual work it seems, shipping, taking calls, etc.) and he’s developed a kit containing all the goodies needed to do a first-class stippling job on a polymer frame. It’s all the rage these days (think: GLOCKs, XD’s, M&P’s, etc.). The US-made wood burner in the kit supplies the heat and the tips (also US-made) consist of a variety of patterns, with many optional ones available. There’s a basic kit — or you can be smart and simply get the more complete, up-graded one right off. The process is simple; you just heat the burner, which heats the tip then you go to work “pushing” in a pattern. But there’s lots more to it, and it pays to study some to learn how best to put your fun new tool to work. Once you’re up to speed, all your friends will want you to do their guns too and you can get wealthy and stuff. And hey, why not pattern a kydex holster too? Get one at:, Ph: (541) 419-7952, email: [email protected]

Peter Kokalis Passes

An old friend — and certifiable eccentric — Peter was renowned for his encyclopedic knowledge of military weapons, especially full-auto models. Here, Peter is with Mikhail Kalashnikov, and it was one of Peter’s favorite photos. Peter was an editor/writer for Soldier of Fortune for years and authored hundreds of articles to go with the splendid photos he always took. Peter loved his country and remained vigilant about his patriotism throughout his life. I’ll remember Peter for his “never-hold-back the truth” attitude when talking about any topic. If what he said caught a liberal gun-grabber’s hair on fire, all the better. Peter had a great sense of humor, but you only got to see it if you had thick skin! Peter and I also used to laugh about that movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It’s how we both grew up, you see. He’s Greek and I’m half-Greek. Antio Peter!

Successful Hunts!

We always enjoy showcasing hard-working young people who go hunting. Here we have Monica Fitterer (in her pick-up) near Wing, ND on her first deer hunt. What’s more amazing is she did it all herself, from the set-up, the shot, skinning and processing it and she used a Savage .243. She’s hooked now, she says! Keep at it Monica.

Nik Sipe (18) signed herself up for a hunter safety class and informed her family she was going to hunt deer and elk. With her Dad, Uncle Kent (loaded her ammo and helped her with her Tikka .25-06 sighting-in) and another uncle’s help, she took a fine mule deer near Roundup, MT. Nikki fired one shot, off-hand, downhill, landing a perfect lung shot. “Hunting is a mini-vacation,” she told me. “You get to clear your mind and the only thing you’re concerned about is taking your animal. It makes the bonds stronger with everyone who is hunting with you and even if you don’t take any game, it’s still unforgettable.” She’s helping to clean the deer in the picture.

A huge Handgunner “Hat’s-Off” to you both! Take a kid hunting.

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