The Holster Is the Difference

September 20, 2021
Mike Sampson

After one of my longtime friends in Wyoming read my Gun Talk article on EDC, I received an e-mail from him posing a good question.

“I find that in the warm weather I carry less often because, being of thin frame, I have a hard time concealing a firearm. I know we have open carry here but I'm not a big fan of it for several reasons. Any tips you have would be appreciated.”

That question forced me to reflect on my situation as well. Making no “bones” about it, I also have a slim frame, and am not even 125 pounds dripping wet. I certainly can identify with problems concealing a firearm without a jacket or other loose clothing. I also have a box of little-used holsters I’ve tried, as do many handgun fans.

I sent my friend my holster thoughts. State laws provide that open and Constitutional carry is guaranteed in Arkansas and Wyoming. I too value the element of surprise in self defense and see no need to advertise the fact I’m armed, so concealed carry (CCW) is my go-to. Letting anyone know I am carrying is asking for trouble, at least in my way of thinking.

As far as my preferences are concerned, I prefer small to medium-framed handguns. I used to have larger handguns and long guns, but that unfortunate “boating accident” limited what I now have and I can’t even recall where or when it happened.

My EDC centers on my old Colt Detective Special, a Glock 30 and my S&W 4553 Tactical. I do use long-ago-bought Uncle Mike’s Sidekick nylon holsters (now apparently called a Sidekick Kodra Hip Holster) and carry them regularly. They offer a retention strap, are padded and comfortable, and never show any wear. 

Trial and error made me a fan of Galco holsters. I like the Combat Master series and settled on them years ago, paired with Galco leather gun belts. With open top and good retention, the Galcos ride tightly on my belt and conceal well with a narrow profile. For my Glock, I also carry a Blade-tech Kydex paddle rig with adjustable retention and appreciate the fit and security.

Warm weather changes how I choose to carry, so I agree with my Wyoming friend. Since I am so thin, inside-the-waistband holsters do not work well (I tried a couple) so outside-the-waistband (OWB) is my choice. Pocket holsters never appealed. I wear my pants tight since I don’t have much waist or hips. Baggy pants and I never had a good relationship.

OWB holsters cannot ride high on me as my lower ribs tend to get in the way, although I know the benefits of getting the handgun higher off one’s waist. Being physically, or even mentally, uncomfortable with CCW simply is not a consideration. See some thoughts I posted in my March 23, 2021, Gun Talk article on CCW.

Reading holster reviews can provide guidance. Unfortunately, trial and error seems to be an effective way to choose CCW holsters. I know what I describe and like works for me, but that simply is my opinion and may not work for others.

“Try it and you may like it” seems to offer sound advice, based my nearly 30 years of CCW. Obviously, holster choices come down to how much time and money you want to spend to find the best handgun, holster and belt combination for you. Before you buy, check on return policy.

We know a quality holster is a must for CCW. Online holster finders, such as one can access at Midway USA may be good sources of information for your particular handgun, but certainly cannot determine your carry decisions. U.S. Concealed Carry also has a helpful finder, as do Blade-tech and Galco, plus other companies.

As far as warm-weather clothing, I can get by with an untucked shirt most of the time, even with travel, making it easy for OWB. With an untucked and loose-fitting shirt, I get along fine with my Uncle Mike’s. 

I always carry an extra revolver speed loader or extra semi magazines on my gun belt, so covering them is a must-do practice for me. Even with the Blade-tech and my Glock with two extra mags, printing through an untucked shirt is minimal if at all as the Blade-tech is narrow in profile on the belt.

Scaling up a bit on attire with a tucked-in shirt, I use the Galcos and a casual slim-cut sport coat or vest. Not often a need where I live and where I go. A jacket in cooler or cold weather changes everything for easy concealment and opens more options, but can create firearm access problems as well.

My Wyoming friend, who is my age, wrote later:

“On the subject of concealed carry in summer: I've got a holster that fits both my Remington R51 and my Ruger 1911 commander-length .45ACP. I also have a pocket holster for my R51 that I put in my right hip pocket. The problem comes when trying to cover it during warm/hot days. The obvious solution would be to wear a long shirt outside the pants. The problem there is that with my old-man physic I must wear suspenders if I wear a gun. An undershirt is necessary with suspenders and 2 shirts are too much this time of year. Any thoughts?”

I replied to him:

“As far as summer carry goes, my only suggestion is a light T-shirt, usually with a V-neck, under an untucked short-sleeve shirt. That's what I wear now even in the hottest of weather. Was out today to the store and the heat index was a bit over 100, and was OK with the handgun on my hip. Of course, I don't need suspenders and rely on a double-thick 1 1/2 inch leather gunbelt or a tactical web belt that will carry the weight of the handgun and extra rounds. I think a T-shirt might be an option for you to consider as you need suspenders. You are a ‘cool’ guy anyway, right?”

I’ve not had a reply yet, so will see if my suggestion has merit.

If I have to fall back on minimalist carry, my choice is a Sig 232 and Bianchi Black Widow holster strongside and an extra mag in my left front pocket. 

Warm weather indeed may hinder concealment. Regardless of the weather, wise holster choice and clothing hopefully can help my Wyoming friend and all of us Stay safe, be prepared. ~ Mike

Mike Sampson
Mike now calls Northwestern Arkansas home, but has lived and worked in several states and internationally. He has been an independent contractor and consultant since 2006 specializing in risk management, emergency management and training, worked as a law-enforcement planner and technical writer with the Boise, Idaho, Police Department, and also worked as an outfitter’s guide.

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