» I’VE ALWAYS CONSIDERED MYSELF a highly active individual, ready for any adventure. The greater the challenge, the more I want to indulge. And no matter where my adventures take me, I carry a pistol as often as possible. Being addicted to running and other active outdoor activities poses several challenges for me. One is trying to conceal a firearm with less clothing on. I am not out there running in a Speedo, but there are not a lot of places to hide a pistol in most running attire.
Aside from long-distance trail running, I also enjoy hunting, camping, hiking and fishing across the country. From brown bears in Alaska to alligators in the Florida swamps to following mountain lion hounds in the rock country of the Nevada desert, I have been fortunate enough to hunt much of the United States, usually with a pistol on my side. Because I often hunt large big-game animals, I also know what bullets and calibers are needed to take down the largest of animals, some many times larger than humans. In fact, I hold the Safari Club International world record for California bighorn sheep in the pistol category and continue to hunt big game with handguns. I often require a concealed holster or harness of some type to keep my firearm out of sight of others or to keep it firmly attached to my body so I don’t lose it as I belly crawl into deep caves to retrieve hounds.
There are a million holsters on the market, and to be honest — I’m not politically correct — some holster manufacturers seem to cater to overweight people. It makes financial sense since one in five Americans is overweight and, with a little extra biomass, there are more and easier nooks and crevices to conceal a handgun. Half of the time, though, I have to drink a beer to keep my britches on my hip. We all have different body challenges. The common problem I find for myself and other active folks who have been successful in fighting off the pounds is that it’s tough to find pistol carriers that fit comfortably.
Over the last several years, I have experimented with several different types and brands of holsters and I’ve found a few that stand out for the active concealed carrier.
My first consideration when looking at holsters is where the holster was made. There are endless numbers of holster manufacturers, from stateside to China, all jockeying for concealed carriers’ attention and, of course, the hard-earned dollars in our pockets. I believe in and invest in my country, so I always try to buy American-made products first. Don’t get me wrong: The Italians make some outstanding holsters and some Asian countries sell cheap with somewhat fair quality, but somehow telling my gun-toting buddies, “I bought it in China,” quickly loses its luster.
Crossfire The Undercover
The first holster that seems to work well for a hike around my suburban hill country is The Undercover by Crossfire. The Undercover is a low-profile concealed carry holster. It’s ambidextrous, and it can be moved to nine different positions inside the waistband for easier accessibility to the shooter.
Crossfire’s website advertises that 14 top-selling pistols can fit into the holster. I can’t say for sure if that is true, but I do know that three of my pistols from decades apart sure do. It’s a well-made American holster that can be worn on the inside or outside of the waistband.
For all intended concealment purposes, I like to use my Crossfire on the inside of my waist strap. I can’t wear overly form-fitting clothes or it creates a small bulge, but it works fine with jeans and a loose shirt pulled over. The holster does have the potential to cause some irritation if I have to go on an extremely long excursion. Nylon is durable, but sometimes it’s a little rough; however, for the money, it will last and these holsters appear to be made of good materials with quality workmanship.
When I say this metal clip holds, I mean it has some serious holding power.
I like to pack a bow while out hunting mountain lions, but once in a while, I have to put the bow down, grab a sidearm and crawl in a cave armed only with a pistol and flashlight to rescue a hound that is face-to-face with a furious cougar. The Undercover holster has a really secure metal clip and can be easily affixed to the many straps in my backpack. When I say this metal clip holds, I mean it has some serious holding power. It’s one of the stronger points of the holster.
Crossfire’s website is very well done and, when you want information about their products, they will return calls and contact you in a short amount of time.
The Undercover is listed at $40.99. I have found this holster a bargain for reliability, and being able to use the same holster for several pistols is a nice touch.
Pistol Wear Trump Card Concealment Holster
The second concealment contraption I recommend for the active person is not a traditional side hip holster but rather an innovative under-the-arm holster for the active carrier. Pistol Wear designed the Trump Card Concealment Holster with people shaped like me in mind.
The Trump Card Concealment Holster is cushioned, breathable and downright comfortable, especially for folks on the run. It can be worn with all styles of clothing. The concealment holster accommodates users with up to a 46-inch chest, so if your running agenda entails fast food marches, this might not be the holster for you.
I have now owned two Trump Card Concealment Holsters, and I put the first one through the wringer. I guess I should mention when I say I go for runs, I don’t mean running down to the local store but rather 20- to 50-mile trail runs training for ultrathons of as long as 100 miles. I don’t know the exact longest run I’ve made while wearing this particular underarm holster setup, but placed over an Under Armour undershirt, I can safely say it will not cause chafing for me.
The Trump Card Concealment Holster is, in fact, easily adjustable and doesn’t tend to bounce a lot, especially with smaller- to mid-sized pistols. The holsters can accommodate different sizes of pistols, which make their use handy. They basically feature an oversized pocket that easily fits small- to medium-sized revolvers and semi-autos. If I am going for a run, I often slip in my Ruger LCP and barely notice it there, even while clipping along at a decent pace. If I move into a larger semi-auto pistol, I can definitely feel it more, and the bigger the pistol, the more it starts flopping when I run.
I called Pistol Wear for some technical questions and, within 24 hours, a sales representative called me back with all my questions answered.
On the flip side, If I want to go out to dinner, I tend to favor a larger semi-auto, and the Trump Card works beautifully. I do not overexert myself and I don’t have to worry about anything moving around. I have tried all sorts of holsters, including various ankle models, and I like this type of underarm holster because no one sees it and I often forget I am even wearing it.
Another nice feature of the Trump Card is the holster can be hand-washed. This is a real blessing since the holster is often carried next to the underarm, which excretes some of our most foul body odor.
My wife also favors this type of concealment holster. Women are proportioned much differently than men, especially in the chest area, and the Trump Card works perfectly for them as well.
As with any holster that you have to reach under the arm for, it can take a little more time to pull a pistol from the Trump Card. It will take some practice at the range to get used to.
Pistol Wear products are sewn in Taiwan, but final assembly and other components are made in the USA. I called Pistol Wear for some technical questions and, within 24 hours, a sales representative called me back with all my questions answered, so they do have quality sales support.
The Trump Card Concealment Holster can be purchased for $44.95.
DeSantis Thumb Break Scabbard
My final selection for a good quality activewear holster is the Thumb Break Scabbard made by DeSantis Gunhide. Here is another quality product made in the USA.
DeSantis leather holsters are durable, stretch very little, seemingly last forever and are very appealing to the eye. Moreover, the longer you wear them, the better they conform to your body.
These holsters do require a break-in period, though. Through natural daily use — the more active, the better — you will eventually get that fit-like-a-glove feel most concealed carriers desire. It took me a couple of weeks to notice my leather holster conforming to my standards, and like many leather products, the more I use it, the better it feels. The company recommends not applying any dressings or oil to their leather holsters. The tension screw might need adjustment and possible re-adjusting as the holster conforms to your body. This is a great feature and really comes in handy when trying to get the gun out of the holster and on target in a short amount of time.
The DeSantis website is above reproach, and they offer all kinds of other holsters for the entire spectrum of concealed carriers.
I know several fellow concealed carriers who leave their weapons at home because their holsters just aren’t comfortable. This holster will fix that problem, but again, I can’t stress enough here that you must wear the heck out of it for a while. Eventually, you will adore the feel and comfort.
The overall holster design is classic and looks sharp. I wanted an additional holster that would hug my body when out in the wilderness or when out on the town. Sporting an untucked shirt over this hip holster doesn’t draw too much attention; this is yet another holster that I forget is even on my hip. There is no flopping around with this holster — it sucks up to the body and makes packing on the hip downright enjoyable.
The DeSantis website is above reproach, and they offer all kinds of other holsters for the entire spectrum of concealed carriers. Its quite impressive to say the least, and they responded to my questions immediately. Aside from superior products, these folks know what customer service is all about.
The DeSantis Thumb Break Scabbard sells for $76.95 to $107.95, depending on your gun model. In my opinion, this holster has been worth every cent of my hard-earned money. This is a holster that might very well last for the rest of my life and will likely be passed on to future generations. I personally don’t think you can wear one out.
Testing It Out
Traditionally, concealed carriers would stop by the local gun store to select a carrying device, but nowadays online sales rule the roost. Because of this, many holsters get returned when they don’t fit the users’ pistols. This, in turn, increases shipping costs for holster manufacturers, which they eventually have to pass back on to consumers.
One of the easiest methods I have found for purchasing holsters is by targeting stores where I am allowed to bring in my firearm, try the holster out and actually place my firearm in it with the sales representative right there. It only takes a minute to find out if it’s going to fit. And, if it doesn’t, I simply ask for another product to test out. Real time — right now and right here — is the best method.
Gun shows are another place where I can bring in my pistol (check your local laws) and browse through many vendors’ offerings under one roof. The other neat part of gun show holster shopping is you can find some terrific deals on products that are used but not used up. Leather holsters can take some serious time to break in and conform to the body. At gun shows, though, I can usually find a booth with piles of used holsters that are already broken in. It’s an attractive ordeal and usually worth the price of admittance, especially when buying for custom or antique pistols. Occasionally, I also see holster manufacturers with a booth.
Every year, there will be new products to hit the holster market catering to concealed carriers. Some will be cheap, some unreliable and a select few will be of decent quality for the few of us active carriers who push our bodies and holsters to their limits.