The belly band concealment holster has been around for more years than most folks realize. Likely evolving from waist sash handgun carry, such as that utilized by Wild Bill Hickock for carrying his matching set of Colt .36 Navy percussion revolvers, belly band carry provides some advantages over belt carry for concealment.
While not a primary mode of carry for me, I have used a couple of different belly bands over my 36-year law enforcement career. The earliest model I used (I don’t remember the brand now) was for deep undercover concealment of a .380 Walther PPK/S that I carried when I first began work as a narcotics detective. The other belly band I’ve used recently is Galco’s H719B, which is still a good traditional design. The Galco H719B has two leather “holster” pouches sewn onto the elastic band itself to hold the firearm. The reason there are two pouches is so that most handguns one would want to carry concealed could be accommodated by either of the two pouches. Today, the H719B has been replaced in the Galco lineup by the updated Underwraps Belly Band, which still utilizes the same basic design as the older model.
As I said earlier, the belly band has some advantages over belt carry for concealed firearms. First, the belly band carries the handgun above the beltline, which is more comfortable than trouser belt carry since the wide elastic band spreads the support of the weight of the gun over a larger area. It also frees up space on the belt for carrying other items such as a cell phone or a flashlight. Second, a belly band is also a superior mode to use if your covering shirt or blouse does not extend much below the beltline — a condition which would likely expose at least the bottom of any belt holster. The third advantage is that a belly band pulls the handgun in tightly to the body — tighter than most other carry methods — thus reducing the opportunity for the handgun to “print” against clothing.
But traditional belly bands are not perfect. The problem with them has been with the open-top “universal” holster fit of most belly bands for a variety of handguns. While universal holsters fit a wide variety of handguns fairly well, there is no way they can fit any handgun with the precision of a holster molded specifically for a particular gun — whether the material used is cowhide, horsehide, plastic or Kydex. The proper molding of these materials around a handgun provides a tight friction fit, which holds the gun in place when holstered. The friction fit removes any possibility of the handgun unceremoniously exiting the holster under movement — whether sudden or gradual — over the course of a day. However, CrossBreed Holsters appears to have resolved the problem of proper holster fit for belly band wearers.
Their Modular Belly Band — like the traditional belly band — is a system for carrying multiple handguns. Instead of a universal fit holster, CrossBreed’s Modular Belly Band uses a Kydex holster, molded for a specific firearm, with a Velcro backing plate that affixes to the band. Thus, the handgun is held by friction fit in the holster and is not subject to shifting out at inopportune times — which is obviously a big improvement.
Since the CrossBreed Belly Band is a modular system, all you need is one band and as many separate molded holsters as is required for the guns you want to carry with it. That brings me to another point: belly bands — any of them — work best with mid- or mini-sized handguns.
CrossBreed sent me their Modular Belly Band with a Kydex holster sized for my Glock 27. I positioned the Glock in the holster, put on the band over a T-shirt and wrapped the end around over the top of the Glock holster. The band held the holster and handgun firmly in place. As we were going out to dinner and the weather allowed, I put a heavy winter sweater over the rig, and checked for “printing” in the mirror. I was initially going to wear the Glock 27 forward of my right hip, almost directly in front of me for best access, but I found the printing was pretty severe. I moved the rig around and found that the best place for it was essentially under my right armpit above the hip bone — and there it rode for the evening, unnoticed.
For me, at 5’11” and 180 pounds, the Glock 27 is the biggest handgun I feel that can be comfortably concealed in a belly band setup. It is just too wide a handgun. Obviously, this also rules out the mid- or full-sized Glocks and similar-sized handguns. Guns the size of five-shot .38s and automatics the size of my Walther PPK/S and the smaller Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380 ride best in it. Small-sized 1911s in .380 or 9mm, such as the SIG P238 or P938, would also work well. If you are a larger person than I am, you might be able to conceal a larger handgun easier than I can, so a bigger gun may work for you.
Recently, CrossBreed Holsters announced the second generation of their Modular Belly Band, which, like the original, was developed in conjunction with I.C.E. Firearm Training Services and renowned firearms trainer Rob Pincus. In fact, the band bears both the CrossBreed logo and Pincus’ I.C.E. company logo side by side. Several improvements were made to the original Modular Belly Band for the second generation version, including the extra length of band to wrap over the holster, a sewn-in flashlight or magazine pouch and the availability of modular Kydex magazine carriers that can be added to the band (should the sewn-in pouch prove insufficient for your needs).
The elastic Modular Belly Band is priced at $69.95 for the band and one holster. Additional holsters are $39.95, single mag pouch carriers are $32.75 and additional support/retention straps for the Kydex holsters are also available. CrossBreed is offering a more universal-style nylon holster with an adjustable retention strap to fit several handguns of similar size. Known as the Soft-Side Modular Pack, this holster design is certainly better than the open-top leather pouches on traditional belly bands. The Soft-Side Modular Pack is priced at $44.95.
One of the great things about today’s concealed carry market is not only the variety of handguns that are available, but the ways in which to carry them. If you think that belly band carry might be for you, check out the systems available at CrossBreed: www.crossbreedholsters.com.