CARRYING IN COMFORT is one thing, but actually understanding the tactical utility of the holster type is another. The obvious first choice for concealed carry is a strong-side holster. The basic integrity of the concept and the straight elbow-to-therear draw are strong reasons to keep your gun on the strong side. We should have a good reason for moving away from the strong-side holster.
Concealment is a good reason. Comfort and security are also good reasons. So, if an alternative holster such as a crossdraw or small of the back holster can improve any of these elements, such a holster may have merit. But regardless of which holster you choose, you must be comfortable with the draw.
THE CROSSDRAW HOLSTER IN ACTION
The crossdraw holster demands considerable effort to master, but you will appreciate it once you build the basic skills. Much of my early fascination with the type was built on the lore of the famous men that wore it, like Wild Bill Hickok and Buford Pusser. But the eficiency of the crossdraw holster grew on me as well.
Some martial arts experts favor the crossdraw for retention. They feel that they are better able to defend against a forward-originating attack than against an attack from the rear as may occur when wearing a strong-side holster.
As a young peace officer I noted that quite a few agencies issued the crossdraw for uniformed carry, although there are almost none issuing it today. The primary drawback to the crossdraw is the handgun sweeps across the target, and other things, like your own arm, bystanders, and anything in that arc. Moving laterally means your chances of missing increase. With the strong-side holster your round is more likely to go low or high, but you still may connect. Unless you understand the correct presentation, drawing from the crossdraw holster can make it more difficult to acquire the target. The crossdraw also demands extra and perhaps unnecessary movement across the body. This is in stark contrast to the quick elbow-to-the-rear motion with the strong-side holster. Another claim against the crossdraw is the butt of the handgun is presented in a manner making it easy for a gun grabber to gain control of your handgun.
But the crossdraw still has advantages. As an example, the crossdraw allows the handgun to be drawn quickly from a seated position. The gun butt is practically under the fingers when you are driving. This was brought home to me recently as I took a drive up the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway. After several hours in the seat the Kimber CDP was digging into my kidney region. I removed the handgun and put it in the console. To do so I had to stop in a rest area to remove my seat belt and twist around the steering wheel to draw the pistol! I should have deployed a Blocker crossdraw from the holster drawer.
As for the problem of drawing across the target, the proper technique will nullify this disadvantage. If the threat originates from the weak side (which is the gun side with the crossdraw holster), the draw may be brilliantly fast if properly executed. Simply turn the body toward the threat and let the gun hand fall lower than the holster and scoop the pistol out quickly, meeting the weak-side hand in the Weaver position.
As for retention, if you are aware of the position of the handgun at all times (as you should be), simply keep the weak-side arm resting on the handgun or in front of it to protect the pistol from a gun grabber. You have your strong-side arm to defend the holster. Some martial arts experts favor the crossdraw for retention. They feel that they are better able to defend against a forward-originating attack than against an attack from the rear as may occur when wearing a strong-side holster. Just the same, the crossdraw demands more situational awareness.
As for concealment the crossdraw in a proper design rides flat against the body. The gun butt does not print under the jacket when you stoop or bend. Naturally you have to avoid allowing the jacket or windbreaker to blouse open, but you may zip or button a covering garment and you will still have access to the pistol. The handgun may also easily be drawn with the weakside hand. Simply twist the wrist and draw the pistol. No, it isn’t as easy as a strong-side draw, but is less difficult than reaching across the back and drawing from the strong-side holster with the non-dominant hand.
There is concern that if you fall on your back the design places the handgun over the spine, which could result in a severe injury.
If you carry a second handgun on the belt as a backup then the crossdraw is a much better choice than a standard belt holster and really the only viable choice that allows either pistol to be drawn by the dominant hand. After all, we do not use both guns at once, but have the second ready to be drawn with the strong hand.
If you purchase a crossdraw holster be certain to buy a good one. The crossdraw is among the most difficult of holsters for makers to get right. A poor strong-side holster is bad. A poorly designed and executed crossdraw holster is deadly! You cannot simply wear a strong-side holster on the wrong side. The geometry and subtle angles will not work. A crossdraw holster seldom has a draw angle at all, but rather a near neutral cant. Among the best designs and the longest-lived comes from Ted Blocker. This holster is available for a wide range of handguns and has proven well suited to critical use.
THE SMALL OF THE BACK HOLSTER
The small of the back holster is sometimes called the middle of the back (MOB) with a bit different orientation for each type. The SOB is a racy holster sure to be worn by secret agents and the like. My research indicates the design originated with a need for agents to conceal a service-sized weapon under a short blazer. Since a strong side holster would protrude beneath the jacket hem, it was not a valid choice. The small of the back holster was designed to afford good concealment without resorting to an inside the waistband design. The SOB offers reasonable concealment, with the pistol held at a severe angle alongside the beltline.
There are a number of disadvantages to the small of the back holster. There is concern that if you fall on your back the design places the handgun over the spine, which could result in a severe injury. Truth is, a properly designed SOB is worn more toward the hip, but the MOB variant makes this injury more likely. Don’t wear any pistol over the spine. With a reasonably compact pistol this isn’t a problem.
As far as concealment goes, the small of the back holster is more likely than an IWB design to be exposed, but it offers superior concealment compared to a strong side holster under a short jacket. The SOB is a bit easier to draw from when seated than a strong side, but it depends upon the environment and the dynamics. A significant difficulty in using the small of the back holster is to master the draw. The hand goes behind the back and rather than scooping the pistol up and out, the wrist must bend to access the pistol. The holster absolutely must be tightly molded to keep the handgun secure. The draw angle is far from ideal. Unlike the crossdraw, there are no tactical advantages of the SOB. The only advantage is in concealment. Given all this information, the SOB, then, fills a rather narrow niche in the scheme of things. It is for the person that really needs an IWB, but finds such a holster too uncomfortable for regular use.
A crossdraw holster seldom has a draw angle at all, but rather a near neutral cant.
With all the limitations of the style, it is clear you should look for the best small of the back holster you can find. One of the best examples comes from Wright Leatherworks. Wright creates outstanding holsters made from top-notch materials and assembled with an attention to detail many makers just don’t have. Their SOB model is called the “Dutch” and it offers 1-3/4-inch belt hooks and classic styling with a reinforced mouth for easy reholstering and strong, straight stitching around the body of the holster. The Dutch is available in five colors, custom molded for many different pistols. If you insist on carrying a pistol in the small of your back, you could do no better than with a holster like this.
In short, the small of the back holster is a specialized holster that demands practice with the draw. Be certain that you really need this type, as others will serve better in most situations. The crossdraw, on the other hand, is more versatile than most imagine, though it, too, requires considerable practice.
|D.M. Bullard Leather
|Ted Blocker Holsters