There are three main qualities you should consider when selecting any type of concealment holster system. They are, in order:
Sounds like the wrong order, right? Let me explain.
The inventor of modern soft body armor Rich Davis said it best in his 1986 video Second Chance vs. Magnum Force: “Comfort is everything.” Davis made the point repeatedly that if body armor wasn’t comfortable, cops wouldn’t wear it. This phrase about comfort directly applies to concealed carry holsters as well. If your gun-and-holster combination constantly reminds you that it’s there, you will leave said combo at home. It’s not worth the discomfort. Doing that effectively negates your CCW permit (or off-duty carry privileges).
There are some very creatively designed concealment holster systems out there. They defy detection by anything other than a metal detector. These have their place. But ask yourself, if you are the victim of a blindside type of attack, will you be able to access your concealed handgun quickly enough to defend yourself? If the answer is no, you may want to save that holster for very specific occasions and look for something with easier access.
After reading about comfort and accessibility, perhaps you can guess why concealment is last on the list. If you have a holster that conceals great but is not comfortable or accessible, then its value for concealed carry is severely diminished, no matter how well it’s concealed.
Galco for the Win
I wanted to find a good concealment holster for the Remington 1911 R1 Executive that I reviewed back in January. I decided to turn to Galco, which recommended the outside-the-waistband (OWB) Fletch High Ride Thumb Break Belt Holster. It was a great recommendation.
An OWB holster is simply the most comfortable concealment holster, in my opinion. Unlike an IWB holster, it keeps the gun and the holster out of direct contact with the wearer. Galco uses a superb grade of supple leather that is detail-molded to fit. The belt slots are double thickness and double stitched for strength and firm, close-in support of the holstered gun. Any holster that allows a handgun to sag away from the body reduces comfort. Like any good molded holster, it took a little stretch time. I achieved this by pushing the unloaded gun into place and working it a bit to get the thumb break snapped. Then, I left it in place for a day in the safe. The R1 Executive was totally comfortable for all-day carry in the Fletch. And the butt didn’t bang against my side on my morning walk.
An Easy Draw
Another often overlooked aspect of OWB holster comfort is front-pocket access. The high-riding Fletch is designed to keep most of the handgun above the belt line. Inferior holster designs allow the handgun to cover or slow access to the front trouser pocket, causing inconvenience for access to other items. The Fletch prevents this by using low-set belt slots in addition to the rear muzzle cant or tilt design (aka butt-forward cant).
A neutral- or perpendicular-draw holster uses the simplest draw movement. However, when used with a gun even of the Executive’s size, a neutral-draw holster allows more of the holster and gun barrel to ride below the belt, restricting pocket access and forcing the wearer into a longer covering garment.
The rear muzzle cant requires a bent wrist to draw since you are rolling the gun forward out of the holster and sweeping the muzzle up from the rear. The rear cant helps put the shooter into a combat-crouch shooting position. It also makes it difficult for an attacker to strip your handgun out of the holster from the rear or directly over the top.
Accessibility is excellent. When seated in a car or chair, the draw angle becomes neutral. So one can easily clear a gun during a carjacking attempt. Wearing a neutral-draw holster in a car makes you pull the gun into the seatback as you clear it. This makes the Fletch a superior holster for vehicular carry.
The muzzle-rear cant position places the muzzle at a nearly 45-degree angle on the belt, so it conceals better with shorter covering garments than a neutral-draw holster.
The Galco Fletch High Ride clearly meets all of the requirements of a good concealment holster system — and does so in the proper priority. It is available for a wide variety of weapons, including Smith & Wesson J-, K-, L-, N- and X-frame revolvers. I highly recommend it. MSRP is $129.
About Scott W. Wagner
Scott W. Wagner has been a law enforcement officer since 1980, working undercover in liquor and narcotics investigations and as a member, sniper and assistant team leader of a SWAT team. He currently works as a patrol sergeant. He is a police firearms instructor, certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun. Scott also works as a criminal justice professor and police academy commander.