We are living in unprecedented times. Because of all the panic, fear and bizarre behavior (the great toilet paper wars will forever be a part of 2020 history), things are very unpredictable. Frankly, some tasks these days can be potentially dangerous. And that’s because, though you may not be aware, law enforcement everywhere is severely restricting patrol duties.

I noticed the change a week ago when a large police department near us shut off the public from its lobby to prevent COVID-19, the coronavirus. This was just the beginning of the reduction of police services being provided to the public.

A fellow sergeant at a large suburban police agency said his officers have been ordered by their administration to simply find a place to park their cruisers. They are not to patrol or stop cars except in dire circumstances. They aren’t permitted to respond to non-injury traffic accidents. The county jail doesn’t want any arrests except the most dangerous offenders. For now, you are on your own when out and about.

What’s a Guy to Do in a Crisis?

I am just as vulnerable when I’m off duty. The current situation in Ohio has me re-examining my choice of off-duty gun. I decided that my 9mm SIG Sauer M17 with a covering garment would be more formidable than other smaller off-duty guns that I have. The SIG M17 has a 17+1 capacity, absolute reliability and extreme accuracy. Its 4.7-inch barrel brings out the defensive potential of the 9mm round. Since I had only carried the M17 in a police duty holster, I had no concealable holster in which to carry it. To remedy the situation, I turned to Craft Holsters.

Craft Holsters is a European company that utilizes the best holster manufacturers on the continent for a custom-made fit. I have been very pleased with its products and quick delivery despite being half a world away.

I felt the easiest way to comfortably conceal a large handgun was in a leather belt holster. Leather is supple and conforms well to the body. Combined with a solid-leather trouser belt, a leather holster offers support and comfort and is very good for carrying a large handgun. I requested a black Falco It.74 Dual Cant belt holster and a black Vega 1PO1 Belt Magazine Pouch from the Craft Holsters website. Both are Italian made. The belt mag pouch would free up a pocket and give me a total of 35 rounds of defensive ammo — certainly enough for most encounters even in these troubled times.

Testing a Carry System

I conducted my first carry test in church. The Falco holster kept the M17 close to my body. I concealed it with a wind shirt that was long enough to cover the muzzle.

My SIG M17 was also easily concealed while I was seated in the pew. Because the barrel is 4.7 inches in length — rather than 4 inches or less — I had to be mindful of standing up. The muzzle could have peeked from below my wind shirt. This was easily mitigated by gently holding the shirt as I stood up during various points in the service. The Vega mag pouch required no such attention.

The next day, I walked a mile wearing my M17 in the Falco holster. And later I took my family to our local bike path for another 1.7-mile walk while wearing it. The M17 rode comfortably on my hip for both. Today, I wore the M17 around town while I shopped at the drug store, grocery store, bookstore and ice cream carry out. There was no chafing or discomfort.

In my book, a belt holster is the only way to carry a handgun this large and heavy for an extended period of time. It also provides the most accessibility to the handgun when the user is wearing a covering garment. The Falco It.74 is one of the very best belt holsters available. It can be adjusted for the optimal carry angle due to the extra belt slot — muzzle rearward or muzzle neutral. Price is a very reasonable $69. That’s a bargain for an Italian leather product.


Craft Holsters: CraftHolsters.com

About Scott W. Wagner

Scott W. Wagner is a criminal justice professor and police academy commander from Columbus, Ohio. He has been a police officer since 1980, working as an undercover liquor investigator, undercover narcotics investigator, patrol officer, SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader. Scott is currently a patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. He has been a police firearms instructor since 1986 and is certified to instruct revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.