Question: I am a business professional who frequently wears a suit, but not always the jacket when I am in the office. I am somewhat above the recommended weight for my height which makes it difficult for me to carry anywhere in the waist area. What do you suggest?
Answer: All of us would like to be a few pounds lighter and have the weight distributed a little differently than it is.
The majority of the country’s population is in that category.
Although I can carry comfortably on the waist, inside or out, I carry a Double Action Only (DAO) pistol in my front pants pocket most of the time. A good pocket holster will break up the outline of the gun and stabilize it so that when you make the draw it isn’t out of position. The holster should have some friction material on it so that it stays in place when the draw is made. Drawing both together wastes time, as you will have to strip the holster from the gun in order to use it.
Spare ammunition is carried in the opposite side pocket to balance the load. Nothing else should be carried in these pockets, as under stress, you could just as easily draw your keys as your gun or magazine.
Some holsters have a magazine pouch attached as part of the holster. In my opinion this is not well thought out. Envision having your dominant hand occupied with a gun that needs to be reloaded. Do you have the range of motion to be able to reach across your body with your non-dominant hand and into your dominant side front pocket to draw the magazine? Not likely, so keep your gun and spare ammo where you can get to it easily under stress.
If you pocket carry, nothing else should be carried in that pocket. Under stress, you may find yourself drawing your keys instead!
Another option is to carry a gun in each of the front pockets and don’t worry about the reload. The weight in your pockets will be balanced and therefore more comfortable. This, in addition to the possibility that your dominant hand may be busy with other things—making it impossible to draw from the dominant side—makes two guns a better option than one.
Holstering your pistol is as simple as putting your hand in your pocket. Remember to keep your finger off the trigger when doing this. If you feel resistance or sense misalignment, shift the gun to the other hand and remove the holster from the pocket, and then mate the two properly and place them in your pocket.
Looser fitting trousers and having your tailor reinforce your front pockets will enhance the comfort and utility of front pocket carry.
Some other options that I don’t particularly recommend, but might find favor with you are the belly band and the ankle holster.
The belly band is uncomfortable for those of us who are more round than flat, plus it tends to migrate if we wear it loose enough to be able to sit and walk comfortably. It requires a loose fitting shirt of an appropriate color so that it does not print or show through. (A white shirt won’t cut it.) It is also prudent to replace the buttons on the shirt with Velcro so that access can be easy, rather than having to tear the shirt or rip the buttons off of it in order to draw the pistol.
Spare ammunition is usually carried on the belly band, but you need to be sure it is accessible. After the incident, restoring the pistol and magazine to their original location is not much of a challenge, but explaining a shirt that looks like you got caught in a buzz saw might be. The use of Velcro becomes a plus here.
Ankle holsters are convenient if you have the range of motion to get to the pistol when you need it. Most drawing techniques involve bending the knees significantly whether squatting, kneeling, or standing. Those of us carrying a little extra weight may find that accessing the gun, or moving out of the position required to access the gun to find cover or a better shooting position might be difficult at best.
Another concern that I have with ankle holsters is weapon retention. If you find yourself in a physical altercation with your hands occupied from waist level and up, there is little likelihood that the gun can be protected from a second attacker or the original attacker if the fight is taken to the ground and he can reach your feet. Invariably, your pant leg will displace far enough to expose the holster and or weapon in a ground fight, thereby giving up the concept of concealment.
Reholstering to the ankle is not a problem if you have time. On the other hand, if escape is more tactically sound, putting the gun in your pocket might be the best option.
My recommendation without meeting you personally is the pocket holster for the above reasons. If that is not your cup of tea, you should be able to make an educated alternate decision with the information mentioned in the previous paragraphs.
This column from longtime writer George Harris addresses questions that concern new shooters and people just getting started with concealed carry. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org