WHY DOES IT WORK?
What sorcery is this? Sticky Hoslters are stitched up from a soft and supple material that allows for a smooth draw, but sticks to your pants and shirt like glue.
There must be some science behind it; something about micro-fibers and physical properties associated with the surface area of the materials in contact. But from a layman’s point of view it is just magic.
And the Sticky Holsters website does not offer much help either. Here is what they have to say online: The outside skin is a super non-slip material that, with a little pressure, adheres to just about anything. In addition, with use and body heat, your Sticky Holster will conform to your particular gun, making a custom fit.
Well, that pretty much sums up that it works, but we still don’t know HOW it works. So, for now, we are just accepting the results of our tests. With the pistol inside the holster and the holster inside the belt, the combination will not move.
Let’s just call it magic.
GOING CHEAP ON ACCESSORIES is a case of classic Defensive Handgun Failure. We’ve all known a person (or been a person) who went cheap, but “That Guy” who tries to save a few bucks on everything often compromises his safety. It could be $6 G.I. contract 1911 mags from the late 70s (I bought some of those) or a Chinese holster from eBay that got excellent reviews from 15-year-old Airsoft enthusiasts. The result is always the same, and it runs counter to the entire ethos of defensive handgunning. In short, “That Guy” compromises his initial investment—and his personal security—to save a few bucks. Buy good stuff. Here is a look at two great holster systems that won’t break the bank.
HOLSTERS ARE IMPORTANT
Your tactics are fundamentally unsound if your carry platform is unsound. I cannot make it simpler than that. You need to find a holster system that works with the way you want to carry.
The good news is that we as armed citizens have at our fingertips a selection of holsters that would have been unimaginable to even our parents, let alone our grandparents. The two I tested are excellent examples of this; they’re reasonably priced, extremely reliable, and straight out of what I as a child of the 1980s would recognize as The Future.
Carry and draw assessments were run with a Kel-Tec P-11, a Smith & Wesson Model 32 Terrier, a Glock 17, and a Ruger LCP, all with full carry loads. I drew and fired from both holsters while wearing light summer and heavy winter wear and in both casual and business attire.
RON’S HOLSTERS CONCEALED CARRY CHEST HOLSTER
At a cursory glance, Ron’s Holsters Concealed Carry Chest Holster ($50, www.ronsholsters.com, 813-846-9758) looks how I’d imagine the result of hiring a physical therapist to design a holster, meaning you’d be pleasantly surprised by the results. Though plain-looking and familiar at first glance, do not be fooled; this around-the-torso deep-cover rig held my fully-loaded Ruger LCP and an extra magazine steady as a rock during a four-hour drive and didn’t allow any movement during an afternoon of walleye fishing. Almost more importantly, this thing is comfortable—think Ace bandage wrapped around your chest, only softer and more breathable. With the exception of the Velcro closure system, Ron designed his chest holster to be constructed from the same non-latex material used in the treatment of burn patients, which allows for ample air flow and actual all-day comfort.
Draw is executed by pulling the neck of the shirt forward with your reaction hand and reaching in with your strong hand or inserting your strong hand into the shirt through the buttoned (or unbuttoned) front. My draws were from both under a polo shirt and from beneath a fishing shirt whose buttons I sacrificed to the cause, and I must say that as soon as your hand is properly indexed, there are zero problems with safely presenting your weapon. Centering the pistol on my chest made it very low-key under a polo shirt and almost un-detectable under a shirt and tie, and when I moved the weapon into my armpit concealment was total.
Perhaps not surprisingly, this one really shines with a compact or sub-compact, but it will fit and comfortably carry a full-sized 1911. Models that will carry an extra magazine are also available (as well as a double-gun rig). This would be not only an ideal holster for deep concealment, but exceptionally handy for bicycling, motorcycling, hiking, jogging, or any circumstance where a belt-based weapon system would be impractical. Break-in of this holster is as simple as the 8 cycles through the wash recommended in the instructions, but believe you me, the result is something you will quickly forget you’re wearing. Sizing is true, and as a guy with an honest 48” chest, I wore an XL and it fit perfectly.
Not only is this an excellent carry option for everyday deep concealment of a pistol or small revolver, I also tested it with my backup gun under my body armor and uniform. (Granted, my uniform tops cost a lot more than a fishing shirt from the Clinton administration and I’d sure hate to Superman one open, but under the circumstances I think I could grit my teeth and do so.) Again, zero issues with weapon presentation once my hand was indexed, and reholstering is a snap due to the simple friction-fit.
Speaking of friction-fit, right off the top: I’m not going to pretend to know how the material on the outside of the Sticky Holster works ($24.95, www.stickyholsters.com). This is an odd little unit that will be brought into immediate rotation in my carry schedule: it looks like parts are missing, it feels like a vinyl car top, but when you crack open the package, read the directions and holster up, you will immediately realize that this thing doesn’t move. Like, at all.
Unencumbered by clips or belt loops, you can mount this holster literally anywhere on your beltline simply by inserting your weapon and then sliding it inside of your waist-band. That’s it. I wore a Kel-Tec P-11 for nine solid hours, in and out of a vehicle, in and out of stores and restaurants and an art gallery, and finally while lowering and raising a ski boat on a lift and I couldn’t detect any un-wanted movement.
American-made and available in 17 sizes to fit almost any sidearm, the Sticky follows the principle of total simplicity: figure out what you want done, look for materials that will allow you to do it, and then execute. It offers Level One retention with convenience I have not seen coupled with its level of reliability: insert weapon in holster, insert holster in waistband, cease worrying about where your sidearm is. The Sticky with a Kel-Tec offered concealability on par with other IWB systems, but like Ron’s Concealed Carry Chest Holster, the magic happens when it is combined with a subcompact. My Smith & Wesson Terrier became invisible with a sport coat, and my LCP disappeared beneath an untucked t-shirt.
Draws were crisp and smooth from the hip, cross-draw, and even from the small of the back. (I was especially interested in how “Sticky” it would truly be back there, and I was not let down.) To simulate purse draws, I placed holstered autos and revolvers in a shoulder bag filled with my teaching materials and as soon as my hand was indexed, the firearm was on target as quickly as I can present from my duty holster. In the smaller models, presentation from a pants or coat pocket is equally simple and fast.
Reholstering is performed by removing the holster from your waistband, pocket, or bag; re-inserting your weapon; and re-inserting the complete unit back where you want it. This would be an ideal holster for the carrier who doesn’t wish to fiddle with belts or shoulder straps, but would rather have the option of securely carrying a sidearm in their waistband with minimal fuss. At its price point, I haven’t found an IWB or pocket holster that can beat it.
Both of these holsters proved to be excellent choices for both armed citizens and off-duty or plainclothes law enforcement officers. Not only do I intend to integrate the Ron’s Concealed Carry Chest Holster into my duty gear as a backup weapon carry system, both it and the Sticky Holster will find their way into my normal carry routine for when I require a truly deep-concealment rig. Moreover, at these prices, I’ve also likely completed at least a third of my Christmas shopping.
It can sometimes be a bit cumbersome to reholster with a soft-sided holster. But this should not be a concern in a defensive situation, because you should not be in a hurry to reholster.
Consider this: If the situation you were in was so dangerous that you felt the need to draw your firearm in defense of your life, why on Earth would you be in a hurry to put that gun away?
Keep your gun out in a position of low ready. Move to a position of tactical advantage—either cover or concealment, then call the police.
If you find the situation is so un-safe that you can’t stay where you are and wait for the police, the question again becomes, “Why put the gun away?” Keep it in your hand and move tactically to a better location.
When the police arrive to take your statement, place your gun on the ground, follow their instructions, and reholster only when it is safe to do so.
The holster is there to keep your firearm safe and secure until you need it. Reholstering is a secondary function that should not be hurried.