Saturday, March 13, 2010

Summertime Carry

Ah, the seasons are changing. The air is warmer, the days are longer, the sun is sunnier, and the criminals are still criminals.

With the increasing temperature outside, it is getting more and more difficult to keep my outside-the-waistband (OWB) holstered Ruger SP101 as concealed as I'd prefer it to be. Sure, I throw a vest over my long t-shirt, but even then there are occasions where I feel like the gun is wearing me instead of me wearing the gun.

Last summer, I carried my concealed pistol around in an Uncle Mike's inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster. It was nice to have the gun as tight to my body as possible. Even with just a t-shirt, the weapon did not print against the fabric at all. That's one advantage to having a spare tire around the mid-section; it cuts down on the printing, LOL!!!

All joking aside though, I need to address this issue for 2010. My old fabric Uncle Mike's holster did it's job, but it also did the bare minimum. With only one plastic clip, the holster could rock back and forth. Being fabric, it would collapse if I had to draw my gun for any reason, like getting into a car. In order to reholster, I had to either unbuckle my belt (because the belt provided the weapon retention) or jimmy with my holster and gun with two hands to get it back into place. This became more and more annoying as time goes on.

A good holster allows the user to reholster with one hand only. This leaves the other hand free to do any other task there may be. This means that the holster must not collapse when the weapon is drawn. Another good holster trait is support and stability. I hate carrying my weapon in a holster that can rock forwards or back. For one thing, it makes me feel less secure. Secondly, this makes it so the gun could work its way loose. If the only point of retention is a belt, and that belt isn't tight enough to keep the gun from moving, then it is not the best retention you can have.

Come to think of it, I only bought the Uncle Mike's IWB holster because I needed a holster until I could buy a better holster. Well, I did buy a better holster. I'm 100% satisfied with its performance. The problem is that when I bought the holster, we were heading into the winter season and IWB carry wasn't as important. During the winter, I have jackets, coats, sweatshirts, and vests that I can wear to help cover up the bulge on the side of my hip. I'm sure that if I was going into a summer month, I would have considered more IWB options, and indeed I did. However, I was a little put off with my experience with the Uncle Mike's, and that may have swayed my position.
Well, I'm going back to IWB carry. Well, not 100% of the time. I still have my Kramer OWB horsehide holster for my Ruger SP101. But being as I need my gun to be a little closer to my body in the summertime, I have to address the need to go IWB, at least for the summer months. This time, however, I'm going to switch gears and carry my little pistol that could instead of my SP101. Yep, I'm going to carry my Ruger LCP as a primary gun for while. Having 13 rounds of .380 auto at my disposal between the gun and an extra magazine are comforting. But what I'm really after is an experiment on a holster design that it intriguing.
It is the Crossbreed brand holster. The model for the Ruger LCP is the "mini-tuck" holster. Crossbreed makes a tuckable holster design that actually allows the wearer to tuck in his or her shirt over the firearm, making it even more concealable. The only thing anybody will see are a couple of clips over a belt, if they notice at all. The ability to tuck in a shirt means that even if I'm wearing a shirt and tie, I can go without a blazer jacket and still have the pistol completely concealed. Other IWB and OWB holsters require a shirt, jacket, sweater, or other garment to cover the gun on the outside. So, even if I was to tuck in a shirt, I'd still have to wear something over my pants to keep the gun out of view. This is why I'm very interested in the Crossbreed line of holsters.

I've seen this holster up close too. A coworker brought in a super-tuck deluxe to show me. I was impressed with the design and quality of work put into it. Crossbreed holsters are not manufactured on an assembly line in some plant where 50 people could touch it on its way out the door. They are hand made, one at a time, in a small leatherworks shop.

Crossbreed Supertuck Deluxe

You can see that the design of the holster offers a lot more that being able to tuck your shirt in. The holster itself utilizes a large leather panel (cowhide or horsehide) to spread the load of the weapon over a larger area of the body. This distributes the contact area evenly and increases comfort while reducing fatigue. One of my pet peeves about other IWB holsters is that after a long day of carrying, I feel sore right where the gun contacts my body. It's kind of like wearing a pair of shoes that just aren't wide enough for your feet. Yeah, sure at first it doesn't seem like much, but after a long day of walking, your dogs are sore! The same holds true for carrying a 32 ounce chunk of steel against your skin. Another feature I like is the utilization of two tuckable clips. These hold the holster in place on your belt. With the load points spread far apart, the chance of the weapon rocking back and forth... well lets just say that there's a snowball's chance in hell the gun will rock back and fort with this design. It is rock solid! Another feature, and a big plus in my book, is the actual holster. It is made from a polymer material called Kydex. It is heat formed to fit the specific weapon of choice. In the holster world, one size fits all is not an advantage. A holster formed to your particular weapon is a must for proper weapon retention, fit, and safety. In the first picture, you can see the Ruger LCP retained at the trigger guard, the trigger itself, and the ejection port on the slide. This keeps the weapon in place and ensures that the trigger will not move when the weapon is holstered. This is a big consideration because most of my pistols have no mechanical safety other than a long double-action trigger pull. Additionally, the holster retention is not affected by the belt. The holster will not collapse when the weapon is drawn and belt retention does not affect weapon retention.

As I've said before, I'm experimenting with this holster design. For the experiment, I want to utilize my Ruger LCP. The reason being is that if the holster cannot accommodate my needs with the smallest pistol I own, then how am I to expect it to handle with a larger, less concealable pistol? I do remain hopeful that it will work however, given the holster costs about $70. Yes, it is expensive. Most good holsters are. Buying a holster is like buying a guitar; you get what you pay for. If you buy a $20 guitar, you get $20 worth of music. Buying a cheap holster gets you the benefits of a cheap holster. My Uncle Mike's holster was only $10.

Should I enjoy the mini-tuck for my LCP, I will look into a super-tuck for my SP-101. I still enjoy the firepower that fire-breathing revolver brings to the table.


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