T Nation

Combat Handguns, Rigs and Positions

Over in the .380 thread Robert and I started discussing different carry positions of our handguns and the types of rigs were carry them in. Not wanting to hi-jack Bismark’s thread, I thought we could all discuss our carry rigs for the street and work. I may be able to offer advice on different holsters and carry methods, since, I have wasted a tremendous amount of money on different types of holsters for work and play. One thing I have learned is everything is a compromise and I now am experienced enough to marry the holster to the environment I am operating in. Talking handguns for self defense is never wasted. I would appreciate all comments and pictures of your weapons, carry rigs, and why you decided on your preferred method of carry.

work is really simple for me , since, I don’t have to worry about concealment, since, 99% the people i am around are armed to the max. For work, I use three different holsters, BlackHawk, Fobus, and Safariland. If I am flying that day, I use my BH attached to my vest for easy access, since, I fly with the ANA and I want quick access to a weapon, since, you cannot trust that one them is not a Taliban asshole. Most crew chiefs want the muzzle of you carbine on the floor for safety, so, I hold my between my legs, which makes quick access mute.

So, I attach the Blackhawk to my chest on my vest for quick access. The rig below is the same as mine, except I use a Blackhawk Sepra attachment.

For range work and when I wear my heavy armor, I use a Safailand drop holster, which allows more freedom of movement, since, I am expecting to use the carbine as the primary weapon, all space on the front of the vest is carrying M-6 mags and there is no room for the chest carry. For the “office” days or for CI briefs, I use the Focus.

Personal/ States carry:

I have learned to match the holster to the environment and although the hip carry is my primary, I do use a cross-draw on special occasions. I am partial to Desantis holsters and this is what I use for my Glocks and 1911’s.

<img src="//discourse-cloud-file-uploads.s3.dualstack.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/tnation/uploads/default/original/3X/2/1/21dd559f8dd607576670fb49b5dcaad0b61285f6.jpg" width=“300”



My lady friend is a ballet instructor and each year during the holidays, she usually has a couple of students who make the grade to perform in the Nutcracker, so, in the interest of keeping peace, I have to attend several performances.The venue was built in the 1930’s and they have tried to keep the place as close to original as possible, which means the seats are horrible for any type of fast movement, its like sitting on a air bladder. This makes behind the hip carry nearly impossible to fast access. I carry a Mitch Rosen holster for this place and any other type of movie theater I am in, since, it allows you to draw and fire from a sitting position. The major draw back is the gun is in front of your body and if you have to go hands on, then it is easy access for your attacker. The second draw back, is it places my spare mag behind my hip and is not that fast for speed reload. Compromise.


For easy of carry, I often use a Yaqui Slide, since, I used if for training at Gunsite years ago and since, it is behind the hip, I am fairly comfortable about no retention capability, however, this is a nostalgia carry for me and would not recommend it for a novice shooter.

When in the states, I try to bowhunt and river canoe as much as possible. I have a canoe/kayak hybrid that I take on overnight floats and the best holster I have found and the best position for carry, is the chest holster. I can highly recommend the Kenai and have one for my Ruger Super Red Hawk and my Glock 41. This method of carry allows for freedom of movement for paddling and very fast access if I stumble upon a meth lab or some other two legged predator. Well worth the money for hikers and back country hunters. Too bad it don’t blend into the ballet crowd.

I also use a different chest rig for my Glock, which , I had custom made. This is the closest picture I could find:

I try to bowhunt as much as possible and since I used traditional gear, I have to be aware of where the drawn bow string is going to intersect with my chest. The chest rig wont cut it here, but, nothing works better than the old WW11 tanker shoulder holster. It keeps the gun at a good angle, but, still allows easy access. I took mine to a car fabric shop and had extra wide straps made, since, the skinny straps don’t work after 6 or 8 hours of wear. Can’t beat the classics.

Ok, that’s enough of me running my mouth, what about you?

Great post idaho.

My two major “types” are basically range and concealed.

For range work I just use a Blade Tech belt holster with a straight drop. Really any decent kydex, 0 retention, gamer rig is fine for that. I don’t go into gun golf enough to make the differences in the IDPA and USPSA holsters matter enough. I just look for something that doesn’t both chew up my belts and draws ok. This is not an outside the waistband concealment holster, just whatever their “gamer”/range package holster was when I bought it. It came with a double mag pouch as well.

I also have a Comp-tac double mag pouch that I can use for games/range practice/classes. It is actually quite a bit faster to work from because not only does it not tuck the mags into my side, it cants them away. Of course that makes it even worse for concealment.

Clothes/dress requirements matter here the most. I am a small guy, and I don’t have any type of credential other than a carry permit. So if anyone who is apt to get overly excited at the sight of a holstered firearm makes me, I can expect a larger helping of grief than someone who can say “It’s ok, I’m a cop.”

Tucked in shirt carry
I use an Alabama Holster Company pocket holster. It does a good job of keeping the gun stable in the pocket and an ok job of breaking up the gun’s outline. Being fitted kydex it does an admirable job of keeping lint out of the gun. What I like about the design is there is both an aggressive “hook” to catch on the draw AND a thumb tab to break the retention of the holster.

There are a lot of designs that feature either a hook or a friction material to catch on the pocket and a couple that have a manual tab, but after using the Alabama design I think getting both is the right answer. Between the two I have never had the holster fail to get disengaged during the draw. Using the thumb tab or the hook primarily sort of changes depending on exact pocket depth, size, and the cut of the pants but this is the best solution I have found for pocket carry.

I also have a couple of “tuckable” holsters. Of those the Comp-tac M-tac is still a serviceable choice for behind the hip carry. It does an ok job at concealment and a great job at being comfortable. The issue for me is a tucked in shirt really slows down the draw to the point where getting a hand into a pocket and wrenching something out of it is just as fast, or faster. Yes, even seated. Neither is great for “in fight” access. End result is my M-tac has been moved to being primarily a bedside/drawer loaded gun “trigger guard cover”. It is great at this as the leather backing can act as a thumb break and we had the conversation about Glocks not having safeties.

Untucked T-shirt Size that mostly fits
I have a Small Gun Holster from Darkstar Gear that does yeoman’s work in this role. It is comfortable, secure, and because it anchors with a “Pull the Dot” style Blade Tac loop also manages to be “easy(ish) on off” while not coming loose when pressure testing/rolling. Tom at Darkstar makes this design for many of the small, single stack autos and the Smith J-frames and Ruger LCR’s. To be honest I like this holster so much I would check to make sure I could get one before picking a “not a real gun” size gun.

It is an appendix/felony carry holster. As a bonus the holster is non-bulky enough that the entire holster and handgun can get jammed into a pocket enough to stay there. That is a factor for the “I have a handgun and I have to use a public rest room” question that some folks fail spectacularly be dropping and grabbing for loaded handguns, or leaving a gun in the can.

Untucked Loose T-shirt on up to Gun Burka/Whatever the tactical name is for an untucked button up shirt. Either flannel or one of those Columbia ones
Current answer here is a Darkstar Gear Appendix Inside the Waist Band holster for a Glock. It works pretty damn well. In an XL T-shirt I can hide a Glock 26 just fine. If I go full Slob/Burka I can carry a 19.

No issues with durability or retention, and there is a decent amount of adjustibility with regards to ride height and even a possibility of a bit of cant/angling so if you are having trouble finding your carry sweet spot this holster is very forgiving. This holster is also adjustable for amount of friction/retention and I have mine cranked up a bet.

Both my Darkstar Gear holsters have full sweat guards as I have come to prefer those quite a bit. They shield my skin or undershirt from getting cut the hell up from my rear sights. Yeah, laugh all you want. I know, warrior through it, but fucking Warren and Trijicon seem like they are in a war to see who can get the stabbiest rear sight angles onto a sight set. I also like that I can use the sweat guard to lever the holster body such that the barrel can point away from me the whole time I am holstering.

The only modification I have made to the two holsters is to use some adhesive velcro from Hobby Lobby to attach a Dr. Scholls Gel Heel Wedge to the backe/barrel aspect of the holster. This cushions the hard kydex and gives a bit of a wedge to help tuck the butt of the gun further into my body. Being able to move the pad around is a help because the exact “right” spot can vary a bit depending on clothing, or just how fat and bloated I feel. Again, stop snickering. Yes, I have a fat holster/gun combo. It is when I have to resort to the fitted t-shirt gun with larger shirts. Stop judging.

Honorable Mention
I have a Raven Concealment Vanguard 2 that does everything they say it will. It is minimalist and tuckable. It is also more secure than I think it should be. It has never let go of the gun when I didn’t want it to, but the “only over the trigger guard” design still gives me pause for serious use. That said it is reversable so I recommend everyone with a Glock buys one and sets it up for support side carry in case they get one or more fingers on there dominant hand dislocated and go months trying to rehab ROM and strength back into it.

I have a bullhide belt from The Beltman that is awesome. Unfortunately I am told his customer service has gone south so I can’t really recommend using him as strongly as I used to.

Wilderness Tactical Instructors Belt- I love this fucking thing. It is infinitely adjustable, which matters a lot more when various holsters/guns have to interact with various pants on various days. I have the 5 stitch without the liner. It is plenty rigid. Buy with confidence.

Fuck Off Tools
I have an ESEE Izula in a Darkstar gear horizontal belt sheath on pretty much anytime I don’t have to tuck in my shirt. The small blade carried centerline(ish) journey got started for me based on an old member of this forum, DevilDogJim. He recommended/used a Clinch Pick which sent me on a search to find one and try it out. I have a real Clinch Pick and Trainer and am both sold on the concept and design of the knife. However my reading of PA’s knife laws seems to indicate that trying to explain “lawful self defense” as “valid use” is a “beat the rap, but never the ride” matter in PA so a purpose belt weapon is less attractive to me than a great utility knife.

My Izula sees plenty of utility use, my Clinch pick was nearly as big a uni-tasker as a firearm.

Mag Carriers
When I was carrying revolvers I was guilty of tucking speed strips into pockets. Sometimes I would carry speed loaders, again in pockets.

I still end up pocketing a spare mag for my Kahr occasionally depending on what I am wearing. If I have an untucked shirt though I am using Kytex mag carriers for both Glock and Kahr magazines. These are not competition style carriers and they do a good job of tucking the mag into my body.

Other/most important
I carry a small flashlight in a pocket where I can reach it with my support side hand. Currently I have a StreamLight Pro-Tac 2L which uses lithium batteries and has 200 lumen and 80 lumen modes. I like mine just fine, and got a good deal on it.

If I were buying again I might pick the version that takes AA batteries instead though. It is a little weaker, but I would be free of the fire/explosion concerns associated with lithium cells of different charges. I would damn sure not use rechargeable lithium batteries unless I were more dialed in than I am. I carry the fucking thing in my front pocket most of the time. I have accidently turned it on and my first sign that it had been running its 200 lumen beam was a “Why the hell do my boxer shorts feel like a sauna?” feeling. Fuck a fire in that scenario.

Anyway. If I could only pick one thing from the above list it would be the flashlight. It gets used constantly and has solved plenty of “need to see better” problems, and being able to light up a corner may have kept me out of needing some of the other gear on a couple of occasions.

Train Hard, Stay Safe.


Robert A

Sorry to hijack the thread, but what boat are you paddling? I’m thinking about getting another to compliment my canoe, but don’t want to go full kayak.

I’m Canadian and thus have nothing to add regarding combat carry. Sorry.

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I have a Folbot two person hybrid and a Mad River Adventure, 14 foot. The Mad River for larger rivers and lakes and the Folbot for the smaller rivers and streams.

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Didn’t Deliverance teach us all about being a bowhunter that goes on river boating trips?

To Watchdog,

No joke carry a damn flashlight. I realize it may sound like I am walking around with way more gear than normal, but that and a decent knife are daily use items. Folder and flashlight.

To pushharder,

If you can handle the belt space the Kytex, that is the brand, mag pouches do a decent job, and come cheap enough to replace.


If you are at all handy you can cut a “pocket” mag holster out of milk/juice jug plastic and form it pretty easy with minimal heat. One thing about pocketing spare magazines as a daily thing is sometimes dust, mint wrappers (anyone makes a crack about me being so old I go to movie theaters to unwrap hard candy can fuck off), lint, etc. can find their way into or on the feed lips/1st round. That can create a remedial action stoppage. Not that it would ever happen to you. Because you likely don’t suck at laundry as bad as I do.


Robert A

I usually have a Spyderco Delica Wave in my front pocket and I’ve been known to be carry a Fenix from time to time. That’s about the best I can do legally.

I never gave much thought to folding kayaks, but they would probably be the perfect second boat. My canoe is a 16 foot Prospector that is damn near indestructible, but a folding kayak would fit on the racks of my ATV for those secluded lakes… Thanks man.

Thanks for the great info guys. I am a novice carrier, and appreciate the insight. I only recently got my concealed carry permit, and my first rig is a Ruger LCP carried in an Alien Gear inside the waist “tuckable” holster. It is extremely adjustable in terms of ride height and carry angle, but I am still figuring out my preference. I also own a Beretta 92F in .40 S&W, but thought I wouldn’t want to carry that bulk consistently. After reading some of Idaho’s posts I am re-thinking that. I will consider the posts above and try to choose a suitable option for concealed hip carry.

Stop trying to seem nonthreatening. Your country has positioned 90 plus percent of its population along our Northern border. We know you are up to something.

Spyderco makes a really cool drone/trainer for the Delica if you are interested in such things.

To idaho,

What about back up weapons? Do you have an opinion on second guns? I realize you have been swimming in waters where M-6 is primary, handgun is secondary for a long time now. Actually, it might be high explosive primary.

Anything on backup carry? Weapon selection, mode of carry, etc.?


Robert A

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When I worked the street, I always carried a second weapon. Now, my handgun is my second weapon. I have three handguns for back up carry. For uniform carry, I primarily carried a Charter Arms .44 Bulldog, customized like the one below, with a trigger job, 2.5 inch barrel, and bobbed hammer. Most of the cops I worked with carried the Walther PPK’s, but, that pistol was a .380 and was like trying to wrap your hand around a pipe fitting.

For summer wear, I wore it under the uniform shirt attached to my vest, similar to the pictures. I used to use an ankle holster, until the gun came out during a scuffle and that was the end of that experiment. I also carried a Colt Cobra in the same manner.

In the winter, when you could wear a flight jacket, I wore a small shoulder holster with the inverted draw.It was ok, but , then I took my jacket to a tailor and had a piece of leather sworn into the from left pocket, attached a Velcro closure, and, carried the .44 in left jacket pocket.

Shoulder holsters make me nervous in street work, since the gun was there for anyone to draw, but, there are trade offs in everything. I still have the two revolvers, but, if I am carrying a second weapon in the states, I usually carry a Glock 26, in a light shoulder rig, with the primary weapon behind the right hip.

For LE work, especially in uniform, I would highly recommend carrying a second weapon. You just have to realize that it has to be secure, and if secure, it will be slow to draw. Any edge, is still an edge. Now, in the states, unless I am having a really paranoid day, I just carry my primary, two magazines, and a folding knife. Since, I don’t wear a uniform anymore, I try to remain as bland as possible, and unless, you are wearing an ankle holster, it is asking a lot concealing two weapons. Compromise.

It seems we’ve kissed and made up.

There is a lot of wisdom here.

I never warmed to ankle holsters, but I think that is from having so many years of doing things with my legs that would be bound to dislodge the gun that I could see the mode of carry going especially bad for me.

Thanks for the insights.


Robert A

There is a local IDPA club near where I live in the states and they hold a local match once a month. The last time I was in, I went and shot their course. I used a stock Glock model 41, Desantis holster, and Kydex mag carriers. The course was nothing as elaborate as the finals in the video, but, offered some challenging shots. I would recommend if you are going to start carrying concealed, then, finding a local IDPA club is a good way to test out gear, ammo, and shooting ability under time. The membership rate , (i believe) is 40 dollars a year. Not to sound elitist, but, just like the posted video, there were a large percentage of overweight shooters, both male and female. Combat pistol shooting or any shooting is a martial art, so, not preparing your body for battle is beyond me.



Do you have a preference between IDPA and USPSA. I know there has been some criticism of both IDPA’s rules on how to shoot stages and also the “thou shalt not criticize IDPA” edict made recently. On the other hand USPSA is purely gun golf with no pretenses of tactics so there is a ton of criticism about it as well.

Would you support one over the other or are you in the “whichever you can get to more often/whichever local group is a better bunch of guys and gals” club?

The idea of fitness standards comes up often on these boards, but it seems like it doesn’t so much in real life. I know a bunch of dedicated lifters, a bunch of dedicated martial artists, some shooters, a few swimmers/runners/bikers, but not many who fit all those categories.

Also, how do you like the Glock 41? I have heard some gushing reviews about how the longer slide helps sight radius. .45 definitely benefits from a longer barrel/most loadings suffer in shorter barrels compared to 9mm and .40 so that seems like a huge plus as well. I have read some reports that the thinner slide seems to make the gun “snappier” in recoil though.


Robert A

Due to work and leave schedules, I have only attended 3 shoots in last 4 or 5 years, so, I really don’t have have a lot of experience between the two. If I had to pick one, it would be IDPA, simply, because it uses more street practical weapons. I usually go to just see what everyone else is carrying and observe their gear. I actually think they are both just social events, since, real training is on another level. ( kill houses, open ranges with movement drills , stress, transition drills, etc) . I have never shot a 3 gun match but their courses seem to be set up with more movement involved.

I am really pleased with my Glock 41. The longer barrel is a joy to shoot and accuracy, point ability, reliability are excellent. At this time, I have only made one upgrade, installing Express Night sights from MidwayUSA.com. The front sight is large and allows you to get on target fast at 25 yards and under. At 50 yards the front sight actually covers the falling plates and you have to take a 6 o’clock or 12 o,clock hold depending on how the pistol is sighted in… But, anything under and you on fast. really like them for the street. I did not find the recoil any sharper than a Colt Commander, but, mileage seems to different with everyone considering the issue of recoil.

in other news, Colt is introducing a 1911 competition pistol for under a thousand dollars. Curious to see one, since I am lusting after a Kimber TLE.


Express Sights:

Colt 1911 Competition:

Oh Sweet Baby Odin, the infamous XS big dots.

I remember talking about those in Bad Ideas. If you like them, and keep them on your gun you will be in the minority as a dialed in shooter. I keep getting talked out of them by folks who say they last about a year before the shine comes off and then it is back to notch and post. Still, every time I see them I like them. I really, really want to try the express set up on a shotgun. I think it could be better than a ghost ring if it happens to regulate for slugs.

I am not bagging on the high visibility front idea at all. As I type this I have a set of Ameriglo CAP sights on the Glock 26 in my waistband. So far I love them.

I have heard and read nothing good about recent Kimber quality. They were THE set up from the factory 1911 for a while, but now they seem to be synonymous with poor quality control. I think Springfield Armory is supposed to be the new go to for factory 1911’s with the sights, trigger, improved controls extras.

The Colt is really interesting. I am also really excited Colt is releasing a factory rifle with a rail and no A-fram/front sight post, it also has a mid length gas system. I really like the idea of a Colt 6920 OM2 without the front sight post as well. It seems Colt is at least looking at the market.


Robert A

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I have two from Bullshidebelts that you might find useful.

For tactical belts for range and work: