*Beltless Concealment Holsters*
By: CJ
29 June 2009

Sometimes, especially in hot climates, a cover garment stands out or is inappropriate, rendering most belt holsters useless for concealment. If you're in an office environment where shirts have to be tucked in for professionalism, options are limited even further, as inside-the-pants holsters often still have to be attached to your belt somehow to be held up.

Within that sort of parameter, the only option is to have a holster that is attached directly to your body and is held on by tension (elastic, velcro). There are several traditional options for this type of carry:

Ankle holsters. Those who use these consistently seem to report that they conceal well, but they are slow to access and are limited as far as what size/weight gun they can accomodate. I have no real knowledge of them, so I won't write any further.

Pocket holsters. I have no experience with these, but some people carry in them frequently. Whether it works depends on clothing, pocket depth/size, gun size, etc. They are a good convenient option for small guns such as the Kel-Tec P32.

Under-shirt holsters.... undershirts with a shoulder holster built in. I have no experience with them, but they probably should be washed frequently to avoid odor, contributing to a relatively short (?) service life, or the owner having to have multiple shirts./


Kramer's version is pictured

Smart-Carry or "Thunderwear" holsters. These are designed to hold the butt of the pistol at or just below waist level. People are generally reluctant to stare at another person's pelvis, so they are in a good slot for hiding things. A shirt can be left tucked in under the holster so that it doesn't get in the way, or it can cover the holster. Access tends to be very slow and awkward in exchange for the good concealment. I used a SmartCarry holster for four and a half years, and had to replace it once during that time due to wear. Some people have also used this to carry along their side or appendix area, rather than in front as designed. I comfortably carried a spare magazine in the SmartCarry with no problems. It may be replaceable with a more versatile belly band at the cost of a little more heat.

Personal experience: The SmartCarry brand holster is pretty well put together, and some duct tape along the outside bottom (where the corners of the front of the slide will stick out) goes a long way towards reducing wear & tear.


http://www.smartcarry.com

Belly bands. These holsters are made by a variety of manufacturers, but all fit the same description...a holster or gun-shaped pouch, attached to broad elastic band, typically secured with velcro, designed to be worn in the belly/waist area. These have more flexibility location-wise than the SmartCarry option, as they are easy to rotate around the body or move up and down to different heights. The broadness of the band makes it fairly stable (assuming it's the right size and tight enough), and it can be covered by making sure that whatever shirt is over it is slightly loose, so that it bunches loosely near the bottom, instead of being pulled tight around the gun. Access is faster than the SmartCarry because I don't have to get past a belt and waistband. Move shirt, establish grip, draw. If needed, some belly bands can also be worn where the SmartCarry holster is. The tightness of your belt and clothing helps keep the gun pressed more against your body and stable. One downside is that the relatively thin bellyband material provides little cushioning or padding, making the floorplate of the spare pistol magazine uncomfortable to wear in the magazine pocket for both belly bands I tried.

Personal experience:
-The "Defender" brand belly band is well put-together and comfortable (soft, not rough). It doesn't come in white, but seems like it's going to go the distance (I've been wearing it approx 6 months). The thumb break is optional. This is the belly band I wear and recommend.


http://www.activeprogear.com/defender.html



Brands Rubicon members have recommended:
-Bianchi. I don't think this is being made any more, and I was only able to find one unclear picture of it on Google Image Search.



-Galco belly band. Apparently bulkier, but also looks very secure.

A Belly Band I do not recommend: -"The Original Belly Band" is poorly put-together. The stitching started visibly being strained less than 5 minutes after I first put it on. Also, the stiching and joint areas are rough (ie uncomfortable). They did give me a refund.

There are a number of other brands of belly band on the market, but I have no personal experience with them.

The proper holster is the one that provides you with the proper blend of accessibility, concealment, and comfort for your situation. Having a slow-to-access small gun with you is worlds apart from having a .45 that you left at home because carrying it all day was too uncomfortable or would show too easily.
CJ



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