MINIMALIST Holster Alternatives

CCW Breakaways are actual trousers, jeans or shorts that have…

CCW Breakaways are actual trousers, jeans or shorts that have adjustment features that allow for the carrying of various sized handguns.

I’ll have to admit that after some 36 years in law enforcement, a lot of the shine has worn off the penny, as far as packing around a handgun is concerned—especially off-duty. I am sure that most civilians who legally carry eventually come to similar conclusions.

However, I at least follow the first rule of gunfighting, which is to have a gun. Along those same lines comes the subject of concealed-carry holsters. I favor a high-ride, belt-carry style rig of the “pancake” variety with a thumb-break safety snap or open-topped with a retention device built in to the holster. Do I always carry my off-duty gun like this? The simple answer is no; big guns plus big holsters are heavy and sometimes uncomfortable. You almost have to adopt a standard “uniform” to wear them. That means a jacket, photographer’s vest, shirt worn outside the waistband or similar apparel. All that takes planning, which takes time and we are all usually pretty short of that commodity. So what happens is the gun, holster, et al is too inconvenient, heavy and uncomfortable, so it is left at home when you run down to the mini-mart for a gallon of milk and come face-to-face with a pistol-toting, bad guy robbing the place and bent on violence against you. Repeat gunfighting rule number one.

So what are the options if you want to securely carry a handgun without strapping on a big piece of leather, faux leather or Kydex to hold your sidearm? For these situations, there are some good “minimalist” options out there.


One option is produced by Barami Corporation of Detroit, Michigan. It is a set of black, hard plastic grips that incorporated a paddle-like extension on the right panel that form a clip. Called the Barami Hip-Grip, the flared extension or hook is placed over the waistband and/or belt as the gun is inserted between the trousers and shirt. Another variation on the theme is the Clip-Grip from DeSantis Gunhide. It is fabricated of black reinforced engineering grade polymer and is made for the J-frame, round butt S&W revolver. This model is very ergonomically designed with finger grooves and checkering, plus a little gold DeSantis medallion embedded in the side of the grip panels. It will also allow the gun to be inserted into most holsters if need be.

Besides grips with integral clips, you can also get detachable clips that fasten to the handgun in various ways and do essentially the same thing—hold the gun securely in the waistband. One of DeSantis’ newest products is called the Rail Ryder. This is a black composite clip that will mount on any pistol that has a Picatinny rail. The rugged rail mount with a simple locking system has a hook that is placed over the waistband or belt. It attaches and detaches without much effort and weighs next to nothing.

On the far right is an S&W Model 64 fitted with a questionable “rubber-band retention technique.” More sound methods along those same lines are the Barami Hip-Grip (center) and DeSantis Clip-Grip (left) for small frame revolvers.

A more permanent clip-style arrangement comes from Skyline Toolworks and is called the Clipdraw. One I have used for quite some time mounts on the 1911 pistol and has a plate that fits under the grip panels, utilizing the screwed-on grip to hold it in place. Made of spring steel, it can be had with a black powder-coat or satin-nickel finish and is for right-side attachment only. They also make them for snubbie .38 revolvers, Glocks, and there’s a “universal” model that will work on many handguns and has a mounting plate that bonds to the gun with adhesive. The clip itself is fastened to this plate with two screws, so it can be removed if you want to use a holster instead.

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  • Thomas Dougherty

    Bullshit tease