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3 Top Thigh Rig Holsters and Why They Work So Well

3 Top Thigh Rig Holsters and Why They Work So Well

Heavy-duty retention thigh rigs from Safariland, BlackHawk and DeSantis offering enhanced comfort and lightning-fast weapon access.

Story written by Sara Ahrens:

In an attempt to professionalize police departments, many police administrators develop policies and make decisions that have more to do with enhancing the public’s perception of its officers and cost than addressing the officers’ needs.

Policies on uniform and equipment standards may seem trivial to civilians, but to a sworn officer, they are critical. They often spell out authorized equipment. Some agencies ban militaristic gear for fear of projecting an image of force. This image is contrary to the community-oriented policing platforms for which they advocate. In a perfect world, the job, conditions and an individual officer’s needs would dictate these decisions because they have an undeniable impact on LEO safety, health and morale.

Policies that administrators should revisit are those that outline authorized holsters. Typically, vest-mounted and thigh rig holsters have been reserved for “tactical” officers, but these holster options may have real applications for the line officer. My first experience considering other options was when I was issued a thigh rig as a SWAT operator.


Optimal Positioning

When I first donned a thigh rig holster, it was a significant improvement over every holster I had ever worn on my waist. I immediately noticed that my strong-side draw was improved. Females typically have shorter torsos than males, so the combination of holster placement and barrel length forces some female officers to cant their bodies to clear leather. Male firearms instructors recognize this dilemma. They’ve recommended to me and other females to select firearms with shorter barrel lengths and low-rise holsters. I tried this setup, but later invested in a firearm and holster that provided more comfort. Canting my body was a comparatively smaller order!

I suspect that little explanation is necessary to explain why shooting a short-barreled .40-caliber firearm is less enjoyable than shooting one with a longer barrel. What’s less obvious is the discomfort endured wearing a poorly placed holster for eight to 12 hours a day. Wearing a low-rise holster can be downright painful! Sitting in my squad car became an excruciating experience because the holster would dig into my hip. I had perpetual bruising on my hip, and I found myself wrapping my fingers between the holster and my hip while on calls. I did this to alleviate the pressure point and to create a cushion. After several hours, I would to experience pain and burning in my hip, which resurfaces to this day.

This was unsafe and unhealthy, so I got rid of it. I switched to a mid-rise holster, which was tolerable. When exterior vest covers became authorized, the vest interfered with the mid-rise holster. I sacrificed the comfort of an exterior vest cover to avoid the discomfort of a low-rise holster.

Back issues are common health-related problems for police officers. The usual cause is heavy, rigid duty belts. Reducing the weight of the duty belt and distributing it evenly is one prevention method. Firearms and ammunition account for much of that weight. Using a thigh rig distributed the weight between my leg and waist, providing me with immediate lower back relief.

Thigh rigs also offer smaller officers valuable real estate on their belts. A typical line officer may carry 10 or more items on their duty belt. Positioning these tools so they’re both accessible and comfortable is challenging. Smaller officers sometimes have to make a choice about what equipment to carry on their belt. Thigh rigs provide needed space and may prevent injury and time off by properly positioning equipment away from the spine.

I recently received three thigh rig holsters available to law enforcement officers: Safariland’s Self-Locking System (SLS), the BlackHawk Level III SERPA and the DeSantis Tap Out.

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