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.
A year or so ago I was introduced to the Versacarry IWB Carry System. The early model was rather simple and I used it quite a bit with my Kahr CW40 pistol. They have since come out with a second generation version that offers better fit for different bore sizes, plus a triggerguard that can be added to prevent pulling the trigger when the gun is withdrawn. Once more, this is a clip-type unit made of black plastic resin. It incorporates a hook that fastens over the waistband/belt that places the handgun on the inside of the Versacarry device. An angled bottom flange molded into the unit creates a clamping action to help keep the gun secure as it rides on the barrel retention rod that’s inserted into the muzzle. This rod attaches to the flange with a stainless steel screw and the rod itself is fabricated from red Delrin plastic, which has natural lubrication properties and will not damage barrel rifling. The rod is made slightly undersize so it will fit snuggly without interfering with the draw and comes in five different rod diameters with each rod having a unique color for quick identification (purple .25, orange .32, yellow .380/9mm, red .40, and blue .45). There are also clip length options so the gun can be tucked into the waistband at various depths. My suggestion and the manufacturer’s instructions is always remove the unit to reinsert the handgun, then put the whole thing back inside your waistband rather than try to reinsert the gun with the unit on.
Pocket carriers are one of my favorite modes of concealed carry, especially in warmer weather, and are both effective and convenient. One thing that has really helped to prevent “printing” of the gun in the pocket is today’s fashions. Cargo pants and shorts with their floppy legs and large exterior pockets will hide most guns that can be packed in a pocket carrier. I mostly use my pocket carriers for J-frame revolvers and one of my favorites comes from Tuff Products. Called the Pocket-Roo, it not only has a pouch for the handgun, but just to the rear is an integral smaller-sized pouch for a spare magazine or Quick Strip ammo carrier for revolvers. It is black, made of a vinyl-like material and has a rough exterior to help retain it in the pocket. It comes in nine different sizes to accommodate many different handguns. Be sure and check first, some pockets are not big/deep enough to use with a pocket carrier.
From CCW Breakaways LLC come various khaki trousers, cargo pants, jeans, and shorts. These 100% cotton garments look like normal clothing, but their common denominator is they all have special built-in pockets specifically made to conceal a handgun. These pockets are fully adjustable to allow for different handgun sizes and body shapes, plus they are lined with rip-stop nylon to prevent snagging and make for a smooth draw, while reducing pocket lint. The tops of the pockets have a “breakaway” snap feature that enlarges the opening in the pocket enhancing the rapidity of handgun removal. The snaps are concealed under the waistband and there’s various other options allow you to carry extra magazines or cartridge strips, tactical lights and knives. There are also no logos or tags on the outside of the garment to alert anyone that you are carrying concealed; the prime directive of CCW being nobody knows you’re armed until the need arises.
With the exception of the aforementioned CCW Breakaways garments, none of these concealed carry devices are priced over $30—considerably less than most traditional holsters. All do as they are advertised to do, which I’ll vouch for as I’ve used all of them at various times over the past weeks, months and years. The items themselves are well-made and of good quality.