When I was coming up as a young gun guy, “Shall Issue” concealed carry was a concept unheard of. The only folks lawfully carrying handguns who were not police officers were country folks in open-carry rigs or licensed investigators and security agents. In the 1970’s and ’80’s the market for concealed carry holsters was pretty thin, certainly nowhere near what it is today.
For other than duty rigs, there was a time where you either paid top dollar for top quality handmade, hand-boned (look it up) leather holsters or you bought cheap, machine-made nylon or suede leather for concealed carry.
Cheap nylon and suede holsters performed one task; they covered the trigger while more often than not keeping the gun from falling to the ground. When I became a police officer in the early 1990’s I experimented with numerous Inside-the-Waistband holsters. I never found one that I could wear for any length of time, even a couple of hours, until I met a man named Sam Andrews. Sam built a custom leather IWB holster with a mouth that was reinforced to keep it from closing when the gun was drawn. However, even that holster would start to bug me about half-way through the day and I found myself fidgeting and adjusting it.
ND for the Whole World to See
Thanks to elevator security cameras, the entire nation is aware of a negligent discharge committed by an off-duty police officer in Cincinnati, Ohio. The story that accompanies the video stated that the man unholstered his handgun and was attempting to reholster it when he pressed the trigger and had the ND.
Naturally, gun folks are asking; Why did he feel the need to pull his gun out and fiddle with it in an elevator? Why was he not able to safely reholster the gun without difficulty? I am in possession of the same information that every other person who has read the news stories and watched the video.
My educated hypothesis would point toward a poorly made holster that inspired the said “fidgeting” and “adjustment”. Why else would he be compelled to remove the gun in public and handle it in such a way? It has been reported that the officer’s injury is not life-threatening and we are pleased to hear that.
Holster or Deathtrap?
Most firearms training schools, ours included, require that students use a form-fitted, rigid holster. “One size fits Most” holsters do not secure guns properly and often result in firearms ending up on the ground when they should not be.
What is most dangerous about the breed of cheap, stitched nylon holsters is that they collapse when the gun is drawn and they have a tendency to shift around when the user moves about in their daily routine. When gun carriers get in and out of cars, bend over, etc., the cheap holsters allow the guns to shift. This shifting causes discomfort and the gun carrier is motivated to “adjust” or “remove” the gun to relieve the discomfort.
With the gun drawn and the holster collapsed under the belt, the owner is apt to either angle or wedge the gun barrel back into the holster with some force. This often results in the muzzle being pointed at the shooter’s body while force is exerted. Another habit is for the owner to use their off hand to try and assist in the reholstering process. The off hand is then muzzled by the firearm, another big no-no.
Cheap holsters are attractive due to their low price point and uneducated gun owners rationalize that one loosely fitted holster can be used for different guns. Under-education and lack of practical experience leads to dangerous situations. All of the aforementioned can be avoided by simply purchasing one of a number of quality, form-fitted concealed carry holsters now available.
If your choice of CCW holster cannot be worn comfortably for eight to ten hours without the need to adjust it or the mouth collapses when the gun is withdrawn it should be discarded for something of higher quality. Carrying is gun for self-defense is an effort that requires dedication and commitment. If you cannot commit more than $19.95 for a holster you are going to wear 365 days a year, you might want to check your priorities.
Paul G. Markel 2015
About the Author
Paul G. Markel became a U.S. Marine in 1987 and served his nation during times of war and peace. A law enforcement veteran, Paul was a police officer for seventeen years before becoming a full-time Small Arms and Tactics Instructor.
Markel’s written work has been printed in every major firearms publication at one time or another for the last two decades. Paul has several books in print and hosts and produces Student of the Gun Television and Radio.