PRAGMOD: Ankle Carry
People with CCW permits must be like Jedi Knights. Well, at least that's what it seemed like to me back in the mid-90s when I took my first class. Although I'd been around guns for a good deal of my life, carrying one had never crossed my mind until the security concerns around my high-profile business (I'm a mobile DJ) became items on the nightly news. I had gotten away from shooting for a long time, having sold my collection of revolvers during the recession of the Carter years, but had now obtainedmy first semi-auto pistol: the Glock 23 in .40 S&W.
My class was both fun and informative, my instructor being one of those "big personality" guys with a great sense of humor, certainly worthy of being an entertainer himself had he wanted to. While his class was excellent, covering all of the state mandated topics and beyond, there was one thing that seemed to be taken for granted:
hiding the gun. Being a concealed carry class, I had expected to be given a rundown on all of the tricks to make my gun vanish, totally invisible and undetectable until the moment it was needed. To my dismay, David Copperfield wasn't going to be guest speaking that day; only the usual options we've seen everywhere were on the menu:IWB or paddle holsters, shoulder rigs (shades of "I Spy"), painful looking ankle holsters, fanny packs and those horrible day planners that have fortunately all but passed into history. I realized that not only was my wardrobe going to have to change a bit, but one could end up spending a small fortune experimenting with this stuff!
Friends know that I'm the ultimate pragmatist. If I have a problem and someone else has put in the time, careful thought and investment in solving it, I'm all too happy not to have to reinvent the wheel. (In short, I shamelessly steal from other professions/ professionals.) Sticker shocked by the price of actual gun belts, I instead decided to pick up a lowly carpenter's web belt, available in most hardware stores for less than three bucks. They're thick, heavy and have military-grade plastic hardware that also has the added perk of looking rather badass. Having spent many days dangling cordless drills, tool pockets, nail bags and other heavy things around job sites where I was installing speakers and sound systems, I had no doubt that the belt would easily lug my pistol. The belt could be used with just about any type of clothing, and being summer, I was looking to conceal wearing light shorts, a T-shirt and flip-flops.
When I bought the gun, I picked up an inexpensive Galco IWB holster almost as an afterthought, simply to have something to store the gun in. (The "military Tupperware" was consigned to accessory holding detail.) That holster, combined with the belt proved to be the perfect combination! Putting the belt around the outside of my summer shorts (no belt loops), I then put the holster on the inside and put the clip over the belt. I wore that all summer, doing events, setting up and tearing down equipment, playing rough n' tumble with my in-law's kids, never having the gun exposed or the holster dislodge.
Even if my T-shirt rode up, the lower part of the pistol remained covered.I tend to buy things in groups. When I bought my web belt, I grabbed three or four, just in case I broke one or found another good use for 'em. That eventually happened.
HALF-CALF WITH A TWIST
A buddy from my local police department eventually talked me into carrying a BUG (back-up gun), and not being flush with cash, I went with a small Kel-Tec 9mm semi-
auto with an inexpensive Uncle Mike's ankle holster. It's made of a very heavy-duty fabric and, unlike the plastic and leather monstrosities I perused at my local gun shop, looked like it would be comfortable, especially for all day carry. That turned out to be correct. But the Uncle Mike's rig (and, I noticed, a few other brands) has a major flaw: the calf strap.
To keep the holstered gun from sliding down your leg, taking your sock with it and wadding them both into a ball on your foot, the holster comes with an elastic strap that goes around your calf, with a vertical strap that attaches to the holster with good ol'Velcro. As you are already probably thinking, elastic is very short-lived. After a couple of months of daily carry, the elastic was reminiscent of ten-year-old underpants. Slip, bump, wad, hobble, hobble, hobble.
It seemed wasteful to toss away the holster, which is remarkably durable and still likenew, but I was about to do just that when I noticed my stack of web belts. An idea began to form...
As you can see, I cut down the belt to calf-size. Then I used some of the left over web to make a nice, heavy-duty strap to join up with the remnant of the Uncle Mike's. The web material is very tough, so I used some fabric glue at the top, along with pop rivets.
A tiny swatch of Ozite carpet on the back keeps it comfortable. I also had to be sure to use a lighter to melt the edges of the web belt where it had been cut so it wouldn't shed threads and unravel. Overall, it's a very rugged solution that has taken a major beating and asks for more. Should your body change (lose or gain weight or muscle mass), you can now tighten the calf strap without risking a huge, floppy flap of Velcro making telltale sounds and snagging your pant leg. In short: a lot of benefit for a 15-minute fix!
Over the coming weeks I'll have even more tips for my fellow CCWs. In the meantime, if any of you holster manufacturers are reading this, consider my little idea an early Christmas present. Until next time, keep the tactical practical.