Today’s Top Carry Rigs

There are three certainties in life. Death, condescending speeches at
celebrity awards shows and new holsters.

By Tom McHale

Selecting your carry gun like this Canik TP9SF Elite is one thing — picking out the
right holster is another altogether. Photo: Century Arms.

Why the never-ending flow of holsters? My theory is simple. Carrying a gun is a pain in the … well, you know. Clint Smith likes to say carrying a gun is supposed to be comforting, not comfortable. Wise words, because carrying a gun is certainly not going to replace the warm fuzzy I get from wearing my Buzz Lightyear slippers anytime soon. So, partly as a result of an abundance of communal pain, holster manufacturers are always looking to invent the next big thing to promise a better solution. There’s a whole new crop of gear worthy of your consideration. Let’s take a look at some of the newer offerings.

The IWB Ambassador (above) from N82 Tactical features a gun-specific Kydex shell with a large back panel
with two belt clips. The N82 Envoy (right) differs from the Ambassador in that it employs the classic
N82 one-clip design.

N82 Tactical

Since I started out griping about comfort, perhaps we should start with a look at what the “Nate Squared” guys are up to these days. Oh, but first a quick footnote. I know the company name looks like “enn-eighty-two tactical” but if you want to impress your friends or win a bar bet, the real name is “Nate Squared” because two guys, both named Nate, founded the company.

N82 is famous for the most comfortable IWB holsters ever. The layered suede, neoprene and leather-backed panel provides stability, comfort and keeps moisture from moving either direction.

Until recently, you had two “gun pouch” options — an elastic band or a retention shell that unlocks with a gun twist. Now, depending on how much support you like, you can choose from two models offering traditional passive retention — the Ambassador and the Envoy. This means one-handed reholstering is an option and you don’t have to worry about overcoming a positive retention feature before drawing.

Both the Ambassador and Envoy line use a gun-specific Kydex shell securing your gun through friction and body pressure from the inside-the-waistband placement. The Ambassador sports a large back panel with two belt clips to distribute the weight while the Envoy uses the classic N82 one-clip design.

The new Ankle Guard (above) from Galco combines steerhide and polymer to create a solid ankle rig that uses
adjustable friction on the trigger guard for security. The 2018 Galco Pocket Magazine Carrier (left) presents
the magazine in a straight vertical orientation, offering a different draw for narrower pockets.

Galco

I’ve used the Galco Ankle Glove for years and have always appreciated the wide neoprene ankle band lined with soft sheepskin. Now the company has carried this proven foundation over to a new model of ankle holster.

Modeled after the BlakGuard belt holster, the new Ankle Guard is a hybrid. The generous sight rail accommodating even tall sights is molded polymer. The side panels are made from tough steerhide. There are two tension adjustment screws that allow you to adjust the degree of security you prefer.

This brings up another new feature. The interior sports a polymer mechanism that locks to the trigger guard for gun retention. It’s easy to draw and reholster, but the gun stays in place. Oh, and there’s a calf strap slot so you can connect this optional component for extra stability and to distribute the weight.

Galco also has a good way of carrying a spare mag in your pocket. By definition, pockets are a jumbled mess of random contents. If you carry a spare mag for a subcompact pistol in the same pocket as keys, change or spare beef jerky, things are gonna get messy. Not only do you run the risk of pocket junk getting into the feed area of your critical spare magazine, it’s almost certainly not going to be sitting in there properly oriented for a quick draw while under stress. It may be sideways, upside down or backward.

The newest iteration of the popular Galco Pocket Magazine Carrier offers a straight vertical orientation as opposed to the angled presentation of the prior model. Every pocket is different, so this one may provide better fit and a more natural retrieval. The steerhide ambidextrous magazine pouch also features front and back hooks to keep it in your pocket while the magazine slides out.

The Versacarry Guardian OWB holster shown with the company’s OWB Adjustable Magazine Carrier.

Versacarry

The Guardian from VersaCarry is constructed from Water Buffalo leather, a softer and more pliable material than more traditional holster types. This, combined with front and back 1½” belt slots, help the holster conform to the body. Guardians are available in black or brown.

The High Noon Iron Horse, Extreme Duty Magazine Carrier and Delta-R Tactical Belt.
A great combination for those less-formal days in the field.

High Noon Holsters

The Iron Horse from High Noon Holsters, as its name implies, is a rock-solid, apocalypse-ready OWB holster. It’s made from Kydex for those of you who need tough gear, but it has a twist for those who pamper their carry gun. You see, the inside is lined with leather. Until told, you might never know it. The leather interior surface is so seamlessly meshed with the Kydex shell it’s really, really difficult to see where one stops and the other begins.

While large in surface area, the Iron Horse is flat and low-profile, so it conceals easily under a shirt or jacket of adequate length. I’ve been carrying a full-size SIG SAUER P320 chambered in .357 SIG and it works like a champ. Since it’s outside and more exposed, the company added a leather thumb break for a bit of extra gun security.

The High Noon Iron Horse pairs well with the OWB Extreme Duty Magazine Carrier. Like the Iron Horse, it comes in a variety of patterns and colors so you can match the holster. It’s also flat and low-profile, made from Kydex and offers dual belt loops in either 1½” or 1¾” sizes.

Since we’re on a roll with a family of gear, consider pairing these with the Delta-R Tactical Belt. As the name implies, it’s not intended for a night at the opera. It’s a mil-spec nylon web with a quick-release Cobra buckle. The belt is reinforced and designed to support a heavy load without flexing. You can get the Delta-R in black, olive drab or coyote tan.

Alien Gear’s new Cloak Tuck 3.5 has a brilliant new clip system. They rotate, but don’t come off
until you want them to. No screws to untwist or rub against your tender parts.

Alien Gear

The next iteration of the Alien Gear IWB holsters is the Cloak Tuck 3.5. I’ve been giving one a workout with a fairly large pistol, the SIG SAUER P320 chambered in .357 SIG. Yes, it’s big and heavy, but that’s a great way to test out a holster.

Here’s what’s new. The belt clips take a whole new approach. Rather than attaching to the holster with screws, the clips use a twist lock system. Put them on upside down, rotate 180 degrees and they’re locked to the holster, but still swivel as needed. It’s genius and you won’t have to worry about screws coming loose over time. The company has also exponentially expanded the fit options. Borrowing a page from the Shape-Shifter holsters, the new Cloak Tucks now have shells to fit over 500 different guns. The shell easily mounts to the steel-reinforced Alien Skin back panel, so if you like, you can swap just the shell when you change guns. The company has also upgraded the neoprene layer in the large panel to provide better moisture wicking and airflow. So far, so good using this one in the lowcountry rice cooker known as Sub Carolina.

The Clinger Holsters V3 No Print Wonder not only draws the grip of your handgun in tight to the body,
it’s three holsters in one — IWB, OWB and a minimalist single-clip IWB.

Clinger Holster

I stumbled on the Clinger No Print Wonder by accident a couple of years ago. What got my attention was the creative use of leather and Kydex. Unlike most Hybrid offerings pairing a large leather back panel to a Kydex gun shell, the No Print Wonder holster uses the leather as a mounting hinge. The holster is Kydex as is the rear position belt mount flap. The front belt clip “wing” is made from leather so it bends. The resulting combination of fixed and flexible draws the grip of your handgun in tight to the body. It’s amazing how much difference this one little thing makes. I’ve been using an earlier model to carry a Springfield Armory 1911 TRP and it simply disappears under a T-shirt.

The latest V3 generation adds some improvements. It’s a convertible design, so the holster ships with belt loops to configure it as an OWB holster. You still get the “draw-the-gun-in-close” benefits, just outside the pants. It also includes clips to convert it into the original IWB version. Last but not least, a large clip is included to convert the No Print Wonder into a minimalist single-clip, Kydex-only design.

I’ve been using these with the SIG P320 and a Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 9mm and they work like a champ. Highly recommended.

The Concealed Carrie Hobo purse (and all of their other models) feature safe, dedicated gun holster compartments.
This keeps junk away from your firearm while allowing consistent access to your handgun.

Concealed Carrie

Okay ladies, with two concealed carrying women in my immediate family, I’ve developed some extra sensitivity for the challenges women face when choosing carry solutions. Guys have it easy. All of our clothing has an upper half and a lower half. Where they meet in the middle is a place we can stick holsters inside or outside of our belts. Women on the other hand have a much more complex wardrobe. There are lots of difficult scenarios, but for example’s sake, let’s jump straight to dresses. There’s no upper and lower half and therefore no place to stick a handgun. Guys, remember this when you frown upon purse carry.

Enter Concealed Carrie. Founded by a woman fed up with trying to blend tactical and belt gear into fashionable wardrobe choices, the company offers dozens of concealed carry solutions just for ladies. While the Hobo Handbag shown here is an example of a carry purse, the company is also venturing into purpose-made clothing like their Athletic Carry Shirt.

The Crocodile Print Hobo Purse, like all other models, features an exterior-zippered concealed carry compartment that allows the wearer to draw from multiple directions. More importantly, the dedicated compartment and its internal holster keep the gun free of clutter and oriented perfectly at all times.

The Mini Scabbard, now available for the G26/27 with a Streamlight TLR-6 attached, is a classic leather OWB holster.

The Mini Slide follows the classic “slide” design and is made from saddle leather. It is available for
the G26/27 series with a Streamlight TLR-6 attached.

Apache Ankle Rig now offers a fit for the GLOCK 26/27 with the Streamlight TLR-6, giving you a lot
of tactical capability strapped to your ankle.

DeSantis Gunhide

Adding a light to a carry gun has always been a struggle. When you multiply the number of guns by the number of holster models and then again by the number of gun lights on the market, and divide by the number of gun laws in California, you come up with eleventy-nine infinity billion different holsters to cover all the combinations.

Some manufacturers identify a quality light on the market, then build holsters for the top-selling guns with this light. DeSantis now offers three of their holsters to fit the popular GLOCK 26 and 27 when equipped with the Streamlight TLR-6.

The Mini Scabbard is a classic leather OWB holster perfect for compact guns like the GLOCK 26. The all-leather construction includes the folded-over belt loop attachment that fits 1½”-wide belts. A retention screw adjusts draw friction. The Mini Slide is constructed from saddle leather. As the name implies, it follows the classic “slide” design and has an open bottom, minimalist look. It’s got a leather thumb break for extra security. Finally, the Apache Ankle Rig now offers a fit for the GLOCK 26/27 with the Streamlight TLR-6. The side elastic band has a sheepskin lining and snap thumb break. 

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