For years, most of us have counseled concealed carry handgun carriers to choose a proper holster. A holster keeps the handgun stable and angled for the proper draw. Just the same, who am I to go against 200 years or more of holsterless tradition? After all, Wild Bill Hickock packed his revolvers in a tightly-woven sash.
Few early holsters were suitable for concealed carry. Even today, many folks like pocket carry. I will leave that for another time. Many of us like to shove a handgun in the belt for a quick run to the store or for more casual carry. Among my friends who are retired cops, the trend seems to be toward such carry. That’s fine, as long as they know what they are doing.
The handgun must be tightly sandwiched in between the belt and the body and reasonably secure, and not likely to be dislodged. I am not recommending concealed carry with no holster, far from it. I am also a realist and feel that this common practice should be discussed.
Sam Colt designed pocket, belt, and holster guns. Each was a different size, for different needs. They generally ran .31, .36, and .44 caliber. Today, we have sub-compact-, compact-, and service-size pistols. Some are less suited for concealed carry than others. As an example, I usually carry a Commander .45. I may carry a Government Model .45. I have learned—after much experimentation—that rail guns can be tricky on the draw. The Springfield Operator seems the best of the bunch when coupled with the Galco N3 holster, and a sharp draw isn’t difficult. Sometimes this isn’t true with other designs.
If you are going to carry the 1911 in the waistband, then the casual outlook probably doesn’t include a rail for mounting a combat light. The rail may snag on clothing. It is important to practice the draw. It is obvious that carrying the pistol cocked and locked isn’t the best idea if the handgun isn’t carried in a holster. The 1911 may reasonably be carried hammer down in relative safety, if the pistol features a firing pin block or extra-strength firing pin spring, as most all modern 1911s do.
The problem is cocking the hammer on the draw. It isn’t that difficult with the modern Government Model with a spur hammer. Some practice needs to go into this draw and making the pistol ready. It is slower than cocked and locked carry. However, it is faster than carrying with an empty chamber.
If you are carrying a self-loading handgun with an empty chamber, you really need to be carrying a revolver! When it comes to other single action, hammered self-loaders, we have a mixed bunch. I am not exactly a snowflake, but I find the hammer of the Browning High Power 9mm very difficult to cock on the draw. The hammer is powered by a very heavy spring. The High Power will certainly crack most any primer, which is the design intent, but that hammer renders the High Power much less desirable for holsterless carry. I must use two hands to rack the High Power.
The CZ 75 is another matter. This piece is snub against the body, nearly perfect for carrying in the waistband. While the CZ is a double action, first-shot pistol, it is pretty easy to cock the hammer on the draw.
I am very much enjoying the SIG P210A. This is a wonderfully accurate and very well-made single-action handgun. I find cocking the hammer on the draw quite easy. I don’t feel comfortable carrying any striker-fired handgun thrust in the waistband. Neither should you. Some self-loaders don’t work well based on design. Among my favorite light handguns is the Bond Arms Bullpup 9. The Bullpup 9 is a great shooter, and its double-action-only trigger makes it a safe enough pistol to pack without a holster. The problem is the super compact geometry. The piece just doesn’t fit and balance well in the waistband.
For the most part revolvers do not work nearly as well in the waistband without a holster. The snubnose .38, among the most trusted defensive handguns, is too short and squirms in the waistband. A three-inch barrel version is a bit better. I sometimes carry the Model 69 2.75-inch barrel Combat Magnum .44 in the front, to the right of the belt buckle, and it is okay for a casual walk.
The absolute best-balanced revolvers, for casual, in the waistband carry are the plow handled Single Action Army types. This is among the reasons so many lawmen kept the SAA long past its prime, it is simply well balanced and fast handling. A 4.75-inch barrel SAA is about as compact as most double action .357 revolver and balances well if worn in the front and tucked into the waistband.
If you are worried about the revolver slipping into the pants, open the loading gate. (Crossdraw in the waistband works well as also.) As you draw close the loading gate.
I think there are times when holsterless carry works well. It isn’t ideal, but then all types of concealed carry are a compromise.
Are you a fan of holsterless carry? Which handgun would, or do, you carry holsterless? Share your answers in the comment section.
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Kalshnikov Dude says
Get a holster. That’s been my tried and true answer to questions about waist band/pocket carry. Whether an unintended discharge. Or a damaged or lost firearm. Or inadvertent disclosure of the fact that you’re armed. Seems to me is enough to exercise more discretion, expense, effort in your manner of carry.
Have 2 with a Clip Draw, they work well and absolutely no issues with moving around or slipping. That said I sometimes carry a Kahr CW9, or a Para Commander in the Belt, sans holster. The Para with LDA action obviously does not need to be cocked. Have tried a Shield, wasn’t as satisfied without a holster, although it’s the exact sane length as the Kahr, just didn’t work as well
As most people who have more than one firearm (and probably several who only have one), I have a drawer full of holsters. About 3/4 are worn depending on the weather, clothing or area I’m going into. I was always amazed/amused by a nephew who’s carried a 1911 behind his back without a holster for many years, I haven’t looked but think he must have a 1911 shaped depression on his right buttock. That said, I’ve never been a believer in holster-less carry until recently when I was asked to remove a Daewoo DH380 from a house and secure it elsewhere. I tucked into my waistband just short of my spine and went about my other business for some time. Don’t know what it was about that pistol but it rode comfortably all day. I’ve had a “Makarov” (Baikal IJ-70) for many years and had never tried carrying it back there, when I got home I did and it just wasn’t the same.
I have to respectfully disagree with the premise of this piece. I believe that just sticking a gun into a waistband which is not designed to hold a gun is unsafe. You might get away with it, but sooner or later it will fall out of your pants, or fall down into your pants, or something else unintentionally. I disagree with the idea that “this is not a good idea, but if you’re going to do it, here’s how to do it.” I teach my students that if it’s not a good idea, just don’t do it. Others may disagree.
william s Palmer says
There are many idiots who carry a firearm,period. There are many people who do not have enough sense to come in out of the rain, yet we allow them to carry firearms. Go figure.Not every firearm owner attended Gunsite or some other costly training school and practice religiously what these “experts” expound as if it were word from the mount. Then there are people (like myself)who have actually been in harms way multiple times, and know what happens in the real world. Holsters work. That being said, many people carry hardware they like as opposed to a firearm better designed for what they do. Single action firearns in the waustband is what idiots and wannabes do, not people who know what they are doing. I don’t care how good you think you are or that your sacred Cow 1911 cost a mortgage payment,it is a bad idea in so many ways. Striker fired firearms are next on the list of bad tucked in the pants girearms for similar reasons. A good sa/da or dao is what you need so you dont embarrass yourself or hurt someone else. CZ 75 or SIG 226,229 or 220, or similar style is much better. If you can not shoot one well maybe you should not be carrying. As a former govt type (dod,dia,dse,spb)that was asked to take the “trash” out on numerous occasions, there were many times when a holster was not used. In some countries/locale in is an obvious give away that you are not a local etc.,hence you are a problem! Once the matter at hand was resolved the firearm was often disposed of,left behind,thrown away etc., and a holster was just one more piece of kit that you had to get rid of and being attached to your belt/pants etc, you could not always do that quickly,so we did without them. It really depends what you are doing and how. If you are so paranoid that you carry a blaster to go to the mailbox out front, maybe a holster is not needed. But, if you think you are going to do any type of physical activity, you might reconsider. In the end,for most people carrying 24/7 is not realistic,practical or necessary,when common sense,operational or situational awareness,and using your head will handle most situations you are likely to encounter,with out resorting to firearms. If you constantly find yourself in questionable situations or are feeling the needed to go armed like a Delta force door kicker,you might want to reassess and ask yourself why?
I sorta get what you’re talking about, (10 yrs. on Sheriffs office in a 1 million population metro area). But your attitude towards others who didn’t have your Govt’ training shows a lack of understanding of other peoples situation, perhaps they live in a bad neighborhood and due to lack of funds and can’t move somewhere else. That doesn’t make them idiots. I will agree that for the majority of people DA/SA or DA only is probably best. Three of my carry guns are, but if somebody wants to carry a 1911 I’m not gonna jump all over his case. As for holsters Two of my carry guns have clip draw, eliminates the need for a holster for them, when putting the gun back in my pants I simply place my finger behind the trigger, negating the possibility of a negligent discharge. Try to understand other peoples situation!
There are pros and cons to holsterless carry. Contrary to holstered carry, you probably want a belt that is not too stiff; something wide but flexible that conforms a little to the shape of the gun (starting to sound a little like a sash like the old timers used!) The fact that the gun can shift a little now becomes a plus for comfort, in that when you go from standing to sitting in a car you can let the gun ride up a little and then shift it lower when you leave the car (keep these manipulations subtle and behind the cars’ door so that people don’t notice). If you want to be super safe (safer than regular holster carry when you stop to think about it) carry condition three but ALWAYS do it that way so that it becomes second nature to rack the slide when drawing.
Someone mentioned empty chamber carry.
I carry that way and practice drawing and racking as I present the gun.
My guns include 1911 style Sig 938, Da/Sa Walther PPK/s and Sig 365 striker fired.
All 3 work the same carried Israeli style, draw, rack, fire.
Going out walking the dog, or checking out the community dock, I may “Mexican “ carry with no holster.
Since the chamber is empty, there is no chance of an N D.
Longer outings, I use a sticky clip less holster.