Tuesday, April 17, 2012

CCW Options (Part 3)

Part 3 of the CCW Series
CCW Options:

First off I want to mention this article from NYMAG.com:
http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2012/02/what-do-tutus-and-gun-belts-have-in-common.html

To summarize the NYMAG summarization of a NY Times article, Wearing a belt, especially a gun belt, to tight can cause damage to your “lateral, femoral cutaneous nerve.” I found in my experience that a loose, but not to loose fitting belt helps handle wearing the extra weight over a 12-20 hour day. When I started my LE carreer I wore my duty belt like I wore my pants belt, somewhat cinched down. Especially with the extra weight of a duty belt vs. a CCW loadout I was getting bruises on the front of my body near my hip bones. This was a result of the belt rubbing on my skinny hips. (I’ve since found the easiest solution was to eat more and work out less.)

Today I run a Ares Gear LE Duty Belt for work with Suspenders and 4 keepers. I found that the Ares Gear duty belt is stiff enough that when held up by suspenders and attached to my pants at 4 points the rest of the belt “floats” around my waist. This has helped my comfort level greatly since trying this setup the middle of February. I also don’t get the bruises on my hips from this setup.

Back to CCW options and the topic at hand. I read several years ago when I first started carrying that somebody who carries a gun will have a drawer full of holsters/mag pouches/belts after a year or two of what they found works/doesn’t work. That’s for just one type of gun as well. Its true as I’m sure anybody who carries a gun has found out. I’ll start with my thoughts on CCW holsters first then move onto belts and mag pouches. I’ll briefly mention Knives/Multitools as well.

Holsters:
I’ve been a Glock guy for 4-5 years now thanks to a good friends prodding. Since then I’ve ran holsters from the generic Uncle Mikes Neoprene $10.00 holster to my current Raven Concealment Phantoms pushing close to $100.00. Each style of holster has its pros and cons. I personally have both the Uncle Mikes and the Raven in my holster box and use them both, but for different things.

OWB and IWB are the two methods of carry I’ll move onto next. OWB is Outside the Waistband and IWB is Inside the Waistband. IWB is usually more discrete/concealable. Depending on weather/local style of dress will help you decide what method of carry is more useful for you. I use both based on a threat matrix I run through in my head – locale, threat(s), weather/style of dress and need for concealment.

The Raven Phantom is the best do it all CCW holster I’ve found so far. It’s OWB/IWB compatible depending on what carry method you buy for attachments. Its style is somewhat wide but in a way that helps in my opinion flatten the bulk of the gun when worn underneath even a T-Shirt.

Raven Vanguard 2. This holster, or really trigger guard that clips into your belt, is pefect for “rollin dirty” in a semi Non Permisive Enviroment. Its ideal for appendix carry based on its size. Its highly versatile as its reversible for left and right handers as well as providing two heights of carry and three size adjustments for belts. It can d worn in a standard 3:00 O’clock location as well. I’ve used mine for road trips as well as every day carry in appendix as well as running with it. So far the only disadvantage, which is a result of the design, is you need to remove it from your belt before reholstering. Its not a training holster, it’s a discrete carry method with minimal imprint.

Dale Frike Joshua. I understand the design of this has changed slightly since I first bought mine 4-5 years ago. It’s a tuckable design for IWB carry only. Its simple as all it does is cover the trigger guard of the gun, nothing more. Its slightly bulky compared to the Raven Vanguard 2 though as it does allow the user to reholster without having to pull the holster off.

Peters Custom Holsters Hold Fast. I found that this holster works best when worn at the 3:30-4:00 area due to its pre built wrap style for molding more to your body when worn. This holster has minimal kydex used in its manufacture, but enough to allow for the soft loops to be spread out around the gun. Currently mine is loaned out to a friend for testing as they evaluate what will work best for them as a CCW holster.

Crossbreed Supertuck. This is a IWB only holster that lies more on the side of comfort than speed of the gun. The backing of the holster is leather while a kydex holster shell is attached to the outside of the leather. Super comfortable, but not as fast as an all Kydex holster.

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Belts:
A proper belt is the next most important thing after the holster you choose. A belt for carrying a gun is not the same $10 belt you bought at Walmart for holding a pair of pants up. Don’t skimp out here. The belt has to hold the weight of a Gun, Holster, mag pouch, wallet, knife, flashlight, and any other EDC gear you have in your pants without letting them fall down. I’ve tried the famous Riggers belts from the big manufactures and while they worked ok, was never that impressed. Riggers belts are to big for normal pants – 1.75” being the standard Riggers Belt size and most Jeans/Dress pants being 1.5”.

In 2010 I bought a Ares Gear Ranger belt. At the time Jake was just getting known for what he came up with in the Ranger design. Since then Jones Tactical and Volund Gearworks have brought ripoff variations of his design to the market. The Ranger Belt is a 1.5” piece of Scuba webbing (very stiff) with a 1.25” piece of nylon webbing sewn to the outside and threaded through a Cobra buckle. Pictures show how the design works.

This belt is perfect for carrying a gun with as it is small enough to fit most pants while stiff enough to actually hold the weight of an EDC.

For what it’s worth, I now have three Ranger belts and wear one of them everyday as the baseline of my EDC.

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Mag Pouches:

There are IWB and OWB mag pouches on the market. Most mag pouches are OWB though and I only have used OWB at this point. I’m sure some people like their IWB mag pouches, but as of now I haven’t even tried one so I can’t comment on them with any useful knowledge.

Raven Concealement. I’ve been running these for 2.5 years now, mostly the single mag pouch. Recently I started carrying two mags in a CCW role and found that while the Raven single mag pouch is ok for carry at 10:30-11:00, the double mag pouch is to big. The flex needed in the belt/pouch/hip area is not there with something as wide as the double mag pouch. I will be picking up a Raven single mag pouch with the “MD” cut soon and go to 1 mag at 10:30 and one at 9:30.

Blackhawk! single mag pouch. I used these back when I got my first pistol 5+ years ago. Not the most secure – if your body jerked on something like a seatbelt when exiting a vehicle, you might loose your mags. They are easy to put on and take off, but are very bulky. Perfect for a range mag pouch or when you need to add pouches in a hurry, but not ideal if you need to focus on concealment over speed.

Various MOLLE style mag pouches. I have worn on an occasion or two MOLLE mag pouches on a belt. Not how they are intended to be used, but I tried it when I didn’t have anything else available for that gun/mag/pouch role. Down Range and First Spear have made MOLLE adapters for wear on a regular belt and from looking at them would have been very nice to have the times I wore a MOLLE pouch on my belt. A disadvantage to this style of pouch is that they are bulky and not designed for concealment, rather for wear on some sort of over tactical gear.

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Knives and Multitools:
First thing, there is a difference between a fighting knife and a utility every day use knife. I use a multitool variant in some form as my utility or every day use knife. This gives me scissors, a blade, screwdriver and pliers all in one package. Its probably used more than anything else I carry on a daily basis.

Its been said that “a folding knife is a broken knife.” This makes sense from a fighting knife role, but you have to balance concealability with effectiveness. If you can’t conceal the fixed blade, you need to look at a fast deploying one hand opening folding knife. Personally the Emerson “Wave” feature has become a favorite of mine and is a must for my folders. If you get a chance to use one or see how it works and why I say that. I had a friend try deployment of a auto with a “tip” up carry vs. my “tip” up carry Emerson with the wave and in our unscientific test, I beat him every time. Now it might just be a fluke or chance test, but it did solidify my choice.

Flashlight:

I carry at least two lights on me at all times. One is a handheld flashlight for everyday tasks. I prefer this to be a two stage light with a high and lo setting - 100+ and 10-30 lumens respectively. The second light will either be a weapon mounted light on my pistol or a second 100-200 lumen single stage “tactical” light for use with a weapon. I don’t consider a light on the gun to be anything but a weaponlight, only to be used in conjuntion with the weapon.

Accessories:

Cellphone, Wallter (CCW Permit?), Chapstick, Sunglasses, Firstaid, etc. These are the things you carry that usually will end up in a pocket.


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