Wide-Open Carry

Hunters, anglers, farmers, ranchers, hikers:
If You're Packing Big Handguns In
The Great Outdoors, Chest Rigs Are The Way To Go
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Want to impress your friends? You can with some pretty fancy hide. Rather have something more practical for field use? There are plenty of options. As a handgun hunter, I’m usually carrying some form of large semi auto, revolver or single shot. Some are large. Some are scoped, which adds a slice of challenge to comfortable carry for extended periods.

From personal experience I’ve grown fond of chest holsters. These rigs are designed to carry the handgun across the chest next to your body. For me, these holsters are ideal not for handgun hunters, but for anyone backpacking, hiking, fishing in streams with bears present, riding a horse, cruising around the farm in a Polaris Ranger, or doing farm chores on a tractor. You can wear them over a coat, inside your jacket, or with a shirt only. Simply put, the chest holster is a great way to comfortably pack your favorite hunting iron. Luckily for us, there are several great choices.

Simply Rugged makes a dandy rig offering a lot of versatility. Rob’s Chesty Puller suspension system is designed to accept one of their pancake holsters. Basically, this is a set of straps to suspend the holster on your chest. The straps connect through the belt slots on one of Rob’s pancake holsters. I have used this system with a 1911 and scoped revolvers on many hunts and it works like a charm! Named after the legendary Marine General, the Chesty Puller features a very simple design allowing a comfortable across-the-chest carry. One of my favorites for this system is the high-ride Sourdough Pancake. It’s absolutely ideal for a large revolver. The leather completely covers the handgun with three belt loops 1.75″ in width. The gun is positioned so the trigger remains covered. It has an open bottom so dirt and moisture can
pass through.


Simply Rugged makes a dandy chest rig incorporating a
holster with their “Chesty Puller” suspension system.

And for wheelguns too: Diamond D’s Guide’s Choice is equally handy for packing S&W’s massive .500 Magnum X-Frame.

In a few weeks I’ll be fishing in Alaska and it’s pretty much a sure bet brown bears will be searching for salmon nearby. Packing a large revolver will be important just in case the unthinkable occurs. Thanks to Diamond D Custom Leather and their Guide’s Choice Chest Holster, toting the hefty S&W Model 500 X-Frame won’t be an issue. This well-designed rig allows the revolver to ride next to your chest with easy accessibility. The hand-made leather rig was designed, tested, and produced in Alaska — so the company has first-hand experience in sharing streams with big bears. This is a simple, comfortable, easy-to-adjust holster you can wear with a shirt, jacket or fishing vest.

Diamond D also provides the Guide’s Choice for large semi autos including the GLOCK 40 with a reflex sight. While chasing a pack of hounds in hot pursuit of wild boar, the 10mm long slide rode safely next to my chest. Even after a long hot day of packing the big 10mm around, the Guide’s Choice remained comfortable. The company offers other leather goods including their fine “Alaska Tough” leather belt — a nice accessory to go along with their holsters.


Many miles hiked! Barranti Leather’s Northwest Hunter did a
great job of packing Mark’s Freedom Arms revolver on an Alaska hunt.

Another favorite chest rig of mine is the Barranti Northwest Hunter. This bandoleer-style holster is designed for large revolvers— with or without scope. Barranti Leather crafts top-end creations with style and function. The Northwest Hunter is preferred by many handgun hunters for good reason. From personal experience carrying a scoped, Freedom Arms Model 83 in .44 Mag. in Alaska, Texas and Africa, I can safely say this holster is ideal for packing large handguns over extended periods. While hunting in the Central African Republic for two weeks, I never experienced any discomfort wearing the Northwest Hunter. It was bloody hot and we covered countless miles hunting for giant forest hog and Central African Savanna buffalo. The holster can be easily adjusted for wearing over a coat. In Alaska we hiked for miles and miles searching for Sitka deer. If it sounds like I’m fond of Barranti’s Northwest Hunter, I am


This 7X Leather chest rig was designed for hunters. Here Mark’s using it for his scoped Ruger.

This Windhill Kydex holster with a Ruger revolver is an excellent setup for Mark’s farm chores.

Wes Daems — the hide-stretcher behind 7X Leather — is another craftsman who has his stuff together. Wes makes a chest holster designed for carrying large handguns in the outdoors. This rig can be worn with a backpack without issue. I’ve been carrying several scoped revolvers in one and it has never caused any grief. This rugged, well-designed holster comes with a six-round cartridge slide, earplug case and leather maintenance cream. Wes makes them for most Rugers, S&W and Freedom Arms revolvers — plus 1911 semi autos. My new Ruger .41 Mag Bisley Hunter will soon be riding safely and comfortably in a 7X chest holster.


Synthetic approach: The DeSantis Yukon Hunting Rig is a very comfortable way to pack this 10mm Dan Wesson Bruin.

One of the new chest rigs to hit my radar screen is the M72 Yukon Hunting Rig from DeSantis. This utilitarian holster is made of heavy, super-strong ballistic nylon in solid black. The fully adjustable harness can be adjusted for different angles, or for whether you’re wearing a shirt or heavy jacket. It’s available in two sizes to fit most large semi autos or unscoped revolvers. It comes in left- or right-hand models. Mine has an adjustable magazine pouch and for several days I wore it while riding around the farm with a big Rock Island Armory 10mm Auto. The gun is fairly heavy when loaded with 15 rounds, but the Yukon Hunting Rig made things comfortable. For large revolvers, the holster comes with a speed loader pouch and cartridge loops. The rig, incidentally, features a quick-release buckle strap to keep the gun secure. This is a functional rig ideally suited for outdoor activities — at an affordable price.


Diamond D Leather Guide’s Choice Holster with GLOCK 40
and Leupold Deltapoint Pro. Note the spare magazine pouch.

Windhill’s Kydex offerings include this
camo-pattered chest rig for a GLOCK 40.

Another new-to-me holster company is Windhill. They make some of the neatest custom Kydex holsters for many popular handguns. I have two of their solutions for a GLOCK 40 with Leupold’s Deltapoint Pro reflex sight and a custom Ruger Blackhawk, both in 10mm. The Kydex material is .08″ thick, yet provides just enough flexibility. The wide, super-strong nylon web rides comfortably over your shoulder and keeps the holster next to your chest for easy accessibility. These Kydex holsters are smooth on the inside and waterproof. Windhill offers an assortment of colors including some nifty camo patterns. I have one holster solid black and the other in a cool-looking camo pattern. The Oregon-based company stands behind a lifetime warranty.

Depending on the circumstance, environment, terrain and specific handgun, all these chest rigs provide a secure, safe and comfortable carry. If you carry Big Handguns in the Great Outdoors, chest rigs are a desirable option. I like them — and I think you will, too.

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