The Holster Wardrobe

Guys need more ball caps, gals need more shoes, and handguns need more holsters.

Being on the road a lot gives me a good sense of how few holsters you can get away with when you’re wearing handguns every day. Airlines have weight limits, and suitcases have finite space. Let’s take a moment to see if what works for me might work for you.

I’m writing this in the American West, where a sixgun just seems natural… and besides, I was shooting Stock Service Revolver division at the Washington State IDPA Championships (came in second, darn it). The gun is a substantial one, a 4″ S&W 686 .357 Magnum expertly tuned by Bob Lloyd. Like many practical shooting sports, IDPA requires strong-side hip carry, and that’s where I’m accustomed to packing my primary sidearm anyway.

A Safariland Model 568 scabbard worked well at the match, and proved handy on the training range. It carries the gun comfortably outside the waistband. I had the optional paddle attached: handy for when the holster has to often come off the belt and then go back on. For concealment, though, I prefer something inside the waistband (IWB). A Ted Blocker Model 12 IWB is with me, its snap-on belt attachment loop giving me the same on-and-off convenience as the paddle-style OWB. When the holster is going to be on all day, I use another IWB, the Mitch Rosen ARG (originally Ayoob Rear Guard, now American Rear Guard). Its permanent belt loop is behind the body of the gun, locking it forward to prevent “printing” under the sport and suit coats I’ve had to wear on part of this trip. When I’ve had to teach without jacket but also without gun visible, the ARG has kept the big service revolver out of sight beneath an un-tucked polo shirt that’s one size larger than what I’d normally wear tucked in.

Some holsters can be more multi-functional than others. Last year, carrying this same revolver in Arizona, I wore it in a Galco Yaqui Slide. Carrying the gun outside the belt, this skeletonized rig holds it tight enough to the body for good concealment, yet is fast enough to compete with. Last year and the year before, the Galco and the S&W won me the Stock Service Revolver Division Championships at the South Mountain IDPA match in Phoenix, Ariz. Draw was as fast as with a dedicated speed holster
By Massad Ayoob

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