Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ankle Holsters (Updated With Comments After Delivery)

Summer has arrived, and there are times that being discreetly armed is a very good thing.  My Colt Mustang is so small that it is simply a pocket pistol.  (Hammer down, of course: you never want to risk the safety clicking off and something getting inside the trigger.)  But my Firestar 9mm is just barely too big to slip into a pocket alongside my wallet, and in the back pockets, it both sticks out the top, and prints.  Yet it is small enough that in an ankle holster, it would be invisible.  (Well, I suppose if you insist on wearing leggings or other spandex pants, it would be a problem.  I don't expect to ever do that; the fashion police would arrest me and throw away the key.)

I have been looking at ankle holsters.  These are obviously not anywhere as fast of a draw as a something at waist level, but realistically, most civilian defensive uses of firearms in a relatively peaceful place like Idaho will give you enough warning to either leave the area, or prepare yourself to look ridiculous while reaching for the ankle holster.  (I can see it now, a new Olympic gymnastic sport: drawing your ankle gun without bending over.)

This ankle holster was both incredibly cheap and highly rated--at least in part because it was so cheap: $6.75 if you have Amazon Prime.  This holster seems a bit more upscale, and designed to handle small to medium-frame autos, and still bargain priced at $21.09 with Amazon Prime.  My guess is that it might handle the Firestar. There are a number of brand name ankle holsters out there, and if you will be carrying a gun that way all day, every day (as many police officers do, and residents of barbarous, savage places like California must), and under those circumstances, it might make sense to spend the extra money.

Any experience with ankle holsters, good and bad?

UPDATE: The Galco Ankle Glove is expensive, but reading the reviews gives you the distinct impression that it is worth every penny.  Unfortunately, because the holster side is specific to particular guns, and Firestars are now orphans...

UPDATE 2: I ordered the $6.75 one and the $21.09 one.  The cheapest one is so cheap that if it really is useless, I can feel comfortable either throwing it away or returning it.  If the $21.09 one doesn't work for the Firestar it will still work for the Colt Mustang, or the PX-22, or even my wife's Colt Government Model .380, and there are times that having that option is worthwhile.

UPDATE 3: Oh yeah, count on product reviews coming out of this.

UPDATE 4: Short take: the $6.75 holster actually works well for very light pistols.  I have a 15.8 ounces (loaded) American Arms PX-22 (an American licensed copy of the PPK) in it on my left ankle right now.   I would not go any heavier with this holster.  The Velcro fastener seems sufficient to keep this pistol from moving down my leg, but I would not want to run any great distance with it on.  I am sure that it would stay on ankle, but it would move down.  If the pistol has more than about a 2.5" barrel, it will stick out the bottom of the "holster" part, which is just a piece of nylon.  If your socks are black, and your pistol is black, or you have a high top shoe, no problem.  If you use this with a dress shoe or most running shoes, contrast may expose your hidden gun.  (Wear black socks.)

It was not sufficient for a Colt Mustang .380 (loaded weight 21.2 ounces), which kept pulling it down my ankle.  Again, no danger of it falling out -- it just might be hard to keep it concealed.

The Firestar (which weighs a heck of a lot more): don't even think about it.  But as long as you aren't walking, the "holster" actually concealed it pretty well. Nothing short of a patdown would have discovered it.  More about why below.

The Velcro strap seems like it was designed to fit someone with enormous calves, so you will want to trim the excess.  For those of you with calves big enough to hide a Colt Government Model in this thing, this may be an advantage, and the extra weight may actually not be a problem for you.

The Outbags (the $21.09 one above) is another matter.  This secures the Colt Mustang just fine.  I think I could even run some distance without too much worry of motion--it has a superior Velcro restraining system.  The only downside is that where the cheap one really did not have a holster in any conventional sense, and so a gun could be fit just at just about any angle (so that a Firestar could be concealed in it), this has a real genuine nylon holster.  It more securely holds the gun (especially when you put the restraining strap over the back of the gun), and you barely notice it when walking.  On the downside, a real holster means a bit more of a bulge when a gun is in it; someone looking very carefully might notice that one ankle is a bit wider than the other.

The downside is that a gun with a longer grip, like the Firestar, just isn't concealable, and you can't tilt the holster so as to hide it.  But it gives me ideas...

UPDATE 5: I spent pretty much the whole evening running errands and doing astrophotography with the PX-22 on my left ankle and the Mustang on my right ankle.  By the end of the evening, I was having to verify that the Mustang was still there!  I could not feel it at all.  The PX-22, because of the cheap holster, reminded me of its presence, but it wasn't uncomfortable.  The cheap holster qualifies as very cost effective (although made in China); the Outbags holster qualifies as a decent holster, regardless of price, and it is made in the United States.


  1. They are an absolute great way to carry while driving. If you carry it on your strong-side ankle, your hand can very easily reach it while in the driver's seat.

    As you have already said, if you're standing up, drawing is going to be awkward and slow.

  2. This is off topic but I was just reading a gun debate in a comments section where the anti-gunner dismissed the gun defense surveys as useless because there was no "control group" in the survey. I think this is ridiculous but would like to know the best way to answer this objection. Thanks.


  3. Yes, off-topic, but the surveys sample very large populations, asking people, "Have you used a gun in self-defense in the last year?" (or six months for the NCVS). The vast majority of course say, "No." That's the "control group."

  4. Clayton,

    I do not want to get into an appendage measuring contest with you or other commenters regarding this, but the following is based upon personal, in-depth, subject matter expertise, not of the arm chair variety.

    AH's are impractical for a number of reasons.

    1. Presenting a firearm in the context of a lethal force encounter is one in which you expect to be fighting for your life (or the life of another). The contortions required for a safe (to you and other innocents) and effective draw and presentation is one that will only become reflexive after proper training and disciplined, repetitive practice.

    2. The physical ability (read: flexibility) to complete the evolution also requires a certain level of fitness that is unconnected with cardio or strength training. Said flexibility also is one that is only retained by the above mentioned disciplined, repetitive practice.

    3. In a fight for your life, increasing the complexity of accessing the firearm by location, and either raising one's leg or bending over to obtain it, decreases your ability to maintain situational awareness.

    I could provide you with many other reasons based upon experience. I will simply say that an AH is problematic for all but rare circumstances.

  5. The retired police officer who taught the CCW class I took referred to ankle holsters as "widow makers" because they are awkward to use and potentially leave the user off balance.

    I have an ankle holster, have practiced drawing my weapon with it, and it is certainly different and more awkward than a belt or shoulder holster.

    I suggest if you go for an ankle holster you spend a fair amount of time drawing and firing your weapon to get used to the differences from a more conventional system.

  6. A lot more money but I suggest either K.L. Null or 5 Shot Leather which have a lot in common going back to Seventrees 5 Shot by way of Lou Alessi - obvious if you look at the pictures. Some people find shirt garters help with an ankle holster.

  7. Man, I'd think the Firestar would be WAY heavy and bulky for an ankle holster. I use a Fanny pack most of the time, or a shoulder rig under a loose denim jacket. (Not ideal, since the jacket tends to flop open in the wind.)

  8. Ankle holsters are definitely an inferior method of carrying a gun...except if the weather makes it impractical to carry any other way.

  9. Clayton,

    "...except if the weather makes it impractical to carry any other way."

    I have carried concealed, in and out of harms way, for 40+ years, from -20F to 112F. Aside from the inconsequential issue of personal comfort (which is of low to no priority), I cannot imagine weather being a controlling or limiting factor for CC. One of my instructors (Jeff Cooper), many years ago, put it this way: "A firearm is not intended to be comfortable; it is intended to be comforting".

  10. How does the weather make it impractical to carry any other way? I carry a full size M&P all summer IWB. Undershirt underneath, loose cotton weave untucked (or tucked with the Crossbreed).

  11. I find the untucked look just doesn't look professional enough for teaching, and three solid hours with even a light jacket on is going to be uncomfortably warm.

    There are some deep cover holsters out there that I could wear, but they look about as slow to get to as an ankle holster.

  12. Massad Ayoob's books have some ideas for options, but as I recall he views the ankle as a purely backup gun and not as the primary carry location. Besides in the latest edition of the Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry he has a picture and mention of you.

  13. I normally wear a vest with an internal holster near my weak shoulder, and I just hang in there in Cincinnati summers, which are pretty close to the hubs of Hell in heat and humidity.
    I find a vest best for reaching, and also OK in my truck even with the seat belt deployed.
    Now, if I had the flexibility of a gymnast or ballet dancer, ankle holsters might work.

    although for more formal wear, have you consider a belly band or a Tshirt with integral holster??

  14. I am thinking about getting this holster, check it out
    it seems as though it would work under a dress shirt.