Comp-Tac Minotaur MTAC (Rob Curtis / Staff)
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Sometimes you don't want to broadcast your vigilance.
Carrying a pistol can be a cumbersome affair. If your gun "prints" — shows an outline through your clothing — at best you risk offending the gentler members of society; at worst, you'll draw unwanted attention and be seen as a threat.
New materials and processes have let holster manufactures marry leather and plastic in more effective ways. Inside-the-waistband hybrid holsters use a leather backing with a Kydex or plastic fitted shell and allow you to tuck in a shirt over them.
Hybrids have the comfortable feel of traditional leather while offering performance features of a Kydex gun sheath — easy reholstering, a thin profile — but add the stability of a wider platform.
While plenty of old-timers will say they've been appendix-carrying since Reagan was a governor, the trend has recently caught on with an explosion of appendix-IWB holsters.
Carrying up front has advantages in speed of presentation and concealment, but it's not for everyone. An accidental discharge while reholstering is life-threatening because the muzzle of your weapon is pointed at your groin.
"The penalty for screwing up is substantially higher," says Todd Louis Green of pistol-training.com. He stresses the need for a "hard break" during reholstering to make sure you're conscious of every movement and hazard. If you make a mistake, "you're going to kill yourself," he says. "People always think about castrating themselves, but the reality is for most people — it's pointing at your femoral [artery]. If you shoot yourself in the femoral, by the time someone is there to help you, you're already dead."
Another factor in carrying AIWB is body shape. Skinny guys with long torsos say they carry 1911 Commanders up front all day. Thicker-waisted folks may find carrying AIWB uncomfortable and difficult to conceal.
A handful of new holsters, including a pair of midrange AIWBs and three popular hybrids:
Custom Carry Concepts Shaggy The basis for an effective AIWB is its ability to pull the pistol grip into the body while placing the muzzle at an angle that doesn't cause your leg to fall asleep. The Shaggy's belt loop is mounted off-center to twist the butt of the gun inward. It's not painful because the large contact surface lies flat against the abdomen. Options include a leather heat shield and a removable belt clip or leather snap loops instead of the solid belt loop. The solid belt loop offers the most stability.
Price: $64.50, currently backordered
You can adjust the all-Kydex Pardus Appendix-Carry Holster's ride height and cant by moving the BladeTech straps up or down in the rivet holes. This lets you use Pardus all the way back to a 3 or 4 o'clock carry if you can't stand the 12-2 appendix carry. Unlike the Shaggy, the Pardus' abdominal contact surface isn't flat. A bulge down low fills the void where your upper thigh meets your abdomen while the upper part of the holster rides flat. This is comfy even with a large-frame pistol such as a Glock. The Kydex makes for an uncollapsible, thinner profile and solid retention that won't soften and bend over time (like leather) and potentially interfere with reholstering.
Galco Gunleather KingTuk Add some polish to the SuperTuck (above right) and you get the KingTuk. Its much thicker backing holds its shape and guarantees comfort. The standard combat cut gives you a solid grip, and the brass hardwear and double screw steel clips add security. Swap them with the optional nylon C-clips for a lower profile. The only issue we had is the death-grip it had on the gun. It was so tight that the leading edge of both Glock G19 Gen3 and Gen4 test guns' ejection ports were shaving Kydex with each draw. It let up a little after about 30 draws, but not nearly enough for reliable use. We spoke with Galco officials and they told us new holsters can be a little tight but this sounds like more than a simple break-in issue. They asked us to send the holster back so they could research what's going on. Keep an eye out for the online GearScout review where we'll cover the KingTuk and Galco's response in depth.
MTAC Comp-Tac worked with Minotaur Holsters to make a backing that supports a large pistol such as the Glock while keeping the grip from digging into your back or side. The Kydex plate can be swapped out to accommodate a variety of sidearms. The rubber spacers between the halves of the holster push back a little against your belt. This gives you an easier draw while keeping the belt tight, which in turn keeps your rig stable. Loop options include the standard belt clips, C-clips and, for ultimate concealment, Velcro clips that require a Velcro-backed belt. Each belt loop can be adjusted for both cant and ride height, and the struts stand off enough to make tucking easy.
The SuperTuck's combination of superwide stability, comfort and simplicity is hard to deny. Judging by the rivets and T-nuts, the SuperTuck might seem coarse, but the whole thing is surprisingly comfortable. The supple leather, or optional horsehide, isn't the thickest backing on the market, but it does the job while keeping a slim profile. The standard setup rides on a pair of wide, metal hooks that grab your belt securely and give you some height adjustability. If you don't like the gothic crosses embossed on the metal clips, there's an option for J-clips or Velcro. The optional combat cut lets you get all the way around the pistol grip, but it does expose your sides to more of the rough grip surface. The retention in the Crossbreed is snappy but not tight, and the flat belt struts make tucking your shirt in doable, but not easy.