But open or closed, it would make little difference with what was about to happen.
A local politician was a man of habit and, after paying his respects at the nearby cathedral, stopped at a rural kiosk for cigarettes and a local newspaper. Unaware that four dispersed, ordinary-looking men were surveying him, he relaxed with a smoke as he perused the headlines from behind the wheel of his car.
As his senses narrowed and he became absorbed in the paper, he did not notice a slightly built young man wearing a pair of trousers without a belt and a tight, tucked-in T-shirt saunter past him. His hands were empty and he appeared to be completely unthreatening. Suddenly, as the youth came abreast of the driver, he pivoted sharply to his left and a .45-caliber Government Model pistol flashed into his hands.
In less than a second, the driver was dead with a shot to the head. The first shot was followed by a second for insurance. The assassin immediately came to a low ready as he turned 180 degrees away from the victim and provided security as a second armed member of the New Peoples Army (NPA) Sparrow team reached into the car and disarmed the corpse. People screamed, but no one interfered as the four gunmen calmly exited the scene.
Eventually becoming disenchanted with the NPA hierarchy, the hit man— Teddy Medina, now deceased—surrendered to authorities and sought amnesty. As part of his deal with the government, he demonstrated his killing skills and made a then-classified videotape for intelligence purposes.
IS THAT A PISTOL IN YOUR POCKET?
To eliminate any fumbling with the loaded pistol’s controls, its thumb safety was disengaged and the grip safety taped down. The pistol was therefore hot, cocked and unlocked. Concealed in his crotch area, he could hold it in place by forcing his lower abdomen out against the pistol and trouser fabric. For more sustained periods of carry, the fingertips of his front-pocketed left hand supported the barrel.
To draw the weapon and score on a seven-yard target in less than a second, he would suck in his stomach, creating a gap between his stomach and trousers, and simultaneously run his right hand with thumb leading down the midline of his body to his waist. He flicked the gun up into his waiting hand with his fingers and discharged the pistol as soon as it reached full extension. In the video, he went head-to-head with a police officer wearing a competition holstered 1911 and beat him while punching headshots into a law enforcement target at close range.
While this technique represents a rather desperate method of concealed carry, in war, the ends often justify the means, and calculated risks like this are frequently taken. Some call it audacity.
Concealing a handgun deeply, so that it will not be discovered by observation or even quick patdowns, and yet be readily accessible for action, is a real challenge. Frankly, carrying a hidden firearm under any and all circumstances of dress and environment can be a problem, especially when temperatures climb and clothing is shed to avoid being obvious and to be more comfortable.
With the undercover officer in mind and the fact that citizen concealed carry is becoming more and more common, I selected five contemporary concealed carry methods to determine which rig provided the deepest concealment and accessibility for an effective firearm while wearing minimal attire. The holsters/ method of carry selected were Glock Tech MIC (Minimal Inside Carry) Holster, Ultra Carry Max Concealed Carry Holster, 5.11 Tactical Holster T-Shirt, Concealed Comfort Cell Pal, and Smart Carry “Invisible Holster.”
[Warning: The concealed-carry and presentation techniques described here must be practiced safely with an unloaded gun until they become ingrained within one’s subconscious.]
5.11 Tactical Holster T–Shirt
Over the years, 5.11 Tactical has gone through some evolutionary changes and now produces a variety of items for professionals and private citizens. One of the most interesting is their moisturewicking polyester and spandex Holster T-Shirt.
The Holster T-Shirt has port and starboard underarm Velcro enclosed padded pouches. These deep pockets will accommodate serious handguns and spare magazines as well as other technical gear for surreptitious work. The black or white colored material is also anti-microbial and can be acquired with crew or Vnecks. The padded pouches obscure the gun’s outline and also make carrying the piece quite comfortable.
Designed to be worn under a shirt or loose sweater and accessed either through the buttoned front or uplifted hem, the t-shirt must have an outer garment to conceal its combative cargo. This is a comfortable method of carry for a small- to medium-sized handgun, which doesn’t print with a loose shirt or sweatshirt. As with most of the rigs covered herein, the firearm is deployed via crossdraw.
To test for practical speed, I wore a sweatshirt. All shooting was done from the one-handed point shoulder position at seven yards. My average time for five single-round draws on target was 2.49 seconds with a Robar-modified SIG Sauer P229 pistol.
Ultra Carry Concealed Carry Holster
If you don’t want to go the Holster T–shirt route, the extremely comfortable Ultra Carry Concealed Carry Holster may be your solution. This rig comes in Standard, Max and Air Marshal/Federal Flight Deck Officers holsters. Like the 5.11 Holster TShirt, it must be worn under a covering garment and is white to blend in with white undershirts.
Constructed of soft cotton, elastic and Velcro, these semi-custom shoulder holsters are sized for the client’s chest dimensions, size of the gun frame intended for concealment, and set up for crossdraw with the dominant hand. They are not padded, but can be worn against the skin. They resemble a bellyband with elastic shoulder strap for additional support and to ensure they ride high at sternum level.
The rig designed for small-framed handguns does not have a retention strap and has open pouches that will accommodate additional magazines. Retention straps are present for medium and large hand-cannons, as well as additional magazines that ride vertically opposite the gun side. Additional cloth cavities could be used to carry other essentials such as a folding knife or small flashlight. All are machine washable in cold water and mild soap and should be air-dried.
For this test, I recruited a federal agent wearing a Woolrich Elite concealment shirt. The shirt required the opening of a full-length zipper before he could access the Robar SIG Sauer. His average time for single-round draws was 2.76 seconds. My time with a smaller Taurus PT 709 was 2.89 seconds.
Glock Tech MIC Holster
The Minimal Inside Carry (MIC) Kydex Holster by Glock Tech is the epitome of simplicity, but at minimum also requires a T-shirt over-garment for concealment and a belt or belt loop for an anchor point.
Currently, the ambidextrous MIC is made only for Glocks and will fit all models. About the size of the index and middle fingers when combined in the Boy Scout salute, the MIC snaps over the pistol’s trigger guard and will hold it while it dangles from its arresting cord. An empty pistol can be inserted into the MIC and charged while in the holster. The trigger is completely covered and the Glock is safe from unintentional discharge.
The Standard Model is designed for 60% speed and 40% retention. The Tan Premium version is 40% speed and 60% retention and would be a better choice if children are in residence. And thirdly, the Reverse Carbon Fiber design shares the same speed/retention qualities as the Premium model.
To use, the MIC arresting cord is attached to the belt by making a girth hitch, and the MIC-ensconced pistol is inserted into the belt at the body’s midline. Psychologically, people usually don’t stare at someone’s crotch area, but will notice printing firearms at the hip or small of the back. Loose, dark-colored shirts with bold chest emblems or messages further soften the outline of a handgun and attract attention to the upper body and not the waist.
To deploy the pistol, the shirt is lifted by its hem and a firing grip is established on the exposed grip. The pistol and MIC are lifted up and, as soon as everything clears the waistband, the elbow is dropped and the muzzle rotated up and forward. The retention cord will arrest the MIC. Continued upward motion will pop the pistol free of the holster so the threat can be indexed. [Be sure to grip the pistol firmly, or the MIC might win the retention battle and the gun could be pulled from your hand and end up dangling at the end of the arresting cord.]
Though I am not ready to take on a Teddy Medina, my average time with a Glock 29 for five single-round draws was 1.63 seconds. It is the least concealed of the systems addressed, but with practice sub-second draws are in the realm of possibility.
Concealed Comfort Cell Pal
Originally sold as the Pager Pal, the premium leather Cell Pal from Concealed Comfort can be worn without a shirt and will conceal almost any handgun even while wearing your favorite Bermudas. With a snug drawstring around the waist, the rig can be worn with a light pistol even while pumping iron.
The cell phone scabbard can be oriented either horizontally or vertically, but it must have a plastic or metal “J” hook that can fit through the leather tab at the top of the holster and clip around its base to provide the necessary resistance when it is lifted up to expose the holster and butt of the handgun. The “J” hook should be situated inside/behind the waistband, but care must be taken not to allow it to be caught under the belt.
When properly situated, all that can be observed is the cell phone case. The cell phone should be positioned over the pocket opposite the dominant hand. The cell phone case will sit on top of the belt and be held in place by the concealed holster. The holster is extremely flexible and will move with the leg and rest on the thigh when sitting down. It is quite comfortable. Pleated trousers offer the best degree of concealment.
The draw is initiated by “opening the gateway.” This is accomplished by pinching the centerline waistband with the dominant hand’s thumb and index finger and pulling out to create an opening large enough for the handgun’s butt to clear and emerge when the cell phone case is pulled up.
Maintain the gap between the body and waistband until the grip of the gun has cleared the top of the waistband. Sucking in your stomach will create a larger opening and facilitate clearance. Let go of your waistband, reach across and extract the gun from the Cell Pal while pushing the cell phone scabbard down with the support hand.
My average time with a Robar-modified SIG Sauer P229 for five single-round draws with center of mass hits at seven yards was 2.43 seconds. Occasionally the entire holster would come out of my waistband during vigorous presentations.
Smart Carry Invisible Holster
Constructed of highly durable denim with moisture-proof backing and elasticized Velcro straps, the Smart Carry lower abdominal carry rig provides the deepest concealment for a substantialsized blaster and an additional magazine. Smart Carry calls it the Invisible Holster, and it comes in two models, Standard and Security. The latter contains an extra pocket for valuables. I evaluated the Standard Model.
It can be worn without a shirt and does not print even with relatively snug shorts. Our Filipino assassin would have appreciated this system.
To mitigate snagging during the presentation, the holster has eliminated all downward-facing seams in the gun and magazine pockets and labels on the holster’s top front. As a result, the holster presents a clean, uncluttered surface for the firearm during the draw. This design detail removes the possibilities of revolver cylinders and forward-facing protrusions on semiautomatics from snagging on holster material as the gun is accessed.
If the rig is worn with shirt and trousers, tuck your undershirt in your underwear. I put the holster on backwards initially, tighten the straps and rotate the holster around to the front center of my lower abdomen. The holster rides below my waist on top of my hipbones. If the handgun and/or magazine ride too low and result in impeded access, cloth can be added to the pocket to expose more of either. Safety pins will also serve to “choke up” a gun or magazine. The gun should ride with its trigger guard inside the pocket.
The Smart Carry will also encompass your outer shirt and hold it in without bagging. One that is tapered to your waist size without excess material will work best.
Holstering is fairly intuitive, but as with any of these techniques, fingers should be out and away from the trigger. With the support-hand thumb, pull away the trousers or shorts and hook the firearm pocket of the holster. With the muzzle behind the support-hand thumb, insert the firearm into the pocket. The gun should be vertical with its butt above the top of your dominant-side pocket.
As with holstering, the draw is initiated by creating a gap between the holster and lower garment with your non-dominant hand. Reach in and grasp the firearm by the butt only and pull up. When the grip clears the holster and top of your beltline, flip your wrist up and the firearm will rotate into a firing grip. Sucking in the stomach will create an even larger gap between the garment and the rig.
If seated, leaning back is the way to go. Without going into graphic detail, the Smart Carry will not interfere with bodily functions while standing or sitting for either men or women. Smart Carry is immune to perspiration and does not require frequent washing. However, it can be machine washed in cold or warm water, but should be air-dried to preserve the elastic.
My average time using a Springer Precision- modified Springfield Armory XD Sub Compact pistol for five single-round draws and hits was 2.21 seconds.
These concealed carry designs are by no means speed rigs, and times garnered were with minimal practice and in hand-numbing cold weather. With the exception of the MIC Holster, sufficient familiarity with some of the more deeply secreted holsters should enable sub two-second presentations from deep concealment, which is pretty good in my book.
Flatter and narrower pistols worked best with most of these rigs, and smooth metal pistols with some weight were easier to extract than their polymer brethren. Larger pistols with more available grip surface also offered better hand purchase than smaller and more deeply ensconced pieces.
The handguns involved in the evaluations sat deeply in the various rigs’ pockets, and it was often difficult to obtain a full firing grip when clearing the holster. As a result, some of the guns had to be juggled into a firing grip en route to the target. Although it didn’t happen during testing, this could result in a fumbled firearm. Whenever I tried to “burn” the draw, I frequently botched the presentation. Remember, “Smooth is fast.”
While all these systems do their intended jobs well, for my money, the best rig for deepest concealment, comfort and relative speed is Smart Carry’s lower abdominal system, which also includes room for a spare magazine—an essential for any pistol.