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February 28, 2012
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Tom Marx Casting a Critical Eye on Weapons Technology and Training
with Tom Marx

Fit for female cops: Making thigh and calf holsters work for you

Last time, we looked at holsters that were secreted on the body within the groin. In this installment, we’ll move a bit further down the body and see if thigh holsters can be useful to some people. And before we go any further, please note that I am talking about true “thigh holsters” here and not some sort of garter or garter attachment that is sold for derringers or outright novelty purposes.

Unfortunately, because even some of the more “serious” designs (and certainly all of the lesser ones) were often sold in the past by provocative, if not outright sexist advertising, these models were many times looked upon more as a joke than as a practical and effective means of carrying a firearm. There were also issues of quality and performance for here too, some (not all) of them were produced as a novelty in that regard as well and did not represent the advances in materials and construction seen in some of the other holsters we have been studying in this series. I must fully admit that, as a result, in my twenty-some years of lecturing and conducting live fire classes on this subject (and studying and experimenting in this area for far longer), I was one of those who did not always take such designs seriously.

But Galco has changed all that with their second generation thigh band that is worn on the inside of the weak or non-dominant leg and the weight of which is carried either by the wear’s belt or by an unseen (worn under the clothing) waist strap.

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Considerations and possible limitations
Like so many of the holsters that we address in this series, it requires that you be realistic in regard to the guns being carried. No big guns here, as size and weight are both an issue. And while this holster is very capable of carrying small lightweight revolvers, their uneven surfaces might prove uncomfortable for some people to wear in this manner. A flat, semi-automatic might make more sense here but it is up to you to decide, as the revolver might actually be a lighter carry. It all depends on the profile of your leg and how you react to such things resting (or actually pressing) against your body.

There is one other subtle issue involving the carrying of either type of handgun in this location and it also results from the way the firearm is generally pressed into the thigh. Most of the other holsters we have studied, even those that carry the weapon tightly into the body, still allow for the shooters thumb to get between it (the body) and the gun to facilitate the creation of a solid shooting (or master) grip on it (the gun) before the draw is made. Here, however, where for even a well-toned individual with low body fat, the inside of the upper thigh can be a bit “fleshy”, the gun might sit so deeply within it that it might affect the ability to obtain that grip. Once more, this is usually something that can be overcome with practice. It’s just that many people don’t practice and discovering that the gun doesn’t merely slip into the hand during the time it is needed the most, is not a desirable situation.

This holster also requires that the firearm be carried muzzle down so one needs to look seriously at how high a dress, skirt or pair of shorts can be hiked up to access the weapon. Then that has to be balanced against the issue of those same garments riding up on their own when seated and perhaps unintentionally revealing the firearm. Note that pants can be used here as well but they must be relatively full cut and the drawing technique (basically accessing the handgun thru an opened trouser fly) is a bit more involved.

The user must be “comfortable” with wearing a gun in this location: both physically and psychologically. They must learn to sit, stand and walk with gun there without acting differently than they would otherwise. They must balance its value against the activities they might perform (running and driving immediately come to mind in that regard). And they must be willing to practice the production of a weapon from this position before using a holster like this; for it is not something that readily builds off the past experience gained with models worn in more conventional locations.

I think that the thigh holster concept is very much worth considering; especially when certain dresses and skirts are worn and/or the lack of a covering garment or purse makes other methods of carry impossible.

Lower leg models
Travelling down the leg from the thigh to the calf, there are holsters that are designed to be worn in this vicinity under a pants leg and which sometimes make use of, or interact with certain types of boots. Because of the kinds of pants that many women wear and the type of footwear they use, many of these holsters will be limited to “on duty” use (perhaps to “hide” a second gun while in uniform) or to only certain combinations of “off duty” clothing.

The biggest issue here is the need to raise the covering pant leg much higher than is necessary then when drawing from an ankle holster and as such, it is not that popular a design unless the ankle is covered by a high top shoe or boot and the pant leg can be cut large enough to accommodate either the circumference of a boot and the holster combined or the diameter created by the calf, gun and holster combined.

Many of the other concerns, applications and drawing techniques for the calf holster are similar to those for the ankle holster and as the ankle “rig” is obviously the most popular model in this group of along-the-body designs, we will talk about them in detail the next time when we look at those holsters as a separate topic.

About the author

Tom Marx left the Chicago Police Department in 1988 to become an instructor at the Smith & Wesson Academy. After several years of teaching full time both nationally and internationally, he shifted roles at Smith: first to a series of technical positions and then as Head of their Domestic Law Enforcement Operations. He left S&W to organize a Law Enforcement Division for Michaels of Oregon as well as to help design much of their police-related duty gear. Leaving Uncle Mike’s, Tom became Director of Intellectual Property for BLACKHAWK Products Group; focusing on the patent efforts for all of their divisions. Today, he is a consultant in various firearms, accessory and training matters. Throughout the years, Tom has continued to lecture and instruct both inside and outside the US with such diverse groups as ILEETA, IALEFI, WIFLE, LETC, NDIA, the NRA, and Team One Network. .

Contact Tom Marx.




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