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January 30, 2012
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Tom Marx Casting a Critical Eye on Weapons Technology and Training
with Tom Marx

Fit for female cops: 3 groin holsters to try

In the last several segments, we looked at belly bands and discussed how for women, holsters could be not worn at as many points up-and-down along the vertical axis of the body as men. We’ll pick up and begin to consider the holsters that can be employed in perhaps less-than-traditional positions: the groin and lower abdominals.

Considerations and restrictions
I have seen both articles and advertisements for such holsters that indicate that there are “few” clothing restrictions regarding them but I’m afraid that I must disagree. For not only must the wearer have the body type to allow for the comfortable carrying and unencumbered production of a firearm in this location but they must also wear clothing that will not let the gun be seen (generally “printed” or observed) thru it and they must wear clothing that is capable of allowing the gun to be drawn from under it. And as we have seen elsewhere in our study, sometimes that can be easier said than done.

Thin, lightweight and even light-colored fabrics can be problematic in this regard; so can flat-paneled garments or clothing that “lies” rather than “drapes” across this region. Fuller cut or pleated pants for example, might be better in this regard than something more body-hugging or shape-defining. Straight-line or pencil skirts might be “out” as well. What I am talking about here is not just a matter of the pant or skirt being tight-fitting but a matter of its shape being incompatible with concealing an object carried underneath it. Once again, it’s something that requires that you think ahead and not just consider the holster alone.

The drawing technique is also something that takes some thinking ahead of time. For not only must one be able to expand the waistband away from the abdominal area in order to reach the firearm, but one must also make sure that any clothing tucked into the waistband is behind the holster and that nothing is present that will snag the gun upon removal.

Furthermore, the user needs to safely practice with an unloaded firearm or a firearm simulator (a good practice anyway) until they are not only sure of the movements but also of the muzzle so that at no time are they covering their support hand or arm with it or are they turning the gun into the legs, groin or torso. This is especially true as the support hand normally continues to hold the waistband open while the master hand removes the gun not only from the strong side of the holster in which it is carried but also from the groin and waist area as whole.

Worth the trouble
All of this sounds complex and one might wonder if it is worth the trouble. Like much of what we have discussed so far in this series, it’s often easier to do than describe and in any case, I would tell you that at least one friend of mine, who uses this type of holster all the time, certainly believes it is. He (yes, a male) and many others think that getting used to a holster worn in this location was no different than any other holster they have used and that it allowed them to dress in ways that other, more conventional holsters would never do.

And while I might be at odds with some of the manufacturers about clothing concerns, I do agree with some of them that one of the biggest mistakes people make with these designs is that they wear them too high; almost as a waistband holster and not as the groin/lower abdominal configuration it really is. Worn at waist level, these devices are neither comfortable nor concealable. But dropped down several inches into the groin (but still supported by the straps, which are generally designed to ride along the hip structure) these holsters can permit, if one’s physique and wardrobe allows, small-to-moderately-sized weapons to be carried comfortably and generally out of sight.

The manufacturers all have their own ideas about the product itself and how it should be designed and constructed. For while most of these lower-abdomen (groin) holsters look to be the same (to the casual observer anyway), there are some very subtle differences between them and I’ll try to hit at least a few of the high spots in that regard here.

Try these three
There are at least three well-known companies that make these holsters. Thunderwear is probably the best known and their time and experience in the business has made their name something of a generic title for all of these concepts. But these days people also buy such rigs from SmartCarry and Lightningwear. All three are designed to work in much that same manner but all approach the matter a bit differently.

Thunderwear draws from a patent granted back in the 90s and is available in three sizes to accommodate a wide range of firearms and in either a two or three pocket configuration to better facilitate one’s needs and what else might need to be carried along with the gun. They use a soft denim double wall for comfort and abrasion resistance. And the holster contains a moisture barrier as well; something that is very important in a design that is intended to be worn so closely against this part of the body. They make them to order and the hip strap is cut to allow for 4” of adjustment on either side of the nominal dimension (for an 8” total adjustment).

SmartCarry claims a patent as well and they say that it allows for a more snag-resistant construction to help facilitate the draw. They also claim a perspiration-resistant back wall and achieve it thru the use of Cushmax®, a rugged, breathable and wicking fabric that has proven itself in other industries before being applied here. SmartCarry Holsters are also available in two of three pocket versions and in sizes to fit just about any gun and waist size to come along. They can also be ordered in white with a more discrete labeling so as not to be seen through certain lighter materials or covering colors.

Lightningwear also offers white. And black. And they make their holsters from a nylon material, which is lightly padded on the front to minimize printing and a bit more heavily padded on the rear for comfort. It is offered in a single size with an elasticized and hook-and-loop waistband.

I used to openly dismiss this concept but if the holster is correctly designed and matched with proper clothing, body type and gun size, I can now see its value. But not only must the potential user be objective about these points but they must also recognize any potential issues such as the wearing of a firearm against the pubic structure in the case of a blow or a strike to that region. Again, like so many of the things that we have discussed in this series, I emphasize that you employ a big picture approach if considering something like these lower abdominal designs.

Next time, we'll move a little further down the line and look at thigh holsters.

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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