Casting a Critical Eye on Weapons Technology and Training
with Tom Marx
Fit for female cops: Ankle holster designs
All of the major manufacturers and many of the specialty houses offer ankle holsters. Consider whether or not an ankle holster is right for you by completing this short checklist and keeping in mind a few common complaints about the model.
First, a word about the two-point support that is featured on some ankle holsters. Some people just can’t get used to the idea of something fastened around the calf, but I have found that it can make the rig more stable by preventing slippage. I wore an ankle holster for years with the two-strap configuration, and for me it was a real advantage. I could be quite active, and found that two-point support can also help control rotational movement.
I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve met who complained about the movement they experienced when wearing an ankle rig. Some felt it annoying, some felt it disconcerting and some felt it dangerous. But all of them felt it was enough to abandon the approach for carrying concealed. Often, it has to do with wearing bad socks. If the elastic is no longer functioning or if the sock has lost its shape, there is a good chance that no matter how tight the ankle band is, the holster can either sag along with it or rotate about the leg. Another issue is the surface finish and/or the material. A smooth, slick or slippery surface can promote movement, and if an ankle rig has a hook-and-loop closure, it can lead to skin irritation.
The B816 by Gould & Goodrich (G&G) employs a conventional leather-bodied, thumb break-equipped holster that carries the gun in a vertical orientation. It uses an adjustable neoprene band (with hook-and-loop adjustments around the ankle) that has a traditional sheepskin backing behind the holster for added comfort. It also includes what they call a “garter," or a leg strap to allow the wearer to support the weight at two points.
The B716 BootLock
Let’s look at G&G’s B716 BootLock model, which is primarily designed for ankle-borne backup guns while in uniform - but which can certainly find uses in plainclothes as well. The B716 is designed to be worn over a boot by running the boot laces through the wrap or band portion of holster. This is a single-point design that takes all of its support from the attachment to the footwear. It uses a conventional thumb break to retain the firearm, and guns are limited to a smaller group than the B816, as it is designed to focus only on those used in a secondary role.
Galco’s Ankle Glove™ is their top-of-the-line model and it employs a slightly raked, premium leather body that’s molded for fit and retention. Some versions are of an “open top” design that employ a tensioning device to retain the gun. Others employ a conventional thumb break and retention strap system, and still others use a retention strap that is designed to run behind the grip frame - not over or behind the hammer. Like the G&G B816, the Ankle Glove uses a wide neoprene ankle band with a hook-and-loop closure and a sheepskin pad between the holster and ankle for additional comfort. This holster is sold without a garter, but they offer one as an accessory.
Next in the Galco line is their Ankle Lite™, which uses the same wide neoprene ankle band with the hook-and-loop closure and sheepskin pad as the Ankle Glove but makes its reinforced thumb break retention strap holster from what they call Center Cut Steerhide™. The holster on this model rides in a vertical orientation and this rig is available in either the traditional black finish or a khaki one.
Galco’s Cop Ankle Band™ uses elastic instead of neoprene for the hook-and-loop adjustable ankle band and it is padded and suede-lined in the area the behind the holster. The holster itself uses an adjustable hook-and-loop retention strap with a thumb break release for pistols and what they call a “conventional release” for revolvers.
Finally, Galco also offers their Cop Ankle Safe™, which is designed to carry things other than the gun in the same place and in the same manner. This ambidextrous device uses an elasticized nylon ankle band with a hook-and-loop closure and it offers two different sized elastic pockets which will accommodate spare magazines, folding knives, a wallet or ID case, a reasonably sized cell phone, a pair of handcuffs, or most similarly-sized items.
I like this concept, but one has to be careful in employing it. Just as with some shoulder holster combinations, people can start carrying around more than they need, making things clumsy and awkward. They might be carrying them in a position that isn’t always an optimum one for their production. Don’t forget that while this is a very valid way to carry a spare mag, how do you reach it if you already have the gun in one hand and you are raising your pant leg with the other? If there is nowhere else on your body that such things can be worn and if you are willing to practice with them ahead of time, then this device could be a good idea.
All three of Galco’s ankle holsters are designed to accommodate ankle circumferences of up to 13”. For those who wear boots or have larger legs, they offer what they call a Boot Extender™. Constructed from 4” wide elastic, it adapts any of the three models described here to be worn by people with larger ankles or those wearing boots by extending the length of the ankle band from one to five inches. For the boot-wearer, it also utilizes a Center Cut Steerhide shield to protect the ankle wrap itself from any lacing hooks the footwear might employ.
Next time we will look at even more specific models of Ankle Holsters and the particular design and performance characteristics that each one possesses.