Hollywood magic has a way of making thigh carry suave and sexy, but in practice it’s more difficult than it looks. Although, if it is well managed, it can be one of the most subtle methods of ladies’ concealed carry. For ladies who don’t want to give up their skirts and dresses in order to conceal carry, a good thigh holster may be just the ticket.
As with any other method of carry, it’s very important with thigh carry to utilize a holster. A good thigh holster should, as with any other holster style, cover the trigger guard, but the bigger challenge is in keeping the gun where it needs to be. Thighs have two features that work against holsters staying in place. First, the natural, tapered shape of the thigh means that even the most firmly affixed holsters will have a tendency to scoot down the leg, toward the knee. Second, between walking, running, jumping, and even moving from sitting down to standing up, thighs do a whole lot of moving around — even the most sedentary couch potatoes have to stand up once in a while. There are generally two approaches to combatting this challenges: elastic or garters (or sometimes both).
Much like a pair of nylons, elastic thigh holsters, such as the Alpha Brace Thigh Holster, look great with dresses but are as uncomfortable as all get out. These holsters generally consist of a large elastic band that wraps around one’s thigh, a velcro strap (to adjust the tension), and a pocket for the firearm. Some styles feature a “grippy” material on the surface that touches the skin to help it “stick” better to the leg. Elastic holsters are easy to use, fit a variety of firearms, and with the advent of the adjustable strap, can accommodate a large range of leg sizes. However, the elastic that makes these holsters stay in place is the same feature that makes them uncomfortable. Oftentimes, in order to ensure the holster wins gravity’s crusade against your firearm, you’ll have to cinch that sucker down tightly. After a while, even the most initially comfortable elastic starts to feel like limb-numbing tourniquet. Those holsters with “grippy” materials (like the Remora or the aforementioned Alpha Brace holsters, for example) stay comfortable a little longer, but I still end up wanting to rip it off after about 6 hours (I can stretch it to 8 if I’m stationary for large parts of that time frame).
More than one clever holster maker is capitalizing on the fact that the market for discreet thigh holsters is largely a female one. Despite the fact that the goal of concealed carry is to prevent one’s firearm from being seen, it hasn’t stopped elaborate lacy fashion statements from selling alongside their plainer utilitarian counterparts. Many garter holsters feature an elastic strap that fits around the leg, either with a pocket (like the elastic holsters) or a leather/fitted holster attached to the fabric for holding the firearm, and and include garter straps. The combination of elastic around the thigh with the added security of the garter straps helps ensure your holster stay put on your thigh and better resist gravity’s pull. However, having garter straps on your holster means you’ll also need a garter belt. And while they may not be as common as they were in the 40’s and 50’s, they can still be found.
Be careful when shopping for the lace “garter” holsters. As sexy as they may be, I’ve seen a number of them that aren’t ideal for CCW. In my research for this article, I frequently encountered examples of lacy little numbers that were less than practical. Some swallowed little pistols whole, which made me imagine the dubious challenge of clawing it out from between the thin lace folds to retrieve it in a time of need. A little pretty never hurt, so long as it doesn’t compromise the holster’s functionality. A good holster needs to protect the trigger guard (ensuring no unintentional trigger pulls), and also keep the firearm accessible for draw.
Finding the right thigh holster is key in effective thigh carry, but knowing where to wear it is equally important. Stay tuned for How to Carry: Thigh Holster – Part 2 for some pointers on how to make your thigh holster work best.
Featured image screen shot from Die Another Day courtesy of imfdb.org