Concealed Carry: Shoulder Systems

Discussion in 'CCW & Open Carry' started by lklawson, Aug 28, 2015.

  1. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    From the American Rifleman archives:

    Concealed Carry: Shoulder Systems
    by Paul Rackley - Monday, February 7, 2011

    Don Johnson had a powerful influence on both fashion and popular culture as Sonny Crockett in “Miami Vice.” Millions of men across America wore T-shirts under Italian sport coats, white linen pants, sockless loafers, pastel colors and five o’clock shadow during the 80s.

    He also influenced another more discreet trend—shoulder holsters. On the show, Crockett carried one of three pistols—a Bren Ten, a Smith & Wesson 645 and a Smith & Wesson 4506—in a shoulder rig that eventually became known as the Galco Miami Classic after Rick Gallagher, president of Galco Gunleather, flew to the set to personally fit Johnson in what was then known as the Jackass Rig because the actor was dissatisfied with his previous holster.

    There are many references to shoulder holsters in both fiction and history. Old West gamblers often carried small revolvers under their coats, while it’s believed Elliot Ness carried a 2-inch Colt under his arm while pursuing Al Capone. Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer frequently carried a .45 automatic in a shoulder rig, and, of course, who can forget James Bond who always carried his Walther PPK in a shoulder holster under his expertly tailored tuxedo.

    Shoulder holsters are not strongly advocated by self-defense experts, though shoulder carry does have its supporters.

    “You don’t often see them in competition or training, but shoulder holsters are practical real-world carry systems,” said Mike Barham of Galco Gunleather. “They’re comfortable and everything is together in one system. You just grab and go.”

    Women do particularly well with a shoulder holster as it fits their bodies efficiently. Women tend to be higher in the hip than men, which makes waist carry uncomfortable for them. Shoulder rigs also do well for people who spend long periods of time sitting in vehicles for their jobs, such as truck drivers and pilots, as the handgun is accessible but hidden.

    The main reasons that shoulder carry has lost popularity over the years are speed and safety. A practiced strong-side draw from the waist is usually faster than reaching across the body to swing a gun around on target. Also, it is very difficult to draw from a shoulder holster without sweeping someone with the muzzle. In fact, many police agencies have banned shoulder rigs for this very reason. And if the handgun is situated horizontally or angled for a faster draw, the gun is technically pointed at anyone who is behind the carrier.

    There are three main styles of shoulder holsters—horizontal, vertical and angled—each named for how the gun is held under the shoulder.

    The vertical rig, where the muzzle is pointed down, is probably the slowest on the draw, but it allows for a larger gun to be carried, such as a Government Model 1911 or a full-size revolver. To draw from a vertical shoulder holster, the user quarters away from the threat with the gun arm while reaching across the body to obtain a firm grip on the gun. At the same time, he or she raises the support arm to be out of the gun’s path as the user draws the gun up and across the body to quickly get the muzzle on the intended target. One benefit of a vertical shoulder holster is the potential of a support-hand draw if needed.

    The horizontal shoulder holster lends itself to a faster draw than the vertical holster. Once again, the user reaches across the body as the support arm rises away from the muzzle as the handgun is pulled straight out across the body to come to bear on the target. However, unless the carrier is very large, only shorter barreled guns can be used in this type of holster without the muzzle printing through the back of the cover garment.

    The angled shoulder holster also lends itself to a faster draw, but men with broad chests sometimes have a difficult time obtaining a firm grasp on the gun’s handle. To compensate, most start the draw by snagging the handle with the middle finger to pull the holster forward enough to obtain a grip. However, since the muzzle is angled up toward the armpit and the brachial artery, extreme caution must be taken to keep the finger off the trigger when drawing from this type of shoulder holster.

    While shoulder holsters may have various shortcomings, they also have their virtues. They are comfortable enough for all-day carry, but their largest benefit to a gun carrier is an easily hidden draw. To obtain a grasp on the gun, the user only has to cross his or her arms. The user still has to get the gun out and into action, but starting with a grip on the gun helps speed things up.

    Shoulder holsters have been around for about as long as the idea of concealing a gun. They’re not for everyone, but for some, shoulder holsters remain a practical carry option. And there is no doubt that Sonny made them look cool.
     

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  2. Outlaw

    Outlaw Supporting Member

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    I like the shoulder carry for the reasons in the article. I also realize the negatives. I have never liked waste carry of any type. It's simply uncomfortable to me. When in the city I use the T-Shirts with built in holsters. I generally keep the top button or two of my outer shirt unbuttoned. This increases access tremendously. Just a matter of practice. When down south on my property or out on the 4 wheeler I open carry with the same shoulder rig. There is less flopping around than hip carry and IWB carry is extremely uncomfortable to me in any sitting position. Ankle carry for me is also awkward. It's simply a matter of preference in most cases. If I were in law enforcement where I were constantly in the mix, or subject to be, I would probably be forced into IWB or traditional belt carry. But, I'm not and I won't. Pretty much each to his own :foilhat:
     

  3. Rerun

    Rerun Member

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    I like using the military shoulder holsters.

    They place the weapon (semi or revolver) closer to the front of the chest.

    Of course this means I have to wear an outer jacket or vest to conceal it but, with the exception of the T-shirt with the built in holster everyone needs to wear outer clothing with any other shoulder rig.

    eldar
     
  4. undeRGRound

    undeRGRound ROLL wif Da MOLE! Supporting Member

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    Definitely on my list of carry options.
     
  5. undeRGRound

    undeRGRound ROLL wif Da MOLE! Supporting Member

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    I'm not big overall, about 5'10 and currently around 190#, so I want to know
    what is likely the size limit of a barrel in a 1911 style weapon? Could I maybe
    get away with a 4.25" in a horizontal draw? Just looking for a starting point, guys.
     
  6. Outlaw

    Outlaw Supporting Member

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    Dude, I've seen guys carry 8" .44 magnums in shoulder rigs, but the barrel is vertical. I've done it and I'm 5'8"/170. A little more to conceal, but quite easy to do. Horizontal is a bit more involved.
     
  7. FlashBang

    FlashBang I Stand With Talon Lifetime Supporter

    If I was going to shoulder holster carry and did not want to get beat to death, I'd carry an Officers model, something like the RIA 1911-CS Tactical with a 3.5" barrel.

    .
     
  8. Rerun

    Rerun Member

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    Me, too.

    eldar
     
  9. We pretty much have 5-6 months of jacket weather up here in Michigan.Easy enough to conceal a large frame handgun with a shoulder holster.Its just the times when your visiting people in homes and such.Take the jacket off and it looks a little intimidating.Do you leave it locked in the car/truck?
     
  10. moona11

    moona11 King of you Monkeys Lifetime Supporter

    Carry it and ask if they mind you taking your coat off and why
     
  11. Hermitt

    Hermitt Hey! Get Off My Lawn! Member

  12. FlashBang

    FlashBang I Stand With Talon Lifetime Supporter

    I never leave a weapon in a vehicle unattended. It's called a Concealed "Carry" Permit, not a "Leave it in your car permit". :)

    .
     
  13. Walk in to a crowded Family event.Take your jacket off.They all look at you like your Clint Eastwood.Whats that?? Many are ignorant,most are lazy.One or 2 that carries too.
     
  14. undeRGRound

    undeRGRound ROLL wif Da MOLE! Supporting Member

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    "School" the "ignorant" :p
     
  15. beaglenc

    beaglenc Member

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    I hear ya but my life does not run on a schedule where I know every stop in my day.
    Pick my kid up from school? Gun stays in the car locked and alarmed. Post office? No way.
    If I cannot leave it in my car then the choice is no carry at all(out of the question).
    I always respect the wishes of any hosts who don't feel good about my having one in their home.

    The whole weapon in a car thing is not so uncomfortable for me. I hunt. I hunt before work, change in the woods and go to work. All my life. In my 50's now.
    I hunt and go shopping or do what needs to be done and the car is secured.
    It's a risk i have to take or my activities that I enjoy, and my lifestyle would have to drastically change if I abided by never securing a weapon in my car.
    This is how it works for me.
    Doesn't mean I am right and you are wrong.
    ;) It's all good.