Ankle Holster - Good idea, or Bad?


June 27, 2014, 11:48 PM
To start, I'm interested in carrying my S&W Shield 9mm in an ankle holster, as a means of more practical concealment, when wearing dress clothes in particular... After more searching however, I'm not so sure ankle-carry is the best choice, and I'd like to hear feedback from others.

My primary carry method is appendix, IWB, around the 11:30 mark, as I'm left handed. This works great for about 95% of my carry needs, but only when wearing shirts un-tucked. One trick I've discovered, is to rotate my entire belt, shifting the belt-buckle as far away from the gun as possible, which keeps the buckle from sticking out and creating a weird bulge around my waist line. This works fine, and since my shirt is un-tucked and covering the whole thing, nobody ever knows.

I have carried AIWB before, with my shirt tucked over the holster, but it looks funny, and drastically decreases the comfort level, even if only mentally. For dress occasions, (church, funeral etc,) I've resorted to carrying in about the 7:30 position, (again, let handed) with my shirt tucked in behind the holster, and wearing a dress jacket to cover up the gun.

Now, wit temperatures heating up, I'm looking for a way to lose the jacket, and stay concealed.

I don think the Shield is a good pocket-carry candidate for me - I don't think it will fit in any of my pants pockets. And at this point, a smaller pocket-gun doesn't seem very practical either, as I don't think I could shoot a smaller gun very well.

Which has me thinking ankle carry, but I've been reading a lot of negative feedback about ankle carry. Thoughts? Particularly, ankle carrying under dress-pants? Is there a better alternative, that allows for concealed carry, with tucked in shirts? (Polo's, dress button-down's, etc...)

Sorry for the long- winded post. Thanks for reading.

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June 27, 2014, 11:54 PM
One other thought...

I suppose one option would be to simply keep the IWB carry method, with my shirt tucked behind the holster, and get a retention holster. This could work ok I guess, but a definite no-no unless we were just out in the general public.

I'd still like to avoid that route, unless it's just a last-resort... It would definitely not be an option in church, or other "inappropriate" settings.

June 28, 2014, 12:07 AM
If you are attacked, do you really want to crouch down in front of your assailant to retrieve your primary sidearm?

Do you think that position would make you more or less vulnerable while doing so?

For close-in defense I tend to think the ankle holster would be the worst choice unless you expect you'll be in a sitting position.

There are holsters that allow you to tuck your shirt in and remain concealed.

June 28, 2014, 08:23 AM
The crouching/draw issue is a negative four sure. It would be ideal to seek cover/ concealment for the draw. Granted, one never gets to plan-out their worst day , but considering the environments where I'd be ankle-carrying, (church, work, maybe 1% other,) sitting, and cover would be definite possibilities. Knowing the disadvantages of drawing, and the surroundings of the likely environments, we'll call it a wash, or perhaps, a calculated "risk." Keep in mind, ankle carry will only make up about 5-10% of my carry time. The rest is all covered by my AIWB rig.

I'm most interested in the conceal-ability of ankle holsters under dress clothes. Maximum concealment is really what I'm after here, I just don't know if that's possible with an ankle holster.

I'll keep investigating tuck-able IWB holsters.


4v50 Gary
June 28, 2014, 08:39 AM
I used to carry in an ankle rig. Then one time I had to run. The holster went up my calf and then slammed down on the ankle bone. Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! I limped for a while. No thanks. If you go this route, make sure it's padded to protect your ankle.

June 28, 2014, 11:16 AM
The crouching/draw issue is a negative four sure. It would be ideal to seek cover/ concealment for the draw.

Generally prefer to plan for the worst and hope for the best, not the other way around.
I'm most interested in the conceal-ability of ankle holsters under dress clothes. Maximum concealment is really what I'm after here, I just don't know if that's possible with an ankle holster.
I seriously doubt anyone would notice it in your holster- I open carry a 1911 on my belt and few ever notice. For the limited use you mention the ankle holster might be what you need- bearing in mind its limitations.

As far as comfort, yes they aren't the most comfortable. When I was flying cargo in the Air Force we were issued S&W snub-nose model 15s for concealed carry, and a cheap shoulder holster to wear under our flight suit. I bought a cheap nylon ankle holster that I had to modify a little to make it work right. I didn't much like the weight of the revolver on the outside of my leg, tried the inside and didn't like that either. I rotated it so the the gun was on the front of my leg and it was perfect.

June 28, 2014, 02:29 PM
Another factor to consider with an ankle rig is that the gun will be subjected to a lot more grit and dust and will require almost daily inspection and cleaning. You know that grit that gets all over your dress shoes? That stuff will be all over and inside your gun. I would try very hard to find another mode of carry.

The Lone Haranguer
June 28, 2014, 08:45 PM
It could be viable for some people, in some situations, to carry a backup gun in. For one's only gun, no way.

June 28, 2014, 09:30 PM
I agree the ONLY use for an ankle rig is to carry a back-up, to the back-up, to your primary carry gun on your belt.

If all else fails, and you are already laying on the ground?
It will be pretty easy to reach then if you can still bend the leg it is strapped too.

The rest of the time for a primary gun?
No way man!

I'd dress in a monks habit if thats what it took to conceal a belt gun I could reach while i was still standing up on both hind legs!!!


June 28, 2014, 10:53 PM
First off, congrats for trying to always be armed!

For your only gun I feel that ankle carry is only better than off the body carry, but any gun is better than no gun.

Are your dress shirts one size bigger than you would wear normally? If they are you can tuck the shirt in, but kind of "blouse" the shirt out and be able to conceal a pretty large handgun. (I'm 5'11'' 150lbs and can conceal a G19 that way.) YMMV though.

Hope this is helpful.

June 29, 2014, 12:27 AM
I have used a Galco ankle holster with a J-frame almost every day for four years and have had no problems with it except that it gets stinky. It would be the first gun I reach for ONLY when I am strapped into my car's driver's seat, because it would be faster to draw than the primary carry weapon that is in my waistband or pocket. So my message is, have something to use when standing, plus a BUG.

Also, you mentioned concealment of an ankle holster under dress clothes - again, no problem with the J-frame in the Galco (and I keep the gun's butt a little bit forward of the side of the ankle), but I tried the Glock 27 in the same type of Galco holster and it just stuck out way too much and was not really concealable. You might just have to try a few things and see what works for you.

In those situations when a holster on the belt, even IWB, will just not work, I have found that a pocket holster will work - nobody should be touching me below the belt! Its usually another J-frame.

June 29, 2014, 03:16 AM
I used to carry in an ankle holster. I actually remember thinking "that was dumb" while being mugged and realizing there was no way to reach it.

Needless to say, I've never used that holster again. Maybe it's OK for a secondary weapon but not primary.

Vodoun da Vinci
June 29, 2014, 07:57 AM
I have an ankle rig and agree that it is not the best option but it gives me a gun when I wear things I can't conceal one any other way....I'm not as fast out of the ankle rig but many folks I train with are surprised. If you train to stay flexible (I do) you can grasp the pant leg, pull, bend and draw and the odd thing is that folks think yer ducking. Until you come up with a pistol.

Ankle rig = not the best option but way better than not having a gun or printing/advertising that you are armed. I carry Appendix primarily as well and find I can hide A G42, Colt 1903 (thin) or such in a pair of Dockers with dress shirt tucked in with a tuckable High Noon holster. Even my Wife can't spot it when she's looking for it. My best option for concealed carry is Appendix carry as it affords the best conceal ability and access to the weapon *but* it did not work with extra belly in the way.

I weight train and lost 30 pounds to accommodate that style of concealment - not for everyone but an option to the ankle carry since we are discussing it.


Combat Engineer
June 29, 2014, 12:05 PM
Double post.

Combat Engineer
June 29, 2014, 12:06 PM
Have comfortably ankle carried the following: Walther PPK, Walther PPS, AMT BACKUP 45, Sig P238, old Bodyguard style J-frame humpback snubby, and currently carrying a small 1911 Kimber RCP.

Have also carried a Sig 229, Sig 239, SW99, Charter Arms 44, and S&W NG 396, but these do not carry well (for me).

It is a BUG, but on occasion, have ankle carried as a primary (only gun)... dropping to one knee while drawing and firing can be done very, very quickly. I use an inexpensive sheepskin padded Wolverine wide stretch band holster with all snaps removed. The bad news is you don't want to run with this ankle rig, did that once chasing after a car, when all of a sudden the Makarov PM went flying out of the ankle holster. That ended the chase.

As for dirt and dust, that has never been an issue, every so often a couple shots at the range blows off the dirt/dust. Just wear loose comfortable clothing and one is good to go.

Have not tried the S&W Shield, but guessing it could work.

June 29, 2014, 03:33 PM
I'm left handed too, :D . Id think a pocket holster or maybe a under-shirt style could do better.
New holster shirts from firms like or can offer decent concealment and quick access. Even in dress/business wear or hot weather.

Some firms also offer pistol magazine holders for the weak side pocket; DeSantis . They keep lint, crud out of the magazine too. ;)

EDIT; I re-read the first post & removed my remarks about pocket rigs/carry.

June 29, 2014, 04:12 PM
I used to carry in an ankle holster. I actually remember thinking "that was dumb" while being mugged and realizing there was no way to reach it.Dropping to one knee in close proximity to a mugger might be considered by the mugger to be an "offer" to give him something he didn't ask for- which may anger or possibly thrill him. I don't think I want to put that idea into his head either way. ;)

June 29, 2014, 09:38 PM
Author & firearms tactics trainer Massad Ayoob noted a uniformed cop who did just that in a critical incident.
A group of thugs got the drop on the officer. They took his sidearm & circled around him. :uhoh:
The officer begged for a quick prayer asking them to spare his life.
The thugs laughed but let me kneel.
The cop strung it out & as he stood up, he pulled a Chief's Special .38spl shooting the felon holding the gun. :D
That ankle holster method did work for him.

Combat Engineer
June 30, 2014, 10:06 AM
Years ago, in an urban gunfighting tactics class, the instructor, a Detroit PD cop with 17 years experience, discussed ankle carry. Told me the story of an off-duty cop who was staring at a perp who had just got the drop on him. The cop suddenly dropped to one knee while pulling and firing his ankle gun, disabling the perp. Later in hospital, the perp was asked why he had not fired his gun, after all, his gun was already drawn and pointed at the off-duty cop. The perp said "the guy just disappeared!" A police psychiatrist explained that the perp, under stress, had developed a kind of tunnel vision and lost sight (could not see) the cop who was right in front of him, who had dropped down to one knee.

Tho ankle carry may not be for everyone, it has its advantages: deep cover, the user becomes a smaller target, can move in unexpected ways, affords an excellent low field of fire, and has surreptitious counterstrike benefit.

June 30, 2014, 06:33 PM
This sounds strange but it's not uncommon. :uhoh:

I read a training guide in the early 1990s that showed how home owners/cops ducked behind TVs, couches, stereos, etc & armed crooks would not shoot at them. :eek:
I've seen a few recent H2H & defense courses where cadre teach people to disarm or avoid things like knives, rifles, shotguns, etc.
would that really work in a high stress event? I doubt it.
Some career felon who spent 60-80% of their life in jails/prisons & is dangerous enough to pull a home invasion with a firearm isn't going to go down easy.
Tunnel vision or stress can happen but dont bet on it.

July 5, 2014, 08:57 PM
I got to church with a detective who carries his back up on his ankle.

July 7, 2014, 05:06 PM
Your ankle is a daft place for a firearm.

July 7, 2014, 08:42 PM I clearly have no experience with ankle carry. But I do know that when I sit my pants leg - whether it's jeans or nicer pants - hikes up a bit. How can you ankle carry and not expose your concealed weapon? To me it seem impractical, from a access issue and maintaining concealment.

Maybe I'm missing something.

July 7, 2014, 11:30 PM
An ankle holster is slower, but sometimes its is a good idea when deep concealment is needed. I bought one yesterday but realized that my pistol, even though a compact pistol (PT709 Slim) is too big for ankle carry. My pants are over sized but I can clearly see my pistol. I will be spotted, so for me it was money wasted. I won't be able to use mine

Vodoun da Vinci
July 8, 2014, 06:30 PM
But I do know that when I sit my pants leg - whether it's jeans or nicer pants - hikes up a bit. How can you ankle carry and not expose your concealed weapon?

Maybe I'm missing something.

A guy at work ankle carries and has the same problem - his pants hike up enough when he sits that the weapon is partially exposed. Mine does not do that - number one I have a dealie/strap that keep the holster from falling down onto my shoe (it rides higher) and number two my pants "drape" a bit onto my shoe when standing. i have never worn it with blue jeans and never would.

My pants are longer. Also I think it may have to do with other factors like how tight the pant thigh is and how chubby your legs are. I dunno... my pant leg rides up to where the very top of my shoe is exposed but the holster doesn't show.

Clearly ankle carry is not perfect and not for everybody and requires, as most carry styles do, that you dress for the carry style and weapon carried. The fact that a lot of folks do it and it has been done for some years and is done by "professionals" (I know several LEO that carry a back up in an ankle rig) should give the hint that it's not only for folks who don't know better. And with practice and the right mindset one can draw without dropping to one knee *if* one has the flexibility, equipment, and body shape to pull that off.

It works for some of us. Probably not for all. I carry primarily AIWB and that's not for everyone either. Many folks don't have a body shape that can accommodate Appendix Carry...same with pocket carry which I do also. Different folks with various weapons, body shapes, and dress styles will get better benefit from some carry styles and ankle carry would definitely qualify as one of the more difficualt to pull off well.


July 8, 2014, 08:03 PM
I've used ankle holsters since the mid-70s. In the summer it's an option for jeans and a t-shirt attire. Beats not having a gun. The only negative I have ever experienced was the thumb break snap coming undone. My ankle holsters now have been professionally altered (local leather shop) to use a Velcro strap instead of the snap. I generally pocket carry these days for both comfort and ease of acquisition.

Not sure about the size of the Shield? I have carried a J Frame, small frame Beretta, and an NAA Guardian in this manner. The smaller/lighter the gun, the more comfortable it is.

July 9, 2014, 02:01 PM
I have ankle carried in the past, not so much anymore since I am not urban living anymore. I would never consider ankle carry a good idea for a primary firearm, but adequate for a backup firearm, magazine, knife, flashlight etc. Primary firearms need to be easily and quickly accessible, for most people that is on or in the waistband on the dominant hand side. It would take much more practice to draw from an ankle as quickly as drawing from the waist while maintaining safety, conceal ability, comfort, practicality and so on.

The smaller the firearm is on your ankle, the better. This will help with comfort as well as keeping it concealed. Not everyone can ankle carry a Beretta 92FS like Arnold can. In general the largest firearm you would want to carry on the ankle is the size of a Glock 26, as most holsters will fit that firearm or similar size.

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