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Is this shoulder rig idea insane?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Holsters and Accessories' started by Skribs, Mar 2, 2014.

  1. Skribs

    Skribs Well-Known Member

    I was thinking about trying out a shoulder rig*, but I looked around online and the prices are pretty high for "just trying out", at least on my budget. However, most of these rigs are expensive because they require you to have their holster, either the one made specifically for that rig, or the one made to be compatible with that rig (i.e. Blackhawk SERPA).

    Well, I already have holsters. They are compatible with pretty much any gunbelt, not a specific brand of belt. So what if I (and by me, I mean people I know who are actually capable of making something with their hands using my design) made a shoulder rig that just had a belt substitute where the holster needed to go? Something that I could run a belt loop holster through, and voila, universal shoulder rig.

    I held up my favorite holster, and it would fit just fine under my arm if I had the rig to go with it. So am I insane, or is this a viable option? (Or has someone else thought of this and I'm just duplicating work)?

    *The reason I'm thinking shoulder rig is because I'm curious about it. It seems to be about the best method of carry if you're attacked while sitting (especially in the confines of a car or public transit), it has to be more comfortable than IWB, and you can carry a bigger rig than pocket carry. I know I'm skipping over some other carry options, and I'm not thinking of it as "the best" carry system, but I do see some advantages here.
  2. Greg528iT

    Greg528iT Well-Known Member

    Tandy Leather sells a holster rig kit that actually has ends on it to fit a traditional belt loop style holster.

    I think that is might be something of a compromise.. but at less than $50 it may be worth a try.
  3. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    The biggest problems I can see have to do with the fact that the draw direction and method from most good shoulder holsters aren't anything like the draw from a strong side belt holster. So to mount a belt holster so that it hangs properly from your rig, you'll have to draw more or less straight up into your armpit. (That's if it is a "straight drop" holster. If it has a forward cant, the problem gets worse.)

    If you make the belt-surrogate device hold the holster in a more horizontal orientation so that you can draw comfortably, the holster itself probably won't stay very stable, and may not retain the gun correctly.

    But there's a way to make anything work if you really want to do it.
  4. Skribs

    Skribs Well-Known Member

    Duct-taping a kydex holster around my chest didn't work too well ;)

    Ideally I would have it sit at about 45 degrees. I don't know if that's possible. Just holding my holster there with my hand, it drew almost as smooth as it does from the hip. Horizontal I would just need to be a little conscious of how I draw for it to come out smooth. Vertical my arm would probably be in the way.

    As for retention, I have a retention strap on this holster, and wouldn't carry a holster without an active retention strap or locking device in this manner. It would take a lot of effort to pull this out of the holster with the strap in place. I tried it after you brought it up as a possible concern, and while I think it's possible to dislodge it - the amount of force required means I would probably be in serious trouble already anyway if that were to happen.
  5. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Something else to think about if you haven't used shoulder holsters before: Be careful to figure out the RIGHT draw and practice it a lot. It is too easy to "sweep" your own arm and shoulder as you draw that gun which is pointed backwards.

    Similarly, when you go to really practice with this, remember that the gun is in the holster pointed UPRANGE. So, unless you have a 360-degree pit type range all to yourself, you need to be very very careful about how you're standing and moving when you draw. Pulling the gun out of the holster, and having that gun point uprange -- even for an instant -- is a complete NO! As is, sweeping everyone to your weak side as you swing it around on target.

    There's a right way to work with a shoulder holster, but the wrong way will have everyone around you hitting the deck (and then tossing you off the range).
  6. Skribs

    Skribs Well-Known Member

    Yeah I pretty much figured drawing would have to be practiced dry at home instead of at the range. I hadn't thought this part through 100%, but at the range I could
    *Practice with a different gun
    *Carry the gun to the range in a different method
    *Take off the holster with the gun in the rig and then practice shooting
    *Practice with this holster and gun out in the middle of nowhere instead of at the range

    While I understand Rule #2, I also realize that many carry methods "sweep" in some way or another. Appendix carry your firearm is usually pointed at your future kids. If you're walking up stairs while ankle carrying you're probably sweeping the people below you. I mean, I obviously do what I can to minimize the chance of NDs and minimize the damage should they happen, but when you're carrying you can only do so much.
  7. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Ok, but I'd also like to point out that if you're carrying a gun then the biggest thing you have to practice is drawing from your chosen carry rig and getting that gun on target. Carrying the gun to the range in a bag and then "practicing" with it by shooting it at targets isn't really practicing for self-defense, but for target shooting.

    If you can't practice your draw, find a way to carry so that you CAN.

    And, I don't agree with the idea that you're always likely to sweep something you shouldn't. I don't carry a gun in any way that requires me to point the gun at myself, or at anyone else, while my hand's on it and I'm trying to get it into action. Might have a few powder burns or abrasions if I was to ND while drawing, but I'm not putting a bullet through myself.
  8. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    You're right, they are expensive to try unless you get a deal on a used one. As Sam posted, it takes a lot of practice or at least a very conscious effort to not sweep your arm etc when drawing from one. They only work with a coat of some sort. I rarely use mine (Bought used) anymore. I carry all manner of ways, including jamming a 1911 in my weak side waistband. It's not the best choice either, even though I am very comfortable with it. Unlike some diehards, I don't carry all the time either.
  9. dirtykid

    dirtykid Well-Known Member

    Im on the brink of making the same plunge myself, Everything I can find that appears to be a stable platform is $150, All year round I wear a T-shirt with a light button-down open over it. I would like to carry my G21 or even my G20 but am afraid of spending the money, only to have yet another piece of equipment left laying around.
  10. Flintknapper

    Flintknapper Well-Known Member


    Sam is quite correct in stating there is a 'right' draw/presentation from a shoulder rig (vertical or horizontal). Shoulder carry has been much criticized (unfairly so IMO) over the years. Mostly by folks who have never carried that way.

    I have carried in a Shoulder Rig almost daily for 17 yrs. and learned more than a few things about it.

    This is an old post from another site...that might be helpful (please read all comments and additional links):

  11. TRX

    TRX Well-Known Member

  12. Skribs

    Skribs Well-Known Member

    TRX, I'm talking about rigs that work with belt loop holsters, not holsters that work with a belt or shoulder rig
  13. Greg528iT

    Greg528iT Well-Known Member



    See attached picture.. and link.. for $40.. you can assemble a shoulder holster rig that will allow you to fit a belt looped (preferably Tandy) holster to it. In the real world it would probably be best if you actually sewed the holster in place.. BUT it will 1) give you a starting point.. for not a lot of $$$ 2) if handy could be modified to work very well..
  14. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

    That is a pretty reasonable price for someone to try out the concept have develop a better understanding of why good shoulder holsters cost $150
  15. Skribs

    Skribs Well-Known Member

    Now that I've taken better looks at some of them, I understand the physics better and it would be hard to make this work. I am going to hold off on a shoulder rig for now because even the modular options don't seem to cover both of my handguns should I want to carry my other handgun.
  16. DT Guy

    DT Guy Well-Known Member

    I have to be honest; shoulder carry is complex enough with a quality rig. I think some of the 'make-do' solutions here would scare me, considering that the gun is pointed at whoever is behind you...

  17. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

    Shoulder holsters are a lot more complicated than many think. I've tried many styles over the years and things aren't obvious until you've tried wearing them for a while.

    The horizontal shoulder holsters that are so popular really aren't used like you see on TV and movies. They need to ride tightly to the armpit to be concealable at all...otherwise they flop around...they are also difficult to re-holster

    The vertical holster conceals well and is fast to draw from, but more importantly allows the user to re-holster. They are best suited to larger handguns as they require being anchored to the belt for stability...that is also their weak point as they restrict movement.

    My personal favorite holster is the Ken Null SMZ, which can carry everything from a suppressed PPK to a MAC-11. Mine is sized for a Kahr and will fit many guns of similar size...due to it's unique design and retention system
  18. Skribs

    Skribs Well-Known Member

    I went ahead an ordered an ankle holster for my LCP. It still lets me try out something new, but at less than half the cost. It also is better from a seated position than something on my belt, although a M&P under my arm would be better than an LCP on my ankle.
  19. Tomac

    Tomac Well-Known Member

    I discovered by accident that Fobus makes their SRH2 harness for their line of Roto belt holsters.
    This allows use of the same (or identical) belt holster in a shoulder rig where you can adjust the cant of the holster (and dual mag carrier) to any angle you desire.
    The retention is adjustable as well for the amount of force needed to draw the pistol.
    While not as comfortable as a really good leather setup (someone once said concealed firearms are supposed to be comforting, not comfortable), it's comfortable enough for me to wear all day (YMMV).
    As 9epiphany mentioned, high up in the armpit works best for stability & concealment.
  20. DBR

    DBR Well-Known Member

    I've been using shoulder holsters for a long time. The difference between a real shoulder holster and trying to adapt a belt holster is the harness and holster on a real rig pull the gun in tight to the body. I don't see how you do this by hanging a belt holster off a harness.

    The rig I use now is a Survival Sheath Kydex holster and mag holder on a Galco leather harness. IMO Kydex is perfect for a shoulder holster. It is thin, waterproof and retains the gun without snaps or straps. Leather is the only material that is comfortable for the harness IME. I like to wear the harness smooth side against the body so my shirt can slide against the harness and not bunch up.

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