Thinking back on having carried a defensive handgun almost every day for the past 30 years reveals that my needs, habits and abilities have changed as I have aged. The fact that these days, I’m mostly sitting behind a desk and not getting enough exercise, is heavily influencing my preferential method for carrying a handgun.
As a youngster I could carry it fairly comfortably whether inside or outside the waistband, appendix style, on my weak side for a cross-draw, in the small of my back or even under my left arm in a shoulder rig. I changed my carry method depending on what I was doing, which could be anything from a formal dinner with a client, dangerous game hunting, spending hours on a tractor on the farm or watching television. These days my routine is more fixed as I spend most of my day in an office chair staring at a computer.
Being well above average size, I’ve never been able to fit comfortably on normal-sized chairs, even without a holster riding on my hip, so outside waistband (OWB) carry has never been a practical option for me in an office environment. In this situation, inside waistband (IWB) holsters work better, but some of the harder holsters can cause discomfort ranging from very mild to severe and, depending on the activity, even excruciating pain when constantly pressing down on a nerve or a muscle. Of course, if your situation (and body size) differs from mine, OWB carry may be a good option for you.
An ankle-holster might seem a good choice for my lifestyle, but is simply out of the question as I struggle to tolerate even a lightweight wrist watch on my arm, even more so a much heftier pistol or revolver on my ankle. I tried this method for a while about 20 years ago, but it was a burden, and every time I sat down the firearm was revealed, much to my discomfort. Also, at times, I felt uncertain that the piece (a .38 Special snubby) was still in place, and to check on this is not easy when walking down a busy street.
Gregor Woods, longstanding Magnum team member, told me he finds cross-draw holsters best when driving a car, but ankle-holsters are also good for this. These should be worn on the inside of your left ankle if you are a right-handed shooter. When driving, if you see a potentially suspicious situation developing, immediately pull up your trouser-leg to expose the handgun for quick, snag-free access. For general wear, Greg agrees that ankle-holsters expose the gun too readily when seated in social or office situations. They are fine for those who carry a small, lightweight handgun and do a lot of standing but not much walking, such as shop counter salesmen. Interestingly, he tells me that the late Doug Kirton, past owner of Kings in Durban, had to have knee surgery to correct a problem his orthopaedic surgeon told him was directly caused by continual ankle holster wear – apparently it causes you to walk differently on that leg.
Greg says he found IWB holsters most uncomfortable. “Doctors and physiotherapists will tell you that inside belt holsters (and even just stiff, tight belts) often cause a neurological problem known as meralgia paresthetica which causes tingling numbness and burning pain in the outer part of your thigh, due to compression of the nerve that supplies sensation to the surface of your thigh.”
Read the full article in the July issue of Magnum.