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In Praise of the Lowly Ankle Holster

A review of articles, blogs, and videos on new holsters for concealed carry usually begins and ends with the latest inside-the-waistband (IWB) leather, nylon, or Kydex miracle, designed to give you maximum comfort and hideability. Most holster photos show a guy with a slim waist (and no gut hanging over, like the rest of us) and a gun well-secured and hidden over his right kidney. We can see the occasional appendix carry holster, but rare is a recent photo of a shoulder holster rig, a midback belt holster, or even the favorite of Western movie gunfighters, the cross-draw holster. But talk about an afterthought holster, the ankle rig gets nary a mention, and if it does, the author or speaker usually brushes it off as “not practical in today’s concealed carry world.” I am here to differ that view and suggest that an ankle holster offers more tactical practicality than their belted brothers.

Praising the Ankle Holster

The argument against ankle holsters starts and ends with, “It’s hard to draw quickly.” But like most things in life, perfect practice makes for a perfect draw. Any holster you wear is hard to operate quickly, safely, and successfully if you’ve not done the necessary repetitions. You should already be drawing from every holster you wear, using your empty everyday carry gun, hundreds, if not thousands of times, so your muscle memory will take over in a deadly force situation. The ankle holster offers no exceptions to that protocol.

Critics of the ankle holster draw say you have to bend down to get your gun. To this I say, “True, no kidding, or not always.” Or they say you have to perfect the “Flamingo Draw,” which means standing on one foot and drawing your gun with your foot up by your waist. To this I say, “I’ve done it many times without falling, because I’ve practiced this move.”

I’ll grant you that drawing from an ankle holster is hard if you’re wearing skinny jeans, but those pants defeat the purpose of concealed carry, since you can see the thing bulging on your leg a mile away. And the one-legged draw is not advised at night or on uneven or slippery ground. If you’re crunching across the snow and need your gun, bend down quickly as you snatch your pant leg up and draw it from a slightly bent-over position. You don’t need to get into a full keeling posture to get it. I can do this quickly and keep both eyes on approaching bad guys.

What the anti-ankle types don’t discuss is how fast you can get to your gun while seated in your car, at a restaurant, or another public venue which might draw a carjacker, an armed robber, or a mass shooter. As a workplace violence prevention trainer and a threat assessment expert, I have sat in offices while I have terminated high-risk, high-threat, furiously angry employees, comforted with the fact that my gun was in my ankle holster, six inches away from my hand, if I ever needed it.

Some people complain that the ankle holster rubs their leg and gives them a blister, or the weight of it affects the way they walk, or they often bang their gun leg against their other leg and give themselves a shin burger. When I was a cop, I carried my backup S&W Model 36 Chiefs Special revolver on my left ankle every single day I was in patrol without fail. Being righthanded, it made sense and was comfortable for me to carry it inside my left ankle. I saw other cops carry it on their outer ankle with equal comfort.

Today, my DeSantis and Galco ankle holsters have plenty of sheepskin padding, never give me a blister, and I have never smacked myself in my other shin. And more importantly, because I would never buy or wear an ankle holster without a thumb break, I have never lost my gun while walking or running. As long as you buy the right size and use the thumb break, it will stay secure on the move.

Nearly every old-school and new holster maker offers their own brand and while the styles and designs are limited and not as fancy as IWB, they all work equally well. Buy to fit your gun first and foremost.

When you first start wearing an ankle holster, you will have to get used to the weight and you need to find the proper “Goldilocks Fit” for the nylon wraparound – not to too tight and not too loose, as either will give you a blister. I carry my Glock 42 in .380, the still-working S&W 36, and even my Glock 30S in .45 (which weighs about three pounds fully loaded), with no comfort or access issues. (Some ankle rigs come with a calf strap, which I think is unnecessary and looks goofy.)

Two more advantages to drawing your gun from the ankle carry: it creates a low and stable shooting platform, and it may be the best way to reach your gun if you’re ever knocked down in a life-or-death fight with one or more attackers. As I learned when I went through the Gunsite Academy 250 Pistol Course, shooting from a kneeling position offers a lot of stability and lowers your target mass from an armed attacker facing you. And if you are rolling around in a fight for your life, an ankle draw may be what you need to reach your gun and shoot the attacker in the belly or head. (For a good demonstration of the ankle draw during a sustained fight, rent the Robert Duvall-Sean Penn 1988 movie “Colors” and focus on the scene where Penn chases a crook into a restaurant. His ankle holster saves his life.)

Some of my anti-ankle holster friends say, “What are you going to do if you get confronted by an armed crook who wants your wallet? Tell him you carry it in your sock and then bend down to get your gun?” I always answer, “Maybe. Let the bad guy figure out what I’m doing. I’m fast enough to beat him with my ankle draw.”

*Feature Image Source: American Concealed 

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What do you think of the Ankle Holster? Let us know in the comment section below.