Have you ever considered pocket carry for your concealed carry handgun? Some overlook this method as a potential carry method, focusing on just In-the-Waistband (IWB) or Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) carry. Of course, if you pocket carry (PC) you always want to carry your gun in your pocket inside a holster. I have seen much debris and barrel crud stop a pocket gun from working. Over the past 5 years, I did some research, conducted studies, and collected information and data about several concealed carry (CC) topics, including carry methods. Among other CC conclusions and recommendations, my new concealed carry book includes some things I discovered about methods of CC, in particular PC. One of my book chapters presents detailed information about the pros and cons of each of the 13 methods of concealed carry, including a July 2015 survey of about 2,700 concealed carry folks and the methods they use. We asked them what was their preferred method of carry from among 14 different options. While Inside-the-Waistband was the number one method of carry choice for CC, Pocket Carry was ranked high at number 4 by several carry folks. I received some strong comments and support letters for PC. So with those results in mind, I bought 5 pocket carry holsters from different manufacturers and carried my carry guns in them for awhile. There were several very nice and effective PC holsters, but in this article I want to discuss just one company’s front and rear-wallet PC holsters and thoroughly analyze them to help you make a decision. The holsters are made by Alabama Holster and Gun Company.
CC handgun folks that carry in the pocket, myself included, want a well-made holster with quality material that has adequate upright support for their gun to help with a quick and smooth draw. They also want the gun’s trigger to be covered when in the pocket, as well as a custom-fitted holster for their particular gun. I don’t want my pocket holster to come out of my pocket when I draw my gun from it. It goes without saying that we also want the gun to be very well concealed in the pocket and not print. Here I want to match my criteria for a PC holster to two Alabama PC holsters, one for front pocket carry and one for back-wallet pocket carry. I want to give you the factors I use for assessing holsters in general and apply them to the Alabama Holster pocket holsters. I got feedback from several of my students to supplement my opinions.
Using my standard holster review process, I will give you my criteria, my ideas about the two PC holsters, and my recommendation to help you with your decision. I certainly do not have all the answers for holsters and what works for me or others may not work for you. Selecting a holster is a very personal thing, specific to your gun model, and there are a lot of individual preferences and factors that are involved. So, selecting a holster is your personal decision according to YOUR factors and priorities. Perhaps, some of my criteria and ideas will help you.
Here are my criteria and considerations for selecting any holster. I will compare the Alabama Holsters to each criterion using a 10-point scale to evaluate each one. For each factor, a “10” rating is the best, a “0” the worst, and a “5” a mid-level rating. I’m trying to be as objective and rational as possible, realizing we all have different goals, needs, priorities, and preferences. You probably have your own factors and that is fine. Also, we each will usually weigh each factor more or less than another because this is a very personal evaluation and selection process. Here are my 10 Criteria for Selecting a Holster, not in any order:
1. QUALITY MADE: What is the material and is the holster constructed with quality? Is the stitching strong and is it sturdy and does it look good. Will it stand up to your particular demands, wear and tear, and is it appropriate for your use without impairing performance and mechanical function? What is the thickness or composition of the material? Is it durable for your use? Are the (as applicable) straps, velcros, rivets, clips, grommets, snaps, buckles, rings, backing material, metal parts strong, rustproof, and quality made? Does it (if appropriate) have a sweat shield or skin guard of some type? Is it a reputable company? What type of warranty or guarantee does it have? Consider the holster’s weight and bulk. Is the holster designed to minimize the amount of material needed to hold and protect the gun, thus reducing weight and bulk of the holster.
2. ALL DAY COMFORT: How comfortable is this holster style during each of the different physical positions; walking, bending, sitting, standing, and twisting? Can you wear it while driving? Can you wear it for the entire day comfortably and not even know that you are wearing it?
3. CONCEALMENT: Does the holster perform as required for its effective purpose? (This holster will be used for concealed carry.) How well does the holster hide the handgun during every-day body motions, like walking, bending, sitting, standing, twisting, reaching, etc.? Imagine wearing the holster during these different movements. Is there a cant and angle adjustment for the holster, to provide better concealment and comfort?
4. ADAPTABILITY & FIT: Can this holster be used for different handguns… or with a Laser sight or light? How versatile is it? The safety features of a holster usually require that the holster be engineered and designed for each specific manufacture and model of handgun. Does this holster do that (as appropriate) while being adaptable to other similar-sized guns? Are there modifications available, options, or additions that adapt to other handguns? What are the approximate costs of these adaptations, if any? Is the shooter’s gun(s) properly fitted for this holster? Does the handgun insert so deep in the holster that the gun grips cannot be properly accessed? Does the gun ride too high in the holster to meet your needs? Does the gun jam so tight into the holster that it takes two hands to draw it or can you draw the gun easily with one hand? Can you re-holster the gun easily and safely?
5. PRICE: What is its total price relative to other options, especially very similar ones, available now? Do you get any special features, options, warranties, guarantees, repair service, or additions that are worth something? Can you return it without any questions and within what time period? Will they repair or replace it for free? Do you get what you pay for?
6. SAFETY: Does the holster secure the gun in place well? How well does the holster provide security and protection to the handgun during insertion into or removal from the holster or while being carried that will:
- prevent accidental trigger movement;
- prevent accidental disengagement of the safety mechanism;
- prevent forward or rearward movement of the hammer?
7. EASE OF REHOLSTERING & ACCESS: Can you reach your handgun quickly in an emergency or while sitting in your vehicle? A rigid holster will allow a handgun to be returned to it using only one hand, while a flexible one may collapse after the gun is drawn, requiring the use of both hands to reholster. Is the mouth of the holster sufficiently rigid or reinforced to allow easy re-holster? How easy is it to access your weapon and use the holster while walking, bending, sitting, standing, twisting, etc.?
8. EASE OF PUTTING ON & TAKING OFF: Can you simply and easily put the holster on and take it off. Consider if you will be putting this holster on and taking it off throughout the day and under what conditions. Must it be removed for taking care of personal needs in public restrooms? If so, can you do it safely and easily?
9. ACCOMMODATIONS: Can you wear both open or closed cover garments with the holster? Can you effectively use the holster while wearing shorts, capris, sweatpants, or clothing without a belt, as applicable? Do you have to wear special clothing or make accommodations in dress or draw when wearing and using this holster? Are a special cover vest, extra efforts, or larger trousers required to hide and use the holster and handgun? Any extras (as appropriate), like a spare mag pouch or room for a knife, etc.
10. RETENTION: Does the holster retain the handgun adequately? Is the holster snug when fitted on a gun belt (as appropriate) or as designed for a consistent and fast draw and to reduce draw resistance. Is the gun secure in the holster? A holster designed with solid retention will also help prevent a gun from being removed from the holster by another.
My Evaluation of the Alabama Holster & Gun Company Pocket Holsters
To simplify, I will list my 10 Criteria and then beside each factor give my ratings and brief comments. The Front Pocket Holster will be noted by FPH and the Back Pocket Holster by BPH with each rating beside of the initials. My final buy or not buy Recommendation for each will then be given at the end. Remember, the evaluations, ratings, and comments are just my opinions.
1. QUALITY MADE: FPH: 10; RPH: 10
This holster is made of heavy-duty quality kydex and parts. The kydex speeds up my draw and I need that advantage with pocket carry. The manufacturer says each holster is built with pride like it was their own. The kydex is thin at .060″ by design to help comfort and they custom fit both my Sig 938 and SW Shield perfectly. The quality workmanship will help them last and be durable. Since they were lightweight, neither holster felt cumbersome. All edges were smooth and polished for a great fit and helped the draw. I liked that the holsters were curved to conform to the shape of my leg and they fit and felt great. These holsters are strong and will stand up to constant wear very well. There is a 30-day return policy and a lifetime warranty on all products.
2. ALL DAY COMFORT: FPH: 10; RPH: 10
I wore them regularly for 5 days during my everyday routine activities. Just to test them, a few days I wore both the front and rear pocket holsters with guns at the same time. Not necessary, but I just wanted to see the comfort level for myself. Honestly, they were not uncomfortable and no one noticed or mentioned that they could see either holster. It was so comfortable in the front pocket, I did not realize it was there. The rear pocket was another matter, since I do not like to wallet carry. That’s just me. My Smith-Wesson Shield fit great and was comfortable in my deep FRONT cargo pocket, while the Sig 938 was acceptable in my rear-wallet pocket. Their design is small and they are very lightweight which helped them to ride smoothly with my motions or change in body position. They were more than satisfactory when bending over, walking, sitting, crawling under things, lifting, and exercising. They were secure and comfortable.
3. CONCEALMENT: FPH: 9; RPH: 8
My Shield fit great in my deep FRONT cargo pocket, while the 938 was acceptable in my rear pocket. Both front and rear holsters were acceptable for concealed carry. The front pocket holster was very good and did not print at all. Realize I do not like to rear-wallet pocket carry my guns, so this may have biased me up front. Both holsters molded easily to my handguns and contributed to small footprints for concealing them. I was able to use the holsters in most of my pockets, but not in my jeans and bargain-priced lawn-mowing and gym shorts, as you probably would expect. The front holster was more adaptable and conforming than the rear holster.
4. ADAPTABILITY & FIT: FPH: 9; RPH: 9
These holsters are very moldable and fit my guns very well. My Sig 938 and Sig 238 both fit the front holster and the rear holster. The 238 was a little loose in the front holster. My Ruger LC9s also fit the front pocket holster nicely. I was surprised to discover that the front pocket holster also fit my Sig 938 and it is convenient that you can have one holster adequately fit another. I like the versatility and flexibility.
5. PRICE: FPH: 8; RPH: 8
The $40. price for either the FPH or the RPH seemed fair, relative to competition. Competing holsters ranged from $30. to $75, some leather ones. Both holsters were affordable and worth the price. Other leather, kydex, nylon, elastic and bellyband holsters are available for that price or near it. Recognize that it is difficult to compare a PC with other IWB or OWB holsters given their construction, purpose, and features, etc.
6. SAFETY: FPH: 9; RPH: 9
I liked that I could draw from both holsters and not have the holster come out when drawing. These holsters, by design, provided more than adequate safety protection for the handgun and nearby people when drawing and removing the gun in and out of the holsters. They were designed appropriately with necessary curvatures and features to allow you to grasp your gun sufficiently while in the pocket and do so safely. The trigger was completely covered. I was able to keep my trigger finger straight along the outside of the holster easily and to grip the gun quickly and correctly when drawing from the front pocket to prevent negligent discharges or accidental trigger movement. The thumb tab on both holsters really helped to “break” the retention and to get the necessary leverage for a secure and safe grip and draw. When drawing, the hooked end of the holster nicely caught the pocket so the holster would stay in and enhanced safety.
7. EASE OF REHOLSTERING & ACCESS: FPH: 9; RPH: 7
It was easy to reach, draw, and reholster my handgun quickly from the front pocket holster. Reholstering worked best when the holster was taken out and then the gun reinserted and both placed back into the pocket. But the rear pocket holster did not help me draw the gun quickly, since I fumbled getting to the gun in the pocket and there were not continuous smooth draws there. Reholstering to the rear pocket holster took a long time and I could not do it with one hand. Really you need to remove any rear-pocket holster to reholster your gun in my opinion. I do need practice on this rear-holster draw, but I will probably rarely use it since I do not prefer rear pocket carry. I believe my cargo shorts and the rear pocket design may affect this. The rear pocket of my cargo shorts has two separate velcro closures and they operate independently of each other. This takes more time for access. The mouth of the each holster is very rigid and this helps reholstering.
8. EASE OF PUTTING ON & TAKING OFF: FPH: 10; RPH: 10
This was very easy to do. The small footprints of the holsters and their lightweight helped this tremendously. There were no straps, thumb breaks, high retention devices, or velcro closures to deal with. I really like how quickly and easily you can put the holster in your pocket and take it out. If going to the post office or a restricted carry business, I easily and quickly could slide the holster out and safely store it. So putting it in the pocket and taking it out in a stressful encounter will be very easy. Just as easy as my IWB and OWB belt and paddle holsters.
9. ACCOMMODATIONS: FPH: 10; RPH: 10
Naturally, you can wear both open and closed cover garments with these holsters and not have a concealment or operational problem. There is no design problem that would prevent using any type of pants, shorts, coat, shirt, sweater, zippered jacket, or any garment with this holster. No special clothing or extra accommodations in dress are needed, but deep pockets help. My wife likes that she can quickly grab the holster and slide it into her pants’ front pocket, even when not wearing a belt.
10. RETENTION: FPH: 9; RPH: 9
These holster were customized to my guns and did retain my handguns very adequately? The hooked-end wing part made my front-pocket holster secure in my pocket and retained my gun very well. My handguns never fell out of the holsters, nor even came close to doing so. But, you must adapt to and practice using the thumb tab when drawing, especially for the rear-pocket holster. The kydex material certainly helps with retention.
Total Points: FPH: 93 points out of 100 possible = 93% = Recommended.
Total Points: RPH: 90 points out of 100 possible = 90% = Recommended.
I hope my process, this analysis, and review help you to identify your criteria and evaluate your individual factors to select the best holster for YOUR purpose, needs and priorities.
Photos by author.
Daphne, AL 36526
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you establish your own criteria based on your personal needs, goals, purpose, and priorities. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2015-2016 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.