I did a Smart Carry Review
To those of you who may be interested in one man's opinion on the Smart Carry holster, that you may/may not have read about send me a PM with your e-mail and I'll forward the review on to you. I feel the review is a bit too long (it's pretty long) to post here, plus it comes complete with a photo! I will never figure out how to post photos here. I'm also trying to spare those of you who have no interest from my ramblings.
I suppose I will post it then...
Smart Carry Review
Like many young (new) people to the concealed carry world, I was concerned with one thing more so than the slim chance I may need to pull my firearm: Concealment. Having never carried, other than around the house, it seems like everyone is going to be watching, and that every time someone looked at me they only saw a budging gun under my shirt. If I could see a slight bump, buldge, ripple, or anything that looked amiss then it seemed to me that everyone would. This however is not at all the case, but before this is realized I first needed to purchase a holster.
I could spend days looking at all the various companies, styles, forms, materials, designs and it would all come back to that one concern, concealing the gun. As I was concerned about concealment (having put much stock in the concept that "concealed means concealed"), deep concealment rather, the Smart Carry looked like a pretty good option.
So, I spent the money, something to the tune of fifty dollars and recieved the holster a few days later. I ordered the Smart Carry for a three inch barrel Ruger SP101, for a left-handed shooter. A few observations can be made without even trying the holster on. It is apparent that this is not at all anything like a custom holster. This holster is sold with something like small, medium, and large sizes (the SP101 was a medium). It is also quite clear that this holster is not made of anything most holsters are: leather, kydex, or nylon.
Instantly I began wearing it everywhere. It took a very long time, probably several weeks worth of fiddling, fidgetting, testing, adjusting, aligning, postioning, tightening, loosening, raising, lowering, clipping, reclipping, and trying to get this holster to work for me. I have a small gut that extends slightly over my belt, so when sitting, the pistol grip would plug me in the stomach, soon you learn to put the holster on while sitting, this allows for the gun to "clear" the belly.
Sometimes the holster went on in the morning, came off at night and never had a hitch, nor did I notice it. It can be comfortable, once you find that sweetspot, which could take you a day or several weeks like me. Unfortunately, in the majority of it's days the Smart Carry was adjusted for some reason throughout the day, which started the whole adjusting process all over again.
I might have to adjust the holster for a few reasons. The obvious ones include using the bathroom. The Smart Carry can be twisted to the side for the urinal, but I have found it be to simply raise the holster to the belly, or chest when using the toilet. Personally, with a SP101 tipping the scales at 27 ounces unloaded, the gun is pretty hefty, that heft can pull the holster down if the straps arn't tight enough, it may be necessary to hike your holster up occasionally or tighten your straps. I have never been in the situation of being outside the bathroom or in the next stall of someone adjusting their Smart Carry, but undoing 12" of Velcro is pretty loud.
The Velcro on the straps will occasionally "crack" if you bend in a particular way for some reason, while it could easily be played off as almost anything else, it is sometimes a little awkward to bend over to pick up a pencil and sound like you've got a full load in a pair of depends under your pants. I have also found that the velcro will also occasionally adhere to non-velcro loops, i.e. your shirt/pants. When the velcro adheres, it often times takes bits of string/lint with it, the 'hook' side of the strap will soon become filled with lint and string. One of the best ideas I have come up with for an exposed band (should the bands be so high) or velcro noise is a small back brace or support, sounds good to me.
Despite popular belief this holster does not point the barrel at your crotch, nor does it point excessively at any other bodypart. Any holster will point at your feet, legs, etc. Shoulder rigs sometimes even point behind someone! If the only this holding you back from purchasing this is the belief that the gun is pointed at the crotch, I am here to disspell the myth, make the purchase if you want.
After having worn the Smart Carry for a few days is becomes quite clear the strengths and limitations of this type of holster. It is very deep concealment. No one will ever know you are packing and it is ideal with almost any type of dress, so if you don't shop/dress with concealed carry in mind the Smart Carry might actually be a smart purchase. Once you semi-perfect the fit your movement is quite literally uneffected. You can bend, twist, kneel, jump, run, basically you could probably compete in gymnastics with this on.
A few of the drawbacks of this holster may be obvious, other may not be so obvious. The holster isn't custom made, so I have come to use a safety pin along the side of the holster to provide something like retention, before the safety pin was applied the gun would often shift or "lean" this resulted in a gun that wobbles, doesn't stay put, and makes drawing harder if your gun is constantly in a different position. A safety pin is a simple fix to a simple problem. My SP101 fits like a glove with the safety pin. The hammer is outside of the pocket, so it can't snag, but there is still a layer of holster between the hammer and myself which would be unacceptably uncomfortable if it didn't fit.
One of the greatest design flaws of this method of carry is drawing while seated. I personally cannot do it with any kind of speed, reliablity, ease, or safety probably. If you are in you car and buckled in, forget about it. Quite literally, it is basically impossible to do. This is the primary reason I don't carry the Smart Carry on a regluar basis, despite other flaws, this is a major issue with me.
This holster is probably best used by someone like me that spends the majority of their time on their feet (10-12 hours at least). I would almost automatically rule this out if I worked in an office or any position were sitting is the norm. The holster is just too hard to draw from while sitting, and it is most uncomfortable while sitting.
Another problem I faced was with the draw. I could not do it with anything resembling the same speed as either pocket carry or an outside-the-waistband holster. I am not certain if this problem was with me, my gut, my pants, my belt, my gun, or my holster. Sure, you probably could learn to draw with some speed, but I do not believe the draw will ever be as fast as a practiced IWB, OWB, or pocket draw. Drawing the gun often times also required the use of the off hand to pull the pants out to make room for the gun/hand. The holster came divided with a gun compartment and a spare magazine compartment (This holster cannot be used for both left and right hand use, unless you put it on backwards). As I purchased the holster for the use with a revolver, there is no use for the extra pocket (at least I'm not carrying a reload in there), but if I was using an auto-loader, I don't believe I could effectively draw a spare magazine from inside my pants and proform any kind of speedy reload.
While only a cosmetic issue I feel I need to address it. After only about a month the holster shows slight signs of wear near where the muzzle is located. If this holster was worn religiously every waking hour of every day, I am not sure how many year(s) you would get out of it. Let's face it, it is not "tougher than leather." On the other side of that arguement, the holster is not as tough on a gun's finish if that is a concern of yours.
In conclusion I feel this holster fills a niche. The holster makes sweatpants an option, it allows for sport shorts and a T-shirt, it could probably even be used in conjunction with swim trunks (not swimming however). It simply does not meet my needs as an Ever Day Carry Holster.