The Art and Science of Concealing Large Revolvers –Your Thoughts, Please (long!)

This is a discussion on The Art and Science of Concealing Large Revolvers –Your Thoughts, Please (long!) within the Defensive Carry Holsters & Carry Options forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Sorry for the length. Bear with me, or skip to the bold-faced paragraph for the short version. Over the past six months or so, I’ve ...

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Thread: The Art and Science of Concealing Large Revolvers –Your Thoughts, Please (long!)

  1. #1
    Member Array Piglet's Avatar
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    The Art and Science of Concealing Large Revolvers –Your Thoughts, Please (long!)

    Sorry for the length. Bear with me, or skip to the bold-faced paragraph for the short version.

    Over the past six months or so, I’ve reflected on the feasibility of IWB carrying an L or N-frame revolver with a 4” barrel. Initially, the very thought of trying to accomplish this conjured up images of an impossibly bulky package that would add unreasonable, asymmetrical thickness to one’s front profile, mostly owing to the large cylinder of a full-size magnum revolver.

    But as I continued to ponder the workability of such a carry strategy, it occurred to me that it might be possible, provided the gun had a sufficiently long barrel (probably 4” to 6”), to carry the piece in an ultra high-ride IWB holster that placed only the barrel and the part of the frame forward of the cylinder between one’s belt and body, instead of the cylinder. The cylinder would sit just above the belt and “snuggle”, along with the grip (preferably a compact, boot grip ending flush with the frame bottom), against the love-handle area of the wearer. While there would be no way to eliminate the thickness of the cylinder, it did seem that, thus positioned, it would hide far better than when sitting directly between the belt and body. Only the relatively thin barrel would have to be sandwiched between your belt and body.

    Of course, such a setup would constitute an extreme example of a grip-heavy package, because everything but the barrel would be outside and above the holster mouth. But by aggressively canting the gun to place the center of gravity above the muzzle (which would also aid in concealment by tucking in the grip), balance might be achieved to minimize torque and provide security and comfort.

    This was before I started searching for IWB holsters for large revos, so I wasn’t sure how many, if any, makers were actually doing this.

    Now that I’ve looked around a little, I am aware that there may be several makers producing holsters that perform somewhat similarly to the way I described above. I think Kramer’s “Thomas Perfectionist”, for one, may do something along these lines. And one time I saw a photograph of an Airlite N-frame sitting beside a holster that looked as though it was designed to do what I talked about above.

    But I haven’t any experience with such holsters, and to be honest, in my limited research I’ve yet to encounter a model that looks as though it does exactly what I’m referring to. So I have no idea whether the ultra-high ride approach may actually work as well in practice as theory would suggest it does.

    So, to the question at hand (finally!):

    Does anybody have input on concealing a large revolver IWB? I am primarily interested in the sort of unorthodox IWB holster that accomplishes what I described above, but discussion of other, non-IWB methods is appreciated as well. I’m open to any and all suggestions and opinions based on personal experience or even hearsay. Specific information on particular holster models would be great.


    The only individual I’m aware of who daily carries such guns is BikerRN. Maybe he will happen by and say what holster he uses and how his carry strategy evolved over the years.

    I am sure there are others besides Biker who, even if they don’t conceal a large wheelgun regularly, have still toyed with the idea or experimented with various holsters before either giving up or finding something that really did the trick.

    Please relate your experiences and opinions!

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  3. #2
    VIP Member Array wmhawth's Avatar
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    I don't think it requires that much science. A pancake type holster will snug the gun in to your body and if you buy trousers a bit large in the girth, IWB works well too. Today I'm carrying my GP100 4" OWB using a holster from FIST. I'm wearing a not too baggy sweatshirt which covers the gun well. I find no problem concealing large revolvers nor any discomfort carrying them. I like my carry guns to have a bit of weight. I'm 5' 9", 170#...not a big guy in comparison.

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    Member Array Bri-Eye's Avatar
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    Hoffner's Mirage

    I carry my GP100 with a 4" barrel in the Mirage Ultrux holster from Hoffners. It's a type of thin but strong kydex like material. The GP is equivalent in size to an L frame SW revolver.

    The holster carries the gun high with the cylinder above the belt line. I can't say this is my EDC, but every day that I go hiking with my dogs in the hills in SoCal I wear this rig. I won't pretend you forget it's there, but it does not become a burden either.

    "Comforting not comfortable" as the saying goes.


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    Member Array Airedale's Avatar
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    I do it all the time. I have two CABO holsters. One for k/l frames and one for n frames. It's easy.
    Dave

  6. #5
    VIP Member Array wmhawth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piglet View Post
    But I haven’t any experience with such holsters, and to be honest, in my limited research I’ve yet to encounter a model that looks as though it does exactly what I’m referring to. So I have no idea whether the ultra-high ride approach may actually work as well in practice as theory would suggest it does.

    [B]So, to the question at hand (finally!):
    !
    For me, (and unless you have a long torso), the extreme high ride makes for a very unnatural draw. It's not for me. Frankly I expect that if you experiment a bit carrying your L or N frame revolver you'll see that most of your theory as described is unnecessary. And trust me...when you get a carry holster for your revolver you won't get it right the first time.

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    VIP Member Array aus71383's Avatar
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    I have a J-frame that I appendix carry IWB. If you have a long torso or if you wear your pants high enough that the barrel doesn't poke you when you sit down you might like it. Appendix is fast to draw from and easy to conceal - there's really no profile to think about. Try it around the house w/o a holster and see if you can sit down or not - you might like it.

    Austin

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    Member Array N-frame Smith's Avatar
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    I carry my 3.5" S&W model 27 N-frame revolver in a Garrity Incognito Deluxe IWB with no problem. It's very comfortable and concealable and the only time it prints is when I have to bend over, so naturally I'm careful when I do so. As long as I'm upright and moving normally it's fine, though it helps to be unreasonably and asymmetrically thick to begin with.

    I don't like a high ride holster with any of my guns, having a short torso, and especially with a large revolver with the grip extending so far. My holster puts the cylinder right at the belt line, which serves to make it very stable. I've been well padded all my life and I find that my love handles have plenty of give and easily accomodate anything I carry without even having to buy bigger pants.

    Though the 27 is not my EDC gun, there's something extremely satisfying about carrying a large manly revolver sometimes, so much so that I just got a model 29 .44 to match my 27.

    The only thing I could suggest to you is to buy a top quality custom made holster for your 4" N-frame, preferrably in black, and if it turned out you didn't like it I'd gladly do you a favor and take it off your hands!

    Just for reference, here's a picture of my Garrity Incognito Deluxe:

    "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" - Patrick Henry

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    Member Array Piglet's Avatar
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    Thanks, everybody - maybe, as some have suggested, I'm over-thinking this .

    wmhawth said:

    A pancake type holster will snug the gun in to your body and if you buy trousers a bit large in the girth, IWB works well too. Today I'm carrying my GP100 4" OWB using a holster from FIST. I'm wearing a not too baggy sweatshirt which covers the gun well.
    OWB is very appealing to me; in fact, I've been giving some serious thought to trying it with many of my guns (up till now I've almost never used it this method). Regarding L and N frames, I thought about trying it with short barrel lengths (2 1/2" to 3") to minimize what extends below the belt. I'm aware of the ballistic sacrifice, but I think for me 4" would be pushing it as far as the cover garment necessary. On the down side, a heavy, short-barreled revolver doesn't sound like the most stable or well-balanced thing in the world.

    Bri-Eye said:

    I carry my GP100 with a 4" barrel in the Mirage Ultrux holster from Hoffners. It's a type of thin but strong kydex like material.
    Now that's probably the closest thing I've seen yet to what I'm talking about. I was picturing something with dual, offset loops like Garrity's In-Cognito has, but that's very much what I meant. Looks like some more cant might be useful depending on how big you are.

    wmhawth wrote:

    For me, (and unless you have a long torso), the extreme high ride makes for a very unnatural draw. It's not for me. Frankly I expect that if you experiment a bit carrying your L or N frame revolver you'll see that most of your theory as described is unnecessary.
    I agree 100%. I do not like high rides for their drawing characteristics, but if it aided concealment I'd be willing to abide it. As you suggest, though, once I start trying things I may find that things just aren't that complicated.

    aus71383 said:

    I have a J-frame that I appendix carry IWB. If you have a long torso or if you wear your pants high enough that the barrel doesn't poke you when you sit down you might like it. Appendix is fast to draw from and easy to conceal - there's really no profile to think about. Try it around the house w/o a holster and see if you can sit down or not - you might like it.
    You know, it's interesting, I have indeed tried it (with small guns), but it's just not for me. Relating to the issue of torso length, I do not really have a long torso at all, and there isn't too much distance down there to utilize.

  10. #9
    Member Array Piglet's Avatar
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    N-frame Smith slipped in while I was typing!

    That is one elegant-looking holster you have there; the particular model and maker stir up some deep-seated, conflicted feelings of longing and frustration .

    Carrying with the cylinder at the belt line does seem like the obvious best way to go in regards to everything but concealment - and I'm starting to think that maybe even that is simply not as big an issue as I've been making out of it. After all, I've never tried carrying an L or N frame, period. All my opinions come from just analyzing things based on the size of the gun and the method of carry.

    It's no mystery what I have to do. I gotta get some holsters and start trying things out. I just hope I hit upon the solution on the 2nd or 3rd try instead of the 8th or 9th .

  11. #10
    VIP Member Array wmhawth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piglet View Post
    OWB is very appealing to me; in fact, I've been giving some serious thought to trying it with many of my guns (up till now I've almost never used it this method). Regarding L and N frames, I thought about trying it with short barrel lengths (2 1/2" to 3") to minimize what extends below the belt. I'm aware of the ballistic sacrifice, but I think for me 4" would be pushing it as far as the cover garment necessary. On the down side, a heavy, short-barreled revolver doesn't sound like the most stable or well-balanced thing in the world.
    .
    Piglet in my experience it's not so much the length of the barrel as it is the size and bulk of the stocks that give concealment problems. I carry a Ruger GP100 4" and also a S&W 686 2-1/2". I have put Eagle Secret Service grips on both guns and the Ruger 4" is as easily concealed as the S&W 2-1/2".

  12. #11
    VIP Member Array wmhawth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piglet View Post
    Sorry for the length. Bear with me, or skip

    The only individual I’m aware of who daily carries such guns is BikerRN. Maybe he will happen by and say what holster he uses and how his carry strategy evolved over the years.
    !
    Yes...I've read his posts. He's a revolver man. It would be worth your time to watch for his posts in this thread.

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    Ex Member Array BikerRN's Avatar
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    Hi all.

    Sorry I've been so late to the party, but I switched from Evenings to Days, and don't have as much 'puter time as I used to. Right now I'm carrying OWB in a Matt Del Fatti, it's the only N-Frame holster I have left as I lost a couple of other nice ones years ago.

    It's true, the big issue is with the stocks on a revolver. Currently I'm using Eagle Secret Service Grips, and they work like magic. I'm short torsoed, so no high riding holsters for me. I have a Sparks Summer Special II due in December for my N-Frame. I'm sure it will work out fine, as I've used their stuff in the past with no trouble.

    The width of the cylinder isn't that big of an issue when it comes to hiding a gun. I wore Cargo Shorts with a tucked in T-Shirt yesterday hiding my N-Frame in my Matt Del Fatti OWB. Of course I had a proper belt to "carry the load". Over the gun and T-Shirt I had an un-tucked short sleeve button down shirt.

    I was at the Highland Games amongst lots of people and nobody noticed, that I could tell. I stopped worrying about it when a friend of mine thought I was unarmed and I had been packing around him for years. This friend is trained to spot a gun. Another friend, that knows I always carry, didn't think I was carrying. Of course I had two guns on me, an N-Frame and a J-Frame in the pocket.

    My IWB Matt Del Fatti Holster will be somewhat like you were describing, with 30 degrees of rake and the cylinder at the belt line. I'm doing this because of shoulder mobility issues. For me, low riding with the proper belt and stocks makes all the difference in the world.

    The next big "trick" is learning to "Dress Around The Gun" and not acting like you are carrying a gun. That may take some time to learn. Feel free to shoot me a PM if I can be of help.

    Biker

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    Ex Member Array BikerRN's Avatar
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    My carry situation has evolved over twenty years of "packin' a gat". That translates to: "Legally carrying a firearm either as a civilian or in the performance of my duties."

    I like to carry Service Size handguns because I learned a long time ago that when the fecal matter hits the rotating thing I want every advantage I can get. With a revolver I do concede that I give up ammo capacity, but being that I'm more accurate with a revolver I'll take accuracy over capacity any day.

    It's been "trial and error" over the years for me. IWB is my "preferred" method of carry. I like 3"-5" barrels because they "stablize" the weapon better when carried IWB. Having two points of attatchment, both fore and aft, is also preferred by me. If you are not aware, the holster that N-Frame showed a PIC of was one that I ordered. He got it because the maker made it for a right handed person and I ordered a left handed one. I then got frustrated with the maker, due to his being unable to deliver in a "reasonable" time frame and cancelled my left handed holster.

    While I know that the Milt Sparks Summer Special II will work, it is not my "preferred" holster and is only a "fill in" until I get my Matt Del Fatti. This is not a knock on Tony and the guys at Milt Sparks, it's just that we all have our preferences. When I started carrying a gun it was easy to find mass produced, decent revolver holsters and difficult to find decent mass produced autoloader holsters. Now it's difficult to find custom revolver holsters.

    One of the reasons I like a revolver is because it can appear less "threatening or intimidating" to a jury if I'm every called to answer for a shooting. Also, playing the "Law of Averages" I shouldn't need more than three rounds. That means I have eight more than I need if you include my BUG, not to mention my eleven rounds as reloads.

    Tactics with a revolver aren't that much different with a revolver over an autoloader. Remember, you have ti hit your target and "Get off the X." For "defensive carry" a revolver really isn't that reduced in ammo capacity from a 1911, and people have been doing fine with them for years. All this talk of "pinning down the badguy" and cover or suppression fire is pure HOGWASH for non-military personnel. Remember your Vicarious Liability Lectures? I do!

    "Accuracy is final." I think it was William Hiccock that said that years ago. Last year I proved it true in a SASS match. It was the first one I had ever seen or shot. By having a "Clean Shoot" I placed higher than another new, but faster shooter. Ok, it's late and enough of my rambling.

    I hope you can glean something useful from the stuff I've posted. good luck. BTW, if you ask me why I like revolvers, it's because I don't have to worry about magazine capacity, collecting my brass is easier, the power range of a revolver is greater and they are "traditional". I'm more of a "traditional" guy anyways. When I did some rock climbing it was the traditional stuff with long "run-outs" over the "Sport Climbs" with bolts every six feet.

    Biker

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    VIP Member Array wmhawth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikerRN View Post
    My carry situation has evolved over twenty years of "packin' a gat". That translates to: "Legally carrying a firearm either as a civilian or in the performance of my duties."
    """""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" """""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" """""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" """""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" """"""""""""""""""""""
    I hope you can glean something useful from the stuff I've posted. good luck. BTW, if you ask me why I like revolvers, it's because I don't have to worry about magazine capacity, collecting my brass is easier, the power range of a revolver is greater and they are "traditional". I'm more of a "traditional" guy anyways. When I did some rock climbing it was the traditional stuff with long "run-outs" over the "Sport Climbs" with bolts every six feet.
    Biker
    Great post Biker. I run into a lot of guys lately who like to carry revolvers. Maybe a revolver revival happening??

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    Member Array Piglet's Avatar
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    Biker,

    Many thanks for taking the time to share so much. I really appreciate it, and have indeed gleaned much useful information.

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