Pictured above is my much-loved Glock 23 sitting in one of the more questionable pieces of holsterwear that’s available for it: the Uncle Mike’s Size 16 ankle holster. That’s right, an ankle holster designed for a wide-bodied, compact pistol…
I find myself at a strange place as far as weaponry goes these days. I’m open-minded enough to consider everything I come across at least somewhat objectively. And practical enough to imagine that I apply only the useful bits of information I find. Or…maybe not.
The picture above is the one holster I never actually needed to buy; the clerk who ordered it and sold it to me must have died laughing when I walked out of the store. After wearing it I nearly needed to see a chiropractor because a fully-loaded Glock 23 is a brick weighing down your ankle. I’m still not sure what I actually foresaw happening that would best allow me to meet a threat with an ankle piece.
But there’s an explanation for my absence of commonsense. I was thinking about the problem of drawing from a seated position. I was going to a university at the time with an overactive police force. Compounding the problem was this was just after the Case Western Reserve University shooting that happened in my neck of the woods. I wanted to carry the gun in deep concealment where I could still access it, however remotely, because I was not going to leave it at home.
But pulling a weapon from a sitting position takes a good bit of practice and hip holsters don’t usually lend themselves well to the task. Shoulder holsters usually require a jacket, vest or specialty shirt that tears open (I’ve seen them) to conceal and both can give away the presence of your heater in a weak moment. Wind blowing the jacket open is a nightmare for a shoulder rig and if you’re a thin guy your clothing may hang funny on your shootin’ iron and people will likely notice.
My idea, most likely, was that I’d be sitting at a desk and hit the floor first if the worst happened. I’d pull up my pant leg, undo the retention strap, pull my heater and shoot either prone or on one knee with partial cover. It sounds like it makes sense. And it evidently made sense when I spent $40 on the Uncle Mike’s rig, too. But it only took about ten minutes of actually wearing it the first time to realize what a mistake that actually was.
To start with, the holster is a multi-piece system. It has a secondary calf strap in addition to the ankle piece with the actual holster section attached. Then the thumb break retention straps themselves are closed with a snap but secured with velcro at the base to make the length adjustable (or easy to pull off accidentally). To keep something the size of a Glock 23 from flopping around, both straps have to be secured pretty tightly – roughly the strength of a blood pressure cuff pumped to the level where it feels like it’s crushing your leg.
And all of that keeps the gun stable for only about ten minutes. That, my friends, is where the fun begins. I wore this thing a total of four days and lemme tell ya, it hurt. Hurt as in Michael Moore sitting on your leg. The muzzle digs into your ankle like a Schnauzer burying his favorite bone.
On top of that, it’s hard to get even baggy pants to hang smoothly around a gun like the 23 that’s about as wide as the pants leg itself. I once had a defensive situation where I wanted access to the gun and nearly tripped and fell trying to get into position to actually draw it. That was when the light bulb finally went on.
Like most people, my primary method of moving around is usually accomplished in an upright position. So in all likelihood, I’d probably confront most threats that way – if not ducking or running for cover. Since that little epiphany, I’ve carried using primarily IWB holsters (Uncle Mike’s Size 5 IWB, usually) and had no trouble getting my hand to where it needs to be in case of trouble.
While IWB holsters can sometimes print, that can be mitigated somewhat by carrying with a lower riding holster, (if your body can accomodate that without jamming your keister, hip or tailbone) and wearing slightly longer shirts. For my money, if a carry method can’t be used while standing, a primary weapon shouldn’t be there.
I work with a lot of police officers. Drop leg thigh holsters are popular with the bike and K-9 units. Ergonomics for a long day of peddling or drawing from your strong side knee while controlling your dog is going to affect their carry choice as opposed to the standard hip method. Odds are they’ll need to be able to address threats from a non-standing – but non-sitting – position as well as upright. There is a situation for every holster as primary presentation method, with the exception of ankle in my experience, and since that was my goal at the time of using the Uncle Mike’s Size 16, I probably shouldn’t have taken that approach.
That’s not to discourage ankle carry completely, however. But, like any carry method, it requires a fair amount of practice drawing with the right piece. If you don’t do a significant amount of sitting or have right clothes make for an easy draw, this style holster should be confined to backup weapons only.
The only scenario I can imagine that might tactically require an ankle holster is if you work in a job such as a check cashing service or similar situation behind bullet-resistant glass. If your first impulse is to dive under the desk, then you should easily be able to reach an ankle holster.
My ankle carry option now is a much smaller Kahr P9 in a Fobus ankle holster. With no retention strap, it’s a single, wraparound ankle band that stays in place well (like cement compared to the first holster) without making me limp. It’s simple to operate once you set the tension screw properly.
I’ve tried a few different weapons and rigs for the lower leg and this one just works best for me. Every time I strap in on my leg, though, I also have either a strong side pocket weapon or my EDC on my hip because ankle rigs alone just don’t cover my primary carry needs. I address most issues from my waist level. So give your situation some careful thought ane make sure your particular rig covers the majority of threats you’re likely to face.