(This post is an entry in our spring content contest. If you’d like a chance to win a Beretta APX pistol, click here for details.) 

Matt Magliacane
The small, simple, yet satisfying Ruger LCP Custom forms the foundation of my everyday carry (EDC) load-out. I’d carry more firepower, but physiology prevents me from carrying much else without a radical overthrow of my current wardrobe. But hey, thin is always in, regardless of how loud the politically-correct, SJW crowd screeches to the contrary. So I carry the LCP comfortably and discreetly and cope with the reduced capacity and violent muzzle flip.

Now for those skinny folks with shoulders broader than their hips, concealed carry options are nearly limitless – restricted mainly by their tolerance for the weight of the firearm. This probably isn’t the article for you. But some of us skinny dudes don’t fall into the A-framed mold.

“Scrawny” may be the better classification for us. You know who you are. You eat a grape, and everyone knows it. Even the slimmest single-stacks will advertise themselves through our casual wear. Many carry methods will even create bulges visible outside of a jacket or sweatshirt, complicating even cooler weather carry. Let’s take a look at some of the better holsters out there for the petite among us.

DeSantis Nemesis

The DeSantis Nemesis is one of the most popular pocket carry holsters on the market. The Nemesis is constructed from a soft yet sturdy nylon fabric with a rubberized exterior. This coating, in conjunction with the hook shape of the holster, grabs hold of your pocket lining when drawing the pistol, ensuring the pistol breaks away cleanly.

I certainly wouldn’t want to draw my gun on an assailant only to point a scary nylon holster at him. I have not experienced any retention issues when kicking back in a chair or recliner. The holster grips the gun well, and the rubberized exterior/hook keeps the LCP well planted in the pocket while coins and keys are falling down into the sofa abyss.

However, I do have two gripes with it. First, the taller sights of the LCP Custom versus the classic LCP can snag a bit on draw. Second, the tapered hook portion of the holster can print an L-shaped silhouette through certain fabrics. I have remedied this with taping some additional fabric onto the hook portion, though its appearance suffers. For thicker denim or cargo shorts with overlapping pockets, this is a non-issue. In short, the Nemesis comes highly recommended by the OML Project. The price is right, and it performs well.

Ace Case Ruger LCP Pocket Holster

The Ace Case for the Ruger LCP and similar (e.g. Kel-Tec P3AT or P32) is both a more affordable and practical option than the ever-popular DeSantis Nemesis. The Ace Case is cut with a fabric sheath that covers most of the pistol’s grip. When placed in the front pocket of jeans or dress pants, this sheath helps to break up the profile of the handgun.

The gun and holster more resemble a wallet or phone than the L-shape of a typical pistol left by the Nemesis. This makes the Ace Case my usual choice for carry, unless I am wearing cargo shorts with bottom pockets that obscure the gun’s profile or pants with narrow pockets. The holster is well constructed, though thinner and flimsier than the Nemesis.

It does not have the same degree of “locked in” feeling as the other holsters on this list. Though if you are packing a slightly larger pistol, like the Kahr PM9, this may not be noticeable. The textured band that surrounds the pistol slide has a rubberized texture that will grip the fabric of your pocket (though not to the extreme of a sticky holster like the DeSantis Super Fly). For the money, this holster is hard to beat.

DeSantis Mini Scabbard

While pocket carry is convenient for those grab-n-go scenarios or packing heat in warm weather, drawing from a sitting position can be frustrating and haphazard. My search for a holster option that could be quickly deployed while seated, either in the office or in the car, led me to research Outside The Waistband (OWB) options.

I was disappointed after a survey of the OWB offerings for such a small gun. Typically, folks will be packing their service pistols and revolvers in OWB holsters, not their pocket pistols (if the name wasn’t a clue). I ended up snagging the DeSantis Mini Scabbard on sale during the cold months where I could hide the rig under a jacket. This is a dedicated OWB design (not a hybrid IWB/OWB rig with multiple clips and loops) with all-leather construction. The Mini Scabbard attaches to the belt with a single, sturdy leather loop.

One need not worry about retention. If the durable leather doesn’t keep the LCP planted, the thumb break has you covered. Being made of quality leather, this holster will take some time to break in. The holster feels solid in use, and the forward cant keeps the pistol in a comfortable, easy-to-draw position. However, the single belt loop does allow the pistol to print off my waist, even under a light jacket. I would wager the dual clip designs on the Alien Gear or Crossbreed offerings would mitigate this effect, but they also bring a significant premium over the options discussed here. Save this holster for those cold climates or hikes in the woods. In most scenarios, an Inside The Waistband (IWB) holster will probably serve you better.

Uncle Mike’s Nylon Open Top IWB Holster

Like the Ace Case, the Uncle Mike’s Nylon Open Top IWB Holster (size 10) is another cheap, no-frills option. The holster is made of soft nylon with a simple polymer clip to hook onto a waistband.

The clip is flexible enough to also grab over a thin belt if needed; otherwise the belt can secure and conceal it beneath. This holster’s lack of heft complements the featherweight LCP well, and it’s great for appendix carry with a pair of shorts in the summer months.

Be warned, however. The lack of padding in the holster can cause the back of the pistol’s slide to dig into the hip if kept at the 3:30-5:00 position. It may leave a mark on us bony types.

DeSantis Inside Heat

A more solid option – and I mean that literally – is the DeSantis Inside Heat. With its thick leather construction and strong metal belt clip, the Inside Heat fares better after a long day of use. Typical of the DeSantis offerings I have handled, this is a serious hunk of steer.

The opening on top is double-bound black leather with a rawhide interior. The spring steel clip secures the holster with confidence and hides inconspicuously beneath the belt. This is not a tuckable design, but it disappears under a longer t-shirt or button-up shirt. Appendix carry with the Inside Heat is not as discreet an affair as the Uncle Mike’s option.

The thicker leather on a scrawny frame can leave awkward bulges that may have observers wondering if you’re happy to see them – or packing heat. Neither is fun to explain.

Faults aside, each of these holsters is a solid option in its own right and has its particular niche. Finding the right holster for you can be fraught with trial and tribulation. Don’t be surprised if you end up with a drawer full of holsters as I have. It shouldn’t be too much of a problem, though. Your clothes certainly don’t take up that much space.

Some final thoughts on the LCP

Without a doubt, pocket pistols have their downsides. But they can be mitigated. I have found that the Wolff Gun Springs 13lb recoil spring tames the muzzle flip ever-so-slightly. The $10 or so investment is well worth it, especially for extended shooting sessions.

Further, I recommend the LCP Custom model over the standard LCP due to the clean, crisp trigger (I have not yet tested the LCP II, so I cannot comment on it, but the reviews make clear its superior trigger). I find that I can group better with the LCP Custom’s sweet trigger than my duty-sized automatics. As for the issue of limited capacity, I pack an extra magazine in my weak side pocket. They’re tiny enough to fit just about anywhere.

Finally, the old adage of “practice makes perfect” holds very true with pocket pistols. They can be mastered just like any other firearm given sufficient time and ammo. Just be prepared for a tender hand after 100+ rounds in a single outing.

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36 Responses to Ruger LCP Holster Comparison: Concealed Carry for the Skinny Guy – Content Contest

  1. Wouldn’t a Sneaky Pete solve your problem, maybe not as quick on the draw as a pocket holster BUT more practical in the long run.

    • Those really scream “CONCEALED PISTOL” almost to the extent of a CC fanny pack or a safari vest…

  2. Terrific effort! I haven’t been skinny in many years but this gives me lots of options as I plan pocket carry as soon as my CCL arrives. And I plan on pocket carry with a Taurus 709. Anyone out there do that? Or a similar LC9/Keltec PF9/Shield,etc…?

    • I pocket carry a PF9 often in a Nemesis. It works really well in blue jeans. My preferred mode though is IWB in an Alien Gear CloakTuck.

    • I used to pocket carry a pf9. Now I carry a TCP. the size was never a problem for me but the weight was always an issue. In the right pocket, I could carry a 30oz pistol and hardly notice, but in most of my pockets, more than 10-15oz is too much.

      I work on my feet, so the lighter the better for me. Your mileage may vary.

      As to holsters, I’ve had good luck making my own out of thin leather I get at Hobby Lobby. You tube is an amazing resource. I think most people of average intelligence could build just about anything with nothing but you tube videos as a guide. 🙂

    • water former:
      i pocket carry in t shirt weather. p938/ recluse. the full leather outer obscures the outline completely.
      if/ when you iwb, look at the style of the crossbreed freedom carry (many other makers use this arrangement.). the clip being rear of the barrel allows evrything to pull in more narrowly. and for such a light gun one clip is plenty and less conspicuous. really, the gun belt is what helps with the weight, pocket or not.
      and if you all din’t know, cross breed has a separate website for returned/ unclaimed merchandise for sale. hate to give that up but i only need a few.
      you’ll need to familiarize yourself with their model names first.

    • It might be a bit larger than a 709, I don’t know, but a lot of the time I’m pocket carrying a Kahr CM9 in a Nemesis, and I love it. Wait, I take that back – I used the Nemesis for about a year, then mounted a CT Laserguard on the Kahr, which came with it’s own holster (very similar to the DeSantis, except with an open area in front of the trigger guard to leave room for the laser.) And BTW, the laser was the wife’s idea, not mine. To me, it’s a harmless toy, but I prefer to use the sights or point shoot.

      With this combo I have no problem with printing, wife says it just looks like a wallet – don’t worry about it, she tells me. But when I twist around to look at my back pocket, I can clearly see the back of the stainless slide near the top of my pocket… of course I’m looking straight down my back at it, whereas most people aren’t!

      Unlike the author I’m in the OFWG club, so we have none of the same holster issues in common. Being fat, the various IWB methods of carry can be likened to torture devices, so as far as I’m concerned they’re out. Good thing most of my carry guns are single-stack!

      The only advantage to being 6’2″ with a very large build is, with loose clothes and good leather I can easily conceal my Commander-size 1911 and full-size M&P 40… Woo-hoo!

  3. I have never been able to use the DeSantis Nemesis without printing badly in the area of the exposed gun handle. .

  4. I carry a slightly larger gun, a CW9, in an IWB holster from High Noon (Down Under). While it is true that I am no skinny guy, I can wear this set up at 4 o’clock (puts the gun behind the hip joint) with an overshirt that conceals very well. The same should be true for skinny guys, as long as the overshirt is not tight.

  5. I use the trigger guard holster by Boraii (http://www.boraii.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html). It works very well to break up the outline of the pistol, it clings well to the trigger guard, and the pistol breaks cleanly when clearing the holster. I’ve never had the guard slip off while wearing jeans (my jeans keep shrinking), khakis, or dress slacks. The LCP2 with holster is not much bigger than my Samsung Galaxy phone. I can also easily slip the pistol with the Boraii holster in my suit coat pocket, something I couldn’t do with the more padded holsters. One final note, when the LCP2 first came out, I contacted Boraii to see if they had plans to make holster and they had a new holster made and delivered to me in like five days. They have a number of holsters already, but if you don’t see what you need, ask them and they may be able to accommodate you pretty quickly. Hope this helps (and to each their own!).

  6. I have my Kahr cw380 in a Ace case and it’s damn near perfect. I also am a HUGE fan of desantis holsters although I may be a bit partial to them because they have a butt ton of left handed options.

  7. I have 2 LCP Customs, really fantastic guns. I do not find violent muzzle flip even when loaded with some pretty hot Fiochhi loads. However, my carry load is Ruger ARX ammo; you get considerably more power/performance along with less recoil. This stuff let’s you have your cake & eat it to. I’m sure that the Ruger LCP series has led to the development of the much improved .380 ACP ammo that we have today. In my own ballistic tests using water jugs the ARX .380 ammo has the same effect as 9mm or 38+P HP’s; even .380 HP’s do almost nothing. ARX ammo really ramps up the performance.

  8. I carry a ruger LC9s.

    I’m also a skinny guy, but muscular (5’9″ 170, about 13% body fat).

    Depending on the time of year, which will depend on the clothes I’m wearing, which will depend on my position of carry. I use either
    1) We The People full kydex IWB holster @ 4:00 position in the summer
    Or
    2) Raw Dog Tactical Defender Pro IWB holster @3:00 position in the winter.

    I prefer the 3:00 position, however it’s just not possible in the summer, it’s obvious that I’m carrying – this I’ve tested with at least 6 different holster. Alien gear, comp-tac, the two I still use, and two others I can’t recall.

    Overall, I prefer those two holsters hands down.

    Both under $40, too.

    Then again, it’s all preference really.

  9. “while coins and keys are falling down into the sofa abyss.”

    hopefully, from pockets not containing guns.

  10. I have two Galco Stow n Go holsters – stout belt clip, conforming (over time) steerhide.

    I have one for appendix / primary side carry, one for secondary / backup side carry.

    Just an aside – I carry Glocks, Rugers, Springfield XDMs, up to 10mm – and I always have an LCP either as my offside BUG or sometimes as primary in extra light clothing. I’m getting an LCP II later in the spring. For such a small pistol, what a great, accurate, comfortable shooter. At least in my mind, Ruger hit it out of the park with this model line and it’s nice to see some holster review love for it. Thanks for the nice write up.

  11. Well. I have never been skinny but I own the desantis holster.

    Now I may look at the Ace as well.

    Good article.

  12. Kusiak Leathers has LPC holsters and even a variant that has extra magazine holder. As for clothing options Duluth Trading has Longtail t-shirts and polo shirts.

  13. Nice ad for DeSantis, but the are much better choices. I’ve tried dozens of holsters, but nothing beats tacticalmeasures.com
    They’re drop clip kydex is thin, comfortable, secure, and $30. No contest.

    • I wear XL gloves & have zero issues using an LCP; accurate, fast on target, low muzzle flip, fast follow up shots & easy to use one handed. To ramp up the power of .380 ACP go to Ruger Polycase ARX ammo to get 9mm & 38 Spl performance.

  14. I have a Fobus for my LCP, it is bulky in some ways. I’m 115 lbs and 5 ft 9 in tall. I am the definition of skinny. The Fobus is nice in its ways, trigger guard, I carry hot, can carry on belt or pocket, downfall, it is bulky. Belt carry is easy to hide with a large long shirt. Pockets, harder draw, but it has adjustable tension that’s a plus. I hope I’m entering the contest somehow by posting, and registering via email? I would Love to win a new gun!

  15. I’m a 5′ 11″ bean pole that gets told I’m gonna blow away if I don’t weigh myself down a bit. So I do. I carry a glock 19 IWB at 4 o’clock, and a spare magazine OWB at 10 o’clock and I have no problem concealing in what most people would call skinny jeans and a comfy flannel. My buddy is 6′ 8″ and is similarly built and he carries a full size XD and spare mag in similar conditions (minus the skinny jeans). It ain’t that hard to carry enough gun. It comes down to placement and a suitable cover garment. My cover garments aren’t super loose and baggy, just enough to be comfortable and still look good.

  16. I carry two SS LCPs at the same time using Left/right versions of Bianchi’s 101 Foldaway slide holster, both guns have left or right hand version techna clips which give very good retention when clipped to its corresponding foldaway. I got the 101’s on amazon for stupid low prices, one was $12 the other $14. Even after you figure the price for the techna clips its a bargain carry option for me.

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