Stealth Defense Concealed Carry Strut Holster
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
As more states pass "right to carry" laws and more citizens accept responsibility for their own security, the selection of holsters designed for the inconspicuous concealed carry of small pistols increases. It is an example of free market economics at work, increased demand creating a larger supply. One of the more original deep concealment holsters is made in the USA by Stealth Defense (http//stealthdefenseholsters.com).
Like many good ideas, this innovative holster is conceptually simple. It is a black, soft leather pouch attached to a black elastic bellyband that is adjustable for length (between 30 and 50 inches) and secured around the torso by Velcro. The Velcro closure makes the holster very easy to put on and take off. (To check for fit, measure the circumference of your torso about six inches above belt position.)
So far, the Stealth Defense holster probably sounds like some sort of deluxe bellyband rig. What separates it from bellyband holsters is the rigid plastic strut sewn tightly to the outside of the holster. This strut extends below the squared bottom edge of said holster and terminates in a shallow, squared-off "U" that clips behind the wearer's belt inside the waistband and supports the weight of the firearm, keeping it and the bellyband from sliding down. The maximum useable belt width is 1.5". The waistband, belt and strut pull the holster against the wearer's body. There is a wide extension at the top of the holster that covers the butt of the pistol, reducing "printing." The well-designed Stealth Defense Concealed Strut Holster is more difficult to describe than to wear. Look at the photographs accompanying this article and you will probably get the idea.
The Stealth Defense holster is made in right and left-handed versions. The 2013 online price direct from Stealth Defense is $69.95 with free shipping. Accessory pouches for carrying spare magazines are available. Being right-handed shooters, that is the model we requested for review. It is designed to be worn underneath a shirt, either in the strong side or cross draw positions. Here are the wearing instructions that accompany the holster:
Guns and Shooting Online staff members Chuck Hawks, Gordon Landers and Jim Fleck took turns wearing the Stealth Defense holster and all three favored the cross draw position. Wearing the holster positioned approximately above the left hipbone seemed to provide the best comfort, unrestricted motion and concealment. Small adjustments allowed each wearer to find his personal "sweet spot" for optimum comfort. Worn too far forward (in the spleen position) the strut holster impedes bending over and sitting down, while moving it too far back (behind the hip) allows the gun to bulge more noticeably under the shirt and chair backs make the rig uncomfortable when seated.
We found the Stealth Defense more comfortable to wear than a shoulder holster, because there are no straps over the shoulders. It is also more comfortable than an inside the belt holster. The attached strut keeps the entire gun/holster above the belt. You don't need to let your belt out or wear pants with an oversize waistband, as you would with an inside the belt holster. Indeed, you want to keep your belt tight to give the strut holster proper support.
When wearing a dress shirt over the strut holster, normal movement allowed the rig to print through the shirt enough to make a sport coat, jacket, sweater or other loose outer garment desirable for inconspicuous concealment. You could slip your coat off, though, while sitting in the audience watching a movie, play or concert and it is unlikely that anyone would notice that you are carrying. Properly positioned, your gun is accessible whether standing or sitting. We buttoned our shirts all the way up for a normal look, figuring that if we needed to draw the gun in an emergency, ripping the shirt open by popping off a few buttons would be a small price to pay. A pullover sweatshirt worked well to conceal the Stealth Defense holster for casual daily wear. Loose, opaque clothing is the ticket.
This rig works best with small frame, flat, short barreled, semi-automatic pistols measuring 4.8 to 6.5 inches in overall length. Among our personal carry guns, we found the Kahr PM9 (9x19mm), Walther PPK (.380 ACP) and SIG P238 (.380 ACP) ideal. Our SIG P232 (.380 ACP) was a little too long and our Colt Cobra revolver (.38 Special) was a little too wide. In addition, the slender-barreled Cobra was not a good match for the wide, squared toe of the holster. The shape of the Stealth pouch holster favors autoloading pistols. Other popular firearms recommended for the holster include the Beretta Bobcat and Tomcat, Ruger LCP, sub-compact Glocks and Walther PPK/S. Any pistol of similar size should work in this simple pouch holster and there is a list of recommended pistols with the holster and on the Stealth Defense website.
No holster worn beneath a shirt is going to be a fast draw rig. Soft leather pouches are not amenable to a quick draw, anyway, regardless of how they are worn. A stiff, molded holster that positions the pistol away from the body is much better for speed. However, the Stealth Defense Strut Holster is easy to conceal, allowing you to be armed in situations where a fast draw rig isn't practical. In any case, we think that a speedy draw is vastly over rated. Trying to draw against a bad guy with a gun in his hand is usually a short cut to the morgue. If you are going to carry concealed, you need to plan to surreptitiously have your pistol in your hand before the action starts. This advice applies to most inconspicuous methods of concealed carry, including fanny packs, purses, undershirt holsters, inside the belt holsters and old-fashioned pocket carry.
The Stealth Defense Strut Holster comes with a lifetime warranty for repair or replacement of the holster due to problems resulting from normal use. Proof of purchase is required, so save your receipt.
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