We are not folks who habitually carry guns either personally or professionally. On the other hand, there are times when we need to carry guns, and to have them concealed. Ease of concealed carry depends on four factors: The clothing you are wearing, your size, the size of the guns you are carrying, and your choice of holsters. If you are wearing baggy clothing, such as you often see in high school students, you can carry weapons with relative ease (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bMz0m6XHXs). In our case, we generally are wearing suits or jackets and slacks, so we don’t have quite as many options. To make matters worse, while one of us is relatively large of stature (over six feet), the one most likely to be carrying is almost half a foot shorter. Which leaves us with choice of gun and holster as the factors that can be controlled.
Semi-automatic weapons tend to be thinner, and somewhat more easily concealed than revolvers. Unfortunately, this editor has had some unfortunate experiences with semi-automatic weapons, and is therefore more comfortable with (and therefore carries) revolvers. By the same token, larger caliber weapons tend to be somewhat bulkier, and this editor favors (a subject worthy of a separate article) cartridges with large slow bullets, and has ended up choosing a short-barreled .45acp Smith & Wesson 625-2 revolver. This is an N-frame revolver, and, even with a short barrel, a BIG gun. The ability to conceal this weapon in this set of circumstance depends on the holster.
In theory, the ideal choice would be an inside-the-pants holster. Unfortunately, in order for an inside-the-pants holster to be workable in practice, you have to have something more than single-digit body fat, otherwise the gun against bone soon becomes excruciating. Which for this editor means a belt holster worn outside the trousers.
There are many of these available, but the best we have found are made by Ken Null (http://www.klnullholsters.com/) in Resaca, Georgia. We prefer his holster in shell horsehide. Our holster of choiceis his model RSS, which carries at the perfect angle to draw, and yet is extremely difficult for anyone else to take from the holster. We are able to carry a very large gun with nobody being aware of its presence. At $125, it is not the cheapest holster around, but we consider it to be the best for our circumstances.
A crucial adjunct to a belt holster is the belt. We have been using Null belts for decades. Indeed, we just replaced one of our belts, which, after roughly twenty years of use was starting to show enough wear that we felt it warranted being replaced. Again, we prefer his belts in shell horsehide. They come either cordovan with a brass buckle ($135) or black with a silver buckle ($225). The standard model CBT combat belt is 1.5” and locks the holster firmly to your body. The CBT is handsome enough to be worn with your best suit with nobody being aware you are wearing a gun belt – thus explaining Null’s motto of “unseen … in the best places” – and will last you literally decades.
Null, one of the most innovative bespoke holster makers, has a number of very interesting holsters. One of our personal favorites is his SMZ shoulder holster. Many shoulder holsters hold the weapon with the barrel pointing down or, worse, facing back. When you draw the weapon it passes by your arm and everyone behind and to the side of you, which is a safety no-no. The SMZ holds the gun with the barrel facing up and the butt under your armpit. To draw the weapon you simply reach under your jacket, grab the grip in a perfectly normal manner, and bring it straight forward. It is a fast draw, and an extremely comfortable holster that can be worn all day. While intended for small frame revolvers – it is perfect in combination with a S&W Centennial, which is an ideal small carry revolver – we had one made for our N-frame, and it has worked well for us over the years.
An alternative for the j-frame revolver is Null’s model SKR, which was designed based on feedback from the SMZ, and which encloses the gun more completely.
If your life depends on concealed carry, we would strongly recommend Ken Null holsters to you.