Rode Hard, and Put Away Wet

Bullard IWB

That's an old saying from my Texas childhood, which has survived the test of time. It's a compliment of the highest order in one way, signifying something that is used hard for it's intended purpose and that doesn't have to be pampered afterwards. As I've said here many times before, a holster for a concealed handgun is a very important piece of equipment, second only to the gun itself. Many people who carry concealed spend considerable time and money getting the right gun for them. Size, weight, caliber, shape, ergonomics, all of these play a role. But, what do these actually mean when it comes to carrying that gun on your person?

We have a retired deputy in town who is a nice and well-meaning man. He often appears for community events in the summer with his deputy hat and badge and his Glock stuck into the waistband of his jeans. No holster. I asked him about it one day and he merely said he preferred "Mexican carry". His term. I hoped he didn't manage to accidently shoot himself or someone else. He wasn't too pleased and told me his gun was "modified" against this eventuality. Didn't say how.

The point is, for the rest of us, carrying our handgun in the right holster for the time, place and person is critical. Why? Well, it must be all of these things: comfortable (or you won't carry), safe (so you don't have a negligent discharge), secure (so your gun stays put and doesn't come out at inopportunte moments), effective (so you can draw easily and quickly when necessary).

Which holster is best? I've tried most, if not all, of the major styles, except for the ankle holster: leather, kydex, plastic, hybrid. They all have their uses and some carry, for me, better than others, but the "best" holster is a personal and relative decision. My vote goes for those made by David Bullard in Azle, Texas.

David's holsters are all made from quality leather to the highest standards. His designs are based on years of experience by him and his customers, and those now not with us who have carried a gun all of their adult lives, both professionally and personally. I know some internet experts who declare leather to be old school and a dead issue, preferring plastics and hybrids, but I don't agree. I think the leather and the gun form a symboitic relationship over time, each complimenting the other. The leather molds to the gun, and to the wearer, conforming to both and settling in to a comfortable, secure and effective carry combination. The leather takes on a patina and markings reflective of its service and duty life. It's comfortable and feels good, not like a chunk of plastic hanging off or inside your waistband.

Bullard hosters work exceptionally well for the types of carry I need: strong side, appendix and cross draw. All of these carry positions have their advantages and work better in some situations than others. Probably the most little understood and appreciated is the cross draw. Since most of us spend more time sitting than standing or walking, the cross draw enables one to carry concealed in any of those situations and have the firearm remain always accessible. Think about sitting in your car at a stoplight, securely buckled in, wearing a light jacket. If your gun is sitting in the strong side position, three to five o'clock, getting to it in a hurry is going to be a problem. Carrying it at the appendix position makes the task easier, but the shoulder strap and the jacket are going to be problems. The cross draw carry though is right there where you need it. This works in restaurants, theatres, and other places where one might be sitting down when the need to draw a firearm presents itself.

Bullard's OWB cross draw holsters excel at this, especially in the smaller framed and single stack handguns. They are secure and hold the weapon close enough for good concealment, draw easily and are quality pieces of gear. I use one for my Ruger LCP frequently, even in the summer with a loose shirt, or T-shirt. I think small frame revolvers and single stacks such as the S&W M&P Shield would also be ideal for this holster. Bullard's IWB design, shown above, is so versatile, with the adjustable belt loop, that I wear it IWB at any of the three positions: strong-side, appendix or cross draw.

Bullard's best seller, according to his website, is his Bodyguard model. This one is made to carry behind the hip. Not small-of-back (which I can't recommend), but at the 4 - 5 o'clock position for right handers. It incorporates a more radical "rake" or cant than most strong side holster designs but this is to aid concealment of any handgun, and especially larger ones like the 1911 .45 pistols. The position of the grips is such that they don't show and the design still permits a secure hold and fast draw. You might see some people wearing these on their hip, and complaining, but that's because they are not using the holster correctly. It belongs behind your hip, not on it. I have one each for my LCP and my Shield.

For basic, on the hip, 3 o'clock OWB carry I have a well-worn Bullard Bandit, now called a belt slide. Sure, I know I'm wearing it because you don't carry a gun on your hip without feeling the presence and the weight, but it is the most comfortable, and probably conservative of holsters. It does everything well and has definitely earned its keep. I should have one for each of my guns, and someday probably will.

If this sounds like a commercial for Dave Bullard and his crew, I guess it is. I like his stuff. I've tested a lot of holsters, and I have used most of Bullard's designs with both large and small handguns, and when all is said and done, I usually reach for a Bullard holster when leaving the house. Or, while at the house for that matter.

Check them out and tell Dave I sent you.