Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

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Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by Humblesteve » Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:17 am

Ok, this is my mini rant/class on shoulder holsters. Why am I posting a rant/class on shoulder holsters? Well I’m currently deployed and I’ve just walked by my 1,000th person with a shoulder holster bouncing off their kneecaps. Why does this irritate me? I’ve been a FLEO for a couple years now and I’ve carried in the shoulder for at least half of my time. I’ve watched friends move to and from shoulder holsters. I’ve trained other agents on the use of a shoulder holster. I hate it when people voice misconceptions about shoulder holsters, but I hate it more when people become those misconceptions.

Now I’ve read a number of ZS topics relating to shoulder holsters and the mood seems to be they are dangerous and unreliable. I think a lot of this comes from those 1000 people I mentioned above, and I’m hoping some of this thread fixes that.

The first thing is we need some ground rules:
- A shoulder holster can be versatile, but it is not a multi-tool. Have a back up holster for times when it is not appropriate.
- A shoulder holster is not a toy or a fashion accessory. Treat it like the tool holding your other deadly tool. Respect it and care for it.
- Shoulder holsters require practice, practice using the shoulder holster. I swear if I hear one more person say they haven’t drawn from or are willing to qual with their holster I’m going to have a stroke.

So why choose a shoulder holster? The initial answer is simple: pooping. Lets be adult, less weight on the belt equals more comfort in the bathroom. Beyond that, it is comfortable and accessible while seated. It can be more concealable in some situations and less in others. You don’t even technically need pants, meaning your wardrobe can include different shorts and kilts, etc.

So how do you wear a shoulder holster? I guess I should first show my own. I use a monarch shoulder holster from Andrews leather. My ability to post pics is limited, so use the image. The first thing to realize about a shoulder holster is that it floats on you, and isn’t attached to you. While we choose the holster for its ability to float, holsters work best when they are exactly where we last put them. You don’t let your waistband holster slide around, why let a shoulder holster? The holster should be tight, and preferably high on the ribs. You should be able to firmly grasp the pistol without excessive twisting. Feel for movement, roll your shoulders; if the pistol isn’t near where it started you should re-think this.

If your holster comes with attach points, consider them. I don’t like them as it turns my shoulder holster into suspenders, but YMMV. When drawing (I’ll cover this separately), it is important that you have tension in the opposite direction of your draw stroke. The holster should not be able to move once a draw has begun.

Shooting, probably the biggest reason people are afraid of these things. How do I draw this thing? I have seen two primary methods of safe draw stroke. The first is to reach across with your primary hand, firmly grasp the weapon. Release any retention devices (I prefer a thumb break). Immediately twist the weapon down while pulling forward. Point the weapon straight down while dragging it back across the chest to the 12 o’ clock position (commonly considered the "ready" position). Meet the weapon with your off-hand at this point, and push out like any other draw stroke. The second method (preferred by coworkers) is to firmly grasp the weapon and twist down. Point the muzzle in an upside down arc leading to the target and meeting with the offhand along the way. This is commonly seen as a straight arm arcing underhanded towards the target. The wrist must twist to accommodate during this maneuver. I prefer the first as it brings the weapon to a universal “ready” position. The important part here is that the weapon goes to the ground instead of muzzling across the horizontal plane. Your draw must be aggressive, and it can be just as fast as most anybody else on the range.

So what holster should I get? Get a holster that best facilitates the things discussed above for you. I like a horizontal back strap, it provides that vital tension while drawing. Some like very wide shoulder straps while others prefer thin. Consider lighter pistols, as balance is important. If you choose a heavy weapon, you may need to anchor on the opposite side. My shoulder holster is nearly unusable without 2 full mags on the opposite side, but I don’t anchor to the belt.

I hope this clears some things up about shoulder holsters. I love mine, and I know others do. If you know somebody who doesn’t know these basics, please educate them. Without training and practice, it is the liability we all fear. With training and practice, it is an excellent tool for the right jobs.

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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by Shortline » Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:48 pm

I like em. Haven't used one in years, but that's more due to my wardrobe choices than function. Spent 8 years wearing a shoulder rig for conceal carry under my flight suit, with no issues, other than the fact that the Beretta M-9 isn't exactly the most concealable weapon out there....gotta love the USAF mindset.....Anyway, just so happens I just bought a new M-9, and on a whim dug out my old issue shoulder holster. Apparently it's shrunk a bit over the last 10 years, but other than that, I'm ready to go, under a sports coat. (though, I think I'll find an appropriate rig for my Springfield EMP all the same.......)
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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by BullOnParade » Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:48 pm

So Humble, your shoulder holster requires two loaded mags to weigh down your strong side. How fast is the draw of the spare magazines? How impeded is your spare mag draw by the lack of weight on the holster side? I don't mean to sound like a dick, I have zero practical experience with shoulder holsters, looking for some info from someone who has the experience.
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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by Humblesteve » Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:46 am

My draw on the spare mags is pretty quick, maybe a hair slower than if they were in the hip carrier. Oddly enough though, the spares don't really move that much when the pistol is out. The pistol moves more without the mags than the mags without the pistol. Once you're firing and moving the few inches they shift isn't much of a deal breaker. I mentioned it as when the pistol is in and I don't have the mags in. This is an isolated event (only on the range) where I have re-holstered my pistol after two spent mags. Otherwise it just wouldn't matter.

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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by desert fox » Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:23 pm

pooping.

lol


and driving all day, thats why Im looking to get one.
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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by UndeadInfidel » Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:36 am

I have an old Gilmore leather one that fits most full sized pistols. Got it for pennies on the dollar and the only use it's gotten is a Don Johnson halloween costume. I really should pull it out and try training with it one of these days.
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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by crypto » Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:04 pm

My biggest complaint about shoulder holsters is the ease with which the draw stroke can be fouled by an attacker in front of you.

In all the practice I've done, it seems like its a lot easier to pin someone's arm during the draw than it is from a hip holster. That said, Ive never learned specialized shoulder-fu from anyone.

In your training and experience, how do you make sure that you can draw your weapon in close quarters, possibly while tangled up with an attacker?
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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by Kutter_0311 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:16 pm

Thanks for all the info!

I've been looking at shoulder rigs for a while, as I drive quite a bit already, and just got my CDL. I need to find a shoulder rig that fits a G35, though I might go to a G19 if the muzzle on the Longslide pokes out too much. Anyone carry a brace of pistols? One on each side? Not looking to dual-weild, but behind the wheel one can expect attack from either side at very close quarters, and so I lean toward ambi-draw capability. For the record, yes, I offer rides to strangers. I've been in those shoes too many times not to take pity.
crypto wrote:My biggest complaint about shoulder holsters is the ease with which the draw stroke can be fouled by an attacker anywhere near you.

In all the practice I've done, it seems like its a lot easier to pin someone's arm during the draw than it is from a hip holster. That said, Ive never learned specialized shoulder-fu from anyone.

In your training and experience, how do you make sure that you can draw your weapon in close quarters, possibly while tangled up with an attacker?
I agree, that's why I want a double holster. I think your best counter is to block or strike with the off hand and draw with the other. While restrained with a seatbelt, you can't pivot away or otherwise adjust your position, but if you have a gun on each side, you have more options.
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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by Vicarious_Lee » Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:53 pm

I think I like this thread.

Do you find that when drawing, flexing your shoulders forward as you do in the Isocelese stance before you draw your gun helps tighten and secure the holster?
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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by SwampRat » Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:06 pm

I've been told to stay away from them before, but I keep coming back to the idea. Seems the most comfortable set up for doing things like clearing trees and boarding windows. Thanks for your input.

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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by Murph » Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:13 pm

Kutter_0311 wrote:Thanks for all the info!

I've been looking at shoulder rigs for a while, as I drive quite a bit already, and just got my CDL. I need to find a shoulder rig that fits a G35, though I might go to a G19 if the muzzle on the Longslide pokes out too much. Anyone carry a brace of pistols? One on each side? Not looking to dual-weild, but behind the wheel one can expect attack from either side at very close quarters, and so I lean toward ambi-draw capability. For the record, yes, I offer rides to strangers. I've been in those shoes too many times not to take pity.
crypto wrote:My biggest complaint about shoulder holsters is the ease with which the draw stroke can be fouled by an attacker anywhere near you.

In all the practice I've done, it seems like its a lot easier to pin someone's arm during the draw than it is from a hip holster. That said, Ive never learned specialized shoulder-fu from anyone.

In your training and experience, how do you make sure that you can draw your weapon in close quarters, possibly while tangled up with an attacker?
I agree, that's why I want a double holster. I think your best counter is to block or strike with the off hand and draw with the other. While restrained with a seatbelt, you can't pivot away or otherwise adjust your position, but if you have a gun on each side, you have more options.
Fighting inside a vehicle is a lot more complex then it might seem. The confined space / close quarters that Crypto mention is even worse when you're "boxed" in on all sides. Being in a "box" like that means you can push off and / or get pinned in any direction. For instance, Person A could be pushing off the dash with their legs, pinning Person B into their seat, and at that point neither person might have a free hand to draw a weapon. The variations are endless.

While not exactly the same discussion, this thread goes into carrying and deploying firearms in vehicles: http://www.zombiehunters.org/forum/view ... 10&t=97184
Further discussion about that would probably be better off there, or in a new thread. But like I said, fighting (especially with weapons) in a vehicle is a whole other ball of wax.
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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by kika21 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 2:53 pm

I love my Blackhawk Serpa shoulder harness, its easy to switch out my XD serpa holster with my Glock serpa holster.

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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by phil_in_cs » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:04 pm

Kutter_0311 wrote:I agree, that's why I want a double holster. I think your best counter is to block or strike with the off hand and draw with the other. While restrained with a seatbelt, you can't pivot away or otherwise adjust your position, but if you have a gun on each side, you have more options.
Why stop with two? Put a ankle holster on each leg, AIWB, IWB, and the shoulder holsters on each side, and you will have a gun near your hand no matter what.

Or, maybe, get some training and practice? If you have a nutcase jumping through your car window stabbing you or busting your face with a hammer, that's a bigger problem than trying to get your pistol out instantly.
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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by BullOnParade » Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:24 pm

SwampRat wrote:I've been told to stay away from them before, but I keep coming back to the idea. Seems the most comfortable set up for doing things like clearing trees and boarding windows. Thanks for your input.

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I just picked up a leather shoulder holster for $20 at a gun show on the weekend. It's not the best holster/harness I've ever seen, but it was cheap, built for my gun, and I can decide if I want to drop 5-8 times what I did on a high end holster. I could also go to GunNut, as I've been wanting to order something from him anyways.

My point is, there's no need to spend big bucks on a shoulder holster to find out you do not find them comfortable, you prefer different features, or you'd prefer a different setup.
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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by Kutter_0311 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:34 pm

phil_in_cs wrote:Why stop with two? Put a ankle holster on each leg, AIWB, IWB, and the shoulder holsters on each side, and you will have a gun near your hand no matter what.
A brace of pistols is options enough, maintains redundancy, and simplifies mag/ammo supplies if I can't keep a carbine in the truck. I might go with blades on the ankles and belt, though, in case I need to bust my way out :wink:
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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by crypto » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:55 pm

Kutter_0311 wrote: A brace of pistols is options enough, maintains redundancy, and simplifies mag/ammo supplies if I can't keep a carbine in the truck. I might go with blades on the ankles and belt, though, in case I need to bust my way out :wink:
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Good thinking :awesome:
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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by Kutter_0311 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:09 pm

crypto wrote:
Kutter_0311 wrote: A brace of pistols is options enough... :wink:
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Good thinking :awesome:
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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by Humblesteve » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:20 pm

Ok, so many people I want to reply to.

Crypto: I took a combatives course course and I wore the holster for the second half of it. There are some distinct advantages and disadvantages. I do have reach across and that means it is a bad idea to draw when somebody is close and moving quick. I have to give up on the idea of a split second quick draw (I'm fast enough, but I wouldn't bet my life on it as a plan A). Better to secure the weapon while punching/kicking for distance. The good news is a I can wrap my weak arm around it like a football. That means I can secure my pistol with my weak hand leaving my strong side to punch/stab/wrestle/wave white flags. I feel this is quite a perk when compared to somebody that has to keep their good hand at four o' clock. My favorite example is to ask a friend to hold a tennis ball where he holds his pistol. Now I fight him for the ball. Keeping that thing pinned to your ass with your good hand is a lot harder than me keeping it stuffed into my weak armpit.

Kutter: I qual regularly with my holster and part of that course is drawing weak hand. I would suggest putting some time into practicing for a variety of situations. Weak hand with a shoulder is a little faster than weak hand with a belt (IMO). I've never used dual pistols, so I can't comment on the advantages/disadvantages over pistol/mags holsters.

Vicarious: Sometimes I flex, but I try and avoid it as part of the firing position. From a martial artists perspective, I try and remain loose as opposed to tight and locked up. I will say my holster is cinched up pretty tight, even becoming uncomfortable at times. I good solid draw stroke separates the gun from holster before the holster really goes anywhere. I think another important part is the lateral strap on my holster.

Murph brings up a good point about fighting. The final answer is it comes down to practice, practice, practice. I do want to add that a shoulder holster is twice as accessable while in a seated position. Have you ever tried to draw a four o' clock holster while belted in? Either holster requires a lot of practice to have confidence in it during any scenario.

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Re: Shoulder Holsters: a seminar

Post by phil_in_cs » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:59 pm

In holster retention of a waist holster (4 o'clock or appendix) should be done with your elbow, not your hand. You can jam down with more force (shoulder rather than arm) and still have your hand free to tie up his grip.

I've done quite a bit of drawing while seat belted in, from both 4 o'clock and appendix (about 12:30). More movement is required for 4 o'clock, especially to fire towards your right side, but done correctly you end up squared to your target in a solid shooting position. You must hit your target, after all, and waving a gun around and shooting from non-stable positions isn't a good thing.

I'd like to try with a shot timer and see what the actual differences are. From appendix, the draws are very quick when seated.
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