Hidden In Plain Sight

Sometimes I wish I owned a dairy so that I’d have plenty of cheese to ship back with some of the whine that gets addressed to me from time to time. Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of thought and time creating and updating my own website’s Holster Selection page. Still, I get folks complaining that they’re so unique that none of my suggestions will allow them to carry a firearm discreetly.

Okay, I have a strong preference for primary carry on the belt and, in my own case, for inside-the-waistband (IWB) holsters with which to do it. However, I recognize that many folks are a lot larger around the waist than I am and that a few are significantly smaller around the waist than I am. Both extremes can present challenges to using a conventional belt holster discreetly, particularly in jurisdictions where the fashion police may be on patrol.

As I suggested, I discuss lots of options on my own site so I’ll limit this discussion to a very specific area: disguised holsters. I touched on this concept back in May, when I shared some thoughts on workout carry. Now I’d like to cover it again, with a view to some different settings.

DeSantis Gunny Sack
Over time, DeSantis has introduced smaller, less obvious versions of their seminal Gunny Sack fanny-pack holster. From top to bottom, the original Gunny Sack…
DeSantis Gunny Sack 2
…the DeSantis Gunny Sack 2…
DeSantis Gunny Sack Jr
…and the DeSantis Gunny Sack Jr.

The first mass-produced disguised holster that I recall was the DeSantis Gunny Sack (now offered in three different versions). At the risk of repetition:

  • It did not take long for people in the know to recognize it—and similar fanny packs—as a holster.
  • Fanny-pack holsters generally require two hands for the draw. This shortcoming is often overlooked by those who don’t realize that they will not likely have the legal justification to draw until they’re already using one hand to deflect a close-range attack.
  • A carry system that holds the gun horizontally at the front or far side of the body usually requires careful use of the safety circle (described in my book) to avoid sweeping innocent bystanders with the muzzle during the draw stroke. It also makes it much more difficult to draw with the secondary hand, should the primary hand be injured or otherwise occupied.

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In the smaller sizes, the Safepacker looks pretty inconspicuous on a belt. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve walked into a store wearing the largest model on a shoulder strap and have never gotten a second look.
In the smaller sizes, the Safepacker looks pretty inconspicuous on a belt. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve walked into a store wearing the largest model on a shoulder strap and have never gotten a second look.
For a right-handed driver, the Safepacker can be secured with the vehicle’s safety belt, allowing easy access.
For a right-handed driver, the Safepacker can be secured with the vehicle’s safety belt, allowing easy access.

In a casual environment, I prefer the Safepacker Concealment Holster from Wilderness Tactical Products.

  • While it is offered in right- and left-hand versions, vertical carry of the gun makes it more friendly to access with the secondary hand.
  • Access does involve quick-release buckle on the flap but I drilled releasing it with the gun hand.
  • It seems less likely than a fanny pack to be recognized as a holster – something that the maker claims to have confirmed by testing during the product’s evolution.
  • Depending on the size required, it may be worn on the belt without drawing much
  • attention. It may also be worn on a shoulder strap; fastened to a vehicle safety belt while driving, carried in the hand, preferably only for brief periods; and even used as a bedside holster, by slipping the flap between mattress and box spring.

If you are comfortable with a smaller gun, Tuff Products offers their Taclet Jr., sized for either “small” or “medium” guns, which can be carried in the hand, clipped to the belt or carried on a strap. I have no personal experience with it so I’m unable to comment on how readily the gun can be drawn using only one hand. This is a product that should attract no special attention in a casual environment but may do so in a business environment, which brings us to…

SneakyPete
SneakyPete
The Sneaky Pete is best paired with a small, thin pistol that uses a single-column magazine. The draw is initiated by placing the middle finger below the trigger guard, then raising the pistol until the firing grip can be acquired.
The Sneaky Pete is best paired with a small, thin pistol that uses a single-column magazine. The draw is initiated by placing the middle finger below the trigger guard, then raising the pistol until the firing grip can be acquired.

The Sneaky Pete is a holster disguised as a carrier for a smartphone or small tablet. As such, I’d limit its use to small, single-column pistols. To my mind, the added thickness to accommodate the grip for a staggered-column magazine or the cylinder of a revolver would destroy that illusion. The flap is secured with a couple of neodymium magnets, which may or may not pose a threat to magnetically encoded data on such things as credit cards. The draw does require an initial step to lift the gun to where the firing rip can be acquired but is still a one-handed process. If your business attire allows the use of a belt (or at least a waistband on which the Sneaky Pete can be clipped), I would expect this holster to go unnoticed at work, so long as no one asks to borrow your smartphone. In that case, I’d probably either say that I just ran down the battery and have not had time to recharge it or that it’s back at my desk, recharging. The Sneaky Pete holster is available with a choice of a belt loop or a belt clip and in a few choices of leather and nylon.

I do not claim to have researched every product on the market; these are a few that have come to my attention. If none of them meet your needs, perhaps my discussion of them will at least help you evaluate some of the alternatives.

(I do not have a Facebook account and cannot respond to comments here. If you have a serious question for me, a click on the link to my own website – in the author information, below – will offer you links that can be used to send me e-mail.)