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Old December 11, 2013, 11:38 PM   #1
Cosmodragoon
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Winter and the Joy of Shoulder Carry

Despite shoveling snow and dangerous road conditions, winter has always held a special joy for those who carry concealed. Jackets, long coats, and bulkier clothing in general allow us to carry larger handguns. It can also mean carrying in greater comfort.

This winter, I decided to try something new. I picked up my first shoulder holster. It was cheap and the synthetic material smelled a little funky, but I didn't want to invest in another high-end holster without trying one out. Sadly, shops up here in the Green Mountains don't stock much in the way of holsters so I had to buy one online. After the first week, I am in love! As a larger fellow, IWB works but isn't quite ideal. The shoulder holster kept everything in perfect place with no shifting as I get in and out of the car. Anchored to the belt, it feels a little like wearing suspenders. (There's something else that has fallen out of favor.)

I will definitely be exploring quality options for some of my favorite guns. So, at least in jacket weather, why has this method of carry fallen out of favor? Do you shoulder carry? What have your experiences been?
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Old December 11, 2013, 11:46 PM   #2
JimmyR
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I have a shoulder holster, but I never use it.

The biggest problem with shoulder carry is it then requires you to keep you jacket on. Most of us wear a jacket because it is cold outside, but once returning to the toasty indoors, shuck the jacket off- which would then expose your firearm.
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Old December 12, 2013, 12:01 AM   #3
Dragline45
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I live in Massachusetts so I know what you are talking about with the joy of winter and being able to tote around larger guns. When I owned my 686 I would wear it sometimes in colder months with a shoulder rig, but as JimmyR mentioned once you go back inside you can't take your coat off in a public place. My solution to this was to wear a light fleece underneath the jacket, that way I can still take the jacket off and have the fleece to cover the gun, plus you can roll the sleeves up on the fleece if you want.

Also, as well as the synthetic shoulder rig might work, a quality leather one will be much more comfortable and secure. Try the Galco Miami Classic, best shoulder rig out there.

Quote:
why has this method of carry fallen out of favor?
If you don't lift your arm while drawing you will be sweeping yourself with a loaded gun, as well as sweeping anyone to the side of you. And as previously mentioned, in public places you always need a cover garment. They are also slightly slower in the draw than an OWB or even IWB.
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Old December 12, 2013, 01:22 AM   #4
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Quote:
Do you shoulder carry? What have your experiences been?
I have but not lately. I have a bad back and sometimes I need to lose the weight of a gun from my belt, (and the belt too sometimes). These are my comments;

* Shoulder carry can be a pain in the neck... literally. Lighter is better.

* It isn't all that easy to stay concealed. Bumps and lumps show through fabric, jackets fall open, your gun may flop around. Still takes effort to hide a gun this way.

* Definitely slower draw. It has some advantages too.

* Your rig, and gun, may move around during activity. Running may be awkward, straps may migrate.

* Tie downs are good things to use.

* It takes time to get a good fit, and even then some discomfort my arise after many hours.

* A shoulder holster may make noises.

* Wide straps are comfy. Wide straps are harder to hide.

* Just how the Hell did Jack Lord wear that rig on Hawaii Five 0?

I've used Galco, DeSantis, Uncle Mikes (sucks), and one other I can't recall. Galco was the best and easiest to accessorize. If I were buying another I'd look at Mitch Rosen.

Last edited by PSP; December 12, 2013 at 06:57 AM.
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Old December 12, 2013, 05:15 AM   #5
dayman
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I wear a ruger sp101 in a Galco VHS on a pretty regular basis in the winter. I like vertical rigs because - as mechanically safe as it may be - I don't like my gun to be pointed at the back seat while I'm driving. That's where the kids sit. It wasn;t cheap, but AI actually like it so much I'm considering buying another for my G19. The only thing holding me back is i'm not sure how I feel about a glock in a leather holster. Obviously a lot of people manage it just fine, but I have an easier time trusting kydex to stay out of the trigger guard when I holster my gun.
But, that's an entirely different, "me", issue.

Inside or out, I usually wear a heavy down/waxed cotton vest which hides the holster pretty well, and then an overcoat on top of that when I need to go out into the cold.

I actually find it's a little easier to draw from a shoulder rig when wearing layers than it is to draw from the hip. It's easier to leave a few buttons undone and reach in than sweep back a flannel shirt, down vest, and wool overcoat to get to my hip. Plus, I don't have to have all my layers all the way open, and more of them can be tucked in.
Either way, getting off my mittens is the slowest part of the process.

I think winter above the 45th parallel is probably a bit different than winter further south. The forecast today is single digits, but well below 0 with windchill, and this weekend they're saying it's going to get really cold. And yet, one of my friends who moved to FL a few years ago has the audacity to complain that he got a sun burn driving this week.... but I digress.

Even inside it's very rarely too warm for an unzipped vest and rolled up sleeves, so covering a shoulder rig isn't much of an issue. I'm guessing it's a similar story in up in the mountains in VT.
When I know that I'm going somewhere that isn't overly gun friendly where I'm going to want/need to strip to shirt-sleves, I make sure to wear something else. And at home, my cousins', or most of my friends' houses wearing the holster on the outside isn't a big deal.

So, I say go for it. Buy a nice Galco or similar leather rig - once they break in, they are far more comfortable than nylon - but just be aware of it's limitations.
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Old December 12, 2013, 12:56 PM   #6
ClydeFrog
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Pros & Cons....

There are pros & cons of shoulder rig carry;

The pros;
It conceals well for most people. It's fast & easy to put on unlike some belt type holsters or concealment rigs. You can carry spare magazines or gear on the off-side to balance out the weight. It can be comfortable with the right design(good quality). Shoulder rigs offer good access if you are in a vehicle/aircraft or sit a lot.
The cons;
You can't reholster one-handed quickly with most rigs(a important point for armed professionals or CC holders), weapon retention or security may be a problem, when you draw you might put the weapon towards you or towards something you do not plan to shoot at.

Some cops & armed citizens shun the shoulder rig format all together or get uptight over it. I think it has limited merit under certain conditions.
I've worn a Aker Comfort Flex shoulder holster with my Beretta 96D .40 in the mid 1990s. It worked well & I often used it for 12/16 hours at a time.

I think the big issue is to buy a high quality holster that can last. No cheap elastic, plastic or straps/buckles/snaps that are annoying & hard to conceal.
The Blocker Lifeline, Galco Miami Classic II(which seems to sky rocket in price), the Aker Comfort Flex, and Kirkpatrick Leather shoulder holsters all seem decent.

I've seen synthetics like the Bianchi & Blackhawk lines or modular systems that convert belt holsters to shoulder systems but I'm not sure those styles are best for concealed/long term use.
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Old December 12, 2013, 01:12 PM   #7
Brian Pfleuger
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I've considered going to a more convenient carry method in winter. I wish it were shoulder carry but the whole thing about having to keep the jacket on at all times keeps me from doing it.

I think that's why it's fallen out of favor. A much smaller number of men ever have to wear clothing that would make shoulder carry feasible.
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Old December 13, 2013, 12:20 AM   #8
JimDandy
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Another option I've seen is something called a wind shirt. Nylon-ish pull-over jacket type thing. You'd have to pull up the hem with your off hand. I could swear I've seen Masaad Ayoob or someone similar demonstrating the combo somewhere, but I can't find it at the moment. I think it was a Youtube video or some such about carrying in a car.
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Old December 13, 2013, 01:31 AM   #9
Cosmodragoon
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Dragline45 and dayman raise some good points about winter in the frozen north. For things like shopping, we might just unzip our heavy jackets. For other stuff, we might combine multiple pieces of outerwear instead of using a single heavy jacket. It isn't uncommon to see folk in the Green Mountains wearing a light jacket, fleece, or large flannel at dinner. The latter might restrict what we can quietly shoulder-carry but we can certainly do it. Hmmm, maybe more people do it than I know?

Brian Pfleuger, I'm only middle-aged but am I right that once upon a time, men wore a whole lot more of suits and blazers? Maybe it is just idyllic fantasy, but like suspenders and certain facial-hair styles, I sometimes wish this method of dress would regain popularity.
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Old December 13, 2013, 06:11 AM   #10
rebs
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I use a shoulder rig in the winter months to CC my 1911. The gun is on my left side and two magazines on my right side.I wear a regular shirt then put on the shoulder holster and a full zip fleece vest over that. This way I can take my coat off in public. I leave the vest unzipped under my jacket or coat and just zip it enough to hide the CC when I take my coat off. This leaves my gun accessible. In the summer months I carry my 1911 in an IWB holster or I carry a snub nose in IWB holster
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Old December 13, 2013, 09:10 AM   #11
MTT TL
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Winter is great for longer coats that cover your waist. Why bother with a shoulder rig unless you are the SS?
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Old December 14, 2013, 08:53 AM   #12
JimDandy
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There is something to be said for slandering someone who chooses an alternative carry choice with a possibly viable medical reason already discussed like the bad back making it medically necessary to keep the weight of a firearm off the belt line, earlier in the thread with an incendiary Nazi reference. You would think they'd put that in the dictionary for the definition of tolerance, and open-mindedness.

On the bright side, at least there isn't an organized school of thought about lazy thinking like that called, oh I don't know, Godwin's Law that almost immediately points out the general impression that when people resort to an unrelated Nazi reference the person making it doesn't have a very valuable opinion, and whatever opinion they've offered pretty much lost. Oh, maybe there is. My bad.
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Old December 14, 2013, 07:20 PM   #13
dayman
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Maybe SS = secret service?
Either way I don't think it added a lot to the conversation.
As I said before, I find its faster to get my gun from a shoulder rig under a coat than from my belt (when in a coat).
Also, as a bunch of people have said, it can be more comfortable than belt carry, so bring able to conceal a belt holster with a long coat is kind of beside the point.
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Old December 14, 2013, 08:00 PM   #14
CWKahrFan
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I shoulder-carry fairly often without a jacket by wearing the holster OVER only a t-shirt... And then wearing a very extra-large, usually untucked "military-type, tactical" shirt (like from 5.11... long OR short-sleeved...) with the top buttons unbuttoned OVER that.

Works for me, even in the summer.
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Old December 15, 2013, 02:30 PM   #15
Freakdaddy
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I have the Galco Miami Classic II holster that I use to carry a Government sized steel framed 1911. I went with the "II" variation as I like how the magazines are carried in the horizontal position and with no flap closure on the pouch. Although there is the concern of sweeping yourself when drawing the weapon, it's really not an issue as long as you index your trigger finger along the frame; i.e. keep your booger picker off the bang switch. I especially like carrying this way if I'm driving for any extended period of time.

When I carry this way, I wear a three-button Henley shirt with a long sleeved shirt over that with three buttons undone on the cover shirt and everything is tucked in. I do have the tie-down straps for it but obviously, can't use them when everything is tucked but will use them when I wear a suit. This method works perfectly as I can take off my coat / jacket and no one is none the wiser. For me, shoulder carry also works well in the winter time due to having layers of clothing on yet still being able to access the gun in a quick manner.

Now, I am really pleased with the MC system and it's well made like all the other Galco products I have but for the way I primarily dress when carrying this way, I would look hard at the Andrews Leather Monarch Rig. With the Galco and without the tie-down straps, any leaning forward you do will cause you to experience movement with it, albeit not much if you have the holster adjusted properly and as close to the armpit as possible but still noticeable. The Monarch has that lower backstrap which prevents this plus it just looks to be a better constructed holster system altogether with the drawback being it does come at a higher price.

I carry in a variety of manner which is IWB, OWB and obviously a shoulder holster. I even use the dreaded fanny pack should I be riding a bicycle as that method works best for me and doesn't necessarily stand out for that activity. None of these methods will ever completely replace the other for me as they all have their place along with advantages and disadvantages of each style. When the weather turns cold and more layers of clothing are needed, I will admit that the shoulder holster is my first go-to choice.
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Old December 15, 2013, 04:07 PM   #16
MTT TL
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Quote:
On the bright side, at least there isn't an organized school of thought about lazy thinking like that called, oh I don't know, Godwin's Law that almost immediately points out the general impression that when people resort to an unrelated Nazi reference the person making it doesn't have a very valuable opinion, and whatever opinion they've offered pretty much lost. Oh, maybe there is. My bad.
Yes, your bad.

All the Shutzstaffel are dead or in hiding and no longer exist as an organization so such a comparison would indeed be without merit. How your mind went to long dead Nazis is a mystery to me. No one can be in that SS because it does not exist any more nor has it existed for 68 years.

I was talking about the Secret Service who are responsible for protecting our political and military leadership among others. The Secret Service carry concealed long guns and PDWs in shoulder holsters and rigs. This is actually a good reason to employ a shoulder holster; concealment of a long/ very large gun.

I guess I could go on and explain the advantages of shoulder carry with a long gun/ PDW but I think it would be lost.
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Old December 17, 2013, 01:36 AM   #17
JimmyR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTT TL
I was talking about the Secret Service
Dude, I thought you were making a Shutzstaffel reference too. Be honest, when you hear someone mention SS, 8 out of 10 times its a Nazi reference. While Jim may have jumped to a conclusion, I don't think it was an unreasonable conclusion. Most people don't refer to the Secret Service as the SS.

Let's all take our happy pills, sing kumbaya, and discuss the merits of shoulder carry before we get too far into the weeds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MTT TL
Winter is great for longer coats that cover your waist. Why bother with a shoulder rig unless you are the SS?
Back to your original point. When carrying in an OWB holster with ONLY the coat covering the weapon, then I think it beats shoudler carry. If, however, you carry IWB with a shirt over your weapon, I think shoulder carry has the advantage of speed. Getting under 2 shirts uses the same motion as going under a jacket alone, but getting under a shirt for an IWB holster after sweeping the jacket, it adds complexity and room for mistake when drawing.

That said, I still don't shoulder carry. I see the benefit, but overall it just isn't for me.
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