In a recent Concealed Carry Tactics Class we had a discussion on holster positioning. The discussion centered on optimal placement for both concealment and access.
It’s kind of funny because a week or so prior I had a conversation with a friend where he was discussing how “everyone” carrying strong side did so at 4:00 and I was like what??? In all the years we have doing concealed carry we have yet to see 4:00 as a primary location (insert sarcastic emoji if there was one). Apparently life is not without a sense of humor as I had a few students in this last class carrying in this manner.
There are a lot of locations to place a holster for conceal carry so let’s define some of them for clarity sake. Strong side, whether on or inside the waistband is optimized for carry at the 3:00. From about 2:30 to 3:30 is the left and right limits, but ideally you want it right on and not behind your hip. In this position you get the best balance of concealment and access. A lot of folks will choose one over the other, they will choose concealability and sacrifice access. Or the flip side, easy access with poor concealability. Ideally you want the best of both worlds and for most people the 3:00 will give it to you and more.
The old ostrich syndrome
Why do some choose to place it behind their hip at the 4:00? I have wondered so I had to ask and one of the answers I got was because they thought it concealed better. The idea it concealed better was largely based on a frontal view. Because the holster is slightly behind the hip it gives the impression it is better concealed from the front. The only problem is how it usually prints from the rear an area we have a difficult time seeing. This is why peer review is so important when selecting holsters for concealment. We may all think we are doing a good job of concealing, many times we are, but to get validation from some of our peers is key to comfort and confidence. Once you realize you are acting more like an ostrich and covering versus concealing it makes it easier to see how poorly in comparison it really does at concealing.
Economy of motion
The next issue had to do with access. Watching one of the students during the time drills barely miss the par times I mentioned the fractions of a second he was over might be made up by not having to reach so far back. It’s nothing more than economy of motion, the further back you have to reach the longer the movement the more time it takes. Another point to consider is clearing the cover garment behind you requires more movement as well to ensure a positive clear and grip. The extra motion I saw the student using to clear the cover garment added a few fractions of a second on top of the extra reach. As soon as he relocated the holster to 3:00 his drawstroke improved big time and looked smoother overall.
It’s all in the details
The subtle issues may seem insignificant, but they add up. During our timed drills the added stress really breaks it down for us to observe. Extraneous movement or imprecise movements cost you in the long run. If you can focus on those two; reduce the amount of overall movement and then be precise with the movement you must make, you will see times improve. Not necessarily because you are faster, more because you are more efficient.
There are points of diminishing returns on everything. Moving your holster to an optimized location provides better return when stress is high and the margin for error is virtually nil.