An Unexpected AIWB Journey

Cops still carried revolvers as the norm when I was commissioned in 1987. My first duty gun was a 6” Smith & Wesson 686 that a gunsmith shortened to 5”.

The author carried this 686 on duty back in the good old days when Ronald Reagan was the President. The 3” Model 65 was a fine off duty companion.

The seasoned officers that I looked up to (most of them Vietnam Veterans) advocated carrying off duty. Their doctrine was to carry the biggest gun you could hide, and carry it in the same location that you did when in uniform. That meant a 3” or 4” S&W K-Frame in an outside-the-waistband (OWB) pancake, or a Milt Sparks inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster at about 4 o’clock. Even after my agency transitioned to autos, the K-Frame remained a favored off duty gun, as it still does in retirement. Sometimes spelled by a Commander-sized 1911, or later, a striker-fired plastic compact, the round butt K-Frame was a trusted companion.

This Dan Wesson Bobtail Classic 10mm in a Milt Sparks Summer Special 2 was one of author’s preferred off duty guns later in his career.

Carrying those big guns behind the hip definitely required dressing around them. Untucked shirts, vests or jackets were mandatory cover garments. This was not ideal in the warm southwest climate, nor the most comfortable when seated in a vehicle for long periods. As my lower back aged, I frequently found myself storing my sidearm under the seat when traveling, which was also not ideal.

New Demands

I took a part time job last summer that resulted in some major changes in everyday carry (EDC) methods and armament.  That job had a dress code of khakis and a t-shirt. The t-shirt didn’t have to be tucked in, but a Commander or 3” Model 65 still wasn’t hiding underneath. The workplace was hot and called for close contact with other employees, and lots of bending over and reaching up high. It wasn’t a particularly permissive environment, and if a gun was to be carried, downsizing looked like the only option.

The S&W Shield 9mm hides pretty well IWB at 4:00, except when a snug t-shirt has to hide it.

Considering my available choices, the decision came down to a S&W Shield or a J-Frame. The Shield hid okay in a 4 o’clock IWB rig when standing and walking. However, it failed the “mirror test” for printing under the t-shirt when bending over or rotating my torso, so it looked like a J-Frame or nothing. With the right pants and shoes, Galco’s Ankle Glove will conceal a small revolver comfortably, but the required khakis were a little “skinny,” the Airweight printed unacceptably, and access was slow. The bottom of the holster tended to show when kneeling, too. Pocket carry didn’t agree with those trousers. A pocket holster barely fit in the front pocket, and, once there, the concealment wasn’t adequate.

Alloy J-Frames hide great in ankle rigs like this Galco Ankle Glove- if you can wear the right pants and shoes to pull it off.

New Solutions

Searching my available inventory produced several J-Frame holsters, mostly OWB models. All printed to some degree. A treasonous thought began manifesting itself as my frustration built—Appendix IWB (AIWB) carry.

Youngster carry!

Author’s pile of J-Frame leather was no help hiding his Smith & Wesson Model 442 under a t-shirt.

Out of desperation, I dusted off an old, floppy Uncle Mike’s nylon IWB holster with a wimpy plastic belt clip. It’d been tossed in the graveyard drawer 20 years prior because it collapsed when the gun was drawn. I placed my unloaded Model 442 into the flimsy holster and stuck it in the front of the khakis just to the right of the button. An ancient Eagle nylon rappelling belt was fed over the holster with the buckle offset left of center and snugged down.

Author’s first venture into AIWB carry–a S&W Model 442 in an Uncle Mike’s budget rig–proved the concept had merit.

When the t-shirt was pulled over the J frame, its round butt disappeared into the “soft cover” of my waistline. Holstering was still a chore, but at least the gun was hidden. It felt foreign, but not uncomfortable. I could sit, squat, bend over and kneel without drama. The 442 rode in the Uncle Mike’s on the first shift with decent results, backed up with a solitary speed strip. I had to fight the urge to adjust the holster, as repeated kneel-downs and get-ups pushed it up from its assigned position at my waistline. A trip to the bathroom showed that the belt clip’s lack of retention was allowing it to slide up with repetitive motion.

A trip to a local gun store produced a Galco Tuck-N-Go 2.0. The belt clip design was better and it had a reinforced mouth. Those two features made the reasonably priced holster imminently more useful. It served well for the duration of that job, keeping the 442 secure and hidden, and allowed for safe one-handed holstering. The clip worked better with a stiffer 1 ½” belt so that change was made.

Galco Tuck-N-Go with reinforced mouth and better clip was a big step up. Author also upgraded to a 1 ½” two ply nylon belt.

The J-Frame again made sense on a family trip to the Midwest. Suitcase space and weight were at a premium for the journey. The little gun, in its FAA-compliant case, a box of ammo, and a zip lock bag of accoutrements was manageable. We spent long hours in a gym watching my kid play sports, packed like sardines in bleachers without back rests. The close quarters again validated the concealment virtues of AIWB carry, the J-Frame remained undetected where a K-Frame carried OWB would’ve been trouble. I was bumped by people sitting behind me often; their knees contacting me right about 4 and 8 o’clock on my waistline. Bending over to pick up a fallen water bottle, or even a temporary slump of posture would’ve been very likely to silhouette a handgun carried behind the hip. Our itinerary involved taking a rental car to another large city several hours away to visit family before flying home. The 442 rode comfortably AIWB under the seatbelt, but the long drive gave me time to ponder how minimally I was armed.

Airweight J frame .38’s are nice when you’re having to check them in luggage, but you’re minimally armed when you get where you’re going.

New Challenges

Carrying a .38 Special J-Frame as a primary had always struck me as a last resort because of the small gun’s handicaps. The five-round capacity was a big deal when you were so used to having six. The .38 Special fired from a 1-7/8” barrel doesn’t perform like it does from a 4” tube–even with +P help. The puny sights and short extractor rod added to my lack of confidence in my 442 in “other than back-up gun” status.

Author prefers the ballistic advantage provided by a four-inch barrel .38 Special like this old Model 10.

There are folks I respect that carry J-Frames as primaries daily, but it’s considered an expert’s gun for good reasons. I’d been carrying a six shot .357 Magnum for a long time and had confidence in its capability to hit at 25-50 yards. I didn’t want to give that up, nor did I want to start the fight with a “one bad guy” gun.

Carrying a six shot .357 for decades made it hard to give up its capabilities for the concealment of a J-Frame Airweight.

Back home, I tried AIWB with my 3” K-Frame Model 65 and it just didn’t work. Holster selection was pretty slim, and the ones I tried were very uncomfortable and didn’t hide the gun well. I bought a hybrid appendix rig for the Shield with similar unsatisfactory results. The gun isn’t that big, but it seemed like the straight lines kept betraying it. Mine’s a first-generation model with a heavy trigger and a small manual thumb safety, but I still had some reservations holstering it. There are those that can comfortably carry and hide a full-size auto thusly, but so far a 2” barreled small revolver has been my limit. The internal hammer, short barrel and round butt of the J -Frame just worked. It hid well and was comfortable there for extended periods of time, even when driving. I appreciated the additional safety margin given by the DAO system, I just wished for a six shooter that fit in the J-Frame box.

The author favored DeSantis’ Thumb Break Scabbard for EDC with the Model 65 in retirement.

Going back to carrying the Model 65 in its traditional location at 4 o’clock was interesting. A trip to the range wearing a stiff, synthetic, open top, high ride holster emphasized some shortcomings. That holster had a bit more forward cant than the DeSantis Thumb Break Scabbard or Simply Rugged pancake I normally used.  Presenting the gun, I was struck with how much movement was necessary to draw, and how awkward it felt to break my wrist to acquire a firing grip with the holster’s FBI cant. It also felt like I was having to pull the 3” gun into my armpit to clear leather. I had become accustomed to the economy of motion that presenting the 442 from AIWB provided. Appendix carry was definitely growing on me.

Drawing from this holster emphasized the advantages of AIWB carry.

New Tricks

That’s a late in life acknowledgement from an opinionated curmudgeon that AIWB carry is effective. This is a classic example of old dogs learning new tricks, albeit kicking and screaming.

Another example would be that guy raised on print media who resisted using the internet for firearms information for a long time. I (umm, I mean that guy) was greatly pleased to stumble upon the common sense information provided by sources like Justin and Mike here at RevolverGuy, Greg Ellifritz at Active Response Training,  and Chris Baker at LuckyGunner. The comments from RevolverGuy readers have also provided insight and led me to other valuable resources of which I was unaware.

The author’s encouraging experience with AIWB carry prompted him to order a holster from JM Custom Kydex for one of his favorite K-Frames. The experiment continues . . .

I didn’t know what I didn’t know about AIWB carry. The retention and accessibility advantages that come from keeping all of your fighting tools in front of your hips make a lot of sense. I have learned a little about what makes an appendix holster hide well thanks to all you folks. I’m confident I could find a holster to conceal that Shield now- but I’m gonna stick with trying to find the perfect revolver instead.

I’ll keep you posted!

Author: Kevin McPherson

Kevin McPherson began his career as a police officer in New Mexico in 1987. He served for 23 ½ years, the last 19 ½ with the New Mexico State Police. There he worked in the uniform bureau and narcotics enforcement section and did two tours in the NMSP Training Bureau, retiring as a Sergeant in 2011. Kevin ran the firearms program and was the chief armorer for NMSP for 13 years. He served as a member of the NMSP Tactical Team (SWAT) for 10 years, eventually becoming the counter sniper team leader. He was commander of the NMSP Pistol Team and competed with a revolver throughout his career. He is a master firearms instructor through NMDPS and continues to instruct in retirement. He has had several articles published in American Cop Magazine, SWAT Magazine, and the NRA Law Enforcement Quarterly. He started his career carrying a revolver and has always been partial to them.

60 thoughts on “An Unexpected AIWB Journey”

  1. Nice article proving that old dogs can be taught new tricks.

    The good ol’ Galco Stow-N-Go is what I use to carry my no-lock 642 and my (six shot!) Taurus 856UL. It certainly helps to have a proper chest-to-waist differential if you want to pull it off and at the ripe old age of 65, I can still do it.

    I can also carry my 3″ .22 WMR LCRx AIWB in a holster I’ve had so long I forgot who made it.

  2. Your journey in seeking carry perfection is one shared by all of us who carry.
    Thank you for an excellent article with detail and explanations that very well illustrated the multitude of issues in that journey.

  3. That’s why I found a 1982!Colt Agent in great mechanical order, bobbed the hammer and had it cerakoted black (I forget the exactly color, but it’s a very close match to the 442 finish).

    I then found a set of the proper Colt factory grips that were made by Pachmayr.

    Paint job on the top of the sight ramp in bright green.

    6 shots and 16oz

  4. I have found the 3″ k frame in a jmcustom aiwb with a dcc monoblock and the safariland cd-2 iwb in the little gap ahead of the holster has spoiled me.

    Unbeatable comfort with a gun I can still shoot accuratly at 25, 50, 75 yards etc roll around with my 2yo.

    I dont win any competitions that I shoot but I am shooting full powered magnum ammo and I need to reload 2-3 times for their 1.

  5. Thank you, Bill! That Taurus with its 6th shot holds a lot of appeal. The same with your 6 shot .22 WMR LCR-X. I have been messing around with a 6 shot LCR (also obviously in a smaller caliber) with good results.

    1. No, thank you, Kevin! Your story reminded me that my sons carry their bottom feeders IWB (no revolvers for them) and I just didn’t get it. “You should try it, dad.” So, I bought the cheapest IWB
      holster I could find and discovered that carrying AIWB wasn’t that bad compared to OWB at 3:00. Not to mention my old shoulder likes drawing from the appendix a lot better. Lesson learned.

      The 856UL came to me when I was in the market for a 642 and all my local shop had at the time was
      one with a lock. No bueno. They did have the Taurus, so, why not? The trigger was rough and gritty at first, but it smoothed out and lightened up after a lot of use and it’s the gun I shoot the best.

      Finally got a no-lock 642 and, sadly to say, it’s in the hospital in Springfield being treated for a trigger malfunction.

      The LCRx eats Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 40 grain ammo. Delicious! You won’t be disappointed with that gun.

      Thanks for a great story.

      1. I hear ya with the shoulder! If I carry at 3 o’clock it’s a one handed operation to draw. I simply can’t reach that far over with my weak hand anymore, the shoulder simply won’t allow it….

      2. Hey Bill,

        That makes my head hurt that you had to send a new 642 back home for treatment. It seems like we (the revolver community) are a low priority with big blue right now and I sure hope that changes soon. Glad that Taurus is filling the gap!

        Take care,


  6. Appreciate the article and insight. I found myself stumbling along the same path. Currently, a 5shot Ruger SP101 and an old suede Galco Stow n Go is my “go-to”. At this point the holster looks like something the dog discarded as a chew toy, but it still works fine. Combined with a RASC (Thanks to Revolverguy Mike!) and an additional strip or speed loader…this is what currently gets carried.

    I too would like to carry something more substantial. I have heard very good things about the JM Custom AWIB holsters, but carrying a stiff piece of plastic “there” just never seemed appealing. Folks swear by it though… I’m looking forward to your update and observations.

  7. Thanks, Tony! I guess I’m not the only one walking that path. It’s hard to think of a better tool for this application than that sensibly customized Colt Agent, Kenneth B. I have never really carried Colt revolvers, but the feedback in Revolver Guy on them has got me looking! The Kimber K6 certainly has merit, too.

    1. If I didn’t have a Colt Agent to carry and a Colt DS to train with, the K6s would absolutely find a home with me.

      Every now and again, especially in winter, my customized SP101 sees time by my appendix. That little hand cannon is carried with Speer short barreled .357.

  8. You are right on that, Ryan. I had given up on carrying my Model 65 thusly, but I went ahead and ordered that JM Custom Kydex on Mike’s reccomendation. It’s amazing what a difference a good holster makes, and how important that wedge is to making the system work. All my disposable income is now disappearing into quality holsters!

    1. You know I wouldn’t steer you wrong, Kevin! ; ^ )

      I’ve been carrying AIWB with kydex and leather holsters for about 13 or 14 years now, with guns ranging in size from J-Frames to the Glock 19 and HK USP Compact. I’ve found it to be the most comfortable, accessible, concealable, and well-protected carry mode I’ve ever used. I’m forced to carry OWB on the strong side hip for work, but concealment is not an issue there, and I find it quite uncomfortable anyways, due to nagging issues with sciatica. AIWB carry allows me to carry and conceal a fighting-sized gun daily, with great comfort, and it’s made all the difference for me.

      I’m quick to admit that AIWB, like any carry mode, is subject to individual preferences. It works spectacularly for me, but other people, with different body shapes or preferences, may find it uncomfortable, awkward, or unnerving. It’s certainly not a universal recommendation, but for those who like it, nothing else compares.

      There are unique training requirements and practices which must be adopted to make AIWB carry work. It’s not simply just a matter of changing your carry location. You have to change the way you do certain things (like holstering, in particular) in order to use this carry mode, so if you’re not willing to commit the time and effort to building new habits, it’s not recommended.

      The one thing I’d emphasize about Kevin’s journey is the holster makes all the difference. A poorly designed and constructed holster will quickly doom any AIWB tryout. This carry mode really demands a quality holster that is specifically made for the task. I think Kevin’s experience is highly illustrative in this regard. Flirting with a couple entry-level IWB holsters proved the concept sufficiently for him, but the purpose-built, JM Custom is what really closed the deal. There are SIGNIFICANT differences between a generic IWB holster, and an AIWB holster, and you really can’t appreciate them until you use a quality AIWB holster. It would be easy to reject AIWB carry, based on an unsuccessful tryout with an IWB holster that’s not specifically designed for AIWB.

      Who makes a quality AIWB? There’s many good makers out there, but the ones I have personal experience with include Dale Fricke, JM Custom, Sam Andrews, and Spencer Keepers. I’d recommend all of them without hesitation. I’ve tried AIWB holsters from a number of other makers that I would not recommend, but those four makers, above, get an unrestricted recommendation from me. They understand how to construct a holster for AIWB use, and don’t simply repurpose an IWB holster design.

      Kevin, thanks for your excellent testimony! I hope you’ll continue to enjoy that JM Custom rig, and enjoy the benefits of carrying AIWB.

      1. Agreed

        I’ve never been to AIWB carry until I bought my first Keepers Concealment holster

        I now have three

  9. Just thinking, could you use a .32 j frame? That gets you 6 shots. If my agency allowed anything other than .38 in a revolver I’d go that route. Since I can’t I’m working with the Kimber but I think after a year I like my LCR better so I’ll be giving up that sixth round next qualification.

    1. Riley, you’re a good “straight man!” We’ve already got another article from Kevin in the queue about a six-shot .32 option. Stay tuned for it!

      1. I resisted adding another caliber to my collection until I could no longer overlook the advantages of a .327 Magnum revolver:
        – The LCR is already my favorite carry revolver; lightweight, excellent trigger from the factory, strong aftermarket support, etc.
        – A 6th round, 20% boost in capacity
        – Chambers mellow .32S&W Long for quiet pest control
        – Chambers .32 H&R Mag for decent performance and low recoil if the wife wants to carry it
        – And, of course, .327 Mag is a beautiful performer, especially with GoldDot or Underwood loads.

        For the size, weight, terminal ballistic performance, simplicity, and ease of carry, I found the cost and complication of stocking the “.32 family” of cartridges worthwhile. I with I’d done it sooner!

        My second favorite is the S&W 351PD, holding 7rds of 40gr GoldDot. It’s impressively accurate, the only snubbie I’ve ever been able to consistently ping steel at 50yds (SA fire). .22WMR GoldDot isn’t a bad defensive load, especially when an extremely light revolver is all I can carry.

        1. Anner,

          a hearty “Amen” to your listed advantages on the .327 LCR. The platform makes a lot of sense.
          If it will ping steel at 50, I suspect the .22 Mag in a 351PD is worth a serious look, hard to justify NOT carrying a gun when you have one of those!

          1. The only drawback of the 351 is initial cost. It hurts, but it’s a fine piece of hardware. If I’m not in bear or mountain lion country, it’s a perfect lightweight trail gun.

            I’ve only had one issue: after a couple thousand rounds, there was some erosion in the cylinder crane. S&W repaired it for free and had it back to me in a week.

  10. I too started with revolvers when I became a policeman in 1989. I can not imagine concealing a k frame in off duty clothes. My dad, a police officer, carried his on duty gun off duty. Since I did not like his preferred off duty methods of carry, glove box carry and mom’s purse carry, I got the smallest gun I was allowed to have, a 2” j frame and practiced A LOT. I still carry a j frame off duty and as a 2nd gun. I still practice and shoot it well, better than my Glock 19. So, practice not only makes perfect, it makes confidence too…for what it’s worth

    1. BC, the magic of AIWB carry is that it actually does allow you to successfully conceal a gun as large as a 4” K-Frame, under just a t-shirt. I could never get away with that carrying OWB or even strong side IWB, but with a good AIWB holster, the larger gun is not really an issue. It’s really surprising how effective this carry mode can be.

      I remember a lot of cops “carrying” as you described, off duty in the 70s and 80s. The famous Pat Rogers quote comes to mind—“your car is not a holster!” Many wives who were “deputized” to carry steel guns around for their husbands would have given their next paycheck for one of today’s polymer compacts!

      Back when my dad carried Medium and Medium-Large frame revolvers on duty, he never carried them off duty. After a brief flirtation with carrying his 6” Python in a Bianchi X25 shoulder holster, a .380 Mauser HsC usually got the nod, and occasionally a Browning Hi-Power if there was a perceived need for a more capable gun. Sometimes I wonder if he would have carried more often, if he’d had access to the greatly-improved holster designs we have today. That was the era of soft suede pockets with crummy steel spring clips, that often came out with the gun during the draw. A Dale Fricke Archangel could have made a big difference, and allowed him to carry a better gun, more frequently.

  11. After 30 years of off and on concealed carry I finally settled on my current arrangement 3 years ago. I carry everyday now. A Ruger LCR 9mm with Hogue Bantam grips and a Recluse pocket holster. I wear jeans and a tucked in pocket T. My wife calls it my uniform. It conceals perfectly. The 9mm +P 124 Gold Dots perform properly in this snubby. A moon clip reload is carried in a plastic 35mm film canister in my right pocket. The service grade Speer ammo does not suffer from bullet jump. I shoot this gun better than I should be able to. Regards

    1. Brett, the 9mm version has been my favorite LCR so far. I found that it was much more controllable and comfortable than the .38 Special version, with improved ballistic performance. The moon clips are the only downside, but it sounds like you’ve developed a good system to deal with them.

      1. I’ve read about people using a magazine as a reload for the 9mm LCR. You eject your spent moon clip and then thumb new rds into the chambers from a single stack pocket pistol magazine. I’ve tried it with a Glock 43 Mag and it works great. Of course the next reload will be done with your fingernails.

        1. Brett, on my LCR, I’d usually have 3 of 5 chambers where a spent case would fall free on its own—even when shooting hot +P+ ammo. I’d still have to pick the other two out, but I was surprised that most of the chambers could be cleared just by gravity, sans clip.

      2. makes a great moonclip loader for the 9mm five shooters. The owner of Jox loaders recommended them. I’ve been carrying two reloads with the LCR 9 whenever I carry it because it works so well.

  12. Jim V. , your concerns are valid. The JM Custom makes carrying a 3″ steel K frame possible. I’m working with it, but it is a big step up from a J frame sized light weight. Nice to have it as an option, I’ll let you know how I do with it!
    Riley, that .32 cal 6 shooter makes a lot of sense, especially if you want/need to stay in a J-frame sized gun. I have more on that soon.
    BC, I couldn’t agree more, if you carry a J frame, practice much- attain and maintain high level proficiency with it…

  13. I’ve found that a little six shot thirty-two is awful nice to carry. Mines’ a Rossi .32S&W Long, pre-68. I’d prefer a good thirty-eight, IWB. But that little extra around the middle doesn’t like sharing space.

  14. I faced the same problems on concealed carry. The company where I worked when off duty (currency exchanging office) required social clothing.

    As I suffered a knee dislocation three years ago, ankle holsters are out of game.

    The solution was the Galco Shoulder Lite holster, worn under the shirt. The necktie covered the open shirt button for drawing. I rarely used a coat or jacket.

    1. At work, I have a backup holstered to my armor, sorta shoulder holster esque… the optional tie also covers my partially open shirt!

  15. Kenneth B., I orders a Keepers Concealment Errand for my S&W Shield that should hopefully be in my mailbox today. If it does not work, I may swear off bottom feeders forever! Like most of us, I already have 5 “concealment” holsters for that Shield (2 OWB, 2 IWB & 1 big box AIWB) and none of them hide that little gun any better than a Colt Commander! I have that Shield to thank for selling me on AIWB carry with my revolvers, but I would like to at least have the option to carry that thing since I’m invested heavily! Mike, Greg Ellifritz, and other guys who know their stuff recommend Spencer Keeper’s work, so I’ll try it. Thanks for another good plug for Keepers.

  16. Erick,

    It’s always good to get your perspective on things, and that sounds like a pretty slick method. I can see where that type of rig would work well with the way you have to dress. What size gun are you carrying in the Shoulder Lite?

      1. That sounds like the perfect gun for that chore (for a semi auto, of course!) The dimensions on an actual PPK vs a PPK/S would be helpful the way you’re carrying it, as would the stainless construction. Thanks, Erick!

  17. Hey Robert,

    I confess to having carried an old 4 screw I frame .32 Long as a deep cover gun and sometimes as a back up. I handloaded some pretty effective ammo for it, figuring I would take the heat for handloads if things got so bad that I needed it. I decided that Model 30 was too nice to beat up with my Elmer Keith .32 reloads, but I sure like the concept…

    1. I tried and gave up on AIWB in 1979, and I’m on record here as being against it, but if it works for you . . .
      My comment is in regards to your comment about the worries of downgrading from a 3-inch .357 to a nominal 2-inch .38. I carried a 640 (a steel, .357 version of your 442) as a backup/off-duty/UC gun for years. (It was agency issue.) I found the difference in weight between the two J-frames to be negligible, especially if you’re used to carrying a K-frame (as I was), and the recoil was not nearly as horrible as some people claim it to be. In fact, I shot a 248/250 on my quarterly qualification with the 640, using the duty 125-grain .357s. If you have the money and can find one, it will fit the holsters you have for your 642, and you’ll have all the .357 goodness you love.

      1. Hey Old 1811- I respect your stand on AIWB, there are certainly reasons not to like it. I have found that the better modern holsters minimize the issues I had with appendix carry. I know of no maker that was using a wedge at the bottom of the holster (like JM Custom and Keepers Concealment) in 1979. I admit that I have a mental trajectory dowel that proceeds down from the muzzle when I appendix carry. The large wedges push that dowel away from my body when the holster is properly positioned, even in a seated position. It adds comfort and aids concealment by “wedging” the butt into my body, too. To each his own!
        You nailed it on the 640. I have been dabbling with one since I wrote this article and I agree completely that the additional weight is not a factor in comfortably carrying the gun concealed. The 22 ounce weight makes a huge difference (verses any air-weight .357) when shooting magnums. Mine has later generation hard rubber grips that cover the backstrap. I can tolerate CorBon DPX 125 grain .357’s from it in moderation. They begin to affect my fundamentals on about cylinder #2. Remington 125 grain Golden Sabres are a little easier to take. If you were running old Remington or Federal Blue Flamer 125 JHP’s on your qualifications, you are not afraid of recoil! The 640 will definitely deliver the .357 Goodness! Thank you, Sir.

  18. I wish I could send/post some pics of my Colt for y’all!

    I know they get a LOT of hate, but I modified a Sticky Holster for my Colt.

    It now has a utiliclip and I sewed the opening up more so it actually retains the revolver when turned upside down and shaken, but in no way hampers the draw.

    It’s REALLY comfortable, stays in place and pretty much zero chance of it falling out. Which negates the issues that Greg Ellifritz has with them for anything other than pocket carry.

    That being said, I’d personally only use them for revolvers even with the modifications I’ve made.

    1. Yes Sir, I can picture that Colt. I like that you have the DS to back it up and keep your Agent “fresh”. Your modified Sticky Holster sounds like it works well. That is a set up you can carry almost anywhere!

  19. I guess I’ll stick my nose in the fan. I started on the street in 1972, back when the only viable autoloaders were the M1911A1 (and Commander), the S&W M39, or the Browning HiPower. Carrying any auto with the muzzle pointed towards one of my more valued possessions was not an option. Carrying the issued 5″ barrel .357 N-Frame was also not a viable option.

    Kevin hit on a dilema that every conscientious officer has been forced to face during their career — where to carry their off-duty gun, how to carry it, and will the system work.

    In the 1970s and well into the 1980s, off duty attire consisted of casual shorts or pants and a slightly oversized front button shirt worn tails out. This made AIWB carry of a 4″ K frame operable – just not ideal. The 3″ K frame is, IMHO, probably the ideal compromise between size, weight, and ability to make .357 Magnum loads easily tolerable.

    AIWB carry is okay. I have never been able to get comfy with it, but like any other carry mode – it’s a compromise. In the HAM radio world, there is no such thing as the perfect antenna; they’re all compromises. So, too, in carrying your off duty or retirement gun for LEO, and your EDC for the rest of the folks lucky enough to be able to make choices outside the regulatory box, how to carry is a series of compromises.

    When you can really dress down, it works fine, but remember that it still needs to be concealed – and your practice draw now involves moving clothing out of the way with your weak hand while drawing, and hopefully not sweeping your weak hand with the muzzle.

    Now that I’m out grazing in the pasture, I dress for the redneck look (as Mike can attest) – with a worn out photographer / fishing vest covering the Glock 19 in an Andrews IWB, and my ever faithful companion – S&W M36 – in an Andrews pocket holster. Again, nothing is ever ideal – but it’s how you adapt the equipment to the environment.

    1. Its always good when you stick your nose in the fan, S. Bond. You speak wisdom about the series of compromises we have to make and adapting the equipment to the environment. It makes sense to have handguns of varying sizes that we can shoot well so we can conceal (at least) one regardless of dress. The holster choices we make are a big part of that compromise and we should pinch pennies elsewhere- especially in these sporty times we’re facing. Thank you, Sir!

    2. Years ago, my Taurus 85 S was confiscated by Forensics. Standard procedure after a gunfight.

      While my revolver was not returned (it delayed 4 years, until Internal Affairs investigation ended), my backup/off-duty gun was an old Browning 1900 .32 Auto. I used only FMJ ammo and “Israeli method”/Condition 3 carry.

      During my vacations, in the beach, I carried it on a belly band holster, worn over my underwear and covered by shorts. Even without a T-shirt, it was perfecly concealable. Empty chamber saved my “family jewels”!

      1. Four years… That’s a long time to have your fighting gun tied up! I bet that little Browning was a comfort carried as you did. I carried a 1922 Browning .32 with FMJ a long time ago, too. Mine had the benefit of a grip safety so I carried mine “condition one”. The thumb safety was not nearly as user friendly as some others that Browning designed, and I always struggled with it. That little gun would sure hide well. It’s one I wish I would have kept.

  20. As another old retired lawdog I have dealt with the AIWB issue. Been through the Colt D frames, the Ruger SPs and the Smith Js. The 640, 642, 442, 36, 438, and a 1970 issue Model 60 2″ with a bobbed hammer.

    Today if I’m carry AIWB it is with the Model 60 in a Galco Stow N Go. If I’m carrying my Kimber K6s 3″ DASA, it is in a Kramer IWB rig. The Kimber is a nice shooter with good sights, great action, holds 6 357 Remington Golden Sabres, and uses a D Frame Colt Speedloader.
    The Model 60 is a great little concealment piece and goes with me when I can’t effectively conceal anything bigger. Usually cargo pants and a pocket holster, or the Galco rig. Depends on the weather and the situation. I enjoy your articles.

    1. Thanks for the report, Tom. It seems that revolvers in AIWB rigs work well for a lot of us!

      I spent some time shortening the front sight on my 3” K6s last week, and now it’s finally hitting where I need it to. The only fix that remains is to correct the B/C gap, which is too tight on my sample, and causes the cylinder to drag before I get to 50 rounds! The 2” gun is next on the list for sight correction (which will be harder, due to the night sight lamp in the front post).

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the site, and we’re happy to have you here!

      1. Mike, you’re not the only one! My Kimber is a little tight as well. Bit of a chore by the end of our qual session… another reason I’ll return to the LCR this year.

        1. Yes indeed, it sure makes life tough on the trigger finger, doesn’t it? I’ve gotta fix that.

          Interestingly the drag marks are usually only visible on half of the chambers, so the cylinder must not be square to the barrel, or vice versa.

    2. Hey Tom, I’m a little behind you on it but I’m experiencing similar results. I have had good luck with comfortable and effective AIWB concealment with a few J frames, Ruger LCR’s, and a 2″ Kimber K6. Remington’s Golden Sabre .357 is a near perfect choice in that Kimber! My only complaint with the combination is it hits a little low of point of aim for me. It’s a great balance of power and control for follow up shots in that steel Kimber, though. My first BUG was a 2″ Model 60; I also had the hammer bobbed and installed smooth wooden stocks and a Tyler T grip. I made the unfortunate choice of trading it for another gun as a young cop with limited funds. That’s another one of those “I wish I would have kept” guns… Thanks for reading them and writing in!

  21. One more vote for the AIWB. Since I’m maybe larger then most men I opted for the “Fat guy” holster for my G43. Disappears and is comfortable. For the big guys search “fat guy” (JX holsters) and you will see the holster.

    1. Hey Bill, Thanks for the info on JX Holsters- I was not familiar with the company. It’s been a while since anybody accused me of being skinny, so I checked them out. Both the Fat Guy and their regular AIWB offerings look like well designed, well made holsters. I was bummed when I saw that they don’t offer either one for revolvers- such is the world we live in. Looks great for electric guns, though!

  22. Great article! I truly enjoyed every bit of it! I remember when the the 3 NYC PDs all carried 38spls and was surprised that even today there are a good amount of POs that carry the 642 or similar off duty usually on the ankle or in the 4 o’clock position, the Desantis Thumbreak is the most popular holster and the younger guys are usually loaded with Speer short barrel 132? Gr 38spl and the old timers really vary because up until 1992 the academy was still teaching the cadets that carrying a hollow point is “intent to commit murder”! It’s NYC so it’s not surprising. I EDC a 4″ 686+ with either Remington SJHP 125gr or Buffalo Bore 125gr JHC because I can conceal it well on my frame however there are times when an ankle holster or IWB just doesn’t work now that I’m in the sweltering H-Town heat and humidity and as much as I hate what I’m about to type but it works, especially for the older crowd , the DeSantis Gunny Sack! I put the phone and money clip in there as well as either a J frame 38spl or if the situation dictates my P229/357Sig. It looks corny and it does generate laughs however no one has yet to realize I’m carrying in that thing…. I just look like an “old man” fumbling through my geriatric pack! LMFAO

    1. R.M. the GDSB load is 135 grains, and it was originally developed to fulfill an NYPD request. It’s a great round. Prior to this, the PD was carrying 158 Nyclad JHPs, and before that, 158 Nyclad SWCs. Before the Nyclad SWCs, I think it was 158 plain lead SWCs. A retired copper in NY could probably be carrying any of these loads, based on when they retired. The older crowd will also have blued guns too, since NYPD was a late adopter of stainless guns for duty.

      Glad the Gunny Sack is working for you. When they first came out, savvy bad guys and good guys were able to ID them as gun holsters, but the general public remained ignorant of them. You’ll still fly under most radars with them today, but I can assure you that a lot of the wrong people won’t be fooled, so be careful.

    2. Thank you, R.M.- I’m glad you enjoyed it! Those NYC Officers did pretty good with the .38 Special for a long time, and if it ain’t broke…. Those days produced a lot of believers in the humble old .38 and the small revolvers that chambered it. I suspect there are many, many “old” men like yourself walking around so armed that are better not messed with. Beware the old guy fumbling in his geriatric pack!

  23. I’ve had an lcr, security six, 4in sp101, 6in Taurus tracker, and I’ve now settled on the charter arms pro V, 6 shot .357 magnum, 3 inch barrel, 25 Oz empty. I carry it appendix with the barami hip grip. Paid $375 for it new about a year and a half ago. Beside the barami, only other mod so far is a Xtra power hammer spring from wolff to deal with some light primer strikes. I think I’m going to add a t-grip adapter as I can notice a difference between my accuracy with the factory grips and the barami. If you want a 25 Oz 6 shot magnum, you can’t find a current production revolver for anything less than double what these are going for. If I had 8-1200, I’d rather have a king cobra, rhino or k6s, but this will do for now.

    1. Hey CupAJoe,
      Sounds like a solid choice. Mike and I have been trying to test out Charter’s Professionals in .32 H&R and .357 Magnum for a while now, but the factory must be busy. You’re right, definitely the most inexpensive means to facilitate a 6-shot, concealable .357. I’m glad you’ve had good luck with it and I applaud your decision to T-Grip it!

  24. The article was a good read. I started in LE in 1984 when everyone still carried revolvers. A J frame still “backs me up” every day on duty. I couldn’t help but notice in picture five of your article…….that sure looks like a set of Matterhorns! Looks like you and I agree on more things than just revolvers.

  25. Thank you, BW! I’m with you on that, the J frame in that picture backs me up every day at work, too. Mine are Danner Fort Lewis boots, but they look exactly like Matterhorns, not sure either company’s president could tell them apart from 21 feet!

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