CONCEALMENT 16 Ankle Carry Revisited Chris Tran Join the Conversation Warning! The concepts shown here are for illustrative purposes only. Seek professional training from a reputable instructor before attempting any techniques discussed or shown in this story. Carry Considerations and Equipment When you hear the phrase “ankle carry,” thoughts hearken back to the ’80s and early ’90s when cops on television, in a compromised situation, would surreptitiously take a knee, draw a snub-nosed .38 revolver from an ankle holster, and get the drop on an unsuspecting suspect. After the infamous 1986 FBI Miami Shootout with bank robbers William Matix and Michael Platt, police departments reevaluated their issued sidearms, and the progression toward higher-capacity semi-auto handguns heralded the waning popularity of the revolver for duty use as primary handguns. Revolvers, mouse guns, and other small-framed pistols, however, were still considered viable backup weapons; many were still carried by officers tucked into a vest, front jacket or pants pocket, or worn on the ankle. The Galco Ankle Lite disappears under standard uniform pants, making it a popular choice for active law enforcement professionals. The Galco Ankle Lite disappears under standard uniform pants, making it a popular choice for active law enforcement professionals. But today’s micro or subcompact pistols (depending on which marketing department you’re following) feature ammunition capacity that’s not only superior to legacy backup pistols, but that’s nearly on par with modern compact pistols. Springfield Armory’s new Hellcat, reviewed in this issue of CONCEALMENT, and Sig Sauer’s P365 are fine examples of this new breed of full-featured micro pistol that manage to cram more ammo in the same space as their tiny, single-stack competitors. With a smaller footprint than the popular Glock 43 and its 6+1 round magazine capacity, or the Smith & Wesson’s Shield and its 7+1 or 8+1 magazine capacity (depending on model), the newer P365 and Hellcat each boast slim, concealable profiles and up to a maximum 12+1 or 13+1 round capacity. The compact size, increased ammunition capacity, and shootability of these newer pistols make the option of ankle carry as a primary mode of concealed carry worth considering. The Galco Ankle Lite is an exceptional ankle holster. Well constructed and comfortable, its soft exterior and lack of hard lines allows it to blend with casual clothing more effectively. With a 12+1 capacity using factory +2 baseplates, the Sig Sauer P365 is a capable primary carry pistol easily concealed in an ankle system such as the Cheata Tactical Gun Sox. The Argument for Ankle Carry Ankle carry, with some additional considerations, is definitely a viable option for concealed carry for several reasons. First, not all bodies are created equal. For those with a little more girth or limited physical abilities, inside the waistband, appendix inside the waistband, or outside the waistband on the hip aren’t always viable options. Second, as much as we’d like to dress around the gun all the time, sometimes it’s not feasible. Some people work in a professional environment where shirts or blouses must be tucked in. Perhaps a responsible citizen works in a hot environment where the weather makes cover garments inappropriate or attends church on Sunday where post-service hugs and handshakes could accidentally reveal a hidden firearm. In these instances when traditional waistband carry isn’t as feasible, ankle carry becomes an attractive option. The Galco Ankle Lite is an exceptional ankle holster. Well constructed and comfortable, its soft exterior and lack of hard lines allows it to blend with casual clothing more effectively. Third, while off-body carry could address these issues, there’s a strong argument that the best way to maintain control of a concealed firearm is to keep it on the body. Deploying a Firearm from an Ankle Holster While some ankle carriers run their pistol on the outside ankle of their dominant leg, this method poses certain challenges. With the bulk of the pistol on the outside of the leg, the concealed pistol is in danger of being bumped by objects or passersby. While this might not necessarily compromise concealability, having a firearm jostled out of position and inadvertently touched isn’t only disconcerting, but it can also affect its draw stroke position. For this reason, the ideal position for the holster is on the inside of the offhand leg. This naturally shields the holstered firearm from inadvertent contact and allows for a primary-handed draw stroke as if the pistol were on the waist. Since carrying a firearm on the ankle means it’s out of arm’s reach, the solution is pretty simple: You either change body position and go to the gun (take a knee or draw from a seated position), raise the gun to the hand (stand on one leg), or use a combination of both (prop foot up on a chair or other intermediate height object). Each method has pros and cons, and their use depends on the physical capabilities of the user, the context they’re in when they need the gun, and their level of training. The Galco Ankle Lite has a reinforced thumb break, providing active retention on the firearm when holstered, while still allowing for a strong master grip on the firearm, in this instance a Ruger LCR .38SPL. Its neoprene cuff and sheepskin interior lining lend themselves to a comfortable carry experience. Taking a knee to draw an ankle-carried firearm has certain advantages; kneeling provides a stable platform, and the user can conform to available cover. The disadvantages of kneeling are reduced mobility and visibility. Plus, not everyone is built to bend that far down and get to work after taking a knee. Raising the gun to the hand by lifting the offhand leg to the dominant hand keeps you upright and affords visibility, however the disadvantages of standing and drawing on one leg are apparent. Not everyone can perform this movement, let alone under stress, and some simply don’t have the balance. Drawing from a raised leg affords excellent visibility but at the cost of mobility. But, if trained consistently, lifting the leg is a fast way to get a gun into the fight. The third option is stepping up and putting the carry leg on an intermediate object — a good choice for those with limited mobility or for people who have a hard time taking a knee. It’s a stable stance but not as compact as balling up to the take-a-knee position, while offering more mobility. In any of these techniques, using both hands is the preferred method. A straight pull of the pants up and over the holstered firearm minimizes the possibility of snagging the pant leg on the holster or firearm itself. Since most ankle carriers carry on the inside of the ankle opposite the dominant hand, pulling a pant leg up with only the offhand naturally pulls the pant leg into and up onto the holster. Pulling the pant leg with two hands minimizes the likelihood the pant leg will get caught on the holster. All that being said, situational awareness, threat avoidance, and identification will somewhat mitigate the possibility of engaging in a gunfight at all. If a firearm must be introduced into a situation, it should be at the time and place of your choosing, thus mitigating the need to present a firearm right now. Choosing an Ankle Carry System When ankle carrying, dressing around the gun is important — just not in the usual way we think of it. Choosing pants with enough width at the ankle to accommodate the added girth of an ankle-mounted holster is essential. Once an appropriate pant is selected, it’s time to take a look at holster-specific considerations. Holster material is really up to the individual user, and many are crafted from a mixture of leather, nylon, and Kydex. Regardless of what you choose for holster material, it should be equipped with some level of retention. Casual ankle carry can result in inadvertent bumps and jostles, even when the pistol is placed on the inside of the ankle. You can brush your legs together while walking or knock the holster against table or chair legs when seated. With a 12+1 capacity using factory +2 baseplates, the Sig Sauer P365 is a capable primary carry pistol easily concealed in an ankle system such as the Cheata Tactical Gun Sox. Dynamic motion — running, jumping, falling, or hastily taking cover — increases the possibility the pistol may get knocked or fall out of the holster. A quality ankle holster has a retention mechanism, such as a thumb break or a retention strap, and doesn’t rely on the friction of the pistol in the holster alone for retention. We reviewed two different ankle systems, the Galco Ankle Lite and the Cheata Tactical Gun Sox. The Ankle Lite has everything required in a solid ankle holster. It’s comprised of center-cut steerhide leather with a neoprene cuff. The cuff is secured with Velcro and has a layer of very soft, supple sheepskin on the inside. Retention comes from a reinforced thumb break that crisply snaps open while still allowing for a strong master grip on the firearm. The Gun Sox from Cheata Tactical is an incredibly minimalist sleeve that boasts the lowest profile available. The Ankle Lite is comfortable, thanks to the stretchiness of the neoprene cuff and softness of the sheepskin lining. The holster system is enhanced by adding an optional ankle calf strap, essentially a garter for the ankle holster; it’s secured over the calf just below the knee with an extension strap that attaches to the holster cuff. The strap keeps the Ankle Lite in place so the holster doesn’t slide down around the ankle during vigorous activity. One of the greatest benefits of the Ankle Lite is the comfort provided by the holster’s materials. The holster itself is made from a soft cowhide and the neoprene cuff has no hard edges; the profile of the firearm is softened and doesn’t print hard lines against the pant leg. The neoprene cuff also keeps the system snug against the ankle without binding, and the soft sheepskin provides an extra layer of comfort and wicks sweat away from the leg. The second holster we looked at is the Gun Sox from Cheata Sports & Tactical. While not well known in the firearm industry, Cheata Sports & Tactical offers a line of compression clothing centered around women’s sports activities. Their tactical line focuses on two different models of the Gun Sox: ankle and mid-calf carry. The Gun Sox from Cheata Tactical is an incredibly minimalist sleeve that boasts the lowest profile available. The Gun Sox is padded and made of knee-high nylon/poly/Spandex. The sleeve has just two pockets on the exterior and an additional flap of fabric that overlaps the openings of the exterior pockets and is secured in place with a single clothing fastener. The interior of the pockets is covered in an elastic abrasion-resistant material to reduce wear. The interior of the sleeve itself is two-ply, and there are small bits of padding sewn into place to protect the wearer from direct contact with the slide and receiver of the firearm. A stretch material flap provides excellent retention and easy, deliberate access to your firearm. Since the entire system is made from soft, stretchable performance fabric, it’s streamlined and comfortable to wear and won’t shift or twist around the ankle. Once the firearm is inserted into the Gun Sox, you stretch the top flap of fabric over the butt and grip of the firearm and secure the flap with the clothing fastener. The top flap overlaps the top of the pocket so the firearm can’t come out unless deliberately drawn. A stretch material flap provides excellent retention and easy, deliberate access to your firearm. The downside of this system is that the entire sleeve is made out of thin performance fabric, so it’s possible for the unprotected trigger to be sufficiently pressed or rubbed through the material enough to potentially discharge a round. To alleviate this issue and to comply with some department requirements for one-handed re-holstering, Cheata Tactical offers hard Kydex inserts that are secured in place with a bolt. While this solves the problem of an exposed trigger, it eliminates one of the great advantages of the Gun Sox — its streamlined design. A workaround is to cover the trigger area with a minimalist Kydex trigger guard that attaches to the holster with 550 paracord. The Gun Sox from Cheata Tactical can easily accommodate the slim Sig Sauer P365. As with anything involving concealed carry, it’s important to conduct your own research. Beware of the glut of Top Ten Holsters lists that proliferate the internet — more often than not they’re simply affiliate link revenue generators. Choosing to carry responsibly includes choosing the right hardware for the right application. Research and find the best solution, and then practice and train with that system to carry safely. Sources Galco Ankle Lite: www.galcogunleather.com Cheata Tactical Gun Sox: www.cheatasport.com About the Author Chris Tran is a police officer for a large agency in the Pacific Northwest. He’s served his community for 14 years as a police officer in patrol, pro-act mountain bike teams, community policing, and is currently a plainclothes detective. His additional responsibilities include teaching firearms, defensive tactics, and patrol tactics for his agency’s in-service training, and he seeks out external training as much as possible to enhance his agency’s institutional knowledge. Explore RECOILweb:Action Target: Registration Open for 2016 LETCDirect Action Resource Center Separates the Men From the BoysHaley Strategic - First Look at the Surefire XC1Tactical Solutions Ridge-Lite Barrel for SW22 Victory Pistol NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included). Click here to get IMMEDIATE ACCESS to a digital PDF of this target pack!