CCW T-Shirt holster: A Holster Shirt Review
How to carry concealed carry under a tucked in shirt or when wearing a suit.
How would you like to concealed carry securely, and still be able to bend over, reach above your head, use a public bathroom without worrying about your gun being seen or falling to the floor? A concealed carry t shirt holster will allow you to carry your gun while wearing a suit, or when you need a tucked-in shirt.
Concealed carry in a suit is not always a big issue, IF the jacket stays on. With a suit jacket on, you can carry using an appendix holster, OWB or IWB holster or even a standard shoulder holster. However, if you are going to remove the jacket to dance at a wedding, or if it just gets hot, you are going to have a problem.
Also see my post on how to carry a 1911 for other methods of concealed carry.
How you would like to carry your gun covertly, securely and still look nice in a tucked-in your shirt and no jacket? Well, a Concealed Carry T-Shirt holster just might be the answer for you.
What is a CCW T Shirt Holster?
A holster shirt is a rather clever idea for carrying a concealed weapon under a dress shirt or casual shirt when an Inside the Waistband or Outside the Waistband holster is not an option for you or your surroundings. It is basically a compression shirt holster with reinforced pockets on the sides under the arms, almost like a shoulder holster that is sewn into a shirt. The pocket that holds the gun has velcro closures on the top for relatively fast access.
Probably the best known holster shirts are made by 5.11 Tactical. These are the shirts that I own and have worn comfortably on many a formal occasion.
**Update April 2022. 5.11 Tactical no longer makes a holster shirt, but there are several good ones to choose from on Amazon. Check them out here.
The holster shirt allows you to carry your gun safely tucked away under your arm completely hidden from view.
Why Use a Concealed Carry Shirt Holster?
This is one of my favorite ways to concealed carry when I have to dress up, wear a suit when the jacket might come off such as at a wedding or going to church. the 5.11 Tactical Holster Shirt is a compression type shirt that is reinforced in the right areas and has a Velcro closure pocket suitable for carrying a mid to full sized gun.
A lot of guys ask me how they are expected to carry a gun concealed when they are in a shirt and tie in the office all day or in a retail setting. This holster shirt is a fantastic answer, you could also consider ankle carry but the holster shirt allows a greater choice of weapons.
How to Use a Holster Shirt for Concealed Carry
A holster shirt is not a perfect solution. While it does a fantastic job of concealment, access becomes more difficult if you need to get to your weapon quickly. Practicing your draw is essential no matter what concealment method you choose.
If wearing a pullover shirt on top, you will need to practice lifting the outer shirt and accessing the holster shirt pocket to draw the gun. If wearing a button down shirt, you will need to unbutton or lift the shirt to access your gun.
One option I use is to wear a tactical shirt that has snaps instead of buttons. The snaps are disguised as buttons, but you can “rip” the shirt open instantly and access the weapon.
Who would use a Holster Shirt?
A holster shirt can be used by anyone that needs to carry a concealed firearm. This method is one of the best ways to conceal a gun and still go about your everyday activities with confidence that no one will know you are carrying. My personal use of the Holster shirt is on these occasions where I cannot get away with an untucked shirt:
- Great way to carry a backup gun.
Pros and Cons of a Holster Shirt
- Excellent concealment
- Can be used with many guns
- Can be worn under almost any type of shirt
- Harder to access gun in emergency
- does not protect the trigger like a proper holster
- Will not last forever like other standard holsters will
Tactical Holster Shirt Prices
Tactical holster shirt prices range from $34.99 to $70.00 for the good ones. See some options in this article.
Here are some of the current options available on Amazon and the pricing:
Safety Considerations when using a Holster Shirt
For safety reasons, a holster shirt should be used with a gun that has an external safety or is double action only. If you do not have an external safety on your firearm, such as Glock, some M & P semi autos or other striker fired guns, I would highly recommend carrying with an empty chamber. I normally frown on empty chamber carry, but in this case, we are not using a holster that protects the trigger and covers the entire trigger guard, so we need to compromise. My preference would be to use a gun with an external safety.
The holster shirt is not really a holster. A properly designed holster should cover the entire trigger guard until the gun is removed from it, and the gun should be held securely within the holster at all times. The holster shirt will not do either of these things. It is basically a hidden pocket that will allow the gun to move around a bit and it can allow a finger or other object to get into the trigger guard and possibly press the trigger.
5.11 Holster Shirt Review
I own two 5.11 tactical holster shirts and love them both. One is sleeveless and the other is not. Sleeveless is great when the weather is really warm. They both support the gun very comfortably, and I always feel like the gun is secure. However, the closure is Velcro, so if you bend all the way over, or decide to do a handstand or other wise get upside down, that gun is coming out for sure.
I would recommend these for deep cover or backup weapons. Whenever possible, I always highly recommend carrying your firearm on your hip or appendix with a loose short or jacket for concealment. Always, always practice your draw with whatever your method of carry! When the time comes, you want your draw to be second nature and as fast as possible.
The holster shirt is far from the perfect carry method and should be used as another tool in your concealed carry toolbox. I use this method on occasion when it is just not feasible to carry another way. As I mentioned, I have used this method when attending functions such as weddings, church and funerals.
Any time you need to dress up and cannot leave your shirt un-tucked, wearing a suit with a jacket offers great concealment. If you are going to leave your jacket on the entire event, you can easily carry your firearm in a shoulder holster, an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster or even an outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster with great results. However, if the weather is warm, and removing your jacket at some point is likely, the holster shirt is a great option.
What guns work best with a Holster Shirt?
Having used holster shirts for some time, I can say that your best bet is to use a small to medium sized firearm for best results. I will say that I have carried a Springfield XDm 9mm with a 4.5 inch barrel fully loaded with 20 rounds ammo and that worked OK although it does sag a bit.
I would not recommend carrying a steel framed 1911 in this shirt! I would recommend a medium sized single stack gun such as a Walther PPS or a smaller gun such as a Bodyguard 380 which would be virtually invisible using this type of carry. A small framed light weight revolver with also be an excellent choice such as a Smith & Wesson Air Weight with a 2 inch barrel, definitely a Ruger LCR, and even a Taurus 85 would not be too big or heavy to carry successfully in a holster shirt.
Who makes Holster Shirts
There are several manufacturers of holster shirts on the market. Probably the best known in most popular are 5.11 holster shirts. These are the ones that I have and they are very high-quality compression material. They also come in white and black sleeves and sleeveless.
There are other manufacturers that make holster shirts at various price points.
Holster Shirt final thoughts
Carrying a concealed weapon is not always easy. Having several options available to you when your regular method of carry is not going to work makes life a lot easier! Investing in some alternative holsters such as a holster shirt and an ankle holster will allow you to carry your gun when you may have left it at home.
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