Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Barranti Hip Pocket Holster

You always hate those situations where you know that if it goes bad, it will go bad in a big way, all the while knowing that you have to appear incapable of being able to deal with anything bad, while being completely capable, in a moment's notice, of dealing decisively with the now bad situation.

A couple of winters back like a bad novel I was carrying my .45 in the pocket of my heavy wool pea-coat, a Hissatsu folder in my waistband, a bitty little light in my jeans pocket and that was pretty much it.

Once inside of where I needed to be my jacket had to come off and I was essentially carrying off body. The coat went wherever I went so it was never helpless situation and, the problem really wouldn't exist if it was going to, until I went outside. At which point the coat would be back on. I dutifully left my gloves in the truck so there would be a reason to have my hands in my pocket once out in the 15 degree night air.

The issue was the big Colt flopped and turned around in the coat pocket and while plenty deep as not to fall out, once back on and hand in the pocket, the pistol had rotated and now rode upside down.

Hammer down in condition two or not, it was not ideal. I fumbled around in my pocket saying something about losing the cigarettes I didn't have and don't smoke, until finally the gun was properly aligned in the pocket and hand. A few words were spoken back and forth as I walked outside and the entire ordeal was over having gone smoothly.

On the drive back, with Colt's Commander riding in my waistband I cussed at myself for not being better well suited for big auto pocket carry.

Oddly enough I couldn't help but thinking of Tommy Lee Jones in the movie "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada". Through most of the movie Jones rides horse back with a 1911 shoved into the back pocket of his Wranglers. Over and over I thought that a real basic pinch fit leather holster that could slip into the back pocket, that didn't have any loops or clips attached to it, and carried the gun juuust tight enough as to not come out freely would be a handy thing to have.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. Winter became Spring and, finally Summer then late one July night I finally knew what to do. Or rather
who to go to.

Enter Mike Barranti of Barranti holsters.

I emailed him outlining my needs, wants, and desires for such a thing and Mike knew exactly...and I mean exactly what I was talking about. It was an old timers carry, like turn of the last century old timers, and apparently Mike had tooled around with the same thought himself. About eight hours and one sunset and sunrise later he emailed me a photo of the very image in my brain.

Without hesitation I said "I'll take it".

A few days later it arrived by mail.

That was July of 2013. A year and a couple of months later I still love this holster, which is good because it sees daily use.

In our house we have a mental "gun code" as it were. A pistol in a holster is chambered. A pistol not in a holster is not chambered/loaded. It's the rule.

And I never break it.


That is not to imply guns lay around the house. They do not. They are all secured after a fashion one way or another, against un-welcomed visitors and toddlers alike.

At the end of the day when the I take off the old Colt, de-cock it, open the box and it is slipped into it's next place of residence. The Hip Pocket Holster.

Lest you are under the impression that this is all the use the holster sees it is not. Some of my time in the field requires prolonged surveillance. Hours and hours...and hours of sitting. Something the introvert in me never minds. That sitting can also mean, laying, sprawled out and waiting at all sorts of angles and positions beyond the driver's seat of my old 4Runner so it's nice to be able to take it off but still have it in a ready position.

With the absence of things like a re-enforced mouth, or clips, or loops the overall width is very minimal and allows the pistol to be wedged perfectly in someplaces. Yet the wet molded, pinch fit is loose enough to allow a draw where the holster does not come with it, while having very reasonable retention in a gun slip like this one.

Mind you. This is not some flimsy suede piece. While the mouth is not re-enforced with a double band of leather or other means of staying open, the molded to perfection gun skin stays open after the pistol has been drawn.

"How well?" you might wonder.

Most nights before turning in, the dog and I walk the acre and a half we live on and more often than not my pistol is slipped into the back pocket of my jeans. If drawn it can be re-holstered without looking, quickly and easily.

Coming around full circle, I like this holster for one more reason. Winter time. Remember where we started. A pea coat pocket full of .forty-five?

One significant disadvantage in conceal carry comes in winter time. Not in the way so much of carrying, but rather getting the gun into action quickly with a heavy buttoned up coat.

Say for example, I'm out at dinner. It's below freezing and the old 4Runner is parked a few blocks away. The evening ends, everyone is putting on coats, saying goodbyes and what not. I take that opportunity to go to the restroom and put my coat on. I'll take my Colt's Commander from it's In-the-Waist-Band holster and slip it into the Hip Pocket Shuck ready and waiting in my coat pocket. I can keep my hand on the gun my entire walk if I so choose and never have to worry about undesired finger-trigger slippage. Yet I can also rest assured that with my hands not in my pocket the big gun isn't sliding all over the place.

Lastly, There are times in my life, for one reason or another, that off body carry bears merit. In such cases the holster works well to keep the gun upright in a bag without any bulk added like a thicker conventional rig simply shoved in to a pack might have.

Just like there is no magic "one gun" solution for all things, there is no "one holster" solutions either. This rig, while very simple fills a lot of roles in my life and it does them very very well.

So what does it cost? The last time I asked Mike about this he said "$40 plus shipping".

$40.00 for a holster that comes from one of America's best leather rig makers. Not much thought need go into that one. Eventually I'll order a couple more of these. Probably for my snub-nosed Smith and one for my Ruger Flattop as well.

A good many shootists carry Mike's rigs and love them dearly. I now know why.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

In other places..

I do still write. Having picked up the occasional writing gig for the NRA and what seems to be an escalated travel schedule have caused for neglected duties here. Everytime I climb onto a plane I think "this would be a good time to write that new Dark Arts article.." and then I either open my moleskine to see the work ahead and behind me, or I close my eyes until I hear "prepare the cabin for arrival..."

All that said, the link below goes to Shooting Illustrated were we look at staying skilled in the absence of ammo or range time.


p.s. sharpen that tactical folder in your pocket I can see the lint from here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Rifle over the Hashtag.

Photo: Local Borno village women's group repels Boko Haram attack on their communities - See more at:

How the women of Nigeria are beginning to respond to the Boko Haram.

A hashtag hold's no power. It is a sanctimonious chant that words can save people. Yet, as many people around the world, who have been left at the hands of bad men and terrorist know, that "help" is only a bureaucracy and months of paper work away. Therefore the rifle does indeed matter and may still turn the tide in the war against evil.

"the rifle has no moral stature, since it has no will of it's own. Naturally it may be used by evil men with evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles."
Jeff Cooper Art of the Rifle.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A return to the dark arts

The mind is a funny place, because rarely are we ever "done" with something like we may imagine.

For all intents and purposes I was done with the Dark Arts for Good Guys series. There were a couple of articles that I had always intended to write, there were two more I wanted to write more than anything but... good judgement won out. Who knows maybe someday in an underground form I will but until then they lay dormant in my mind.

As for the other two I have decided that I would very much like to see them written and for whatever reason where I once struggled to gain a foot hold on the thoughts, that become the words, that end up here have formulated.

They will be in classic fashion I assure you. In all likely hood there will be a gear review first and then the Dark Arts for Good Guys: Just.....


You'll see.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Practactical 101: Short stroke kit

The worst notions in the modern age are those which are preconceived. Even if some are unspoken.

Those such as, the immediate availability of dozens of rounds of ammunition in one's firearm will guarantee success in a fight. Or that someone is possession of that amount of rounds is destined for evil acts.

Though most of us would agree that the later of the two statements is not unspoken but, rather one spoke with unyielding beratement amongst the hoplophobes. "Educated" or otherwise.

For the better part of twenty years (or more) the personal defense community has said the revolver is dead. One might conclude that it did not "die" but, rather proceeded to excel in the twenty-first century in smaller form.

The small framed .38 Special and .357 Magnum lives well today in light weight frames, though having experienced the titanium-scandium-fun-to-carry-hell-to-shoot recoil of the .357 Magnum from a not quite so two inch barrel I'll keep mine in all steel. Thank-you-very-much.

Of my three normal carry pieces, two of them are revolvers, the Colt's Commander in the large Automatic Colt Pistol cartridge being the first. The other two being both Smith & Wesson's in .38 Special and .357 Magnum. Whenever one (or two) of these are being used the others rest in the gun safe.

However, I tend to keep my normal carry spare reloads all together. Where I keep all the other things that fill up my pants pockets for everyday usage. A few years back I made myself a small front pocket"system" that was designed to hold my flashlight and a 1911 mag. It turns out it does a semi-decent job of holding a speed strip, or five shot speed loader, in their proper place.

All was essentially fine with this "system" until I bought my Smith Model 66 a few years ago. Due to over penetration concerns as a general rule I carry both my revolvers loaded with .38 Special standard loads (my 442 is not +P rated anyway) but, with the Model 66, when I do carry it, I like to have a set of full house .357 Magnum loads as the reload.

Generally I use the speed strip to handle the reload because of the bulk of the cylindrical speed loader. Then one night I came home and took off my Model 442 (in .38 Special) and as I retrieved my reload/flashlight combo from front left pocket something looked off.

And there it was.

I had shoved .357 Magnum spare reloads into my pocket. Which no matter how hard you cram them into a .38 Special cylinder they just aren't going to fit.

So in order to remedy this from happening again I dug out a pair of scissors and cut the "tail" off the speed strip that holds the .38 Special reloads. Now, if I have to, or just so happen to, for one reason or another grab my spare revolver reload from it's place where all of my other EDC gear sits, I can tell by instantaneous feel.

Tail on the Speed Strip = .357 Magnum Loads

No tail on the Speed Strip = .38 Special Loads.

It is a simple and effective way to tell the difference. One could also apply such a tactic to tell the difference between standard and plus P loads if they were so inclined.

Lastly, one who carries the venerable .three fifty seven revolver with a short barrel, and equally short ejector rod, might gain a small advantage in carrying the .38 Special cartridge in the cylinder. In the event that a reload should have to be performed with deftness and social negotiations otherwise having failed, shaving a tenth of an inch off the start of a reload might make a difference in the end.

Firepower is a fine thing to have but, if all you brought to the gun fight is a gun you've already lost.

Fight Smarter.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Carjack Intermezzo

I've long held this fascination with how fast the human brain can process information, especially how fast it can process, threat assess, come to a conclusion and initiate the appropriate response.

Having spent my entire adult life observing people with intent, whether running a surveillance or standing quietly on a protection assignment, you learn to read how the point of a toe can give you direction an aggressor is about to take. The opening of a mouth before taking a step can display personal doubt about a course of action.

On the short journey home last night from my in-laws, The Wife and I were talking about the general stuff of life. The Mouse was asleep in the back and we were just cruising down the second to last stretch of road home. We topped a hill and began a descent towards a stop light a hundred or so yards ahead. Late on Easter night, traffic was almost non-existent and, placed us as first car at the light.

In my time on this blue marble we call earth I have seen what I call one truly classical ambush. It was traveling through India, in Maharashtra I think, with some Clients. Driving down a long stretch of rural road we came to the first intersection that mattered when a Land Rover sped past us, angled in and blocked our driver. It was, despite the threat, beautifully executed. Of course I'm still here so...

The second most truly classical ambush began as we headed for that light last night.

You will have to understand that as you read this (and I write this) there are several long moments from start to finish. Yet as it occurred, it at the most was ten seconds long, with the large and heavy portions lasting about 1 second.

As we approached the light, maybe ten yards out I noticed a young man off the passenger side door, on the corner and two lane widths from me. Back lighting him some sixty yards away perhaps, was a small convenience store that he appeared to be walking from. Yet as the car slowed to a stop his hands were empty.

"No purchase. Interesting" my brain told me.

He stands at the curb. The Car stops.

"White pants, blue polo, black ball cap (flat brim), hipster styled web belt like my old canteen belt with the holes.....shirt partial tuck..noted."

Then it got interesting.

He took a step.

"Left hand goes to belt as if to ensure support, left foot takes step of curb and angles toward passenger side door, followed by a quick step from the right foot, then full fast step. Right hand now goes to center point of waist band where shirt is untucked...felony carry...... (old Jeff Cooper slang) = Gun."

My index finger straightens off the steering wheel to proceed to gun. "If it goes this way, get muzzle to glass".

Finger fully flexed. Memory reminds me that we just came from ****** ******* Illinois.

".357 is locked in rear of vehicle. Drive."

I touch the accelerator and the Family SUV makes a smooth lurch forward. He stops in the intersection. I stop only to make sure I don't get hit going through the intersection. He's now confused and now not so sure of himself.

Grin to self.

Accelerator pressed for controlled departure. The Wife, with her hand on dash because of the stop-start-stop-now-go-while-amid-sentence looks at me confused. "That kid is going to try and car jack us" as we go on through the red light.

We crest a second hill. "There are his friends" I say as we pass a Mitsubishi two door pulled off on to the side of the road. Lights on. Engine running. Chase car.

Wolves travel in packs.

As we sat at the next light, with The Wife on the phone talking with police dispatch, I did what you really do after the fact.

Think about how you damn near screwed up.

Had I not lurched the vehicle in order to check the intersection, which caused a hitch in his giddy up, I would have gotten us into a low speed broadsided accident. That same side where my daughter's car seat is, and where she slept peacefully in it.

The moral of it all.

You can possess the latest in tactical gear, have the best polymer-striker fired-damn-the-1911-pistol on the market, with a bug out bag in the back. But, if you can not....and listen to me because this is the important part.

If you can not, assess and make a straight line decision about what you should, should not, and can not do in the blink of an's all for naught.

Tactical mag changes are a useful thing. The ability to react to a situation in it's very initial stage is paramount, and may keep you from ever having to execute a mag drop to begin with.

Stay savy my friends.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A quick thank you

So this happened...

The Sound of One Hand Shooting | Shooting Illustrated

Thank you to you all who read my scribbling here on the internet, it encourages me to write more, and apparently now for other people as well.

I've got a new post coming sometime this week for the Practactical 101 series, so stay tuned.

On a side note..

If you happen to be a boy who reads Straight Forward in a Crooked World and you sit everyday in school dreaming about guns, hunting trips, and wild adventures only to hear a teacher tell you to stop "wasting your time day dreaming".

Pay them no mind. And one day prove them wrong.