By: Greg Chabot
Photos by Sasha Steadman
I spend a lot of time outdoors. I find it challenging at times to find a comfortable way to carry a handgun while enjoying outdoor activity. I have used chest bags, which are a great way to carry discretely while hiking and allow for quick access to my weapon in case of a dangerous situation.
A few years back, Tom Wise at 2aholster.com asked me if would be interested in testing his new chest rig. At first, I wasn’t sure about it. Most chest holsters I’ve seen were more geared towards the hunting crowd and were cheaply made. After giving it some thought, I got back to Tom and ordered one of his Outdoorsman rigs for a Glock 20 C.
I was not disappointed by the workmanship or quality of the Outdoorsman holster. The neck straps are 1” wide, which I found to carry the weight of my gun comfortably on my shoulders with no digging in. The strap that goes around the navel is 1.5”-wide Berry compliant elastic. It is snug enough to prevent slipping. The elastic allows for ease of movement without sacrificing comfort for long periods of wear. The shell of the holster is made of Kydex and is available in a multitude of colors and camo patterns.
Versatility, Reliability, and Comfort
Tom had three goals in mind when he designed the Outdoorsman: versatility, reliability, and comfort. The straps are fully adjustable for all body types and can be used comfortably with just one neck strap instead of the two it comes with. There are several holes to attach the straps to the holster for a multitude of carry methods. Keeping versatility in mind, Tom designed his chest rigs to be ambidextrous.
My personal preference is the right-handed set-up, with the muzzle pointed downwards to my left. Tom’s Outdoorsman allows the option to change the straps around, whether for comfort or concealment. It’s nice not to have excess strap material getting in the way. I personally use one set of straps for extra holster shells. Extra straps and shells are available for purchase.
Though it is designed to be worn outside your clothing, I find the sleek design conceals most weapons underneath a jacket or sweatshirt. Printing, even in this mode of carry, was minimal.
The Outdoorsman isn’t the only rig available; Tom designs and manufactures other chest rigs for very deep concealment. I especially like a chest rig while driving, so my weapon doesn’t dig into my hip.
Fitting and Adjustment
You might wonder, how do I fit this type of holster to my body? I advise experimenting in the mirror. I have very broad shoulders and a barrel chest. I adjusted my rig to sit between my pecs on my diaphragm. That spot makes it easy for me to conceal and reach my weapon. Take time to account for the length of your arms and size and shape of the weapon you plan to carry.
I also recommend trying different items of clothing. I live in New England, so I have to adjust my chest rig depending on the season, how cold it gets, layers, style jacket, etc. After a while, users will find their sweet spot for their preferred carry methods.
The author concealing his chest rig.
If you are new to chest rigs, it is important to train with it on the range before venturing into the wild or carrying concealed. I spent many hours drawing and presenting my weapon before going to the range for live fire.
The strap that goes around your navel should be tight but not uncomfortable, as it will help keep the holster from moving while drawing. Like anything else, with a chest holster, it will take time to get proficient. Follow the crawl, walk, run method.
You might be wondering, “Is this method of carry safe?” I have been using this style holster for three years and have never had any safety issues with this method of carry. I won’t lie – it took time to get used to the holster. And I had to make a few adjustments to how I draw and present my weapon. I find the pros far outweigh the cons for my defensive needs.
Versatile, Comfortable Concealed Carry
I find chest rigs to be a great tool for concealed carry if one dresses accordingly. With a loose shirt, even a full-sized 1911 disappears with very little printing. Obviously, a smaller handgun will hide better than a large one.
But how does one deploy his weapon quickly? There are a few methods you can use. One method is to “Superman” your shirt. If you encounter a threat, rip your shirt open, draw, and neutralize the threat. Sure, you are going to wreck a shirt. But you’ll be alive to buy a new one.
This method also works with a zip-up hoodie or jacket.
Another method I use is to leave some buttons undone or zipper down to just above my weapon – then I can just reach in and draw my gun. I have found chest rigs are very versatile and comfortable for concealed carry. I don’t have to worry about adjusting a holster to sit down or drive. My weapon is easily accessible at all times. I have never had anyone suspect I was carrying a full-sized handgun under my shirt or jacket.
For the outdoors, you can’t beat a chest rig, in my opinion. A pack will go over holster straps, and you still have quick access to your weapon, which is important to me, as I live in bear country. As I stated before, take the time to properly adjust your gear.
I will freely admit I was a doubter about chest holsters. I now own six for various weapons, that I purchased after testing the first one from Tom. To me, they are the most comfortable and easiest to configure holsters on the market today. Take the time to train with it, and you will begin to see the advantages of chest holsters.
For concealed carry, Tom recommends his Litepath or Mini-Ninjer holsters. They are smaller in size than the Outdoorsman, which was designed for open carry. I have purchased both of those models and use them as my go-to concealed carry set-ups in warm or cold weather. Along with a wide choice of lights, optics, and aftermarket sights, Tom has a very wide selection molds for just about every handgun on the market today. Check them out at 2aholster.com.
Greg Chabot is an Iraq Combat Veteran freelancer, writing from New Hampshire.