Well it finally happened. The laws have changed and soon you will be able to legally open carry a firearm in Texas. While I still don’t recommend it, I’m not going to say “don’t do it.” But I do have a suggestion; if you do plan on open carrying your pistol, then please use the right holster.
Some of you may be tempted to use a tactical “drop leg” holster. I used one once upon a long time ago when I was in the Army serving as a crew chief for a UH-1 helicopter.
Being a crew chief meant that I had to carry several weapons if we ever deployed or went on combat training exercises. I was never deployed anywhere before a back injury ended my Army career. Lucky me. But I did do those training exercises and I had to tote around two M-60D machine guns, an M-16A1 rifle, and an M-9. Add that to all the other gear and equipment that I had to carry (tool bag, canteens, flight helmet, Kevlar helmet, etc etc.) and that drop leg holster became rather convenient as well as comfortable. I didn’t have a Beretta grip digging into my kidney. (I was also in my early 20’s at the time, so “tacticool” was definitely better than anything else.) I can all but guarantee that a civilian open carrying will have no use for that tactical advantage drop leg holster. You are not Frank Castle.
Also, don’t be cheap. You probably spent somewhere between $400 and $1,000 for your handgun, and you’re going to show it off in a holster that costs $29.95? Unless you plan on open carrying a Nerf Gun, there is no reason that an AirSoft™ holster is what you use, out in public, with real actual people, for a real actual gun. If you can afford the gun, you can afford to get a decent retention holster.
So let’s go over the levels of retention shall we? First and foremost, your idea of retention levels of a holster are most likely wrong. A Blackhawk Serpa is NOT a retention level 2 holster. Here’s a quick run down of the testing for retention level (originally developed by Safariland, and then bastardized and diluted by everyone else.)
The Holster Retention Test is described as applying all the force to the grip or handle of the weapon by an individual while the weapon is totally secured in the holster and mounted on a suitable belt being worn by another individual. The test is to simulate a “grab and snatch” initiated by an adversary. The direction of force is unlimited but the duration of the force is limited to 5 seconds. At the end of the 5 seconds, the weapon must still be secure in the holster and the holster must still be attached to the operator. The operator must be able to accomplish a draw after the attack within the times set as a standard by the controlling department or within two seconds if no standard exists. If the holster passes this initial test, it qualifies as a Level I Retention™ Security Holster. The Holster Retention Test described above is referred to as the “Test”, but over the years, it has become synonymous with “Level l test.”
So retention level doesn’t have anything to do with how many steps it takes to get a pistol out of a holster. It does have to do with how much effort is required to remove your pistol from you. You can have a holster that requires you to flip a lever, hit a latch, undo a cam, push a button, enter the same combination an idiot would have on his luggage, do the Macarena and pass a breathalyzer that still has a retention level of zero. Retention is not about keeping the gun in the holster. It is about keeping a gun on you. If the holster will self destruct under stress, it’s not a retention holster.
All Serpa holsters will likely fail the test. Even your fancy Delta Navy Ranger “LVL15” holster. There is not a single instructor that I know personally who will allow you to use a Serpa in their class, and with good reason. I have a Serpa and they are pieces of shit. (Please carefully note that I did NOT say that I use a Serpa, just that I own one.) If you are going to carry a firearm openly, please use a good quality retention holster such as a Safailand ALS, Bianchi Carry Lock, Don Hume, or Gould and Goodrich. If you come out wearing a Fobus, expect to be mocked and ridiculed.
The next holster you should avoid like the plague is the shoulder holster. Go over the 4 rules in your head. Now think about which one you are breaking if you wear a shoulder rig. Now in your mind’s eye, draw your pistol from that fancy leather strap in your armpit that you saw Sonny Crockett wear on an episode of Miami Vice once. Who all did you muzzle when you did so? (Rule #2, never let your muzzle point at anything you are not willing to destroy, and you just threw that one out the window, didn’t you genius?) Add to that the fact that a shoulder rig has a retention level of something like a negative 4. (I don’t think there are any ranges that will let you practice drawing from a shoulder rig for this very reason.) Do shoulder rigs have a use? Absolutely. They can be used on t.v., in movies, or to go along with your leather jock strap and gimp mask while you pretend to be the guy from that book that everyone I know hates. A shoulder rig aims the muzzle at everyone near you or around you. A regular belt holster aims the muzzle at your peeling linoleum. Even when you draw from a regular holster, the only thing you are likely to muzzle is the floor and then your target. From a shoulder rig? You’ll muzzle sweep your wife, your kid, your Aunt Gertrude, the kid behind the counter at Fat Mike’s greasy BBQ joint, the Pope, someone’s seeing eye donkey, and that awkward dude you picked on in high school before your target. Leave the shoulder rig at home. You are not Joe Friday.
I have several holsters, for both concealed carry, and open carry. (I only open carry on my family’s farm property, or when out hunting.) I have a Bladetech OWB (that I only use in a range bag to protect a trigger), a Blackhawk Serpa (that I don’t use at all), a Safariland ALS (which is what I do use when I am open carrying while hunting, etc.) a holster from Springfield that I can’t use (I’m left-handed), and a couple of Comp-Tac Minotaurs that I use for everyday carry.
So here are my personal rules for openly carrying a firearm; Don’t. If you’re going to anyway, don’t use a shitty holster. If I see you out and about, openly carrying your Wilson Combat Pinnacle 1911 in an Uncle Mike’s canvas holster, I am going to assume that you are a dumbass and that you sell used mattresses for a living.