Mary Helen Shashy developed a sports bra about 10 years ago for the equine industry. Not exclusive to female horse riders, upper torso instability is an obstacle for any woman active in physical fitness, firearms use and combat training. Five years later, a number of police officers started wearing the Cheata sports bra at work, which improved their performance and fit of body armor. The U.S. military has recently acknowledged breast mass as an issue for females serving, and it provides an allowance to women for acquiring their own undergarments. Shashy’s Cheata sports bra is an interesting story in of itself.
The performance capability of the sports bra has transferred to compression holsters. Ron Shashy, a doctor and Mary Helen’s brother, recognized the potential of the proprietary Stretx fabric and asked his sister to develop an ankle rig that would be inconspicuous underneath a suit. Mary Helen applied her clothing-designer background and used her fabrics to design the “Original” Gun Sox.
Vicki Farnam, a veteran firearms instructor, experienced the benefits of Cheata’s sports bra among large-busted students who unconsciouly lost precious time collecting themselves before moving and shooting. Soon after, she and her husband, John, learned of the brand’s leg holster and have been vocal advocates ever since.
For this evaluation, I ordered Cheata’s Original Gun Sox holstering system in a size medium (M) for a calf measuring between 15 and 16 ½ inches. To put it on, I simply pulled it over my leg like I would a sock. The medical-grade compression material feels tight, but in a secure way that’s comfortable and reassuring. It doesn’t restrict blood flow.
Two layers of moisture-wicking material gives the layer against your skin a cool feeling. Cheata indicates that the material is heat dispersing and breathable. The fabric is also antimicrobial and odor resistant. You can wear a crew sock underneath the Gun Sox holstering system, but it may make your leg sweat and trap the moisture under the sock — especially if it’s cotton. (Stretx is breathable.)
Whether you wear it over a sock or against skin, the Gun Sox is machine washable, fast drying and doesn’t shrink. The material’s elastic properties won’t break down as long as it is air dried.
The Gun Sox is ambidextrous with Stretx compression pouches sewn to both sides as well as a pouch at the front. The sewn-in pockets are deep and will accept a pistol with a slide length of about 4 inches. The material is elastic, so it will stretch to accommodate a little more or less depending on the contour of your calf and size of your ankle. I managed to insert a Glock 19 to explore its limits, but reverted back to carrying smaller pistols and revolvers, which made it easier to cover the grip with the pant leg of jeans. When selecting a gun, consider grip shape carefully; you want to avoid printing. However, the gun’s grip is pulled inward towards the calf for a slimmer profile and better concealment than other ankle rigs we’ve evaluated.
With a handgun inserted, the weight feels less than you’d expect because the gun is held so firmly against your lower leg. The top flap envelops the grip and secures the handgun. A bra-style hook and clip also protects the trouser leg. The pistol is held so securely by the compression material that it doesn’t move, even if you are running, jumping or kicking.
When carrying a small, single-stack 9mm pistol, I found the opposite pouch convenient for carrying a spare magazine. I used the front pouch to store a tourniquet. (I encourage carrying a tourniquet as part of your everyday carry.) Ideally, you could carry a spare magazine and tourniquet on the opposite leg of your handgun by wearing a Gun Sox on both legs. This would also balance out the weight of carrying a heavier gun in the holster.
I‘ve been wearing the Cheata Tactical Original Gun Sox for 2 months, and I intend to continue. Besides the time it takes to pull it on in the morning and off in the evening, I have found no disadvantage to carrying a handgun in this holstering system all day. That said, by the end of the day, I am ready to take it off (as I am with any compression-fit garment).
With a handgun inserted, there was no shifting or sliding of the holster down the leg. Although it can be worn with boots, I found it most comfortable while wearing low-cut shoes. The constriction of certain boots may dictate the length of barrel you can comfortably holster. Shooters who wear boots should look at Cheata’s new Mid-Calf Holster. If you need the added security of a non-collapsing holster, Cheata Tactical also offers a hard-shell anchored insert for specific handguns and sold separately. (Guns & Ammo’s staff will evaluate that variation soon.)
Drawing a concealed pistol from the Gun Sox is a process that should be practiced with an unloaded gun before depending on it. With a gun inserted and further concealed by a pant leg, you must take a knee and use two hands to pull the pant leg high enough to clear the grip. Next, pull up on the front flap to uncover the grip with the support hand for access to the gun. With the firing hand, grip the handgun and draw. From a standing position, it took me an average 21/2 seconds to kneel, pull up on the pant leg, draw, fire and hit a stationary target at 7 yards. The Gun Sox offers slower access to a defensive sidearm than a gun carried on the waist. However, a handgun carried in this leg holster would be especially convenient for seated positions and backup duties.
I have nothing but praise for Cheata Tactical’s lower-leg holster. In fact, I would encourage law enforcement officers to look at one and consider making the Original Gun Sox part of their uniform.
Cheata Tactical Gun Sox Ankle Holster
- Materials: Stretx compression nylon, medical grade; spandex
- Carry Type: Lower leg or ankle
- Retention Type: Level 2; friction (primary), cover flap with hook (secondary)
- Adjustability: Yes
- MSRP: $70
- Handgun Fit: Small to mid-size semiautomatics and revolvers
- Accessory Rail Accommodations: Yes
- Positions to Carry: Lower leg or ankle (ambidextrous)
- Average Time to Attach: 45 sec.
- Comfort Rating: 5/5
- Concealment Clothing: Pants
- Average Draw-to-Fire Time: 2.5 seconds
- Manufacturer: Cheata Sport, cheatasport.com