June 20, 2018
I've had a bias against ankle carry for a long time. At the conclusion of a concealed carry class 17 years ago, a fellow student had strapped one on that he had made by sewing Velcro and neoprene to the back of a holster. When it was time to test his idea of an everyday-carry (EDC) rig, one problem produced another. He struggled to pull his pantleg high enough to clear the grip of his pistol, and then attempted to make up for lost time by drawing faster. In an instant, he had punched a hole in the floor adjacent to his foot while the ricochet went downrange. Witnessing that negligent discharge (ND) and watching the fear melt over the man's embarassment set my feelings against ankle carry early on.
Since that time, I've had the chance to observe others and learn a few things. While techniques have improved, they are not a substitute for safety. That man's ND was a result of violating the second NRA Safety Rule: Always keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot. Had he done that, there wouldn't be a hole in the floor.With that said and all personal bias aside, I'm becoming more open to the concept of ankle holsters for EDC.
Knowing Galco updated its line of ankle rigs, I decided to give ankle carry another chance and ordered one of the new Ankle Guard holsters for a Glock 43. The rig's MSRP of $85 hints that it's a premium product, and I find no cause to doubt its worth in materials or construction.
While you may be familiar with Galco's Ankle Glove, the Ankle Guard is different because it incorporates features from the BlakGuard holster launched in 2017. Though the body of the holster sports thin, flexible steerhide, there are two hard pieces of grooved plastic that protects suppressor-height sights and the trigger on the gun. Additionally, there are two, adjustable tension screws.
The holster is riveted to the elastic neoprene band, which was given Velcro that measures 4 inches by 4 inches. The holster can fit most lower legs up to a circumference of 13 inches.
There's a metal D-ring secured by a small piece of nylon to the top of the holster. It's there if a wearer wishes to use Galco's Ankle Calf Strap ($23) to help prevent the Ankle Guard from working its way loose and wobbling down on top of the foot.
I've been wearing the Ankle Guard much longer than 30 days, but I've only worn it with a loaded G43 for the last month. I spent 15 days just getting used to wearing an ankle rig again by carrying it empty. As I became more confident with it, I practiced cleanly drawing a Ring's Bluegun ($55) from it followed by the empty G43. Once I felt confident with the procedure, I went to the range and started slowly drawing and firing until I was at full speed.
When the NRA safety rules are observed, I can attest the Ankle Guard is a well-designed carry option that works ideally around tall boots or low-top shoes.
It helped to balance the appearance of wearing an ankle holster by wearing an accessory pouch on my opposite ankle. For that, Galco offers its Ankle Safe ($43) for carrying large bills, pens, etc. I used one to carry a tourniquet after considering that if I get into a gunfight, someone is likely going to need it to survive.
For most circumstances, I regard ankle carry as a backup to wearing a primary sidearm with a larger capacity somewhere around my waist. However, living with an ankle rig improved my opinion of them in many real-life circumstances.
Generally, people don't look down at your feet, so it's not alarming if your gun prints against your pant leg a little. Conversely, you have to wear a boot-cut jean, or loose cargo pants or slacks in stead of slim-fitting trousers, which will hug the Ankle Guard and inhibit your ability to cleanly lift the pant leg (with two hands) and clear the grip. I found using extended magazines made the draw inconsistent.
During this evaluation, I learned that I had faster access to the Ankle Guard when in a vehicle than going to my primary sidearm pinned behind my waist or under a shirt while wearing a seat belt.
At the range, the Ankle Guard was also faster than expected. Depending on the style of inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster, my average draw time from under concealment clothing is 1.4 seconds. My best drawtime from the Ankle Guard was 1.87 seconds.
The dilemma came while standing. Do I take a knee and engage the target or just grab the pistol from the ankle, present and shoot while crouched? Or, do I stand up again and shoot? Perhaps available cover will dictate. Until then, I need more practice.
I must admit that Galco's new Ankle Guard is a good, comfortable rig. It hides well and offers personal protection that often goes unnoticed.
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