If you've been issued a uniform, chances are that you've worn a piece of kit or apparel made by Tru-Spec. Tru-Spec is a leading supplier of equipment, materials and uniforms to law enforcement, military and public safety agencies. Tru-Spec is a brand within the AtlanCo, which has been in business since 1950 and was originally known as Atlanta Army Navy Supply Company. In the 1980s, AtlanCo expanded beyond its military surplus roots and, in 1996, formed the Tru-Spec brand. Soldiers, police, firefighters, EMTs and tactically minded civilians all use Tru-Spec products.
The T-shirt that hides a pistol isn't a new idea. We've seen elastic bands stitched to cotton T's, and even an actual holster stitched and glued to the undergarment as a solution. They all sucked. Therefore, G&A's staff was a bit reluctant to evaluate another attempt at this approach to concealed carry in an unwelcome environment. G&A has tested several products that address deep concealment, including ankle rigs, appendix holsters, pocket pouches and even cases that masquerade as a smartphone clipped to a belt. Some are more effective at hiding, but most slow our ability to access a sidearm and engage a target.
The Tru-Spec Concealed Holster Shirt is a new approach to an old idea. Tru-Spec's concealment shirt is incredibly engineered and is made of polyester (85 percent) and spandex (15 percent). Not having an additional elastic band or holster means that this shirt wears more like a traditional T-shirt. It feels cool against the skin, though it clings to every curve of a person's torso. Whether that bothers you or not is subjective. What's more difficult to see is the company's Tru-Dri moisture-wicking and antimicrobial technology. An issue with cotton shirts is that they generate heat through friction and can be slow to dry in humid conditions (such as under another shirt). So, when you sweat, the cotton fibers trap the moisture and can cause a sweat spot that identifies where your gun is concealed or, worse, cause the steel on some guns to rust.
The Tru-Spec Concealed Holster Shirt feels cooler and drier than other T-shirt solutions we've tested. It's durable, too. The collar is double-needle stitched, which prevents the sagging and stretching that usually occurs from long-term use and the weight of carrying a gun. The pockets are also given a dense outer mesh that securely holds a small- to medium-sized handgun against your ribs and flattens the profile. Because there are two generously sized elastic pockets sewn onto the base shirt, it's also important to note that the seams feature a flat-lock technology that prevents chafing or irritation.
30-Day Carry For this evaluation, I ordered a week's worth of shirts in both black and white. I quickly learned that I needed to dress around them, which meant that I could only wear tear-away or snap-button-style overshirts for the duration of this test. Wearing a traditional button-weave shirt or a T-shirt over Tru-Spec's concealed holster shirt makes the effort to access a hidden handgun slow and difficult. With a snap-button shirt, I could access the pocket, draw a handgun and effectively engage a target consistently within two seconds. The shirt's two "holsters" are better described as a pair of deep pockets or pouches, which also means that you might not get a propper firing grip during the draw. However, the deep pockets allow us to carry up to a 4-inch barrel while maintaining complete grip coverage. Not only do the pockets accommodate left- or right-handed users, but I found the spare pocket to be practical for carrying passports, sensitive documents and cash rather than the suggested spare magazine.
Why spend more than $50 on a T-shirt? Great question. During this evaluation, I attended a public event at an indoor arena. No signage prohibiting concealed carry was posted, so I was legal with my permit to enter with my concealed pistol. After standing in line with my family, a security guard asked me to lift my shirt above my waist, while another inspected the contents of my wife's purse.
"Excuse me," the lady said. "You are going to have to leave and put that pocket knife in your vehicle."
Expecting a reaction, my wife looked at me confused as I politely exited. Minutes later, I returned and was searched again before being allowed to enter.
We had a wonderful evening, and no one knew that I was carrying a 9mm pistol in the pocket of my Tru-Spec Concealed Holster Shirt. This incident changed my attitude toward this type of carry rig, and I'm glad that Tru-Spec got it right. I recommend these shirts as a viable option for legal carry during nonpermissive situations. You may not wear one everyday, but it's a great tool.
For more information, visit truspec.com.