I Hope I Never Have to Draw…

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You can carry a reasonable self-defense gun like this Springfield Armory XD-S 9mm in an ankle holster, but should you?

In the comments section of a concealed carry article I wrote a while back for another publication, I read the following:

“I hope I never have to draw because I can’t…”

Needless to say, the opening words of that particular response got my attention, and I had to read on. This particular individual had chosen ankle carry as his primary concealment option. There are people who can’t conceal a handgun any other way, but didn’t seem to be one of those people.

While he didn’t explicitly say that he had to carry that way, he did imply in the narrative that it was a convenient choice and more of a “just because” decision. Reading between the lines, it appeared that he was too lazy to invest the time and inconvenience of working around a more traditional belt carry method. He went on to say that, because his gun was way down near his feet, he knew he wouldn’t be able to draw his pistol quickly and efficiently enough in a self-defense situation to make much of a difference in the outcome.

I had mixed emotions as I read this tragic story. On the one hand, I was stunned that someone out there had decided to carry a gun, even though he knew it was unlikely that he would be able to use it in a real self-defense situation. Why bother? On the other hand, I had to admire his honesty about the situation. Not regarding admitting his self-defense strategy flaw in public comments, but rather by his realization that just having a gun on his person didn’t necessarily mean that it would help him. At least he, at some level, recognized the danger of a false sense of security. Far too many new concealed carry permittees naturally assume that “just having a gun” will ensure that they can prevail in an armed encounter.

Ankle carry isn't just for tiny guns like the Beretta Tomcat .32 ACP on the right. I can easily ankle carry the 9mm Springfield Armory XD-S as well.

Ankle carry isn’t just for tiny guns like the Beretta Tomcat .32 ACP on the right. I can easily ankle carry the 9mm Springfield Armory XD-S as well.

I’m fine with ankle carry. In fact, I have several quality ankle carry rigs from Galco for a Ruger LCP 357, a Smith & Wesson 642, a Springfield Armory XD-S, and even a .32 ACP Beretta TomCat. However, I never use ankle carry as my primary option. I’ll occasionally decide to pack a second gun that way, because, well, why not?

I’ll also consider it when I’ll be seated for most of my outing. For example, it’s great for long car trips. I normally carry in a right-hand side inside the waistband holster, so when I’m driving, my holster and gun are all buried under the seat belt and buckle. For me, it’s much easier to reach an ankle holster from a seated position in a car than from my normal IWB location.

As long as a handgun is fairly slender and has a "short" grip, you can probably find an ankle carry holster for it.

As long as a handgun is fairly slender and has a “short” grip, you can probably find an ankle carry holster for it.

As for primary carry, ankle is not for me. Yes, it’s easy and comfortable, but it requires two hands and some moderate gymnastics to access my firearm, so I’m not confident that it’s going to help me in most defensive situations.

What say you?

  • Mike

    Thank you for this article. I have often though about what I would do in a tactical situation.
    You just don’t know when or where. I should take some courses… OK – when I get back to work 🙂 !
    One thing that I have found personally, is that being someone who practices concealed carry has made me more cognizant of my own attitude, especially on the road. BECAUSE I carry, I am more quickly able to forgive drivers cutting in front of me, being more accommodating, etc. This is because I would really hate to hurt someone unless it was absolutely necessary.

    I believe concealed carry has made me a better and safer driver.

    • David Higginbotham

      That’s an interesting take on the philosophy.

  • Fellay Shio

    I think of ankle carry as a “New York reload” option, especially if your primary is a revolver. It also offers an option if seated (like your car situation) or if in an awkward posture, such as pinned to the ground with your primary under your body. The self-defense envelope is best built in layers, starting between the ears and ending with threat neutralized…there may be a lot of ooda loops in between – train and gear up for as many possibilities as you can.