Shoulder-Thing: A Response

So this post generated a bit of controversy that I partially expected…tho not 100% where I expected it…so more pix after the break.

The big surprise was “Hey your shoulder straps are printing!” which was a huge surprise to me. As the comment was made while I was at the lake I peeked at the photos as best I could on my phone….then at my computer when I got home. Frankly I see what you guys might be seeing, and I’m pretty sure its just wrinkles in the shirt because I dress like a hobo. So since I’m heading out to get groceries soon I put on the 1911 and shoulder rig and took some more pictures. One before I put on the holster, one after. Better yet, since the store where I bought the first shirt was having a sale I have a half-dozen of these shirts, all the same size and pattern and meterial, in a bunch of different colors. So I picked the lightest colored one (as the Navy flannel you all agreed conceals the rig very well). So no hints, what picture am I wearing my gun and shoulder rig?

Second I addressed in the comments was the “I don’t like horizontal carry because you’re pointing your loaded gun at people and things” essentially comment that a horizontal holster is a rule #2 violation during carry.

Can’t agree! A gun that is not being operated does not apply to the 4 rules. Does anybody seem to mind that in gun shops most of the guns in the case are pointed at your legs? I think we all roll our eyes when we read a news report that has the wording “The gun went off” in it. In the “Back” photos in the initial post my gun was loaded, cocked-and-locked and pointing right at my beloved wife.

I had no concern for this #1 because I have NEVER read a story about a gun “Just Going Off” while riding in a holster. And when you think of all the CCW and Police and military holster carry that happens every damn day in this country, even if I read ONE story, the accidental discharge would be statistically irrelevant. Nope all the holster related negligent discharges involve the gun being drawn or more commonly being holstered (with a finger pinched between the holster body and the trigger). So its not a concern even if I was carrying a Glock or an M&P or a revolver like this….on top of this the 1911 redundant safeties mean that the thumb safety was engaged, the grip safety was engaged, and with this holster the retention strap rides between the hammer and the firing pin.

Still just the fact that the holster body completely conceals the trigger guard is all you need to not worry about where your muzzle points. That being said as soon as you draw you need to be aware of your muzzle because as soon as your trigger guard clears the holster body the 4 rules now 100% apply! In a cross-draw you must take steps to not muzzle your own body, and also be careful not to muzzle others. With a horizontal holster you need to be sure who’s behind you when you draw, as well as who stands to your left as that 180 degree arc will be muzzled. I am aware of this arc when I holster and unholster my gun for day-to-day carry, also when I’m at the range…tho I won’t lie, I’ll take my damn chances if I’m ever attacked, as 1 of the 4 rules can be broken with no ill effects.

So hopefully this clears up some misconceptions on a horizontal shoulder holster!

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0 Responses to Shoulder-Thing: A Response

  1. Does anybody seem to mind that in gun shops most of the guns in the case are pointed at your legs?

    It’s still sloppy and I don’t enjoy it. Most of the gunshops in my area have their pistols aligned so that the barrel is pointed across the length of the case, not at the customers. They also often have brightly colored plastic chamber indicators in place to show that they aren’t loaded or even fully in battery. The long arms are all stored with their barrels pointed vertically or along the length of a wall.

    That being said as soon as you draw you need to be aware of your muzzle because as soon as your trigger guard clears the holster body the 4 rules now 100% apply!

    I agree about the gun in the holster. My hip holsters all have some cant to them, so the muzzle is pointed down and slightly behind me. Not a big issue while the gun is in the holster. The big issue for me is the draw stroke. My gun is vertical as it clears the holster so it only pointed at the floor and then in front of me for the last half of my draw stroke. Your gun sweeps a horizontal chest high arc around your left side. You even have to take steps to keep from sweeping your own arm. I don’t love it.

    So no hints, what picture am I wearing my gun and shoulder rig?

    I would guess the first one because you have obvious bulges under each armpit compared to #2. It might be both or neither depending on how things are sitting. Hard to tell from just one picture.

    • Weerd Beard says:

      But you don’t see any shoulder straps in either, and neither did you in the first set of photos. My shirt was just wrinkled because I’m a hobo.

      I think we’re on the same page tho. After the picture above was taken I went to the local grocery store and I didn’t care who was behind me getting swept by the muzzle, because when the gun is holstered it is NOT going to “Go Off”.

      I certainly agree that the draw sweep on a crossdraw is a detriment as it slows you down as well as creates a wide sweep of potentially occupied space, and consideration needs to be made for the location of your weak arm. That being said this was more-or-less how I dressed before I became a gun owner (let alone acquired my carry permit) so for me a horizontal shoulder holster offers me the most comfortable and convenient way to carry a duty-sized gun and spare ammo with minimal fuss, so there it is.

      BTW thanks again for your observations, This blog would be pretty boring without differing opinions and discussion!

      • Actually your photos made me realize that what I thought were shoulder straps printed were probably just wrinkles because I see something similar in both of your other photos.

        • Weerd Beard says:

          Yep, just to alleviate confusion the one where I show my teeth is the one where my gun and holster are sitting on the couch off-frame.

          Yep you can see the bottom of my gun and mag carried just beside my breast pockets. I think its subtle enough to be considered “Concealed”

  2. .357 Magnum says:

    You gotta wonder about those who worry about where the gun is pointed when it’s holstered. Do they wear a vertical shoulder holster or a hip holster that points the muzzle downward? Do they then avoid ever going upstairs, where their pistols would then be covering anyone on the floor below them? Do they stay out of any house that has a basement, just in case there might be someone in the basement?

    I think it must be a ruse by hoplophobes to get us to stop carrying anywhere, ever. The legal system isn’t working for them, so they’re trying to get us to think about the gun safety rules religiously, rather than rationally. I guess if I was unable to think critically about how to apply rules, I would mistakenly believe this was a valid tactic, too.

  3. NightPaws says:

    I’m not a fan of that set up. I can’t find a single one that is do-able for me. Either the straps hit me funny on the side-boob, or they won’t sit right because of the rack, or (like most of them) it’s extremely difficult for me to actually reach said gun around boobs. I’ve tried on a lot of different shoulder styles too. I really don’t think they are made well for women, even the less busty types, as the straps tend to find bra straps and really dig the whole shebang in for severe discomfort. Oh, and if you want to see something funny, watch me wear that 5.11 tactical man girdle CC undershirt type set up. It doesn’t really show, depending on which gun is used, but wow, I don’t think I could deal with that type of spandex-tight feel under my shirt all day long.

    Short of thunderwear, which I’m not super interested in, I’ve reached defeat and just accept the hip or back holsters. That’s fine by me. It’s not like I’m really ever out without a layer on. (Yeah, I know, I could just use my purse like lots of people do too. Shockingly enough my mother bought me one that has separate inner compartments that would actually work like a charm with my Pocketlite. I wonder if they make a slighter larger sized purse like that, as it would be 1911 optimal!)

    • Weerd Beard says:

      Yeah woman with larger breasts (or HUGE Breasts like you, dear 🙂 ) I’d imagine would have HUGE problems as you have a lot of acreage to cross with your cross-draw. I’d say for you its strong-side or bust. Have you tried a 4:00 IWB ever? Seems that’s a very popular holster configuration for concealed and open carry of duty-sized guns.

      I think I need to look into a belt holster just for fun, but also something nice looking if I decide to go to an OC rally, say in Maine or New Hampshire
      Dragon makes pretty an BEEFY holsters, and he’s a nice guy!

      • NightPaws says:

        Those IWB style holsters aren’t bad, but I still prefer the belt style or the small of the back (for smaller stuff). I do tend to wear men’s pants, but if I wear woman’s cut pants I find it difficult to have something inside the waste band due to sizing issues with the pants. Plus, I very rarely tuck a shirt in, so I tend to have issues with a foreign object (other than pants) on my side. I’m strange like that. Even the paddle holsters tend to make me do a double take as to what is touching my side.

        I guess I’m lucky enough that it isn’t a big thing to open carry up here. I’m really gun accessory bummed lately, since now I’m waiting on medical bills and I had planned to splurge a bit this fall, well actually right about now, and get good holsters for everything. But hey- at least I hadn’t already bought the stuff and have extraneous bills.

        I like Dragon’s stuff! That’s pretty cool looking, and I’m going to have to refer a friend to his page to check it out too. 🙂

        • Weerd Beard says:

          He also just released the “Flat Jack” pancake holster. Dunno if he can make one for a full-size 1911, he does say he can make one for a Sig 226 or an XD-40 which are close in dimensions to my Commander. Still pancakes are OWB belt holsters, but they actually intentionally print and do it in such a way that they blend the gun with the curve of your waistline. And like his DL Classic, they look sharp enough for Open carry too!

          I must say for your slick Kimber with the Carbon Fiber grips, I would NOT OC it in kydex or nylon. Sharp-looking guns need a sharp looking carry rig!

  4. Thomas says:


    THOMAS RANTS AGAIN channeling Grant Cunningham:

    I’ve just had an interesting email exchange with an instructor. Said instructor read my articles on safety, and opined that anyone who didn’t teach the ‘industry standard’ was opening himself (or herself) up to liability problems. “Everyone teaches the Four Rules for a reason”, he concluded.

    I’ve heard this argument before (more than once, in fact) and it makes less sense each time I hear it – on several levels. I’m sure this view is quite common, so let’s tackle the subject head-on.

    First let’s address the very notion that there is such a thing as an industry standard for firearm safety (and by extension that there is a version of the Four Rules which can be held to be that standard.) There is enough variance regarding the wording of the Four Rules that I’m not sure you could hold up any one and say “this is the standard, but these other similar examples are not.” To be a standard requires consistency, and the Four Rules are hardly consistent in their wording, interpretation, or application – particularly Rule One, which is the one I take most issue with.

    Second, even if the wording of the Four Rules was consistent you’d have to establish that they were in use by the majority of instructors in the business of teaching firearm safety, and further that they were being taught to a majority of firearm students. This isn’t even close to being true.

    I submit that the only candidate for establishment of an industry standard would be the NRA. The NRA has more instructors teaching more students every year than (probably) all the independent training venues in the country combined. As a certified NRA instructor, I know that the NRA has its own safety rules, and they are not the Four Rules. I further submit that if one is not teaching the NRA safety rules, verbatim as presented in their course material, one is in fact NOT teaching anything remotely resembling an industry standard and the argument/defense is moot. (This should not be construed as either an endorsement or criticism of the NRA safety curriculum.)

    Third, even if the Four Rules were consistent among all their users AND it could be shown that they were being taught verbatim by a majority of instructors to a majority of students, the industry standard argument is simply an admission that one can’t be bothered to seek anything better. ‘Industry standard’ is not the same as objective standard!

    Back in the early ’80s, the photographic industry was rocked by several high profile suits regarding handling of hazardous chemicals in photofinishing plants. The common defense was that the industry had its own standards with regard to safe handling, and that they were being followed. That proved to be no defense at all, and several companies paid out large settlements and/or fines. The government stepped in and required that the industry’s standards be replaced with up-to-date and independently verified practices, and a for a while there was a small boom for businesses who provided compliance packages tailored to the industry. (I should know, as I was one of those entrepreneurs who made and sold such packages.)

    Were I sitting on a jury in a liability case, I’d want to know if what the defendant did was the best that could be done. If the answer was no, regardless of how widespread the behavior happened to be, would cause me to find in the plaintiff’s favor. Relying on a defense of compliance with ‘industry standards’ when there are demonstrably better practices is probably not going to win any juror’s favor!

    Integrity says that It’s not enough to show that you do what everyone else does; you have to show that it is the best thing to do, and that there is nothing better. I’m a big believer in excellence over compliance; of going above and beyond when possible, particularly in the area of keeping people safe from harm.

    Bottom line: defending the Four Rules using the ‘industry standard’ argument is roughly the same as a teenager screaming to her Mom “but everyone else does it!” No, they don’t, and even if they did it’s irrelevant. That didn’t work with my parents, and it doesn’t work with me.

    1. Never point a gun – any gun, loaded or unloaded – at anything you are not willing to shoot.

    2. Always make sure of your target, and of where your bullets will land.

    3. Keep your finger out of the trigger guard until your sights are on target, and you are in the act of firing the shot.

    I’m not going to point that gun at anything I’m not willing to shoot, regardless of whether it’s loaded; I’m not going to have my finger on the trigger, either, loaded or not. I don’t make exceptions, because the Three Commandments neither contain nor allow exceptions. That is why they are superior to any form of the existing “Four Rules.”

    There’s yet another dynamic at work, which I’ve observed over the years with a wide variety of people. Those who do the habitual check often display an absolutely frightening tendency: after they’ve checked the gun, they relax. Visibly. You can see the changes in their body language and facial expressions, showing that they are now at ease – and less vigilant – with that firearm.

    I’ve seen this with new gun owners, and I’ve seen it with the most experienced instructors. I’ve seen it with combat vets and with gunsmiths, with gunstore jockeys and seasoned competitive shooters. People check the gun, see that it’s empty, and drop their guard. The situation is obvious to anyone who has the courage to look for the signs. You can almost hear them thinking: “don’t worry, it’s not loaded!”

    (Of course, not every single person does this – but you’d be surprised, when you start looking, how large the percentage is and how it cuts across all levels of experience.)

    When people are handling firearms, I want to see them completely engaged. Dropping one’s guard because the gun has been verified as empty is the genesis of negligent discharges. Never become complacent – the consequences are simply too great.

    • Weerd Beard says:

      Well even those rules also can get broken. Like dry fire practice, or checking the timing of a revolver ect ect ect.

      There really is no perfect way to write the rules if you ask me.

      • Thomas says:

        Do Not put your finger in the trigger guard with a gun, loaded or unloaded, unless you intend to shoot something.
        Do not point guns at things where you mayshoot something you wouldn’t want to.

        I’m the fan of appendix carry and may blow my pecker off. BUT, I wouldn’t do it on purpose.

        Two or Three Rules work better than four.

  5. Pingback: Conceal Carry: Push Your Comfort Zone | Weer'd World

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