Drop Leg Holsters & Facebook

Recently, I was having a conversation with my friend Jim about drop leg holsters. He commented that it was pretty much a sign of a new or inexperienced person: someone that had maybe a lot of experience with guns on a square range, but not much experience in the field. I agreed. So I posted a comment on Facebook:

Friend: “A drop leg holster is a sure sign of someone new or inexperienced.”

And he’s right.

This infuriated a number of people who seemed to take it as a direct insult to their manliness. This was somewhat mystifying to me, for it wasn’t a malicious statement. Frankly, I expected it to get a minimal amount of comments and likes. Of course, anyone who doesn’t like what I have to say is free to stop reading my blog.

After I thought about it, though, I realized the real reason. It wasn’t about drop leg holsters, it was about saving face. In this “community,” image is everything. Probably one of the worst things to call someone is inexperienced. Hell, people go to some carbine courses just so they can say they’ve trained with X instructor, not because that was the most efficient way for them to gain experience.

But being new or inexperienced isn’t a bad thing. It just means that you might not have come across every option for a certain solution. Example: I started out using drop leg holsters, but don’t use them any more.

After ditching subload, before ditching drop leg holster. My sergeant (he’s facing the right) is still using the issued drop leg holster.

I don’t like drop leg holsters because I did hundreds of mounted and dismounted patrols with an issued one. I also had a subload. I ditched the subload first and then ditched the drop leg holster when I had the ability to put the pistol on my flak jacket. It was like night and day in terms of my ability to get in and out of vehicles, draw while in a vehicle, access my pistol from the kneeling while treating a patient and surrounded by a hostile crowd, move through doorways, etc. I was also a lot more comfortable. When I needed to ditch armor and carry the pistol by itself, I carried IWB.

My friend (the guy I quoted) had a similar experience, and here’s what he said on the Facebook comment thread:

 Okay, first, I am “the friend” that made the comment, and although that is not a direct quote (I didn’t say it exactly that way), I will explain what I meant.

First, I was in the Marines from 98-05 (8 years) and and spent almost all of that time in 1st Recon Bn and 1st Force Recon Co. We all had drop leg holsters back when we were forced to carry 13 rifle mags and 7 pistol mags for every DA or VBSS hit we did. They work great to add space and get to your pistol with a huge vest on with gear all over it and they are fast on the square bay and even not too bad in the house. But the war changed all that (and a lot more).

Once you have to use that day in and day out in the real world, it just doesn’t make sense for most professionals. At the time we had to use the gear we were issues and according to SOP. If you are a SWAT cop at smaller area (you are swat, but that means you have your gear in your truck and have duties as a normal cop the rest of the time), it would most likely work fine. If you are an assaulter full time in a war zone, or have to get in and out of cars all day, this is not the setup you are running (unless you have to, or haven’t tried something else…..you are new). You don’t have to agree with me, but in the units that don’t have rules for that stuff and are still doing all the work (TF Blue, Green, etc) they are not running drop holsters. They are almost all on the vest, or on the hip (running lighter kit), and slimmed way down.

Try something else, climb thru a window, over a fence, in and out of a car, shoot draw while seated in a vehicle, fast rope thru a hell hole, etc. The new guy comment was mainly directed at military guys, we have all tried the drop, but there are much better options out there, that have been identified in combat…….it is a big time saver if you at least try what other people have already learned the hard way. I still have one friend that is at the bottom of the pacific ocean because he was stuck in a CH46 that crashed during a VBSS training op and the investigation determined that his drop holster and lanyard were hung up inside the aircraft (7 others died as well).

If anyone hasn’t noticed, you never meet anyone in the military that is a truck mech or a chef……makes you wonder how all the trucks run and people get fed. DLH work fine, but it is true that there has been a major shit to slim things down and get stuff off your legs……if you bought it at the PX to pull gate guard outside the chow hall, some of the guys are right, you are not new to guns, but you are not best source of info for this. A chest holster will work for almost every role a Drop Leg will work for (save your unit makes you carry a shit ton of gear on your vest that you never use because they saw blackhawk down), but a drop holster does not do everything a chest mounted holster will…..again we are talking armor, direct action, combat…..not what is fun on the range or fast in 3-gun. As far as the comments on you have to use what works for you, that is correct to a point. But if you don’t have a real way of testing something out for the purpose you bought it, it might make sense to start with the best info you can get. At the end of the day if I want to remodel my house, I am the one that has to live in it. But it might make sense to start with ideas from the guys that do it the most, since I am shooting and not a remodel guy. And if I was doing tile, i would talk to a tile guy, that is all he does, not a neighbor that has done 1 or 2 kitchens in his life but owns his own tile saw……it has nothing to do with being mean. Why try to imagine what is the best answer….the work has already been done…..start at the top and work down.

What we’re both getting at is that lots of time in the field tends to whittle away inefficient or unnecessary gear. If we see someone that is wearing a drop leg holster, we’re pretty confident in saying that that person is either a) forced to use one (as many people in the military are) or b) hasn’t considered/tried other methods of carrying a sidearm. It’s not an insult, it’s just an experience-based observation.

I think we’ll be expanding on the “what works for you” thing in the future, too.

I have to be honest: I use drop leg holsters when I dual wield chainsaws.

45 comments

  • … So do you suggest single or three-point slings for the saws?

  • I’m waiting for an Evil Dead reference, something that I’m unable to accomplish at the moment because I’m a moron this evening.

  • I had a drop leg while in the service and I will admit to being a comms tech as well. I can also say I picked up my drop leg habit from a guy who had seen two tours in the Brown Water Navy in the 60s. Today it’s more likely to be a kydex paddle holster, an IWB rig or (rarely) a shoulder rig than it is a drop leg. Though I still do have the thing around here somewhere.

  • Being Not An Operator, I’m actually surprised that they get in the way that much. Not that I’ve never worn guns while getting in and out of cars, but rather that I’ve never worn guns in drop leg holsters.

    If anything, I would have expected them to be less obtrusive, at the expense of being really obvious. I’ll have to see if I can borrow one from somebody and do a few dismounts/mounts to really get a feel for why they suck so much.

    • It is not that they suck “that much”, it is just that there are better options out there that are a more effective solution in most cases. It is not that they are horrible, but there in is the problem. If something is “good enough” in a lot of cases people will stick with the default that has served them well in the past without trying something new. If how you practice with a drop leg, or even the way you operate has not tested it’s limitations, then most of us don’t realize them until we have to run after the elastic has worn out, do a long foot movement with it pulling your pants weird, chaffing your thigh, pinching your hip (belt depending), getting caught on hell hole, door knobs, other stuff in the car (med work/crossload drills id this), or retention issues in the house.

      Only reason i see to use it is what one guy said about quicking throwing on plates (never had an issue with a quick swap there from paddle to chest mount), and if your unit makes you use the holster or carry the Black Hawk Down load on your vest.

  • I’ve never owned or used a drop leg holster. But now I’m thinking on getting one so I can get me some of that experience. ;-)

  • I totally see your point. As a civilian the one benefit I see to a DLH is hiking the backwoods. It keeps the weight from pulling on my back if I carry a full size gun all day. And sure I have a really good gun belt but unless you weigh down the opposite side it still fatigues the back and hips. This is still a very rare occasion and 99.9% of the time I use a custom Kydex rig IWB. Now if the hogs get any worse I may start using a plate carrier and then I can take your advise and carry on the front!

  • Many newbies that show up to 3Gun or USPSA brings a drop leg holster. And they shoot like a newbie, also.

    This is just stating facts, but of course it will damage the tactical weekend warrior’s giant ego.

    Who the fuck cares, I don’t. I’m a nice guy, but the nice guys and nice RO’s on the range are tired of tip-toeing around big ass egos that can talk more than they can shoot.

    “Yeah bro, your sights are off, it’s not you. Let me left-hand that bitch and put it through the x for you at 50 feet cus you’re shootin at 7 yards and can’t hit shit with your badass $1000 Glock.”

  • I carried DLH on several training runs back in the early ’90s when SWAT gear starting getting mixed in with the warfighter load, tried those snazzy “tac vests” too. I went to the Army tanker rig after hating to lose the room on my belt to a standard USGI holster. I’ve watched this “newer is better” parade with quite a lot of amusement, especially now as folks start leaning more and more toward a Napoleonic load out. War hasn’t changed, the mission hasn’t changed, people haven’t changed, I don’t expect the gear to change in any fundamental way any time soon.

  • I just want to see a pic of the chainsaws holstered, then I’ll buy into your anti-DLH comments…in fact, I want to see them holstered and running!! Lol…

  • Its all about the context. Words can be such a terrible thing if they do not convey context. You were making the observation from a postion of experience, and as is sure to happen, the experienced person can easily see the mistakes a less experienced person is making. It is an opportunity to learn.

    Thanks.

  • Another piece of gear that gets overlooked, the dump pouch. I see you’ve got one in the ‘inexperienced’ picture. Obviously, as a civilian, I have absolutely no use for one as part of my daily carry rig, but I have considered one for USPSA and 3-Gun competition. A place to store mags as I pick them up during the scoring so my hands stay free.

    Any thoughts?

    • I am not speaking for anyone else here but everyone on my team and most of the guys in my company ran dump pouches. We left them rolled up on the left side of our armor at about the 8 o’clock, or right side if you were a Southpaw. They are also awesome for holding the largish 1 liter bottles of water for easy access. And, again, not speaking for anyone else here but you should try it out and see what you think. If it’s stupid, but it works best for you, it’s not stupid.

      • Love my dump pouch. It really is the “anything” pouch-I’ve had mags, blocks of C4, bottles of water, random bits of battlefield evidence, and even my wallet and iPod when redeploying stuffed in there. If I could get away with wear it with my civilian clothes I probably would. :p

  • omg. no real buis on the m4 w/ eotech.

  • *That* explanation helped a lot. It doesn’t give me a solution, but I see this isn’t the right one. We were just discussing this at work, again, a lot of employees want one. I will refer them here.

  • Drop leg holsters aren’t fast in 3 gun, either. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an experienced 3 gunner use one. Seen plenty of inexperienced people use them, though.

    I went through the drop leg phase (non-military). I found that they’re slower to draw and make make sprinting at a match awkward, clumsy and slower – same effect it has on your draw.

    In sport shooting, everybody who knows puts their holster on their waist. Chest holsters are generally banned from matches because of safety rules, and we’re not really carrying enough gear to need to move the holster off our waist.

    • There are a few experienced 3-gun competitors who use drop-leg rigs. I used to be one of them.

      I use and recommend retention holsters for 3-gun, after I had a pistol knocked out of a Kydex holster during a match. Specifically, I like the Safariland ALS line. The downside to the ALS is that it’s cut very high in front. Combine that with a fairly long-barreled pistol (G34), and I was scraping the inside of the holster with my front sight during my draw. Not good.

      So, I stuck the ALS on a 6004FLEX drop rig, worn as high as humanly possible. This made for a much more comfortable draw. The drop rig didn’t notably affect my running, and I never managed to hang it up on anything.

      That said, I don’t use the drop rig anymore – I’ve found a different (belt-mounted) solution. But it worked pretty well for the few months I spent using it.

      • Interesting. Drop holsters in competition are something I’ve only seen or heard of noobs using up til now. Scratch that, I do remember seeing someone wear one, but the dude also had a sub load on the other side with half a dozen flex cuffs in it (I have no idea).

        As high as humanly possible is the only way to run a drop holster. Too many people I see wear them not only wear them when there’s no reason, but they wear them too low and too loose, and a lot of the time they’re even clocked wrong – think about 2 o’clock on the thigh, with the bottom of the panel at the top of the knee, and the holster flopping wildly.

        Even properly adjusted, I think they suck for running unless they’re empty.

  • I was an engineer doing dismounted sweeps but was mostly vehicle-based. I would put on a drop leg platform with some very light items that were only when I would get out to sweep and then take it off when I got back in the truck. It was great for access when taking a knee with some very light probing tools but any weight, such as a pistol, would make it uncomfortable. I only moved dismounted for a couple of hundred yards at most and usually at a slow pace so this isn’t relevant to high speed guys.

  • In my limited experience, I have been instructed through numerous MACP courses that a drop leg holster with a retention device, such as the BLACKHAWK! Serpa or the Safariland 6004, is necessary to prefect enemy combatants from accessing your sidearm through the various post, frame, and hook maintain the distance options. If one has a sidearm on the chest system, it causes both limited access in combatives type environments and can also provide access to the weapon system to the enemy. Any comments on this?

  • My first and last experience with a drop leg holster was on a day where we had to run for a .5 mile in gear. That damned thing flopping around on my thigh beat the hell out of me and I could not get rid of it fast enough.

  • Gracie over at Packing Pretty uses a drop-leg holster while training and we think she looks darn good with it… personally, if I’m wearing/carrying enough gear that I need to move the holster off the hip… I prefer it on my chest rig…

    Dann in Ohio

  • What is a subload?

    • A subload is where you have a panel or bag attached generally to your belt, armor or a vest that then straps onto your thigh. It’s the same general idea as a drop leg only most guys carry a couple of magazines, maybe a pair of medic shears, smokes, stuff that goes bang… you get the idea. If you google subload and military I’m sure you’ll find a few examples.

  • On my last deployment as a company commander, I stopped using a drop holster and then ordered all of my Marines to do the same, when we started to realize that the enemy was using the sign of a pistol to be linked to “leadership” and targeted those carrying pistols for IED attacks and sniper shots. To still carry them, but keep them out of sight, we switched to IWB holsters.

    SF,

    James

  • lol love that picture of the dual chainsaws

  • They just do not work with my skirts. :)

  • what works > looking cool

  • But, you may be wrong.

    My experience growing up in the South does not make me an authority on all childhood or growing up in the North, East, West, Midwest or next town over.

    My MP unit used Blackhwak Serpas almost exclusively. Gunners used the vest mounting point due to the restraint system and turret blocking a thigh draw. But for those of us who dismounted regularly, it was the perfect solution. The vest is already occupied with the assorted gear and AR mags and first aid pouch and MBITER radio and strap cutters and grenade pouches. And having a DLH allowed you to drop your vest and retain your sidearm.

    We had no issues with it. I think a bigger issue is the poor design of many holsters. Especially the issue MOLLE holster the Army provided. First, guns started falling out of them. Second, transitioning from your long arm to your sidearm was cumbersome. This was not due to the mounting point but due to the design and manufacture.

    Experience is broad sometimes but extremely narrow at other times. A great urban sniper rifle is not always a great mountain sniper rifle. There is no magic caliber that does it all well. There is no level of experience that qualifies anyone to make all encompassing statements based on photos.

    I enjoy your work. But take exception to this thread. And I have served since 1986. Therefore, my experience usurps yours. Or is that not how the game is played. ;)

    • I thought MP’s were the guys giving speeding tickets to JOE for going to fast in the green zone or not parking right at the chow hall? Just kidding, but I think it depends on what job you are doing and what you “have” to carry as mentioned several times. As an MP would guess that your basic load out didn’t shrink too much from deployment to deployment, how many rifle magazines were you carrying? Pistol Mags? Frags? Bangs?

      Point taken that it worked for you, or would have worked if you had a better holster in the same place, it is nice to at least hear from someone that is stating their opinion from PERSONAL experience instead of what their friend says. “my friends ops are blacker than yours”

      This thread should say…..”not new, but new to drop leg holsters or inexperienced to alternated methods of carry”. There are plenty of very experienced dudes that cut their teeth on DLH, doubt they have tried taking it off their leg and later decided…..I like a holster bouncing around on my leg when i am running and pulling up one pant leg like i am in a rap vid or something.

  • This guy “Jim” sounds like a real nerd.

  • Many years ago, I remember one instructor suggesting that SWAT officers try a drop-shank on their uniform duty holster. Some holster manufacturers offer belt-loop adapters that position a duty holster ~1.5″ lower to accomodate the shorter torsos of female officers. For the male SWAT officer, this modification could put the holster low enough to clear a bulky tactical vest, while not requiring leg straps.

  • I too tried one. Being a Cav Scout, I was trained to fight in a Bradley, so I had a shoulder rig and thn got the drop down rig because evryone else was doing it. Finally decided on vest carry when actually doing stuff and went back to the “old school” web belt an UM-84 holster round th FOB.

  • Better people than I have put time and effort into this debate. Here is one point of view and his quote. Ounces means pounds, pounds mean pain. A lot of experienced soldiers will drop as much superfluous crap as they can. But as pointed out before your SOP and AO will dictate much of what you do. If you’re carrying a pistol around the house, range, even on a SWAT call or an MP guarding an area, a little extra weight and effort on your legs isn’t going to be as big of a deal as humping 100lb ruck around the mountains for 20 or 30 miles or hopping in and out of a HUMVEE 50 or 60 times while running and chasing people.

    And as always you could have used a drop leg holster while carrying 400lbs on your back running up and down mountains for 400 miles at a time and never had an issue.

    Sometimes people just like to be efficient.

    “Locate the Weight
    However, the weight must be carried and certain locations on the body affect energy cost more than others. Weight added to legs and feet costs more energy. A half-kilogram added to the thighs costs 3.5% more O2 while running. So carrying a pistol on the waist belt costs less energy than carrying it in a drop holster (coordination is less affected as well). A half-kilogram added to the feet costs 7% more oxygen. Add an extra kilo to the feet and it costs 10%, or about 1% per 100g (roughly 4 ounces). If you cut the weight of your boots by 1kg you decrease oxygen/ energy cost dramatically. Although a heavier boot may be more efficient in certain situations (boots are tools), lightweight footwear improves an operator’s coordination, agility, speed, and power, especially as terrain steepens.”-Mark Twight

    Confucius say “Good judgment come from experience; experience come from bad judgement.”

  • A drop holster might be a more acceptable option if you were a woman conducting a Coast Guard law enforcement boarding. The combination of life jacket and hips often makes accessing a pistol more difficult than it is for men.
    Just a thought…

  • People sure seem to take things personally. I don’t think that Andrew said that there was never a time for a drop leg, just that in like 95% of the cases that they are being used they are less than optimal and/or are being worn incorrectly.

    BTW- while on the feeling get hurt train I will throw this out there-Serpas are horrible holsters in any configuration. Horrible holster design that is not a value at the price of $0.

  • I’m willing to guess that by the definition your friend stated above %99.9 of ALL gun owners worldwide are “inexperienced”. You might as well say I’m an inexperienced driver because I prefer an automatic transmission and though I drive every day I’ve never raced professionally.

    On an experience scale of 1-10 with 1 being the average gun owner (no training, little range time, gun sits in the drawer forever) and 10 being your friend’s definition of fully “experience” I’d be a 3 yet would still be in the upper 5% of all gun owners in the world in terms of trigger time, knowledge, and training.

    Perhaps “lacking extensive military field experience” would have been a more accurate and less inflammatory way to state it.

    • The statement was based on use of that holster, not in terms of shooting at all. I think this was already stated above….don’t blame you if you didn’t read every comment. But it is aimed at guys that haven’t used that holster on a day-2-day basis, operationally. It is totally aimed at combat, thus military, they work great for the range and they even work pretty good for most other things. I just meant that military combat operations have shown there are more effective ways to carry a pistol if you have to be out and about getting after it (climbing through windows, running, in and out of birds or vehicles, etc). Everyone has been taking it as a comment about they are new cause they are rocking a drop leg, not saying that, just not a lot of experience with that holster.

      Look at your holster, if it is not beat to shit, painted, taped up, elastic worn…..or it looks pretty much new, then you haven’t needed something new yet. The guys that had holsters that looked like that, threw them back in the kit bag and put their pistol on their vest a long time ago (if they were allowed to).

      If you are training for a time when you might have to wear your pistol all the time, but haven’t been exposed to that type of experience (got to test your kit first hand), it might make sense to at least try the method guys have figured out…..just see if it works for you. EGO can be the biggest learning block out there when it comes to guns…..it is a tool that is it.

  • I used a Drop leg (Blackhawk Omega VI) during the invasion and beginning occupation of Iraq in 2003. Many Marines i was with did. Everyone trained with them extensively and of course had fast draw competitions on the range. They are insanely fast to draw from when worn correctly. While I never had to draw and fire over there, I know 4 guys that did. All from drop legs, all much faster than if they had used a regular OWB holster, and WAY faster than the bianchi suicide holsters.

    I lived in one. Being a driver and gunner in a humvee, I was in and out of the truck and turret day in and day out, and being 6’2″ it’s not like I had a bunch of space anyways, but still never had a hang up with the Drop leg.

    If people want to assume that those who choose to use them are doing so by force or inexperience, more power to them. Apparently my experience is very different than others.

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