An improved bellyband-style holster system for use while running.
By Warren Wilson
Running is a great way to relieve stress, lengthen one’s lifespan, and improve overall quality of life. A lot of cops run on their off time for exactly those reasons. Of course,
The Police Marksman isn’t a fitness magazine as it is primarily intended for the law enforcement firearm enthusiast. That said, cops who take an active interest in officer safety are generally involved in both fitness training and firearms training. Certain exercise routines can even improve shooting skills and the ability to win a confrontation. Regular cardio workouts are helpful in this regard.
Most cops who run enjoy their ‘road work’ with nothing more dangerous than a pained expression for defense. It’s hard to blame them considering how difficult it is to find a decent way to comfortably conceal even the smallest pistol when out for a jog. I have experimented with pocket holsters, fanny packs, and traditional bellybands over the years with only marginal success. These options did not enhance the exercise experience. In fact, they are downright uncomfortable and thoroughly detract from the catharsis of a long, cleansing run.
Even cops who are self-defense oriented have given up finding an effective yet comfortable carry mode and usually just end up going without. I’ve had dogs charge me while running and a gun may have been necessary for defense. I have also been spotted by a ‘regular customer’ as he drove by as I ran on the street. He drastically slowed and gave me quite a look when he recognized me. I couldn’t decide if he was making a decision or if he was just surprised to see me. Thankfully, he just moved on. He probably saw my Über-cool fanny pack and figured I either had a gun within easy reach or maybe he thought I’d just suffered enough.
What is truly alarming, though, is the advanced level to which cops are being stalked and targeted these days. Ambushes on uniformed officers are up dramatically. We are seeing reports from around the country of officers’ homes being surveilled and attacked. Is it really a stretch of logic to reason that a determined villain might make an attempt on an off-duty officer during their regular running routine? It would not be unreasonable for a criminal to assume the cop in question would have no means of protection, considering how difficult it is to pack a pistol on the run. However, there may be a carry solution out there that actually works.
Pistol Wear, LLC
Pistol Wear, LLC is a relatively small, but growing company. They are aggressively addressing the concealed carry needs of runners. Their PT-One model could be thought of as a highly improved bellyband style holster. It was designed from the ground up for running. It has room for a small- or medium-size semi-auto pistol and more. I use this unit with a Smith and Wesson M&P40c, an extra magazine and my ‘cop wallet,’ which contains all of my law enforcement identification and nothing else.
I bought my PT-One for around $50.00 a few years ago. It has logged lots of miles since then. It’s been a great solution during almost any weather conditions or with any attire. When properly adjusted, the PT-One and all of its contents are soon forgotten and the runner is able to focus on the workout and not on emergency equipment. The PT-One was inspired by exactly this market need. There just weren’t any good options out there and Pistol Wear set out to fix that. It should be noted that Pistol Wear, LLC offers a law enforcement and military discount and I think that says something about the company and its priorities.
The PT-One was designed with a slight cant instead of the vertical orientation common in bellyband holsters, along with a stiffer construction for the pistol compartment. This allows the pistol to ride comfortably and be less likely to poke into the wearer’s abdomen. These holsters completely cover the pistol to keep the grips, safeties and sights from gouging into the skin. One would think the complete covering of the gun would slow the draw stroke, but it really doesn’t. It’s certainly not as fast as drawing from a belt holster, but it’s not bad at all. The construction material of the PT-One allows the skin to breathe while still blocking sweat from absorbing into the pistol/magazine compartment. The PT-One doesn’t come in different sizes, but is instead advertised to fit up to a 40-inch waist. Pistol Wear offers 10-inch or 20-inch extensions sold separately. The holster is fastened with three sturdy snaps.
One of the best things about this design is that it is not as dependent upon the wearer’s choice of clothing as are some other designs. Sweatpants, exercise pants, or shorts and a loose-fitting shirt will readily conceal a small- to medium-size handgun. On a recent family hiking trip, my wife commandeered my PT-One and was pleasantly surprised. She hid it under a regular T-shirt and there was no way to tell she had a 3-inch-barreled .357 Magnum on her person. It has a perspiration blocker that actually works.
I don’t want to be uncouth, but I’ve rarely washed my PT-One and my bride did not express any unpleasantness when she borrowed it. These holsters are hand washable for those who still have concerns. Keep in mind that this holster is worn directly against your skin. That keeps the pistol from slinging around during exercise. Pistol Wear recently introduced the PT-2, which is a little smaller and is intended for smaller handguns. It does not have the built-in extra magazine pouch and costs a little less than the PT-One.
I enlisted the help of Officer Michele James for a two-week experiment. I wanted to give the PT-One a real test. Officer James averages about 20 miles of ‘road work’ per week and had, coincidentally, been looking for a carry solution while running. I asked her to evaluate the holster for comfort, concealment, and ease of draw. Based on these factors, I wanted to know if Pistol Wear had created the long-term solution for her and maybe for fellow officers with the same dilemma.
Michele carried a Smith & Wesson M&P40c in the PT-One, which is a relatively heavy pistol for this role. The M&P Shield, for example, might be a slightly better choice. She said the extra weight caused her a little trouble with stamina at first. I became less sympathetic when she told me that she started becoming fatigued after her fifth mile. I start getting tired after driving five miles. She was talking about running.
Officer James also experienced some holster slippage after several miles even when the PT-One was adjusted to its smallest point. I don’t have that problem with mine, but it took several runs for me to find just the right adjustment for my body. Still, James said it was only a minor and infrequent inconvenience during her longer runs. She expressed some concerns about concealment until she started wearing larger shirts than she was used to. I could just barely see a pistol bulge here and there when the wind was blowing directly on the holster. It would be indiscernible for someone who didn’t already know it was there. Granted, with Officer James’ small frame, a single stack gun or small wheel gun might be a better option for reasons of both weight and concealability. When she tried my Ruger LCR, both issues were resolved. The lightweight, polymer-frame Ruger revolver was much more concealable and no longer caused any holster slippage.
I had James demonstrate drawing the LCR from the PT-One several times. She averaged about 1.5 seconds from the command to draw until getting on target at 7 yards. As stated above, the PT-One covers almost the entire gun for the comfort of the carrier. It’s still relatively easy to draw because the gun holds the holster open just enough for the hand to slide onto the grip. With practice, one can routinely accomplish a surprisingly speedy presentation.
Officer James told me she will keep using the PT-One, but might consider carrying a smaller handgun for her future runs. It did not occur to me when I loaned her the M&Pc for this article that she is about half my size. Those extra ounces of steel and polymer have a much greater effect when your body is used to carrying 100 fewer pounds.
Don’t let me mislead you, but while Michele may be on the smallish side as far as cops go, she is a trained law enforcement officer and a mixed martial arts practitioner, so she’s tougher than woodpecker lips. If the hapless thug were to unwisely choose this particular victim, let’s just say, well, some redness may occur. Humans became a lot better off after learning to use tools and I’m comforted to know that my friend now has one more tool in her toolbox to help keep her safe. All of you runners out there should consider doing the same and look into the PT-One holster. PM
Warren Wilson is a Lieutenant with the Enid Police Department in Oklahoma. He is a former SWAT team member/leader and has been in law enforcement for 17 years.
- The Pistol Wear PT-One is a solution for runners who want to carry a pistol with them during their “road work.”
- The PT-One can easily carry a medium-size double stack pistol such as this M&P40c along with a spare magazine and wallet.
- A medium-size revolver or pistol all but disappears under a light exercise shirt with the aid of the PT-One.
- Officer James found her long rural runs more comforting when carrying a pistol.
- Even on officers with exceptionally small frames, a PT-One can conceal an effective pistol.
- Officer James had no difficulty accessing a pistol from the PT-One at will.