Selecting and Wearing the Best Ankle Holster
Ankle holsters are a common method of carrying a pistol. They're called ankle holsters because they physically carry the weapon around the ankle, some also referred to them as concealment holsters. Let's examine the nuances of ankle carry as well as the most popular models of holsters on the market.
Ankle Holsters: The Positives
Ankle carry has it's positive attributes but also plenty of negatives to consider before purchasing a holster. Let's begin with the positives. First of all, small pistols and revolvers conceal well on the ankle with no one the wiser but you. Ankle carry is especially suited for carrying a backup or secondary weapon. Carrying the backup pistol on the ankle gets the added weight off of your belt so that you don't have two weapons tugging your pants down.
Ankle Holsters: The Negatives
Now let's look at the negative attributes. By design, ankle carry only works with small and lightweight pistols, such as Smith and Wesson Airweight revolvers or a Taurus equivalent. Even so, it takes time to get used to having the extra weight on your ankle. At first there will be a noticeable difference in your walk. Over time, it will go away. Lightweight weapons will minimize this. Weapons carried on the ankle are also close to the ground and therefore get covered in dust, dirt, and grime. Again, selecting a weapon that works when dirty is a must. No ankle holster is waterproof so it helps to have a weapon that is rust resistant. Stainless steel is preferable over a blued weapon. Pistols such as a Sig Sauer 232, 238, Walther PPK, or any of Kahr's pistols are good options for autoloaders.
Lastly, ankle carry necessitates kneeling or bending over to reach the weapon. That's not a problem if time and distance allows but if you're facing an adversary within touching distance, bending over in front of them is not a good idea. Also, the weapon may or may not be accessible if you're knocked on the ground. On the positive side, accessing an ankle holster when sitting down or driving is relatively easy with practice and works well for those who spend large amounts of time doing either.
Ankle Carry - The Next Step
So you've decided that ankle carry is for you, now what? Most ankle holsters orient the weapon so that they're pointed down towards the ground. That puts the weapon in position for a vertical draw. The ankle holster should be worn on the inside of the ankle on the foot opposite of your strong side. For example, if you're right handed, the weapon should be worn on the inside of your left leg. Doing so makes drawing as quick as possible. Drawing from the outside of the leg is awkward and unnatural.
The Pants and Shoes of Ankle Holsters
When wearing an ankle holster, consideration should also be given to the type of pants worn. Many styles of pants have tapered legs that don't allow for an ankle holster to be worn. Pants should be selected with legs that are straight or boot cut.
Shoes are also an important consideration when wearing ankle holsters. Footwear usually works best if it is of the low-cut shoe style or 8"+ high boots. Shoes and boots in the middle range don't work well because the holster rides half on the shoe and half on the leg. It makes for an awkward arrangement.
Okay, you have your shoes and pants selected, now what? Now figure out the best way to draw the weapon from your ankle. First of all, grasp the outside of the pant leg with your support hand and pull the pant leg up as high as you can. Doing so should clear the weapon so that the grip is available to be grasped and the weapon drawn. I'd recommend learning to draw from both standing and kneeling positions so that you can choose whichever is best suited to the environment you’re in.
3 Ankle Holster Options
Let’s look at 3 of the most popular ankle holster options on the market. One of them is the Renegade Cozy Partner. The Cozy Partner is lightest of the holsters you can wear on your ankle we’re going to discuss. The Cozy Partner is essentially a heavy duty elastic band with an elastic pouch sewed to it to hold a revolver. Velcro is attached to each end of the elastic to attach to your leg. A leather retaining strap holds the weapon in the pouch until removed for the draw. The elastic pouch and band are backed with sheepskin to make the holster more comfortable on your ankle. The downside is that it also makes it hotter. The Renegade sells for around $50.
The second ankle holster we’re going to discuss is the Galco Ankle Glove Holster. The Galco Ankle Glove is made of a neoprene band with a leather holster sewn to it. The leather holster has a retaining thumb snap. Each end of the neoprene has Velcro to attach it to your leg. The Ankle Glove also has sheepskin backing the holster to make it comfortable on your leg. The Ankle Glove sells for between $60-70. (Read our review on the Alessi Ankle Hoslter versus the Galco Ankle Holster here)
The last holster I’m going to mention is the Alessi Ankle Holster. After reading this, it will probably be obvious that the Alessi is my favorite ankle holster. The Alessi is made of heavy duty felt with leather attached to it. A leather holster is attached to the felt. Like the other holsters, the Alessi attaches to the wearer’s leg via Velcro. The Alessi differs in that it has a buckle on the leg strap allowing the user to get the holster snug on the leg to prevent movement. The buckle works similar to a belt buckle.
In my experience, the Alessi ankle holster is the most comfortable of the three. The felt better supports the weight of the weapon than elastic or neoprene and the leg strap can be snugged up so that there is no shake or wobble when wearing it. I’ve found that the elastic and neoprene style holsters wobble with any but the lightest weapons. Pulling the elastic or neoprene tight enough to prevent wobble cuts off circulation in the leg, which is obviously not a good thing. The Alessi ankle holster sells for $120. If you’re going to wear the holster for any length of time, I feel that the extra expense of the Alessi is money well spent. I think you’ll agree with me if you try all three holsters.
There are other popular ankle holsters on the market that I did not include in the review due to having no experience with them. One is the Desantis Apache. It looks similar to the Renegade Cozy Partner in that it is made of elastic with an elastic holster. Another is the Fobus ankle holster. I would avoid the Fobus unless cost is your biggest factor in deciding what to purchase.