Open Carry – Hiking & Backpacking Holster
When did I get so tubby? Oh boy.
I’ve had this holster since January 2016, and the concealed carry holster since October 2016.
Gun forums can often be full of a lot of BS. I read of some people getting their pistols snagged on branches when bushwhacking and having a negligent discharge. I won’t call this an accidental discharge, if the trigger or hammer can get caught up in clothing or a stray branch and fire the weapon, the user should anticipate this and take steps to prevent it. I can see how easily the trigger or hammer could get snagged by a branch or some brush, so that factored into my choice of an open carry holster for hiking and backpacking.
I have experienced – and heard – first hand and close-up, a negligent discharge
As an aside, speaking of negligent discharges, I have experienced – and heard – first hand and close-up, a negligent discharge (nothing to do with me I should hasten to add). Fortunately, only furniture was harmed. Alcohol was not a factor or even in the building. Witnessing an incident like that makes you keenly aware of the care you need to take, and as a consequence, you become even more safety conscious when handling firearms. I don’t remember how long I waited after the event before I told Ginger about it.
Back to the holster. This holster has positive retention – unless the button is pressed the gun is not coming out. That should fool the bears and feral hogs and stop them stealing it from me. (I am joking, I’ve never seen a bear. Feral hogs, well yes, they could be a problem if riled).
Update: January 2019 – I saw a black bear in Piney Creek Wilderness and it wasn’t interested in me.
When I began wearing this holster I kept the Beretta’s slide mounted safety off. There is a firing pin block and catching the hammer will just cock it. There is no way for the trigger to be pulled while it is in the holster. I figured it was one less thing to worry about when drawing the gun while wearing a fairly bulky backpack with lots of webbing and straps around. After re-thinking this I now keep the safety on as that’s how I carry the Beretta in my concealed carry holster. This makes the muscle memory almost the same for both holsters. I still have to remember to press the retention release with this holster though!
Some people do not like having the holster retention release near the trigger. However, I find the release lies exactly where my finger should be when I’m holding the gun – straight along the frame above the trigger. With the Berretta’s long double action pull on the trigger before the first round is fired this shouldn’t be an issue anyway.
The holster is adjustable to different belt sizes, and there are lots of options to set the angle of the holster, and this holster holds the gun well. The only problem I’ve found occurs if you try to draw the weapon without pressing the retention release to release it. The button becomes very hard to operate or jams. To unjam it, you have to push the gun back into the holster which removes the pressure on the release mechanism, and then press the release again and draw the gun.
Would I recommend this holster? Yes, but I’m going to have to try a few more. And I recommend a lot of practice undoing the retention release.
Why Open Carry?
There is a very simple reason. Convenience. It’s much easier to carry the gun on my hip than it is to carry it zipped up in a pocket in my pack. Where we backpack and hike we rarely encounter other people so I’ll not be frightening non-firearms aware trail users. I don’t open carry on the more popular hiking trails where we’ll encounter families with their children. But then on those trails I’m not carrying a backpack either.
On one trip to the Wilderness I encountered over 30 people, and while open carrying didn’t didn’t bring any comments, I did get some stares. Well maybe it was my hiking kilt that got the stares.
I bought a Ribz chest-pack to carry essentials while hiking so I don’t have to remove my backpack all the time. The pockets are big enough to hold the Beretta and everything I want quick access to.
When I’m wearing the Ribz pack I carry concealed. I keep the Beretta in the retention holster with the holster’s belt loop bracket removed.
Why Carry a Gun?
I’ve talked with someone, who when hiking with his daughters, encountered an aggressive group of trouble-seeking, partying youths at a wilderness trailhead.
Of course, that also leads to the question as to why I carry a handgun at all. The answer to that is simple too. Safety. We hike and backpack where there is no cell phone connectivity and no emergency services. Like a fire extinguisher, you have one (or more – we have three). You train in how to use them, and that’s fun and instructive. And you hope you never, ever, have to put that training to use in a real-life situation. However, I’ve talked with someone, who when hiking with his daughters, encountered an aggressive group of trouble-seeking, partying youths at a wilderness trailhead. The situation very quickly de-escalated when the youths realized he was armed and not an easy target. He and his daughters were then able to exit the situation and trailhead in safety. This, I should add was at a trailhead we’ve used many times. Then there was the Ranger we met who (very unusually for a National Forest Ranger) was dressed in black, wearing a knife vest and carrying a baton, taser, and sidearm. While trying to not alarm us, he told us that this was because the locals frequenting the campground we were staying at had a history of getting into quite serious trouble. That was reassuring! Finally, anyone who’s been laying in a tent when a pack of coyotes, yips and yowls their way past – despite the fact coyotes are not known for attacking people – will quickly decide it might be prudent to arm themselves. Well, that’s what happened to me in 2011 backpacking on the Berryman trail.
So, I carry firearms as a deterrent to two-legged aggressors at home and on the trail, and a gun makes an awful lot of noise which I hope will scare off any four-legged aggressors we might encounter. We have not had to deal with either, and that’s the way I plan to keep it. But, just in case …
Concealed Carry Holster – In The Waistband
I have to say that this inexpensive in the waistband holster is very comfortable, and conceals well. It did take a few days to break it in; that is time for the leather to mold to my body and how I wear it. I prefer the lowest setting for the holster, that is with the gun low to my belt, so I had to adjust it. three different heights are provided. The only problem I’ve had was a squeaking sound caused by the metal clips rubbing on the leather. I cured this by fixing a small fabric pad to the backs of the clips. I used the looped part of a piece of Velcro sticky tape.
Another thing to note is that you can wear your shirt tucked in with this holster; though doing so makes accessing the weapon more difficult. To do this you have to work your shirt down between the clip and the holster. The only other downside I’ve found is that when you do this the holster’s belt clips are visible unless you only clip the holster onto your pants’ waistband behind your belt. However, this is not as secure as clipping the holster onto your belt.
The Beretta doesn’t ‘print‘ when I’m wearing it with my shirt un-tucked, even when I’m wearing shorts and a tee shirt. It’s harder to stop it printing when you tuck your shirt in. I don’t see this as a problem with the holster, just an issue trying to conceal carry with one’s shirt tucked in. Overall Ginger doesn’t tend to notice if I’m wearing it or not. And people won’t know it is there unless they brush against it. And people do not generally get that close.
The retention of this holster is good too, the gun stays nice and secure even when I’m running. (Notice the subtle suggestion that I actually run from time-to-time?)
And yes, the weapon in these pictures is loaded, and there is a round in the chamber. However, the safety is on, and as mentioned above, the Beretta has a long and heavy first round trigger pull. It is safe.Copyright © 2017 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
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