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By Aaron Ward

In the world of holsters, there are a plethora of options for carrying your handgun. From In the Waist band, Appendix carry, Outside the Waist Band, duty/battle belt mounted, armor mounted and drop leg holsters. Each of these holster options have their place in the world, depending on your mission, environment, body type, gear selection and lay out. While many have chosen to adopt their drop leg holster for their purposes, does this holster choice fit your needs? Do you know why you’re using it? Are there other options that better fit your needs? We’re going to dive in the weeds a bit to help you better understand the why’s of the Drop Leg Holsters and the When’s.

First, some history…

The forebearer of the modern Drop Leg Holster/thigh holster started initially with the U.S. Calvary and cowboys during Western expansion. These were simple holsters with long leather drop downs and simple leather thongs tied around the upper thigh. These allowed the holster to be drawn easier from the saddle. In a more modern context, we see these holster begin to gain prominence again, however for a very different reason. As police forces and militaries began to issue their personnel more body armor in response to ever changing tactical scenarios, these personnel found that a traditional belt mounted holster would be obstructed by the increasing bulk of body armor and equipment. The Thigh Rig/Drop Leg Holster allowed for the pistol to be drawn from without being fouled by equipment being worn. 

The Why of a Drop Leg Holster:

  • If wearing bulky gear or body armor a Drop Leg Holster (DLH) moves your gun and holster down further from that equipment, allowing for a cleaner draw stroke.
  • If seated frequently a drop leg holster can be employed, as it may allow an easier draw from the seated position. 
  • If you have a body proportion where your arms are longer than your torso, the lower gun position may produce a smoother draw

Some things to think about…

  • If worn improperly, the thigh rig can, and will rotate around the thigh during intensive movement, such as running, jumping, crawling and other strenuous activities. 
  • While moving, your holster is moving as well. There for your handgun is moving as well by nature of being attached to your leg. This can make drawing more unpredictable during movement. Requiring the user to modify their movements in order to successfully draw. 
  • DLH can be more difficult for the wear to maintain control of the firearm should they find themselves wrestling for control of the holstered gun.

Tips for Proper Wear and Use:

Wear a Stiff Belt

As with most holsters, a DLH relies on a belt to be utilized correctly. A flimsy belt will allow the holster to sag, with the holster itself sliding down further on the leg. Possibly putting the butt of the gun out of reach of the user’s hand.

Wear High on the Thigh

A general rule of thumb for wear of the DLH is the mouth of the holster should sit no lower than the top of your pants pocket. Or the butt of the gun should be able to rest easily within your grasp if your arms are resting at your side. If you have to bend/stretch your torso to draw, your holster is too low.

Use the Thigh Straps

DLH will come with a thigh strap. These should be worn as high on the leg as possible. Generally right below groin junction inside your leg will be your benchmark. These straps should be worn tight enough to prevent movement of the thigh rig, but not so tight to become uncomfortable or restrict blood flow. 

Holster must have a Retention Device

Holsters with retention devices are highly recommended in my opinion, due mostly to the movement your gun will go through just completing daily task, or strenuous activities. Ensure any retention devices can being deactivated without requiring extra movements at the waist.

As with any gear used in a self-defense, you should know your gear, and practice with it regularly. Get out and move around with your holster of choice on, crawl, jump and run while wearing it. Take the time prior to training days, or duty use to hash out any issues and ensure that everything fits properly and feels comfortable.