Looking for a new way of securing your firearms for covert carry? Well, the answer may be as close as 5.11 Tactical. The long-time maker of everything from boots to belts also offers a compression undershirt with two built-in holsters. Looks cool but how does it perform?
When I first saw the 5.11 Tactical Holster shirt I thought “uncomfortable and insecure.” I imagined it being too restrictive to wear and could not imagine the underarm pouches would be strong enough to hold any decent firearm in place. Almost instantly, I envisioned wearing it for a couple of hours and ripping it off and throwing it in a drawer never to be seen again… along with all the other useless gadget holsters I’ve acquired over the years, all rejected after my Glock 27 or S&W Police Special spilled out and skated across the floor (that is, if it didn’t ride so low it felt like it was on my belt, to begin with).
To say I was initially not impressed would be an understatement.
But I am a big enough person to admit when I am wrong, and when it comes to the 5.11 Tactical Holster Shirt I was just that. Yes, it is restrictive. I am talking feeling like “one size too small compression shirt” tight. But this is part of what makes it work so well. As far as the pouches go, they are far more secure than I anticipated. Again, it is all about the construction. The shirt itself is an 80/20 polyester and Spandex blend. The holsters, mounted on either side for ambidextrous use, are not simply pouches sewn to the main shirt. Each underarm area contains a large panel that not only houses the pouches but provides the support necessary to hold your firearm secure and reduce printing. Due to the “over the shoulder” support, it is almost as if you are wearing a shoulder holster within your shirt.
But how does it work? In the right situation, pretty darn good. I say right situation because this is not suitable for every operation. First, because it is an undershirt, access is not difficult, but it is not fast either. Obviously, a button-down style outer shirt would work best – even better if it had snaps or magnetic closures rather than actual buttons. Can it be used with a polo or t-shirt? Yes, but access would be far more complicated. It would also be a good way to wear an on duty, last-ditch, back up gun, but again you need to consider access.
Aside from access, you also need to consider printing. The mesh outer surface of the holsters do a good job of breaking up the firearm’s profile, but it is not completely invisible. Obviously, this problem is more pronounced with larger frame firearms, especially if carried in a front to back manner rather than deeper in the pouch. You may need to experiment with different size and color outer shirts to help hide the outline.
All and all this shirt performs much better than expected. I would even go as far as to say it works better than some of the traditional shoulder holsters I have tried. Will it work in every situation? No. Will it work with every firearm? Absolutely not. But then again, neither will any other holster I have owned, tried, or seen. This may not be the last holster you will buy, but it is certainly one you will use whenever you get the chance.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.