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Carrying on the Cuff: Concealed Carry on the Ankle

Carrying on the Cuff: Concealed Carry on the Ankle


The method of concealing a handgun on an ankle goes back much further than most people realize. Contrary to popular belief, many western towns didn’t allow the carrying of firearms within city limits. Because of this, many cowboys, gamblers and ordinary townsfolk hid sixguns in their boots—one of the earliest forms of concealed carry.

Today, many concealed-carry advocates consider ankle carry to be a backup method. However, there are times when ankle carry is the best method for the situation. In fact, Shootrite Firearms Academy Founder Tiger McKee is a huge advocate of ankle carry.

“I like ankle carry a lot,” McKee said. “I often use it as backup, and even as primary when I can’t carry a gun on my belt. It provides good access to get to a gun without sweeping yourself or anything else.”

Ankle carry provides deep concealment for a medium to small pistol or revolver, and in certain situations, can be easily drawn for self-defense. Sitting is one of those situations. Whether in a car, at a table or a park bench, an ankle holster provides fast access to a handgun, and with practice, can be done quite discreetly by feigning an itch or casually raising a foot to rest on the chair rung. However, it is in a car where ankle carry really shines.

An ankle gun doesn’t dig into the seat back, or get covered or tangled by the seatbelt. It is easily reachable with either hand. Most importantly, you can reach and grip the gun’s handle with very little chance of anyone realizing what’s happening, even if they’re standing by the car door. And, if the situation diffuses itself, no one needs to know that you were able and willing to defend yourself.

Draw Into Action
While drawing an ankle gun from a sitting position is almost instinctual, drawing while standing requires more thought. Some believe that the best way to draw from an ankle holster is to bring the gun up to the hand by lifting the leg, but most self-defense experts say you should always keep both feet firmly planted on the ground.

Since most people carry on the inside of their weak leg, the accepted method of drawing an ankle gun is to:

  • • Grasp the pants leg above the knee with the non-gun hand and pull to expose the gun and holster.
  • • Drop back on the strong leg to widen your stance and make it easier to bend down to the gun.
  • • Bend down at the waist to the gun while leaving the head up to keep eyes on the threat.
  • • Grasp the gun, breaking the retention strap if the holster has one, firmly with the strong hand.
  • • Draw the gun and immediately rotate the muzzle toward the target. At this point shots can be fired one-handed if the situation demands speed.
  • • Bring the support hand forward to the gun to fulfill a two-handed grip.
  • • At this point, either fire from the low position, or, if you have time, rise into a shooting stance.

Train Continuously
While training is recommended for everyone who carries a concealed firearm, ankle carry requires additional commitment since the gun is such a long distance from the hand. It takes good muscle memory to reach, draw, aim and fire from a crouched, somewhat awkward position. Also, since most ankle guns are usually on the smaller size in both caliber and barrel length, accuracy under pressure is important.

Of course a lot of ranges don’t allow practice from ankle retention, but you can train with an unloaded gun and a LaserLyte Training System to determine where the shot would hit. Be sure to start slow and build up to defensive speed. Never forget that slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Speed will come with time.

Choosing an Ankle Holster
Like with other holsters, choosing an ankle holster can be an exhausting process of trial and error. There are a multitude of brands—Galco, Fobus, Mitch Rosen, Uncle Mike’s—styles and materials available from which to choose. Basically, choosing an ankle holster boils down to comfort, retention and concealment.

Start with a holster that has a soft, cushy material, such as sheepskin or foam, between the ankle and the gun. This protects the ankle bone and keeps the skin from chafing. Next, determine whether the holster will retain the gun, which is jargon for not letting it fall out, during ordinary movement such as walking or running. Lastly, the holster has to remain high enough for the pants leg to keep it covered even when sitting. While some legs may be more naturally suited to ankle carry, for others the use of calf straps will the gun from dropping below the pants cuff.

One argument against ankle carry is that you can only carry smaller guns, and many shooters want a gun with more punch for self-defense. However, any gun is better than no gun, and there are times when a 1911 .45 ACP just doesn’t make sense with the clothing or situation. Sometimes compromise is necessary, but according to McKee, it’s all a compromise.

“If I could, I’d carry my rifle, but I can’t, so I compromise and carry a handgun,” said McKee.

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