Sunday, February 16, 2014

T-shirt Based Alternative to Shoulder Holster - Packin' Tee by Ridge Outdoors

I'm always looking for different methods to carry a concealed pistol on my person so the Packin' Tee definitely peaked my interest.  At first glance it looks like a normal T-shirt with holsters stuck on either side but Dave with enlightened me with fine details of this product.

Not just a normal T-shirt
It might seem at first that a normal T-shirt with 2 lbs of metal and plastic strapped to each side would result in a jiggly and sagging mess of a carry system - I would tend to agree. However the Packin' Tee features reinforcements to keep centrifugal and gravitational forces under control.  The sides of the shirt are made with a double layer of material that surrounds the holster and goes up and over the shoulder.  The area behind the back of the neck also features this double layer.  These reinforcements along with the snug fit keep unwanted movement of your pistol and mag(s) to a minimum.  You may not want to have it loaded up with a full sized Glock and 2 spare magazines while you are getting physical with your favorite Sweating to the Oldies tape, but in most day to day activities, the amount of movement is perfectly acceptable.

The holsters
On each side of the shirt is an 8" by 6" section of loop material.  It seems there is a plastic layer in between this Velcro patch and the shirt because you can hear it when flexing this area.  The crackling sound is not overly intrusive however and it provides a sweat barrier between you and your prized pistol possession.
The holsters themselves are comprised of a relatively thick and somewhat rigid material with a large piece of elastic on one front and the hook material on the backside.  The elastic is sewn down so as to create an open bottomed, gun shaped pocket.

Also available is a mag pouch to hold your - you guessed it - spare magazines.  I think the mag pouch was originally intended for a single mag but it will fit two double stack mags and hold them more securely then just a single mag. You can also get a plain pocket that would be ideal to carry a wallet or spare cash while visiting pickpocket prone locales.

Sizing, Colors, & Neck Styles
Available sizes are small to 3x and they are geared toward a tight fit so if you border on two different sizes you may want to go with the larger of the two.  As for colors, the men's shirts come in black or white with either a crew neck or V-neck and for the women's shirts, they only come in white with a lower cut, rounded neck.  All of the shirts are sleeveless.

Safety Considerations
There are a couple of safety considerations that a potential user of this product should be aware of.  First, due to the design of the holsters, gravity does most of the work to keeping the gun secure.  With that in mind, if you find yourself bending over at a steep angle or riding an upside down roller coaster, you might also find your firearm suddenly laying on the ground.  In my testing, the elastic of the holster did not always have enough squeeze to overcome the pull of gravity.  This becomes more pronounced as the weight of the gun increases.  There is always the option of using your arms to apply some additional squeeze if the need arises.

Second,  due to the placement of the holsters, the fact that they orient the muzzle vertically, and the requirement that you use your free hand to hold the holster elastic open means that re-holstering your weapon can be a bit awkward.  Care must be taken to not get a finger or the elastic material caught in the trigger.  Obviously care must be taken when reinserting a loaded firearm into any holster but not all holster setups are visually obstructed by your hands/arms/weapon as this one can be.

Pricing and Ordering
As of February 2014, sells these shirts for $42 and this includes 1 holster of your choice.  You can add another holster for $12 or get an optional mag pouch or hidden pocket for $6

If you use or are considering trying a shoulder holster, you might want to give the Packin' Tee a look - I see it as an alternative to the shoulder holster rig at around half the price - for example, a Galco Classic Lite on Amazon (as of the time of this writing) goes for somewhere in the low-$70 to $100 range. All indications point to it being a quality product and after a more long term test I will post an update with more focus on the user experience.

1 comment:

  1. I just received my packin tee, and the small holster does not fit my Kahr CM40 as their size chart indicates. Shirt seems nice, but holster panels seem rather stiff, and elastic is so tight, it would probably be safer to remove the holster before trying to force a handgun into it.

    I was able to fit a S&W Bodyguard .380 into the small holster, but found it irritating having it pressed against the inside of my arm. Can't imagine it would be any more comfortable carrying a larger handgun in it.

    The shirt seems to be a good idea, but I think they really need to go back to the drawing board on this one.