By Linda M. Gilbertson
For the past 2 months, I have worn the Tactica Defense Fashion (Tactica) Belly Band Holster all day, every day. I have worn it each day with a fully loaded Taurus G2. I have worn it to work and play, on bare skin and over a tank-top, above stretch pants and belted pants. I’ve worn it so much that many times I forgot I had it on. That is what comfortable concealed carry should be—when you forget you’re wearing it, you know that’s the one for you.
Initially, I was a little skeptical of the belly band design, particularly since other designs literally suck the pistol against your stomach and into your ribs. But when I researched the history of belly band design, I realized that Tacticas’ design is indeed one of the most innovative, practical and comfortable methods available today for the female market.
The Historical Significance
There is nothing new about the belly band as women have practiced wrapping their abdomen or belly following pregnancy for thousands of years. In Latin America it is called “Faja,” and the Japanese call it “Sarashi.” These abdominal wrappings were meant to reduce the swelling of the belly from childbirth and tighten the overstretched muscles. The wrapping of the belly was done with a single layer of cotton many times around the torso, to ensure a complete 360-degree support. It was lost for centuries when this traditional method became impractical, cumbersome and time consuming.
The high fashion centers of Europe during the Victorian Era took the concept and material, designing corsets which both women and men wore to create a slimmer physique and illusion, or to rearrange body parts to a more appealing location. What had been designed in centuries past for the well-being and rapid healing of the female form was now used to accentuate features such as a robust bustline or a super “pencil-thin waist.”
In 1914, the ACE™ (all cotton elastic) bandage was invented by scientists to reduce swelling and inflammation in post-operative patients. This invention went on to replace the “bone stays” used in the earlier corsets, and the development of the elastic girdle which is still in use today. Weightlifters and construction workers perform their tasks with support belts of similar design and materials to stabilize their back, core and legs. Belly wraps are still used today for weight loss and cellulite detoxification and for medical treatment of belly button hernias and appendectomy recovery. The standard concealed carry belly band follows the same design.
The Practical Significance
Anytime a woman selects a holster, she needs to consider the method of carry, its placement on the body and her comfort. When looking at the size of the firearm she needs to coordinate her torso length with the carry method and the location. Many times, this will determine the type of clothing to be worn to comfortably carry and adequately conceal. If the method chosen is a belly band, she is limited in her choice. Many manufacturers produce them, but most are the same design with the holster sewn into the band. One gal modeling such a belly band on the internet could not have possibly sat down as the grips would have stuck into her ribs. I could tell by the location of her waist that the grips were right below the rib-cage. I was loaned one of these belly bands by a friend. I tried it and not only found it suffocating in its material and belly constriction, but the sweating and the itching that accompanied it was intolerable. I could not comfortably carry my pistol. In addition, attempting to draw my pistol from such a holster was extremely difficult and dangerous.
Tactica has thought outside the box and combined a padded neoprene backing in its belly band and a hard-shell holster which connects to it. The hard-shell holster is molded for the specific firearm, can be canted for a more natural draw and has a spring steel core for reinforcement. It protrudes from the belly band for the width of the firearm and locks the firearm in place with a discernible “click.” It’s an amazing combination of a different technology.
“Our concealed carry belly band holster uses a state-of-the-art design that allows safety and comfort to coexist. A breathable neoprene backing provides comfort, while our custom-molded polymer shell perfectly safeguards your trigger. The amazing hybrid design is reinforced with a spring steel core, so you know this holster is built to last. Our products simply can’t be matched because most belly band holsters feature neoprene or elastic holster pockets. These materials don’t give you the best trigger guard protection and can be uncomfortable.”
The belly band (in small, medium and large) and the holster (manufacturer, model and draw hand) are ordered together. Each order is made upon demand, so the wait time can be several weeks to several months, dependent upon demand. The holster base (which the holster attaches to) has a rectangular ring through which the strap end of the band is secured with a hook and loop fastener. The holster is then adjusted to the desired position and tightness on the waist. The draw angle of the holster can be changed as well as the retention by tightening the screws that attach the outer shell to the holster base. You can wear the holster high on the torso, below the belly or anywhere in between. The belly band can be rotated for cross-draw or appendix-draw.
I have written many articles about concealed carry methods for women. Prior to Tactica, I was telling my students not to consider a belly band. Now when I discuss concealed carry with my students, the Tactica Belly Band Holster is what I show them first. It is comfortable while standing and sitting even with my short torso. The seat belt of a vehicle does not interfere with the comfort, since the belly band can be rotated if necessary. Because of its great retention, the belly band is great for hikers, bikers, horse-back riders and for every day and every night basic concealed carry. The holster has superior retention in any position. And one of the best benefits of all is that you do not have to remove the belly band or your pistol when “Mother Nature” calls. This is refreshing!
The Dilemma and Solution
The bulk of a firearm in its holster on a person’s body is always a concern and more-so for women. How will it be concealed? Women’s clothing is generally tapered which means that tops, in particular, do not drape. They follow the contour of the shoulders, bust, waist and hips. To carry around the waist, a woman must wear non-tapered shirts so that the clothing does not print the design of the firearm in its holster. This would also apply to wearing IWB and OWB and shoulder holsters.
Tactica has a solution for the clothing as well. Their clothing line includes tops, sweaters and jackets. The one I ordered was a two-piece (tank top/outer drape) which successfully covered the belly band. Worn above a fashionable pair of jeans, my model Angie could easily disguise my Taurus G2. The drape of the top covers the slots sown into the tank top which Angie could place her hand through in order to grasp the Taurus grip and safely pull it from the holster. The sweaters and jackets also have the necessary entry points to draw from the belly band holster. Fashionable concealed carry can be successfully accomplished.
When considering clothing to wear with the Tactica Belly Band Holster, besides how it drapes in the front, consider the pattern on the material. Fashion and textile industries since the 1960s discovered that patterns on material create optical illusions to enhance a body’s proportion or reduce a body’s flaw. Clinging materials like spandex will accentuate the body and what is carried on it. As such, to divert attention away from an area of the body, consider patterns and styles that draw the eye elsewhere.
Horizontal patterns add weight to the body. People automatically look left to right as the pattern directs the eyes. Vertical patterns make the body look leaner and cause the eyes to look up and down, rather than straight on. Avoid light colored pants and skirts which draw attention to your midsection. A one-palette shade like black creates a lean, slimming line where there is no break in the color. Attention is not drawn to the waist where you are carrying. Shirts and blouses should be longer and hit below the true waist if worn outside the pants. Wear tops, shirts and dresses with boatneck, V-neck and square-neck to draw a viewer’s eye up toward the face and the upper body. Fabric detailing like lace, buttons, scarves, necklaces and wildly designed ties will also do the trick. When dressing for concealed carry, consider that you must camouflage that you’re carrying a pistol by creating an optical illusion.
It is obvious that what you choose for your concealed carry is determined by your body shape, clothing selection and the size of the firearm. And what you choose must be comfortable as well as accessible. The concept of the belly band is nothing new, but the design by Tactica is unique.
For all day and every day: Tactica Belly Band Holster is my choice. Make it yours! For more information, see Tactica Defense Fashion (a division of Alien Gear) at tacticafashion.com.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V25N2 (February 2021)|