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Concealed carry is easier in the movies. That’s because in the movies, so few of the characters ever have to choose a holster. Aside from racking the action four or five times during a scene, a character simply sticks the gun into the waistband of his pants. If it’s a female character, those pants are very tight. The gun never falls out or goes off negligently, no matter how much the character runs, jumps, rolls or performs exaggerated martial arts maneuvers. When I decide on a particular handgun for concealed carry, I normally select several holsters for it. Among those is always an inside-the-waistband (IWB), strong-side carry model, which provides a good balance of concealability, ease of access and defense against gun grabs. One I’m especially fond of is a simple leather design from a small company, Muddy River Tactical. And I’ve gone through many holsters to find it. 


I’ve tried IWB rigs of nylon, leather, Kydex and combinations of those. I’ve tried holsters with one and two belt loops. I’ve tried those with metal clips and plastic clips. Some were huge and featured large backers for comfort against the skin, and some had none at all.

The author prefers a simple, inside-the-waistband holster such as this one from Muddy River Tactical. The gun is a Ruger American Compact .45. (The knife is a Benchmade Axis Flipper; the pen is a Tuff Writer Precision Press titanium tactical model.)

But just between you and me, I found myself going back to a simple, inexpensive design from Uncle Mike’s—a thin fabric model with one clip that didn’t require the purchase of pants two sizes too big in order to wear it. It protected the gun, it was comfortable to wear, and the gun wasn’t going anywhere (it’s a good thing I carried concealed with it, because I wouldn’t have wanted any of my “gun expert” friends to see it and risk being scolded for not having a “quality” holster 10 times the price).

The Muddy River Tactical leather IWB holster is thick enough to be durable but thin enough to wear without having to buy oversized pants. The holster the author tested featured a tuckable clip that was also adjustable for cant.

The downside of those holsters was that I had to replace them about every two years, because they’d wear out. I don’t have that problem any more. The Muddy River Tactical Tuckable IWB Leather Holster is much sturdier and more durable than the thin fabric holsters I’ve used. These holsters are made in Kansas City, Missouri, and they carry a 100 percent lifetime warranty. The holster covers the handgun sufficiently to keep it away from my sweaty skin and has a single, tuckable clip that’s adjustable for cant. It doesn’t feel as if I’ve crammed a full duty belt inside my pants. The one I chose was made for the Ruger American Compact .45, which I carry quite often these days. As a bonus, I found that my beloved Glock 19 and sturdy Star B 9mm also fit well in this holster.

Muddy River Tactical holsters are made in Kansas City, Missouri, and feature a 100 percent lifetime warranty.

With an outside-the-waistband belt holster, having a rig that’s molded specifically to the particular gun is more important: You don’t want the gun wiggling around in the holster. I don’t have that problem with IWB holsters, and if one holster works for multiple guns, to me, that’s a big plus.

The Muddy River Tactical Tuckable IWB Holster provided good coverage of the firearm to keep it away from the author’s skin—a good thing, especially in hot weather.

A downside with thin IWB of any material is that re-holstering with one hand isn’t feasible. As a police officer who might have to handcuff someone, that would be a concern for me. Now that I’m a civilian, I don’t feel it’s as big an issue.

“Comfortable, secure, durable and available for a reasonable price, this holster is right for me. Because I opt for a midsized gun more often than a pocket pistol, having a holster that’s not  bulky is especially important.”


Muddy River Tactical offers other designs too. It offers Kydex paddle holsters, IWB holsters and appendix holsters. Especially appealing to me is that, as of this moment, it’s still a small company with personal customer service. When you call the company, it’s the owner, Kevin Mason, who answers the phone. Nothing is lost in translation. Comfortable, secure, durable and available for a reasonable price, this holster is right for me. Because I opt for a mid-sized gun more often than a pocket pistol, having a holster that’s not bulky is especially important. I don’t want to be tempted to go to a less-effective smaller gun—or worse, leave my gun behind for the lack of a holster I can wear all day and is also convenient to put on and take off.

Appendix holsters are becoming more popular. Muddy River Tactical offers models for this mode of carry as well.

Muddy River Tactical also makes Kydex holsters, such as this paddle holster

For those who prefer a Kydex holster, Muddy River Tactical offers models such as this inside-the-waistband design.

Yes, simply tucking a bare handgun into your waistband might be easy, and it might continue to be cool in the movies, but it’s not for me. I guess I’m just not Hollywood material.




Steven Paul Barlow is a retired sergeant/station commander and former firearms instructor with the New York State Police. He has been writing on outdoor topics for more than 30 years and has served as the editor for a number of Engaged Media special publications, including Gunslingers.


Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the November 2018 issue of Gun World Magazine.