Product Review: Gun Girdle

Posted: October 16, 2013 in Product Reviews
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This is one of the products I picked up to review at a Ft. Worth gun show earlier this year.  I do like belly bands, but since each one is different and because of the wide variety of carry configurations and firearms they may support, an evaluation typically takes several months.  I especially like to wear them through at least part of the summer to determine how well they perform in the Texas heat.

My first thought regarding this product was WTF was someone thinking when they chose the product name?  Gun Girdle? Seriously?  I can not tell you how many times I’ve taken this product to a range and told the RSO that I’m evaluating a holster and then they ask which one.  The resulting snicker or derisive remark after I give them the name is as predictable as a morning sunrise.

It works equally unwell for women.  I asked my wife if she would consider wearing a holster called a Gun Girdle?  Her response? “What?  You think I’m fat?”  Okay, end of discussion.  If you’ve been following the blog, then you know that I covered a couple of the DIVA Women Outdoors Worldwide events in September.  I asked a few of the Divas about the product name and I won’t repeat any of the responses, but anything with the name ‘girdle’ in it has a highly negative connotation.  So, the manufacturer has succeeded in naming a product that is equally offensive to both sexes.  Good marketing job 😦

Well, this product was supposedly manufactured by ‘Thunder Mountain’ or at least that’s what the packaging indicates.

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Henceforth, I shall refer to the product as the Thunder Mountain Belly Band (TMBB).  The unique selling proposition of the TMBB is an embedded area similar to an IWB holster that provides a rigid trigger guard and extra support for a pistol.

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Here is a close-up.

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The concept is novel, although not quite unique.  The ICE Crossbreed offers a similar hybrid configuration of a belly band with an IWB-style pistol holder, and in their case with a firearm-specific kydex holster.

The band is extra-wide at six inches and provides a substantial – I might even say overwhelming – amount of velcro for attachment.

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I purchased a medium, however, I could have gotten away with a small.  That’s surprising since I have a very stocky build and usually take a medium or large in other belly bands.  The TMBB comes with a dual mag pouch on the opposite side of the pistol carrier.  I recommend you try one on before purchase to ensure the sizing and location of the spare mag. pouches works for you.

In terms of general wear and comfort, I give the TMBB high marks.  I wore it around the apartment with an empty pistol (Glock 20) while I worked.  The pistol always stayed in position and the band was suitably comfortable for all-day wear.  Bio breaks were no problem as everything stays in place during your business.

I did not experience any more issues wearing the TMBB in the heat than any other band I’ve worn in the past, despite its increased contact area.  In fact, the construction of the pistol holster places the handgun slightly further away from the body than competitive products, which is helpful for avoiding sweat on the gun. For example, the carrier is sufficiently rigid that I could wear the TMBB in a vertical shoulder holster-style configuration, placing the pistol along my left side.  I carried my FNX 45 Tactical underneath my hiking vest (albeit with a slight print from the mag. floor plate) on several outings to the mall during the worst part of the summer. My wife and I walked laps which kept the body temp. up.  I never experienced sweat rubbing onto the gun, which is in contrast to say the Kangaroo Carry Air Marshal 3 that holds the pistol closer to the body.

Unfortunately, that’s the only configuration that works for one or two of my pistols and also places the mag. pouches in a useful position and even then only if do not have a backup worn IWB on the right-hand side.  The lack of mag pouches near the pistol carrier is a drawback of this product in my opinion.

On the subject of mags, you can slide a G20 mag into the pouch with a bit of effort.  With more effort, you can even shove an FNX 45 mag into the pouch.  In both cases, I’d recommend placing the mags into the pouch in advance of donning the TMBB.

On the subject of handguns, this product impresses me as best suited for larger guns, Glocks in particular.  If you want the convenience of a belly band, but are worried about a trigger guard, then relax.  I cleared my G20, then racked the slide and placed it inside the TMBB.  I then jabbed at the trigger area with my fingers, the rear end of a fork, and even the butt end of a tennis racquet.  I could not get the trigger to squeeze.

Here is how the G20 with a 5.5″ extended barrel fits in the TMBB.

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I like how the gun sits up a bit in the holster, which make the sweep-and-draw style of draw easier.  I’ve tried placing this inside the pants at roughly a 2-o’clock position with the band angled on my left side.  This produces a small forward cant and positions the long grip more along my body. There is virtually no print inside my hiking vest and the draw is smooth.  It also works in a more traditional straight-on chest configuration, which is great for hiking with my vest zipped up or a light jacket.  Backpack straps do not interfere with a draw in any way.

Now, what about something different?  Here is the FNX 45 Tactical w/RMR.

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I like to wear this one with the carrier rotated to the 9-o’clock position in more of a vertical shoulder holster style.  The firearm remains firmly in place, even with the RMR.  The band must be worn low and it stays in place well enough for a convenient cross-draw.  This position places the mag pouches on my right side and I can load spare mags there as long as I do not have a backup gun worn IWB on the right side.

What about revolvers?  Personally, I think the flat configuration of the pistol carrier works best with the boxy geometry of semi-auto slides.  There was actually some spirited discussion at the gun show about whether or not it would work with my short-barrel Smith 629.  One of the people behind the table almost vehemently insisted this product would work with an N-frame revolver.

Remember that I’ve told you in the past that there are a lot of gun show vendors that will tell you what they think you want to hear just to make a sale.  In this case, I suppose it depends on your definition of ‘work.’  Yes, with some work or effort, you can shove a short-barrel 629 into the holster.

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But, here’s how it matches up with the geometry of the pistol carrier in the belt.

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If you have pants that are way oversized or stretch a LOT, then you can actually wear this thing and make a single, cumbersome draw.  Trust me when I tell you that re-hosltering is painful and that’s being generous.

Of course, we knew it would not ‘work.’  Stick with semis if you are considering this holster.  Also on the subject of pants, the thickness of the velcro attachments and the pistol carrier itself means you will need to either go up a bit in pants size or ensure that yours have sufficient stretch to accommodate this product.  Again, I’d recommend actually trying one one at a gun show using your pistol and spare mags before you part with any $$$.

You may wish to look at other alternative for small pistols.  The smallest handgun I own is an XDS-45, but that one is currently at Springfield for the voluntary recall.  Here’s what my wife’s Sig P238 looks like swallowed up by the TMBB.

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No go.  It would have gone even deeper inside the holster if I had pushed it in after donning the holster like you would during normal usage.

This product seems best-suited for standard frame, large-size Glocks such as the G22, G31, G17 and even the large-frame models (G20 and G21).  5″ 1911’s should feel right at home along with similarly-sized semi-autos.  Extended barrels are no problem, but there was not enough room to accommodate rail attachments.

I had a business card, but misplaced it (not uncommon as I go through well over a thousand business cards during the course of a year).  A quick Google search for the company that makes the product produced nothing.  So, at this point, I can only state that I’ve seen a single vendor selling the product at one Ft. Worth gun show.

In summary, it’s an interesting product with a somewhat unique selling feature.  If I were to be given the ability to modify the product, I’d have a dual mag pouch next to the pistol carrier along with the one on the opposite side and perhaps even a small pocket in between.  You can give up a few inches of that velcro space and not miss it at all.  Might be useful to have a ‘tactical’ version that accommodated lights/lasers and such on the rail.  A version for smaller guns and different geometry for revolvers could be handy.  Of course, this increases the number of SKU’s in your product line and as soon as you start thinking along those lines, that though process leads me toward something like the ICE Crossbreed anyway.

And, btw, I’d change the freaking name.

Thanks for visiting Texas Gun Show Review.

– Diligencia, Vis, Celeritas

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