Accessibility (the ability to “present” or deploy the weapon in a reasonable fashion, and retention, making sure the weapon stays where it’s supposed to until you wish to present or deploy it, are two sides to the same coin, and they are always intertwined. One always affects the other, at least marginally, if not considerably.
The best concealment rig in the world is totally useless if you can’t present the weapon when you need to, in order to influence the situation at hand. Because of this, you should always consider how easy and fast it is to get your weapon into play from a given concealment rig. Before making a holster purchase, put it on, stick your gun (or an acceptable substitute such as an aluminum dummy gun) into it, and see how easily it is to draw, keeping in mind that some holsters need a “break in period” before they draw really easily.
Retention, the ability to keep the weapon where it’s supposed to be, really breaks down into a couple of issues… keeping the weapon from dislodging from your own efforts, and keeping it out of the hands of others.
Let me address the “keeping it from others’ issue first… Police officers use specialty retention holsters all the time, as well they should. Their weapons are “front and center” and on the minds of every perp looking to get an advantage. Without a good retention system, more bad guys would get their hands on more police weapons, which is NOT a pretty sight. Retention holsters are very much an excellent idea for anyone with an exposed weapon, because it helps to keep the perps from arming themselves with someone else’s weapon.
Do you see the caviet there? “Exposed weapon”. If a weapon is properly concealed in the first place, no one knows that they should be grabbing it, let along knowing -where- to grab it from. Retention against others is probably, in my opinion, more of an overblown issue for the average Concealed Carry person, one that really doesn’t have a lot of bearing on their situation. I’m sure that there are those out there that will disagree with me on that, but sorry, it’s my blog and I can call it as I see it. Get your own blog! 🙂 Still, even with that, it’s a decision that you, yourself, have to make in regards to your situation… perhaps everyone in the universe knows that you carry, and you don’t want people pawing your piece. If you feel you need it, you probably do, so go for it.
Now, the other half of the retention issue is “retention against your own actions”. If you jog, run regularly, dogsled, or whatever, you should take into account your physical exertions and how likely they are to affect your carry. There is nothing quite so embarrassing as having your gun fall out in front of some random people, and having to scurry not only to get it back away, but explain to the more nervous ones that they shouldn’t be alarmed by this. Only you know your physical activity level, and how likely you are to perform a sudden back flip, so that’s another piece of the puzzle that you need to work on.
Even if you are the proverbial couch (or mouse) potato, there are situations that might bear watching… the old saw of losing your gun in the restroom stall is repeated often, because, well, it’s repeated often… if you have a concealment rig that’s vulnerable to having your pants down, perhaps you should think about this carefully before putting yourself in this situation. An ounce of prevention, and all that, really beats a pound of pistol skittering into the next stall.
The other half of this, though, is that the more secure the weapon is, the slower/harder it’s going to be to put it into action. Lets face the fact here that when you need the weapon, you are NOT going to have plenty of time to leisurely draw and present the weapon, making sure that you do everything that you need to be doing… you are going to be rushed, pressed upon (sometimes literally), and the adrenaline is gonna be pumping. Your friends and family are depending on you to do the right thing, and do it NOW! The simpler this is to accomplish, the more likely you will accomplish it, it’s as plain as that.
Any rig should be practiced with just for this reason, and that includes rigs with and without any extra retention systems. If they have retention systems, all the more reason you should practice with them until drawing through the retention is second nature for you, something that you do NOT have to think about, something that you can accomplish when the only thing you can see is the perp, period.