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Thread: Ankle Carry

  1. #1
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    Default Ankle Carry

    Ankle carry has been discussed before. Iím always reluctant to speak on topics where my experience is thin, but I wanted to raise some points for discussion.

    I discussed this briefly with both J Nobody and Papa yesterday for their input. I think my opinions aligned with their experience, but they both provided some interesting details worthy of talking about.

    My opinions:
    1. The ankle gun is a proactive tool. It is for circumstances where one has time to access it before hostilities have kicked off.

    2. The most likely use of the ankle gun is providing a weapon to an unprepared teammate. Imagine an active shooter event and handing the ankle gun to your buddy so he can guard your six as you hunt the bad guy. J Nobody has seen a few "officer involved shootings while off dutyÖin each case the officer gave his .38 to his wife while he went and killed the bad person.Ē

    3. Theoretically, one use of the ankle gun is as a backup when your primary pistol has gone down. Imagine the middle of a gunfight, you are behind cover and have a brief moment to access the ankle gun. Practically and realistically, I doubt this happens often. J Nobody and Papa both reported that they havenít seen any real life shootings where an officer had to go to their ankle gun.

    4. The flip side of #1, the ankle gun is NOT a good reactive tool. The middle of a confrontation while bullets, blades, or fists are flying at you is not the time to go for the ankle. You will not have the time and/or space, and it leaves you too vulnerable. You must branch to different tactics and tools. This doesnít mean the ankle gun is irrelevant or a bad idea, but it does mean that itís an inappropriate tool for this circumstance.

    5. Expanding on #4, for some reason it became the conventional wisdom that the ankle gun is the perfect thing for a ground fight. Where this comes from I have no idea, because it bears no resemblance to reality; it is one of those things that people hear and simply accept. I challenge people to test it as I have. The idea that an ankle gun will be accessible is Simply.Not.True. If you are on the ground you need to keep your feet moving, both for mobility as well as defense (your feet/legs are both shields and weapons). If the bad guy is on his feet, your feet will be moving too much to reach the gun. If the bad guy is already on top of you, 99.99% of the time his body will simply be in the way. Just one example - those familiar with the various guard positions will recognize that it makes access to the inside of the ankle impossible.

    6. I struggle to think of a circumstance where ankle carry is IDEAL. But it may be the only choice for guys who canít carry a second gun anywhere else. LE guys often donít have room on their belt, concealment needs might prohibit a second gun on the waist, lots of pants wonít have appropriate pockets, etc. In an office environment or similar semi-NPE, an ankle gun is not concealed enough to ensure one isnít detectedÖpants ride up when one is seated. In a vehicle, itís still much slower than AIWB (though possibly better than behind the hip depending on oneís mobility).

    7. Practice Ė My suspicion is that few practice this enough, whether civilian or LE. J confirmed that in his experience, officers donít practice, and even when it comes time for annual qualifications, the gun comes off the ankle and goes into a belt holster because ďthey consider drawing from the ankle more hazardous to the others on the firing lineĒ. To be fair, a smooth draw is perhaps not as critical for the situations when you branch to the ankle gun (such as handing it to another person), however, the clock is still ticking and a smooth draw is better than losing a few seconds to fumbling about. If one carries on the ankle, it is worth periodically practicing the draw and shooting from likely positions such as kneeling, seated, fetal prone, etc. I was told about an LE class where officers were taught to kneel for the draw and stand back up to shoot. Granted, that may be what is called for in any given situation, but if one is already kneeling for the draw, shouldn't practice should include simply firing from there?

    8. J informed me that the FBI is now recommending ankle carry on the inside right ankle for access to the left hand. I appreciate the recognition that weapon access for the support hand is needed, but I disagree with the execution in this case. Support hand weapon access is needed in reactive circumstances, and as has already been demonstrated, ankle carry is not viable for this purpose. I suppose it doesnít hurt for proactive circumstances, but I still think right-side ankle carry is the wrong answer to the right conclusion that support side access is necessary. A better solution to the reactive problem is a fixed blade knife such as the Benchmade SOCP (or dare I say, my Heretic design) in the left hand pocket.
    Brent Yamamoto
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  2. #2
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    I will quote Papa in full:

    I have not seen anyone in my agency go for ankle guns. I never carried on the ankle when in uniform. I carried a Cobra or J in my off side BDU cargo pocket, transferring to the jacket pocket when it seemed right. When I was a DPA I carried a D frame on the left ankle and a semi either holstered behind the right hip or holsterless AIWB.

    On one search warrant as a DPA I elected to draw the Colt Commando from the ankle instead of the Glock on my hip, as quarters were very close and I needed to keep a low profile. The warrant involved searching a meth lab on a dairy farm with many outbuildings and vehicles.

    As the CEO has a CPL and her own firearms the issue of handing off did not take place unless we were in an NPE. I was usually OK to carry in NPEs so I might carry three pistols: a compact semi, a subcompact and a snub. I would have handed her the compact and a spare mag if the issue arose, as I am more than capable with, say, a G27.

    Since I'm out of harness I no longer carry in a cargo pocket--my Carharts, Kuhls and jeans don't have 'em. I generally carry two compact pistols in the waistband AIWB left and right. Exceptions are cold days when I'll drop a snub into a vest or coat pocket.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

    Instagram: karate_at_1200fps

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    Pistol Groundfighting, Texas

  3. #3
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    And this from J:

    I really think the ankle holster will be used as a way to hand off a second gun to an unprepared friend or in a proactive shooting scenario.

    I’ve really never seen a real life shooting play out where the officer had to go for a backup gun. When we know we’re going to get in a shooting we carry rifles or shotguns and then that primary pistol becomes the backup. I’ve seen it happen where the rifles or shotguns run dry and that primary gun comes out and is used, but I’ve never seen the ankle gun used - yet.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

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    Pistol Groundfighting, Texas

  4. #4
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    SOLID POINTS. ANKLE CARRY HAS ALWAYS BEEN ONE OF TWO THINGS THAT I'VE NOTICED IN THE INDUSTRY, THOSE WHO HAVE WORKED WITH OR HAVE A VIABLE REASON FOR IT, PTS 2/3, OR PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE DOING BUT CARRY IN THAT MANNER BECAUSE IT SIMPLY MEANS THEY HAVE A GUN ON THEM, IM HONESTLY REMINDED OF THE "CALL AN AMBULANCE, BUT NOT FOR ME" VIDEO CLIP CONCERNING THE LATTER.

    HAVING IT AVAILABLE AS A SECONDARY IS DEFINITELY A QUALIFIER THOUGH, SIMPLY NOT MY CUP OF TEA.

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  5. #5
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    More on the idea of ankle carry in a ground fight...

    If one thinks a second gun is important in case one lands on the ground, and the ankle is the only possible spot, carrying on the OUTSIDE of the ankle is far more likely to work. It's still slim, but the opportunity at least exists (again, imagine the guard position...it will still be difficult to reach, but it is at least possible, whereas inside ankle simply isn't). But I think even a J frame is a bit large to carry on the outside of the ankle; perhaps a smaller gun would work.

    If outside ankle carry is viable, I would still recommend carrying on the left leg for left hand access. To that I would add that for those who can kick, right handers still generally kick with the right leg. No matter how ambidexstrous (ambipedrose?) we are, one foot is still better than the other. I don't want that extra encumbrance on my right foot, but I could live with it on my left.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

    Instagram: karate_at_1200fps

    Upcoming classes:

    Pistol Groundfighting, Texas

  6. #6
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    Finally, I will add that if you own one J-frame (yes, it might happen!), then you should own a hammer-less model.

    But if you own more than one, and dedicate it to an ankle holster, it does not hurt to have a hammer. The option for single action is a benefit for proactive shots.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

    Instagram: karate_at_1200fps

    Upcoming classes:

    Pistol Groundfighting, Texas

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Yamamoto View Post
    Finally, I will add that if you own one J-frame (yes, it might happen!), then you should own a hammer-less model.

    But if you own more than one, and dedicate it to an ankle holster, it does not hurt to have a hammer. The option for single action is a benefit for proactive shots.
    I started a new thread in this direction to not derail this one. Advice appreciated. Thanks
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  8. #8
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    Brent, As always this was clean and well summarized. I can say for certain that the only time I ever saw JonathanNobody draw his ankle gun (outside of the house) was when we were out together and he needed to go clear a house that was under construction, but that had the front door forced open. J reached down and pulled his j-frame and then handed it to me. Then he drew his primary and went into clear the place while I stayed out back.

  9. #9
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    I carry on the ankle for one of 2 reasons
    1. As a second gun (Glock 43) to my main carry (Glock 23). Extra magazine on other ankle. Both for back up and to hand off if needed. Mostly at church where I know most do not carry.
    2. When I am going to be in a place where I will get hugged a lot (last time was a funeral). A waist carry would be felt and the family might not appreciate it.

    When I do ankle carry I usually also wear pull on boots. The gun rides inside the boot so it helps with concealment with out harming the draw to much. I will admit that I do not train drawing it as I should (I will take myself to the wood shed later). One down side is that you have to wear loose pants that will go over it.

    ALSO get a good holster with plenty of padding! I use the Glaco one for the gun and a cheap one for the magazine on the other ankle
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  10. #10
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    Thank you, Brent.

    Brought a couple of additional points to mind:

    1. Ankle carry is ideal for draw while sitting in a car or behind a desk. Ironic given the problem of concealment when seated, as in #6, above.
    2. Ankle carry makes your handgun a magnet for dust, dirt, mud, whatever. And it happens quickly. Preventative maintenance daily daily is advised.
    3. Retention devices can and will fail. If you're carrying on the outside of a tactical boot, you may not even know your gun is missing.
    4. Use of the ankle gun as a proactive tool requires that you practice at longer ranges. A J is capable of torso hits at 100 y. You may not be. Yet.
    5. As for the FBI's recommendation, a proper ankle holster is readily useable for either hand, if you use a spear hand to access the grip. For awhile there some folks were pushing a reverse carry, muzzle down and butt forward, but that tends to print badly.
    6. Avoid holsters made of neoprene or the equivalent, which will cause rust ASAP. Wash ballistic nylon rigs frequently to get the salt out. A corrosion resistant finish on the pistol is desirable. Just remember what you don't see will hurt you, so expect to pop the
    sideplate and pull the innards for frequent cleaning.
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