My first obstacle in participating in Kilted to Kick Cancer was, well, getting a kilt.
I had never worn a kilt prior to the campagin, and after a little intarwebz research, I discovered that the un-bifurcated lifestyle is an expensive proposition. The custom numbers from all of the popular makers run in the hundreds of dollars, and even though the Steampunk kilts from Alt.Kilt struck my fancy, I decided to wait until I was closer to my weight loss goal to purchase one. I just couldn't see laying out big bucks for kilts that wouldn't fit in another couple of months. Besides, if I was going to go kilted for an entire month, I'd need not just one kilt, but several.
In the end, I went the DIY route, and those kilts turned out pretty well.
And of course, once the answer of how to procure a kilt was solved, the only other pressing concern was, "Where am I going to pack my heater while wearing this thing?"
You could open carry, I suppose, and Husband In Law did just that, but concealed carry while kilted is a bit more problematic. I have a number of IWB holsters in my carry rotation, but none of them are tuckable, and my normal expedient of wearing an untucked cover shirt just looks, well… funky while wearing a kilt. The things just look better with a tucked-in shirt, and the weather is not yet cold enough for me to wear my shoot-me-first vest as a cover garment. Plus, most formal kilt belts are 3 inches wide or larger, making them too large to fit the J hooks or belt slits of most holsters.
One option was the Galco Thigh Band concealment holster.
While a thigh holster may be an elegant solution for the dedicated kilt wearers among us, utlimately it wouldn't work for me. I have a neuropathy in the dermatome that runs down my left lateral thigh, caused by being overweight. When I'm at my heaviest, it's just a dull ache, but 60 pounds down, it's a raw, seething, burning pain all along the lateral aspect of my left thigh. Imagine taking a barbecue grill brush to your thigh until it's nice and raw, and then dousing it with kerosene. That's me, 24/7.
If you slap me on the thigh, you'll start a fight, but if you just lightly brush that area, you'll win the fight. Light touch is excruciatingly painful, which has actually made wearing a kilt a bit of a revelation for me. Aside from the refreshing sensation of breezes reaching my boy bits, it's actually far less painful than wearing pants or shorts. Even though this pain will be gone in another 25 pounds or so, I can definitely see myself wearing kilts more often in the future.
So anyway, yeah, me wearing a thigh band… not gonna work. Wearing the rig on my left thigh is a non-starter, and wearing it on the right thigh increases the likelihood of printing. So, I had to buy a tuckable IWB holster (and limit myself only to kilts with belts), or think of something else.
Answer: the sporran.
After a great deal of exhaustive research (okay, it was a 5 minute Google search), I discovered that no one makes a concealed carry sporran. The closest thing I could find was the Nightstalker nylon cargo sporran from Stillwater Kilts.
The Nightstalker has a zippered pocket in the flap perfect for a credit cards or a money clip, an inner sleeve pocket to carry your wallet, and a zippered and padded cargo pocket large enough to carry your keys, camera or a full size 1911. In fact, that's just what I did with it. Aside from meandering around the Las Vegas Convention Center, where concealed carry of firearms is legally prohibited, I carried pretty much everywhere else I went in Vegas, using this sporran.
However roomy it is, though, it's not designed for concealed carry, and something in me quails at the thought of walking around with my pistol just banging around loose in a cargo pocket. It was an imperfect solution at best.
Enter my buddy Michael Hast of Michael's Custom Holsters.
Shortly after Michael agreed to donate a custom holster and belt combo for the Kilted to Kick Cancer fundraising challenge, he emailed me with an offer too good to refuse:
"Kelly, how would you like me to make you a coyote-faced, concealed carry sporran?"
Uummm… yes, please?
Michael's holsters have been favorably reviewed by more popular gun bloggers than myself, and aside from the quality leather work, one of the nicer things about his operation is that he's willing to experiment. Exposed or hidden stitching, stingray hide, leather or carbon fiber, dyed in funky colors or traditional brown leather, IWB or pancake holsters, if he can find a mold for your heater, he'll make a custom holster to your specifications.
Including, apparently, the tanned pelt of Canis latrans enclosing a cowhide holster for my officer-length 1911.
After a few email exchanges collaborating on what I wanted, Michael put together a prototype and sent it my way for review. Unfortunately, it didn't arrive before I left for Vegas, but some time during my absence, the Big Brown Truck of Happiness dropped off the package from Michael's Custom Holsters on my front porch. Inside the box, I found this:
Purty, ain't it?
First impression: it's big, a good bit larger than my other two sporrans. The size, of course, was dictated by my request that it accomodate a 1911 holster with zero cant. Michael's concealed carry sporran measures roughly 9×9 inches, making it just an inch or so larger in both dimensions than my other two sporrans:
Left to right: Standard brown leather sporran, concealed carry sporran, and the Nightstalker
As expected, the leather work is impeccable. The stiching is even and ruler-straight, including the untanned cowhide holster he used for the inner holster. There are no rough or unfinished edges or seams. The back of the sporran is heavy weight saddle leather fitted with standard 1.5 inch belt slots, with the rest of the sporran constructed of tanned purse leather and the aforementioned dead critter skin stitched to the flap. From what Michael tells me, the two coyote faces he ordered were folded, spindled and mutilated by the tannery, and he had to do some serious repair to make them presentable. Still, I think it compares very favorably to other fur sporrans I've seen on the web.
The sporran as designed hangs well using a sporran chain, or a sporran keeper hung from a standard kilt belt. The holster itself is untanned cowhide, and offers excellent retention. I can turn it upside down and shake it and still it holds my pistol in place, yet still offers an easy draw. In a stroke of genius, Michael affixed the holster to the back of the sporran with heavy-duty, stainless steel snaps, allowing easy removal of the holster.
That simple arrangement allowed me to retrofit my Nightstalker with Michael's holster by the simple expedient of adding a row of heavy-duty female snaps to the back of the sporran. It worked perfectly, and the snaps hold the holster in place even during your draw stroke.
The only things i'm not fond of are the belt slots on the back of the sporran, and the lack of D rings to which a sporran chain can be affixed. However, Michael can hardly be blamed for that, as I didn't specify belt width nor inclusion of D rings in my specs. And although fur or animal-faced sporrans are popular choices for kilt-wearers, my own personal preferences tend toward the plain leather type, with hard, saddle leather sides rather than the purse leather used in the prototype. Soon I'll be commissioning Michael to build such a concealed carry sporran, similar in looks and construction to the brown leather sporran on the left in one of the above photos, with two removable holsters with a 30 degree cant: one for my 1911, and another one for my Taurus 709. This one will also have 2.5 inch belt slots and D rings for a sporran chain.
The sporran I have, however, has a special destination in mind. Michael and I are going to donate it to Carteach0's fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project. We'll do a special raffle of this one-of-a-kind concealed carry sporran with integrated, removable 1911 compact holster, at $5 a ticket, and add the proceeds to Carteach's fundraising total.
And if you haven't heard of the Wounded Warrior Project, go visit the site and read about a very worthy cause, and then head on over to Carteach0's blog and buy a few tickets to benefit the cause.
If you're a member of the kilted nation and have been pining for a concealed carry sporran, you could certainly do worse than Michael's Custom Holsters. Give him a buzz, and have him build you a concealed carry sporran for your weapon, or have him retrofit one of your existing sporrans with a removable holster.
Edit: Welcome to the readers from Say Uncle! Y'all be sure to click one of the donation links on my left sidebar while you're here (the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LiveStrong logos), and donate to help fight male-specific cancers. If y'all don't think I'm going to take full advantage of an Uncalanche, you're crazy!