By June 26, 2008

SmartCarry concealed holster review

I’ve held a concealed carry permit for a dozen years come this August. I have owned a ton of holsters over that time period (see DeSantis Nemesis, Fobus IWB, Fobus E2 Evolution reviews). I have decided there is no one perfect holster for all situations. There is a triangle of comfort, accessibility, and concealment that can never be perfectly balanced. The E2 Evolution holster is king for accessibility and okay for comfort, but not so great on concealment. The Uncle Mike’s nylon belt holster I have for my Glock 27 is super comfortable and has decent accessibility, but if I reach too high with my right hand my piece may show.

I soon realized that concealed carry is a lifestyle as much as it is a means of self-defense. There are certain times that you absolutely, positively do not want anyone to know you are carrying a handgun. It might be for political/social reasons. It might be for work-related reasons. It might be for legal reasons. I bump into the first two on a regular basis. It’s legal for me to carry at work, but against corporate policy. If my piece falls out in the middle of a meeting I’d be fired. I certainly don’t want to lose my job, so what’s a guy to do?

The SmartCarry holster makes a big claim: that their unique holster keeps a weapon concealed and undetectable by anyone. I plunked down about $50 and waited for the postal carrier to arrive.

First, let’s play a little game: Where’s the handgun?

This is my standard work attire, with the tightest pants I’ll wear to a place of business. πŸ˜‰ Note that I have to keep my shirt tucked in, and don’t wear anything on my belt like a mobile phone that would normally cover the anchor of a “tuckable” holster.

The back view. Notice the wallet in my back pocket. These pants are not baggy or even “loose fit.”

I love showing off my hairy gut. Oops, I meant to type “this picture shows that I’m not wearing an inside the waistband holster.”

The money shot: my Kel-Tec PF-9 in the SmartCarry holster.

I weigh about 180 pounds and have a size 32 waist, and I think the PF-9 is pretty damn undetectable in this “worst case” of fitting conditions. One nitpick is that butt of my PF-9 is visible through my more form-fitting pants. I don’t think anyone would ever notice it unless I pointed it out to them, but I camouflage this by handing my ID badge on my belt loop. The pistol is TOTALLY invisible if I am in the looser-fitting shorts or jeans I wear outside of work.

SmartCarry, pat yourselves on the back: you backed your claim up in spades, and I salute you.

You can attempt to traverse SmartCarry’s Web site for product information, but I’ll give you the short story. The holster is made out of fabric and is secured around the hips via a two inch wide hook-and-loop (Velcro-like system). The front is a soft cottony material and the back is a waterproof fabric called CushMax®. The front is divided into two, asymmetrical pouches. The handgun is held in the strong-side pouch. The other pouch is for a spare magazine, a speed loader, or in my case, nothing.

The holster positions the handgun, to be crude, right over my junk. It’s worn low on the hips (see my “money shot” photo to see how low it is compared to my boxer briefs) and in a jock strap position. No, I am not afraid of shooting myself in the wang. I think this is a safer position to carry a handgun than appendix carry, as the PF-9 isn’t pointed at anything except the fabric of my pants. Muzzle blast may be an issue, but that sure beats taking a 9mm Hydro-Shok round to my manhood.

So, it’s concealable. Is it comfortable? I’d say it’s 95% comfortable, far more comfortable than any other “deep concealment” holster I own. Sometimes I notice the holster when I walk, crouch down, or run stairs. But the vast, vast majority of the time I don’t even remember the handgun is there. I sit for probably ten hours a day. It is far superior to an inside the waistband holster carried on the front of the body (appendix carry).

There is a slight problem when using the restroom. SmartCarry recommends pushing the holster to the side when taking a piss. When you’re done, tuck up and slide the holster back into place. Seemed straightforward until I actually tried it. The holster is worn tightly to the body in order to maximize concealment, which means you aren’t pushing the SmartCarry very far. Some of my underwear has a very wide “barn door” in the front, and in order to manipulate everything I need a little more clearance than the SmartCarry typically provides.

It is totally awesome when another guy comes into the restroom and I am fondling myself, trying to get the front of my holster back into place.

Finishing up is even more of a nuisance. I haven’t figured out how to replace the SmartCarry exactly where I had it, and I am nervous that the holster isn’t placed optimally. What’s more weird than playing with yourself in a men’s room? Checking your crotch out in the mirror afterward. I need more practice tinkling with the SmartCarry.

Is the SmartCarry accessible? Much more than I expected. I unloaded my PF-9 to practice drawing. The process is simple: pull the front of your pants forward with your off hand and put your strong hand down in your pants. I can go from business casual to get-down-to-business in less than a second. It’s at least as fast as drawing from my paddle holster with an untucked shirt. It is much faster than drawing my Glock from my IWB holster, as the grip is carried almost at the waistline.

Is the SmartCarry the perfect concealment holster? I’d say it is your absolute best choice if you need deep concealment. There are still day-to-day issues with wearing holster, but it’s a fantastic option if you don’t want anyone to know you are carrying. I love my “assault diaper.”

Posted in: guns, review

49 Comments on "SmartCarry concealed holster review"

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  1. Nick says:

    That was a great review. Thanks a million. The bathroom comments were funny.

  2. Bob says:

    Is that a 9mm in your pants or are you just glad to see me?

  3. drfaulken says:

    More like a .22 Short πŸ™

  4. Mike says:

    Very good review. I have been using a Thunderwear Holster (same thing, different company) for years. When you really need to stay concealed, it is great. I normally carry either a Taurus 85 (2″ .38) or a Kahr MK40 and spare mag. A note when wearing a spare mag, sometimes things get pinched between the mag and gun…not too pleasant but… Altogether, a great holster, and much better than leaving my little buddy at home.

  5. Reed says:

    seems like the issue with taking a piss would be solved by just going into a stall…sure, someone might think you’re weird for peeing in a stall, but it’s not really that abnormal.

  6. sam says:

    Sooo, what good is such a holster, if you have to open your belt before reaching into it? Or do I miss the point.

    On the fotos it just looks like you wear your belts pretty tight, so no room to quickly reach in, right?

    …just a thought

  7. drfaulken says:

    Hi Sam,

    You don’t have to undo your belt. Even though I wear my pants snugly about my waist, I still have room to reach in and access the hangun.

    From my review:

    The process is simple: pull the front of your pants forward with your off hand and put your strong hand down in your pants. I can go from business casual to get-down-to-business in less than a second.

  8. Bill Vincent says:

    Well, I have to say that your review does far more for SmartCarry than their website, which, sadly, breaks almost every web design rule there is. It’s atrocious! Every page has paragraphs of text to wade through in order to find the info you want. If your write-up hadn’t piqued my curiosity, I would have navigated away from that page in seconds. However, that said, I’m seriously considering one of their holsters for my Smith & Wesson .40 compact once I can spare the time to read through that gawd-awful web site. πŸ™‚

  9. hoosier8 says:

    The SmartCarry is a “when you need deep concealment” holster and not my favorite by far. That said, it is the only holster I can use in some circumstances. I have worn it in situations that any other type of holster would be questionable. It can be worn with dress pants and tucked in shirts with little worry if a good concealable pistol is used. I have carried anything from a P3AT to a full size 1911. The 1911 just made me look like a stud sitting down, LOL.

  10. Chuck J says:

    Outstanding demonstration. Does this allow for a quick draw by pushing the barrel of the gun (from the pocket) upwards, exposing the hand grip, where you can grab-n-draw quickly (a technique that was actually perfected in SE Asia with larger frame weapons).

    Great job – and glad to see your page ranked.

  11. Ryan says:

    Excelent review! I stumbled across your site looking for reviews, and I think this may be my next purchase.

    I notice the riding jacket in your closet behind you in the picture. I too ride, and riding presents one of the hardest times for me to CC. Have you used this holster while riding? Judging by the jacket, I assume you ride a sport bike, as do I, and have yet to find a comfortable, concealable way to carry while riding.

    Thanks for the review, I look foward to reading more!


  12. CJ4short says:

    Have you tried carrying a spare mag in the other pocket? and when carrying the extra magazine, does weight become an issue?

    Btw, nice review! I hope they end up selling that baby in a year. Im 20 now, but I work around (and own) all kinds of guns.

  13. drfaulken says:

    Hey everyone, sorry for the late replies.

    Ryan, I have worn the SmartCarry a few times on my motorcycle. I wear my dress pants and then kevlar overpants, so there isn’t a whole lot of extra crotch room going around. It’s passable for my 30 – 45 minute commute, but I wouldn’t want to ride for much longer than that. My Yamaha FZ6 is more upright than a traditional sport bike, but the seating position is still fairly aggressive.

    CJ4short, I now carry my spare mag in the other pocket. Weight isn’t an issue; I think that the extra mass helps it sit more naturally.

    I am going to write a follow-up to this piece fairly soon, so there will be more information on how I’ve “lived” with the SmartCarry.

    Thanks for reading, and for your comments.

  14. Jake says:

    Nice review! Seems like it conceal it well. Being 32 in waist size myself behind or point of hip isen’t too great during summer even with something like a glock 19.

    IWB is something I never really enjoyed and would easiely sacrifice concealment for something more comfy like a pancake holster. So I guess where I am trying get is, if that works in terms of comfort while sitting down a lot or drving.

  15. Josh says:

    how does this holster work with the glock 27? i dont have a keltec but i just got a g27 and i have a s&w air weight. the smith is perfect for appendix carry with the curved handle but the g27 slide tends to stab me in the gut some. i’m about 145 and similar build as you. also, how do u feel about carrying one in the pipe in you’re g27?

  16. christine says:

    I am a woman & have difficulty finding a way to conceal my pf9 with slightly snug jeans & or when I run sometimes . are there any women out there or men who have any suggestions?

  17. Spectre says:

    Christine when I run I put my firearms in an inside the waistband holster with a retention strap to keep the gun from falling out from the movement. And I’ll either have my shirt untucked for conceal carry, or tucked in for open carry depending on my mood. I wouldn’t advise open carrying unless it’s legal for you to do so in your state of residence, here in Virginia though open carry is not against the law for private citizens.

  18. drfaulken says:

    Hi Christine, I wear pretty form-fitting pants at times and my PF9 stays well-hidden. The biggest thing to look out for is the butt of the gun printing.

    Do you wear your shirt tucked or untucked while wearing jeans?

  19. christine says:

    No I dont wear shirts or blouses that have to be tucked in .I usually wear t shirts or other tops that lay just below the top of my jeans pocket

  20. Chris Gray says:

    I have used smartCarry for several years. Very effective. Practice all you want, but the bathroom thing is always going to be awkward. Great holster for the price, very well constructed and washable. They also have a “security model” with extra storage for money behind the pistol for about 60 usd.

  21. 2os says:

    Excellent review. I’m into my second week of carrying my Glock 19 with a Smartcarry. I’m about 30 lbs lighter than you with the same 32 waist but the gun I carry appears to be larger than your PF-9. The odds are against me but my experience is very similar to your own. My main concern is about draw speed. Overcoming the belt and tucked-in shirt that tends to get in the way between my hand and the gun butt is challenging. I actually purchased this holster to use it with shorts in and around my house. It conceals better under the loose shorts and draw is easier but then here I am electing to wear it to work every day instead of my tuckable IWB holster. Maybe because it is much better while sitting down and not showing a bulge on my belt that some of my friends remarked on while wearing the IWB holster. The bathroom experience is an issue but for me, a small price to pay for the better convenience while sitting down. I do agree with the printing of the end of gun butt. I place it where it is right at the top of my jeans pocket where it is not as noticeable.

  22. Peter says:

    Best review of the SmartCarry I’ve read. I got mine this week, laughed out loud first time I pulled up my jeans with the G30 securely in place. Where did that real estate come from? Hard to really visualize how well this works until that first strap-on. And so comfortable.

  23. drfaulken says:

    Hi 2os and Peter!

    2os, I have been concerned about drawing the weapon under formal or semi-formal clothes as well. I believe that in the environments in which I use the SmartCarry, I will have the opportunity to draw from concealment. I am not as worried about drawing in “front” of an attacker as much as when I am on the street.

    I suggest you unload your G19 and practice drawing from under a tucked-in shirt. If anything, women will appreciate your ability to rapidly rip your shirt off. πŸ˜‰

    Peter, nothing made my manhood feel smaller than putting the PF-9 in my SmartCarry and realizing it made no discernible difference to the front of my pants. πŸ˜›

  24. drfaulken says:

    Gibberish reader TNTitan provided a YouTube video of drawing his Taurus Millennium Pro from his SmartCarry:

    Thanks, TNTitan!

  25. Don says:

    Great review! One small nitpick — Smartcarry blatantly lies about the “waterproof” qualities of their back panel of Cushmax fabric: Cushmax fabric has no waterproofing properties at all. In fact, it absorbs water.

    It is a water-grabbing shoe liner fabric. Here’s the manufacturer’s own website “Its unique nylon fiber construction gives the fabric superior moisture absorption characteristics…” “QUICKWICK Aqua-Transport System: A characteristic giving the fabric enhanced wicking ability & absorption of moisture”

  26. Dave H says:

    Great review. Question to any owners of this item who have Glocks: Do you carry with a round in the chamber? I am looking to buy this item but have some concerns about carrying a loaded, chambered Glock in such a sensitive area.

    Thanks in advance.

    Dave H.

  27. DrFaulken says:

    Hello Dave,

    I have carried my Glock 27 and my Kel-Tec PF-9 with one in the chamber without issue.

  28. 2os says:

    I have been using the Smartcarry since May 2009 (see my post above). Since then it has become my only holster. I carry a Glock 19 but never with a round in chamber. I think this is just my way since I wasn’t carrying with round in chamber with any other holster I had either. The trigger is protect fine while in this holster and I have no concerns about the it being pulled while in the holster but at drawing I am a little concerned. Drawing out of this holster is not a smooth draw. You have to dig under your belt and sometimes fingers get tangled in the shirt above the gun. I dry practice drawing and loading at the same time and with practice it makes for a fairly quick presentation. This holster is second to none in the way of concealment which is why I use it. I recently bought a Pistol Wear holster but I cannot use it for everyday wear because it cannot be hid inside the pants like the Smartcarry. It is a comfortable carry though.

  29. Dave H says:

    Ok, mine came in yesterday. I LOVE IT. I wore a full size G22 to church today, and NO ONE had a clue. This holster is comfortable!

    I’m shocked at how easy it is to draw. I was really worried about this, but I no longer have any concerns.

    As noted in the OP, the butt of the gun does appear at the front of the pelvis as a sharp edge on the pants. I’m putting my key-clip there to reduce the bulge, though I don’t need to if I use the right pants.

    I’m SO PLEASED!!!

    Thanks for your original review–it was the deciding factor for me in buying this, and I’m ecstatic that I did.


  30. DrFaulken says:

    Glad to hear that you like it, Dave H πŸ™‚

    I read somewhere else online that they wear their SmartCarry very high, to the point where the butt of the pistol is even with their belt.

    They wrote that this hides the pistol 100%.

    I tried it this way and found it to be too uncomfortable, and makes the front of my pants bulge too much in the wrong places πŸ˜‰

    However, depending on your body type and style of clothing it might be interesting for you to try.

  31. AndrΓ© (Brazil) says:

    Will be perfect to be used with a CZ 6.35mm

  32. dfs6 says:

    Question to any owners of this item who have Glocks: Do you carry with a round in the chamber? I am looking to buy this item but have some concerns about carrying a loaded, chambered Glock in such a sensitive area.

    I also have a Glock 27 and use a trigger block which allows me peace of mind with one in the chamber. The block can be pushed out easily when going for the trigger.

  33. Dave H says:

    dfs6: I am a reserve LE and always carry with a round in the chamber. I use the Smart Carry with both my Glock 22 and Glock 27. The Smart Carry actually covers the trigger with its pocket. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    Dave H.

  34. 2os says:

    See my post, number 29 above; I do not carry my Glock chambered. I have no concerns about tripping the trigger while carrying since it is well protected. The risk to this carry method is at the draw. Smooth draw of the pistol from within your pants and under your belt requires constant practice. Under pressure if you are in a hurry to draw you might trip the trigger while trying to get a good grip on the pistol. I practice finger trigger position and control while dry practicing but when practicing fast draw often my fingers get entangled in the shirt which might create a mess when under pressure.

  35. DrFaulken says:

    Hi dfs6, I have carried a G27 or G19 with a round in the chamber since 1996 without issue. I usually carry a G27 or Kel-Tec PF-9 in my SmartCarry.

  36. Bill says:

    CC veterans will tell you that if you do not have a round chambered you’re basically carrying a paperweight. In a real-life situation, you won’t have time to chamber a round, regardless of how fast you are. I don’t care who you are or fast you are, or long you’ve been carrying. Watch this video, for example:

    If URL is stripped, go to youtube and search for “Should You Carry A Round In The Chamber?”, then tell me you’ll have time to jack a shell in.

  37. Bill says:

    In addition, most of the “reasons” not to carry with one in the pipe are holdovers from older firearms. Modern weapons in good condition with the safety on will not “go off” if dropped or exposed to some other force. If you’re afraid that you’ll pull the trigger while drawing, that means you don’t draw correctly, and need some training. Your finger doesn’t touch the trigger until the muzzle is clear of your body, and you practice this until it’s as habitual as breathing. Even if it WAS a risk, I’d rather have a chance to defend myself than ask the attacker to wait a breath while I jack the slide.

  38. Marc says:

    Thanks for a great review. I’m new to CC and started out with the Smart Carry and the Cell Pal holsters. At first neither was comfortable, but from the start the Cell Pal was a challenge for me. I wear loose elastic waist-band pants both at and after work – this was problematic due to the weight on my pants. Also had problems with “printing” and quick draws. Smart Carry has worked out well for me. I wear it high with the butt extending slightly above my belt, covered with a loose shirt. I like this for one handed draws, since i often am carrying something in my other hand – also easy to tuck/cover if need be. The bathroom is a challenge, I use a stall unless i have space around me.

  39. Dale says:

    Great Review for the SmartCarry. I’ve been using this product for concealment for three months now and I agree that it is the best and most comfortable conceal product on the market. There was a good comment earlier about using the stall if you’re not used to the holster. I found that the more I wore it, the easier it got. I would recommend this product above any others that I’ve tried.

  40. vrwal says:

    The instructions on the website for this product recommend putting the holster over the front of the shirt so when drawing the shirt should not get tangled up.

  41. malignity says:

    Considering getting this as well for my Glock 23. Of those of you who carry a Glock with this, is the padding secure enough that even with a modified Glock trigger (Ghost Tactical) that it won’t possibly set off? I need deep concealment for my work because I work in an extremely dangerous area, but if found, I’ll be instantly fired. My only concern is blowing my junk off. I’m sure standard Glock triggers would be fine, but the modified trigger is quite a bit lighter. Not quite a 1911 trigger, but close.

    Would you feel safe carrying a cocked and locked 1911 in one of these?

    Also, how do these work for those who are overweight and have a gut on them?

  42. Peter P says:

    I have a Ghost Tactical trigger on my G30 (about 2.5#). The holster does not deform in a way that part of it would insert itself into the trigger area and inadvertently pull even a soft trigger.

  43. DrFaulken says:

    I carry a Glock 26 in mine from time to time and have a Lone Wolf 3.5# connector on mine. No problems — but if you’re worried about it, chamber a snap cap or similar and carry around the house for awhile.

  44. Marc says:

    I dont have one yet, or a gun for that matter (sold it last year). But I have been reading up on it. First off, excellent review. Second, always, always, always carry one in the pipe. And for those who are afraid of a ND (neglegent discharge, no such thing as accidental discharge) I have read in several spots that people sew or possibly glue pieces of a milk jug to the holster. This will completely remove the possiblity of something poking through the fabric and pulling the trigger.

  45. Steve says:

    Excellent review. I’ve always carried a J-Frame revolver in an inside-the-pocket holster (EG. DeSantis Nemesis or Superfly). But I just bought a Glock 30SF that I am anxious to start carrying. Smart Carry seemed like a good bet but I was a little concerned with how a guy built like me would be able to draw. At 6′ and 320LBS I have a gut that practically covers my belt. But when I emailed Charlie Parrott (designer of Smart Carry) my concerns, he replied that he has a customer almost 1 1/2 times my size that carries a J-Frame revolver in his Smart Carry. Well if this guy can do it then so can I!!

    FYI – Charlie is real good with answering emails. Very honest, personable and straightforward. Last known email address was [email protected].

    One thing about Smart Carry; I can see using your weak hand to pull slightly down on the pants and then drawing the pistol out with the strong hand. But I can’t figure out how to reload when the extra mag is in the Smart Carry. Almost like you need a 3rd hand. How the heck do you reload??

    Does anyone else have any complaints about Smart Carry not being water proof/resistant? I’ve only heard positive

    Also – does anyone have any experience with the “security model” of the Smart Carry?

    To Christine; you mentioned Smart Carry for women. Here is a video that may interest you.

    Look forward to reading more reviews…

  46. DTT says:

    Hi all,
    Been wearing the SC holster for about a week. Love the concept but running into an issue. I sit for most of the day and what I am feeling is the handle of my G30 digging into my pubic area when I lean forward.
    The movements it is happeneing in is for example:

    Leaning over when I have dropped something and going to pick it up.
    Leanign over to tie my shoes.
    Movements like that.

    If I try and carry it lower where it would NOT create that issue, then it looks like I am ummmmm “hanging real low” which can be flattering, but doesnt work.

    Any advice?

  47. brian says:

    I am shopping for my first concealed holster. I really liked this review. It gave me a great insight on things I need to be aware of and consider while carrying. Thanks

  48. Skeet says:

    Great review. I have searched and searched to find out about what I would need to do in order to take a leak. I have had radical prostate surgery and when I have to go I have to go or wet myself. Now I can purchase the smart choice with more confidence. Thanks.

  49. Tactical Survivalist says:

    I think you have some great points in the value of this concealed carry holster but would like to know if it became uncomfortable when seated or having to stand and sit a few times. It is a great idea placing the weapon in a “plain sight” frontal area that people try to naturally “avoid” looking at. One last question, how quickly accessible was the weapon in a high stress situation?