Holsters from Big Stick Defense


Sometimes it makes sense to carry a .380. Twenty years ago I wouldn’t have said that, but with today’s advances in ammunition technology the .380 has become a viable self-defense round. I’m a cop and don’t carry purely for self defense; it’s my job to advance toward a threat, not cover my and my family’s retreat. After hearing opinions from two very skilled tactical trainers, and spending enough range time with a Glock 42, I would have the confidence to advance on a threat with a .380. Yes, I’d likely be at more of a disadvantage than I’d be with a larger pistol, I’d have to get much closer to make effective shots, and I’d probably need to put more rounds on target to stop a bad guy (which is why I never go with less than three spare mags when I carry my G42). But I could win a gunfight with a .380.

Now that I’ve explained why I sometimes carry a .380, the next question is, what’s the best way to carry it?

One extremely low-profile way to carry a small pistol is in a pocket holster. When I have to dress up and tuck in my shirt, pocket carry is great. But for EDC, it has a significant drawback: it’s not ambidextrous. If the first indication I’m in a gunfight is a disabling wound to my right hand, and I’m pocket carrying, I’ve got problems. The same concern applies to strong-side IWB carry. I don’t carry a gun in case nothing goes wrong, I carry in case everything goes wrong. And one way everything could go wrong is having to engage in a gunfight with only my weak hand. My weapon generally has to be accessible with either hand.

For that reason, among many others, I’ve switched to Appendix In Waist Band (AIWB) carry. And Big Stick Defense (http://www.bigstickholsters.com), run by fellow Texan Levi Ralston, makes a pretty good AIWB holster.


This is MY holster, before Big Stick shipped it over.

Tons of Kydex benders are making holsters. But Big Stick’s “Fat Boy” stands out among others for two reasons. Big Stick only advertises one major feature for the Fat Boy, but the second and third really grabbed my attention. (Note: the Fat Boy isn’t only for appendix carry, I just use it solely for that purpose.)

The Fat Boy’s “signature feature” is a raised sweat guard that cover the entire body side of the weapon; none of the weapon touches your abdomen. This prevents rust, and helps avoid “holster bite” when you holster your pistol. Holster bite doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for middle-aged guys fighting a beer belly (like me), getting the crap pinched out of your stomach every time you holster becomes kind of a pain. The Fat Boy eliminates the bite problem.


The second feature is the Fat Boy’s “control channel”. The channel keeps Kydex off the slide release, which prevents the possibility the slide release will catch or drag during the draw. An associated feature is a pronounced shroud that prevents accidental mag release. One time, with one holster, I drew my weapon and discovered my mag was popped. That was during a very intense training exercise, I was moving around a lot and hitting the deck repeatedly, and don’t know if the mag released because I leaned on it or if I failed to seat it before holstering. It only happened once, so I’m more inclined to think it was my fault rather than the holster’s. But that incident made me very aware of the possibility that a holster could cause me to lose my magazine. In a gunfight, that would just be embarrassing. I don’t have to worry about that happening if I’m using a Fat Boy.

The Fat Boy’s third and most-important-yet-unlisted feature is retention. I’ve used a lot of AIWB holsters, but this is the only one the pistol actually snaps into, the only one I can hold upside down and shake without having the weapon fall out, and the only one I could wear in a fistfight or wrestling match without worrying about losing my weapon. I can think of any number of holsters, including some very popular minimalist holsters, that I would be terrified to have in my waistband during a physical confrontation or even during significant physical exertion (i.e., running through a panicked crowd toward a potential threat). Having a loaded pistol floating around loose in your pants during a life-and-death crisis would kinda suck, but I wouldn’t worry about it if I was wearing a Fat Boy. With the G42 Fat Boy the weapon does “pop” as it’s drawn, which could be a problem if you’re trying to draw quietly, but training and awareness keep that under control. The G43 version is just as secure but has a much quieter draw.


A one-off holster, made for a Jericho.

Based on my experience with the Fat Boy, Big Stick Defense seems to make good stuff. They offer a lifetime warranty on their gear, and if you buy a Big Stick holster and really wear it out they’ll pretty it up for you free of charge. If you’re in the market for a Glock 42 AIWB holster (or for any of the weapons listed below), Big Stick is a good place to start.

Fullsize or commander 1911 W/ rail
Beretta PX4 storm
Plus many other commonly carried pistols

And if you’re near Brownwood, Texas, have a one-off weapon that’s not on the list and want a Big Stick holster, feel free to visit Big Stick Defense and let Levi use your weapon to custom make a holster for your pistol. Check out their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/bigstickdefense/?fref=ts, for more information.


P.S. I don’t have any business association or interest with Big Stick Holsters. I just like their products and enjoy helping a Texas businessman who believes in the 2nd Amendment.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).

5 Responses to “Holsters from Big Stick Defense”

  1. Hi Chris, I have always liked the .380 I had a Beretta Mod 84C and still have a Walther PPK, Yea I am a fan of Ian Flemming. I really like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. So what! I can put the Walther in my front pocket, safety on all night long ,keys and change in the left pocket PPK in the right. Two small mags in my left back pocket. No one the wiser. I am only 5’4″, small hands. I don’t wear skinny jeans. On two separate occasions I have thought I might need it I Weaver’d and leave my left hand to take a blow or gesticulate. The right hand for the PPK. I have a Glock 23 .40 with a Kydex clip holster, in the small of my back and 2 mags in my left back pocket when attending more questionable venues. I wouldn’t dare carry that without a holster.

    • I had a Beretta Nano that was perfect in every way, except that it didn’t work. I loved being able to safely pocket carry it without a holster. I took it to a Matt Graham class, and by the end it was failing to extract almost once every magazine. I owned a Walther PP and liked it, but that was before I carried, so I don’t know how it would have been for EDC. I also used to carry a G27, but eventually it started feeling like a brick. I have small hands too, and the G42 and 43 work great for me.

  2. 3 E. Thorn

    I’ve found that Foxx also has a good line of kydex that can be ordered with a swear guard and have the benefit of being ‘tuckable’ behind a shirt if necessary for deep concealment.

  3. 4 Paul

    Chris, have you ever checked out pistol-training dot com or the attendant forum? Lots of AIWB stuff there.

  4. As a ret’d L.E.O. and self appointed Sheep Dog and resident of Brownwood,Texas I got intouch with Levi at “Big Stick” and we met over coffee. He showed me one of his rigs and I am impressed with the workmanship and with the maker. Levi has a good grip on the holster/pistol market and I expect to see his products at gun and knife shows in the future. I like his simple and minimal approach on the holster I saw and the “Fat Boy” featured in this article. BRAVO LEVI!!!

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