Exclusive: Carry that J-Frame Inside the Waistband
For decades, Smith & Wesson’s ubiquitous J-frame revolver has served law enforcement and civilians as a backup gun or primary concealed carry gun. While it at times gets a bad rap for being difficult to shoot and slow to reload, this diminutive 5-round revolver has nonetheless ridden hidden in more pockets than perhaps any other gun. While other firearms manufacturers design and manufacture smaller and smaller guns, the J-frame still reigns supreme in the hearts — and pockets — of many.
While pocket carry has distinct advantages, it isn’t, of course, the only place to carry a J-frame. I’m going to argue that a J-frame carries just as well, if not better, in an inside the waistband holster. Already objections are coming to mind, such as these three: A J-frame is 1) too thick and 2) too short for really good inside the waistband carry. Or, 3) if you’re going to carry inside the waistband, then carry more gun.
These are fair objections but easily mitigated, especially if you carry a J-frame in the right holster. The S&W 340 PD you see here rides in an American Holster Company Invisi-Tuck holster, one of a few holsters that make the inside the waistband carry of a J-frame not just possible but preferred. Let’s see how it addresses the objections, one by one.
Objection 1: A J-frame is too thick.
While small and light, revolvers carried inside the waistband usually put the cylinder, the thickest part of the gun, at the place where it would be least comfortable — between a wearer’s belt and his or her waist. And this is exactly what happens with the Invisi-Tuck. Not only does the revolver’s cylinder end up where it would require the most space, the holster adds a piece of supporting leather around the mouth of the carrier. Theoretically, because of all the space taken up, this type of design should be less comfortable, but practically it is not. The Invisi-Tuck instead carries the 340 PD comfortably, especially at the 4 o’clock position.
Objection 2: A J-frame is too short.
With stocks that barely sit above the beltline and only allow a two-fingered grip, a J-frame holstered inside the waistband may seem difficult to grasp and draw. Granted, you do have get used to grasping the short stocks but the Invisi-Tuck holster offers an accessible grip on the J-frame. Furthermore, since the Invisi-Tuck allows adjustment in depth of carry, setting the J-frame to carry high helps keep the stocks up more.
Not only are the stocks relatively short, but also on the front end of the gun is a less-than-two-inch barrel, which means that there’s little to provide helpful leverage in keeping the gun stable in the holster. Thankfully, the Invisi-Tuck’s molded leather carrier works in conjunction with belt tension to keep the J-frame in place.
Objection 3: You might as well carry a larger gun.
With the right holster, carrying inside the waistband provides a stable platform for guns of many different sizes and shapes. So why not go larger than the hard-to-shoot, low-capacity J-frame?
- Because the J-frame, being small and light, is easy to carry.
- Because some who carry concealed think “five to stay alive” is enough for civilian carry. And the caliber options are quite wide for snubbies.
- Because some really like shooting a J-frame and are fairly accurate with it.
- Because some prefer the reliabity and operation of a revolver.
And so on. Additionally, while we all have heard about “comfortable vs. comforting,” carrying a J-frame in the Invisi-Tuck actually qualifies as both.
If you carry a J-frame or similar revolver, how do you prefer to carry it?
— Mark Kakkuri