Gun Tests November 2013 Look-Ahead: Galco Shoulder Holsters


( — Gun Tests’ Houston test team recently obtained four shoulder holsters from the company that offers more of those designs than any other maker: Galco International.

Galco International ( began making gun leather in the late 1960s as the Famous Jackass Leather Company in Chicago, Illinois. Their most famous product was a shoulder holster referred to as the Jackass Rig worn by Don Johnson in the second season of the 1980s hit show Miami Vice. Later, Johnson’s character, Detective James “Sonny” Crockett, was fit with a new model from Galco, the Miami Classic. It was covered by a summer-weight sport jacket and sparked a trend in men’s fashion that some shooters would like to forget.

Contributing Editor Roger Eckstine said, “To carry our full-size Springfield Armory 1911 45, we chose the $200 VHS vertical carry shoulder system with a vertical drop dual magazine pouch. To house our Springfield Armory XDM 3.8 9mm compact, we picked the $195 Miami Classic II with dual magazine pouch, offering horizontal open top access.

“For our Caspian 1911 Commander we bought a $165 Jackass Rig, also with a vertical drop dual magazine pouch. This design offered abbreviated coverage of the pistol’s top end but greater diagonal adjustment for the holster than the Miami Classic. For our Sig Sauer P239 we tested a $93 Classic Lite shoulder system with single vertical drop magazine pouch fashioned from center cut steer hide with a natural finish. The Classic Lite is the least expensive shoulder system that Galco makes.”

Gun Tests Editor Todd Woodard said, “Shoulder holsters are not as popular in the real world as they are in old detective movies, but that has as much to do with contemporary style as it does with the cost of a good rig, especially when compared to a Kydex belt holster. People simply do not wear sport coats as much as they used to. But shoulder holsters do provide superior access when seated at a desk or behind the wheel of a car.”

Eckstine said, “Due to different body types, there may be disagreement about which of the four holsters is best. But we did find some interesting factors during the course of our evaluation.”

Galco Classic Lite, $93

The Classic Light holster required an extra day of blocking, after which testers were able to reinstall the tension device. Without it, the gun was falling far enough into the holster so that the thumb break was no longer properly supported.

Galco Jackass Rig, $165

Retention is primarily by the tension screw at the trigger guard and the thumb break snap. The reduction of material over the slide minimized friction, making the draw and holstering that much easier. The way the holster was pinch-fit over the top rail created a natural sight channel that can accommodate taller front sights.

Miami Classic II, $195

The Miami Classic II offers horizontal carry for the pistol as well as for two magazines on the opposite side of the rig. The pistol is retained by a thumb-break snap, but the magazine pouches are open topped, relying on friction and tension screws located between the pouches to keep the magazines in place. The connection for the magazine tie-down was a circle stamped out of the hard leather. Testers liked the horizontal magazine pouches, but only a big person is going to be able to hide the longer magazines.

Galco VHS, $200

This is a beautiful rig, but it is limited to taller people or body types that are longer in the torso. This is because the vertical “clamshell” holster simply takes up a lot of space top to bottom. The “Y” patterned set of the hangers is located above the rear of the slide, making it longer still, and the holster needs to ride low enough so that the wearer does not experience discomfort beneath the arm.

Gun Tests subscribers should receive their printed magazines any day. Subscribers with electronic access can also check to read about this matchup, Publisher Tim Cole said.


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