I have been a frequent belly band user for quite a few years now as it is my go-to method for deeply concealing a small handgun when environment or company dictate. I tried pocket carry for a while but it did not allow me to adequately conceal a snubby, which is as small a handgun platform as I am willing to go. I also carried on the ankle during such occasions for some time but I found it left a lot to be desired. I was never happy with tuck-able holster options as I don’t like a visible clip attaching to the belt when a shirt is tucked in. Once I tried a belly band I found that it was the best method for concealing a gun under a tucked-in shirt. I also found that a small-frame revolver proved ideal for this mode of carry as the rounded shape disappears where the square shape of an auto prints under tucked clothing. I wear the belly band directly under my belt line and the gun sits in the standard appendix position. To draw the gun, the tucked shirt gets ripped up out of the pants.
Typical belly bands provide only an elastic holster that is sown into the band itself. This poses two major drawbacks to the design: first, the nylon does not adequately protect the trigger as does a real holster, so I have only ever used or advocated using a double-action revolver or double-action auto in a belly band. Second, you can’t re-holster in a safe or efficient manner. I have used a number of standard belly bands over the years and have simply made due with these limitations, my Ruger LCR revolver riding securely in the band whenever I need to dress formally. It is not ideal but a far superior solution to being unarmed.
A few months ago I acquired the Modular Belly Band system manufactured by Crossbreed. This apparatus uses a kydex/leather holster with a velcro backer that affixes to the Velcro on the nylon band itself. A part of the band is also pulled over the holster, further securing it in place. What this design seeks to do is eliminate the two mentioned down sides of traditional belly bands. The dedicated holster shell makes for a secure holster that protects the trigger and also facilitates re-holstering. So, does it do just that? So far in my experience, it does to some extent.
I ordered this band system with a holster shell for my Ruger LCR revolver. While the kydex shell does protect the trigger adequately to accommodate a striker-fired auto, the revolver is my only feasible option for concealing under tucked shirts anyway. I will say that this band works good for a small and light weight gun, but I am skeptical that it would work well for a full-size auto loader. A belly band simply does not have the strength to support a large handgun as a belt does. The nylon does not have the rigidity to keep a heavy handgun from flopping around. I have heard from a number of experienced guys who have reported that a full-size auto in this belly band will tend to flop out away from the body because the grip of the auto is the heaviest part of the gun. Even with the small revolver I find that the grip tends to push out and away from the body unless it is buried deep below the belt line, so with a larger auto the problem must be even more pronounced.
Another issue that I have heard from others regarding this belly band is that the holster retention is not adequate. The holster I received for the LCR had, if anything, too much retention and I had to loosen it up a bit. The problem is that the nylon belly band cannot accommodate a stiff holster retention because the band stretches out and comes up with the gun before the holster will release. Therefore, the balance between adequate retention and still being loose enough to allow the draw is a precarious one. Again, with the small revolver, my setup works ok. The gun draws smoothly and re-holsters like a regular holster.
This belly band provides a number of velcro patches that allows one to place the holster in the ideal position. These patches also give room for other items, if desired. I actually carry my LCR in dominant-hand appendix position and my Ka Bar LDK knife in support-hand appendix position. To do this, I simply put industrial strength Velcro on it to stick it to one of the patches on the band. Thus, the belly band mimics my usual belt carried weaponry with the difference being the LCR in the place of a Glock and the LDK being in place of a regular TDI knife. This familiar toolset and familiar position makes the system all that much more viable as a substitute carry method for when deep concealment under formal clothing is needed.
There are, unfortunately, several down-sides to this belly band system. While the theory seems solid, the execution is far from perfect. The holster attached to the band makes it more bulky and more likely to print than a regular belly band. The holster also has the afore mentioned tendency to flop out. I find that it also tends to ride up as the holster presses into my leg when I am seated, and unlike a regular AIWB holster that is attached to the belt the band does not adequately prevent it from riding up. When the holster lifts like this it prints. This is an issue I have not had with any traditional belly band. Finally, the holster module is a hybrid design, which uses leather backing behind the kydex shell. Therefore, after a couple months of use, this holster shell has done what hybrids are notorious for: the leather is warping and it sometimes pins the gun in place, making it difficult to draw. This is a no-go for me.
So, there are several downsides to this band along with some obvious advantages. The problem with the hybrid holster trapping the gun, however, leads me to recommend passing on this design.