The 90s Called -They Want Their Drop Leg Holster Back

single strap drop leg holster
December 20, 2016  
Categories: Musings

While the fashion industry may like to revisit past trends, the tactical and firearms market should not. The rise of the Instagram commando has brought about the return of the drop leg holster, with its two large straps. This assists in their ability to wear every molle pouch known to man and still be able to get their pistol out without catching it on some unneeded accessory they decided to don. Some people even go as far as including a fixed blade knife, AR15 mag pouch, med kit, or backup chainsaw to the straps on the side of the thigh holster to assist in limiting their movement. While this may have been sexy for the operators and law enforcement of the 1990s, 15 years of active warfare in the Middle East has proven this setup less than desirable.

The Drop-Leg Thigh Rig – Retro Ain’t Always Cool

The classic drop leg holster may be comfortable climbing into the back of a SWAT vehicle that looks much like an ice cream truck, and then climbing out to trot in a formation like a marching band up to the front door of your local crack house, but for us in the real world it’s not.

SWAT - drop leg holster

During operations requiring people to sit in more standard vehicles like the Toyota Hi-lux or Land Cruiser, the drop leg holster becomes cumbersome and uncomfortable. The same can be said for modern tactical vehicles such as an MRAP or any V-hull mine-resistant vehicle. I’m not saying a drop adapter placing it a couple of inches lower than the beltline is bad, as that is still viable and not nearly as uncomfortable. With modern advances in kydex and plastic, this position can be accomplished without unnecessary straps and still provide a little extra room to clear a load-bearing vest or put the pistol at a better, more natural position for draw.

The biggest hindrance of wearing a drop leg thigh holster comes when having to move at anything other than a walking pace. If you are forced to run, move, grapple, or climb, the deficiencies become glaring as the straps and position put the weight farther down your leg and make your stride uneven. The weight of the pistol becomes a pendulum, and without tightening the straps down to almost tourniquet tight the thigh holster can shift all over your thigh. Movement through any building or obstruction-filled environment also proves more difficult with the holster being much lower and catching on everything at its level.


Experience teaches us that light is right, that we should use the minimum equipment necessary to fully accomplish the task at hand. Comparing the pictures of people in early Iraq to the end of the Afghan war shows a very different picture. While this may not bring you as many followers on social media, or give you that .02 decrease in your el-prez, it will assist those who actually go into harm’s way and need extra mobility and physical capability while still being able to employ their weapons efficiently.

Stay safe out there and train on.


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Joe Dawson

Joe Dawson

About the Author

Joe Dawson (formerly known as John Darwin) is a patched Minion who chose a career in the military after finding out that Tubby's Golden Lantern wasn't hiring full-time dancers. He scribes for a number of publications and consulted with everyone from industry heavyweights to local LEOs. Dawson, the HMFIC of Bruiser Industries, is a POST/FBI certified firearms instructor, sniper combat veteran of several deployments, an experienced breacher and dive officer, freefall qualified rope master, accomplished RSO (CQC, breacher, demo, vehicle, airborne, et al), and PSD driver. A retired Naval Special Warfare sailor, CPO (SOC) Dawson ran the NSW Sniper School the last 3 years of his career. He was a Platoon Lead Sniper, a Troop Lead Sniper, and a Team Lead Sniper while assigned to some West Coast formations, left DNA samples (read, "jerked off") on at least 4 continents, and also spent some time at SQT Land Warfare. Nowadays he writes, teaches, competes, and spends as much time as he possibly can with his young'uns getting his civilian on.


  1. michmike

    Man o man who ever you are all I can say is “who pissed in your cornflakes, crab ass” he is just stating his opinion in the article based on his observations. Why are we so crabby moonbeam? Oh I know, it is because that was you rocking the pistol, knife and shorts combo so you are bit hurt that someone called you out on your “look”. So let me ask since you seem to want to knock females that went through ranger school, did you go through Ranger School? oops of course you did and then Delta and now you guard the cheeto Jesus in his tower in NYC so yes I guess you can speak from experience?

    Easy Francis! Speak about things like the other people who commented did and MAYBE just MAYBE someone will take your opinion seriously.

    Personally I thought what he said made sense!

  2. 2hotel9

    Funny, the only people I see rockin’ the drop leg are cops, usually parole ociffers with egos 5 times to large for their tiny heads. Everyone else seems to be with it and happening.

  3. Death451

    I have worn a thigh holster for almost 22 years works fine for me.

  4. Kerberos

    Dude with the baseball cap is an airsofter friend of mine. Picture is from around 2001/2003 timeframe. Back then the Safariland 6004 dropleg setup was among the hottest cool thing one could get as an airsofter. Most of us older airsofters have changed our setup to beltmounted/molle battle belt holsters instead.

  5. Echo583

    The hell with all the comments about holsters. Did anyone click on the Laura Croft picture then spend the next thirty minutes looking at the chicks Instagram pictures? Holy shit she is hot.

  6. SN

    Jumping with a drop leg was easier than jumping with a pistol at belt level.

  7. Larry

    Although not what the author had in mind, this article and the comments do show that there are many options out there for holsters and many locations to put them. The lesson to be learned is to put the holster where it makes the most sense for what you will be doing, and not what makes you look the most tacticool.

  8. Tom

    From my perspective/experience, the drop leg holster was introduced to my unit way back in the early 90’s as a fix because the tactical vests we were issued completely covered our gunbelts and made a draw from our gunbelt holsters almost impossible. Nowadays with advent of plate carriers there is no need for the drop leg rig as the guys can easily draw from their gunbelt. It was a temp fix, that’s all.

  9. James Olbrisch

    I made great use of a black hawk drop leg holster in my 3 Iraq tours. As a Bradley gunner and hmmwv gunner it was far easier to keep my 9mil on the thigh there wasn’t much room for my fat ass to get in and out of the hatch and trying to draw a holstered pistol with IBA on is an interesting show to watch. No sir I’m no operator but I found that it was the best option out there for what I needed at the time.

  10. Corporal_Agarn (F Troop)

    Fun article and I gotta agree, but I am no tac operator, just do some competition shooting.

    However… (and again, not a super cool tactical dude, here)

    I see a lot of dudes out there with the low ride belt mount and when they run the gun slaps them in the thigh. Over and over and over again.

    Drop leg systems can solve the problem of the gun beating you all to hell (so does a wider/stiffer belt), but they must be worn as high as is physically possible. Like crotch binder high.

    A system like the Safariland single strap leg shroud places the grip of the gun at the top of the belt line. Similar to a mid ride belt attachment.

    On a whim, I tried it at a pretty physically demanding 3 gun match (running, crawling under wire and through tunnels, climbing, etc) and it actually worked pretty well.

    My preference is still a normal mounted belt holster, but if you need it lower and carry a heavier gun, a crotch binder drop setup can help out.

  11. Will

    You are right. The thigh rig is not being used properly, or for the right reasons. But, that doesn’t mean the only other option is a belt mount holster. I carry a weapon light on my duty gun. The light requires a longer draw, so I prefer to use a Safariland “Drop Flex Adapter” with a single leg strap. It puts the gun about the same spot as a regular belt mounted drop holster, but the single strap keeps the holster in place. I’ve been in foot chases and I’ve never noticed it flopping around. The Drop Flex Adapter is a really underrated piece of gear. It splits the difference between a belt holster and a drop leg rig, but still offers most of the advantages of both systems. The only drawback, is drawing while sitting in a vehicle. It’s not impossible, but it can be done.

    • Corporal_Agarn (F Troop)

      “Drop Flex Adapter” is what I was using as well.

    • Boris

      Wore a leg holster for 25 years in the military, 7 combat deployments. Never had a problem with in and my gear

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