Getting Old

Anyone ever see The French Connection (1972)?

french connection movie poster

It is a classic movie concerning a detective in New York who is on the trail of a major heroin smuggler.  (Major for the time, that is.)  It is known for an exciting chase sequence, and for the performance Gene Hackman turned in as the aforementioned police detective.

In the film, the detective is shown to carry his .38 snub nosed revolver in an ankle holster.

gene hackman in the french connection adjusts his ankle holster

(Picture source.)

The method of concealment is mentioned at least once in the film, as a fellow police officer chides Hackman’s character for what he sees as a gimmick.  The only reason the detective carries his sidearm in an ankle holster, it is asserted, are so any woman he is trying to pick up in a bar wouldn’t feel the gun when dancing close.

There are, of course, some very real advantages to carrying small handguns in ankle holsters.  I have found that it is one of the most foolproof of concealment methods.  After all, few people will spend much time staring at your feet, and those who are so inclined have various online websites that cater to their particular enthusiasms.

two feet

(These are not my feet!)

There are also some drawbacks, which where brought to painful focus by my latest student.

She is relatively young, which is all to the good.  What is even better is that she is interested in controlling her diet, and she actually enjoys exercise.

young woman stretching before a workout

(Not my actual student.)

The problem is that I have no interest in applying the slightest wisdom in choosing what I eat, and I find vigorous exercise to be an uncomfortable chore.  This has resulted in a body type that one would expect for a sedentary 50 year old with a fondness for pizza.

overweight dog

(Not a self portrait.)

My student, while being admirably healthy and athletic, is also a movie enthusiast.  She was interested in carrying her defensive firearm in an ankle holster, just like Gene Hackman in his Academy award winning role.  In pursuit of this, she asked me to illustrate how to draw the gun at speed.

Ankle holsters are not the best choice for quick draws, but there are ways to speed the process up.  All of them require the person wearing the holster to drop down on to one knee, and then to either roll around behind cover or to pop back up to their feet.

Considering my girth, the dropping down part is easy!  I can descend towards the floor like a champion, with admirable speed and efficiency.  It is the getting back up that has become increasingly wearisome as the decades advance.

Still, I managed to do it a few times without embarrassing myself.  Then I had her practice what she had seen several times.  While I had to struggle to keep from grunting while bouncing back to my feet, she smoothly rose to a standing position like a human pogo stick.

Ankle holsters are not for everyone, but she should do fine.

5 thoughts on “Getting Old

  1. Yes, I’ve seen it, I know that dates me but what the heck ! I thought it was a good movie. Action packed as they say. Wouldn’t mind seeing it again !

  2. I’ve worn an ankle holster for years, but not as long as Popeye Doyle.

    It’s comfortable, very concealable and under appreciated. You are right, it’s a long way to the gun.

    Once you’ve gotten to it you have to decide are you going to shoot from there? Or since you’ve been in that spot for a little time, stand and take a step or two and then shoot? This can be all moot if you’re lucky enough to find good cover or great concealment.

    The ankle holster really shines in a car or seated at a table. Bring the foot up yank the cuff kneeward and grab the gun. This can be done so smoothly nobody notices.

    I had an instructor who, in heavy winter clothing, carried a snubby in his outer coat pocket sans holster. When he arrived indoors, he excused himself to hit the head. There in a stall the gun came out of the pocket and into the ankle holster. He reversed the process on the way out. He also carried a slightly large gun strong side.

    If I carry two guns (What? I can give my wife the spare) one is always in an ankle holster.

    Visit for more ideas on daily carry.


  3. I can descend towards the floor like a champion, with admirable speed and efficiency. It is the getting back up that has become increasingly wearisome as the decades advance.

    Ha! I know the feeling.

  4. There are other ways to draw:

    Two Draw Techniques
    My two preferred draw techniques for the ankle holster. See photos, above.

    1. Kneel down: Trap the pant leg on the side of the holstered gun before moving by grabbing loose material on the pant leg. Drop to a kneeling position, allowing the pant material to clear your holster on the way down. If the gun is clear, draw as normal. But if still covered (the grip might have snagged the trouser leg especially if rubber is part of the grip) remove material quickly.

    2. Step out or Ayoob Method: I first learned this technique from well-known instructor Massad Ayoob. While in a standing position, trap the trouser leg before moving. Once trapped, step out using the leg with the holster attached, and allow the movement to clear material away from the holstered gun. Bend down toward the gun while trying to keep an eye on your opponent. Draw as normal or clear snagged material away before attempting to draw. Shoot from the standing position you end up in.

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