The Evolution of The Underwear Gun

It’s been several years since I wrote about about my search for a tiny gun that I could wear regardless of how I was dressed. I coined the term The Underwear Gun, and the internet had a chuckle. I obviously am not the only person who sees a need for this sort of tool. For instance, Darryl Bolke of Hardwired Tactical calls his the ‘Rule 1 gun’. As in, Rule 1 of a gunfight is have a gun. Claude Werner carries a KelTec P32 for a similar purpose. William Aprill of Aprill Risk Consulting calls it the ‘milk run gun’ for running to the grocery store real quick. So, at least I know I’m not totally crazy.

Unless you literally have guns laying all over the house (for someone with a kid is a no-go) if you want to be armed in the home and not inconvenienced too much, an underwear gun is a good choice. Let’s cover it all in some detail.

Why the Underwear Gun?

I’ll be covering some old ground, but it’s worth repeating. First we have to recognize the problem. Namely, that bad things happen anywhere. Including your home. Tom Givens recently mentioned that twenty years ago, home invasions were most probable if you were dealing or buying drugs. The simple advice was, don’t deal in drugs, and you likely won’t have to deal with home invasions. But he mentioned that the incidence of armed home invasions (where they come in with weapons while you’re at home) isn’t relegated to that sub-culture anymore. If you like numbers, here’s some stats from the FBI and BJS:

  • There are about 8000 Burglaries a day
  • 40% of those are armed. Usually targeted are single females, the elderly, handicapped.
  • in ~28%, the victim is home, which is about 1,000,000 incidents/year with people at home during the crime
  • Out of 3.7 million burglaries, 7% include violent victimization
  • Night time burglaries are less profit motivated and more likely to include rape and assault (they know you’re home).

If you’re moved by stories, read about this father and son duo who broke in to a home and raped and poured bleach over their victim.

If you’re a visual learner:

In summary, it should be apparent that having a layered home defense plan is worthwhile. This includes, for me, a readily accessible firearm. Anyone willing to come into your home while you’re there needs to be dealt with harshly. What do you think this crew had in mind when they were checking doors?

Options for Access

There are a few ways you can handle the firearm access. If you’re in a home with no kids, you could stash long guns and pistols in every nook and cranny. I advise against this because of the ease of theft, and because it’s easy to forget where all the guns are. If you have house guests with children, now you have to worry about where the kids are playing. Even if your kids are trained to not touch your guns, their dumb friends aren’t, and plenty of preventable deaths result from this annually.

This leaves your guns either secured in a safe, or on-body. Quick access safes are a good option if you’re not interested in on-body carry. For instance, the GunVault speedvault or this generic push button safe keeps little fingers and drunk uncles away from guns, while giving you rapid access. There is always a trade-off between security and access. For a staged home invasion gun, rapid should be the emphasis.

Some quick access safes. Photo:

Another option is to have a gun that you carry in and around the home. If you’re super dedicated, it might mean watching Game Of Thrones wearing belted pants with holster, pistol, mags, etc. I’m not that dedicated and I won’t be bothered to do that. Mowing grass, walking dogs, checking mail, and watching Netflix demand something less obtrusive.

Definition of an Underwear Gun

A reliable gun with a trigger I can use, sights I can see, with a weight that can be held by a pair of drawstring gym shorts, and with support gear that doesn’t require a belt. Caliber is irrelevant for this gun.

The Underwear Gun

That’s pretty much it. It turns out there are a lot of options, and I’ve tried a handful of them. Here’s a few that have fit my needs over the years.

  • Ruger LCP in .380 (or a comparable Kel-Tec in .32 or .380)
  • The Taurus PT-22 in .22 (or Beretta 21 bobcat)
  • The Smith and Wesson 43C in .22 (or LCR .22)
  • The Ruger LCR in .38 or .357 (or Smith&Wesson 442 , or any other J-frame as light as you can get it)
  • Glock 42 in .380 (or Smith&Wesson Shield in 9mm or any single stack micro 9 or .380)
  • Etc.

Carry Methods

There’s a reason I prefer a Double Action pistol for my underwear guns. In an effort to keep weight down and increase convenience, I really like carrying them with minimal, if any holster. I understand the possible safety issues associated with not covering the trigger guard, which is why I only use them with DA guns. NEVER use them with Glock style triggers. I also don’t use them when I’m playing with my son and he’s crawling all over me. My absolute favorite underwear gun ‘holster’ is one with either a spring steel clip, or ledge built into the grips to hold the gun at the waist-line. Click through the photo gallery and I’ll give my thoughts on each kind. Not all are created equal.

If none of those tickles your fancy, there’s still a ton of options. Here’s some I use depending on what I’m doing around the house.

Weight is King, Caliber is Not Important

Since I love wearing gym shorts, BJJ Gi pants, pajamas, shorts with no belt, and being comfortable in general, one of the big features of an underwear gun is that it not pull down my pants and that it can be carried without a belt. As a weight ceiling, I’ve found that my Smith Shield in 9mm is heavier than I can comfortably manage for my most common house clothing. I can always tie the drawstring tighter, but even then the weight of the gun will cause flopping over the waist and destroy any concealability I might want if I make a store run.

Caliber is basically irrelevant for this gun. It’s a big reason why my Smith 43c gets a lot of ride time. I get 8 tries at under 12oz. I use high quality, high velocity .22 ammunition, and practice enough that I can make good hits on demand. .22 high velocity ammo can get to 12″ in gelatin, so if I do my part, I’m not sweating it. The CCI Stinger gets to the minimum 12″ penetration through double layer denim. This isn’t the place for a caliber debate.

You Still Have to be Skilled

Just because it’s small doesn’t mean you get to cop out and call it your ‘belly gun’ or your ‘bad breath distance gun’ or your ‘contact range gun’. You have to be able to make good hits and be fast enough at realistic distances. I tend to use some different drills as well as police qualifications so I can always answer in court that I hold myself to the same accuracy standards as the police do. Here’s a few things to try and track progress:

Lots and LOTS of dry work is in order too. I don’t emphasize reloading as much, because I simply won’t have a reload on me if I need to use it. Here’s one of The Tactical Professor’s dry fire targets that works great for small space practice.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading.

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6 thoughts on “The Evolution of The Underwear Gun”

  1. Interesting article and several points to consider. Thanks!

    Respectfully, I disagree about your assessment of the DeSantis “clip grip” but to each his own.
    In my admittedly subjective view, these at least resemble and fit the hand like the so-called Uncle Mike’s “boot grip” that comes standard on Smith and Wesson J-frames. The Barami “hip grip” requires the use of a Tyler T-grip adapter too–at least to me. Also, without a special texturing of the Barami, it is very slick. I don’t think that presentation is too bad with the DeSantis, although admittedly the frame and cylinder of the revolver are underneath the waistband, clearly optimizing concealment over other–and perhaps more important?–criteria.

    One benefit of the DeSantis “clip grip” is the ability to carry cross-draw or dominant side, or revert to pocket carry in a dedicated pocket holster.

    1. I actually agree with all of your points! I think the perfect clip grip would involve a similar lip to the barami, with a finger swell ala the TGRIP, and sufficient texture to grip the hand. I think you’re spot on. I just like the ride height of the hip grip more than the desantis. I think, as you mention, it’s about mission. The desantis is meant for DEEEEP concealment, and it does that well. Cheers!

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