Below is my review of the SmartCarry holster. I said I would publish this review quite a while ago, right after I got my concealed carry permit, but forgot all about that for 6 months. Thankfully, a reader emailed me about it, and so here is the review:
The SmartCarry is a rather unique lower abdomen holster, designed for concealed carry. It places the handgun above the user’s pelvis, and has Velcro straps that wrap around the user’s hips. There is a smaller pouch, next to the main pouch, in which a spare magazine can be carried. SmartCarry holsters are made in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
The “standard model” (which I have) sells for $50. The “security” model, with extra room for handcuffs and other accessories, is $10 more. There are also left hand and ambidextrous models available.
Hands down, this holster does the best job at concealment that I’ve seen so far. I carry a Springfield XD40 subcompact (3″ barrel), with the extended magazine that protrudes about an inch past the end the of the grip, and have no problems with concealment. This holds true even when I’m wearing dress pants, a dress shirt, and no suit jacket, which is one of the worst ways to dress when concealability is an issue.
I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have any problems concealing a handgun with a 4″ barrel either. I’ve tried placing my Springfield XD40 Tactical (5″ barrel) in this holster, and while it was still pretty well concealed, it wasn’t comfortable (the butt of the pistol would poke me in the stomach when I sat down).
Also, since the handgun is positioned above the user’s pelvis, I would speculate that many people wouldn’t stare too closely at that area, further reducing the risk that the handgun would be noticed. Even if a bulge from the handgun is noticed and commented upon, males wearing this holster should be able to come up with an explanations other than the presence of a handgun…
I find the draw speed with this holster to be slightly slower than an In Waist Band (IWB) holster, when wearing a shirt that is not tucked in. If my shirt is tucked in, then the draw speed seems to be about the same as an IWB holster. After practicing for a while, I can now draw my pistol, rack the slide, and take aim within about 2 seconds when wearing a shirt that isn’t tucked in. Having a tucked in shirt adds about half a second more time.
Given the location of the holster, many people seem concerned about safety. Adding to that concern is the fact that the holster is made of soft cloth, which offers no protection against an accidental trigger pull through the holster.
The first concern is really a non-issue. When my XD40 subcompact is in the holster, it does not point at me, whether I’m sitting or standing. Instead, were the pistol to discharge in the holster, the bullet would miss hitting me by about 1.5 inches. To be sure, the slide going back would hit my stomach and be quite uncomfortable, but a bullet wouldn’t hit me.
The second concern is a valid one, and that is part of the reason why I don’t carry with a round in the chamber.
I find the SmartCarry to be quite comfortable – much more so than any IWB holster I’ve tried so far. The key to comfortable use of this holster seems to be wearing it low enough, as the manufacturer states in their instructions and on their website. Wearing the holster too high, by fitting the straps around one’s waist like a belt, places the gun too high, making sitting uncomfortable. Placing the straps lower, around the user’s hips, maximizes.
One minor complaint I do have about comfort relates to the backing of the straps that go around the user’s hips. The edges of the straps are rather hard, and almost sharp. It is possible for the holster to press against the wearer’s sides in an uncomfortable manner, if it rides up too high when sitting. I emailed the manufacturer about this, but they stated that using padded/rounded material would drive up costs beyond what customers were willing to pay. However, a solution is to fold the elastic band of one’s underwear down over the top of the holster straps. Another option would be to sew some softer material over the tops of the straps, but I haven’t found this to be necessary.
I find myself somewhat displeased with the SmartCarry’s build quality. The first one that I ordered had the stitching that holds the Velcro to the backing start to unravel within the first week. I emailed the company, and they promptly sent me a replacement, along with a prepaid postal envelope to return my defective model. They were apologetic and believed that there was a stitching error during production. They also assured me that the stitching that came lose wouldn’t have led to the holster falling apart, and after looking carefully at the threads I found myself in agreement with that conclusion.
The next month, the replacement holster started to show the same problem, which is pictured below. I haven’t sent that one back yet, simply because I haven’t gotten around to it yet. However, in the 5 months since that problem started on the replacement holster, I haven’t seen an problems that seem like they would cause a catastrophic failure.
The SmartCarry is a rather interesting concealed carry holster, which has become my favorite. It offers great concealment, good comfort, and decent draw speed. The build quality isn’t as high as I would like, but the problems I’ve experience have been purely cosmetic in nature, and easily fixable at home with a needle and thread. I just wish the company would produce a higher quality, more comfortable version, as I would gladly pay twice as much to have a model without the shortcoming I mentioned above.