Deep Concealment Face Off: SmartCarry vs. Thunderwear

by June 7, 2010 06/7/10

Today I’d like to share my experience of wearing the two most popular deep concealment holsters everyday for the past 16 months, and clear up some misconceptions floating around on the internet.

Deep concealment is simply one method. Its not for everyone, nor is it the best answer for every situation. The reason deep concealment works for me, is I never have to change my carry style. Jeans, shorts, tucked in shirt, it doesn’t matter what the occasion is, deep concealment always works for me.

Is it as quick to draw compared to an IWB or OWB (In the Waistband, On the Waistband)? No, and for this reason it may not be for everyone. With enough practice, you can get extremely fast with a deep concealment holster, but in my experience it will never be as fast as other carry methods.

What you have to ask yourself is, where are you willing to compromise? Also, do you want to continually change holsters given the occasion?

Testing Criteria

Deep Concealment Face Off 05The first 8 months of the last 16 were spent wearing a Thunderwear concealed carry holster, followed by 8 months in a Smart Carry. My standard carry during this time was a Sig Sauer P225/P6, Surefire A2 Aviator Flashlight, and a spare single-stack magazine.

I’ve carried everywhere from walking the dog, to cross country road trips, and up and down mountains. I can honestly say I’ve done everything in this holster, including sweating profusely. I’ve tried running, and while neither holster was comfortable during that, neither caused a dropped weapon. I don’t feel comfortable running with a deep concealment holster and its not something I do.

When you’re looking at reviews on the internet with these two holsters, a good way to tell if the reviews are any good is to look at wear marks and elastic stretch, because they’re going to happen. The material will wear, and the elastic will stretch and anyone that’s had anytime in these holsters will have both, it’s unavoidable.

Also, SmartCarry and Thunderwear are NOT the same company and never were.

SmartCarry

Deep Concealment Face Off 03SmartCarry holsters are made of double layer heavy-duty denim with their proprietary “never snag” seams on the top edge of the holster and the pocket. A black binding is used around the lower edge of the holster with the rear featuring a “Cushmax waterproof lining.”  The attachment is via a 8 3/4″ velcro connection on an elastic waisband that features a slim plastic insert on both the hook and loop sides of the velcro to give the strips more rigidity.

The SmartCarry comes in two models, standard and security. The security model features a valuable pocket in the rear of the holster for carrying cash, credit cards, a passport, or even a pair of handcuffs. They can be ordered in left hand, right hand and ambidextrous configurations. All holsters are available in white duck cloth rather than denim to avoid show-through in white garments.

SmartCarry holsters are made in the USA and come with a 60-day trial period to evaluate the product. SmartCarry also offers a 10% military discount.

Thunderwear

Deep Concealment Face Off 06Thunderwear holsters are made of lightweight double-layer denim with binding seams around all edges. The rear of the holster features a “3-layer moisture barrier.” The attachment is via a 6″ velcro connection on an elastic waistband.

The Thunderwear comes in two models, standard and combination. The combination model features a back pocket in the rear of the holster for carrying cash, credit cards, a passport, or even a pair of handcuffs. The combination model accomodates left, right or ambidextrous configurations and comes in a small, medium or large frame size.

Thunderwear holsters are made in the USA with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Fit and Comfort

Deep Concealment Face Off 09When it came to the fit of these holsters, I truly felt that the added rigidity of the SmartCarry velcro attachment made a tremendous difference in the overall comfort of this holster. With both, you have to make sure the velcro is lined up well if you don’t plan to have a shirt tucked into it, as exposed hook velcro will constantly bother you if not.

The SmartCarry elastic is also thicker and didn’t allow for as much sag as the Thunderwear did. While these holsters are supposed to ride on your hips and not the waist, having the elastic stretch too much can also cause it to ride lower than necessary.

Wear and Moisture Resistance

Deep Concealment Face Off 11In terms of material, the double-walled denim material that SmartCarry offers is thicker and less prone to wear over the thinner double-walled denim that Thunderwear uses. Seams are a huge issue when it comes to drawing from concealment, and SmartCarry’s “never-snag” seams are true to their name. Thunderwear’s seams can and have snagged on my weapon upon drawing.

While I have yet to wash either of these holsters, the instructions on both say to hang dry them. The diaper cloth like “3-layer moisture barrier” of the Thunderwear has definitely picked up stains from what I know is surface rust coming through from the side of my P6. The front pocket on the Thunderwear where my gun is kept definitely has rust marks. I also commonly saw condensation build up on my weapon after perspiration or long wear with the Thunderwear.

Deep Concealment Face Off 08I had the slide of my P6 parkerized about two years ago, but when it gets moist, surface rust occurs.  I see absolutely none of that surface rust in the SmartCarry, and this was the holster I wore in the later 8 months of the testing. If there was surface rusting coming through it would have been on this holster too. That leads me to believe that the “3-layer moisture barrier” is not truly a moisture barrier on the Thunderwear, and the Cushmax is a superior moisture blocking material. This also may have to do with the thicker denim too.

Results

With all the subtle differences of these deep concealment holsters, and all the time I’ve had in them, the SmartCarry holster wins hands down. It not only outperformed and outlasted the Thunderwear, but it’s more comfortable, stays cleaner, fits better and resists moisture better than the Thunderwear.

While you’re free to make the same tests yourself, these are my experiences and are based on a thorough 16-month testing and evaluation period. If there are any specific questions I didn’t answer in the review or video below, please post them to the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. Also let me know what kind of holster you run, and how versatile you feel your concealed carry options are.

Video Review

Check out the video below for proper deep concealment holster wear, draw, and more details comparing these two products.


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O dear
O dear

Restroom breaks with it are kind of awkward too. You may have to slide it around your back if doing #2 to avoid being seen with it if the stall has a busted door, or you have to make an emergency dump. For #1 at the urinal just lift it up with the back of the hand and take care not to push the weapon out.

O dear
O dear

I have one of these as a "last-resort" holster, for days I have to wear sweat pants or formal clothes that can't well hide something more conventional. I have worn it on some occasions and did not feel comfortable carrying semi-autos with no safety lever, with rounds chambered. The design seems really good, but I'm just not comfortable with that. Re-holstering a weapon without loosening the belt or fly is also pretty intense. The elastic seems pretty strong, but it was a huge difference in how much movement there was in loose pants with a little .380 vs. a mid-size 9mm or .40 . the .380 disappears, and the larger pistol feels heavy in it, and may print. It just looks like an awkward erection though. hahahha  Someone got upset about it once.

Kenn Harvey
Kenn Harvey

As has been stated many times, this is a great article. I have had the Smart Carry for about a year now and carry my Kimber Ultra CDP II LG about 90% of the time. I normally wear Wrangler Slim Fit Cowboy cut jeans, though I wear a size 35 without carrying and a size 36 when I carry. I also wear a suit to church on Sundays and the thin dress pants still do not show that I am carrying. The SmartCarry has some slight signs of wear on the bottom similar to Bryan's pictures, but are still very usable.

I only have have one problem with my Smart Carry, and that was the elastic stretching out as Bryan mentioned. I took another strip of 2" elastic and sewed it right to the original (stretched) section and it works great! I don't blame Smart Carry for this, it just seems to be an elastic thing.

I have recently purchased another SmartCarry for my new Kimber Solo CDP II LG and continue to be very happy with the Smart Carry products.

I did a bit of research before I purchased my SmartCarry and since I have been satisfied, I have not tried any other products.

One question to users is, do you occassionally seem to get lack of circulation? Am I wearing the elastic too tight? I don't like to have it slide up to my waist where it may be noticable above the back band of my jeans. so I tend to have it pretty snug against my hips, to keep it from moving up throughout the day. I spite of this, I still prefer it a bit over my Crossbreed Super Tuck Deluxe.

Thanks again for the article!

Kenn Harvey
Kenn Harvey

As has been stated many times, this is a great article. I have had the Smart Carry for about a year now and carry my Kimber Ultra CDP II LG about 90% of the time. I normally wear Wrangler Slim Fit Cowboy cut jeans, though I wear a size 35 without carrying and a size 36 when I carry. I also wear a suit to church on Sundays and the thin dress pants still do not show that I am carrying. The SmartCarry has some slight signs of wear on the bottom similar to Bryan's pictures, but are still very usable. I only have have one problem with my Smart Carry, and that was the elastic stretching out as Bryan mentioned. I took another strip of 2" elastic and sewed it right to the original (stretched) section and it works great! I don't blame Smart Carry for this, it just seems to be an elastic thing. I have recently purchased another SmartCarry for my new Kimber Solo CDP II LG and continue to be very happy with the Smart Carry products. I did a bit of research before I purchased my SmartCarry and since I have been satisfied, I have not tried any other products. One question to users is, do you occassionally seem to get lack of circulation? Am I wearing the elastic too tight? I don't like to have it slide up to my waist where it may be noticable above the back band of my jeans. so I tend to have it pretty snug against my hips, to keep it from moving up throughout the day. I spite of this, I still prefer it a bit over my Crossbreed Super Tuck Deluxe. Thanks again for the article!

Marc
Marc

All I can say is that holsters are definitely a personal preference. I think finding a holster you really like is harder than finding a gun that you like a lot. This was an excellent analysis that Bryan conducted. A valid test and he happened to like the Smartcarry holster better. But Bryan I have a tough time swallowing the part about things getting hung up on the little fabric lip. That piece of fabric is so tight I can't imagine anything getting hung up on it. And it's never happened to me and I've been doing lots of hours of practicing pulling all kinds of different pistols out of the large pocket combo Thunderwear holster. This holster might be a half or a quarter of a second slower than some less concealed holsters, but I think the surprise and the smoothness makes up for it. I could be in a business suit, jeans or shorts and you cannot tell I have a big gun.

I have never tried the Smartcarry holster but it's obviously very similar. I have been wearing the Thunderwear holster for the last seven weeks and I love it. I was leaving a gun show with very little money left in my pocket and I saw a Thunderwear holster dealer named Mike Thomas, from Satellite Beach Florida, playing a loop tape on his laptop. I bought the holster on a whim after watching for only about two minutes. Driving home I thought to myself, I probably got snookered, and the Thunderwear holster would just be another addition to the big pile in my holster draw. I only mention his name because I had just lost weight recently and accidentally bought the wrong size. The customer service I received from Mike, and his angelic assistant and Thunderwear was nothing less than fantastic, no, better than that, it was phenomenal. He not only replaced it with the right size but he also upgraded the holster to the large combination. He sent me the new holster first without me sending back the wrong one, with a self-addressed stamped envelope. I told his assistant to include a bill for the upgrade. They not only paid the shipping both ways (the mistake was obviously all my fault) but did not charge me at all for the upgraded holster. On top of all that wonderful fast customer service, he gave me a coupon for a nice discount if I want another one. I do. I use the large size Thunderwear for both my Glock 17 and my Kel-Tec P3AT with equal enthusiasm. Comfort and convenience that I have not known before. (Carrying the Glock of course, the Kel-Tec is comfortable everywhere.) I can pull out both the large weapon and the mouse gun extremely fast. The 380 does not get lost in the large pocket so I don't know if anyone would even get the smaller version of the Thunderwear holster. I'm thinking of using my discount coupon for the smaller version anyway. This holster is really great and I don't have anything to do with the company whatsoever. (Besides being a big fan of their great product.)

Marc
Marc

All I can say is that holsters are definitely a personal preference. I think finding a holster you really like is harder than finding a gun that you like a lot. This was an excellent analysis that Bryan conducted. A valid test and he happened to like the Smartcarry holster better. But Bryan I have a tough time swallowing the part about things getting hung up on the little fabric lip. That piece of fabric is so tight I can't imagine anything getting hung up on it. And it's never happened to me and I've been doing lots of hours of practicing pulling all kinds of different pistols out of the large pocket combo Thunderwear holster. This holster might be a half or a quarter of a second slower than some less concealed holsters, but I think the surprise and the smoothness makes up for it. I could be in a business suit, jeans or shorts and you cannot tell I have a big gun. I have never tried the Smartcarry holster but it's obviously very similar. I have been wearing the Thunderwear holster for the last seven weeks and I love it. I was leaving a gun show with very little money left in my pocket and I saw a Thunderwear holster dealer named Mike Thomas, from Satellite Beach Florida, playing a loop tape on his laptop. I bought the holster on a whim after watching for only about two minutes. Driving home I thought to myself, I probably got snookered, and the Thunderwear holster would just be another addition to the big pile in my holster draw. I only mention his name because I had just lost weight recently and accidentally bought the wrong size. The customer service I received from Mike, and his angelic assistant and Thunderwear was nothing less than fantastic, no, better than that, it was phenomenal. He not only replaced it with the right size but he also upgraded the holster to the large combination. He sent me the new holster first without me sending back the wrong one, with a self-addressed stamped envelope. I told his assistant to include a bill for the upgrade. They not only paid the shipping both ways (the mistake was obviously all my fault) but did not charge me at all for the upgraded holster. On top of all that wonderful fast customer service, he gave me a coupon for a nice discount if I want another one. I do. I use the large size Thunderwear for both my Glock 17 and my Kel-Tec P3AT with equal enthusiasm. Comfort and convenience that I have not known before. (Carrying the Glock of course, the Kel-Tec is comfortable everywhere.) I can pull out both the large weapon and the mouse gun extremely fast. The 380 does not get lost in the large pocket so I don't know if anyone would even get the smaller version of the Thunderwear holster. I'm thinking of using my discount coupon for the smaller version anyway. This holster is really great and I don't have anything to do with the company whatsoever. (Besides being a big fan of their great product.)

Kc
Kc

Sorry, not all of Ron's opinions... Should have just said I have had a good experience with tw holster. I read further and do not wish to have any additional drama in a two year old post.

Lee Bargeron
Lee Bargeron

I think I am going to try the SmartCarry. I currently use Lighteningwear which is a nylon version of the real thing. I don't wear it in the front. I read an article and got the idea to wear it at my normal 4:00 position. Talk about deep concealment! The only issue would be re-holstering quickly should I ever need to deploy my safety equipment...

Angus
Angus

What you haven't mentioned about the Smart Carry is that it is not machine washable. In fact, it says on the slip that comes with it "Do not machine wash". One of the biggest differences between that and Thunderwear, at least the Thunderwear won't fall apart on me after i'm done sweating my balls off outside :-P

Gail
Gail

I am thinking of trying your smart carry, I am an overweight women, (dieting however) and carry a S&W 3" 38. Do you think the smart carry would work for me? I don't think carry purses are the best idea for many reasons.

Thanks

Gail

Gail
Gail

I am thinking of trying your smart carry, I am an overweight women, (dieting however) and carry a S&W 3" 38. Do you think the smart carry would work for me? I don't think carry purses are the best idea for many reasons. Thanks Gail

Kimber45Fan
Kimber45Fan

Bryan - Very nice review.

I've used the same SC for the last 10+ years, carrying a 3" Kimber .45ACP M1911. While it's a much lighter blue than when new, is starting to wear through at the very bottom where the front of the slide rubs, and the elastic has definitely stretched, the holster is still serviceable. I finally replaced it this week. I don't use it every day, usually 1 or 2 days a week, but sometimes more often. I love this holster. I've never been made with it, even in close, huggy quarters like family gatherings. It works best with pleated pants and dark colored pants are the stealthiest. However, I've worn it with everything from thin dress pants to gym shorts with no problems.

Charlie's customer service is first rate. When I bought the SC almost 11 years ago, Charlie spent some time on the phone ensuring that I understood how it worked and that I purchased the correct sizes for my 3" and 5" M1911. I called a couple of years ago and encountered the same friendly and helpful service. The product and service keep me coming back.

To JoAnn if she sees this - Thank you! With 10+ years of good use, my old SC provides ample testament to your folks' diligence and care in sewing these.

Kimber45Fan
Kimber45Fan

Bryan - Very nice review. I've used the same SC for the last 10+ years, carrying a 3" Kimber .45ACP M1911. While it's a much lighter blue than when new, is starting to wear through at the very bottom where the front of the slide rubs, and the elastic has definitely stretched, the holster is still serviceable. I finally replaced it this week. I don't use it every day, usually 1 or 2 days a week, but sometimes more often. I love this holster. I've never been made with it, even in close, huggy quarters like family gatherings. It works best with pleated pants and dark colored pants are the stealthiest. However, I've worn it with everything from thin dress pants to gym shorts with no problems. Charlie's customer service is first rate. When I bought the SC almost 11 years ago, Charlie spent some time on the phone ensuring that I understood how it worked and that I purchased the correct sizes for my 3" and 5" M1911. I called a couple of years ago and encountered the same friendly and helpful service. The product and service keep me coming back. To JoAnn if she sees this - Thank you! With 10+ years of good use, my old SC provides ample testament to your folks' diligence and care in sewing these.

Otis Bogue
Otis Bogue

I have had both of these holsters for a few years. I find it helps me a lot if I position my G19 behind my belt, rather than below it. So that the highest part of the Glock is level with the top edge of the belt.

It seems to aid in weapon access quite a bit. Anyone else see it that way, or do you tighten the belt down over the top of the weapon?

Otis Bogue
Otis Bogue

I have had both of these holsters for a few years. I find it helps me a lot if I position my G19 behind my belt, rather than below it. So that the highest part of the Glock is level with the top edge of the belt. It seems to aid in weapon access quite a bit. Anyone else see it that way, or do you tighten the belt down over the top of the weapon?

Sungloblu
Sungloblu

I have used the Smart Carry for several years. I concur with all of the author's findings. I carry a Glock 23 or a five short .38 in various social situations and when riding a motorcycle. Occasionally, I carry two matched .38's in the ambidextrous version of the Smart Carry.

Clothing makes a definite difference in comfort and imprint. I find both of these improved with a size larger than my normal fit in the waistband. These pants are still comfortable and look good with an extra notch in the belt when not carrying. A five-shot .38 is more comfortable than a Glock 23 but either can be carried in this holster. I have carried a Glock 23 for 8-8 hours without any problem. I do find, however, that I need to keep the grip right behind and just below the waistband to avoid imprinting. On the positive side this enhances draw. A grab and push up with the left hand on the bottom of the weapon puts the grip in your right hand at the waistband.

This is not the holster for high aerobic activity, though. When jogging or something of that sort I suggest a belly bag holster. The negative of these holsters is that anyone who has googled for concealed carry holsters knows that that you're carrying.

In response to the Super-Tuck Crossbred holster user, I have one those, too. It is a very high-quality product. However, I seldom use it and never in the "super-tuck" method. It doesn't imprint my Glock 23 but to anyone looking at me from directly in front or behind me it is obvious that something is under my clothing by the protrusion from my hip. I only use the Crossbreed if I'm wearing a shirt that doesn't tuck.

Sungloblu
Sungloblu

I have used the Smart Carry for several years. I concur with all of the author's findings. I carry a Glock 23 or a five short .38 in various social situations and when riding a motorcycle. Occasionally, I carry two matched .38's in the ambidextrous version of the Smart Carry. Clothing makes a definite difference in comfort and imprint. I find both of these improved with a size larger than my normal fit in the waistband. These pants are still comfortable and look good with an extra notch in the belt when not carrying. A five-shot .38 is more comfortable than a Glock 23 but either can be carried in this holster. I have carried a Glock 23 for 8-8 hours without any problem. I do find, however, that I need to keep the grip right behind and just below the waistband to avoid imprinting. On the positive side this enhances draw. A grab and push up with the left hand on the bottom of the weapon puts the grip in your right hand at the waistband. This is not the holster for high aerobic activity, though. When jogging or something of that sort I suggest a belly bag holster. The negative of these holsters is that anyone who has googled for concealed carry holsters knows that that you're carrying. In response to the Super-Tuck Crossbred holster user, I have one those, too. It is a very high-quality product. However, I seldom use it and never in the "super-tuck" method. It doesn't imprint my Glock 23 but to anyone looking at me from directly in front or behind me it is obvious that something is under my clothing by the protrusion from my hip. I only use the Crossbreed if I'm wearing a shirt that doesn't tuck.

CF
CF

To see if SC is for me, I've taken my Uncle Mikes IWB holster and positioned it on my lower abdomen, just like an SC, using a thin nylon band/belt you can get at Walmart for like $3. I am really surprised how I am really liking this. It is the ONLY holster so far that is meeting my deep concealment needs (tucked in business casual) other than pocket carry which limits the size however. I like the "lower abdomen" carry so much I am thinking for sure I will get SC .... the moisture barrier and additional "capacity" are the reasons why I might want to "upgrade" my makeshift SC lol. This system will work for me, I have every holster config except ankle and shoulder (I have a chest carry / belly band rig on the way), and I don't think they can meet this specific need like the SC / lower ab config does. As a general, all purpose, this seems may become my favorite ....

txsheepdog
txsheepdog

I am a very satisfied SC customer and wearer. I would recommend it to anyone in need of a deep concealment mode of carry.

Romeo
Romeo

Just bought a SC for my wife's Glock 26 for Christmas "10.

Whom ever I spoke to on the phone was very nice (an older sounding gentleman) and suggested I use the website which I did, on my smart phone.

I was shocked that the holster got in a few days before Christmas, talk about fast shipping. Any way, after looking the holster over I think it's a great looking product and thanks to this article I'm about to order one for my Kahr CW-9.

A little back ground: My wife is a US Army Drill Sgt. and I'm an 8yr US Army VET and currently a State Police officer. Hooah

Romeo
Romeo

Just bought a SC for my wife's Glock 26 for Christmas "10. Whom ever I spoke to on the phone was very nice (an older sounding gentleman) and suggested I use the website which I did, on my smart phone. I was shocked that the holster got in a few days before Christmas, talk about fast shipping. Any way, after looking the holster over I think it's a great looking product and thanks to this article I'm about to order one for my Kahr CW-9. A little back ground: My wife is a US Army Drill Sgt. and I'm an 8yr US Army VET and currently a State Police officer. Hooah

Art V.
Art V.

I have used a Smartcarry for between 5-6 years and have been 100% pleased with this product. In Texas it gets plenty of abuse from sweat too. It is hard to imagine this holster just falling apart with the miles I have put on mine. The Smartcarry may not fit everyone's needs but works well for how I use it with shorts and jeans. I have carried Glocks, a 1911, Walther P99 and finally a Beretta PX4. My Smartcarry looks warn, dingy and the elastic has taken some set but it is still functional. Some time soon I will retire it and buy an new Smartcarry.

Jack
Jack

I have just placed my order for a SmartCarry for my Glock 26. I live in an area where a (dwindling) number of people have that lingering fear (rather than sound facts and reason) concerning guns and legally armed citizens. It looks like I'm another guy who works at a place where there's no published policy against concealed carry but "you know" their attitude is negative.

I'm 65, still fairly fit but certainly not ready to either fight or run if attacked. I'm also singled out for "verbal abuse" and it's all about "picking on old guys" (regardless of whether the old guy has an IQ in the 97th percentile and had an executive career). This is also a college town so while I love our university, I've had problems from the drunk punks after football games. Yesterday, there was an armed robbery at a local bank: the perps fled (armed) through a school zone and through "peaceful neighborhoods." (They weren't caught, either.) Couple months back, there was an armed robbery just a block from where I live. So - it's at least as dangerous now as I've ever seen it in my adult life.

Also - I work "afternoons" which here means at least getting home when it's dark out. Just a part-time job, but I'll be damned if I give up my right to defend my life, especially under these circumstances. I just don't want the expense and hassle of suing a mindless employer to keep my basic human rights. And I WILL sue if it ever comes to that. I also DEMAND freedom to come and go as I please. I won't be intimidated (and I'm not now that I'm legally armed - have been shooting pistols for 55 years).

SmartCarry looks to be better than the "tactical fanny pack" I'm using now. Like the other fellow said about his pocket carry holster: some day, someone's gonna ask to see what's in that fanny pack. Also: the fanny pack provides no "positioning" for my Glock and there's no provision to keep a finger away from the trigger: asking for trouble right there.

Also: I have a very good DeSantis IWB holster: but we all know the drawbacks with IWB rigs. Looking forward to trying out the SmartCarry.

Jack
Jack

I have just placed my order for a SmartCarry for my Glock 26. I live in an area where a (dwindling) number of people have that lingering fear (rather than sound facts and reason) concerning guns and legally armed citizens. It looks like I'm another guy who works at a place where there's no published policy against concealed carry but "you know" their attitude is negative. I'm 65, still fairly fit but certainly not ready to either fight or run if attacked. I'm also singled out for "verbal abuse" and it's all about "picking on old guys" (regardless of whether the old guy has an IQ in the 97th percentile and had an executive career). This is also a college town so while I love our university, I've had problems from the drunk punks after football games. Yesterday, there was an armed robbery at a local bank: the perps fled (armed) through a school zone and through "peaceful neighborhoods." (They weren't caught, either.) Couple months back, there was an armed robbery just a block from where I live. So - it's at least as dangerous now as I've ever seen it in my adult life. Also - I work "afternoons" which here means at least getting home when it's dark out. Just a part-time job, but I'll be damned if I give up my right to defend my life, especially under these circumstances. I just don't want the expense and hassle of suing a mindless employer to keep my basic human rights. And I WILL sue if it ever comes to that. I also DEMAND freedom to come and go as I please. I won't be intimidated (and I'm not now that I'm legally armed - have been shooting pistols for 55 years). SmartCarry looks to be better than the "tactical fanny pack" I'm using now. Like the other fellow said about his pocket carry holster: some day, someone's gonna ask to see what's in that fanny pack. Also: the fanny pack provides no "positioning" for my Glock and there's no provision to keep a finger away from the trigger: asking for trouble right there. Also: I have a very good DeSantis IWB holster: but we all know the drawbacks with IWB rigs. Looking forward to trying out the SmartCarry.

Scott C
Scott C

Who'd have thought Deep concealment would be such a kaleidoscope of emotion? I have not yet tried either the SC or TW, but have tried the Pager Pal system. I found it to be pretty uncomfortable and thus have also become one of the fanny pack crowd. How do either compare to the Pager Pal if someone knows? I can tell you that I have only had to draw once, but that experience has left me with a undeniable fact which is I will not buy anything which may snag on draw. I was extremely lucky I did not have to discharge my weapon and the fact it was visible eliminated a certain physical assault.

I know that sometimes you have to be physically uncomfortable in order to be armed, I think anyone who has carried can tell you that. just looking for the most comfort with the least inconvenience available. BTW I have two large boxes of holsters I have only worn a couple of times. That statement was dead on as well. I would love to have an actual holster that is as comfortable as my fanny packs, but that is unrealistic. I have a Kimber 3" .45 and a Kahr CW .45. I am one of those guys who just can't get comfortable carrying a .380 or 9mm, even the .40 cal makes me a little nervous for a defensive round. Regardless, it looks like I will try the SC now from this article. I will come back after I have had a chance to check it out and try for a while. Thanks for doing the 8 month study! We do appreciate the work you have put into your review, saves me from a 3rd box, Maybe?

Scott C
Scott C

Who'd have thought Deep concealment would be such a kaleidoscope of emotion? I have not yet tried either the SC or TW, but have tried the Pager Pal system. I found it to be pretty uncomfortable and thus have also become one of the fanny pack crowd. How do either compare to the Pager Pal if someone knows? I can tell you that I have only had to draw once, but that experience has left me with a undeniable fact which is I will not buy anything which may snag on draw. I was extremely lucky I did not have to discharge my weapon and the fact it was visible eliminated a certain physical assault. I know that sometimes you have to be physically uncomfortable in order to be armed, I think anyone who has carried can tell you that. just looking for the most comfort with the least inconvenience available. BTW I have two large boxes of holsters I have only worn a couple of times. That statement was dead on as well. I would love to have an actual holster that is as comfortable as my fanny packs, but that is unrealistic. I have a Kimber 3" .45 and a Kahr CW .45. I am one of those guys who just can't get comfortable carrying a .380 or 9mm, even the .40 cal makes me a little nervous for a defensive round. Regardless, it looks like I will try the SC now from this article. I will come back after I have had a chance to check it out and try for a while. Thanks for doing the 8 month study! We do appreciate the work you have put into your review, saves me from a 3rd box, Maybe?

Olapguy
Olapguy

Excellent review. I can confirm, Smartcarry is a great holster. I've used mine every day since it arrived about 7 months ago. I work in a "business casual" environment and it is the perfect solution. I wear it with jeans, shorts, and slacks: nothing shows. If you're looking for deep carry, this is the item.

Skunk
Skunk

Great review. I've been SmartCarrying for a year now with no complaints. I don't care to wear belts so it's a great way to securely carry. To add to Bryan's response on the pants, both Dockers and LL Bean have khakis with a hidden, expandable type waistband that makes drawing easier. LL Bean also carries jeans with the same type of waist band. Darker color pants and pleated fronts help in the camouflage dept. too.

Eric
Eric

Bryan,

Great review & comparison! I've finally got a SmartCarry on the way and look forward to using it with my Walther P99c. I've been a long term using of Crossbreed's SuperTuck Deluxe and you really should give it a look. The one I have for my Sig P239 has gotten a ton of use and though it shows it's age and wear it's definitely not worn out. In my view concealment holsters are meant to conceal not to look pretty. I have a couple reviews of it on my blog.

Eric
Eric

Bryan, Great review & comparison! I've finally got a SmartCarry on the way and look forward to using it with my Walther P99c. I've been a long term using of Crossbreed's SuperTuck Deluxe and you really should give it a look. The one I have for my Sig P239 has gotten a ton of use and though it shows it's age and wear it's definitely not worn out. In my view concealment holsters are meant to conceal not to look pretty. I have a couple reviews of it on my blog.

Don
Don

Thanks for this excellent comparison review. I have to wear dress pleated khakis and a long sleeve button-down tucked in dress shirt at work every day. From talking to the business owner, he and the business environment are both extremely anti-gun, but there is no posted or given policy regarding CCW. So I conceal carry a Ruger LCP in a front pocket holster from RecluseHolster.com . While the LCP absolutely does not print in this holster, it is obvious that there is "something" large and flat in my front pocket - and although no one has ever asked what it is, I believe that they assume it is a PDA or cell phone. However, I need to have deeper concealment at work, as I refuse to be unarmed and also have no interest in being fired as I would be if management or the owner knew I was carrying concealed. Thanks to your comparison review I will be ordering a Smart Carry today. Thank you.

AK Matt
AK Matt

I've seen "Ron R's" same rant on Thunderware before. I was looking at buying one a few months back and was specifically trying to find the differences between the two (which this review answered all the question I had). I came across at least one post with very similar wording and gripes to Ron's. Just giving you a heads up Charile, I've heard you on GunTalk and you seem to be a very stand up guy and very helpful on the show even when you call in on matters unrelated to your product.

I carry AIWB when I'm not working in a NPE's by state law so the SmartCarry's position would work well for me. It just turned out that I stopped going to the place where I needed deep concealment that was legally permissive but not socially approved so I ended up not getting the SmartCarry (yet).

AK Matt
AK Matt

I've seen "Ron R's" same rant on Thunderware before. I was looking at buying one a few months back and was specifically trying to find the differences between the two (which this review answered all the question I had). I came across at least one post with very similar wording and gripes to Ron's. Just giving you a heads up Charile, I've heard you on GunTalk and you seem to be a very stand up guy and very helpful on the show even when you call in on matters unrelated to your product. I carry AIWB when I'm not working in a NPE's by state law so the SmartCarry's position would work well for me. It just turned out that I stopped going to the place where I needed deep concealment that was legally permissive but not socially approved so I ended up not getting the SmartCarry (yet).

Sundevil98
Sundevil98

Nice review. Good video too. I just don't think I could handle a gun in my front on my junk. :) I'm one of those nerds that carry the fannypack holster. I prefer it while carrying a Glock 19. I would hate to have an AD while holstering it in my crotch area! I also wear a Blackhawk CQB hip holster. I'm a much larger frame so I can wear it fairly easily. Plus by wearing a side holster it more closely resembles how I draw the weapon when working. I am interested in the SmartCarry just out of curriosity, and to see how it would work. Keep up the great work you guys do, and stay safe.

mikejulietpapa
mikejulietpapa

Awesome comment Doc! I totally agree with your comment on it being very personal. Likening it to a tattoo is a nice example too. I'd love to see your tat sometime. I'm sure it's sexy! Hahahah!

Charlie P.
Charlie P.

I will repeat one more time that I have never told a customer what you claim I said to you. That statement is an absolute falsehood. As for customer service, copied below is an e-mail from a customer we received yesterday. Judge for yourself.

==========================

Subject: RE: SmartCarry Order Confirmation

Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2010 20:17:01 -0400

X-Mailer: Microsoft Office Outlook 12.0

thread-index: X-Antivirus: AVG for E-mail 9.0.829 [271.1.1/2932]

X-Antispam: NO; Spamcatcher 6.0.4. 1

Charlie, I am absolutely amazed! I am so appreciative for the wonderful service you have given me (very rare these days). I can’t thank you enough. I did not expect to keep the holster and would have gladly sent it back, but once again thank you. I will surely put it to significant use too. I am fan of you and your product. Hope to meet you at a show some day. I wish you the best.

Sincerely,

Brian

==========================

Charlie P.
Charlie P.

I will repeat one more time that I have never told a customer what you claim I said to you. That statement is an absolute falsehood. As for customer service, copied below is an e-mail from a customer we received yesterday. Judge for yourself. ========================== Subject: RE: SmartCarry Order Confirmation Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2010 20:17:01 -0400 X-Mailer: Microsoft Office Outlook 12.0 thread-index: X-Antivirus: AVG for E-mail 9.0.829 [271.1.1/2932] X-Antispam: NO; Spamcatcher 6.0.4. 1 Charlie, I am absolutely amazed! I am so appreciative for the wonderful service you have given me (very rare these days). I can’t thank you enough. I did not expect to keep the holster and would have gladly sent it back, but once again thank you. I will surely put it to significant use too. I am fan of you and your product. Hope to meet you at a show some day. I wish you the best. Sincerely, Brian ==========================

JoAnn
JoAnn

My company sews all of the SmartCarry Holsters. I want to confirm everything that Charlie P. stated in his comment. He is constantly upgrading the product. His customer service is beyond compare. I have seen him replace a brand new holster for one that just needed a minor stitch repair. He stands by his guarantee and his many repeat customers can attest to that.

Charlie P.
Charlie P.

Ron,

Since I answer all phone calls to SmartCarry, I can testify that I've NEVER refused to replace or repair a defective holster that is still under our one year warranty period and we've repaired some at a reasonable price when they're out of warranty. Your statement that you were told "Pretty much said too bad so sad,buy another one!" is a flat out lie. The way our warranty replacement works is that in cases of a new purchase we ship the customer a replacement holster and enclose a SASE in the package for them to use to return the original holster to us. If the customer has had the holster over 90 days we ask them to return it to us and we repair or replace it and send it back to them. I also searched our customer database using wild cards for ron r and found 18 matches, none of which had a first name of "Ron", "Ronnie", "Ronald" or anything similar w/ a last name beginning w/ an "R", so I have serious doubts you've ever owned a SC. As for copying TW I suggest you read our US Utility Patent (there is a link to it on our website) and note that I referenced TW's patent in our patent application, and the US Patent and Trademark Office certainly doesn't think it's a copy. SC is not a copy of TW but a completely different and improved concealed carry holster. And you're right that I did sell TW's at gun shows and on CompuServe around 1994 and 1995 and got quite a few customer complaints about handguns snagging on the downward facing seams during the draw, especially revolvers as the back of the cylinders would snag on the seam and any forward facing projection like the sharp front corner of a Glock ejection port will also snag on the seam. If fact, I told Tom Fogarty (the inventor of TW who has since sold the company to it's current owners) about the problem and how to fix it and he got extremely upset that I would even suggest there was something wrong with his holster. He would not make any changes to TW and his solution to the snagging problem was "..send them another holster." As a result we parted company and SC, w/ all the improvements I had suggested to him, came into existence. And according to the 802 customer testimonials we have posted on our website, all the improvements work very well, including our customer service, which is second to none.

"Doc"
"Doc"

I have no opinion on one over the other but I can vouch that it is a viable carry system. I know that at one point several of the LEO's that sit in planes all day used this system and swore by it. Concealed Carry is like tattoos, very personal, and you should not feel that if it works for your friend it will work for you. BTW anyone know of a way to get rid of a Butterfly Tramp stamp? But I digress, anyone attempting to CC on a regular basis will end up with a box of holsters. This is called a learning curve and is money well spent as the only way to know is to try it for period of time to see if it fits your lifestyle, choices in weapon system, and clothing.Bryan, excellent article as always,"Doc"

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Wow Ron, you sound like you work for Thunderwear or something LOL. Your opinions are your opinions as mine are mine, and my name is Bryan not "the writer." I've been using my SmartCarry for the last 8 months straight and haven't noticed any issues with the seams that you spoke about. Do you have photos? I would honestly be interested in seeing them. You can post them right in a reply comment.The flexibility of the Cushmax issue you referred to may be more of a lack of flexibility in the denim material it's sewn on to. As I mentioned in my write up the denim that SmartCarry uses is heavier duty than what Thunderwear uses. Cushmax in itself is a soft fabric and very flexible.As far as hot goes, both of these holsters are hot. The area of your body where they sit is one of the hottest parts of your body already when wearing clothing, and a big pad in front of it doesn't help. Out of these two holsters though, the Thunderwear has been the only one I have to wipe moisture off of my gun with.I'm not sure if your talk of pitting is a knock on the surface rust I spoke about with my P6, and in some way stating that I don't take care of my guns. As I mentioned I had the gun parkerized... if you know much about P6s, there was a flood of them on the market a few years back and they'd all had extensive use in the FBI and most had excessive bluing wear to the slide so I had it parkerized. This is starting to wear off in places, mostly thanks to the moisture that sat on the weapon everyday last summer in my Thunderwear.I'm not sure what the backstory is between SmartCarry and Thunderwear because all I could find is people say they heard this and that from others without any real information backed up by fact. I do know that SmartCarry used to be called Thunderbelt because they make that clear on their Website and you can find the patent dispute information you mention, but nothing further that I've found.I am also glad you haven't had issues with your revolver snagging on your Thunderwear. As I mentioned in the article, and will clarify here, I had issues with the ejection port area on my P6 snagging on the seam of the pocket on more than one occasion. I, along with others I'm sure, would like to see a photo of the Thunderwear holster you've used for the last two years without a problem. Is that wearing it everyday?Thanks for the comment and sharing your experience,Bryan

Ron R.
Ron R.

I personally have used both holsters myself also. Unlike the writer I find that the Thunderwear holster out lasted my Smart Carry holster. Within the first four month of using my Smart Carry holster it began to fall to pieces. Where they have the "no snag" seam the material pulled apart. I contacted Smart Carry and they refused to provide me with another holster. Pretty much said too bad so sad,buy another one! I was at a local gun show and talked to the owner of the Thunderwear company and she explained the difference in the materials used compared to Smart Carry, she was extremely friendly and knowledgeable. I purchased one of her holsters and have been very happy. After about three months of use the belt lost the elasticity and I called up Thunderwear and I had a new one delivered to my door within three days no questions asked no problems and no hard time given. I've now had this one for two years and have not had any problems with any of the material or stitching. THUNDEREWEAR HAS GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE! As far as the materials on the back side...I found that the Cushmax material that Smart Carry uses is not as flexible as the diaper material that Thunderwear uses and it is much hotter than the soft diaper material. If you research the Cushmax material you will see that it is not only used in Smart Carry but also used in the soles of shoes. It does "hold" moisture but does not make it disapear. The diaper material that Thunderwear uses wicks away and holds moisture too.....if you want comfort go for the soft diaper because in the end it is up to you, the carrier to maintain your weapon just as you would with any other holster. Wipe it down with a gun cloth at the end of the day and you won't have problems with pits forming on your weapon. That can only be attributed to a person who does not take proper care of their carry weapon, not the holster that they chose. Furthermore the writer is right Smart Carry and Thunderwear are not the same company and have never been. In further discussions with others I found that the owner of Smart Carry was originally Thunderwear's South Florida dealer that later copied their holster and started making them as Thunderbelt. Records show that after a patent court case the Thunderbelt maker then started to make them as Smart Carry. There are types of people that I choose not to deal with in life and the people of the Smart Carry company is on that list. They were not customer service friendly and they takes others ideas and consider them as their own. In my personal opinion Thunderwear beats Smart Carry hands down. If you live in Florida and carry concealed then this is the best method of carry because you don't have to dress to conceal your weapon. Minimal clothing is great. I wear my Thunderwear holster daily in basketball shorts and t-shirts and have never had a problem. I carry a S&W revolver and a Glock 27. I have never had any issues with snagging the holster when I practice my draw and I have never had any problems with pitting on my revolver because I take care of my weapon.

bege1
bege1

@O dear - I carry a glock in one, adjusted so the gun is dead center, top of the slide firmly against my body. I've had people assume it's an erection too. Very odd.

O dear
O dear

@Angus Try handwashing it in the tub, then putting it on top of the dryer while running it for normal clothes. It doesn't take long to wash it.

Ronn
Ronn

I don't own a SmartCarry but am considering purchasing one.

I am curious, Angus, about the "slip" that says "Do not machine wash", especially in light of the following I copied directly from the SmartCarry website.

SmartCarry® maintenance instructions: Machine wash in cold or warm water, hang up to air dry for maximum holster life. SmartCarry® can be machine washed in warm water and tumbled dry on low heat, if time is a factor.

Could you be confusing the SmartCarry with something else?

Ronn
Ronn

I don't own a SmartCarry but am considering purchasing one. I am curious, Angus, about the "slip" that says "Do not machine wash", especially in light of the following I copied directly from the SmartCarry website. SmartCarry® maintenance instructions: Machine wash in cold or warm water, hang up to air dry for maximum holster life. SmartCarry® can be machine washed in warm water and tumbled dry on low heat, if time is a factor. Could you be confusing the SmartCarry with something else?

Ron R
Ron R

In reply to Bryan, I use my Thunderwear holster 4-5 times a week, all day long in the heat of Florida and I wash it at the end of each week. By far the best method of carry that I have found since I moved to Florida six years ago. I no longer have the Smart Carry holster. The day I was told that Smart Carry would not replace it i threw the inferior product out. It was damaged and of no use to me. Why keep it? In reply to Charlie P...by calling me a liar above only testifies to your true commitment to Customer Service . I did in fact own a Smart Carry holster, I did in fact call Smart Carry when I had the issue with the holster, and they did in fact tell me that they would not replace the holster and that I could buy a new one. Me...a liar I think not. I hope you don't call all of your customer's liars. The attitude you provided in you post is the same attitude I received over the phone when I called. Again, this is my opinion and you know what they say about opinions, they are like assholes everyone has one!

Here is the pic you requested of the Thunderwear holster that i have used for the past two years.

Ron R
Ron R

In reply to Bryan, I use my Thunderwear holster 4-5 times a week, all day long in the heat of Florida and I wash it at the end of each week. By far the best method of carry that I have found since I moved to Florida six years ago. I no longer have the Smart Carry holster. The day I was told that Smart Carry would not replace it i threw the inferior product out. It was damaged and of no use to me. Why keep it? In reply to Charlie P...by calling me a liar above only testifies to your true commitment to Customer Service . I did in fact own a Smart Carry holster, I did in fact call Smart Carry when I had the issue with the holster, and they did in fact tell me that they would not replace the holster and that I could buy a new one. Me...a liar I think not. I hope you don't call all of your customer's liars. The attitude you provided in you post is the same attitude I received over the phone when I called. Again, this is my opinion and you know what they say about opinions, they are like assholes everyone has one! Here is the pic you requested of the Thunderwear holster that i have used for the past two years.

Kevin C
Kevin C

I have the same opinion as Ron R. Nearly identical experiences with the exception of the customer service interaction. I never contacted Smart Carry. Thunder wear is an extremely well made product I am purchasing my second after 15 years because I am left handed and have changed my hand gun model. The new gun will not fit my old holster on the left side. That is all... The holster is def worn and stretched but still very reliable. It has seen some long hours of use over the years and has never let me down. The smart carry had stitching issues for me as well. I just continued with my old thunderwear one until now.

Just my two cents based on my experiences with the two products.

Kevin C
Kevin C

I have the same opinion as Ron R. Nearly identical experiences with the exception of the customer service interaction. I never contacted Smart Carry. Thunder wear is an extremely well made product I am purchasing my second after 15 years because I am left handed and have changed my hand gun model. The new gun will not fit my old holster on the left side. That is all... The holster is def worn and stretched but still very reliable. It has seen some long hours of use over the years and has never let me down. The smart carry had stitching issues for me as well. I just continued with my old thunderwear one until now. Just my two cents based on my experiences with the two products.

Charlie P.
Charlie P.

Ron, Since I answer all phone calls to SmartCarry, I can testify that I've NEVER refused to replace or repair a defective holster that is still under our one year warranty period and we've repaired some at a reasonable price when they're out of warranty. Your statement that you were told "Pretty much said too bad so sad,buy another one!" is a flat out lie. The way our warranty replacement works is that in cases of a new purchase we ship the customer a replacement holster and enclose a SASE in the package for them to use to return the original holster to us. If the customer has had the holster over 90 days we ask them to return it to us and we repair or replace it and send it back to them. I also searched our customer database using wild cards for ron r and found 18 matches, none of which had a first name of "Ron", "Ronnie", "Ronald" or anything similar w/ a last name beginning w/ an "R", so I have serious doubts you've ever owned a SC. As for copying TW I suggest you read our US Utility Patent (there is a link to it on our website) and note that I referenced TW's patent in our patent application, and the US Patent and Trademark Office certainly doesn't think it's a copy. SC is not a copy of TW but a completely different and improved concealed carry holster. And you're right that I did sell TW's at gun shows and on CompuServe around 1994 and 1995 and got quite a few customer complaints about handguns snagging on the downward facing seams during the draw, especially revolvers as the back of the cylinders would snag on the seam and any forward facing projection like the sharp front corner of a Glock ejection port will also snag on the seam. If fact, I told Tom Fogarty (the inventor of TW who has since sold the company to it's current owners) about the problem and how to fix it and he got extremely upset that I would even suggest there was something wrong with his holster. He would not make any changes to TW and his solution to the snagging problem was "..send them another holster." As a result we parted company and SC, w/ all the improvements I had suggested to him, came into existence. And according to the 802 customer testimonials we have posted on our website, all the improvements work very well, including our customer service, which is second to none.

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