Over the past few weeks I have been shopping around for a concealment garment for IDPA. I realize that this isn’t necessary and that most people have a variety of items in their wardrobe that would work just fine. I have a number of button down shirts that could easily serve as a concealment garment and plenty of long shirts that would do the trick as well.
One quiet morning while I had the house all to myself, I belted on my holster and stood infront of the mirror. Concealing the gun wasn’t an issue. An unbuttoned shirt had more than enough length to cover my gun and holster. The same was true for a handful of polo style shirts.
In terms of the Polo, I didn’t feel comfortable with the motion of getting to the gun. Using my support hand to lift my shirt was fine for daily carry but re-holstering was kind of cumbersome. I didn’t want to get into an akward situation at a match and be that guy that requires the helpful hand of the Safety Officer during the “Holster” command.
A button-down shirt, on the other hand, was easy to manipulate. It moved out of the way with a flick of the thumb when drawing and easily moved for re-holstering. The one and only thing that I didn’t like was how wispy the shirt felt when moving it out of the way. While this may not be an issue most of the time, I could imagine a breeze blowing in from behind me, keeping the shirt from being flicked away.
Aside from the draw, I found that when pressing the gun out, the shirt would pull tight across my back. We aren’t talking about Incredible Hulk action where the shirt would rip apart, but it was tightening up and became mildly annoying. This annoyance was compounded if I was moving my upper body while the gun was at full extension.
Not to sound like a whiner pointing out all of these annoying traits of my wardrobe, but there was a simple solution. All I had to do was invest in a vest. It would act like a button down shirt in the sense that I could sweep it away but, unlike the shirt, it would have a little more weight and be less wispy. Not to mentioned, the lack of sleeves would reduce it tightening across my back.
Enter The Vest:
Unfortunately, I’m not makin’ mad cheddar, yo! (bonus cool points if you can make the connection there), so I did what anyone on a budget would do. I took a ride to Walmart in search of an IDPA Vest. My first stop was in the Men’s Apparel department, followed by Sporting Goods. I struck out in both departments and wound up leaving empty handed.
As I walked to my car, I decided to make my way to the shopping complex next door and give Tractor Supply a try. After all, they were my saving grace when I was in the market for a Gilligan style hat to keep the sun off of my face and neck, what did I have to lose. I had better luck than Walmart, but Denim or Camo wasn’t the fashion statement I wanted to make at my next IDPA Match.
On my way home, I stopped into Target for my final attempt in obtaining an IDPA Vest. Much like Walmart, they had nothing that would suit my needs. Lacking the time to drive out to Cabela’s, I went home and decided to track down something online. My first stop was Amazon and the options were plentiful. I added a Woolrich vest to my shopping cart and began to have second thoughts. I’ve ordered clothing online before, with great success, but something told me to try on the vest before I bought it. I cancelled the order decided to make the trip to Cabela’s when I had more free time.
Not All Vests are Created Equal:
When I had the time to make the trip to Cabela’s, I went with a recommendation on looking at their Safari Series Vest. I began looking around and found vests o’ plenty. I tried on a number of them, some lightweight and comfortable, others heavy and perfect for the winter months. Despite all of the good qualities of these vests, every single one of them was too short. The bottom of the vests stopped at my belt line which would have left most of my gun exposed. This simply wouldn’t cut it as an IDPA Vest.
At this point, I couldn’t find the Safari Series vest and was trying on Carhartt and Under Armor apparel. Before leaving another store, empty handed, I tracked down an associate. I pulled the Safari Series vest up on my phone, showed it to the associate, and she took me to the near empty rack where they were stored.
The associate was able to track down one in my size. I tried it on and was relieved that I finally found a vest that was long enough to cover a holstered gun. Finally, my search was over and I had an IDPA Vest.
Try Before You Buy:
The moral of the story here is simple, if you are going to buy an IDPA Vest, try it on before buying. Had I ordered online, I probably would have wound up with a good quality vest but it may not have been long enough to cover my gun. By the same token, the Safari Series vest that I purchased was almost dismissed because it looked too heavy and bulky, online.
As it turns out, the Safari Vest has a variety of pockets but they aren’t nearly as bulky as they appear online. The vest itself is vented and should serve well in the warmer months. In the winter, I’l just wear a jacket or coat.
One thing I wish I would have done was bring an empty holster to the store with me. It would have been nice to have an actual holster to gauge vest length.