'Fanny' Packs: Off-Duty Bags For Your Pistol

Back in my younger (skinnier) days, hiding a gun off-duty was fairly easy. I could wear it on my belt under a loose hanging t-shirt and all was cool. Then I discovered belly-bands and they proved convenient for carry but not easy to access. In the mid-90s I finally broke down and bought a "fanny" pack. Since that time I've carried my pistol in the same variety of ways, but as summer is coming and I know the shorts and t-shirts will be my primary off-duty wear, the assortment of fanny packs that I have will get more use. In this week's review, I'm going to take a look at that assortment, the strengths and weaknesses of each (as I see them) and make some recommendations for what you should be looking for at a minimum in such a carry option.

All of the items shown in the photo at left fit into the fanny pack--shown filled and zipped closed. Now, don't think for a minute that if you're carrying a fanny pack then people don't know you're carrying a gun. It's one of the most obvious giveaways I know of. BUT, it meets that departmental requirement to conceal your weapon.


The fanny pack shown in these two photos is my old Galco. I've modified it slightly by cutting out the nylon retention strap that wrapped around the back of the back strap of the pistol and secured by way of Velcro. I felt it was redundant. If the pack is zipped shut then there's no way the pistol is coming out of the tight neoprene holster slot. If the bag is zipped open then the gun is in my hand. If I'm off-duty and HAVE to draw my weapon, it's NOT going back in until back up arrives, so there's no need to secure it without zipping up the pack. I just never saw the need for that strap.

The Galco fanny pack has a stiff plastic backplate covered by a piece of neoprene with cutouts for the pistol and spare magazine. I know people who put their Glock 17s in this same pack, but my Glock 19 seems like a snug fit to me. My Government Model 1911 definitely doesn't fit. The side pockets at either end are large enough to hold handcuffs, as shown, along with other items. My typical load is shown in that top photo. My truck keys and checkbook often end up in that large outside pocket along with the flashlight and badge. I'll often throw an OC canister in there as well.

BlackHawk Urban Carry Case

The other fanny pack I've enjoyed is the BlackHawk Urban Carry Case. BlackHawk dubbed it the 5-5-10 because (according to their published materials) it enables you to draw the weapon and put five rounds on the target in under five seconds at ten yards. Of course, that depends on you being good enough to PUT five rounds on a target at ten yards in five seconds. It doesn't magically gift you with greater shooting ability. With a little practice in opening and drawing from the Urban Carry case, this isn't difficult to do.

One unique feature of the Urban Carry Case 5-5-10 is that it isn't dedicated to handguns. Thanks to the reconfigurable internal design you can use it to carry other items that might normally be on your gun belt: baton, OC Spray, handcuffs, etc.

Different from the Galco design, the Urban Carry Case puts the spare magazines on the breakaway flap of the bag. The elastic straps that hold the magazines are snug and can be moved around on the Velcro backing panel. The end pockets on the Urban Carry Case are just as generous as on the Galco, allowing you to carry significant items in them.

Both fanny packs have adjustable waist bands with Fastex buckle releases. The ballistic nylon material that the BlackHawk Urban Carry Case is made from is more sturdy and substantial than that of the Galco fanny pack. That sturdiness causes a much stiffer shape, but that's not a bad thing. Where the Galco will warp and sag in unexpected ways, the BlackHawk maintains it's shape and stability. Where the Galco offers a fixed position pistol held in the snug neoprene, the BlackHawk UCC offers versatility in configuration.

Both will hold your weapon securely. My Galco fanny pack is finally wearing out and I'm going to have to switch over to the BlackHawk full time. I've been switching back and forth, depending on what I was carrying and how long I was going to wear the fanny pack. My Galco is much more broken in since I've had it for about thirteen years, whereas I've only had the BlackHawk UCC about two years. Still, the BlackHawk UCC is as much an "old friend" as the Galco.

If I were buying a new one today I'd have to call BlackHawk and ask them if they could put a neoprene backing into a UCC for me. Short of that, I'd have to buy the standard UCC. With BlackHawk's reputation for solid construction, double and triple stitching, etc., it'd just be the better buy for my money.