Over the years I’ve had a number of people ask me about what the cord is that I have on the shoulder holsters I’ve shown in other posts. Considering the damage that can result from having your gear come out at an inopportune time, let alone if you lose the item because it wasn’t secured effectively (we always “dummy corded” everything in the Infantry), I figured I’d go ahead and post about what I use here.

I have used two different sizes/diameters for different gear over the years, and between the two, they’ve covered most of my needs. Although the 1/8th inch stuff is pretty light, and can’t retain anything with any weight to it while under a direct load, I’ve found the 3/16th inch stuff to be just right for most general applications.

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Here is a pretty common place you’ll see elastic cordage used commercially for tactical gear. Open top mag pouches usually use it in an “Over the top of the mag” bungee, or as an elastic retainer around the body of the mag. This is 1/8th inch shock cord in the picture.

Having had a pistol fall out of a horizontal shoulder holster (my preference on concealment shoulder rigs, and “No, I don’t care about your opinion of that type of holster”) due to the thumb break getting caught and unsnapped, and seeing a mag in an upside down mag pouch (usually associated with a shoulder holster) fall out, due to the same circumstance, I decided a number of years ago to come up with a way to retain those items, without hindering their ability to be removed quickly when needed.

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Although my first iteration of what I was going for worked, it required the “support hand” to thumb down the cord loop while unsnapping and drawing the pistol with the strong hand.

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Most recent (2nd) version of the elastic setup for the Keltec PF-9. This shows the elastic position on the outside of the holster.

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This shows the elastic after being unsecured from the holster and mag pouch.

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In this pic we see the elastic positioning on the inside/body side of the holster and mag pouch.


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Here is the shoulder holster retention system I use for my Glock 30 (my normal “non duty” carry gun) with double mag pouch.


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This shows the outside/away from body side positioning of the elastic.


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This pick shows the backside/body side of the shoulder rig and how the elastic is positioned and secured.

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When drawing your weapon, you place the thumb against the inside towards body side of the knot in the elastic, and push forward and away from the body.

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After you push off the elastic retention strap, your thumb is in position for pushing inward on the thumb break to be able to withdraw your weapon from the holster.

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Withdrawing a mag from the mag pouch is as simple as pulling down on the mag flap. This action will automatically slide the elastic retention strap off of the mag pouch/pouches.

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There is no extra action required to remove the elastic retention strap from the mag pouch other than to pull down on the mag pouch flap.

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Using this system for the mag pouch makes them very secure, but available instantly when needed.

Below we’ll show how the elastic is tied before securing it to the holster, then how to secure it to the holster.

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Makes sure you start with more length of elastic than you think you’ll need. First we start with tying one overhand knot in a single strand of cord. and in the center of the elastic cord. This knot will be the one that slides over the thumb break snap.

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Referring back to the Glock holster Pic#2 as an example, the second knot, which is a double corded knot, is made/positioned a little less than halfway back (to be exact, 47% in this example) towards the tied off base at the rear of the holster. Tie the first knot, then lay it next to the holster to get your approximate location for the second one. Keep in mind, if you make the knot too close to your thumb break (front loop will be too tight), it will not slide off as easily.

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The third knot shown is also a double corded knot, and is put through two holes in at the rear of the holster made with an awl, or a punch. it is then secured with a double overhand knot as shown here. Make sure it has enough tension, without going too tight. If you do too much tension, pushing the loop off of the front of the thumb break will be more difficult. You want just enough tension to keep the thumb break from being accidentally unsnapped.

The next type of gear I’ve used the elastic for is on some of my cutting tools’ sheaths. Although I love the kydex sheath I purchased from Cleveland Kydex for my CRKT Chogan Tomahawk, I didn’t like the fact that a hard drop or blow in the upright position (the way I normally carry it) could cause it to come out of the sheath. I remedied that issue by using some well placed elastic on the underside of the sheath.

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The elastic will catch either end of the tomahawk if it happened to slide out of the sheath.

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A well placed notch with the dremel tool on the bottom of the blade side will retain the tomahawk when the elastic is pulled out of the way for use. The backside, hammer end of the sheath already has a natural notch to catch the elastic when it’s pulled out of the way.

For my Ontario Raider, I also have a Cleveland Kydex sheath. Since it didn’t come with a retention strap, I decided to put an elastic retention strap on it as well.

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The elastic retention strap can be easily moved with either hand when drawing the knife.

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The elastic retention strap has a spot to sit out of the way without needing anything added.

As I said earlier, we always made sure our gear was secured when we were in the field in the Infantry. No feeling is worse than finding out an important piece of gear is missing because it was not secured properly. It could be the difference between life and death.


“Parata Vivere”- Live Prepared.

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