I reached out to Galco a while back after seeing their new High Ready chest rig advertised on their website. Galco’s Media and PR Manager, Mike Barham, responded swiftly and was good enough to send me samples to try out for two pistols: one to fit a Sig P227 and another to fit an optic-equipped S&W M&P. The chest rigs arrived in short order and made a good first impression. They were solidly built with quality components; The Kydex holster front was riveted to the nylon backing with seven rivets. The backing was lightly padded with a mesh surface on the side worn towards the body. The 1 ½” nylon straps attached to the holster with metal side release buckles at three points; at each end of the horizontal strap and the vertical one that goes over the wearer’s shoulder. The keepers are stout, and the ends of the straps are melted to prevent the nylon from fraying. There are no screws to work loose, only rivets- a nice touch.
I peeked at the website to make sure I was putting the holster on properly, the vertical strap going over the strong side shoulder. The straps were easy to adjust, and the keeper was wide enough to feed the strap’s tail through again to prevent it from loosening. The rig was simple to don and remove; I released the right side horizontal strap buckle, put my head through the vertical loop, and then re-secured the buckle. Both pistols seated in the Kydex holsters with a satisfying click of friction engagement. The holsters rely on that friction fit for retention; the level of “grab” on the pistol is just right, in my opinion. It’s secure but comes out smoothly when needed.
The day I got it, I wore the S&W chest rig with an optic-equipped M&P40 on a three-mile walk through the desert near my home. The rig was quiet and comfortable; the straps were wide enough to distribute the gun’s weight evenly. I wore the rig over a t-shirt covering it with an unbuttoned short sleeve camp shirt to avoid alarming other walkers. The temperature was about 80 degrees, I sweated under the rig, but it wasn’t oppressive. The cool mesh “comfort cloth” on the back of the nylon panel worked well. I suffered no hot spots or discomfort.
I took both pistols and rigs on a muzzleloader deer hunt in Western New Mexico around the first of November. The temperature ranged from the high teens at dawn to the high 50s/low 60s in the afternoon. I wore the horizontal strap a little loose to accommodate clothing layers and to keep it from constricting my lungs as my breathing became labored climbing hills at altitude. I kept the vertical strap snug to maintain the positioning of the holster and permit a positive draw if I needed the gun.
I typically carry binoculars around my neck while in the woods. I had to loosen the binoculars strap to permit them to ride just below the holster. I wore a scarf made of camouflage netting to break up the black outline and cover the shine of the holstered pistol. It also kept the binoculars from bouncing noisily against the bottom of the holster.
I usually wear a military surplus “H” harness and pistol belt with a nylon flap holster in the woods. It works okay but is problematic when wearing a pack with a waistbelt. It also becomes extremely uncomfortable in short order while riding in a vehicle. The chest rig solved both problems. It worked exceptionally well with a backpack; the shoulder straps on the pack bracketed the holster comfortably and didn’t interfere with drawing. Riding in a vehicle was a pleasure – none of the fatigue, discomfort, and pain that wearing a big handgun on your hip causes while bouncing around on rough roads. The seatbelt rode right on top of the holster without impeding access to the grip.
The only negative I found with wearing a handgun on my chest was minor- it positioned the holster directly below my mouth. I had to be careful while eating and drinking to avoid spilling liquid or dropping crumbs on my gun/optic. I hung the chest rig up in camp when I ate to avoid that problem. That was literally the only time I took it off except to sleep. The camouflage scarf protected the gun while snacking in the field.
I really like this holster. Its design and construction are impressive- it’s well-made, rugged, and thoroughly practical. It keeps a handgun secure and instantly accessible, making me believe in this type of carry. Galco nailed it with this holster. Consider the High Ready Chest Rig if you carry a service-size semi-auto off the beaten path.