Growing up, I was infatuated with movies and shows from the 1980s. One, in particular, with its high action and even higher fashion, was Miami Vice, starring Don Johnson as vice cop Sonny Crockett. The show featured car chases, gunfights and vivid scenery; however, to a young kid infatuated with firearms and leather, nothing seemed to stand out as much as the holster Don Johnson kept tucked beneath a high-end sport coat. From the moment I spotted the hazelnut shoulder rig, I wanted one. (Check out my video review above, and continue reading the article which continues below.)
I got my concealed carry permit as soon as I turned 21 and purchased a Galco Miami Classic shoulder holster for a 1911 style pistol. I must say that while I am a big fan of Don Johnson and Miami Vice, I prefer the 1911 over Crockett’s choice of the Bren Ten. With my new Galco shoulder holster and flashy 1911, I felt ready for anything that the streets of Miami … or Hickory, North Carolina … could throw at me. Let’s call it Carolina Vice, maybe?
Who’s the Jackass?
The Miami Classic’s conception came years before Miami Vice, and even before Galco was named “Galco”. In the 1970s, the Galco Leather Company, then known as The Famous Jackass Leather Company, created a custom horizontal shoulder holster system (named the Jackass Rig) for a Chicago police officer.
Quickly, this holster became a favorite among law enforcement for its quality and comfort, as well as its ability to conceal both a gun and spare magazines. As the 1980s rolled around, The Famous Jackass Leather Company changed its name to Galco and moved to Phoenix, Arizona where the company resides today.
Without the internet, tracking down a company that moved and changed names became a daunting task for the show’s producers. After poorly attempting to replicate the Jackass rig, the producers were able to track down Galco. The prop master for Miami Vice invited Galco’s President & Jackass Rig designer, Rick Gallagher, to fly to Miami to custom fit Don Johnson with the Jackass Rig (to learn more, click here).
Once the rig was matched with Johnson, he announced that the shoulder holster “Fit like a glove!” and the Jackass Rig forever became known as the Miami Classic, the most iconic shoulder holster in firearms history.
The Miami Classic
In my opinion, there is no accouterment that has the ability to make the user feel as badass as the Galco Miami Classic. When this holster is properly fit, it’s like a gentle hug that holds a pistol with extra magazines tight to your body underneath a sport coat and makes you the coolest guy around.
The Miami Classic uses four straps of full grain leather hinged at the back with a “flexalon” plate; a Galco registered trademark made of injection molded thermoplastic and sonic welded. This spider harness is the key component of the rig as it allows for ultimate customization for a unique fit without hindering the user’s range of motion. Each strap has its own independent set of adjustment screws, and the magazine pouches and holsters are interchangeable with other models of holsters for the Miami Classic. This means that the user does not have to buy a completely new shoulder rig for different models of pistols or revolvers. Also, it is available in left- and right-hand versions for certain firearms.
Under one arm is the holster and under the other is a set of magazine pouches, both made of premium grade saddle leather. The holster is oriented parallel to the ground and has a thumb break strap with a nice snap to secure the pistol from falling out. It is an open-toe holster that allows for the use of multiple barrel lengths of 1911 to be compatible. In this case, the holster is designed to be compatible with the “cocked and locked” carry style attributed to 1911 single-action pistols. It secures the weapon behind the slide when the hammer is cocked. Both the holster and mag carrier have additions to tie down the holster to the belt; however, I have refrained from using the tie downs for a greater range of motion.
The quality of the leather on the Galco Miami Classic is incredible. The leather is fabulously soft to the touch and continues to provide an unmatched fortitude of quality that only premium steerhide can possess. Furthermore, the leather is gorgeously finished in a bright saddle tan color that is simply delicious to the eyes; this could be construed as a con for the holster — it is so handsome, you won’t want to conceal it.
Carrying and Concealing
Carrying a gun has never been more comfortable for me than with the Miami Classic shoulder rig. However, I have found that this holster does see limited use for me in my concealed carry line up. This isn’t necessarily the holster’s fault, but more the fault of modern dress and the weather of North Carolina. I live in a relatively hot state, and for the majority of the year, I am in lighter clothing, which makes carrying a shoulder rig somewhat difficult, as modern styling has virtually done away with the sport coat among my age group.
Because of the thin and lightweight nature of the Miami Classic, it can be worn comfortably under a light button-up. I typically conceal mine under a Hawaiian shirt or light fishing shirt. This style of carrying is especially useful when in a car or sitting down for an extended period of time. The gun is kept off the hips and is free of chair arms, seatbelts, etc. To aid with the weight of a loaded handgun and two full magazines I opted for the wide shoulder straps with my Miami Classic.
For concealment, a key advantage to the Miami Classic is the thinness of the shoulder straps. Compared to many other shoulder rigs, the Miami Classic has very thin, low profile shoulder straps that will not print through a light jacket. This, with the inclusion of the wide straps, adds for a lightweight rig that is also strong enough to keep your handgun exactly where you want it to be.
Since 1969, Galco has been producing premium quality holsters for civilians, law enforcement and the military. An American company through and through, all Galco products are made in the United States, and ship with a pocket constitution. From the screens of Hollywood to the streets of Hickory, Galco products have given the American gun owner the holster they deserve.
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