It’s the Clipdraw connection!
By Todd Lofgren
Back in the early 1970s, I was always on the lookout for a better, more comfortable, more concealable way to carry a handgun. This was because, as a state narcotic agent, all my work was plainclothes, requiring that my handgun and allied equipment be concealed under non-descript civilian clothing, while some of it was undercover, requiring an even more hidden, yet accessible carry. We worked with a lot of local jurisdictions back then and I distinctly recall the day I got a look at a brace of Colt Detective Specials that were being carried by a couple of narcs from the local police department. Not only were these six shot colts equipped with the seldom seen bolt on hammer shrouds that effectively turned these reasonably small wheelguns into, for all practical purposes, hammerless guns, they also wore an odd-shaped black plastic grip on their right sides that allowed safe, secure, and discreet carry of theses snubs without a holster. I was soon to learn that this grip was called a Hip-Grip and, to this day, I’ve never been without at least one J-framed Smith & Wesson wearing this innovative handle. Still available from the Barami Corporation, this is a good method for carrying and concealing a small wheelgun.
Not too long after encountering the Hip-Grip, one of my partners showed up with a unique metal clip that bolted up under the right grip panel of a Government Model .45 that accomplished essentially the same thing. With only the removal and replacement of a couple of grip screws, one could now carry a full-sized heady-duty handgun securely without a holster. One of these devices found its way onto one of the Swenson .45s I routinely carried and helped to make this relatively large handgun quite concealable. I think these original belt clip devices were made by an outfit called Brown & Pharr, but his device, as well as the company that produced them, disappeared from view some years after that.
Well, all that has changed recently with the reintroduction of the original Clipdraw design for the 1911s as well as a whole array of other Clipdraw models available that attach to a myriad of other handguns as well.
I had seen an ad for the “Original Clipdraw” for 1911s recently and a little research revealed that it, as well as a plethora of other Clipdraw models, were being made by an outfit called Skyline Toolworks out of Malvern, Pennsylvania. A call to Skyline put me in touch with John Rugh, who was kind enough to send me an example of every model of Clipdraw he produces. And there are quite a few. Counting them all up, I arrived at 14 different offerings that fit virtually any and every semi-auto or revolver worthy of carry. Some are weapons model specific, that it, they are designed for a specific make and model of firearm like a J-framed Smith or GLOCK, while others are universal in nature, allowing attachment via the use of a “very high bond” two-side tape. They are offered in blue to match a like finished handgun or nickel plated for your plated or stainless pistols.
The Universal Model
I started my review of these devices by installing a Model SA on my custom Kahr P9. This is a universal model Clipdraw that Skyline says will fit virtually any semi-automatic pistol. I selected the one that was nickel plated to match the stainless slide on my P9, but could also have used the blued model that would have matched this pistol’s black polymer frame.
I began by determining how far down inside my pants I wanted the P9 to ride. Of all the guns I’ve carried over the years, the P9 was the only one that stayed put when carried “sans” holster, but this type of carry would be all the more secure with a Clipdraw in place. Following the directions included in the package, I first cleaned both the slide and mounting plate with the included alcohol prep pads. This is to remove any oils present that would destroy the integrity of the double-coated 3M Corp. tape used to secure the mounting plate to the slide.
After allowing the alcohol to dry, I pulled the white backing from the 3M Corp. strip and applied it to the slide where I wanted the mounting plate to end up. With the tape in place, I then removed the clear strip from the exposed side of the tape and pressed on the mounting plate. With the mounting plate properly positioned, I then attached the clip with the two rounded dome-headed hex screws and wrench supplied, and that was it, the Clipdraw was installed. I’m not sure exactly how long it took me to install the Clipdraw on my P9 since I was taking extra time to get it right the first time and was also taking some notes as I went along, but all in all, it couldn’t have taken me more than tow to three actual minutes to get it properly mounted.
Should you not get your Model SA Clip draw positioned exactly where you wanted it or at some later date just want to dismount it from your gun, all that’s necessary (according to the included directions) to remove it is to pry along the long side of the mounting plate with a thin-bladed screwdriver until it comes loose and then peel the tape from your slide. The VHB (very high bond) double-coated tape used with this installation is supposed to peel off, leaving no blemish or residue on the slide, yet provides for a continuous bond between clip and pistol that resist oil, solvent, heat, and vibration. I intended to test these claims. More on that later.
I found that with my Clipdraw-equipped P9, my most comfortable carry came when I wore the clip over the top edge of my pants but under my belt. Since a Clipdraw-equipped handgun rides right up next on one’s body, the weapon it is mounted on should be free of protuberances and sharp edges that can poke and abrade. The Kahr P9 pretty much fits that bill except for its slide stop. To make my P9 infinitely more comfortable to carry with the Clipdraw, I replaced its factory slide stop with one I had narrowed and rounded so it wouldn’t poke me in the side. With this done, I found I could wear my P9 all day pretty much without even noticing it was there. This is the mark of a good carry combination — having a major calibered handgun with you at all times, yet hardly being aware of its presence. The P9 easily disappeared under a golf or T-shirt.
I’ve carried the Clipdraw-equipped P9 pretty much daily now for about three weeks. The clip has remained solidly anchored to its slide. Since its installation, I’ve fired the P9 at the range with no change to the weapon’s reliability, shootability, or accuracy. I’ve field stripped it for cleaning, wiped it down, left it in my truck with outside temperatures exceeding 104 degrees, all without it shifting or coming loose. So far this universal tape-mounted carrying device is working out quite well.
It was the Clipdraw designed for the GLOCK that first got my attention. Not that I really wanted to install one on my GLOCK 22, but because of the way it mounted to the slide cover plate — I thought that Skyline would surely produce a like design for the Kahr since it used a similarly designed cover plate on its slide. Skyline ultimately chose to design a more universal mount that would fit my Kahr, and now that I’ve used it, an additional model that would bolt up like one for the GLOCK seems superfluous.
Since John included a Clipdraw for my GLOCK, I went ahead and installed it and gave it a try. As my GLOCK now does duty as my truck gun — a job it handles very well — I reasoned that a secure method to just stick it in my pants when needed, sans conventional holster, would be a bonus.
So, using the directions that accompanied the Model GS-B Clipdraw, I first unloaded my GLOCK and removed it slide. I then separated the barrel and mainspring assembly from the slide and, with the slide laid out on a flat surface, I depressed the black plastic spacer sleeve (as shown in the included drawings) toward the muzzle and separated the slide cover plate form the rear of the slide. There is a warning that removing the slide cover plate exposes the spring-loaded components and, even though it told me to keep my thumb over the opening to keep these components in place, I managed to let the extractor spring escape, fortunately it hit something on my bench and only flew a short distance. I then installed the new slide plate cover that’s a part of the Clipdraw assembly and attached the clip portion of the Clipdraw to the new slide cover plate using the two included dome-headed screws and hex wrench. Skyline recommends applying Locktite to these screws to help keep them in place. For you lefties, the GLOCK Clipdraw, like the Universal Clipdraw for semi-autos, can be mounted on either side of the slide, another simple, easy to follow installation. John included extra screws with the GLOCK and Universal Clipdraws. In addition, each Universal Clipdraw comes with extra prep pads and tape for multiple installations or repositioning.
With the Clipdraw mounted on my GLOCK 22, I found that it remained securely positioned, pretty much anywhere I placed it inside my wasitband when the clip was snapped over my belt. Again, like the universal model I mounted on my Kahr, the Clipdraw on my GLOCK was out of the way and did not interfere with its operation or disassembly.
The Model RV-B
It took me a while to figure out what revolver to try this Clipdraw model on because all of my small revolvers are Smith & Wesson’s and there’s a specific model Clipdraw that mounts up to these without having to go to a universal type of mounting. Then I remembered my wife’s older Charter Arms Undercover. It normally wore a set of oversized Pachmyer grips, but before mounting the universal Clipdraw to it, I retrofitted this pistol with a pair of original wooden handles. The mounting plate was just a trifle too long to fit with the oversized Pachmyer grips, but with just a little time spent on the grinding wheel and a little cold blue, I could have easily made it work.
Since I’d already installed a universal mount on my Kahr P9 and knew what to do, i timed myself to see just how long it would take me to mount this one without taking time to read the directions or take notes for this article. Okay, begin — I cleaned the side plate of the revolver and the mounting plate with the supplied alcohol prep pad. I then applied the tape to the right side of the Charter Arms just below the cylinder where I wanted it. I then pressed the mounting plate firmly onto the tape and attached the clip with the screws provided. Done. Without rushing, it took me two minutes and 15 seconds to complete the installation and that was with having to trim a little off one end of the mounting tape, as it was a trifle too long and would have extended beyond the mounting plate and most likely attracted a whole host of things to stick to it. When slipped into the front of my pants and hooked over my belt, the little Charter Arms practically disappeared. Only its grip showed above my beltline and was easily concealed under the lightest of outer garment.
The Model 1911-S
For trying out the Clipdraw on a full-size fighting pistol, I chose my Swenson Lightweight Commander. I simply removed the two grip screws from the right grip panel, put the Clipdraw over the grip screw bushings, then replaced the grip and secured everything in place with the original screws. All in all, every Clipdraw tried mounted up easily and securely and provided for a save concealable, holsterless carry.
To further test the 3M Corp. #4941 VHB double-coated tape’s claim of being resistant to oils, solvents, heat, cold, and vibration, I mounted up one more Clipdraw, a Model SA-B, to an older Walther PPK. Once mounted, I began to test 3M’s claim by laying a bead of oil along the top side of the tape and letting it set there for three days. Next, I wiped off the oil and laid a bead of Shooter’s Choice gun cleaning solvent along the tape’s top edge. Three days later, I wiped that away and the tape still remained solidly attached to both clip and pistol.
So, how about cold — real cold. Okay, having survived the oil and solvent test, I next placed my Walther inside a sealed plastic freezer bag and put it in my freezer for a couple of days. When removed, I gave the clip a couple of good jerks and still the tape remained firmly affixed.
Okay, I’m convinced. That tape’s gonna hold. The last thing I wanted to verify was John’s claim that, when I wanted to, I could remove a tape-mounted Clipdraw by simply slipping a thin-bladed screwdriver between mounting plate and tape and prying the plate loose. Okay, using the Walther again, I did as directed and sure enough, the plate came away from the tape. I then peeled the tape off the slide and it came away leaving no blemish or residue. Cool.
The Clipdraw works. It’s a great little device that allows for safe, concealed carry without the need for the weight and girth of a separate holster. In most cases, a Clipdraw-equipped handgun can be utilized with a conventional holster by simply removing the two screws holding the clip, leaving the mounting plate in place. John has all models of his Clipdraw system reasonably priced at $19.95 each. I can pretty much guarantee you that he has a model available, whether bolt-on or stick-on that will work with your choice of carry piece. If you’re looking for a very practical way to “carry,” the Clipdraw could just be the answer.
For more information, go to www.clipdraw.com or contact John at Skyline Toolworks at 44 Pennsylvania Ave., Dept CH, Malvern, PA 19355; 800-869-7501.
Mounted on the slide, the Clipdraw doesn’t interfere with weapon shootability.