Gear Review: UTUC compression concealment

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Glock 42 in UTUC compression shorts. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Tired of searching for the most incognito, comfortable concealment holster for both dressing up at work or styling light in summer?  Turns out, you may have ignored a different and sometimes superior option in deep concealment clothing.  Undertech Undercover leads the way in form fitting, barely there, compression concealment undergarments.

UTUC: Who they are and what they do

While Undertech Undercover offers concealment specific pants, jackets, holsters, and purses as well, their bread and butter line includes compression tops and under-shorts for both men and women.  The UTUC company was founded in 2009 by Lenny Magill, founder of Glockstore.com.  UTUC is driven by high-quality, hand-sewn, made-in-the-USA products.  If you think you haven’t heard of the company, think again.  They grew to popularity for the love-it-or-hate-it Belly Band holster.  In 2012, they introduced a Travel Safe line of concealed carry options for discreet travelers.  And by 2014, they were highlighted as one of the most innovative carry products at SHOT.

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UTUC compression holsters are a MicroPoly/Lycra blend and hold up to repeated washes, per manufacturer’s instructions. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Made of a MicroPoly/Lycra blend, all of the compression garments are ambidextrous, with identical holster slots on both sides.  UTUC caters to all body types, selling sizes XS-3XL in women and S-3XL in men.  The material is not overly warm, even in the dog days of summer.

Though they have big-name competition in 5.11, I’ve found the Undertech Undercover products to be more reasonably priced with no sacrifices in quality or capability.  Concealed carry compression shirt and short options range in price from $49.99 to $59.99, depending on styles, colors, and patterns.  They also run many three for $99 type deals.  The products are readily available, not only from the retail location in San Diego or Undertechundercover.com and Glockstore.com, but also through many online retailers like Amazon and OpticsPlanet.

Compression concealed carry test

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S&W .38 spl in UTUC tank. This rig easily concealed a gun under minimal clothing like blouses. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Can a compression shirt really hold a firearm with enough retention to maintain both safety and discreteness?  After much testing, my answer to that question is yes.  My initial concern was that even if both the shirts and shorts held the weapon snugly at first, the garment would lose it’s retention strength after a dozen wash cycles, not to mention a three dozen washes.  The garments are is simple to launder, with instructions to machine wash in cold water and air dry, no fabric softener.  As it turns out, the UTUC products really are made to last.  I’ve been wearing and washing mine regularly for over four months, and they still look and fit like new.

Over the past four months, we tested both men’s and women’s stylings.  In both gender shirts, the gun sits pretty much straight up and down on the midaxillary line, making the draw a bit of a reach back, but that is not a problem for most users, and the position serves to keep the gun well hidden along the torso.  One of our reviewers with shoulder issues found the draw uncomfortable in the shirt, and would prefer to have a forward cant option.  However, he found the shorts both comfortable and accessible whether wearing jeans, dress pants, or even workout shorts.  While the shirts hold and conceal larger frame guns just fine, I did find that larger grips irritated the underside of the upper arm upon the first few uses.

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The tank holster retention strap is easily mastered with drawing practice. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

While it takes some practice to unsnap the retention elastic, the process becomes second nature in just a few tries.  With any holster, practice for muscle memory is important, and even more so when the draw requires either lifting or opening an over-garment.  Still, I gladly encourage on-body carry long before I’d ever endorse off-body carry in purses, bags, or briefcases based both on security and accessibility.

In the women’s UTUC line, I found daily uses for both the compression tank and the shorts, depending on my outfits.  Even with dressier, fitted blouses or slacks, I was able to conceal my S&W 637 revolver in .38spl, larger Springfield EMP 9mm, and micro LCP .380.  Not one person during my test could identify where I was carrying.  The holsters cover both the trigger and trigger guard, and they fit all the guns we tried, including larger frame Glock 40 cals.  Reholstering is not overly difficult, but with any gun, care must be taken.

Fit

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UTUC compression shorts. Compression wear is something not everyone can get used to. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

The key here is realizing that “compression” means form fit.  If you are not accustomed to compression clothing, this will take some getting used to. You cannot, however, order a size larger because you want a looser fit.  The built in holsters function because they fit snugly against the skin.  Order sizes too large and the firearm will pull away from the body and potentially create a hazard.  That said, the sizing chart is very simple to match.  They offer plenty of sizes and styles to fit any body type, and you won’t need to find a weapon that is built to fit well into UTUC’s compression carry gear.  Best of all, the garments look good when dressed-up under clothing.  My women’s tank looks like any other cami when worn under another garment.

For women, the tanks excel under another shirt or jacket.  Likewise, men’s shirts are the same, either under button shirts or a sport coat.  Kudos to UTUC for designing the female-specific line.  Obviously, they put a good amount of time into fitting the curves of a woman’s body rather than just re-branding the men’s line, as other companies have been known to do.

Certainly compression, on body carry is not for everybody.  Some prefer to wear the same holster exclusively, which has the benefit of incredible familiarity and fast draw.  I, on the other hand, don’t want to change my wardrobe to fit my CCW gun and holster. Rather, I choose a small, but varied selection of holster options that allow any kind of outfit from dresses and dressy to casual, and UTUC is an important part of my daily options.

Bottom line

While my UTUC products will not replace dedicated leather holsters in my concealment arsenal, I would not want to remove them from my rotation.  The concealment shirts and shorts offer excellent options, and are very well-made, USA products.  If you are on the fence about purchase, Undertech Undercover’s compression gear is worth its price in longevity and quality.  The company asks “Why carry a gun when you can wear one?”  That’s a very good question. If you’ve never considered concealed carry wear like this, check out UTUC and find out for yourself.