Anytime you get into a discussion about off-duty carry, you’re going to get a plethora of differing opinions. No matter your outlook, there’s one thing we can all agree on: When you’re carrying you weapon off-duty, the holster you use has to secure the weapon for all of the expected or potential circumstances. Your carry position, retention level, etc., all has to be taken into consideration. On a motorcycle, going 55+ miles per hour, that weapon had better be very secure. Accessibility becomes the next biggest concern.
Let’s agree up front that shooting at or from a moving vehicle is generally a bad idea (prohibited by many agencies). Doing so on a motorcycle is a supremely bad idea given that you have to surrender some level of control of the bike to access your handgun. Wrecking with a gun in your hand seems an amazingly bad circumstance. Therefore, in this article we’re going to concentrate on carrying on your motorcycle only as you go from A to B. In other words, we’re not considering shooting from the bike unless you are at a full stop and don’t need a hand (at all) to hold the bike in place (breaking).
The final concern is appearance. While many folks carry and don’t care if other people know it, most officers don’t want people to know that they’re carrying—as it identifies them and they don’t want that. So how can you carry your handgun without having it print through your clothing (as you’re bent forward or seated on the bike) and so that you can access it, if necessary, at stoplights or when you get to your destination?
In conversation with a variety of officers who ride recreationally, the biggest answer seemed to be (paraphrased), “It’s in my saddle bag/trunk/backpack so I can get to it when I get where I’m going.” One other officer carried his gun in (essentially) a fanny pack he’d modified to mount on his tank so it was sitting in front of him, barrel pointing away from him, concealed and accessible. If he was leaving the bike, he unsnapped the pack from the mount and carried it with him. The few officers we found who carried and wanted access while riding (thinking about stop lights or quick stops and bailout to chase, etc.) carried either in a shoulder holster or crossdraw. One officer had found a crossdraw holster that was worn IWB and his only complaint was that, on occasion, the gun would dig into him depending on his seating position. To alleviate the challenge he simply pushed the gun/holster a little farther around toward his left hip. It was still covered by his shirt/jacket.
Given the options, if you want the gun on your person while you ride, accessible, but fully concealed, crossdraw and shoulder holsters seem to be the best options.