AO Review: Springfield, Alexo Athletica, DeSantis Concealment Wear

   01.03.23

AO Review: Springfield, Alexo Athletica, DeSantis Concealment Wear

Concealed carry leggings, yoga pants, tights – call them what you will – are wardrobe staples for many, but have generally been a disappointment at best (and unsafe at worst) when gun concealment is added to the product. So, I was intrigued and hopeful for a better option when I learned Springfield Armory has its own new Women’s Mesh Pocket Crossed Cannons Legging. The new $119 pants are made by Alexo Athletica, a company that’s been making concealed carry active wear for some time. For men, a similar product is offered in the form of concealed carry sweatpants. They’re called the Men’s Performance Crossed Cannons Jogger. 

Alexo Athletica
Springfileld didn’t forget the men. These are the Men’s Performance Crossed Cannons Jogger. The safety advice here applies to them too.

The Crossed Cannons Leggings are tight, for me, in more ways than one. I didn’t look carefully at the sizing chart before jumping on the offer to try them free of charge, so it’s my fault that my usual medium pant size is really tight where these are concerned. There is a sizing chart on the website to compare with your own measurements. Learn from my mistake and consider ordering a size larger than normal.

In terms of construction, these tights are high-waisted which aids in concealment for most body shapes including mine. It also expands potential choices of covering garments. The material is very stretchy, and lends that cooling sensation even when worn under jeans. In that way they’re a great choice for sweaty workouts. There are four concealment pockets in the waist, shaped like a V, but with the bottom of the “V” flattened and with a slight angle that gives the grip about a 10 percent “FBI” cant that positions the grip closer to center than the muzzle, at least when worn in the front. The angle makes no sense to me in an IWB carry system since the FBI cant is designed to prevent the muzzle end of a gun from being visible under a jacket when carried strong-side OWB, but I digress.

Alexo Athletica

Alexo Athletica
News flash: women require functional pockets. These aren’t.

In addition to gun/mag/etc slots, there are two mesh slash pockets on the outsides of the lower thigh. They’re flimsy and good for carrying perhaps lip gloss at the heaviest. Forget money or credit cards, since the pockets are transparent. They look cool, but aren’t functional.

The gun slots are placed at the 2-, 4-, 8-, and 10-o’clock points if you consider the navel as 12 o’clock. For security of the gun and effective concealment, I’m not a fan of 4- and 8-o’clock carry, but right-handed me did wear and draw an unloaded test gun in that position as part of this review. Mostly, I carried the gun in the same location I do on a daily basis at 2 o’clock. An advantage to having so many slots is the ability to carry extra magazines or a small blade. Retention is a problem, though.

Alexo Athletica
The rear half of the tights have a gun slot on each side. I couldn’t find a way to safely insert a loaded gun into the rear pocket. 

There is a QR code on the removable tag that takes consumers directly to safety information and that’s a good thing, but since all the Springfield Armory garments I tried also had these, it didn’t stand out as remarkable. So, I donned the pants and proceeded to attempt to install a gun in the waistband. It did work, eventually, but doing so safely was quite a process that doesn’t stop at putting the pants on or even with observing the Four Rules of Firearm Safety.

I did read enough information in advance to know that these pants require a gun that weighs 23 ounces or less when loaded. My own “mouse guns” are a Glock 42 and a Bond Arms Stinger in 22LR, so those are what I used. The Glock weighs less than an ounce north of 23 when loaded with seven hollow points.

Alexo Athletica
Without the DeSantis holster, trigger protection and gun retention are not there.

Any responsible concealment system does, at bare minimum, two things: 1) it keeps the gun in place securely for the context of what the person is doing throughout the day, and 2) shields the trigger guard in such a way that nothing can penetrate it while the gun is concealed. At first, I thought the leggings utterly failed on both counts. The trigger guard was easily penetrated – and the trigger could be activated – right through the pants. The gun (unloaded, of course, for the initial trial) did fall out not when I expected, during a home workout, but later on when I was doing some random kitchen task. It unceremoniously plopped to the floor without warning. “It can’t be this bad,” I thought to myself. So, I logged onto Springfield’s product page for these pants and read that this setup isn’t complete without the addition of a DeSantis holster that’s designed specifically with Alexo Athletica concealment pants in mind. Phew! Maybe this first trial seems amateurish for a firearm professional, but my intent with most reviews is to do what any new/beginner consumer might.

Alexo Athletica

Alexo Athletica
The DeSantis Gunhide Flextech holster is made specifically for Alexo tights/sweats.

The folks at DeSantis were kind enough to send their Alexo Flextech holster, a $33.99 add-on unless DeSantis is having one of their frequent sales. The Flextech is not so much a holster as it is a jointed, U-shaped envelope made to fit the gun slots in the leggings exactly. Its outer surface has unusual textured, rubbery-feeling material, and the inside is smooth leather. The center of the envelope that encloses the slide is elasticized. When inserted into the gun pocket of the tights, it virtually locks into place and is invisible if tucked away correctly. Its smooth walls protects the gun’s finish and makes for smooth drawing. The open part of the collapsible “U” faces the midline when wearing the gun in the appendix position.

With the Flextech installed, I was able to carry both the G42 and Bond Arms Stinger with ease. The insert and the lining of the gun pocket provide a triple sweat barrier for the gun, decreasing the need for cleaning/oiling after all, but the sweatiest of chores or workouts.

Alexo Athletica
Flextech holster in place. The gun is tight to my body and concealment is excellent.

Concealment is excellent with these tights. Every body is different, of course, so I can only report on how it fits for me. The high waist puts the entire gun up high enough that I never get poked in the thigh when sitting. Of course, this factor is helped by the fact that this system only accommodates tiny guns. I can wear tops that are just slightly loose in the lower torso and have no tell-tale bulge as the grip rides in the virtual shadow of fabric created by my C-cup womanly features just above. Longer-waisted women will probably not have this advantage, but these tights make a short-waisted torso advantageous. Readers who share this trait will understand how rare that is.

Every concealment setup requires some practice to get an efficient draw. This is one of the easier systems I’ve worn in that regard, and one of its best features. Achieving a firing grip on the Stinger was instantaneous. With the Glock, an assertive thumb jab behind the grip is required but it’s still a secure and efficient draw.

Alexo Athletica
The holster goes flat without a gun and is too hard to insert with the gun already in. Reholstering must be done with extreme caution.

Where this system raises concern for me is the act of inserting the gun into concealment. Doing so without muzzling the support hand or lower body is slow and slightly tedious. If re-holstering quickly became necessary, it’s not going to happen with this system. Therefore, live fire practice is quite impractical with it, but not impossible. Leaning the upper body away from the holster and being very conscientious about muzzle direction make it possible not to violate the muzzle direction rule, but it does take concentration and effort. With these tights, I only felt okay drawing and firing a loaded weapon using the Bond Arms Stinger.

Lots of people decide a reasonable solution to this problem is to carry with an empty chamber. I am a strong advocate of that for anyone attempting concealed carry prior to establishing trigger discipline, but one must understand, the likelihood of having time and space to perform the act of loading in the event of a violent criminal attack is extremely small. Peruse convenience store robbery videos and prove this for yourself if you don’t believe me. The portion of the criminal element that’s not put off by the presence of a gun in innocent hands is the same portion that won’t wait for the innocent person to load. An unloaded gun is a veritable rock in that circumstance, and a rock beats no weapon at all, but is a poor choice in the face of a blade, gun, or long bludgeoning tool.

Alexo Athletica
The 12-ounce Bond Arms Stinger is a great fit for these tights. I feel safe carrying a precious armload with the Stinger holstered in the Flextech.

The Alexo Athletica/Springfield Armory/De Santis leggings or sweats combo can be considered an asset in that it allows a person to carry a gun to the gym or on their daily run or bike ride with great concealment. For folks who would otherwise not carry, that’s a tremendous advantage over having no gun. However, if your defensive quarry requires more ammunition or better-penetrating rounds than the average 23-ounce handgun packs, it’s time to revert to or start with a different system like a fanny pack or the Enigma belt system, the latter of which doesn’t have the sweat protection for the gun that the Alexo Athletica setup offers.

A concealed carry practice includes choosing which compromises one is willing to make in order to go armed. The Alexo Athletica/Springfield/DeSantis tights and sweats offer expanded choices of things one can wear and activities one can do while armed. However, there are very serious safety, range practice, and firepower limitations with this system. I do not see it as a likely choice for the devoted, trained-up defender. I am concerned that the beginner that this system likely appeals to will likely not be aware of techniques to use it without significant safety rule violations, especially when a major component of trigger protection is sold separately and advertised in a low-key manner. The total cost of $152.99 and approximately $20 across two shipping charges will be a barrier for many new gun owners. Springfield Armory, you make great guns, but the responsible thing to do is include the DeSantis holster in the purchase price of these garments or stop advertising them as concealed carry garb. Concealed carriers, caveat emptor! (Let the buyer beware).

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Eve Flanigan is a defensive shooting and armed security practitioner/instructor who lives in the American Southwest. She is the author of "Ready to Defend: Tips for Living the Armed Lifestyle," and is a contributor to numerous gun-related blogs and print publications.

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