Finding that "perfect" concealed carry holster is almost a never ending quest for individuals who carry concealed. Most people go through a series of holsters in a trial and error process trying to find the perfect combination of comfort and concealment.

In most cases, handgun owners end up with the proverbial "box of holsters" that end up sitting around without being used.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Appendix Carry - Pros and Cons

I've recently been running into questions about appendix carry so I thought I'd spend some time talking about here.

If you aren't familiar with the term, appendix carry refers to a carrying method where the holster rides inside the waistband just in front of strongside. This style of carry puts the weapon inside the waist somewhere between the belly button and the hip bone on either side.

The image above depicts a right handed a shooter. A lefty would be riding on the other side.

While appendix carry can and does work for some people, here are my thoughts:

#1 - Comfort- Unless the handgun was very small (pocket gun), I always found appendix carry to be overly uncomfortable. I understand that there will be some potential discomfort associated with CCW, but appendix was always really uncomfortable for me. It became really problematic when I tried to sit down while carrying and the weapon jabbed me in the thigh or nether regions.

#2 - Handgun - In tune with comfort, the concealment level of appendix carry was always tied to the weapon size. For me, a small weapon was better carried in the pocket versus in the appendix.

#3 - Accessibility - In addition to the issues mentioned above, I also found appendix carry to result in a very unatural draw.

While some people really like appendix carry, I just wasn't one of them. I'd much rather go with a strongside carry or pocket holster versus appendix carry. That being said, opinions vary, and you may find that appendix carry is just perfect for your needs. Who knows?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pocket Guns Work

To this day, I'm amazed at some of the things that people say about small caliber pocket guns! Last week, I had two customers in the gun store where I work saying that they wouldn't be caught dead carrying a pocket .380. That attitude just might get you dead.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: any caliber that you are or can carry is better than no caliber at all. Is a .22 my first choice for concealed carry self defense? No, but I certainly wouldn't want to get shot by one. A local police officer in my area took a .22 mag to the eye from one of those NAA belt buckle guns and didn't make it. Any and I mean any caliber firearm can kill or seriously injure someone.

I carry a .380 pocket gun nearly every day. Loaded with some high quality, self defense ammo (Cor-bon), it will more than serve it's purpose of defending me should I need it.

Don't let other people's opinions sway you from making sound decisions.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Finding a Holster for the S&W M&P Compact

Since S&W released the M&P Compact to the market, it has steadily gained a following in both the civilian and law enforcement markets as a CCW handgun as well as a back-up/secondary weapon.

The biggest issue with this handgun right now seems to center around the lack of holsters. While most of the holsters made for the M&P full size will also fit the Compact, they don't fit that well as the FS has a longer barrel.

There are some mainstream holster makers that have jumped on the bandwagon and started producing holster for the Compact. The two most prominent are Don Hume and Galco. Both are now offering a number of holster models that are made specifically for the Compact.

For the best deals on Don Hume try here: Don Hume holsters. I like the Galco line, but they are just a bit too expensive for my tastes.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Holsters for the S&W J Frame

The S&W J frame revolver is probably the most popular back-up and self defense pistol still in production today. While a number of other S&W frame revolvers are popular, none even come close to the success of the J frame.

My own experince with the J frame started during my law enforcement days as it was one of the few handguns my department allowed for back-up carry. My J frame spent countless hours on my ankle. While I never had to employ it's talents, it gave me a great deal of comfort during those times. I still find myself grabbing my 642 airweight and slip it into my coat pocket as I'm leaving the house.

As popular as the J frame has become, finding a good holster of one should not be a problem. Nearly every holster maker I know makes at least one holster for that revolver.

The J frame is at home on the belt, inside the waistband, in the pocket, or on the ankle. From a CCW perspective, it's one of the most versatile handguns on the market.

My personal favorite for the J frame is a pocket holster that slips into my jacket pocket. I do occasionally use an IWB holster, but I have single stack semi pistols that I prefer for that method of carry.

Here's a really nice article about J frame and related holsters: S&W J frame Holsters.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Holsters for the Beretta PX4 Storm

The release of the Px4 Storm by Beretta in 2004 marked a unique period of Beretta's storied history. Since around the 1995 time period, Beretta has faced the idea that they weren't embracing new technology quick enough and were losing ground in the law enforcement market. While the ever popular Beretta 92 is still the primary sidearm of the US military, the 92 was becoming somewhat obsolete in the law enforcement market for a number of reasons including it's weight, overall size, design, and caliber selection.

In an effort to reclaim some of that market, Beretta released the Cougar series in 1992. While it was adopted by some law enforcement agencies, it barely dented the hold that Glock and Sig have in that marketplace. While Beretta stopped producing the Cougar in 2005, they did receive some very positive feedback from law enforcement about some of features that were liked.
I
n 2002, Beretta turned it's attention back to the LEO market and started working on designs and prototypes that might fit into that market. Taking positive features from the Cougar series and the 92 series, Beretta released the Px4 Storm series in 2004. The Storm was constructed of lightweight polymer with steel reinforced inserts and featured an integrated light rail (also called a Picatinny rail). The ergonomic design was a significant change in direction for Beretta as the Px4 also featured a modular trigger group, and changeable backstrap options for the grip.



Chambered for the 9mm, .40 cal., .45 ACP; this handgun will meet most of the caliber needs of any police department. Depending on the caliber, the Px4 has a mag capacity of either 10, 14, 17, or 20 rounds. One big selling point for the Px4 was it's ease of disassembly or field stripping. The design was made is such a way that the parts cannot be misplaced or incorrectly located when the pistol is reassembled. This means that the pistol is always reassembled correctly no matter what the conditions.
Beretta PX-4 Storm Holsters

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Review of Gould & Goodrich Holsters

Based in Lilington NC, Gould & Goodrich holsters has been in business since the mid 1980's. Originally Gould & Goodrich (G&G) was owned by S&W and produced S&W holsters. The company was later sold to the G&G partnership and renamed Gould & Goodrich (after the partners).


Although Gould & Goodrich got their start in law enforcement applications, they have now expanded their holster line to include concealment models and concealment gear. The company still maintains its primary focus on law enforcement gear as they have been very successful in that market. G&G is also looking at other holster materials like kydex and has incorporated kydex into many of their duty holsters. G&G also makes a full line of law enforcement belts and concealed carry belts. They have taken a somewhat unique approach to their line of concealed carry gun belts by adding a layer of composite material to the inside of the belt. This adds strength to the belt while making it have a non-slip surface.
As the times have changed, so has G&G. While leather is still a major priority for them in terms of holster materials, they are now offering duty holsters in a kydex thermoplastic that is covered in a synthetic leather. This design gives you all the durability and form of kydex coupled with the beauty and comfort of leather.
For more info on G&G, try here: Gould & Goodrich Holsters.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Finally Tried a Fobus Holster

After years of resisting, I finally broke down and tried my brother's Fobus holster. He has ranted and raved about about how great that holster was for months. It turned out to be exactly as bad as I had imagined.

The built-in active retention system forces you to draw the weapon in an exact manner that I found very uncomfortable. I wasn't a big fan of the paddle either as it simply didn't keep the holster stable on my waist. No matter how tight I pulled my gun belt, the holster consistently shifted during the draw. Obviously the price point is very low, which is waht seems to draw people to this brand.

If you were on a strict budget or only carried a handgun once a year, the Fobus might be an option for you. Other than that, I personally don't see much value in it.

For those of you who are absolutely sold on the Fobus, this place has them cheap: Fobus Holsters.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cowhide Versus Horsehide Gun Holsters

For a number of years there has been a bit of an on-going debate involving whether or not horsehide made a better holster material than cowhide?

If you read through some info online, you'll see there are mixed opinions on the topic. Here's my .02 worth of opinion on the topic:

I've had the pleasure of owning and using both horsehide and cowhide holsters. There are very holster makers who specialize in horsehide any more. Greg Kramer of Kramer Leather, is probably the best known horsehide holster maker. While there are others who do make holsters from horsehide, Kramer was one of the early pioneers to focus on horse as a holster material.

Horsehide is denser than cowhide making it harder to work with and more difficult to dye. That same denseness also makes horse nearly waterproof versus cowhide that is water resistant. Horsehide is harder to get and therefore, more expensive than cowhide.

I have some Kramer horsehide holsters that are over 15 years old and have been worn quite a bit. I honestly think, I could clean up most of those holsters with some good polish and sell them on Ebay for close to what I paid for them 15 + years ago. This is due to the fact that horsehide is extremely durable. Much more durable than cowhide, in my humble opinion.

All things being equal, I would take a horsehide holster over it's brother in cowhide most anytime. Unfortunately, there aren't that many opportunities left to do that and it becomes a budget issue. While cowhide works great as long as it's taken care of, horsehide is a better choice if it's available at a reasonable price.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Importance of a Gun Belt

It's very interesting to read forums and talk to people in person about their experiences with various holsters. It's equally interesting to learn that few of them are using a real gun belt to support the holster.

While many people will try to take a shortcut in this area, it's extremely important to wear a gun belt with your holster. Why? Most regular belts are made from a single layer of cowhide. Those belts are designed to keep your pants up. They are NOT designed to support the weight of a loaded weapon. That's part of the reason that holsters move around on the belt and seem to flex away from the body as they are carried. 99% of all "regular" belts simply do not offer enough support.

Now, am I saying that you have to go out and spend $80 on a "gun belt"? No, I'm saying that a properly designed gun belt will significantly increase the performance and effectiveness of a holster. So where can you find a nice gun belt? My favorite place for info on gun belts is here: Gun Belts.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Finding a Holster for a Ruger LCR

Although the Ruger LCR is realtively new, it's still possible to find a nice concealed carry holster for it. It's important to note that holsters for similar framed weapons (S&W J frame, Taurus 85, etc.) don't seem to fit the LCR as it had a different frame structure.

I like the LCR and it's one of the lightest revolvers I've ever carried. I've seen that Ruger is now making it in a 357 version, although I'm not sure how much I would like that. A 357 round coming out of such a light weapon is going to generate some recoil and muzzle rise.

Since S&W J frame holsters won't fit this handgun very well, most holster manufacturers are having to scramble to start making holsters specific to it. Now that aluminium molds of the LCR are avaialable, you should start to see a number of mainstream makers (Galco, Don Hume, DeSantis, etc.) begin offering LCR specific holsters.

If you read this blog, then you know I'm a huge Don Hume fan as they are a great value for the money. This site has a nice selection of Ruger LCR holsters.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Is the Milt Sparks VM2 Worth The Money?

If you spend anytime reading shooting forums, you will most likely have come across a thread singing the praises of the Milt Sparks Versa Max 2. Actaully buying one of these holsters can be tricky as Milt Sparks is running about 12 to 18 months behind, and Ebay has some at a premium price.

A common question that seems to be asked by new and experienced shooters alike involves whether or not the VM2 is worth the money?

My thoughts:

Absolutely. The VM-2 is one of the most comfortable and most concealable gun holsters I've ever owned. People rave about them for a reason. They are extremely well built and can make a number of handguns virtually disappear on the waist.

I have a VM2 for my Glock 26 that is close to 15 years old. Although it looks similar to the design above, it's definitely an earlier model made by none other than Tony Kanaley himself (you can tell who makes any Sparks holster as they are only assigned to one craftsman and that craftsman puts his initials in the backside of the holster. The fact that Tony was still actively making holsters back then kind of dates mine. Not only does that holster still look good, but it wears and conceals my G-26 today just as well as the day it hit my mailbox 15 plus years ago.

You may pay a premium price, but oyu are buying a premium holster. This site has some VM2 holsters that are listed on Ebay already categorized one page for you: Milt Sparks Gun Holsters

Friday, September 3, 2010

Finding Holsters for the Ruger LCR

The Ruger LCR revolver has been on the market now for about 18 months. It's been growing in popularity due to it's lightweight frame and smooth trigger pull.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on one right when they first came out, and it's become one of my favorite CCW revolvers. This is big for me as I'm not a huge revolver fan. I carried one on my ankle as a back-up gun all during my 12+ years in law enforcement, but I was never a huge fan.

I have to say that the LCR is slowly but surely converting me over. As a general rule, I've never recommended small frame revolvers to first time shooters due to the poor trigger pulls and truly short range accuracy. However, even my wife, who isn't a shooter in the slightest, had fun running 50 rounds through my LCR. She even commented that this was gun she would feel comfortable using for home defense. Coming from my wife, that's huge praise!!

Finding a good holster this weapon shouldn't really be an issue now. When the weapon first hit the market, everyone sort of assumed that it would fit a holster for most any small frame revolver like a Taurus 85 or J frame. That turned out to not be the case. The LCR has unique dimensions so it requires a holster molded to it specifically.

This place has some nice rigs for that weapon: Ruger LCR Holster.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Glock 26 as a CCW Weapon

I've been a fan of the the Glock 26 since it was released. I had a Glock 19 back when they first came out, and couldn't wait for Glock to release a smaller version.

I definitely think a Pearce mag extension or pinky extension is worth the money as I have large hand and I had some trouble getting a good grip on the 26. The grip extension gives me somewhere to grab with my pinky finger.

Finding a holster for the G-26 isn't al that hard as it's become a very popular weapon. Also, it's important to understand that all the subcompact Glock models (27, 27, and 33) are all built on the same frame so they can interchange in terms of holsters. So a holster for a G-26 will also fit a Glock 27. Although the Glock 26 is kind of bulky (the double stack magazine adds some overall width), it is an excellent choice for concelaed carry using a belt holster or IWB holster. The Don Hume H715M W/C is one of my favorite holsters for this rig as it's not too expensive and does a good job of concealing.

If you are looking for a holster for your G-26, G-27, or G-33 try here: Glock 26 holsters.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Review of the Don Hume PCCH Holster

The PCCH is suppose to be Hume's top of the line IWB model. PCCH is an acronym for Preferred Concealed Carry Holster. I've been on a Don Hume kick for awhile so I thought I would give this model a try.

From what I can tell, this is the only Don Hume IWB holster they offer that features a bodyshield. This model also has a reinforced holster mouth and attaches to the belt using two snap straps.

I grabbed one for my Kimber Tactical Carry and gave it a try. Here are my thoughts:

Likes - Overall, I thought it was a nice holster. I like the design and placement of the straps. Although it probably doesn't look like it from the picture, the holster actaully rides in the waist as a forward cant. I wouldn't say the cant is a full 45 degrees, but probably close to it. The holster is relatively easy to get on and take off, although the snaps can be a little tricky if you are carrying behind the hip or near the kidney. This model also has a semi-closed bottom, which I personally like versus a completely open bottom.

Dislikes - While the holster looks nice, the finish is sprayed on and I'm not sure how long that will last with some use. The snap straps are the general one size fits all so the holster tends to shift with a 1 1/2" or 1 1/4" belt. The belt shifting is far worse with the smaller 1 1/4" belt. I would much rather see interchangeable belt straps in various widths. This would allow for a much more stable platform.

Would I buy another PCCH? Probably? It's a little higher on the cost scale with an average retail price of $46.00. Although I liked the features, I can buy 2 of the less expensive H715M W/C holsters that Hume makes for hte price of one PCCH.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Weapon Size Must Be Considered

Working in a retail gun holster store, I'm constantly amazed at the sheer size of some of the handguns people are choosing for concealed carry. Keep in mind that body size and type will also play a role in the size of the weapon that can comfortably be carried.

Case in point: A few weeks ago, a customer comes in the store asking about a CCW holster for his Springfield XD-45 5". This customer is 5'6" and maybe 140 lbs with a very narrow frame. Even with a typical belt holster that might be used at the range, the profile of the weapon exceeds the dimensions of his waist. Although I felt it was a waste of time, I did my best to "help" him find an IWB that might meet his needs. Nothing we tried even remotely came close to concealing the weapon as it was simply too big for his frame.

I politely breached the topic about the size of the weapon and learned that the customer liked the caliber (.45) and could shoot the weapon extremely well even at distances of 25 yards. After demonstrating the potential concealability of smaller .45's that we had in the store, the customer began to rethink his approach. Being tied to a weapon because of it's calliber or how well you shoot it, becomes kind of irrelevant if the weapon is just too big to conceal.

3 weeks later the customer returned to the store with a beautiful new Kimber Ultra Carry that he had picked up as his new CCW weapon. In 30 minutes or so, we had found an IWB set-up that worked for his needs.

No matter how well you shoot it or how much you like it, you simply won't routinely carry a handgun for concealed carry if it's too large to conceal. You may try for a bit, but, eventually, you'll stop carrying it and start looking for an alternative.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Review of the Don Hume H721-OT Belt Holster

I recently decided to try a new belt holster out so I decided to grab a Don Hume H721-OT from Gunner's Alley for my S&W M&P. The price was good and Don Hume has a good reputation in the shooting industry. This holster is available in either a saddle brown color or black. I chose to go with the black model.

Gunner's Alley shipped my holster almost immediately and I had it in 3 days or so. My first impressions were good. The holster looked to be form fitted to the weapon with fairly good construction. Hume makes holsters using a production line process (think car manufacturing), so the quality isn't what you will typically find in a custom maker like Milt Sparks or Josh Bulman. However, for the money invested, I was pleased with the overall quality.

This holster rides a forward cant (although I don't think it's a true 15 degree cant), and the belt slots will fit any belt up to 1 3/4" wide. The H721-OT also has a bodyshield that does a decent job of protecting the wearer. Like any good holster, the M&P was very tight fitting at first and took some time to break-in. Once broken-in, I found the holster fairly easy to put on or take off. It concealed about as well as a holster of this type should. Not great, but not bad. I suspect that it would conceal better with a smaller handgun than the M&P.

Overall, I liked the holster and felt it was a decent value for the money. Given some feedback with Don Hume, I'd make the following suggestions for improvements:

  1. Make the holster in specific belt widths versus a "one size fits all" width. I'd much rather have one with 1.5 inch belt slots that match my 1.5 belt instead of 1.75 inch clots.
  2. Lose the semi-glossy finish - Although I liked the appearance, I didn't care for the semi-gloss finish that looks like it's sprayed on over the leather. Either handwax the finished product or create a manufacturing process that does that for you. Spraying some type of sealant or gloss doesn't seem to be a good business practice to me.

Having had the holster for a few weeks now, I think it's a keeper. If your budget is in the $40 to $50 range, then this one might be an option for you.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Reviewing the Galco M7 Matrix Holster

I recently made the decision to test out a Galco M7X Matrix holster for my Glock 26. Here's my opinions:

For starters, it's a thermoplastic holster so that may turn some individuals off. Priced at about $25.00, I was a little worried about the quality, and believed it might be in the same "class" as a Fobus or Uncle Mikes. I have to say that this holster kind of surprised me.

Here's what I preferred:

The fit for the weapon was good. It sort of snaps in and seems to retain pretty well.

The holster is open bottomed so it will really fit numerous other Glock weapons in the 9mm or .40 cal calibers. However, I most likely can't see myself utilizing this holster on any Glock larger than the 26 as I don't like a major amount of barrel sticking out beneath the holster.

I truly like the dual straps that snapped onto the belt. This makes this holster really simple to get on and off. While it is not as fast like a paddle holster, this model is faster than the average belt holster.

Dislikes:

To be very honest, the holster looks cheap. I realize that performance is much a lot more essential than looks, but it still appears inexpensive.

Although the retention seems pretty good, I'd love to see this holster offer some type of retention adjustment.

Thinking about what I paid for this holster, I'm very pleased with the value, particularly thinking about it is only a few dollars more than a Fobus, but performs 10 times better. If you are looking for a fairly inexpensive holster that's easy to get on and off, then the Galco M7 Matrix may be one to consider.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Holster for the Car

About once a week, I get an e-mail or question from someone about the best way to carry a handgun in the car. There are a number of things that have to be considered when you both asking that question and answering that question.

Some of those questions to be considered include:

  • Do you want to carry on body or off body in the car?
  • What hand do you shoot with?
  • Are you looking for a holster that is actually mounted in the vehicle? If so, does it have to be concealed if someone happens to glance inside the car?
  • What are the legal implications for carrying concealed in a vehicle in your state or county?
  • Does the set-up need to be designed so that you can carry the same holster both in the car as well on on your person?

The average person has to decide if the holster will be a permanent mount in the car or one that can transition to other carry situation. In the case of a permanent mount, you'll need to try to find a mounting location where you can quickly access the weapon with your strong hand and keep it somewhat hidden as well. According the data from the 2008 UCR (Uniform Crime Reports), most handguns are stolen from vehicles versus residences.

Once you have selected a mounting method and location, you have to decide what the most comfortable way to access the handgun. I personally am right handed so I have a G-CODE kydex holster mounted to the right hand side the center console. It's not readily visible from outside the car (I have a CCW permit as well), but I can access it pretty quick if needed. The weapon I keep as a "car gun" is a Taurus PT-145 as it's a durable weapon that isn't too expensive, should it be stolen. I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable using my Kimber Ultra Carry Custom as a car gun as it would break my heart if it were stolen.

Although this isn't a pic of the set-up I use, it's pretty close. Something like this works great for me. Test a few things out and you'll figure out the best solution for your needs.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Different Types of Gun Holsters

Holsters which are designed for handguns are made in a broad variety of shapes, materials and release mechanisms. As a result of the big range of holsters, you will find as numerous methods in which a holster could be used depending upon the user's preference. They have been used in the form of easy leather pouches which were hung from a belt to very sophisticated and protective leather holsters with flaps covering the whole pistol. Then there are the competition holsters which hold the gun at a precise position so that it releases with pressure, These holsters are spring loaded.

It is feasible to divide holsters into at least three categories simply by considering the different holster's uses:

DUTY HOLSTERS
Worn by people of uniform, police and even by the military. These holsters are designed to be carried in plain website to become openly seen where is no reason to conceal the weapon. In fact, being capable to retain the weapon is as critical as keeping the hands of the bad guys off of it. Usually the holster is constructed of leather. Their appearance is as essential as its functionality because it is usually part of the uniform and has particular specifications to become considered in conjunction with the uniform. Most are polished to a shine and made to become harder to remove. It would be a disaster for a weapon to fall from a police officer's holster or worse yet for a "perp" to become able to easily obtain the weapon.

CONCEALMENT HOLSTERS
Worn by plainclothes law enforcement too as those who have obtained a Conceal and Carry license which is allowed in numerous states. These holsters are made with the idea of concealment. Frequently they're small and simple to hide. One generally wears these holsters under their clothing and are totally out of sight. Since the holster is worn close to the user's body, comfort is usually really important. As a result of the broad profile of the holster a broader distribution region for comfort is possible. The fact that the outside of the conceal holster is spread over a large area also makes it difficult to be revealed on the outside from the clothing.

SPORTING HOLSTERS
Worn by sport shooters and hunters. These holsters are obtainable in the widest range of options. You will find these holsters with quick access for fast draw shooting too as providing high protection from the elements when hunting with your pistol or when carrying it in the field. You will find also those holsters used for "plinking" (shooting for fun). As with any sporting equipment the range of sporting holsters is as varied as the users themselves.

So when you are in the shopping mode for holsters, it is greatest to consider these types and the functions you are trying to incorporate in your shooting. Appreciate your hunting, shooting, or protection shooting with the correct leather holster.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Kahr P380 Is a Great Pocket Gun

I was luckily enough to get my hands on one of the newer Kahr P380 handguns for some testing and evaluation. While I really like the Kahr line, I've always been a little put off by their prices. However, I have to admit that I absolutely fell in love with the P380.

Following in the trend of the Ruger LCP and Kel-Tec P3AT, the P380 was designed to meet the needs of those who needed a small handgun for self defense. Like most of the current popular pocket pistols, the P380 features a polymer frame for weight reduction. Most all the Kahr's are built on a single stack mag design and the P380 is no different.
Sizewise, the P380 was slightly larger than my LCP and slightly wider as well. However, the LCP feels like a toy in my hands, while the P380 feels like a real pistol. While the P380 weighs more than both the LCP and P3AT, I found very comfortable to carry in my front pocket.

My final verdict: For me, the P380 is a best choice I've found so far for my ultimate pocket pistol. The price is a bit high for my tastes, but this is definitely a case where you get what you pay for.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Do Kydex Holsters Damage a Pistol?

While kydex holsters have some amazing upsides, they also have a downside compared to leather. Here's a big one:

Weapon finish wear - Here's one that's a hot topic, and probably the most commonly asked question I receive regarding kydex holsters. Before I get into addressing this issue, it's important to understand some concepts. Finish wear on a weapon comes from friction that occurs when the weapon is un-holstered and re-holstered. Over time, that repeated friction causes wear on the weapon. Friction wear occurs on weapons no matter what the holster is made of. Actually you could cause finish wear on a weapon using your finger, if you rubbed in the same place over time. Likewise, any poorly fitting holster, no matter what the material, can cause wear on the weapon finish.

Now do kydex holsters cause wear?

Yes, they will. However, the level and degree of wear will depend on several factors such as the quality of the holster, fit of the holster, and amount of use. Let me explain a bit more: leather holster rely on tightness of fit for retention. Kydex holsters typically provide retention through specific points within the holster that "grab" onto the weapon itself. These specific retention points are usually located around the trigger guard, and front of the muzzle (front slide area for semi-automatics). Over time, repeated holstering and unholstering will most likely cause some finish wear at these points. In a quality kydex holster, the amount of wear is usually dependant on the frequency of draws and re-holstering.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Family Members Finding Out You Carry?

I had an interesting experience this Easter as I went to a small family reunion of sorts and had a relative bump my handgun during a hug. This triggered a somewhat public series of questions about what "that" was and why I was carrying a gun, etc., etc.

I bring this up and you as a CCW holder probably need to prepare for this possiblity. Lucklily, this isn't the first time I've experienced this situation, so I was fairly prepared with my responses.

My suggestion is to approach the issue in a low key non-threatening manner. No matter how qualified and safe you are, guns make some people nervous, period. I politely and discreetly told my aunt, that I was carrying a concealed pistol to protect my family and I was lawfully licensed to do so. I even went so far as to phow her my CCW permit and provide some limited statistics about CCW and crime.

It's important to come across as intelligent and non-threatening in these situations as not to be labeled a "gun nut" or some other sterotype associated with gun ownership. Don't make a bid deal about it and downplay the situation. While showing your permit is acceptable, I wouldn't display your weapon even slightly. Don't lift your shirt, or anything like that.

Once you feel that you have addressed the situation, move on as if nothing ever happened. Once I spoke with my aunt for a few minutes openly and honestly about protecting my family, she moved right into a conversation about my kids.

If confronted or questioned on this matter, then is not the time to enter or defend any gun control issues or current gun related political issues. While I'm not saying speak up for your rights or your causes, be aware that even sub-consciously, other people may feel threatened by pro-gun talk while you are carrying a weapon.

Being prepared is far better than adopting a "deer in the headlights" approach and becoming defensive.

Ankle Holster Recommendations

If you asked a group of shooters, law enforcement officers, or concealed carry permit holders to recommend the "best" ankle holster, you are going to get a wide variety of responses and suggestions.

Having tried nearly every ankle holster made during my law enforcement career, I'll be glad to give you an opinion based on my own experiences.

My suggestion for the best ankle holster you will ever buy is the Alessi ankle rig. It is hands down the cadillac of ankle holsters and outperformed everything else I've ever tested. My original Alessi ankle for my S&W J frame is over 15 years old but performs as well today as the day it left the Alessi shop.

Since that time, I've ordered another 4 from Alessi for various other ankle guns and haven't been unhappy with any of them. The only downside to an Alessi is the fact that you will definitely have to wait at least 1 year to get it (unless you happen to find a deal on one locally or online). Alessi's aren't cheap so expect to pay a premium price for one.

Don't let that stop you though, as you will not be disappointed.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Leather Holsters vs Kydex Holsters

If you are shopping for a holster of most any type, I"m sure you will see that gun holsters pretty much are made from one fo two main materials:

  • Leather
  • Kydex

Both materials have their own set of pros and cons:

Leather - Leather the oldest holste material currently being used. Leather isn't too difficult to work with, but the price flucuates based on availability. Treated leather is somewhat water resistant, but now waterproof. Leather can and will absorb water over time. It can also retain water and may begin to smell.

Kydex - Kydex is a thermoplastic material that has become increasing popular in the holster industry. Some holster manufacturers only work in kydex while others work only in leather. Kydex is very durable and impact resistant. However, it's not unbreakable as it can and will break. Kydex is completely waterproof and resistant to most every chemical. The biggest enemy of kydex is excessive heat as it can become soft and lose it's form.

There are a number of rumors on the internet that kydex "scratches" a gun finish. This isn't exactly true. If hard debris like sand or grit were to be trapped inside the holster interior, it could potential scratch the weapon finish as the foreign material would be trapped between the holstered weapon and the holster interior. Kydex does retain a holster differently than leather and longterm, repeated draws from a kydex holster can and may cause wear at the contact points where the holster retains the weapons. Those points are the front of the muzzle and trigger guard area.

Either material works well for gun holsters, so it really comes down to personal preferences.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Introduction to Josh Bulman Holsters

If you are searching for a battle tested holster design having a fit and complete that's second to none, then Bulman Gunleather might be 1 for you to appear at. Dependent in Newry, PA; this organization was founded by master holster maker Josh Bulman. Bulman's operation is really a totally made to order provider of gun holsters and shooting accessories.

Typically, most custom holster makers only produce a select few holster models so they can concentrate on building those models for various weapons. Bulman takes a little different approach as his company produces a number of different holster models for different needs. For example, he offers 9 different belt holster models and 10 different IWB holster models. Instead of taking a "one holster type" fits all approach, Josh believes that specific holster models are designed for specific uses.

Josh takes great pride in the quality of his goods and does some things that kind of set him apart from some other top level custom made holster makers. For instance, instead of using edge dressing or something comparable to finish off the outside edges of holsters or accessories, Bulman actually burnishes the edges with various waxes to seal them. Additionally, Bulman does outstanding job of boning the holsters for a fantastic and every item that leaves the shop. He also requires some steps that go just a little beyond what his competitors do. For instance, most holster makers seal the edges of the holster or mag carrier with a kind of sealant known as edge dressing. Bulman doesn't use edge dressing and prefers to seal the edges with multiple coats of wax using a technique known as burnishing.

Bulman produces a number of incredibly nice holster models in different configurations including OWB, IWB, paddle, and pocket. Having owned a number of Bulman models, my favorites are the THR (The High Ride), the QRH (Quick Release Holster), and the PDC (Professional Dual Clip).

Over the years, I've been surprised at the number of shooters who have never heard of Bulman Gunleather. In part, I suspect it has to do with the fact that Bulman is a recognized and known 1911 fan so he has a huge fan base in that market. Outside of the 1911 line, he isn't nearly as well known. However, I would never let that stop me from purchasing a Bulman holster. I own several and have never regretted a single Bulman purchase.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shoulder Holster Basics

Few gun holsters have been as widely glamorized by various movies and TV shows as shoulder holsters. Shoulder holsters can be traced all the way back to the days of the old west as gunslingers and lawmen used them as a means of carrying a smaller or secondary handgun on their person. Historians that specialize in old west history have found evidence that a number of famous wild west personalities like Don Holiday and Bat Masterson were known to carry a shoulder holster at some point. Any information on shoulder holsters would be doing an injustice if no mention of Miami Vice was made. This 1980's television series brought a resurging popularity of shoulder holsters as a shoulder holster was worn by one of the main characters.

Shoulder holsters are designed to carry a handgun in a holster that is generally suspended under the armpit. Some of the newer generation shoulder holsters that are made for long barreled or scoped revolvers across the chest, although the harness itself is still worn over the shoulder. The harness itself is usually made of a single or double loop that rides over one or both shoulders. The harnesses come in several different configurations including a full harness, half harness, or executive harness. The full harness has dual harness loops so one loops over each shoulder. The half harness has a single harness that loops over one shoulder. The executive harness is really only designed to support smaller handguns. It features a single loop that doesn't fully go over the shoulder and connects to the belt.


For the most part, shoulder holsters come in three different variations:


Vertical carry - In this style, the holster itself rides vertically on the body. The muzzle of the handgun rides either straight up or straight down. In most cases, the muzzle rides in the downward position, but there are a select few models where the muzzle actually rides up towards the armpit. The models where the muzzle rides upward are generally restricted to small, short barrel revolvers like the S&W J frame series.

Horizontal carry - In horizontal carry, the pistol rides horizontally under the arm in a manner where the muzzle points backwards. This style will accept most semi-autos, but doesn't work well for a revolver with a barrel over 4" long. Out of all the shoulder holster models that are on the market today, this is the most popular.

Chest Holster - The chest holster is a variation of the traditional shoulder holster except that the holster is carried across the chest instead of under the arm. By moving the holster to the chest area, this model will fit large pistols with very long barrels or handguns that are equipped with optics.

Like any gun holster, shoulder holsters have good and bad points. While they are fairly comfortable and allow the wearer to comfortably carry a large frame handgun, shoulder holsters almost always require some type of cover garment to be concealed. Shoulder holsters rely on somewhat of a cross draw method so they aren't the fastest drawing holster.

If you are considering a shoulder holster, make your decision based on your actual needs and not the "cool" factor. I suspect that a great many people purchase shoulder holsters, only to find that they don't really work for their particular carrying situation.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Concealment Handbags

Purse holsters are a big expense for many women. However, it's important to discover the "best" concealed carry bag for their demands, and not every lady will have the identical preferences. For example, some women will want to travel light so they will be using a very small pistol, most likely the equivalent of a pocket gun so they will need a small to mid-sized bag that looks like a nice purse. Other ladies may carry a larger handgun, but be far more concerned with the looks of the bag versus the function. In those circumstances, many women are worried that the concealed carry holster bags aren't really all that trendy and don't blend with what they would normally wear.

Almost all ladies seem satisfied if they can discover a nice CCW purse at a reasonable cost. Regrettably, CCW purses aren't all that economical and, in many cases, will cost far more than a comparably leather holster.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fanny Packs - Do They Still Work for Gun Holsters?

Rarely does a week go by where someone comes in my my store or sends me an e-mail asking about the effectiveness of fanny packs. Here's my .02 cents on that topic:

Fanny packs became quite popular for gun holsters during the early 90's. In the beginning, they were quite effective for this purpose. Heck, I had a few myself and wore them when the conditions were right.

Unfortunately, as their popularity started to rise, various gun holster companies started marketing these very hard in print and other forms of media. Over time, the average joe started to associate fanny packs with guns. This occurred despite that fact that about 80% of the general population pays no attention to what is going on around them. Even today when I see someone wearing a fanny pack, I still begin to wonder if they are carrying a handgun.

During the 10 or so years that I owned a brick and mortar gun store, I marveled at the number of customers who walked in armed using a fanny pack as a holster.

If it were me, I would do everything in my power to try to find an alternative kind of on-body carry in lieu of a fanny pack. Not that fanny packs are bad, just a little to obvious for my tastes.

Your mileage may vary.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What's The Best Holster Cant Angle?

For the most part, gun holsters are generally available with one of two possible cants:

Straight Cant - Also called zero cant, these are holsters that ride in the straight up and down position.

Forward Cant - Made popular by the FBI, the forward cant is usually built on a 15 degree angle as this was determined to be optimum by the FBI.

Straight Cant

Forward Cant

Which one is best?

That really comes down to personal opinion. Some argue that the forward cant is easier to conceal, but that's debatable. Others argue that the forward cant offers a slightly quicker draw, but I've never personally noticed a draw speed difference.

My advice would be to try both cants and see which you prefer.

For more information, consider visiting Gun Holster Guide

Saturday, February 6, 2010

SOB Holsters

SOB is an acroynm for small of the back, and refers to gun holsters that are worn in the small of the back. These holsters can be worn on the belt or clipped on inside the waistband. A number of holster makers produce SOB models and there has always been a fair amount of controversy over this style.

Why the controversy? It stems from some opinions about the safety and functionality of this type of holster. Those issues include:

Safety
There two three points in regards to potential safety issues:

Retention - The premise here is that the gun will be difficult to retain during an attempted grab or take-away. I can certainly see the concerns from a weapon retention standpoint as a person behind you could certainly make an attempt to take the weapon and it would be very difficult to defend from that position.

Back Injury - Many detractors also talk about the position of the handgun on the spine in the event of a fall. You certainly could injure your spine if you feel down and landed on your back carrying a handgun in this position. I personally know a law enforcement officer who slipped on icy steps leaving his house and injured his spine when he fell on his weapon being carried in the SOB position. Did the weapon do all the damage? Who knows.

Sweeping the body - Another major concern associated with this style of carry involves potentially sweeping the kidney area with the muzzle during the draw. The thought process here is that, during a moment of stress, the shooter makes an attempted draw and the muzzle does sweep the kidney area. An accidental discharge in this scenario could certainly cause significant injury or death.

From a functionality standpoint, the biggest question seems to center around the overall effectiveness of the holster in terms of performance and concealment. From my viewpoint, the holster doesn't conceal well and doesn't allow for rapid deployment.

My personal opinion: I'm not really a fan of this style at all. My opinion doesn't really stem from rumors or internet opinions on this style, but from my own personal experiences. I have tried various SOB holsters just to test and formulate my own thoughts. I don't like the holster position from a defensive position, and I'm not a fan of the way it's drawn. I personally prefer s strong side holster any day.

However, this is just my opinion, and your own mileage may vary. You may find it's the "perfect" gun holster for you, but I really doubt it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Weapon Size Plays a Role in CCW

A very common topic in CCW circles revolves around the best handgun for CCW. Guys and girls converse about calibers, models, pros and cons. One of the most common issues I see in trying to conceal a pistol involves the size of the weapon itself. Quite simply, larger handguns are harder to conceal. Ever try to hide a Beretta 92?

Part of the issue with carrying concealed seems to stem from choosing a weapon that is just too large or bulky for CCW. Try to stick with handguns that are small enough for you to shoot well and can be relatively easy to conceal. My favorites are models like:

  • S&W J Frame
  • Kahr series
  • Colt Officers or 3" 1911
  • Glock 26 series (a little thick for my tastes, but it works)

It's not that hard to find a compact handgun that has enough caliber and round count to meet your needs. It will make your concealment efforts so much more successful.

This site has some excellent concealed carry holster options.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Choosing a Pocket Holster

A pocket holster is a small holster designed to carry an equally small handgun in a front pocket, trouser pocket, or jacket pocket.

Well designed pocket holsters should do the following:

  • Provide a safe method to carry a weapon in the pocket - Covering the trigger area, not only protects this area during your draw, but it also keeps debris out.
  • Conceal the weapon - A properly constructed pocket holster should break-up the outline of the weapon in the pocket, and minimize printing.
  • Make the weapon readily accessible - The pocket holster should be wide enough to keep the weapon in an upright, accessible position within the pocket.
  • Allow for immediate and deployment- It should allow for quick access, a full firing grip, and quick weapon deployment from the pocket.

What are pocket holsters made of?

Today pocket holsters on the market are usually produced from either:

Leather - About 80% of all pocket holsters on the market are made from leather. Some manufacturers use a stiff grade leather, while other use a softer style leather. The stiffer leather tends to be thicker in width, which can add to the overall bulk of the holster.

Nylon - Many of the lower priced pocket holsters are produced from nylon. Personally I don't feel that nylon isn't really strong enough for the daily rigors of a pocket holster, and feel that it lacks the rigidity to properly break-up the weapon outline. If you're on a really tight budget, than nylon pocket holsters are definitely going to be something for you to consider.

Kydex - As kydex continues to evolve in holster applications, a select few manufacturers are now using it to produce pocket holsters. As kydex is significantly more rigid and stronger than leather or nylon, the kydex pocket holsters tend to be very thin.

Concealability is an absolute must for CCW. Pocket holsters are specifically designed for and work best with small handguns. Please be realistic with your concealment expectations. It's going to be almost impossible to conceal a Beretta 92 in a front pocket holster. Choose the right size weapon, and pocket carry becomes much simpler.

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