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A Quality Holster Can Make The Difference.

A Quality Holster Can make the difference.

Have You Tested Your Holster?

  When creating Holster Development one of the questions that was posed to our curriculum was “What holsters should we allow into our classes?” The reason is that holsters are not all made equally. Some holsters are simply unsafe for concealed carry. Examples would include the Blackhawk Serpa or the Urban Carry lineup.

Close up picture of a blackhawk serpa holster and Glock 17
The infamous blackhawk serpa showcased above
Close up picture of the Urban Carry Holster in action
the Urban Carry holster in action

   By looking at the two pictures above it’s not difficult
to see the obvious design fails. A common holster we see amongst our newer students is The Serpa. The Serpa is infamous for the secondary retention device placement. It is considered a Level II holster meaning that it has two functions in place to retain the holster. That fact in and of itself is not a bad thing. Yet they placed it directly over the trigger guard. This inherently
advocates a dangerous situation for the user, especially for newer shooters. By the placement of the button, even skilled shooters run the risk of slamming their finger into the trigger as soon as their gun exits the holster. 

   The Urban Carry on the other hand has an entirely different design flaw that can be just as dangerous. The concept exemplifies a good holster idea with poor execution. Concealing the gun further below your belt line and along your thigh is a great idea to make a CCW disappear and have excellent comfort. But once you must actually draw the gun and do so under the immense stress of a defensive encounter, you will very quickly find that your unmarred, and sometimes expensive handgun will go on an air strike with a personal vendetta against you and all that you love.

A more prominent issue is that the user must rely on the hope that they never find themselves in a situation where they would be required to draw from a seated position. With the gun so neatly tucked away under your belt line every time you are in any way bent naturally at the waist you find that your firearm is inaccessible even in a calm and non-excitement environment. These are just two commonly known examples of unsafe and impractical holster design.

A Whole Box of Suck...Bad Holster Designs.

  There are plenty of horrible holster designs available to the public. I should know I have a box of them. I have earned them throughout
the years by testing what was right for me. I affectionately refer to it as
either my “Box of Suck” or “The box I put
all my bad ideas in”. I can almost bet you anyone who
conceal carries or rather trains on a regular basis has one of these hidden in
a closet never to be shown to the world again. I see you and there is nothing
to be ashamed of random internet person. It’s all a part of the process of
finding what works.

So what are some of these bad holster ideas? Here are some examples of lessons learned.

•Hybrid holsters.

•”Poor Quality” Leather holsters. (Note that not all leather holsters are bad. but most offered don’t meet the criteria unless you’re willing to drop a good bit of cash.).

•Belly Band holsters.

•”Car Holster Designs”.

• Purse carry holsters.

Okay, So There’s A Lot To Cover Here, So I’ll Try To Keep It Mostly Brief Where I Can. Let’s Start With Hybrid Holsters.

   The Concept With Hybrid Holsters Is That You Can Get The Comfort Afforded By Leather Holsters With The Retention Of Plastic Holsters. Sadly Neither Goal Gets Achieved. Also, There Is A Glaring Safety Issue In Most That Are Offered. Firstly, True Hybrid Holsters Do Not By Nature Fully Cover The Trigger Guard Which Leads To Retention Issues, And In Some Cases, They Cut Too Deeply Allowing Access To The Trigger. 

In Addition To The above, Most Companies Use Lightweight Leather, Which After Extended Use Can Warp And Bend Creating A Hazardous Condition Of The Holster. The Worn Leather Can/Will Catch The Trigger As You Are Re-Holstering. Although,  Hybrid-Like Holsters Like The Black Arch Holster Are Not Subject To These Deficiencies. They Have Masterfully Eluded The Downfalls Of  The Hybrid Holster By Fully Covering The Trigger Guard With Plastic And Utilizing Materials That Do Not Easily Induce The Risk Of Hybrid Holsters.

kinetic concealment hybrid holster
example of a hybrid holster kinetic concealment.
a picture of the black arch Hybrid like holster
example of a good hybrid holster from Black Arch.

  While we’re on the topic. Let’s talk about Leather holsters. Now, Leather holsters in themselves are not bad ideas. I think that a well-made and well-maintained leather holster can be a great idea for carry.  This section relates more to poor-quality leather holsters such as the Versa Carry holster. The material used in the construction of a Leather holster as well as the process matters greatly. Leather holsters should be made of at least 9-10 oz. leather to support the daily rigorous usage. 

It should also have a secondary band at the mouth of the holster to prevent the holster from closing on you when on your person. Many companies have various processes unique to them. However, they all oil their holsters and use a process called wet molding to better fit your firearm. As soft as leather holsters might be, we don’t want them to be so soft that it does not retain the firearm. A Good Quality Holster Will cost you a bit of money. Though a good quality leather holster, will also last quite a while.

an example of a bad leather holster where the mouth of the holster is now catching the trigger on re-entry
notice no added band?
a close up of a bad leather holster that after wear and tear has becom a saftey issue due to the holster activating the trigger on re-entry
a close up
an example of a well made leather holster
an example of a good quality leather holster. Note the screw towards the bottom of the holster for retentiona adjustment.

 Every year in the city of Sioux Falls abandoned firearms are found along our beautiful trails and in our parks. No, we haven’t found a way to grow firearms like we do our crops (if only). This is due to hikers, joggers, and others enjoying the outdoors in the more beautiful parts of our city.  The reason is not because these people are dumb or hoping to produce chaos in the potentiality that a child finds their firearm. This happens due to the belly band holsters. The all in one, carry anywhere, in anything solution. However, they commonly fail in every one of their “Pros” that they claim to offer. On top of this almost all of them require you to point the firearm at your body unless you take the “holster” off during re-holstering, and they also allow very easy access to your trigger without even removing the gun from the “holster” if you have kids or around kids regularly this should be an absolute NO.

“Holsters” like the VNSH holster system do use a thicker fabric material. However, this does not stop the trigger from being accessible.  If you are looking for a way to carry that does not rely on a belt line, I recommend the PHLster Enigma (pictured below on the right). Now this does require that you have a compatible holster to go along with the rig, but it is one of the best options for this specific need and particularly for female shooters it can be a lifesaver that will allow you to carry with almost any wardrobe. 

an example of the VNSH belly band holster. Similar to any belly band holster.
The PHLster Enigma Chasis system.

Cars are not holsters. Folks, please hear me. If you need to carry in your car. Carry on your person. Your tools are not useful to you if you can’t immediately and consistently access them. Gun magnets are just a bad idea when it comes to cars. I think that these gun magnets could be a great option for displaying your firearm in the home, but not to use as a holster. Let’s take into consideration that accidents can and often do happen while driving. With this style of carry you now have a theoretically loaded firearm with an exposed trigger.  An accident can/will cause the gun to fly sporadically in your vehicle. This has the potential to cause your accident to be a hell of a lot more interesting. “But Jacob I don’t carry one in the chamber”. I hear you, and that is your choice and though I urge you to get comfortable with carrying one in the chamber I won’t tell you to do something that would make you fearful of carrying at all.  With all of that said, another reason not to fall victim to this style of carry is due to the fact criminals will absolutely bash out your car windows for a free gun. This goes for all styles of this carry/holster. 

Now, you can still safely store your gun in your car. A lot of quick access safes do this quite well with added solid steel cables they provide with the single pistol safe so you can store and secure your firearm when you need to go into places you’re not allowed to carry.

  This one might agitate some readers. Nonetheless, purse carries or really, any off-body carry is just a bad idea.  If you’re willing to drop well over $100 on a CCW purse or backpack. Please, put that money towards the enigma and a good holster instead. That it will be %100 more effective and beneficial to your safety. With off-body carry, your draw time will ALWAYS be slower. We’re talking 3-6 seconds slower, in a place where seconds equal rounds fired. One round every .25s on average to be more specific. There are extreme limitations to carrying by this method.

One being if you decide that shooting through the bag is an option, you’ll find rather quickly in any training that you are completely unable to see your sights. Not being able to see your sight is a sure fire way to hit things you never intended to hit. Also, it’s not very far-fetched to miss the attacker entirely. In the words of John Correia “you can’t miss fast enough to win a gun fight.” Another issue is that this style inherently limits your choice of gun and by nature limits your capacity. What I mean by this is that shooting through the bag with any semi-automatic will cause the gun to malfunction quickly after the first shot. That said you would have to turn to revolvers I.E. lower round count. 


   To parents that off-body carry. Understand that your young ones will eventually go through your bag and curiosity will get the better of them. Melody from Citizens Defense Research explains this perfectly in her own example. Now note that Melody is not your average shooter or instructor, she is quite the accomplished guide and representative in the community. She put out a wonderful class specifically on self-defense for those with children. She uses the example of a time she was sitting in her car with her toddlers in the back seat, and only turning her attention away for a second before finding one of her children rifling through her purse where the firearm was. Kids are curious by nature and want to replicate their parents as much as possible at younger ages. It is only natural that they will also take curiosity in Mom or Dad’s CCW as well. 

  Lastly, bags and purses are exquisite objects for perspective thieves, and if they decide that you are to be their prey, the last thing you want is to now be fighting off an attacker to reclaim access to the tool you own to specifically end lethal threats (This goes for your non-emergency tools as well! i.e. O.C/pepper spray). Now, I understand that for some people this is the only option for them to be able to carry. To the people who may read this section and off-body carry is their only option to carry. Please, get training for this style on how to carry this way safely and draw and fire effectively. I suspect though that in the world where the Enigma exists. This style of carry has no place in the world anymore. I would recommend especially for the female audience to check out Tessa from Armed and Styled on YouTube. She puts out amazing content that can help with different carrying options and wardrobes.

Example of a CCW Purse
An example of a concealed carry purse
example of a 5.11 Concealed carry back pack
Both options have extra steps towards employing the firearm that take time. time that you may not have in a gun fitght.

  So, what defines a quality holster? How do I test it? why is Jacob
such a pessimist? These are all fair questions if you’ve stuck and read through
this article. Though the background is necessary to understand just how
important these qualities and specifications are when deciding on a good
holster. Here are the requirements that every holster should meet if it is to
be used for the defense of your person or others.

  Does the holster Completely cover and protect the trigger guard? We want to make sure that no foreign objects or kid fingers find their way into manipulating the trigger on our gun and causing a poor situation including us or God forbid the child getting shot.
Does the holster properly retain the firearm? If the firearm has zero or next to zero retention any non-normal movements could cause the firearm to slip out of the holster. This is the same reason so many guns are found in Sioux Falls trails and parks every year. No Retention Equals a gun doing a disappearing act from your person. If the holster is truly made for your gun it should have a snug fit to the firearm. Not so much that it becomes difficult to remove the gun, but enough to stop the gun from sprouting wings and flying. With this, It should also keep the gun relatively in the same position. If you can’t get a consistent draw every time then if the moment ever comes that you need to perform it could easily fumble your draw and create further havoc in an already disastrous situation. Let alone, you won’t be able to get the most out of your training if you can not ensure consistency.
  Does the holster allow you to safely re-holster the gun while it’s on your body without pointing it at your body? Now this can also be a training issue. In most cases it’s not the holsters fault and almost always it’s the fault of the user. However, some holsters like the belly band holsters would require you to completely remove the “holster” off your body in order to safely re-holster. Remember the fundamental rules of firearms safety, we don’t point the muzzle at anything we don’t want to destroy. With a little training and proper technique a good quality holster should never encourage you to direct the muzzle towards your body. 


What are your thoughts? did this article change your mind or give you ideas?  Also, let us know what you carry and the holster you use!

thank you!

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