Craft Holsters Review and Holster Thoughts

I was sent this holster free of charge with the intent to review it honestly. I'm happy to check out your gear. Just don't be surprised if I let people know the good AND the bad.

A company called Craft Holsters contacted me about testing one of their holsters a few months ago. They boast 250 different holster options! I think what they do is have many holster makers under their banner. The holster I received even has another company etched into it. The Rep was kind enough to give me free choice of any holster on their website (including with monograms! ). I scoured the site and was having trouble finding anything that looked like it fit my criteria. I talked with their rep, telling them how several of their holsters seemed pretty close to sufficient, but all were lacking one or several requirements I had. I even wrote a list detailing what could be fixed about their holsters to make them useful for people who actually carry their guns.

I looked through their catalog with the hopes to find a leather 0-degree cant holster for my Beretta 92A1 that would work for appendix carry. I found one they make that most closely fit the bill. I mentioned to them that I wouldn’t buy this holster, but if they wanted me to choose one, this was it. I have been struggling with, I mean *using*, their holster all summer and here’s my thoughts.

My “Ideal Holster” Criteria

  • Must allow full firing grip (FFG) in holster
  • Must cover trigger guard and not allow trigger press through body of holster
  • Must allow one handed holstering (mouth of holster must not collapse under belt pressure)
  • Must retain pistol sufficiently for my needs. (if I can do some handstands without the gun falling out, I’m happy)
  • Sufficient comfort and concealment for my needs

The Good

  • Leather is more comfortable than kydex. So the material was a good choice. It’s also pretty, for what that’s worth.
  • Tuckable leather belt loop allowed the gun to move with my body. This increased comfort but made concealment poor.
  • Retained gun well. I was doing handstands, cartwheels, and chasing my son around parks all summer and the gun stayed put.
  • Reasonably good ride height. FFG was no problem.
  • Holster covers trigger, albeit “lazily”. A small flap of leather hovers over the opening, leaving the space behind the trigger open. Given time, sweat, and use, I fear it might create an unsafe condition. Like this guy’s leather rig.

The Bad

  • Uses a standard snap on the belt loop. There is no excuse for a holster maker NOT to use a pull-the-dot style directional snap. The ability to unsnap the holster as you’re clearing your cover garment is an immediate no-go. They need to fix this. I was accidentally unsnapping it during the draw in dry- and live-fire.
  • Poor concealment. I understand I’m spoiled with excellent concealment holsters, but the floppy leather belt loop allows the butt of the pistol to stick out from my body more than I’m comfortable with. The leather loop itself is quite thick also. I believe they could fix this with a hardware adjustment and perhaps integrating something like a Tuck-Strut into their design.
  • The mouth of the holster is single-ply, and consequently collapses when the gun is removed. This will only get worse with wear. At minimum they need a second ply of leather, but more ideally they need to sew in a steel or kydex band that will add structure to the mouth of the holster to allow one handed holstering. When a holster collapses, it requires you to use the muzzle to try to finesse the holster open, which often puts the muzzle in an unsafe direction as you rock it back and forth.

Conclusion

What does a good holster look like? Here’s an example of the Excellent JM Custom Kydex AIWB 2.5 holster.

I gave the Craft Holsters rig a fair shake this summer. I wore it daily and on a couple long road trips. I wouldn’t recommend it in its current configuration. I think it could be reworked into something useful, but it would increase the cost and complexity. In a world of uninformed gun owners, and being able to mass market easily to them, I don’t think most companies would be interested in improving their designs for people who actually carry a gun every day. To be fair, I haven’t given any feedback to Craft Holsters, so I’m not sure what they’d do. My guess is they’ll say ‘thanks for your time’ and go to the next thirsty blogger who wants free shit. I’ll update this post if they surprise me.

There are trade-offs in holster design. There is some sort of Speed, Comfort, Concealment, Safety, Robustness interaction chart that I haven’t worked out. But everything is a compromise.

This, kids, is how I remove myself from the list of blog gear reviewers that companies try to use to get exposure. I’m making myself irrelevant one review at a time! I’m sorry for my lack of posts, it’s been a busy summer being Daddy Day Care. I’ll be writing more in the coming months.

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Handgun Drills: 25 Yard B-8 Practice

Watch this video from today’s Munich active shooter:

The photographer of this footage appears to be across an intersection from the shooter. I’d put him at 30 or so yards.

Now, put yourself in the photographer’s shoes. But you’re packing your carry gun. Can you reliably place accurate hits on important parts of a bad guy at that distance?

  • If yes, good keep carrying your gun.
  • If not, keep working on it.
  • If you don’t know if you could, then you need to find your maximum effective range with your carry handgun.
Munich 7/22/16

A drill to work during your next range trip:

  • Using a B-8 target. B-8 pdf (download a copy, and always print ‘fit to page’)

Start at 10 yards.

  1. Shoot target 10 times at 10 yards, no time limit, freestyle. If/When you can get 10/10 in the 8 ring or better, move the target away 5 more yards.
  2. Shoot the same drill at 15. Same Pass/Fail metric. Keep pushing back if you can.

… eventually you will hit your distance limit. 25 yards is the goal, but further is fine. You now know your maximum reliably effective range.

At this or future range trips… Work at the distance that caused you misses. Work it until you can shoot it clean, Then keep creeping back.

Modify it by doing 10 repetitions from the holster/1 shot on the bullseye. Or, set a time limit in which you’d like to make that shot, start at a 5 second par-time from a low ready, or 7 seconds from the holster.

A B-8 is head-sized at 25 yards, and simulates a high-center chest sized target as if it were at 50. The bad guys are out there, and need to be shot. Carry your gun. Do your part.

Stay Safe and Prayers Out to our Brothers and Sisters in Munich,

Mark

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Take Instructor Gun Recommendations with a Tactical Grain of Salt

If you go to any shooting classes at big named schools, you will likely hear a lot of chatter about guns and gear. The instructor will usually tell the students that they need at least X caliber with Y capacity and prefer you get Z brand. They will shake their heads at you if you carry your gun in a briefcase, or use a small J-frame or autoloader in a pocket holster. Many students will take this to heart and then help spread the word all over the internet. This is how the little training cults grow and spread.

A J-frame and a speed strip reload may be the definition of an optimist in a gunfight, but it might be the only thing most people are able to carry.

The next time an instructor or internet forum member tells you you’re an idiot for carrying a snubbie or mousegun every day, consider the source.

I’ve noticed a trend in the careers of those who are most ardent about how much gun/gear you should carry and constantly spout about how easy it is to carry a full sized guns if you ‘do it right’. Here’s the list:

  1. Tactical/Shooting Instructor
  2. Police/Retired Police
  3. Current Military
  4. Youtube personality/ Gun Industry person
  5. IT professional/Desk jockey
  6. Self Employed/Work from home
  7. Rural Job (Farming, etc)

Do you see a trend in those careers? What similarities do you see? The answer is they work in careers where there is NO PENALTY for (or no chance to be discovered for) having “enough” gun. Most of the folks in group 1 originated in groups 2 and 3. Minimal human contact and/or no penalty for being ‘made’ carrying a gun rounds out the rest of the list.

Edit: It was pointed out to me that since IT folks have a lot more access to computers, they are more inclined to be active on forums. This makes sense. They also interact with clients often.

These guys will say that they have home lives and when they go out with their families, they carry all the stuff they suggest to you carry. Sorry, still not good enough. Getting made at Mama Mia’s Italian Bistro doesn’t hold the same penalty as getting found out at your office.

They are ignorant to the realities that normal people working 9 to 5 in office buildings in urban/suburban settings face. Even if they can imagine what it’s like and tell you to ‘make it work’ anyway, they still have no real experience of being under constant visual scrutiny at the job that pays your bills and feeds your family. If they do have that experience, they probably didn’t have to wear tucked shirts or suits at that job. Also, they  have no skin in your game. They themselves face zero penalty if you get caught. It’s your choice, and your job and livelihood.

Photo: balloongoesup.com/

“The gun just disappears!” Discussing how concealable a gun is with a few staged photos showing lack of printing holds ZERO water against a few weeks of moving, bending, giving presentations, interacting with people, and generally doing your job.

So is it wrong to carry a tiny gun, if anything larger could get you fired and arrested? No. Are your instructors wrong to suggest that you carry a duty gun and 2 spare magazines, a blow out kit, and a 700 lumen flashlight? No, they’re not wrong, either. The instructor is setting you up for success based on their experience and if you get killed for not having enough gun, they can rest easy because they told you so. Being MIL or LEO puts you face to face with violence regularly. They know how bad it can be, and how quickly it can get that way. It benefits everyone to keep their risk profile, as well as penalty for being discovered, in mind when selecting carry guns and gear.

Don’t view this as a cop-out or an excuse to carry a small gun. I also think that most people could get away with more gun than they think they can.

While sub-service caliber guns aren’t always good enough in ballistics gelatin, they seem to work over and over in real encounters

What does having a sub-par gun as your primary mean? It simply means you need to get really really good with your little gun. You need to attempt to be able to use it as well as you can shoot a full sized gun. Use it in classes, compete with it, and generally hold your skill-set to a high standard.
Go to ex-MIL, ex-LEO instructors to learn tactics and how to shoot well against other humans, but take gear recommendations with a tactical grain of salt and think long and hard about those things for yourself. Learn from them what works, take it home, adapt it, and make it your own. The life (and job) you save could be your own.

DD

Little Lights Range Trip

I always suggest that if you get the opportunity to practice or train in low light, that you do. It allows you the opportunity to confirm your dryfire flashlight work, confirm your techniques, and see what works and doesn’t when you’re actually shooting. This last weekend, I had the opportunity to get some range time at a private range in NW Georgia. I wanted to try out some of the small flashlights I have been collecting and make sure I’m not taking crazy pills when I say that 60 lumens is still enough. It was impromptu, so I didn’t have an elaborate testing plan. I would have set up something more thorough if I thought of it ahead of time.

Weather: light cloud cover which minimized moon light. The range was very dark.

With each light, I wanted to check the distance at which I could identify two inch numbers on a target, and the distance that I could see the targets themselves. I also got some shooting in at various distances and positions using a Shooting Solutions AR500 silhouette and a range barricade I built recently. It’s not scientific, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s about what I can see with my eyes and my lights. I’m happy if I can identify details (things in hands) at 7 yards or so.

The Flash Lights (left to right)

This is the dinosaur of the bunch. It’s actually a good size. The light is that sort of dingy yellow when compared to the brilliance of the white LEDs. It was a good baseline for the other lights. I could readily read the numbers on a target out to about 15 feet, and see the target itself to about 40 feet.

The AAA streamlight was very bright when it came out several years ago. 30 lumens is lacking a bit, though. The ranges were (surprise) approximately halved when using 30 lumens. 15 feet for reading numbers, and 30 for seeing the target well enough to shoot. Considering the recent improvements in lights, I would pass on this one. We didn’t even get pictures of the beam on this one.

Docooler AAA light. I got this one for $8 last week just because 120 lumens seemed pretty awesome for $8. The beam is all ‘spill’. The light is evenly distributed with no real ‘hotspot’ in the center. The tail cap isn’t momentary. It clicks on and stays on. This isn’t preferred for a tactical light, but I didn’t have much trouble actuating it on the range. My wife’s worn out hair bungee makes a good finger loop so you can drop the light to manipulate your pistol. I could read numbers out to 20 feet or so, and see the target at 50 feet.

Streamlight AA Protac. This light is several years old and pretty beat up. The lense is scratched on mine. It’s actually a little long for my liking. Momentary with a slight push, and then will click on. A poor strobe feature isn’t that useful (compared to a Klarus strobe). This light has a more discernable hotspot so it was good for a few extra feet, 25 and 60. I think one could do better, and cheaper, currently.

Pelican 1920 2xAAA. This one continues to be my favorite. The diameter is close to a sharpie, and the length is great clipped into jeans or dropped into a pocket. It stays oriented pretty well in a pocket and one can get a good grip and cheek/neck index quickly. The beam (on high) was actually the winner despite its lower specified output. Both my friend and I agreed that this was the winner of the bunch. It fills the hand well, and could be used as a fist-load for striking, or you could hammerfist with it if you had to. I wish it were a single output, but it’s not that bad. It was similar to the Streamlight AA for me, but seemed just a touch brighter.

Some lights I want to try (apparently I’m scared of the dark):

Nitecore MT06 – 165 lumens, 2xAAA

5.11 2xAAA – 95 lumens, 2xAAA single output

Klarus XT1C – 245 lumens, 1xCR123
Get out and practice with your lights. For the urban or suburban gun person, these lights would serve your purposes. Easily carried in a pocket or purse, you can light up the dark corners of your life. If you live in the country and are surrounded by wide open spaces, you’ll need more light. All of these lights are perfect for lighting up a dark parking deck, looking around the house, walking the dog, and for shooting at defensive distances. No weapon meant for defensive purposes should be without a light nearby.