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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Review: High Noon Holsters – Mister Softy

A few years ago, I was looking for a holster for my Glock 19 as a temporary setup to hold me over until my custom kydex order showed up. Several of my trusted friends recommended the Mister Softy from High Noon Holsters. Even after receiving my high-speed kydex stuff, I’ve found myself going back to it again and again. Here’s a brief review.

Glock 19
Glock 19

Things of note:

Price – At $30, it’s a really good value. It is also in stock and ready to ship. Mine has held up really well. I’ve got my money’s worth. The price point means that if I have a friend who is carrying in an Uncle Mike’s nylon job, I wouldn’t feel bad giving them this one as a solid upgrade from nylon.

Sig P250
Sig P250

Multiple Gun Fit – It fits all of the G19 sized guns I own. I have successfully carried the Glock (26,19,17), the Beretta PX4 Compact, and now the Sig P250. The pliability of the cowhide allows slightly different guns to fit the same holster. I usually would poo-poo a ‘universal holster’, but this one does a good job of doing what a holster needs to do, while accommodating several guns. It’s like a quality gun sock. That’s a win.

Beretta PX4 Compact
Beretta PX4 Compact

Belt Clip – The stout spring clip snaps over belts with ease, and stays put. I have used this in force on force and in a lot of range trips and competitions. Never a hiccup. It DOES require a belt though.

Belt Clip
Belt Clip

Concealment – This is a good carry holster, but not a great training or competition holster. It’s a basic holster with no wedges or claws to tuck the grip into your waist, but still does a fine job. You can see where the top of the clip meets the grip/trigger guard that the holster rides low in the pants.  This is great for concealment, but requires you to tilt the holster as your fingers slide into position to establish a full firing grip before drawing. Retention is provided via friction by the rough side of the leather. I carry this at 1 O’clock. It is a straight drop holster.

Construction – The small gripe I have with the construction is that the mouth of the holster is not reinforced besides a second layer of cowhide. I’d love if it were steel or kydex reinforced, but that adds to price significantly. While it’s new, you can still holster the gun easily. The lack of reinforcement means the mouth of the holster closes a bit once you draw. The more sweaty and worn it gets, the worse this issue will get. This is why I say it’s not a great training or competition holster. For daily carry, it’s perfectly serviceable.

No reinforced mouth
No reinforced mouth

That’s pretty much it. It’s a holster that I have no problem recommending for an off-the-shelf option.

Thanks for reading,

Mark

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Review: Dark Star Gear Clip-On AIWB for Shield

Tom of Dark Star Gear and I have been friends for several years. Like most internet friendships, I don’t recall exactly how we connected, but it was probably over something non-firearm related that was said on a mutual friend’s Facebook wall, or on a firearms forum about flashlights or something. We hit it off and have been internet bros ever since.

Anyway, fast forward to a few weeks ago and I sent in a request for a quote for, “A clip-on appendix holster for my shield in an obnoxious color, made how you would make one for yourself.” His response was, “I got you, fam”. I didn’t know what that meant until I received a surprise from the postal service last week.

Why I needed it:

I needed a holster to carry my S&W Shield when I was wearing my Gi pants on the way to Jiu Jitsu, mowing the yard in shorts, running for beer, filling up at the gas station, and so on. Sometimes a sturdy belt is too much trouble. Some days I can’t even be bothered to put on pants. I’m that lazy. The color scheme is because I like to offend the multicam crowd. Toxic Green Houndstooth fit the bill and was a pleasant surprise.

I appreciate the utility of a belt-looped holster for ultimate security and retention when you’re being lifted up and slammed by your holster in training (or in da streetz).

554180_10100452264555129_1864317720_n
ShivWorks ECQC grounded evolution. The gear grindhouse.

Sometimes the convenience of a clip-on holster can’t be beat. The failure point for clip-on holsters is usually the clip itself. There isn’t enough ‘bite’ to grab the material of the pants without a belt, and you end up drawing the pistol and holster as one unit. That’s bad. Tom chose his clip wisely. It has a barb that turns back into the pants material and has gripped every kind of leg covering I own, and it also works with a belt.

Luckily for me, there are guys like Tom who apply good materials, quality components, and an engineer’s touch to carry gear.

This is the Semi-Auto Clip-on IWB/AIWB Holster. I’m not sure if you need to request the extended length or not.

4 things this holster does very well:

  • The spacing resolution of the holes in the vertical adjustment of the clip. They are about .3″ center to center, which makes for nice fine tuning of ride height in the pants.
Three sets of holes spaced close enough to give good adjustment for ride height.
Three sets of holes spaced close enough to give good adjustment for ride height. Middle set of holes used in this photo.
  • The clip has an aggressive bite that grips every pair of pants exceedingly well. Whether gi pants, nylon gym shorts, cargo shorts without a belt, jeans, swim trunks, whatever. The gun comes out, the holster stays. That’s what we want. My testing will be ongoing, but I’ve tried it with all of the above types of garments at least 100 draws in each. Same result every time.
clip
A very bitey clip.
  • A satisfying click when the gun is holstered. The gun has enough retention for running, jumping, and somersaulting. I have video. It won’t shake out when held upside down and jostled. And there is a retention adjustment screw.
  • The holster extends beyond the muzzle of the gun by nearly an inch. Why would you want to make such a tiny gun effectively longer, you ask? Because the shield has much of its weight behind the trigger guard (AKA above the belt-line). Most small-frame pistol clip-on holsters are prone to print significantly more as the belly (#dadbod) presses the grip out, and there is no counter-pressure from the muzzle end against the pubic area to keep it flat behind the waist. By making the holster Glock19 length, Tom has created a longer lever that helps keep the grip flat against the belly, even without a belt. It’s a subtle, but valuable, feature.

Conclusion:

If Tom hadn’t insisted that he send me this holster as a gift, I would have gladly paid for it (don’t tell him that). It’s a great design. I’m confident you wouldn’t be disappointed.

I want to set up some force-on-force with this holster to see if I can break it or get it to pop out of my pants in a fight. I’ll report back if any new information comes to light.

Thank you,

Mark

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Smith and Wesson Shield 9mm
Dark Star Gear
Phlster holster
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