Nov 18, 2012

Glock, Blackhawk, DarkStarGear Pistol Magazine Pouches Review/Comparison




(right to left) Glock, Blackhawk, DarkStarGear

Description:
Per the GlockStore website, "Glock Sport/Combat Mag Pouches are constructed of lightweight polymer and are completely ambidextrous. These items are an inexpensive alternative for mag carry. These are considered stock Glock parts, so they are not returnable - Glock warrants these items against defects. Will fit 9mm, .357 Sig, .40 Cal., 10mm and .45 ACP (except Glock 36). Fits belts up to 2.25" wide."  I purchased it from Amazon for around $13.99.
The BlackHawk website, just gives a general description, looks like a cut and paste for all of their pouches.  Does say what its made of.  I bought it from a local fun store for around $20.
Per the DarkStarGear webiste, "The mag pouches at Dark Star are really where the minimal design kicks in.  Many outfits produce fine quality pouches but most fall short in terms of belt real estate and movement.  Our pouches hold a minimum of 2″ of magazine and not much more.  This satisfies most competition requirements and prevents the pouch from digging into the legs without having to modify the original design.  Our pouches are designed for concealed carry where the body will provide some resistance to the magazine flying out."  I received this mag pouch for free at the F2S "High Stress" class, for evaluation, I am going to keep it and will be sending $$ over for the pouch, they run $30 + shipping.


Reason for Purchase:
I carry everyday, everywhere.  There is no time during the day I do not have at least one firearm on me.  I have learned through experience that a pistol is a machine, like a vehicle, that needs fuel to function.  Beyond what a vehicle does, which is transport persons, a firearm is useless without ammunition and a functional magazine that holds that ammunition.  I carry three spare magazines on duty on my person, I do this because I learned that one magazine is not enough, I learned that an extra magazine may not be enough, but there is a fine line that divides "duty" and "off duty," or for the average Joe CCW'er - comfort or preparedness.  I began to carry an extra magazine when I had a magazine fail on me during a training session which had the requisite of being equipped the same way you would be on the street.  It became extremely obvious to me that if you do not have an extra magazine on you then getting into a "deadly force" confrontation will be an issue for you, as the only thing you should be doing is using that single magazine in your pistol to egress from the situation/area.  One magazine will not sustain you, especially if your pistol, magazine or ammo fails.  Too many variables I do not want to bet my life on, so I carry extra.  Two is one and one is none, as the saying goes.  I had originally carried a spare magazine in my pocket, support side, back pocket or front, depending on my pants and in the winter I carried it in my jacket.  After running a few times during training/drill I found that this sucks for time, great for concealment and crappy for comfort.  I will not get into ideologies or whatnot, just speaking from personal experience and preference, I am me, you are you, we each have to figure out what our level of preparedness is.  I moved onto the Glock magazine pouch, because I wanted something slimmer, that holds the magazine in one spot, that is the same with any pants or jacket I wear and I can practice the draw for consistency.  The BlackHawk I picked up because I wanted to be able to slap a magazine pouch on my belt for any occasion, training/drill, work/active shooter/etc.  The DarkStarGear holster I received by pure chance.  We just happen to be at the same class and he had an extra one he brought with the specific purpose of giving away.  I figured it would be a good comparison against the Glock magazine pouch.  I carry a Gen4 G19, with an extra Glock 17rnd magazine.



First Opinion:
The Glock magazine pouch came in a plastic container, like from your typical store hanger.  The plastic material felt really thin, not like kydex I am normally accustomed to.  I initially had low expectations of the Glock pouch, but for $13 its difficult to go wrong, even if its crappy.  Two things drew my towards the Glock pouch was the sleek build/design and the fact that once you set the ride height of the pouch it won't move.  I chose the ride height, snipped the plastic off and threw it on my belt.  The BlackHawk is a thicker, non-flexible plastic, its also not as slick as the Glock or the DarkStarGear pouches.  The clip on the BlackHawk was my initial area of concern, it wobbles around, nothing major just is not stable in my hands, but on the belt its not even noticeable.  The DarkStarGear pouch is sturdy, thick kydex and overall well built.  Best part of the DarkStarGear pouch is that it gives you more magazine space to grab onto, the Glock second and the BlackHawk third.  

The Glock pouch is ambidextrous and has a positive retention tab that is none-adjustable.  I tried to take a picture of it - on the left corner there is a tab or "notch", about half way down, it retains the magazine in place.  The magazine does not move when its in this, even when fully loaded.  I put a loaded magazine inside and held it upside down the magazine did not fall out.  This pouch only takes 9mm Glock magazines or the like (I have never tried other magazines in it).

The BlackHawk pouch uses a metal tab in a "spring" style to tension off the magazine and is ambidextrous.  This pouch takes many different magazines.  It took my doublestack 9mm, .45ACP (G21) and my 9mm (FNS-9) and .45ACP (FN45 Tactical) magazines, holding them really tight.  The doublestack .45ACP magazines are very snug inside it and require a good bit of effort to try to remove them, more than the 9mm magazines.



The DarkStarGear is specifically for 9mm Glock magazines and is ambidextrous, though I have not tried to run it on my strong side.  It has the same type of "notch" non-adjustable retention system as the Glock pouch. 



In the Field:
I like to try to break my gear if I can, so I run the crap out of it in every type of situation and condition.  I wear all my magazine pouches on the same location, along my "A-Line"  

I have been wearing this Glock pouch for the better part of 1.5 years now.  I have been wearing it daily, during drill/training and have worn it to some LE-only classes.  It works well.  The best part about it is that since I am not that big of a guy, I can wear an undershirt, tucked in, and it does not ride against my skin.  It is very concealable, which is the primary reason for purpose.  The plastic has held up very well, I have done some physical related stuff on the ground and it has taken a pounding but has maintained its shape and has not bent or cracked in any way.



It wears easy and does not give any type of outline when wearing a larger shirt over-top, button-down or a jacket.


The draw from the Glock Pouch is very easy, I prefer the finger down draw, where my thumb wraps around the mag, upon draw I point towards the magazine well of the pistol to insert it.  

The BlackHawk pouch stands out a little bit from the belt on my A-line and it is slightly more noticeable during normal activities.  



It is however slightly easier to get a grip onto because its not snug up against my body, so I can get my thumb behind it easier.  



I wore the BlackHawk pouch for work, some LE-only classes as well as the Warrior Pistol 1.0 Class, it worked very well.  The best part about it is that I can take it off and put it on very easily.  The hook on it has a good clip and retains the mag well.  It is also a two piece design, which allows for cleaning and maintenance when required.




The DarkStarGear pouch is adjustable by its rear leather-style straps.  It keeps a good positive retention on the pouch when mounted on a belt and helps the pouches not move.  You can reverse the straps for a change in ride height, which is awesome, since you cannot do that on the BlackHawk, and on the Glock its a one-time only adjustment - though you can buy two for the same price.  The DarkStarGear pouch is also thick kydex, which I prefer, and has a good profile.  On the belt the DarkStarGear pouch is very comfortable and allows for a smooth draw.  I opted for a standard ride height, not the lower ride height it can be adjust to.



 The DarkStarGear magazine pouch was the easiest to draw from out of the bunch, not because of the ride height, but because less of the magazine was attached to the pouch and more could be gripped with my hand during the draw.



Ownership and Usage:
All three pouches have done what they are designed to do well.  Anyone who shoots often or carries a firearm daily will tell you that you need different "kit" for different situations.  I have ran the DarkStarGear pouch in a few LE-only classes and it worked really well, especially under timer, better than the other two pouches.  The Glock pouch conceals the best, better than the other two, but is not the most comfortable.  The BlackHawk and DarkStarGear are very comfortable because they do not put the magazine right against your body as the Glock pouch does.  All three pouches did not change in their design or ability throughout my use of them.  The BlackHawk pouch has a few scratches on it from duty work, and the Glock magazines has a lot of lint inside, but nothing serious.  The DarkStarGear is kydex so that does not require any explanation as to what it does.  In hot summer months it did not warp or lose retention (I did not leave it out in the sun, however, to test it).  




Final Thoughts and Recommendations: 
As I stated in the beginning of this review, I carry an extra magazine on my person every single day, everywhere I go, no matter what.  That is the minimum level of personal preparedness I am willing to achieve.  Depending on what out of the norm area I am traveling to I may carry two magazines (like NYC, since there is a 10rnd mag limit).  I also do a lot of training/drill and require multiple loaded magazines on me since constantly reloading sucks during a class - takes up too much time when you should be learning.  I also have a requirement that my kit needs to stay in place while I run.  If the magazine pops out or it shifts position I shit-can it as its useless to me.  There are many other magazine pouches/carrier out there.  Depending on what you need a magazine pouch for I would highly suggest you do the research, ask questions on whatever forum you are on (or post here and I will try to answer to my best ability) to get a better understanding of what you need.  Fobus and Blade-Tech also makes pretty good magazine pouches, you can google for others who make custom kydex magazine pouches like DarkStarGear.  Again, all depends on what you want, single, double, combination pouch, etc, it is out there or it can be made for what you want.  I recorded some video of drawing from the pouches, but then decided it was going to take too long to edit it, so I did not.  If I have enough people who want to see the draw from two different angles post up and I will post it up. 



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