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Raven Vanguard 2 Holster

Per the manufacturer's website, the VG2 is a minimalistic holster.  It is injection molded plastic and attaches to the pistol via the trigger guard.  This holster is designed specifically for "deep carry" and should not be put into the same realm as other AIWB/traditional holsters.  I have had the VG2 for well over a year, bought it around the time they came out as I was not a big fan of the original VG kydex model.  I bought it directly from the Raven website, paying retail for the full kit.  I bought the kit because I wanted to try the cord to belt as well as their pull the dot setup.

The holster measures 3.625 inches from the bottom of screw attachment tab to top of trigger guard.  With the strut attached it measures 4.5 inches long.  It measures 1.25 inches wide without the strut and about two inches wide from pull the dot leather loop to end of holster.  It is about 1.25 inches deep.  There is no clearance between the first finger groove of my Gen4 G19 and pants. The Glock is exposed roughly 2.25 inches in the belt.

Reason for Purchase:
The main reason for this holster purchase was to try it out.  It is cheaper than most traditional holsters that can be found online as well as kydex holsters.  The holster offers the unique attribute of true deep carry, much like pocket holsters except being able to be worn around the waist.  The mounting systems provided with the holster were also a very interesting combination since I have never carried a holster which was just retained by a piece of 550 cord.  The pull the dot strut setup is a very common mounting feature found in many holsters on the market since it offers adjustability beyond that which can be attained via the holsters construction.

First Opinion:
The holster came with very detailed instructions, much better than the traditional holster you get from many places.  Which gave an excellent explanation to any question I had, like how long the 550 cord should be.  The most impressive feature of the entire setup is the retention.  The holster has an audible snap in place and audible snap during the draw.  This is good because you can be confident that the holster is where it needs to be since it will not have the audible snap otherwise.  I originally began to carry it with the 550 cord which I cut to just before the last step in my draw phase.  I eventually moved on to the pull the dot setup, which I prefer now.  I will get into each setup throughout the view.

One of my biggest gripes with many holster setups is that the trigger guard is not covered properly, this is addressed with the VG2 in a very specific way.  Not only is the holster completely dependent on the trigger guard for retention it also uses that dependency to cover the trigger area from any sort of issues while carrying.

The most obvious drawback is the fact that the sights are not protected.  This maybe an issue for those who purchase this holster with the specific purpose of hard use.  This is not a hard use holster for many reasons, lack of sight (especially front sight) protection is #1 in that regard.  I went over this in my review of the INCOG.

In the Field:
The VG2 fell into appendix carrying very easily.  The holster was designed to be as non-intrusive in design or carry as possible, and in this regard it succeeds.  I carried the VG2 in the 1-1:30 position mostly and worked well.  Comfort level was sky-high, the holster became invisible, as did the gun.  This setup allowed for tighter than normal fitting clothing, which most people like, I do not so it was not a big adjustment for me.  The holster, when attached to the belt via the 550 cord did all sorts of things.  It moved around constantly, especially if I was getting in and out of vehicles, walking up steps or answering the call of nature.  It also allowed for a high degree of adjustment, much more than any other holster I have ever worn, which is not surprising due to its size.  When I switched to the pull the dot strut setup, the holster became much more firmly attached to the belt, but still allowed for movement and adjustment because of the nature of the pull the dot setup.  

Just how fast is it? I will use the DarkStarGear AIWB holster as the base, of 1.00 second from concealment beep to one shot on target at 7 yards A-zone or chest size steel.  With the VG2, 550 cord setup, after 10 shots I was averaging 1.49, slowest being 1.74 and fastest being 1.39.  With the pull the dot strut setup, average was around 1.45, fastest was 1.34, slowest was 1.71.  I attribute the faster draw to the sturdier position of the pistol with the pull the dot strut setup.  The 550 cord setup allowed the gun to move about and had me searching for the grip.  Both setups, however, did not allow for a true master grip at first touch, I had to dig for it, which costs time.  Non-standard drawing positions and rapid movement drawing were nearly impossible with the 550 cord setup as the gun did whatever it wanted, I had the gun fall out during a burpee (it wasn't loaded, just a test run) which is unacceptable.  The pull the dot strut setup was a little bit better, the gun did not fall out but the magazine release was engaged, causing the magazine to fall to the floor. (I will touch a little bit more on that later in the review)

The following pictures will break down the draw of the VG2 with the pull the dot strut setup.

With only one point of contact, the pistol can be canted rear sight forward, allowing an area for the hand to get into to attain a master grip.

Attaining the master grip, canting the gun more rear sight forward and shoving my thumb behind the gun.  It can be done with one step with the VG2.

Draw process begins, as you can see the pants begin to move up due to the retention of the holster.

The pistol "snaps" out of the VG2 and you can immediately see the belt line drop.

Holster is cleared.

Draw complete.

With the VG2, pull the dot strut setup, there is a specific way to reholster.  Some of the videos on youtube actually tell you to completely remove the holster, which is done with the 550 cord setup naturally.  With the strut setup you can simply pull the VG2 out of the pants and "snap" the pistol back into it.

Above, the holster is out of the waist bang, and the gun is snapping in, trigger guard first.

Glock completely snapped into VG2.

Glock is reholstered.

Ownership and Usage:
I determined that the pull the dot strut setup was the best and most effective way of carrying the VG2.  The strut allows for easy belt placement and retention of pistol, this makes carrying easy, literally a snap on and off.  I carried this mainly in the summer with my Gen4 G26.  I tried it a few times with my Gen4 G19 and it was just not for me.  Shorts, t-shirt, VG2 + G26, about as comfortable of a carry as you can get on the market.  The fact that this holster is not an action holster is very obvious.  I would not wear this holster on duty (if I was working UC), I would not wear this holster the range if I wanted to practice shooting from concealment (unless I was specifically trying to gain experience with this holster) and I would not wear this holster to training of any kind.  I wore the VG2 to two weddings in the 3:30 position, and it was comfortable and invisible.  On several occasions I wore it as a BUG, in a left hand appendix setup, to supplement a traditional 3:30 positioned holster because of the area I was heading into required it.  Even in with that hefty setup it wore very well and retained well. 

The number one reason to purchase this holster is because you want to carry a pistol, traditionally, to be invisible around your waist line.  It did not print noticeably when I carried it and I was asked by those who know I carry daily if I was carrying.

The most obvious issues of the VG2 is that it does not protect the sights at all, and it does not allow for a smooth or dependable master grip which is completely dependent on the setup it is carried in.  These issues are offset with the obvious conceal-ability of the VG2 as well as its minimalistic nature.  In this regard it is a niche holster.

Final recommendations:

This holster will not work for everyone, it will also not work for those who do a lot of shooting, like myself.  Which is why I only carry this holster when I have to dress for a specific situation.  The fact that the sights are not protected at all and the experience I had with the magazine release being actuated during a car ride (several times) is a no-go for daily carry.  The VG2 has different uses as well, you can attach it to a pocket inside a backpack, inside a Hill People Runner's kit chest setup, or just trigger safety during transport in a range bag.  Other holsters like the X-Fer, which offers a light bearing option have a similar setup, but allows for the trigger guard area to be completely exposed during carrying, a no-go for me.  There are other holsters out there that resemble the original VG setup, kydex and onl covering the trigger guard area with a 550 cord for holster retention.  This is not a bad setup if that is something that will work for you, but it does not meet the requirements.