Apr 9, 2014

Garrity's Gunleather IN-VICTUS AIWB


Description:
Per the manufacturer's website, this leather holster is the culmination of a good bit of R&D and T&E.  This is a purpose built AIWB (Appendix Inside Waistband) carry holster.  As such, its a fairly non typical leather holster design.

The holster means 5.5 inches from top to bottom, 2 inches from front of leather attached loop to back of holster and 1.5 inches without the loop, 1.75 inches if you add the "cushion" on the bottom.  Measures 3.75 inches from the furthest parts long ways.  It sits about 4.5 inches inside the waist from the belt line.  There is about an inch of clearance between the belt line and the first finger groove of my G19.




Reason for Purchase:
I did not buy this.  My years of wearing leather ended when training techniques evolved and holster manufacturing techniques and designs began to favor Kydex.  I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to get my hands on this holster to run for a bit.  I would not have purchased this holster on my own; specifically because I believe that leather holsters (even hybrid leather) are outdated, and for the price I could buy two or three kydex holsters which would last longer and be more suited for my mode of carry.


First Opinion:
When I was handed the holster I was not carrying a G19, I was carrying a G26.  I tried to put the G26 into this holster, it did not fit.  Apparently this holster only accepts a G19.  The overall size of the holster was very interesting to me, almost like it wanted to be a kydex holster but had a chromosome crossed at some point. The trigger guard was partially exposed at the rear.  Nothing major or large enough for a finger to get into, but enough for something small to jam its way in there, like a shirt tail.


The belt loop that it came with accepts a smaller belt than I normally carry (1.75 volungearworks atlas) so I had to order a 1.5 inch belt (from volundgearworks) in order to even run this holster.  But obviously it has screws so I can always change it to loops, I did not because I wanted to run it in its original configuration.


The overall size of the holster is another aspect I could not get my mind around.  It was a very hefty holster, which had a cushion on the bottom of it that is designed to "push" the gun towards your body.  Sort of like JM Customs AIWB design with the "extra tuck" option.  The gun sits slightly higher than other AIWB holsters, which allows for a positive master grip on the draw.


In the Field:
Carrying in this holster was comfortable but did not meet my own personal standards for concealment.  The leather and the cushion padding allowed for more comfort than kydex as the hours of carrying wore on.  I used the holster for about a month in the summer.  In shorts and a t-shirt the holster is almost unusable, it prints clearly, while making you look like you have a growth above your groin.  In pants it worked a bit better, but you had to wear an undershirt because the leather cushion will cause skin irritation especially if you are sweating.


So how fast is it?  This is the part that needs to be explained since it depends.  The holster is leather, so it needs to be broken in, as most leather items do.  The holster did not work very well for me.  I did a bit of dryfire with it, drawing from concealment, trying to quicken the break in period but it became tiring.  I was not going to invest any serious time into breaking in the holster since I knew this was not going to be a game changing holster that I will carry forever.  Around that time I was putting down a 1.0 second draw from concealment on a target at 7 yards with my DarkStarGear AIWB holster.  With this holster the average was around 1.74, fastest was 1.41 and slowest was 1.95.  I did not count the times that the gun did not fire because it was out of battery (I will explain that at towards the end of the review).  Non-standard drawing positions were equal with other holsters since the gun did not move around and I had plenty of room to get at the gun in this holster.  With rapid movement then drawing to simulate shooting on the move (like doing a few burpees while holstered) was also about equal, the gun did not move, the holster, however, was very bulky and would require readjustment as soon as possible.  In one instance the holster actually came completely out of my pants and turned upside down, but the G19 did not fall out.  There is ample room for the magazine release and I did not once activate it by accident.

The following is a breakdown of the draw stroke: (note I did not point the gun at my other hand, though it looks like it and the gun was cleared and unloaded - safety first!)


Initial contact with middle finder to establish mastergrip, thumb between the slide and shirt.


Draw stroke begins, notice the difference in belt line from the above picture and below, the gun does not come out easily.


Clearing the holster, notice how high the holster came up from its original position.


Last step before upward cant, holster is cleared.


This holster requires a specific reholstering, which is good to do when you have a holster that stalls sometimes mid re-entry.  The thumb on the back-plate.


Pushing the holster down in order to secure it, as well as the slide from stalling.


Ownership and Usage:
Concealment with this holster is difficult, even with a very loose over-sized polo shirt designed for concealment like the 5.11 polo I am wearing in these photos. From the left side you can clearly see the edge of the holster (not the gun) and how much it sticks out.


Right side shot shows that edge as well.  If the shirt was any tighter you could see the holster outline.


From the front it is not too noticeable, but that is the way the polo is designed to give a generous front overhang.


The fact this holster is leather threw me off instantly.  I am of the opinion that kydex is just as comfortable if not more so, if finished properly by a competent kydexsmith.  An AIWB leather holster which require a break in period will require learning and relearning the retention of the holster throughout its life, something I have an issue with.  I understand the argument can be made of a kydex holster warping, cracking or losing retention.  It is a valid argument but I have many kydex holsters and while it occurs it rarely occurs and when it does is very easy to fix.  What happens when this leather holster loses retention to the point it needs to be sewn back together?  In the concealment area this holster is a definite no-go.  Kydex holsters blow this leather holster out of the water in terms of concealment, even similarly designed AIWB holsters like the JM Custom.


The biggest issue I have with this holster, which gives it the overall no-go is the fact that the slide hangs up on reholstering and may take the slide out of battery causing a dead gun on trigger press.


When I reholster the gun the same way I do with kydex AIWB holsters, without the thumb on the back-plate, the slide has a tendency to stall.  This is a characteristic of an unbroken-in leather holster.


During dry fire I had this issue and when I went to the range I reholstered both ways on purpose in order to see if I can induce the malfunction and I did several times.  It was just enough so that on a draw the slide did not seat itself properly and allowed for a gap between the firing pin and the bullet, sometimes the trigger became mushy and the firing pin never fell.  I understand, of course, this can be remedied by reholstering with thumb on back-plate and through break-in of the holster.


Final Recommendations:
There are not many leather AIWB holsters out there, it just is not a field that leather does well.  It is vastly more expensive (you can buy two JM Customs or DarkStarGear holsters for the price of this leather holster and lunch) and does not offer any real advantage.  My recommendation is to steer clear and go for a quality kydex holster for AIWB.