Jul 10, 2017

AIWB/IWB Holster Classifications, continued.

On the last post detailing AIWB/IWB Holster Classifications, we left off with Hobby Grade Plus, which if you do not remember and do not feel like reading is a purpose built holster but lacking specific characteristics which are absolutely required, like covering the front/rear sights, good attachment points.  So moving on to the next level up.

Again, none of the photos are mine, I claim no ownership.


Leather Holsters - This is its own class as they do not do anything specifically well and come in a huge variation of types of carry.  I reviewed a Garrity AIWB In-Victus leather holster a few years ago and determined it to not be consistent with current holster standards then and it surely is not now.  The biggest issue with leather holsters is that they do not evolve.  The same design that was IWB twenty or thirty years ago is still the same design which is being made and sold now, only with small adjustments here or there.  Some of these designs actually do carry well, which is why this classification is above Hobby Grade Plus but leather falls victim to a lot of serious issues, specifically that the average AIWB leather holster is not comfortable and it prints like you have a tumor.  IWB holsters are slightly better, but they are slower on the draw.  Also the biggest issue is lack of consistency.  You do not get the same draw, you do not get the same reholster (sometimes flaps fold over themselves) and this hinders training severely.  Your gear should not limit your training, in fact it should be the exact opposite and you should be trying to catch up to the level of your gear is capable of, this is just not the case with leather holsters.  They also suffer from the same issues of the lower classifications which is bad belt retention attachments.  While pull the dot loops are a good idea, their quality greatly degrades with the more ornate they become.  Standard good quality loops are perfectly fine and work well when adjusted to fit your particular carry situation.  When you start making them out of leather and using colors or getting weird engravings you start moving away from the original design specifications.  Customization is cool, but not at the expense of the function.  The other issue is that often times they are made to order and 3x-5x more expensive than any standard kydex-type holster on the market, especially when you get into exotic leathers for OWB carry.  If you like to carry a $4000 1911 in a stingray OWB leather holster, then you probably do not care about training or function anyway and keep on keepin' on.


Casual Carry/Competition Carry - These are holsters that span the gap from those people who recreationally carry a pistol and those who do not always carry,  these holsters usually are designed around speed and getting a good score at a shooting competition, they are purpose built for those goals.  Most people who shoot competition and concealed carry will shoot competition in those same holsters.  This is good and bad.  Good because they get practice time with the actual holsters they carry with, bad because those holsters are usually optimized for speed and lack certain qualities which allow for successful conditions in a physical confrontation (which by its very nature is not present in a shooting competition), among other AIWB/IWB considerations.  These holsters usually have very poor pistol retention, the ones that do usually have to be cranked down in order to keep the gun in the holster properly.  There are also a certain stagnation in this area as these holsters check a lot of the boxes most people who do both (carry concealed and shoot competition) want out of a holster but they fall short when compared to the top tier holsters on the market today.  Most of these are still fold over kydex pressed or possibly thermomolded, but they are not using the latest technology for pistol molds (because its expensive) and they would have to learn how to process these holsters properly for sale, this process is an issue for those manufacturers who do not shoot or carry regularly or with competence.  It can be seen in some of these designs quickly by a seasoned conceal carry practitioner and shooter. 

This category is pretty broad and encompasses minimalistic holsters like the Raven Vanguard 2 and Vanguard 3.  I have both, I only carry with the Vanguard 2 and did a review of it.  It works for what it is as long as you understand it is the most minimal possible way to carry a pistol.  I do not carry it with the plastic clip as it defeats the purpose of having such a small holster due to lack of retention of holster, meaning if you run too fast or if you get into a physical confrontation this holster has a high probability to fall out.  With a good pull the dot loop or a metal clip with reverse tooth, this holster is actually a good choice for concealment.  It accepts the Raven Wing Claw, which is good.  There are other similar types of minimalistic trigger guard only holsters out there, but they fall short of the Vanguard 2 because it not fold over kydex pressed.  The only limitation is that to reholster you have to remove the holster from inside your pants and do so outside the waist, this is not good, but this holster offers a lot more in terms of concealment than the average holster.  For Casual Carry this is a pretty good option if you are in a situation where you have to wear a suit or something form fitting due to a special event.  These are not holsters you should have as your primary EDC as they are designed around every day carry, they are designed around a specific minimal approach to specific situations (missions).  The VG3 is not a holster I recommend as the trigger is nearly completely exposed and easily engaged when the gun is in your pants, this is a no go and hopefully Raven will fix this in the future.  It is good for OWB suppressed pistol carry or plate carrier carry of a pistol.  The VG3 falls into Hobby Grade Plus as it was made for a specific purpose but falls just short.

More to come...

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