The Facts about using a Neoprene Wedge for AIWB.


Ethical Considerations:
Undoubtedly there will be a good bit of misinformation perpetuated online, this is just how things work.  I am always trying to push the proper information out because I genuinely dislike unethical practises of putting unvetted, false or misleading information out (due to inexperience, malicious negligence or ignorance).  As such I was going to wait to post this until later this year once I had a chance to really destroy one of V Development Group's neoprene wedges, but I have several which I have been testing, one of which for a little bit more than 18 months, that I recently replaced only do to personal preference and I took some photos to explain a few things for this post.



Neoprene Wedges for AIWB 101:
First and foremost, no company is going to post the specific designation of the material type of neoprene foam they are using for their wedge, there are literally dozens, and numerous types applicable for this application. They are not the same, they are no even remotely similar in texture, feel or shape retention.  This also means that some are much cheaper than others, while others are more, vastly more expensive, and they also run the gamut in ease/difficulty of cutting/shaping.  The biggest variable which is needed to be considered here is the size and shape retention of the wedge, this is the most important aspect of selecting a wedge.  If a company does not clearly define the retention percent over a time period of use then they either do not know or are trying to sell you something which is untested/unvetted.  Either way, you are throwing your money into the "mystery product" toilet and if you are anything like me, you want to know what your hard earned money is getting you, and it better not be garbage.

I often get asked how soft should a wedge be? The answer is that it should be just soft enough to retain its shape while providing proper support for when you compress it during carry.  This is extremely important as a wedge which is too soft will not work properly to counter the top of the gun from pushing outward while concealed in your pants.  A good quality wedge will completely counter this while maintaining comfort.

Wedge Cut / Angle Percentage:
This is a question I have been asked several times.  The short answer is that an even / smooth slope with a peak is the best type of wedge cut required.  If the angle is too aggressive it will not be comfortable (and believe me when I say I have tried several aggressive cuts / angles just to make sure for extended periods), and it will not offer any more or less concealment capabilities.  The overall size of the wedge should be proportional to the size of the pistol.  A full size pistol requires a full size wedge, a smaller pistol can work well with a smaller wedge, but it still has to be proportional with its cut / angle.  There is no need to have different wedges with different cuts / angles, it just a waste as you will undoubtedly reach the same conclusion as I did, you will find the one wedge cut / angle which works best and you will disregard the rest; so why spend the time and money?


Experience through use:
The above wedge on the left is a hard used wedge, one of the many tested wedges used during the selection process was worn 8-10 hours a day (often on non-uniformed duty), 4-6 days a week over a period of 18 months.  I was going through various wedges from different companies and types while doing my research, the neoprene foam material finally selected is currently used for the VDevGroup wedge is the only one which retained its form and comfort after 3 months of daily use, it continued do so until time of replacement.  Even at time of replacement it still worked fairly well and the only reason I did replace it is because I wanted to and not because I needed to.  I assume that around the two year range of normal use a wedge would need to be replaced, but it may be more if not hard used.  Weather has little to no effect on this wedge's performance, but it may have on other types of neoprene, as I stated, there are many different types.  Neoprene foam, used in this particular application should be considered  consumable, but choosing the right one will save time and money.


The above wedge on the left is the same wedge as in the first two photos taken several months before the above photo with a wedge I tested of a company which currently sells wedges of the same material as the above (not the same material as the VDevGroup wedge).  The wedge on the right was worn for about 3 months and as you can see the size and shape retention of the wedge is not good.  That wedge started off slightly large than the VDevGroup wedge it is next to.  Scroll back up so you can see the size and shape retention difference between a hard use VDevGroup neoprene wedge VS brand new, then scroll back down to the above photo of the same 18 month hard use wedge vs a 3 month hard used wedge from another company which clearly did not do any testing or research.


Side profiles speak a great deal to showing the size and shape retention.  Cheap neoprene foam will do exactly what you see, fold and lose shape, even become hard and brittle.  The old adage of "you get what you pay for" is definitely in full effect when it comes to neoprene wedges.  Not all wedges are the same, they do not work the same and they will never work the same since there are so many different materials.

As a general FYI for those new to carrying AIWB with a wedge, I always highly recommend carrying a holster with a wedge for at least 1 week (5-7 days) before changing the position of the wedge or cutting the wedge down.  This is important because you need to give yourself time to get comfortable with the wedge.  Often times, as I learned through experience and giving wedges to SME's to try and they give me their considerations is that a day or two wearing a wedge may not be long enough to be comfortable with it.  One SME stated it was not until the 5th day of wearing it did he begin to feel comfortable and then forgot the wedge was even there after that point, until then he felt discomfort.  It takes time, give it time.


Proper Wedge Placement On Holster:
I learned this after trial and error, while wearing it daily, doing force on force/combatives, running the holster hard during training and through the development process to see what works best for concealment and comfort, alike.  The position of the wedge on a holster needs to be done properly in order to use the wedge to its full advantage.  There are a lot of weird things done and thought about wedges online, this is all information I am freely sharing which I have learned through extensive experience, you can mirror and replicate any or all of it yourself.

The above photo is a Glock 43 Seraph with a large wedge attached.  Notice the position of the wedge, which is directly inline with the muzzle of the holster, if not slightly before the barrel's end.  This is done because the wedge's thickest part will compress the least and allow for the best angle of muzzle position.  This is done so that the muzzle is as off-line to your vital parts as possible, this also serves a dual purpose as it pushes the grip at the best angle into your stomach.  Once your belt is tight and the wedge is at maximum level of compression at this point you will see its most effective use.  More compression does not mean better angle, more softness does not mean more comfort.  There has to be a balance in this position.


For demonstration purposes I am pushing the holster down against the floor to show compression in this position.


Moving the wedge forward to just before the edge of the holster, you see the following compression result:


Still pretty good, but not as good as the wedge being before or at the muzzle, preferably before.


Moving the wedge to past the edge of the holster, you can clearly see a few rows of the Velcro starting to show.


Bad angle, holster digging directly into the wedge which will greatly reduce its lifespan (probably cutting the wedge after prolonged use in this position) and this is absolutely not the right way to position your wedge.  It negates all the reasons for using a wedge in the first place which is to push the muzzle of the gun away from your vital parts and push the grip into your body, concealing it better.  This does none of those things while reducing the function of the wedge.  This would be a no-go.

Considerations:
The position of the wedge being before the muzzle means that if you carry a Glock 17 in a Glock 17 sized holster that the wedge will be closer to the edge than if you carried a Glock 19 in a Glock 17 holster, this is perfectly acceptable and expected.  The reason the Glock 43 Seraph is made the way it is, concealment, comfort and future proofing were all considered in its design.

Depending on your body type, weight, exact position of carry and specific holster/pistol combination, the position of the wedge may greatly impact comfort and concealment.  Some will be easily able to accept the wedge as it is without modification while others will need to modify the wedge before being comfortable with.  This is also true with its position, some may not be able to keep the wedge in it's preferred location (before the muzzle end) and will need to run the wedge further down or up, or even backwards.  I am a big proponent of modification, alteration and customization for your particular setup (as we are all different) but I wanted to make sure I explained the preferred method of wedge application on a holster.

I also wanted to provide a different angle of photos to hammer the point home so that there is nothing left to misunderstanding.  In the following photos I am forcefully pressing down on the wedges in the worst case scenario when you are seated and bending over reaching for something (as if seated in the drivers seat of your vehicle reaching for something underneath your seat or by the gas pedals) and the levels of compression.


The above photo shows the wedge at about the muzzle end.


The above photo shows the wedge directly at the edge of the holster, notice more compression than at the first photo.


The above photos hows the wedge one or two rows past the edge of the holster.  No go.



Conclusion:
In the above photo you see the large wedge and small wedges attached to a holster and a blade sheath.  A smaller wedge may be application for a thinner person.  This wedge, generally speaking, does not need to be modified and works well on smaller framed concealed tools like a blade sheath or a single stacked pistol holster (like the Glock 43).  There need only be two sizes, small and large.  I have not seen any reason to have any other cuts or angles of wedges designed, this is through numerous types of neoprene foam tested and many months spent on research.

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