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AIWB/IWB Holster Classifications, Last Part

This is the third part of a series of articles concerning AIWB/IWB Holster Classifications.  You can read the first one here and the second one here, we left off at Casual Carry/Competition Carry, the last time around.  If you forgot and do not want to reread the last article, these are the holsters which are good for competition and casually carrying a pistol as they are purpose built but still missing many elements, these are the holsters which have poor retention because they need to be fast, not concealed or comfortable.  So lets move on...
Casual Carry Plus - In this category you see holsters like the PHLster Classic (pictured above) which is very purpose built while using the most modern types of design (like CAD molds) and the best methods of thermomolding.  These holsters are usually used by those who carry nearly every single day and want a lot of versatility from their holsters and want the best in modern holster practices in terms of technology.  These are the holsters which have integrated hard wedges or "extra tuck" type of concealment attribute and can be used with or without a soft wedge.  There are normally two specific issues with these holsters, first is the fact they do not cover there rear sights or front sights.  Some holsters have great attributes and but fall short in this particular requirement, most Casual Carry Plus holsters will cover the front sight but leave the rear exposed, this is because it allows the greatest market exposure for such holsters.  Specifically as close to the "one size fits most" approach to selling holsters.  This is good and bad.  If you carry the same pistol all the time and want a lot of the boxes checked, especially with current technologies, then these holsters are probably what you already have.  The issue is that during a physical confrontation or any non-standard physical activity, there is a good chance that the rear sight moves, and even a little movement is unacceptable.  Second issue is that there are so many belt attachments out there, these holsters usually limit themselves to one or two specific attachment types (usually a crappy clip or a pull the dot loop if they think about retention properly), and that degrades the overall ability to conceal and retain the holster during a physical confrontation.  While there is a photo of the PHLster Classic above, some of the above issues are not directed at that holster, as that holster's only issue is that it does not cover the rear sight post.  Some holsters in this category also allow for a friction lock of the gun/trigger guard in the holster.  This may be an issue depending on the holster.  For AIWB a holster should allow for a pistol to snap into place, locking it in.  For tradition IWB holsters friction retention may be acceptable, but, it is 2017, not 2007.  The only reason friction locking of pistols even still exists now a days is because it is cheaper to make, not because it is better (it is not) than trigger guard locking holsters.  Just a note on this topic, there may be a need by some for a quiet deployment and reholstering due to CQB or the nature of a LEO/GOV/MIL end user employing a holster in their respective theater.  A friction retention holster can allow this, but it is in a grey area of "unknown sounds" because you really do not know what type of sound, if any sound it will cause by rubbing against your gun when you deploy or reholster.  A snap locking holster not only offers superior retention in this context, but it can also be trained to deploy and reholster quietly.  There are several methods to doing this, and learning the proper method is a good idea if you are in need of it.

Combat Carry / Duty Carry (top tier)- These holsters are designed around real world application, specifically for those who conceal carry pistols for a living.  This means that having the right types of features designed around real world use.  These holsters will likely come with various types of belt attachments, usually more than two, maybe three, specifically designed around the type of non-uniformed or plain-clothed work which puts LEOs and GOV/MIL agents on the front lines.  These holsters will completely cover both front and rear sights, from contact (not a complete wrap around the rear but so that there is not pressure against the rear from the body side), an open bottom due to CQB-related/vehicle based shooting, as well as being formed using the latest in CAD designed molds and using the most advanced methods of thermomolding.  All of this is aided by concealment oriented additions to the holster, be it a Raven claw/wing or something of that nature.  The above photo is a Seraph holster from V Development Group, obviously as I have stated before I have direct affiliation with that company and after developing the current way it is sold, it is the only system on the commercial market which allows for all the current requirements of application, specifically for AIWB holsters.  IWB holsters require slightly different characteristics, such as not necessarily needing a wing, as well as not requiring a wedge.  However, for an AIWB holster, when adding a neoprene wedge, this positively effects overall comfort and concealment while retaining all the attributes and features which are absolutely required for proper application of an AIWB holster.  The Combat Carry / Duty Carry type holster provides the best possible retention system available in a concealed holster on the market today.  This means that retention allows for an instant snap retention and that allows positive control over the pistol during a physical confrontation, which is very possible due to the type of work many non-uniformed LEO's and GOV/MIL type personnel do on a daily basis.  All of these concepts, however, create an above-average holster for the conceal carry citizen.

(Not my photo, found on google, and used for illustration)

Considerations - The average citizen who carries a pistol everyday, or sometimes, may not need a good holster, they may not even need a holster which is designed around physical confrontation, or at least they may believe that they may not need one like that.  There is a lot of dogma permeated throughout the conceal carry industry and people, specifically the type which prohibits and quells interest in exploring the best types of holsters, especially if they cost more than the average holster.  How much is your life worth?  We buy safe vehicles and practice safety all the time, but yet there are people who walk around with holsters not designed around safety, but are tantamount to a fuzzy slipper used as a holster.  It only keeps the pistol in one place, if that, and not well most of the time when reality comes knocking in the form of a physical confrontation.  This is extremely obvious through proper training and logical considerations of force contacts, they do not always start with pulling your pistol out, and they do not always end with pull your pistol out.  I have used the gamut of holsters throughout my time carrying a pistol concealed in civilian life, then non-uniformed capacity.  I have seen exactly why somethings work and exactly why somethings do not.  Sure a leather belt loop holster may work well, if you never have to pull your gun, or if you know ahead of time you will need to pull your gun (like as you walk up to a house or a car), but the fact is that the vast majority of people who carry concealed do not have that luxury.  Each one of us has to  challenge that which is accepted as dogma and move beyond it.  It is a heavy challenge many will never move past because they are stuck in a "well this has always worked..." type of mentality, it has always worked, until the one day it does not work and something bad happens.  By the way, that only has to happen once, and has happened to numerous people who were not prepared properly for that day, that occurrence.  We should learn from their experiences, their mistakes and make the right decisions on training and equipment alike, to disregard those lessons is to disregard the consequences of reality.

What about snap holsters and one or two step retention concealed holsters? - I wanted to cover this last as this is an important topic.  If you conceal carry a holster which has retention like the leather snap holster above, you are essentially riding a bike with the training wheels on.  The cover garment is the first step to retention, if you add another step to defeating retention you pointlessly adding that step with no real added benefit.  If no one knows you have a holstered pistol to begin with (and a good holster will make sure of that) then adding a snap to it is pointless.

Safariland and other companies make these types of holsters designed around IWB/AIWB which have an active retention device - the above photo requires your middle finger to activate on the draw.  Regardless of how intuitive it is, if the holster is already concealed then adding another step to retention is pointless and will ultimately hinder the user.  These types of active retention methods were designed for OWB/Overt LEO holster carry for duty work, and for some reason they made a transition into the concealed AIWB/IWB market, this is not only the wrong direction but illogical.

Last Words - Whatever holster you currently have and use, please make sure you take the time to train with it during a physical confrontation.  Get together with some friends, download (unload all live items), triple safety check, and spar a bit.  Roll in street cloths if you are into BJJ and go for that holstered pistol.  I have done these types of things numerous times and have seen what happens when holsters are not designed properly.  They come out of people's pants during the draw, that is pretty embarrassing, and they generally do not do anything which they were purported to do, especially if they are the target of some gun-industry celeb (also IG/FB celebs with tons of followers).  See it for yourself and do not take my word for it.  Learn through experience and do not accept dogma.