Sep 22, 2014

Holsters: Retention and Styles - Concealed or Not

My first shoulder holster was a Bianchi 'skeleton' model made of soft and durable leather with a 2-magazine pouch on the opposite side that counterbalanced the weight of the Taurus 9mm sidearm that I carried on the left. Bianchi, of course made all types of holsters, belts and accessory leather products – and still do. 
Bianchi has have a varied line of concealment holsters, police holsters and utility belts with attachments and the age-old cowboy collection that became a legend thanks to the founder, John Bianchi, 'Godfather of Gunleather' more than fifty years ago.
Another tried-and-proven old standby in leather firearm accoutrements is Safariland, who sells leather and the modern military and concealment holsters, with new innovations in competition pistol shooting holsters with their quick-draw designs.

Safariland has become noted for its 'GLS' – Grip Locking System made of man-made materials designed to be waterproof and durable. The newest innovation is the Model MIL-KIT (ALSE Military Kit), which provides several options and quick transition to any holster platform you decide is needed. It comes with a model 7384 tactical holster mounted on a single strap leg shroud with 568L Paddle attached. It also includes the 567BL Injection Molded Belt Loop, an adjustable nylon shoulder harness, and MOLLE Locking Fork for chest mounting – all equipped with the Quick Locking System (SLS) Receiver Plate
MSRP is $197.00
There are other leatherworks and leather craftsmen that sell quality holsters, belts, and rig accessories. The following video is an overview of western holsters by Rod Kibler, Saddlery
Whatever holster rig you choose, firearm retention is important – not cool if your firearm falls from your holster, concealed or otherwise. Leather scabbards retain handguns with old-fashioned friction, which occurs immediately after the break-in period of leather holsters. Some customer gimmicks like putting your holster in water or warm oven in order to adjust fit is not good for the leather.
Kydex or polymer holsters seem to be popular today for conceal-carry holster rigs because they are not affected by moisture; but do not keep the natural grip like leather holsters without the help of tension screws. That means that one is constantly checking the screws during the day to ensure they are not working loose.
Other holsters offer a mechanism retention system, such as a hood, back strap, or thumb-activated lever to ensure firearms are retained in their holster. It also prevents 'gun grab', which primarily concerns law enforcement officers who open carry.
Still other holster models come with two mechanisms for retainment, using the tension or friction element as well as an additional safeguard like the Blackhawk 'level 3' rig that features a push-button activated hood shroud that shields the handgun from a grab attempt from the front or back; once again used by law enforcement officers in their duty rigs.
As you can see, choosing your holster rigs is as important as the firearm itself – so shop around and as the old knight said to Indiana Jones, “Choose Wisely”. It is an investment that will last for years and most likely become a heirloom.
Suggested Reading:
[Corey Graff is the online editor for, with a personal interest in firearms that includes handguns for hunting and self-defense, as well as guns from the World War II era]. 

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