A few months ago a reader asked for a match up on holsters suitable for use while driving. A standard inside-the-waistband (IWB) model, worn over the right pocket, is not only impossible to draw from when driving, it can be uncomfortable. A strong-side holster is much the same. Thus, the first choice for driving use seems to be a crossdraw model. Offering a holster that rides on the front of the body rather than behind the hip, the crossdraw is suitable for use when seated. The crossdraw has advantages of access and comfort when driving. You are not sitting on the holster, and it doesn’t dig into the ribs.
We found a number of suitable scabbards that are a good cross section of what is available. They were tested by the raters during long drives, road trips, and daily commutes. We also drew from the holsters a minimum of 100 draws during the test. We rated them on the balance of speed and retention as well as access. The price is always important, of course. We found that the most expensive holsters were very pleasing to the eye and worked well, but there were affordable designs as well.
Wright Leather Works Regulator Cross Draw Holster, $105
Available from WrightLeatherWorks.com, we ordered a Regulator for a 3-inch-barrel revolver. After inspecting the fit and finish and seeing how the holster rides on the belt, our most experienced rater gave the Regulator high marks. He has written a book devoted solely to holsters. He felt the Regulator was a crossdraw version of the Avenger in some ways. The long spine of the Regulator features a belt loop that stabilizes the holster. The second belt loop, a tunnel loop design, cinches the holster close to the body. A reinforced welt keeps the holster from collapsing after the handgun is drawn. We feel that this is as good as it gets in a crossdraw holster. If you’re willing to spend the money, the Wright Regulator gets good marks on every point.
GUN TESTS GRADE: A
Bullard Leather Holsters Crossdraw for 1911 Series, $90
We ordered this holster for a Commander 1911 45 ACP from BullardLeather.com. The steel-frame handgun used in the evaluation isn’t the lightest gun. The Bullard holster is well molded and provided a good, snug fit. The fairly thick leather supports the weight of the handgun on the belt well. The double stitching of the body and belt loop are well done. The single rear loop is single stitched and compact. The holster features a prominent body shroud. We like this feature. The Bullard Crossdraw offers good fit and an excellent draw.
GUN TESTS GRADE: A
Jeffrey Custom Leather BGT Body Guard Tension Adjust, $149
This is the base price for the BGT holster at JeffreyCustomLeather.com. We added lining for $35, bringing the as-tested price to $145. This holster is molded for the Colt Government Model. The maker recommends another holster, the BTP, for handguns that are handle heavy. We found the Body Guard with Tension Adjust to be well made and well suited to crossdraw/driving use. The double stitching, saddle blocking, and molding are very well done. The body of the holster rides low, due to the belt loop rising from the holster body. This is a good point of the design. The rear tunnel loop cinches the holster in tight against the body. The holster features a strong holstering welt. The Body Guard features a strong reinforced sweat guard. It is hard waxed to maintain its shape. The tensioning device allows a good range of adjustment for those who require an easier draw to those who favor a sharp tug. There is also a well-designed sight track that would be a great advantage for those with a high-post sight. Draws were fast once we executed a few dozen presentations.
GUN TESTS GRADE: A
Galco Gun Leather Underwraps Belly Band, $62
Log on to GalcoGunLeather.com to see this maker’s full line of products. The Underwraps Belly Band is listed under speciality holsters.
For those deploying smaller handguns, such as the popular slimline 9mms and the snubnose 38 Special revolver, the Underwraps is a viable in-car option. The holster features an elasticized nylon body with two leather pockets and two accessory pockets. The holster is available in small to XX-Large sizes. The draw may be adjusted for small-of-the-back draw and crossdraw, or even carrying two handguns. It is useful for appendix carry as well.
One of our Gun Tests raters wore the Underwraps holster for a week straight during a road trip and vacation. He carried the Ruger LC9s in one pocket and cash in the accessory pocket, along with a spare magazine. He gave the set up high marks for practical use. We did rate the rig down a full grade because it collapses after the draw and does not allow an easy re-holster. On the plus side, unlike some cheaper bellybands, this one does not chafe the skin or cause undue perspiration.
GUN TESTS GRADE: B
Galco Gun Leather Phoenix Strong-Side/Crossdraw Belt Holster, $159
We got this holster from TombstoneTactical.com, ordering it for a 4-inch-barrel Colt Python. For many reasons, the crossdraw is well suited for outdoors use, and this is the original design intent of the Phoenix. For a heavy revolver or 1911 handgun, the Phoenix is a robust holster that offers a superior design for load bearing. The Phoenix features steer-hide construction, silicon suede lining, a reinforced thumb break, and excellent stitching. There is a sewn-in reinforced sight track. Fitting and molding are excellent. The Phoenix is useful for crossdraw and strong-side carry. The draw angle is good for crossdraw, with some compromise in the near neutral angle to allow the holster to serve as a strong-side holster as well. The stitching and lining make this holster and the Jeffrey Custom Leather holster possibly the two most desirable setups if you are willing to foot the bill. We really like the sight rail. The draw isn’t the fastest, but this is a product of drawing a 4-inch-barrel revolver from crossdraw at a neutral angle. The rater uses his Python (it isn’t a safe queen), so the silicon lining helped protect the finish, and when executing a fast draw, one of the raters noted that silicon is the equivalent of a gunfighter’s hog-greased holster. The draw is very slick, if not fast. We rated the Phoenix down a half grade on draw speed, but some raters felt the versatility of the holster as strong-side unit was a valid trade off for a slightly slower presentation.
GUN TESTS GRADE: A-
Galco Gun Leather Hornet Strong-Side/Crossdraw Belt Holster, $79
We ordered this holster from Brownells.com. The Hornet was designed for small-frame firearms. It is an affordable holster, but the handwork and molding are both well done. There was no break-in period. While single stitched, this is more than adequate for a lighter handgun. The draw angle is good for concealed carry, and the holster rides at a good angle for the draw. This is a fairly simple holster, but the molding and draw angle are ideal. There isn’t a sewn-in sight track, but the holster body is slightly elongated, serving the same purpose with economy. This is a neat and compact holster.
GUN TESTS GRADE: A
Tauris Holsters Standard Hip Holster, $100
This holster is available at TaurisHolsters.com. We elected to test at least one inside-the-waistband holster and found those designed to be worn as crossdraw set-ups are few and far between. We chose the Tauris Standard Hip Holster for the Colt Government Model 1911. We also ordered the special holster mouth trim, a $10 option well worth this modest price. The leather molding is excellent. The fit and finish are good. We particularly liked the strong, reinforced spine, keeping the pistol aligned properly for a rapid presentation from concealed carry. The sight track is molded in, and the holster is hard waxed. The sweat guard, we feel, is essential for use with an IWB holster that is worn crossdraw. This extension of the holster body protects both the handgun from perspiration and the wearer’s body from the sharp edges of the handgun. What makes the holster suitable for use with crossdraw is the adjustable belt loop. We are not certain this was part of the design, but it works well in this role. The loop is unsnapped and a set screw loosened. The user experiments with the angle of the draw until an ideal balance is found. This is an outstanding feature that we feel offers good versatility. While Tauris holsters also offers IWB holsters with dual belt loops that may spread the weight of the handgun about and offer a lower profile for carry in the standard IWB position, this holster’s single belt loop is ideal for crossdraw use. We were able to set the tension on the belt loop so that a brush of the hand moves the holster in the proper direction for seated carry and moved it back for standing carry.
GUN TESTS GRADE: A
Galco Gun Leather Switchback, $46
We ordered the Switchback for a K-frame Smith & Wesson revolver with 4-inch barrel. The Switchback is a hybrid of leather and fabric. The exoskeleton is of steer hide, while the main body is fabric. The lining is padded and the bottom is closed. There is no tension adjustment. The screws that mate the steer hide to the fabric body do nothing else. The retention strap isn’t a thumb break. The proper action is to run the trigger finger or third finger under the strap and pull it up as the revolver is drawn. There is a holster lip that protects the draw, to an extent. How does the Switchback compare to the Phoenix? The Switchback’s layered ballistic nylon cell with foam is certainly durable, and it was comfortable to wear. Because it can be worn as a right- or left-hand holster or as a crossdraw, we found the Switchback is indeed versatile. We found the draw angle to be good for crossdraw. Its bulk is less than the Phoenix’s. The Switchback doesn’t offer the same retention as the Phoenix, but it is good enough. The draw can be sharp for those who practice.
We found that by using the third finger to unsnap the retention strap, there was little speed penalty in drawing the Switchback. While we prefer the Phoenix and some of the other more expensive holsters, the Switchback is a useful holster. We rated it down a half grade based on the security strap versus a thumb break, while admitting a thumb break on a dual-purpose left- and right-hand holster would be difficult to design.
GUN TESTS GRADE: A- (BEST BUY)
Written and photographed by Gun Tests staff.