From time to time, Gun Tests writers require armed security from natural agents, such as snakes awoken by spring rains, or feral hogs and coyotes, which are a year-round problem that sometimes inhabit the same lands as both the private and public shooting ranges where we conduct our tests. The question becomes how best to carry a big-bore revolver filled with snake shot, or at least a backup speed loader of same. The current crop of holsters that strap on and ride across the chest are fine for hunting, but what if a shooter needs to test-fire from a cramped bench or from prone position? In such instances, the better method of carry might be an alternate position such as cross draw. The holster should also be resistant, if not impervious, to weather and provide a sure locking device that is not complicated. We found these attributes in the $49 Switchback Strongside/Crossdraw Belt Holster by Galco.
The Switchback holster consists of a body of closed-cell foam covered with ballistic nylon. The foam core allows the holster to take on shapes without being permanently impressed. The nylon shell seals the core from moisture. The interior of the holster was lined with 420-denier pack cloth to protect the gun from the type of abrasion that results in holster wear on the gun. Primary retention and to some degree seating depth is adjustable via a detent screw located to pinch the trigger guard. There was also a leather cross strap with a slot designed to capture the hammer spur of guns so equipped. The strap was affixed with heavy snaps at each end so it could be reversed along with one’s choice of right-handed, left-handed, or crossdraw carry. The end of the strap to be released was elongated to create a release tab. Slots designed for 1.5-inch-wide belts were supplied by a leather panel that surrounded the front of the holster as well as both sides. The purpose of this design, described by Galco as an “exoskeleton,” was to add strength and lend continuity to the appearance of the holster. Specific fits for the Switchback holster are available for a long list of handguns, including semi-automatic pistols as well as revolvers. Just about the only sidearm ineligible for Switchback carry are those featuring a grip safety.
We began wearing the Switchback in January 2020 filled with a variety of revolvers, including a 3-inch-barreled Smith & Wesson K-frame and 7-shot S&W L-frames with 2.5-inch, 3-inch, and 4-inch-long full-lug barrels. Our 44 Magnum of choice was the five-shot ported Taurus Tracker. All five guns fit equally well with the hammer spur dead center in the cross strap. The foam core seemed to hug the gun without favoring one barrel length or barrel contour over another, with little or no tweaking necessary to the detent screw. Usually we rely on a detent screw to take up slack when a used holster stretches out, but after two months, any adjustment has been a result of personal taste rather than need. The holster was also worn for concealed carry, as well as on range and for hiking trips. A first impression of the surface-mounted belt loops was that the gun would hang awkwardly off the body, relegating the Switchback to outback wear only. But the gun and holster tucked in to the body surprisingly well.
Our Team Said: The first thing we think of when we see a nylon holster is poor retention. But the Switchback didn’t really need help from the cross strap for the everyday carry. We credit the foam core and tight fit. Then again, when it comes to hiking or bouncing around on our ATV, the strap made retention worry free. The belt-loop grid was stylish enough to disappear on the unused side, and we were surprised to see how well the Switchback worked for concealed carry. At $49 MSRP, the Switchback goes well beyond what we’d ask for in a budget utility holster.
GUN TESTS GRADE: A-