Carrying Cases

Inside-The-Waistband Holsters: Kydex, Leather, & Hybrid Styles

A reader recently asked if we could do a test of IWB holsters and come up with the best balance of speed, retention, and access between Kydex, leather, and hybrid types - a tall order. But the South Carolina test team was eager to put these holsters to the test because most of us carry a concealed handgun on a daily basis and have a personal stake in the program. The holsters were worn for a minimum of a week and tested by drawing for at least fifty repetitions. We looked at a number of considerations to come up with what we liked the best and what we believe will work the best for most people. But as we found out, everyone is different.Before you choose a holster, knowing how you will wear it is important. By placing a triple-checked unloaded handgun in your waistband (or better yet, a Rings or ASP fake gun), practicing the draw from standing, seated, and driving positions, you will obtain a better idea of the right holster position for your needs. As an example, some users do not have enough rotation in their shoulder for the FBI tilt in the small of the back, and others are too thin for near-the-hip carry. Drop is related to how the holster rides in relation to the belt, above or below the belt. Most makers offer a choice in how deep in the pants the holster rides.For our consideration, we deemed access and retention to be the most important points. The shooter must be able to consistently reach the handgun and draw it correctly and quickly. This must be true for a spot on the belt just behind the hip and a sharp draw from the kidney position as well. Of course, the holster must retain the handgun, and the handgun must be in the same position every time the user draws the gun. You should be able to jump up and land hard on your feet without dislodging the handgun. Holstering the handgun with one hand after drawing is also important and was given considerable weight during the test program. Comfort is subjective, but quality isnt subjective when something comes apart, so quality and durability are serious concerns. Is the holster well made? Does it fit the individual handgun correctly? Will the holster last through years of daily carry and practice sessions?The quality of mounting hardware is also important. With holsters offered with loops or snaps for both OWB and IWB carry, the holsters have to be considered as a system. The mounting hardware cannot break easily and it must fit correctly.Also, it is no secret that Kydex is harder on a handguns finish than waxed leather. Bottom line, if you use your handgun and practice often, there will be finish degradation. The carry handgun isnt a safe queen, so degrading the finish cannot be an overwhelming consideration. Just the same, since Kydex retains the handgun by friction on certain points, finish wear is evident. Leather holsters also tend to wear the muzzle, so this wasnt a deal breaker.

Options for Concealed Carry: Two Nines Vs. a Forty Wheelgun

When it comes to concealing a handgun, there is only so much space available on the hip, inside a handbag, or somewhere else on the body or in clothing. That's why there are snubnosed revolvers and subcompact pistols. Choosing a handgun, then, becomes a balance of firepower versus weight and overall structural dimensions. In this test, we will limit the size of our test guns to three guns that will fit into a box approximately 5-by-7 inches in size — which represents a handgun that can be carried easily in just about any manner of traditional concealment.

However, we are purposefully mixing apples and oranges, that is, pistols and revolvers, because either design can do the job of self-protection at close range. Our three test guns were the $747 9mm Kimber Solo Carry, the $299 9mm SCCY Industries CPX-2, and the $523 Taurus 40 S&W M405 stainless-steel revolver. Each gun offered at least one advantage not shared by the other two. The Kimber Solo was the most concealable. The SCCY pistol offered the highest capacity, and the Taurus revolver fired the biggest bullet.

The cartridge versus cartridge debate rages on, largely based on the stopping power of one single shot. But let us offer an alternative viewpoint suggested by TacPro Shooting Center's Bill Davison. Davison, a former Royal Marine and one of the most complete training consultants in the United States, offers that when rating the firepower of a handgun, the amount of energy it can deliver should be the sum of its entire capacity rather than the energy of one lone shot. For example, a 9+1 capacity pistol, wherein each bullet registers about 330 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle, should ultimately be considered more powerful than a six-shot pistol that fires ammunition capable of delivering 500 foot-pounds with each round of fire. Food for thought.

For our tests, we began by shooting five-shot groups (the capacity of the Taurus) from the 15-yard bench. Then, we applied what we think was a more realistic test. Each gun was fired from a distance of 5 yards at a humanoid paper target. Start position was with the gun lowered to rest on a oil-barrel top about waist high. We used a CED8000 shot-activated timer to provide a start signal and record elapsed time of each shot. We took note of the first shot to see how fast we could get the gun into action and the last shot to see how long it took to deliver two shots to center mass and one shot to the head area. Altogether we recorded five separate strings of fire. We scored the hits A, B, C, or D, looking for ten hits to the preferred 5.9-inch by 11.2-inch A-zone at center mass and five hits to the A-zone in the head, which measured 4 inches long by 2 inches high. The catch was that the test was performed strong hand only. (By a right-handed shooter holding the gun with only his right hand). We weren't trying to be cowboys or go Hollywood. It's just that in close-range fighting where guns such as these would most likely be used, applying a support hand may not be possible. On the semiautos, there wasn't much room for a support hand in the first place.

For testing the Taurus revolver, we chose Winchester 165-grain FMJ ammunition sold in a value pack, Federal Premium 135-grain Hydra Shok JHP ammunition, and Hornady Custom 180-grain XTP jacketed hollowpoint rounds. The 165-grain rounds were also used in our action shooting test. For testing the semi-automatics, we ended up using four test rounds. After testing with 115-grain FMJ, 115-grain JHP EXP hollowpoints, and 124-grain JHP rounds from Black Hills Ammunition, we learned that Kimber had declared that the Solo should only be used with 124-grain and 147-grain bullets. So, we went back to the test range with a supply of Federal 147-grain Federal Hydra Shok ammunition and resumed our bench session. Naturally, we retested the SCCY pistol with the 147-grain ammunition as well. All test rounds were standard pressure, including the Black Hills EXP ammunition, which was designed for maximum performance in firearms not recommended for +P ammunition. Here is what we learned.

Sabatti 450/400: Affordable Double Rifle, Perfect Caliber

A double rifle for $5500? It can't be very good, we thought, when our neighbor phoned us to tell us he had just bought an Italian Sabatti Model 92 Deluxe rifle, new from Cabela's for that price, in caliber 450/400.

The cartridge is an excellent one for double rifles. It's known as the 450/400 3-inch or the 400 Jeffery. There is also a 3.25-inch version that was originally a blackpowder cartridge, but the 3-inch version was never factory loaded with black powder. It is one of the lower-pressure British cartridges, along with the 470 and 360 No. 2, and thus is an excellent choice for a double rifle, especially if it's to be used in extreme heat. The cartridge was one of the more popular all-around cartridges for hunting use when it was introduced in 1902. Its popularity suffered when the 375 H&H Magnum came along a few years later, but the 400 Jeff throws a heavier bullet, 400 grains versus 300, and some hunters prefer that.

We went to look at our neighbor's rifle, and then arranged to shoot it. What follows are our impressions and observations of what we now consider to be a bargain.

IWB Holsters: Kramer Leather Tans The Hide Of Competitors

It seems every other week some manufacturer introduces a new pistol offering the latest in technology and sexy new styling, all in an easily-concealable package. Gun enthusiasts like us are drawn to these guns, but reality usually smacks us in the face as we drive home with our newest addition to our firearm family. "How am I gonna carry this thing?" we ask. Unfortunately, our lack of planning usually results in a pile of holsters in a corner, as we attempt to find one that fits correctly.This month well take a look at four inside-the-waistband holsters that offer a variety of wearing options. Two of the holsters, the Kramer #3 Inside The Waistband Horsehide ($132) and the TT GunLeather Slim IWB Holster ($85) are molded from leather to fit a specific firearm. The Crossbreed SuperTuck Deluxe ($65) uses a unique combination of dye-cut leather and molded Kydex, and the Smart Carry Standard Model ($48) has a patented design incorporating denim and a waterproof membrane sewn together in an apron-type arrangement.

Ankle-Holster Carry Choices: We Think Rugers LCR is A-OK

If youve never carried a handgun in an ankle holster, consider this. If such carry is rare or unpopular, then it will likely prove unexpected as well, increasing the element of surprise- which is always a good thing when it comes to self defense. In this test we will look at three small revolvers that are suitable for ankle carry as well as other methods of deeper concealment. The revolver is a time-proven device, but making them small and light can present new challenges.The three revolvers are Smith & Wessons $600 Model 442 No. 162810, the $430 Charter Arms On Duty No 53810, and Rugers new $525 LCR, No. 5401. Each gun was chambered for 38 Special only, and thanks to the use of lightweight materials offered an unloaded weight of less than 1 pound. Maximum capacity was 5 rounds.To test our revolvers we fired from support at the nominal distance of 10 yards. One of the challenges of firing a short-barreled revolver from a rest is that once youve wrapped the snub-nosed revolver in your hands, there is not much gun left exposed for support. In addition, you have to be careful not to block off the cylinder gap. This is the area between the forward edge of the chamber and the entrance to the barrel, referred to as the forcing cone. As the bullet "crosses the break," gases are emitted that often carry unburned powder. In addition, if cylinder to bore alignment is not correct, debris can be sheared from the bullet as it enters the forcing cone. To prevent being splashed by debris we chose to use a flat, pillow-style bag, (sold as the Elbow Bag) from battenfeldtechnologies.com. These bags were tightly filled but lightweight, so shipping on top of the $20 price was nominal. Best of all, they were covered with an abrasion-resistant material.Our tests were performed outdoors at American Shooting Centers (amshootcenters.com) where the benches offered a vertical stop against which we could brace our support. Once seated, we rested our hands plus a radius of the trigger guard atop the bags. The Charter revolver was the only gun that could also be fired single action, so we tried that too. But the accuracy chart reflects the measurement of five-shot groups fired double-action only.Although ammunition was scarce, we were able to find what we needed at ASCs Pro Shop, (281-556-8086). For test ammunition we fired inexpensive 158-grain lead roundnosed ammunition from MagTech, remanufactured 125-grain jacketed hollowpoints from Black Hills Ammunition, and the latest high-velocity law-enforcement rounds from Speer. They were the +P 125-grain Gold Dot LE hollowpoints sold in 50-round boxes. Lets find out how they performed.

Is Pocket Carry Safe? Getting A Hold on Pocket Holsters

Carrying a pistol in a pocket requires that the gun be disguised, secure, and protected. Can two holsters achieve this hat trick?

He Said The Quiet Part Out Loud

During a July 21 town hall event on CNN, President Joe Biden was addressed by a member of the audience who posed a set-up...