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2020 Holster Picks for Carry

Wright Leather Works Regulator Cross Draw Holster, $105 We ordered a Regulator for a 3-inch-barrel revolver. After inspecting the fit and finish and seeing how...

Switchback Ambi Holster

From time to time, Gun Tests writers require armed security from natural agents, such as snakes awoken by spring rains, or feral hogs and...

Hands-On: Galco’s FasTrax PAC Reinvents the Fanny Pack

Concealed carry via a waistpack or “fanny pack” could be defined as a method of transporting a handgun in a compartment suspended from a...

Kydex and Leather Holsters

Recently, a reader suggested a realistic test of holsters. A holster test that met Gun Tests criteria would have to be extensive. While we...

Shoulder Holsters Compared

A few months ago, a reader remarked favorably on our ongoing holster tests. The reader said that his orthopedic doctor opined that those carrying...

Driving Holsters Compared

We look for the best holsters for driving, sitting for long periods, and by extension, riding a horse or motorcycle. We found a number of good choices, though some are pricey.

A Look at Left-Hand Holsters: Picks for Southpaw Shooters

We test units from Hunter Co., Quest, Uncle Mike's, Swap Rig Holsters, Jason Winnie, Barber Leather Works, Blackhawk, 1791 Gun Leather, and Jeffrey Custom Leather.

Holster Help for the EZ380

Now once again, this holster is NOT actually designed for the EZ380, but it works great, and is real comfortable to wear. No issues with the holster catching on the mag release. Now, since I really only have one pair of jeans for IWB carry, I still wanted an OWB holster. For this I tried a different local gunshop, closer to home, and they let me try a few "universal" holsters off the shelf. The one they suggested fit the gun okay, but like you, when I pulled the EZ out of the holster, just with my hands, the magazine came flying out! So back on the shelf that model went.

We Test Inside-The-Waistband Holsters for $50 and More

Shooters know that quality leather gear is increasingly expensive. Like a good shoemaker, workmen capable of making quality holsters are few and far between. For many of us, this means buying off-the-shelf holsters. In this installment, we test more than a dozen holsters from makers large and small. While we tried to keep the price around $100 or less, in several cases we went over. This was a result of the raters adding options such as special reinforcements and sweat guards.

Testing Plastic and Kydex Holsters: The CYA Is a Bargain

The holster must have a balance of speed, security, and access. It cannot be buried under the clothing to the extent that it is difficult to access. A very fast draw isn't necessarily the main ingredient of a successful concealment rig. Good concealment that allows surprise is. Perhaps the adversary doesn't know you are armed, and he should not. There should be no indicators that show you are armed.

Let's look at reality. There is no draw faster than a standard belt holster carried on the point of the hip. This is also a holster that isn't compatible with concealed carry. The holster must be worn behind the hip under a covering garment at the least, and for better concealment, we move the holster inside the pants, or inside the waistband fashion as we call it. You must practice the draw to clear clothing, and is a real danger when clothing becomes tangled. The appendix carry requires less movement. Also, during the course of the day, you sometimes encounter people who like to bump into you or perhaps give a friendly pat. Some know you are armed; most should not. If they pat the groin area, they probably know you pretty well.

Revolver Holsters: Balancing Comfort, Speed, and Retention

Revolvers remain an important part of the personal defense scene. In some shops, the majority of handguns sold for personal defense are revolvers, usually small-frame 38s and compact 357 Magnum revolvers. The 357 Magnum remains a popular handgun among a large and loyal group, such as for outdoors carry and animal defense. Still other shooters deploy big-bore revolvers in 44 Special and 45 Colt chamberings. In all these cases, the shooter has to have a good holster to carry these handguns.

The design of a holster is important, and there are features specific to the revolver. A high ride keeps the revolver cylinder off the belt line. The revolver handle must be tilted into the draw, so the cant of the holster is important. The holster must retain a balance of speed and retention. The revolver cylinder presents a problem with concealment. The cylinder bulge inhibits the design of an inside-the-waistband holster, as an example. If the cylinder bulge rides below the belt line too much, the draw is affected. One of our senior raters noted that in the early days of police transition to the self-loader handgun, many of the holsters offered were simply revolver holsters without the cylinder bulge. The difference in balance and center of gravity wasn't understood or tended to.

In this evaluation, we considered that the modern revolver holster should be an individual design. Our focus is on concealed carry, with consideration given how revolvers might be used in the field. We tested a number of holsters from major makers and found them satisfactory to excellent in fit and function.

The fit of the holster should be sufficient that the revolver may be carried during normal day-to-day movement, even a brisk walk or run, with no danger of losing the handgun from the holster. The holster should allow a good sharp draw. After the revolver is drawn, the holster must not collapse, and the user should be able to re-holster the handgun without difficulty. Here's what we found.

Good Buys, or Goodbyes? We Test Experienced Wheelguns

Before law enforcement changed over to semi-automatic pistols, most officers carried a 357 Magnum revolver. Though some write off revolvers as the firearms equivalent of rotary phones, many of our staff consider the revolver to be a simple-to-operate self-defense firearm with built-in safeties and no magazine to lose. We also like the 357 Magnum cartridge. In addition to self-defense use, some team members have used the round to hunt medium-size game, so power isn't an issue.

Because a good revolver stands the test of time and usage well, but also depreciates enough to become affordable for more folks, we assembled three used revolvers from what was once the big three of U.S. revolver manufacturers—Colt, Smith & Wesson and Ruger. In general, we would rate the condition of these revolvers from 80 to 90 percent by NRA standards—we could tell they have been used, but we could not see where they had been abused. All samples were chambered in 357 Magnum, and all were designed for self-defense with barrel lengths that ranged from 2.15 inches to 4 inches and double-action/single-action trigger modes. Safeties are built into these three revolvers. The S&W uses a hammer stop, while the Ruger and Colt use hammer transfer bars.

From that starting point, this pack then diverged, with each offering characteristics that ranged from thumbs-down to thumbs-up for our shooters. Some incorporated an excellent grip that helped tame the felt recoil of the 357 Magnum; some were slim and more easily carried concealed, and some were equipped with large, easy-to-align sights.

With any used revolvers, we have a process of testing the chamber-barrel alignment with a range rod, and we found all were aligned. We also check the timing to see how the cylinder rotates in DA mode and SA mode to ensure the chamber is aligned with the bore of the barrel. They were. We also look at the gap between the front of the cylinder and the forcing cone or rear of the barrel. We use a feeler gauge and expect to have .006 clearance. Any less and there is a chance the cylinder may bind after shooting as fouling builds up. Any more and the user might experience splatter from burning gases escaping from the gap. We also look for forward and rearward play in the cylinder when locked in the frame. These revolvers were tight and stood as good examples of the revolver manufacturers' art and science.

We tested accuracy at 25 yards, which pushed the envelope of these revolvers' capabilities, depending on the user. We also found these revolvers had good accuracy. In close-range testing, some of these revolvers could get lead downrange fast and in good groups. Test ammunition consisted of Winchester PDX1 Defender 357 Magnum with a 125-grain bonded jacket hollowpoint, Aguila 357 Magnum with a 158-grain semi-jacketed hollowpoint, and SIG Sauer 38 Special +P, loaded with a 125-grain jacketed hollowpoint.

We had no issues with any of the revolvers. They all performed in DA and SA mode and loaded and ejected empties if we did our part and used gravity to our advantage. We did find that the S&W had the advantage as a concealed-carry revolver, but the Ruger and Colt were quite capable. Here's what we found out about these handguns after the brass cooled.

An Attack On The Civilian Ammunition Supply

If you live in one of the below mentioned states, please understand that the legal system in your area is attempting to restrict gun...