Category name:Holsters

Some new stuff coming soon

I have been getting some inquiries if I am still alive.
I am!!

I have some new things coming up shortly. I am ordering the last few parts to complete my BCM build this week, and have a couple new holsters to review:
BladeTech Eclipse for a S&W 1066 and Scorpius Tactical Defender for a Browning HiPower (I know – some different choices). The Ozarks IWB holster (Glock). I have to order it still, but also the internet famous Raven Concealment Systems (RCS) for a more common Glock.

Also, making plans for upcoming ShowSHOW 2015! It just takes $ :)

 

High Noon Undertaker Shoulder Holster Review

I have been wanting to get a new shoulder rig for driving. I currently have a couple, but they are for full-size all-steel pistols and I think that something a little more weight would be more comfortable. I have also been wanting to get another holster for my FNX. I only have the stock (BladeTech) OWB currently.

So, when I saw a close out sale from High Noon with an Undertaker for $70 I jumped at it. Actually, they had Glock 19/23 Under Armor too but I didn’t call fast enough the next day. I would have bought that too :) The difference between the two holsters is all leather with hard molded holster vs a synthetic leather like material which is unmolded. I have an Under Armor holster for my S&W ™* 1066. It is very leather-like and nice.

*I am not affiliated with the company known as “Smith & Wesson” in any way. It’s trademarks are held by whoever they are held by.

Anyway, the Underarmor was a left hand, but they were able to flip the holster portion inside out to make it a right hand. The only difference is that traditionally the smooth side of the leather faces out, while the rough is on inside. In this case it is flipped. This is strictly cosmetic and makes no difference functionally.

I have to say that I am VERY impressed! The holster is very simple in design and quite frankly very well put together. I have only tried a handful of shoulder rigs, with the Galco Miami Classic II being my favorite – at least up until now. The High Noon Under Taker is by far the most comfortable I have worn yet.

I like to wear my holster and mag carrier to ride fairly high up. Galco seems to think that it should ride much lower than I would like and I run out of adjustment. Maybe I am shorter than the average shoulder rig wearer (I am 5’7″).

Some observations follow:

High Noon leather quality is very nice, in fact nicer than some other holsters I own. I don’t know if it makes any difference but Galco feels like it is sealed or laminated. The High Noon does not and that makes it feel less stiff. Maybe that is why it is more comfortable?

-The High Noon comes with very simple hardware–I like that. The only bulk is from the leather itself.

-The High Noon comes with keepers. VERY VERY nice touch! Since I like the holster/mag carrier to ride up high, there is a lot of extra material.

-The High Noon comes with a lot of notches for adjustment. One pair almost goes up to the top. I found putting that side in the back worked best for me.

-The High Noon’s straps are all the same size. Depending on the Galco rig you get this may or may not be true (MC’s are the same while the SSII has larger front straps).

-The High Noon mag carrier is drop down. This is similar to the Miami Classic. The Maimi Classic II holds the mags horizontally. I really like (and have gotten use to) this. The horizontal mags are very fast to access. However, the drop down are very secure with the flap. Dual snaps also allow multiple magazine sizes – I tried Glock 23 mags without any problem. Note: Both the MC and MCII can also accomodate mutiple sizes.

Driving with the High Noon was great. Success!
And now some pics. I apologize for the pic quality, my light box accidentally got destroyed in my garage and I have to make a new one. Camera is is my Nokia Lumia cell phone — I am lazy tonight.

Click on any pic to view the full-size.

Cocked & locked! High Noon gears their holster for hammer down but it works fine.
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Simple hardware works great. They do pivot.
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Straps pivot on the center diamond. Note the keepers – there are four, although only two are visible in the pic.
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Mag crrier
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Mag carrier
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“Selfie” (haha) just to show how I like to position the holster and mag carrier
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BladeTech Revolution Paddle with S&W M&P 9c – perfect for car travel

Well, I got my High Noon holster for my S&W 1066 to attach to my Galco Miami Classic II shoulder holster. It is absolutely perfect and I even wore it a couple of days to break it in.

But, I got to thinking about it…1066s are a bit hard to find, not to mention a bit heavy. Adjusting the holster for driving in a car I found that even a full size 5″ (like the 1006 or a 1911) pistol is quite comfortable. I think that a pistol like the Sig P220 (alloy frame) would have been ideal for a driving shoulder rig.

I also reconsidered my previous selection of only a single stack. The pistol gets triple-locked into a hard case locked in the trunk for the duration of CA. If it was to come out of the case it would be in an emergency. If a life/death situation were to occur I would have much bigger concerns than being in possession of the “nuisance items” (as defined by CA Penal Code) high-cap mags. In fact, I am pretty sure the pistol would be confiscated regardless.

So after all that I decided to go the complete opposite route – something very small, easily worn, and that could be replaced by my local gun shop. I picked my S&W M&P 9mm compact.

I chose my BladeTech Revolution with the paddle attachment. I used 0 degree cant with the thought that I could wear it as a cross-draw to avoid seat belt entanglement. As it happens I wore it strong side. Its short length was quite comfortable even sitting 10-14 hours in a car. The paddle attachment was perfect for quick removal when stopping at the OR/CA border to lock the pistol up.

Sub-compact pistol + paddle holster for me is a perfect combo with a comfortable shoulder holster with a lightweight framed pistol as a good alternative.

5 stitch belt vs thick leather belt vs heavy pistol, part II

Previously, I had blogged that I didn’t think that my Wilderness 5-stitch belt was as good balancing the weight of a heavy pistol as a heavy-duty leather belt. I few people questioned that statement pointing out that they regularly carry a 1911 with one. I don’t doubt that, in fact I have also, so I decided to do a followup test.

The setup:
S&W 1066 10mm pistol (39.5oz unloaded)
Crossbreed IWB holster (actually for an M&P)
With and without a loaded spare mag in a Galco OWB mag pouch
Jeans
Wilderness 5-stitch vs Galco SB2 belt (both 1.5″ width)

The scenarios:
Walking the dog along trails, not heavy trekking but up and down hills quite a bit
Driving

I started with Wilderness because that is what I was wearing. The weight of the pistol quickly was noticeable. Within 10 mins my back began to hurt. I took the spare mag off and moved it to my jacket. It was marginally better. Not something I want to try again purposefully.

The next day I switched to the Galco belt and did the same trek. Much more comfortable. I was able to do the entire trek (about an hour) before feeling back pain. I did not have to remove the spare mag. However, again not my favorite carry method – far from comfortable.

Now the driving test was pretty much a wash. They both were comfortable (as much as driving with an IWB holster can be) up until they weren’t. I didn’t particularly like either after about 1/2 hour. I can’t imagine having to draw IWB while seated in a car but it was a convenient comfort test.

I have not yet gotten a reinforced Wilderness Belt but I suspect that would fare much better. Again the 1066 is a pretty heavy pistol so your mileage may vary, but I think an all steel pistol is better served comfort-wise with a good thick leather belt. However, I don’t hesitate carrying a Glock or M&P on the Wilderness.

Anyway, I stand by my initial evaluation.

Rethinking the single stack for travelling to mag restricted states

Well, it is time again to travel to California and I will be darned that I will not travel legally armed through my first two states because I cannot in the third (California).

Traditionally, what I have done is–before the border I disarm–unload, lock my firearm up in a lock box separately from the ammo which is then locked in the trunk.

There is much debate on possession of “high capacity” (meaning >10) magazines vs import into CA (the latter of which is illegal). This is now kind of moot, however–researching CA penal code shows that they have recently revised (or reorganized) the PC so that “high capacity” magazines are now considered a “public nuisance” and as such are subject to confiscation!

The easiest option it to buy ban compliant (10 round) magazines. Well, that quite frankly just seems wrong. In fact, it made me order a couple extra “high capacity” (in CA) mags. Not for CA that is.

So, it made me think…I have a few single stacks that fit the bill! I may get some flack but I think that a 5″ 1911 is uncomfortable for driving long periods of time, however a Commander length is perfect.

I am actually thinking of traveling with my S&W 1066. Why? Mainly because it is awesome and for some reason I don’t have a holster for it (I do for my 1006). In case you didn’t know I am a big 10mm fan. I happen to have an unused Galco Miami Classic II holster which I just ordered a High Noon Holster body for. I will let you know how it works out (driving that is).

My backup choice if that doesn’t work is a Glock 27 in a paddle holster. The sub-compacts just seem strange in a should rig. Close second was my P220, but I haven’t had any range time with it in years. But, it would be nice in a should rig due to its lighter weight.

My Blade-Tech factory tour

About a week ago I dropped by Blade-Tech to pick up  holster. Their customer service is stellar and they had the holster done (at no charge) in a day, even cutting it to custom length for me. Anyway, you can read the details here: http://firearms.fortreg.com/?p=2149. But, this is about the tour…

Blade-Tech kindly offered to give me a factory tour which I gladly took them up on. For those that don’t know Blade-Tech is located in Puyallup, WA (kind of between Seattle and Tacoma).

I was first struck by the size of the facility. I parked and walked up to a building marked BladeTech.  That was the first suite which was not retail accessible. I kept walking…and walking…about four suite lengths. That’s when it dawned on me–The whole strip  was Blade-Tech! They have grown quite a bit since they first opened up Lakewood, WA!

They currently occupy approximately 30K square feet. They were literally expanding (knocking out walls, etc)  into 45K as I took the tour with eyes on expanding even more. If you were thinking that they are a small shop, you would be wrong!

I didn’t realize it, but they have two knife divisions and a fire safety equipment division. They build soft goods, for example fire extinguisher carriers.

Speaking of soft goods, they are expand that line into the vest/armor carrier market! Think Tactical Tailor type gear.

Back to the tour…

I saw an injection mold machine used for their Revolution line of holsters.  It uses little plastic pellets that are shaped/sized like wood stove pellets. I think they said there are two.

I was lucky enough to be there while the Kydex mold machine (sorry, not sure what it is actually called) was running. I will try and explain it as best I remember. It runs two molds at once.

Basically there are Kydex sheets of different thickness depending on what they are making. Interesting, because I have noticed that some of their competitors only use one thickness. Logically, Blade-Tech’s IWB holsters are thinner than a level III duty holster. I didn’t count, but there were at least three different sizes.

So, these sheets are placed into ovens and heated up. The pistol  molds  are placed on top of two separate vacuums. These molds have tiny holes in them. The heated sheets are placed on top of the mold and the vacuum basically sucks them onto the shape of the molds!

Several large blowers then cool the roughly formed holsters. If you pictured someone with a hair dryer to heat the Kydex to mold it and then a fan to cool it off, you have the right concept, just not nearly on the same scale or technology.

From the holsters are checked by hand. Actually, let me just mention that I was genuinely surprised at how much a Blade-Tech holster is made by hand. It then goes to a person that actually puts a mold of the firearm to finish fitting. After that it goes to a person that puts the mounting hardware in, and then finally off to a QC person.

I would be very surprised if someone ever gets a holster that their pistol doesn’t fit in.

Speaking of molds! This was my favorite part of the tour. Row and rows and rows and rows of stacks of molds of pistols! While I was there I spied a mold for a S&W 4566. I see an order being placed shortly. In case you couldn’t tell I was really impressed with the number of molds they have. They also do flashlights, multitools, and revolver speed loaders.

I seriously doubt that anyone in the industry has more molds than Blade-Tech does.

I asked why the Blade-Tech website did not list all the holster/pistol combinations that I know they have. For example, the traditional belt holster has a huge list of selectable pistols (like the 4566), but if you go to the Eclipse it is quite a bit shorter (no 4566).

Regarding this, there are a couple things to point out:

  1. There is a new website coming out and the current one is incomplete for all of the molds they have. If you call customer service they do have a full list. (They do have a toll free number too.)
  2. They haven’t made molds for all of the holster combinations they could possibly make. In other words they probably have not made  an Eclipse for a S&W 4566, although they can.
  3. They plan on offering the Eclipse for everything they have in the standard belt line. Unfortunately, they are not the same mold so they have make it.
  4. The Revolution holsters use completely different molds and they are VERY cost prohibitive. I wouldn’t count on the list of supported pistols to expand greatly. They will probably only have/get molds for the most popular pistols (so, no 4566).

 

I asked about turn around time. They are currently at 5 weeks. This is in line with a lot of Kydex holster makers. They were actually embarassed – they had prided themselves that they until recently had a 1 -2 week turnaround previously. They are currently running 3 shifts a day including weekends to get caught up!

Now, order back logs might raise concern that QC could suffer, especially as employees work increased/more shifts. However, I was surprised and impressed that everyone there seemed to be happy–from customer service, to sales, to Kydex molder, fork lift driver, etc.  Definitely a sign of a good company.

So–great products, superior variety of pistols molds, exemplary customer service and they have happy employees? Blade-Tech is  definitely doing things right.

BladeTech Revolution Holster for M&P Compact! Amazing customer service

You may have seen my post Caution: Do NOT use S&W M&P compact in a Blade-Tech Revolution (FS) holster.

In a nutshell I found that putting my M&P compact into the  Revolution was not a good idea because magazine pops out (they actually only make it for the fullsize). The problem was, of course, only with the compact. Fullsize M&P in the Revolution was fine.

Blade-Tech saw my post and responded quickly that they would check it out, and send me a replacement that worked with both! I also asked that they cut the holster to the compact size. You will see pics why shortly.

When I told Blade-Tech that I could pick up the holster, since I was local, they invited me for a tour of their factory! OK, the holster thing first…

Click on the pic for fullsize.

 

Here is a close up of the holsters, I just thought it was interesting that my original had a S&W logo with little “Military Police” lettering while the new one has the opposite:

 

Holsters side by side to show difference in length (fullsize vs compact). Actually the new one is a little lower, the pic makes it look more dramatic than it is.

 

I think that little bit of material circled is the difference between the two. It was hard to get them both at the same angle to compare. Trust me there is a difference.

Top: Fullsize in the Revolution
Bottom: Compact in the new custom compact

 

If barrel length is important to you – this is how it should look

 

This is what the Compact pistol looks like in the Revolution holster which had the mag problem.

 

Here is what the fullsize looks like in the new compact holster. Looks worse in this pic than the next two.

 

From these next two pics you can see that it BARELY pokes out

 

Keep in mind my mag drop problem with the Revolution Holster  was caused by using a pistol in their holster which it was not actually designed for (compact in a fullsize  holster)! Blade-Tech provided a fix for my problem unsolicited and went above and beyond in customer service– making me a new holster that worked with the fullsize AND compact and, at my request, even cut  it for the shorter pistol for the compact pistol!

I really like the  new  holster. I hope they add it to the line up.

It’s past midnight, my factory tour story will have to wait until tomorrow. But, I will leave you with this….I saw a mold for a S&W 4566 and Steyr  pistols. In fact, I am pretty confident that  no one has more molds of pistols than they do, and they are not all on their website yet.

Caution: *updated* Using S&W M&P compact in Blade-Tech Revolution holster!

Do NOT use S&W M&P compact in Blade-Tech Revolution holster! — Seriously, the mag falls out in the holster if it is tapped on the side!!

Yes, I know it is for the fullsize, but putting a compact in a fullsize holster is not really that outrageous or even illegal. The holster is still an amazing value!

More below…

Most of the time I like having a full size and compact of the same pistol because I can interchange magazines and holsters.

This is not the case with the Blade-Tech Revolution which is for a full size (they do not make a Rev for compacts): http://www.blade-tech.com/Smith-Wesson-Holsters-for-M-P-Series-Pistol-Revolution-Series-Holster-pr-1034.html#product_images

I picked up one of these locally very inexpensively ($30 I think) because I needed a holster to go the range that day. Having both a paddle and belt attachment they are a bargain and pretty comfortable. However, for OWB concealment there are holsters which hold the pistol closer to your body. For CCW I use an IWB.

I decided that I wanted to run to the grocery store and switched out the fullsize for  the compact. To my surprise the mag wasn’t seated! Hmm…I locked it back in and put on my jacked and must have slapped the side because I heard the mag click out again!

After experimenting briefly it became very obvious that any type of push to the side or handle of my 9c caused the mag release to engage in the holster!

Put the FS back in and no problem. The FS stayed in the holster.

Below are the stock photos from the Blade-Tech website. These prominently display the “M&P” logo, while mine has a big “S&W” instead. Maybe this has been fixed in later versions, but I would try it first. I would still buy another one again.

 

 

Personal Security Systems (kydex) Holsters NRA Instructor Discount

PSS offers a 10% discount to NRA Instructors:

Law Enforcement / Military / Instructor Discount
Active duty LEO / Mil are entitled to a 10 percent discount off the entire order (less shipping). It’s our way of saying “Thanks!”. NRA Certified Instructors are also eligable for this discount. Please contact pssinvoicing@gmail.com for verification before or after ordering to receive a discount / refund. All provided information is considered classified. No mention of a particular unit / operator using our gear will ever be made without expressed, written permission from the individual.
They have a pretty good list of firearm molds too! (S&W 4506 is on there!)
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