Alien Gear’s IWB / OWB Modular Holster: The Cloak Tuck 2.0

This Cloak Tuck 2.0 model came configured as an IWB but included an OWB panel too (left)

This Cloak Tuck 2.0 model came configured as an IWB but included an OWB panel too (left)

In the holster market, newcomers are companies in the business for only a few decades. So I suppose Alien Gear, having been around just under two years, is a certified spring chicken.

The company has grown faster than the congressional benefits plan, and the reasons why must include the comfort and flexibility of their holster designs. I recently received an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 2.0 IWB holster for a Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm equipped with a Crimson Trace Laserguard LG-489. The company also included the OWB panel, which allows this holster to be converted to a leather-backed outside the waistband model, but more on that later.

Modularity

The IWB Cloak Tuck 2.0 in use with standard belt clips.

The IWB Cloak Tuck 2.0 in use with standard belt clips.

To understand the rest of the description of Alien Gear holsters, you have to understand the modular design. Simply put, think of the concept as two interchangeable parts: the back panel and the holster shell. Backings are available in different materials and choice of inside or outside the waistband designs. Holster shells attach to the backings with four T nuts and are interchangeable with any backing.

The idea is, that like a good pair of leather upper boots that you can re-sole over time, you can use the backing you prefer, and swap out holster shells when you switch to a different gun.

With any given gun, you can also swap out backings. For example, this evaluation holster came to me configured as an inside the waistband model. However, also in the box was an outside the waistband backing. For OWB holsters, Alien Gear uses a leather panel equipped with four T nuts in the same pattern as the OWB designs, so the IWB gun shell can be attached in a similar fashion. Leather loops are attached to the backing for belt attachment.

The last function that the modular design handles is retention strength.The plastic gun shell screws to the backing through four rubber washers. Tightening or loosening the entire shell sets the level of friction retention you want.

Construction

The 2.0 model has a neoprene backing for moisture resistance and comfort.

The 2.0 model has a neoprene backing for moisture resistance and comfort.

The difference between the Cloak Tuck 2.0 and original Cloak Tuck models is the material used for the large back panel. The original Cloak Tuck uses a leather panel, while the new 2.0 version utilizes neoprene with a synthetic surface on the outside. The idea behind the new neoprene backing is that the entire backing will better shape to your body and create a waterproof barrier between the gun and your body.

The gun shell itself is molded from thick Kydex. The lower edges that surround the muzzle area are rounded part way over the muzzle area of the gun. This nice extra touch prevents sharp edges from your front sight, barrel or slide from wearing holes into your clothes. I also noticed that the company takes the extra time to polish all edges of the Kydex shell so there are no sharp or abrasive surfaces.

Attachment Options

Right to left: Standard belt clips, leather snap loop, C clip and J clip.

Right to left: Standard belt clips, leather snap loop, C clip and J clip.

The Alien Gear IWB holster comes with standard Kydex clips that loop over the top of the belt and catch the bottom of the belt. They’re tuckable and very secure, but you will see the front section of the clip lying on top of the belt.

If you want more concealment, Alien Gear offers a variety of optional clips:

C clips are also tuckable, but only hook on to the top and bottom of the belt, so only small nubs are visible at the top and bottom of the belt. It’s doubtful that anyone would notice them, especially if you’re wearing a black colored belt.

J clips hook on the bottom of the belt only. They even more discreet than the C clips, and quite a bit easier to mount on your belt.

Leather snap loops also offer touchable security, but you’ll see the leather strap on the front of the belt. On the plus side, the snaps allow you to take the holster on and off without threading your belt through the loops.

Other clip options include metal and brown colored clips to better match belt colors.

Holster Insurance

You gotta love the service attitude of most companies in the shooting industry, and Alien Gear is no different. When you buy an Alien Gear, you’ve got three levels of “holster insurance.”

You’ve got 30 days to break it in. If you decide you don’t like it, they’ll buy it back from you. Holsters definitely have a break in period as they shape to the gun, your body shape, and your movements. Most holsters will not be all that comfortable until you wear them a while, so I’m glad to see the Alien Gear folks give you some trial time.

The modular design of these holsters means that the gun pocket and back panel are independent parts. You can break in the body section and swap out the portion that holds your gun. Alien Gear will let you trade in the plastic shell portion for a different gun shape. If you upgrade from a .32 to a .45 or downgrade from a Desert Eagle to a Ruger LCP, you’re covered.

A lifetime warranty backs it all up. If you ever have a problem, give them a call to get it straightened out.

Closing Thoughts

While I’ve read about Alien Gear holsters and seen the catchy ads, I was still pleasantly surprised at the attention to detail in construction.

The modular features are interesting. Swapping out the back would certainly be feasible if, for example, you normally carried inside the waistband and wanted to do a quick conversation to OWB for a class or competition. It’s not something I would want to do daily, but for occasional use, it would make sense given that it only takes a few minutes to do the swap. The ability to trade gun pockets for no charge is also a nice feature for those wanting to upgrade to a different carry gun.

Check ‘em out to see what they’ve got for your carry gun.

More about holsters for concealed carry

If you want to learn a whole lot more about concealed carry holsters, methods of carry and pros and cons of different holster designs, check out our Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters book!

Holster Review: Simply Rugged Cuda IWB / OWB Holster

The Simply Rugged Holsters Cuda is shown here in the outside-the-waistband configuration.

The Simply Rugged Holsters Cuda is shown here in the outside-the-waistband configuration.

Today’s neat holster design falls squarely into the “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?” category.

While Simply Rugged Holsters makes a number of different holster designs, the shiny one that diverted my attention away from the squirrel was the Simply Rugged Cuda model. Here’s why.

To use the Cuda as an IWB, flip the straps over the front - that's it.

To use the Cuda as an IWB, flip the straps over the front – that’s it.

It’s all the rage out at Gunsite these days.

But seriously, while that’s not the only reason Simply Rugged got my attention, it’s a big plus. The guys and gals at Gunsite certainly know what the heck they’re talking about, and I would be foolish not to take a close look at gear they wear themselves on a day-to-day basis.

The Simply Rugged Cuda is a combination inside-the-waistband (IWB) / outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster. By combination, I mean you can easily convert it from one to the other. Other designs on the market allow you to perform this exorcism by screwing and unscrewing clips or gun pouches or whatever. The Simply Rugged Cuda design has the conversion capability built-in – with no reconfiguration required.

Here’s the secret. The holster itself is a classic pancake design with three belt loops. Depending on which loops you use, you can wear the holster as a traditional strong side outside-the-waistband with standard or canted angle or a cross draw outside-the-waistband on the weak side. Simple enough, right? What Simply Rugged has done differently is add leather straps that hang downwards on the back (body side) of the holster. When you want to wear the holster as an inside-the-waistband, you flip the two straps over the top then down the front. The holster goes in your pants while the straps with snap loops are exposed to latch onto your belt. The beauty of the design is that you leave the straps in place when wearing as an OWB and they don’t get in the way. You can literally move this holster from OWB to IWB in no time flat because there is no reconfiguration. It’s hard to explain, so check out the pictures here to see how it works.

Here's the Cuda in action as an IWB holster.

Here’s the Cuda in action as an IWB holster. Image: Gunsite and Simply Rugged Holsters.

The Cuda model is hand molded to your specific firearm and Simply Rugged will happily work with you to design a holster that fits your gun, Lasergrip and light configuration. No one can guarantee a fit for every combination, but if you don’t see your specific gear combination listed, be sure to check with them first as offerings are always changing. One more thing regarding the Cuda design. The holster is made of thick leather, and while the mouth is not technically reinforced, I’ve had no problem re-holstering even while carrying inside-the-waistband.

When used as an outside-the-waistband holster, the IWB straps hand out of the way on the back.

When used as an outside-the-waistband holster, the IWB straps hand out of the way on the back.

If you prefer a holster with a hard reinforced mouth for absolute frictionless one-handed re-holstering, check out the Defcon 3 model. It’s got a layer of (proprietary trade secret unobtainium) sandwiched between the layers of leather to keep the mouth open at all times. All other features and options are similar to the Cuda, so you can get the Defcon 3 with IWB straps too.

Both Cuda and Defcon 3 designs are open mouth and secure your firearm with fit and friction. This is working out just fine on my Cuda model for a Smith & Wesson E-Series 1911 with a tactical rail. If you feel more comfortable with a top strap, check out some of Simply Rugged’s other designs – you’ll find a variety of models all geared towards heavy outdoor use.

Since you’re wearing a holster every day, or should be, you might want to take advantage of customization options. For example, the holster shown here has the optional basket weave pattern on the exposed side of the holster. BBQ gun anyone?

If you want to learn a whole lot more about different approaches to concealed carry and holsters, check out The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters, 2nd Edition 2014.

It’s on sale now along with our other shooting books!

My Favorite Concealed Carry Shirt

This Blackhawk! 1700 Warrior Wear shirt is built for concealed carry. Image: Blackhawk!

This Blackhawk! 1700 Warrior Wear shirt is built for concealed carry. Image: Blackhawk!

I absolutely love the Blackhawk! Concealed Carry Shirt! Here’s why:

It’s designed from the ground up to help you cover either an inside the waistband or outside the waistband belt holster. The patterns are medium plaid to help break up outlines of a concealed gun. The cut is boxy, again to help naturally cover a belt-carried gun. Small vertical slits on the bottoms of both sides make access easy and snag-free.

Even without the concealed carry optimized design, the shirt is pretty handy. It’s made from 62% cotton and 38% polyester, so you can yank it right out of the dryer and it looks pretty darn good. It’s dressy enough to be respectable, doesn’t look tactical but is still comfortable to wear on hot days. In addition to the front left exterior chest pocket, there is a zipper compartment accessible from the outside. It’s really discreet and most folks won’t notice it. The weight of the shirt (light) doesn’t allow carrying a gun in this zipper pocket, but it’s great for other gear, like cell phones, that you don’t want to fall out while you’re out running around.

Highly recommended!

Be sure to check out our new 2nd Edition for 2014 book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters, 2nd Edition 2014. It will teach you all the major methods of concealed carry and walk you through pros and cons over 100 different holster models. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters, 2nd Edition 2014

The Top 10 Concealed Carry Holsters

Galco's Miami Classic II shoulder holster rig.

Galco’s Miami Classic II shoulder holster rig.

Holsters have been around a long time, almost as long as Cher has been using doilies for costumes. Over centuries of use, innovation has flourished. We’ve come a long way from the times when Scottish warriors carried sharp objects and their Visa debit cards in their sporrans.

Like Moore’s law for microprocessors, which states that computing power doubles every 18 months, holster innovation is also growing at an exponential pace. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen established companies and garage engineers alike develop entirely new ways of carrying a gun everywhere on the body. And I mean everywhere.

Let’s take a look at my view of the top 10 concealed carry holsters.

napoleon-flashbangThe Flashbang

Since the Flashbang is accessed by pulling up the shirt, then drawing from the chest area, you can use your own imagination to work out the origin of this holsters name.

This one works best if you have some form of breasts. Technically you don’t need them, but the holster is designed to mount to a bra, so there’s that.

The holster itself attaches to the center of the bra, and the gun is held in place, oriented horizontally, by a clamshell molded kydex pocket. To draw, simply grasp the handgun grip and pull straight down – this releases the gun from the clamshell mount.

I can vouch for concealability, but not comfort, as I’m not equipped to use a bra. I’ll rely on the dozens of women I’ve met who swear by this design.

Galco KingTuk

The Galco KingTuk IWB holster.

The Galco KingTuk IWB holster.

Do you know how, when you get in a really sweet luxury car, the doors make that firm and satisfying “click” instead of “clank” when you close them? That comes from attention to the finer details of product design. If you’re into that sort of quality, then you’ll love the Galco KingTuk IWB Holster.

It’s a hybrid inside-the-waistband design, like others on the market. It features a large leather back panel that goes between your gun and tender body parts. A kydex shell is molded to the contours of your specific gun model. The difference between the KingTuk and others on the market is the quality. If you live in a warmer climate where humidity and sweat are common, you’ll notice that the leather backing holds up over time. You’ll also notice that the kydex shell is made from a thicker material and that someone at Galco took the time to buff and smooth the edges. I carry a full size, and full weight, 1911 in one here in the swamp sauna of South Carolina and after more than a year of heavy abuse, it still looks brand new.

N82 Tactical

Here’s one that surprised me. I almost passed it by as it looks so simple and, quite frankly, boring. That was almost a big mistake. After taking the time to evaluate the N82 Tactical holsters, I found there’s serious engineering in this one that really makes a difference.

A pair of N82 Tactical holsters with Springfield Armory XD-S pistols.

A pair of N82 Tactical holsters with Springfield Armory XD-S pistols.

Like hybrid designs, it has a large panel that separates your gun from your body. Rather than a horizontal panel orientation, it’s more of a vertical egg shape. The backing itself is three layers of different materials that accomplish different things. Next to your skin is a suede lining that breathes and provides some friction to help keep the holster stationary. Next is a layer of neoprene. If you’ve seen Jaws or been to Sea World, you’ll know that’s the stuff they use to make wetsuits. This middle layer keeps body moisture and rust-inducing sweat away from your gun. It also keeps stray gun oil or preservatives away from the suede lining and your body. The layer closest to the gun is leather to provide a little cushion and protection for your gun.

This holster is insanely practical and comfortable to boot. I find myself using it quite frequently with a Springfield Armory XD-S.

Oh, by the way, N82 is pronounced “Nate squared” as a couple of guys named Nate founded the company.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

 

Grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips. It will help make you a better shooter and the envy of your range in no time.

Tennis Anyone? The Award Winning Blackhawk! Diversion Concealed Carry Rifle Case

Talk about the ultimate diversion!

We covered some of the Blackhawk! Division concealed carry products in the brand new 2nd Edition of the Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters. Just today, I saw that the Blackhawk! Diversion line won the prestigious NRA Shooting Illustrated Golden Bullseye award for 2014. Well deserved – these products are fantastic and will blend right in to the urban and suburban lifestyle.

We saw the Blackhawk! Diversion rifle case at SHOT Show 2013 and it’s stunningly effective for toting an AR type rifle. It looks like a tennis racquet case, so un-enlightened neighbors won’t freak out and call Mayor Bloomberg when you pack your car for a range trip.

The bag itself is padded and features an internal divider, so you can carry two firearms. The case holds a gun up to 29 inches long, so the idea is to carry a separated upper and lower receiver. The zippers are lockable so you can secure the bag from children or nosy line judges.

The Blackhawk! Diversion Carry Racquet Bag. Image: Blackhawk!

The Blackhawk! Diversion Carry Racquet Bag. Image: Blackhawk!

As of this writing, the cases are available in two-tone red/grey and blue/grey color schemes. Word has it that a black/grey one will be out in the future.

This is a fantastic idea and a great way to discreetly carry your rifle in plain sight.

Tennis anyone?

Be sure to check out our new 2nd Edition for 2014 book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters. It will teach you all the major methods of concealed carry and walk you through pros and cons over 100 different holster models. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

The Looper Prohibition Capone Holster

The Prohibition Capone holster is an inside the waistband hybrid design, featuring a tough leather backing and Kydex mold for the gun pocket. Metal clips, fastened at the bottom only, fasten to the belt, allowing your shirt to be tucked in over the gun and behind the clips.

Only you will see it, but you can choose red or blue stitching for the Capone hybrid holster. Image: Flashbang Holsters.

Only you will see it, but you can choose red or blue stitching for the Capone hybrid holster. Image: Flashbang Holsters.

I’ve been using a top-secret version of this for a large gun and have found it to be comfortable and solid. The leather backing is stiff and will require a little break-in period to adjust to your body shape. This is a good thing – you want tough leather for longevity and support of your gun.

Like the other Looper products we’ve tested, this one is highly recommended. The fit, finish and attention to detail are outstanding.

iPad? iGun! iCarry In Plain Sight With The Galco iDefense

New for 2014, Galco takes the day planner concealed concept to the next level.

The Galco iDefense is a day planner type design that’s engineered to hold an iPad. It fits all iPads Generation I through IV, but obviously not the iPad Mini.

The Galco iDefense supports your iPad in a usable position while hiding a gun and spare magazine underneath. Image: Galco Gunleather.

The Galco iDefense supports your iPad in a usable position while hiding a gun and spare magazine underneath. Image: Galco Gunleather.

What I like about it is its split personality. Some day planner solutions are simply a big holster that looks like a day planner. You can’t open it up without exposing your gun. This one has a dedicated gun compartment accessible via a separate zipper. Outside of that is the iPad holder. And it doesn’t just hold the iPad. It also includes a support brace that will prop your iPad up at about a 45 degree angle. This allows you to use the iDefense while speaking at a podium, sitting at a table, or even while relaxing in a lounge chair. Should you require the services of your handgun, it’s easily available just underneath. This presents a really interesting carry option for those “exposed” speaking in front of groups.

A view of the dedicated gun and spare magazine compartment. Image: Galco Gunleather.

A view of the dedicated gun and spare magazine compartment. Image: Galco Gunleather.

The holster pocket features sewn-in elastic bands that hold a medium to full size handgun. As it’s a one-size option, the support bands aren’t large enough for a micro pocket gun like the Ruger LCP. But that wold defeat the purpose anyway. The big benefit, as I see it, is the ability to carry a full size gun in plain sight. There is also an elastic band intended to carry a spare magazine.

The Galco iDefense is available in brown or black.

This. Is. Cool.

 

Be sure to check out our book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters. It will teach you all the major methods of concealed carry and walk you through pros and cons over 100 different holster models. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Carry In Plain Sight With Blackhawk!’s Diversion Carry Slingpack Holster

The Blackhawk! Diversion Carry Slingpack is a great solution for those times when traditional belt carry just won’t work.

The Blackhawk! Diversion Carry Slingpack is a great solution for those times when traditional belt carry just won’t work.

Do you walk? Jog? Ride a bike? Wander aimlessly?

If so, you might check out the Blackhawk! Diversion Carry Slingpack as an off-body carry option. This single-strap sling pack looks sporty – as in some activity that involves a ball, not a gun. After all, that’s the whole point of Blackhawk!’s Diversion line – to blend in with common, every day activities.

Like other single-strap sling pack designs, the idea is to carry this small pack on your back. When access is needed, it rotates around your body, presenting itself on your chest with a hidden gun compartment zipper facing straight up. So, like other sling pack designs, the draw motion involves rotating the pack to the front and opening the zipper compartment first. This is simply the tradeoff for situations where a more traditional carry method won’t work for you.

The Blackhawk! Diversion Carry Slingpack is designed with a teardrop shape for the pack itself. This allows you to configure the interior holster so the heavy part (grip) of your gun is on the bottom – at the widest part of the teardrop. This helps to stabilize the pack as the heaviest portion of your gun is at the bottom of the pack.

The pack is also ambidextrous. You switch sides by clipping the bottom of the strap to one of two female clips on either side of the pack. Gun compartment zippers are on both sides of the bag and each side has two zippers with large rubber coated loops. You can configure the pack to work over either shoulder and access your gun with a left to right or right to left unzipping motion. It’s super flexible.

The primary strap does not favor right or left shoulder carry, so it may not lay perfectly flat across the top of your shoulder, but that’s the price you pay for the true ambidextrous configuration options.

The pack has three exterior compartments. The primary space doubles as a concealed carry gun pouch with a solid back covered with hook and loop material. A separate holster is included that attaches to the hook and loop backing. The holster has a retention strap if you want to use it, but you don’t have to. The main gun compartment has a mesh pocket that has zipper closures on both sides, so you can safely store other gear in the main compartment, in addition to your gun. The outside of the pack has two additional compartments, one large and the other small. The larger compartment has a strap and hook to fasten a key ring. The two exterior compartments are handy for things like wallets and cell phones so you don’t have to open to gun compartment to access those.

As you can see, the pack is small and completely non-tactical, by design.

As you can see, the pack is small and completely non-tactical, by design.

How does it perform? Like any sling pack, vigorous movement will encourage the pack to rotate towards the front. The more weight you have in the pack, the more it will want to move towards your side. The pack worked great and remained stable while walking or hiking. It also tended to stay in place while biking. If you’re going to be doing something exceptionally active, you may want to consider a traditional two-strap backpack.

Be sure to check out our book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters. It will teach you all the major methods of concealed carry and walk you through pros and cons over 100 different holster models. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Finding Holsters For Light And Laser Equipped Handguns: The Impossible Dream?

Just a few holster options for light and laser equipped handguns.

Just a few holster options for light and laser equipped handguns.

If you’ve been around here before, you know I’m a big fan of lasers for home defense and carry guns. I’m also a fanatical, raving, and kind of creepy bit of a holster geek. But, until recently, I’ve been hard-pressed to equip all my carry guns with lights and/or lasers.

Finding holsters for light / laser carry guns can make you as frustrated as Mike Bloomberg at a Colorado recall rally.

Why? Finding holsters for laser-equipped guns has been quite the challenge. Of course I’m talking lights and lasers that are mounted up front, usually under the barrel. Lasergrip offerings from Crimson Trace and guide rod lasers from LaserMax can use standard holsters without modification.

There’s no blame in this. It’s simply a math problem.

Holster makes already have to account for 13,786,667.43 different models of handguns, with new shapes and sizes hitting the market hourly.Add a half-dozen laser companies to the mix, each offering several different models, and then what?

There are more possible gun / laser / holster combinations than the number of White House excuses for the Obamacare  performance. (Tweet This)

But hope glimmers on the horizon. Recently, I have working with some most excellent holster options for laser-equipped guns. Each of the manufacturers below make different products for different guns, so the examples here are just that – examples.

Oh, and if you’re a Crimson Trace user, check out their new holster guide. It’s updated constantly with new products from Galco, DeSantis, CrossBreed, Fobus, Blackhawk!, Mitch Rosen, Blade-Tech and more.

CrossBreed SnapSlide

The SnapSlide is a great solution for this Springfield Armory XD-S with Crimson Trace Laserguard.

The SnapSlide is a great solution for this Springfield Armory XD-S with Crimson Trace Laserguard.

I’ve been testing one for the Springfield Armory XD-S equipped with a Crimson Trace LG-469 Laserguard and I find it neat-o. The belt loops are spread apart enough to offer great stability. The Kydex holster shell keeps the whole thing slim, which aids concealment. The best part? The rig is designed to ride very high so it’s much easier to conceal with a shirt or jacket that most other outside the waistband holsters.

Check the CrossBreed website for all available light / laser options.

DeSantis Speed Scabbard

An open top design, The DeSantis Speed Scabbard is all-leather holster is made for a number of light / laser options like the Crimson Trace Lightguard or Laserguard for Glocks.

I really like the holster. It’s an outside the waistband model without a rigid mouth. I don’t have trouble re-holstering it as the leather is sturdy enough to keep the mouth open. It shapes well to the body and offers great gun security – in fact you’ll want to break it in to smooth out the draw.

I used one at the 2013 Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational with a Glock 17, Crimson Trace Lasergrips and a Crimson Trace Lightguard.

Galco Meridian Concealed Carry Purse (or most other models)

Ladies, this one is specifically for you. If you choose to carry in your purse, be sure to do it safely.

Don’t let your gun flop around in a main purse compartment along with all sorts of other daily paraphernalia. (Tweet This)

That’s asking for trouble. Not only will it be hard to find your gun during an emergency, you run the risk of something getting caught up in the trigger – with potentially disastrous consequences.

Got a laser on your Smith & Wesson Shield? No problem!

Got a laser on your Smith & Wesson Shield? No problem!

If you choose purse carry, be sure to keep your gun in a dedicated compartment. That’s where a quality holster handbag like the Galco Meridian shines.

The Meridian is a fine-looking and functional handbag with a magnetically closing outside compartment, main interior compartment and separate interior compartment. Most importantly, it features a dedicated gun holster compartment accessible via a lockable vertical zipper on the exterior. Inside this compartment is a sewn-in holster pouch with a Velcro retention strap which can be removed if you prefer. We found that the retention strap is unnecessary with the medium size guns in this purse – it will stay in the holster pocket just fine.

The Galco Meridian is available in black or chocolate-brown. Galco makes a variety of styles with similar concealed carry functionality.

Comp-Tac MERC

Comp-Tac makes an excellent and insanely adjustable hybrid holster. That means it has a large leather back for stability and comfort and a Kydex molded gun pocket.

Now, Comp-Tac offers their MERC holster - MERC stands for Most Economical, Reliable, Comfortable by the way – in models ready to go for mounted lasers and lights. The list of supported models will almost certainly change, but at time of publication, Comp-Tac offers Crimson Trace and LaserMax for guns including the Springfield Armory XD-S, Smith & Wesson Shield and Kahr P9. One of the neat-o things about the Comp-Tac offerings is the flexibility. Everything is adjustable including retention, depth, cant and even the color of the belt clips to help it blend in to your existing wardrobe. Check out the Comp-Tac web site for more information.

Galco Stow-N-Go

The Galco Stow-N-Go is intended for simple, deep concealment. It features an open-top design for quick access, a reinforced mouth for one-handed reholstering and open bottoms to let dirt fall out. A vertical orientation allows for different carry options. You can use it behind the hip bone or in an appendix position. The exterior of the leather is a bit rough to help keep the holster in place via friction with your clothes.

CrossBreed SuperTuck

I love the hybrid inside the waistband holster design. The big leather backing provides comfort and stability, while the kydex gun pouch offers great security without adding thickness to the holster. Now that CrossBreed is making models compatible with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Laserguards, you can easily carry a pistol equipped with both laser and light. It’s a great solution.

N82 Tactical

The N82 holsters have some interesting innovations.

Spurred on to entrepreneurial enterprise by the belief that holsters should be both comfortable and comforting, the dynamic Nate duo and a rental squad of Oompa Loompas created a basic design that makes for an inherently wearable, yet solid and secure inside the waistband holster.
N82 Tactical Original Models allow lots of inside the waistband options for laser and light equipped guns.

N82 Tactical Original Models allow lots of inside the waistband options for laser and light equipped guns.

The N82 is a multi-layer affair. A large backing panel goes between the gun and your tender midsection skin areas. The panel is large enough to completely cover the gun and all or most of the grip — depending on the specific model. This keeps sharp and abrasive metal and wood stuff away from your belly. A belt clip is affixed to the gun pocket so the whole mess is tucked inside the waistband with the clip securing to your belt. Pretty simple.

Here’s where the layering comes in.

The body side of the panel is made from soft suede. N82 Tactical chose suede for several reasons. It’s a natural material, so it allows your skin to breathe and feel cool — even in hot and humid climates. Another reason for the suede lining is that it has a friction coefficient. Yeah, I told you we wouldn’t get into quantum physics and material dynamics in this book, but hang in there for a second. Since the whole suede area has some “grip” it serves to spread the weight of the gun over a broader area. Not that we’re calling your area broad or anything. OK, enough of the fancy science.

Sandwiched in the middle is a layer of neoprene. If you saw the movie Jaws, or have been to Sea World, you’ll know that this is the stuff that diver’s wetsuits are made of. It’s waterproof. While you probably won’t be diving with your N82 Tactical holster, the neoprene barrier does in fact create a moisture barrier between your sweaty broad area and your expensive gun. Even if you sweat, your gun stays dry. Within reason of course. The other reason behind the neoprene moisture barrier is to prevent the leather portion of the holster from becoming mushier and mushier over time. Three out of four Nate’s believe that leather doesn’t ever stop breaking in. It continues to get softer and softer over time, especially with exposure to moisture. We’re not sure what doctors and dentists believe.

The outer layer is leather. This provides structure and stability and a safe backing for your gun whether it be steel or polymer.

The original model, or Standard Series, utilizes a stretchy material to secure the gun to the leather holster panel. N82 got a lot of feedback from law enforcement customers that they loved the comfort of the tuckable design with its stretch band holster pocket, but needed additional positive retention for more active situations. Like the ones you see on every episode of CSI Las Vegas.

N82 makes a the original series holster for a number of guns with trigger guard lasers. When you go to order one for your specific gun, you’ll see laser options if available for that model. I’ve used one with a Springfield Armory XD-S and Crimson Trace LG-469 Laserguard with great success.

Recluse

Here’s a new, and patented, design worth a look. There are two basic models of the Recluse Holster. The OS models are open-sided while the TS models, as you can probably guess, are two-sided. The common element between the designs is the forward-facing solid leather flap that entirely hides the outline of your pocket gun.

The OS models feature a concealment panel on the outside. This completely breaks up the outline of the gun. The inside half of the holster is technically, kinda-sorta open. That’s where the patent comes in to play. Affixed to the leather holster is a molded plastic trigger block. This block is shaped to match the inside of the trigger guard of a specific gun. Molded into the block is a cutout that exactly matches the profile of the trigger.
To holster your gun, insert the muzzle into the bottom pouch, then shift the gun sideways so that the trigger block moves into position and the trigger is locked exactly in place per the trigger cutout. Once in place, the trigger is protected and secure.

To draw, you insert your fingers between your gun and the solid front panel to achieve a firing grip. The gun will come away from the trigger block sideways and can be withdrawn from your pocket.

The TS model is a little different. Rather than relying on a trigger block, this model features an interior leather panel. The interior leather flap is only attached at the bottom of the holster. To draw your gun, you shove your fingers between the leather flap and the gun, thereby creating space for a solid grip.

When you order direct from Recluse, you’ll see laser options on the product page where available.

I’m just scratching the surface here – and that’s a good thing. The holster market is exploding with options for lights and lasers on concealed carry guns.

Guns ‘n Guts: Galco Underwraps Belly Band Holster

The Galco Underwraps Belly Band holster is all about options. Which is why we use it a lot.

The Galco Underwraps Belly Band holster is loaded with pockets to carry guns, magazines, gear, cash and credit. Even handcuffs if you're into that.

The Galco Underwraps Belly Band holster is loaded with pockets to carry guns, magazines, gear, cash and credit. Even handcuffs if you’re into that.

As a belly band design, there is no required “fixed position” for mounting this holster system on your body. You can mount it low around your waist. You can mount it just a tad higher so half of the band is inside your pants and half above the belt line. You can even mount it higher on your torso, maybe around solar plexus level. The higher mount method is particularly handy for a cross draw setup where your strong hand reaches across your body to draw the gun. The gun is mounted with barrel pointed down and bottom of the grip facing forward.

Wear it high, above the belt, or low, partly under the belt line - your choice.

Wear it high, above the belt, or low, partly under the belt line – your choice.

The Galco Underwraps Belly Band holster has two leather pouches sewn into the wide (and comfortable) fabric band. As there are two gun holster pockets of slightly different shape, you can either carry two guns, or you can use the opposing side pockets to mount a single gun in the exact placement you want. The band also features two elastic fabric pockets sewn into the band. These are handy for just about anything — spare magazines, handcuffs (if you’re into that sort of thing), wallet, credit cards, emergency money, flashlight, pocket knife, cell phone, night vision goggles, or whatever else one might want to carry discreetly.

The Galco Underwraps Belly Band holster is also fully ambidextrous — simply flip it inside out. At time of writing, it’s available in either khaki or black.

The Galco Underwraps Belly Band holster comes in four different sizes — not only to accommodate body dimensions, but also to account for where you want to wear it. So be sure to measure your desired carry area before ordering.

Be sure to check out our book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters. It will teach you all the major methods of concealed carry and walk you through pros and cons over 100 different holster models. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

 

Legal Disclosures about articles on My Gun Culture