I’m a holster geek. You know what they say, the first step to dealing with a personal problem is to admit that you have one. I’ve been collecting holsters for years in search of the perfect carry solutions for various guns and lifestyles and am now the proud owner of somewhere north of 250 holsters. That’s a lot, considering the most I’ve ever worn at one time (as an experiment) was 11.
As the owner of a Y chromosome, I’ve settled on inside-the-waistband carry as my daily default. Sure there are times when my required dress or activity requires different carry methods, but if I have the choice, I’ll pick IWB carry. It’s easy to conceal even a large gun and the fact that my gun and its holster are in my pants give me emotional comfort that I won’t lose my gun. Physical comfort? Well, not so much. Many X chromosome owners I know also like IWB for concealed carry, but it’s harder for ladies to use that as a daily default simply because of the variety of women’s attire options. Guys pretty much always wear pants – hopefully. Girls have more to worry about. When women have to dress up and put on a long dress, IWB isn’t a really great option. When guys have to dress up, guess what? We’re probably still wearing pants, so IWB still works.
So, as not to leave anyone out, we’ll cover best of alternative carry methods in future articles, but for now, let’s start with inside-the-waistband holsters. Here are the five I nominate for my best of list.
While neither CrossBreed nor Galco invented the idea of marrying large amounts of leather support with a Kydex shell to hold the gun, I have to give the nod to Galco for quality of implementation of the hybrid design.
The Galco KingTuk offers a huge leather panel that separates you from your hard and uncomfortable gun and a Kydex gun pocket for smooth and quick draws. With the KingTuk, you’ll find a lot of attention to detail – it’s just beautifully made. Another one of those details is the included combat cut — standard with the KingTuk. That allows you to get a proper grip while the gun is still completely holstered.
I live next to a swamp, literally, and the summer conditions are slightly warm here. By slightly warm I mean the fires of hell have nothing on us. And that’s exactly where the KingTuk attention to detail shines. The quality and finish of the leather means that it lasts. While the holster has molded to my body shape, it’s still as sturdy as the day it came out of the box. That’s saying a lot as I carry three fairly large and heavy guns in different KingTuks – a government 1911, a Sig P229 and Sig P226.
This one shocked me. I walked past the display a couple of SHOT Shows ago, and quite frankly, gave it a ho-hum reaction when I saw the design from a distance. But being the diligent researcher I am, I stopped at the booth and talked to one of the Nate’s. That’s the genesis of the company name, by the way – Nate Squared. Two Nate’s run the place. Nate One proceeded to enlighten me on the reasons for, and construction of, the N82 Tactical design.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the soft back panel covers the entire outline of your gun, so it is between the often abrasive grip of your gun and your soft body parts. The next thing you’ll notice is that it’s really, really soft, meaning comfortable.
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. Since the whole suede area has some “grip”, it serves to spread the weight of the gun over a broader area. Sandwiched in the middle is a layer of neoprene, you know, the stuff they make those sexy wetsuits from. This neoprene creates a moisture barrier between your sweaty waist area and your expensive gun. The outer layer is leather. This provides structure, stability and a safe backing for your gun whether it be steel or polymer.
The standard N82 Tactical holster uses an elastic gun pocket. The pressure of that, combined with the pressure from your belt and pants, makes an effective retention solution. They also offer a hard polymer holster with positive retention if you’re especially active.
I carry a Springfield Armory XD-S in this frequently, and it’s about the most comfortable holster I’ve ever worn. The design does just fine with larger guns too.