“I’d never own one of those things (hybrid holster), they are junk.” so said one self-styled expert at a shooting class I attended this year. The gentleman in question was referring to the Inside-the-Waistband hybrid holster I was using. Aside from the social faux pas of criticizing another man’s gear, that statement got me to thinking about the perception that hybrid IWB holsters are a poor choice. I have to admit I was perplexed because I have never had an issue with my choice and I carry a gun in that type of holster EVERY day for ten to twelve hours a day.
I decided to start asking questions, not of students, but of firearms instructors who observe students day after day. Specifically, I inquired as to issues students were having with the IWB hybrid holsters. Before we move on, our definition for a “hybrid holster” for this review is one that uses a combination of a Kydex® or some type of polymer holster pocket backed by either leather or reinforced nylon. This style of holster is designed to be tucked inside the waistband of the user’s trousers. Depending on the manufacturer in question, the holster is secured with either metal or plastic belt clips, belt loops or a “J” hook arrangement.
While not necessarily listed in the order of absolute frequency, the issues students seemed to have with “hybrid” holsters during training courses were; 1) holsters coming out of the pants during the draw-stroke, 2) students unable to reholster due to the body shield/guard folding over the holster opening, 3) students unable to reholster due to the holster opening sinking down below the edge of the waistband AND subsequently muzzling their body while searching for the opening with barrel.
Farther down on the list but mentioned occasionally was the issue of the holster breaking in some way; the plastic holster pocket splitting, rivets coming loose, and clips (plastic type) snapping and /or breaking. During the next couple of paragraphs we will address each of these issues individually and address the likely causes.
Holster Coming Out During Drawstroke
This issue seems to be one of the biggest complaints with the hybrid IWB and it does indeed happen, but why? One common misconception is that if your holster has clips on it you do not need to wear a belt. Wrong. A high quality, rigid/stiff belt is an essential component in the gun carrying equation. I am bewildered by the number of people who either try to carry without a belt or use whatever cheap dress belt is hanging in their closet.
Solution: Purchase a quality belt and wear it.
When the issue of spring-steel metal clips arises, many folks will complain that their clips have lost their “spring” and are loose. The primary suspects in this case are the “Arm and Disarm” CCW people. These are the folks that go through their day constantly taking their gun and holster off and then putting it back on. The IWB holster with clips is so easy to remove that they constantly take it off and put it back on, on-off-on-off all day long. These folks go through this daily kabuki dance and then complain a month later that their spring-steel belt clips have lost their “spring.” Also at play is the quality of the clips. Cheap, poorly made, belt clips are not going to last as long as those that cost a little more and that is really no surprise. If you find you have constant issues with spring-steel clips regardless, try something different, such as the “J” hook design or some type of belt loop. Belt loops are obviously not discreet but they are the most secure option.
Solutions: Stop playing the On-Off-On-Off game all day long. Purchase quality gear. Try “J” hooks or belt loops.
This issue is two-fold. First we have the guard/shield portion of the holster (extended backing to keep the gun from pressing directly against the user’s body) folding over and inhibiting the reholster process. This issue will vary greatly based upon material used to make the holster backing. Thin, cheaply finished cowhide leather is a common culprit. Horsehide leather backers are less likely to have this issue but it is still possible that they might curl.
While I understand that this next issue may hurt some feelings, it is a factor and must be addressed. The girth of the user is a definite contributor to this problem. If your “love-handles” are so pronounced that they press the body-shield of your holster down over the opening that is not the holster’s fault.
Most often the reholstering difficulty arises when shooters attempt to come back to the holster and thrust the gun straight down into the opening. This technique is quite simple with large, rigid duty or competition holsters that stick out from the body. Concealed carry holsters by their very nature need to be secured very close to the body to remain discreet.
Back in the old days of concealed carrying, we used to use stitched leather “pancake” holsters. These devices held the gun securely to the body but had a tendency to flatten out when the gun was drawn. The technique I was taught by John Farnam in 1986 was to bring the gun back around to the rear of the holster and rock it back into place. This was much more effective than trying stab the gun straight down. This also tremendously minimized the tendency to muzzle your body while reholstering.
Solutions: Purchase high quality holster, shed some pounds, adjust your method for reholstering.
This issue only materializes when people actually use their gear. The guy who buys a holster and then wears their gun for a few hours at a time, once in a while, but never trains or goes to the range, will rarely have a problem. These are the folks who use a holster as a dust cover.
Worlds collide when a person genuinely sets out to be an armed citizen but for some odd reason decides to go bargain shopping. A cheap holster is always going to be a cheap holster.
It dumbfounds me that someone will state that they intend to be an armed citizen and commit to carrying a gun every day as a tool for saving their life, but they are appalled at the thought of spending $50 to $75 on a holster. Folks, $75 divided by 365 comes out to twenty cents a day. Can you afford twenty cents a day for a tool that you are using to save your life?
People who bargain shop for cheap hybrid holsters or, for the love of all that is holy, buy kits to build a holster themselves are simply delusional. Are you playing at self-defense or are you serious? So you spent $839 for a SIG P229 and your holster investment is $35? That does not make any sense however you look at it. Would you put $20 tires on your F-250 4×4?
Solutions: Purchase quality gear from a reputable company. Cheap holsters will always be cheap.
That is all I have to say about that.