The High Noon Slide Guard in Sharkskin - top quality materials and craftsmanship combined to make a an exquisite holster with function, utiliity, and unsurpassed beauty - as the following pics will prove.
Boy, I'm sound more and more like a commercial. Well, I'm old, so perhaps quality and function is one of the few things that still impress me. I sounded like a commercial in my Tactical Pro thread too - maybe I've caught something.
BTW, I can make you a good deal on some 8x10s if you see something you like .
It's interesting how this came about. I was looking for a holster for my Kimber Tactical Pro II 9mm that has just won my heart, mind, and soul so to speak. I did a review of the gun in another thread, but in case you missed it, here's a couple of pics just so everyone knows what I'm referring to:
The Kimber Tactical Pro II 9mm and the stock Kimber mag - One of the things I've come to really appreciate about a Kimber with an ambi safety is the way they do it - notice the lever is missing that normally is captured under the grip:
right side w-mag by ron.0000, on Flickr
The other side:
left side by ron.0000, on Flickr
Beside its big brother - it's no wonder the 9mm weighs 2 more oz than the .45, look at how thick that barrel is - but it's weight where it does a lot of good:
business end view - 45 vs 9mm by ron.0000, on Flickr
So I wanted something nice for this gun, something special. I pretty much decided that horsehide was special and the holster in the early lead was a High Noon IWB "Down Under" in horsehide. In fact, I'm probably gonna go for one after I recover from all the gun tradin' I been doing lately. Well, actually I sold one gun outright to raise some cash if you know what I mean.
Down Under Straps
But, then, out of curiosity, I took a look at the Exotic Skins section on High Noon's website. I got too close to the shark. I looked at the close-ups of the Sharkskin Slide Guard read all the stuff about it and could not get it out of my head.
First some pretty pics - enjoy - hot of the press, well, digital camera. All the pics were made with a Canon ELPH 300HS camera - the best camera I've ever owned - it even does real slow motion videos. The photos were edited by cropping and I enhanced the lighting with Adobe PhotoShop Elements 9. The impact this editor can make on photos is incredible.
TP II in SS - 1 by ron.0000, on Flickr
The Sharkskin on a High Noon Rock Steady belt (cowhide). BTW, you can get an embossed belt - I should have. It's a bit more expensive, but I really like the ostrich belt - I don't have one, but I do like the look:
Rock Steady Embossed
Realize that embossed means the pattern is 'stamped' into the belt, it's not actually ostrich skin. Same for shark and python. Although they do have real sharkskin belts.
TP II in SS - w_belt by ron.0000, on Flickr
Here's another example, this is embossed python on leather:
embossed python key holder by High Noon by ron.0000, on Flickr
Here's a close-up of the slide guard. This feature was a 'must have' on my list - more about that later. The camera/lighting, whatever, doesn't do the inside of the slide guard and holster justice. The finish is the smooth side of the leather liner and it is polished to a very slick, high gloss finish. I wish that showed up in the pic. But, the molding details do show up - you can almost see the gun in it. See the little funny looked indention near the end of the slide guard? Know what that is? It's the contour for the commander style hammer!
Also, this is a good pic to see the stitching that goes all the way around the slide guard tab. Holsters that don't have a liner, if I understand this correctly, won't have the stitching in this area. I know my High Noon cowhide Slide Guard is not lined and it doesn't have the stitching. Hmmm, I wonder why I didn't specify a liner on that one?
guard details by ron.0000, on Flickr
And on the Rock Steady belt:
TP II in SS holster side view by ron.0000, on Flickr
From the front:
TP II in SS holster - on = front view by ron.0000, on Flickr
So some holster details:
First, before you rush out to buy one, realize the Slide Guard in Sharkskin is an expensive holster. The Slide Guard in cow leather is an excellent, beautiful holster - I know, I have one, and it sells for $89.:
The horsehide version goes for $129 and that'd be my pick if I didn't have the sharkskin. The sharkskin is waaaay more, but the higher price is not without added value, I guess depending on what you value.
If you read on High Noon's website under exotic holsters, you'll see that they don't take short-cuts either in construction or materials. They use the top grade, heavy sharkskin and as you can see from the pics, turn it into a beautiful, custom, top quality holster.
I like the holster as well as I like my Tactical Pro II in 9mm. The holster is rigid, holds the gun securely, and is quite comfortable to wear. It's a shame this is a concealed carry holster; this thing just begs to be seen.
The Sharkskin Slide Guard has all the features of the cow and horsehide version, but of course is made of Sharkskin with a 'slick-side-out' leather liner.
I do want to get back to the slide guard concept. I'd mentioned earlier that this feature was a 'must have' for me. Why? Several reasons. One I want to protect my gun from me and two, I want to protect me from my gun. If you live in a climate as I do where 6 months or so out of the year it's hot and humid, then you're gonna sweat. As you can see in the last two pics, this holster keeps the gun in tight, and that was another 'must have' on my list. I can't stand holsters that let a gun wiggle and see-saw about the belt - that just won't do. But that tight, rock steady fit means all the salty sweat has to be dealt with because the gun would be right up against you. Enter the slide guard feature, and this is a big slide guard.
The slide guard forms a little space and a big barrier to keep the sweat away from the slide, thumb safety (if your gun has one), and hammer (again, if your gun has one) - probably the most exposed, parts of the gun. The black or natural stainless steel slide resists rust, but I still like the fact that it doesn't get bathed in streams of salty sweat. The thumb safety and hammer is a different matter. Many, if not most, guns don't have stainless thumb safeties and I don't know of any guns that have stainless steel hammers, so protection here is vital.
The second reason the slide guard was a 'must have' was to protect me from the gun. Unless a gun has been 'melted', it's gonna have some sharp edges somewhere, maybe even if it has been melted. To name a few, the rear sight, the hammer in the case of a C&L 1911 or BHP, the thumb safety, and maybe the finger grooves on the slide. If you're concealing under a tee shirt with the gun against your bare skin, some of those sharpies are going to take a toll sooner or later. Again, enter the slide guard. And, again the barrier; this time to keep the sharpies from contacting your skin or even irritating the skin through a thin shirt. I learned my lesson about that.
It is worth noting that the slide guard extends well past the end (rear) of the slide and is slightly rolled over. You can see this in some of the pics. If the slide guard ended at the slide, an abrupt, although thin, edge would be in contact with the skin or through a thin shirt - you would feel it after a while. The rolled slide guard eliminates the abrupt edge and at the same time provides more area in contact with your side to spread the contact. It works too.
One thing to be aware of with any holster with a slide guard for a pistol with a thumb safety, e.g. a BHP or a 1911 is you won't be able to get your normal grip with your thumb over the safety as you would with a guardless holster. I have not found this to be a problem as I found quickly that I could actually get a full combat grip on the gun, clear the holster and slide my thumb up to the safety during the draw stroke. That's gonna take a little training to get used to, but after I tried it a couple of times I realized I had a much stronger grip on the gun to draw it from the holster than with the more conventional thumb on the safety grip from the holster.
Like all Slide Guards, they bring about as much comfort for carrying as one can get. I mentioned earlier that I can't stand for a gun to see-saw about the belt. Well, some of that can happen even with a high quality holster if you use a flimsey belt. Most any real gun belt should be adequate to carry the gun securely with a Slide Guard, but stability is maximized with the Rock Steady belt High Noon makes. Since I've been wearing mine, none of my other belts feel right, even when I'm not wearing a gun on it.
You'll have to excuse the enthusiasm. I've switched my carry guns for years trying to decide which is best for me, only to be caught in that endless cycle of gun rotations. Well, the Kimber Pro Carry and Tactical Pro has made a difference and I sense a 'finally' and a sigh of relief. I don't know that I won't go back to a Glock, Sig, etc., but it won't be from dissatisfaction, it will be from boredom if it happens at all. Then to find such an exquiste holster to compliment my Tactica Pro, is one of the more rewarding things that's happened as far as shooting goes.
FWIW, when you're in the market for a holster, if you don't want to spring for the sharkskin, at least try a horsehide. I don't have a High Noon horsehide - yet - but I do have some horsehides in another brand - I like horsehide.