Defensive Carry banner

1 - 4 of 4 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,724 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Disclaimer; YMMV, IMHO, my personal experience only.

When I got my CHL back in the 90's I purchased one holster...an entry level, Galco single clip IWB for my Sig 220. It's ok, nothing fancy, $30 bucks worth of form fitted leather that does the job at a basic level. It has actually spent most of it's life wedged in the slot between my drivers seat and the center console of my Chevy 2500 HD, at a close right hand reach. However, IWB carrying of that holster was never very comfortable. Fast forward a couple of decades.

I recently made my first gun purchase in over 30 years- an M&P Shield 9 -and the hunt for a new holster was on. That was soon followed by the acquisition of a Kimber 1911 in a trade with my son, who had been trying to talk me out of an old black powder pistol for a few years. So that prompted a search for a good 1911 holster as well. Then I decided to find a different holster for my PPK/s, which I've had for about 35 years and always carried in a soft, cheap IWB single clip holster as well as something new for the P220. After years of staying low tech with my CC it was time to up the game. Thank you, M&P Shield, for that motivation.

After a couple of months of selling some stuff on Ebay, reading reviews and research, and using the Ebay earnings for holster purchases, I ended up with some new rigs, which I decided to do a road test with.
I had a 600 mile round trip ahead of me, a thermos full of black coffee, a spare change of clothes and personals, and hit the road to see my grandson for the weekend.

These were the rigs I took to test along the way, which I loaded into a small, lockable suitcase.
All but two of these were purchased 2nd hand for around half internet/street price, or less, and of course most of them don't provide carry for spare mags.

Galco Miami Classic - Sig 220
Galco Royal Guard - 1911
Galco PHX 212 - 1911
Sparks VM2 - 1911
Null SMZ - PPK
Galco Executive - PPK
Sparks VM2 - M&P Shield
Blade Tech Klipt Ambi - M&P Shield ( a freebie with the Shield purchase )

I wore loose fitting pants, normal for a long drive, along with a new Hanks Gunner 1.5" gun belt, T-shirt, and a long tailed, button up shirt for an outer layer of concealment, and used each holster for approx 60-90 minutes noting comfort behind the wheel, draw capability, belt positioning, seat belt conflicts, and vehicle exiting while maintaining concealment. Here's how it went;

#1 - Starting out I chose the Galco PHX212 at a 10:00 crossdraw position with the Kimber 1911

This is a comfortable holster in the crossdraw position and quickly becomes physically unnoticeable. Draw capability is easy and quick. Seat belt conflict is minimum. However, exiting the vehicle to gas up just a few miles from home I noticed a concealment challenge. Even with a long shirt tail the bottom tip of the holster is pushing the edge of concealment. Perhaps with a gun shorter than the 5" 1911 that issue would lessen. I did not test it at the 3:30 position. I do like this holster and am trying to justify keeping it. I like the thumb snap feature also. But for all purpose concealment it's not the best option. Perhaps better for hunting/camping/ open carry use. It's a good, well made holster. I'm not sure it's $139.95 good. But I only paid $36 bucks for it...so it's a keeper for now.

#2 - Galco Royal Guard at a 3:30-4 o'clock position.

With the Kimber 1911 the Royal Guard immediately felt good. Even positioned near the seat belt lock I felt no interference with the lock or shoulder/lap belts merging near the holster. Due to the cant, the length of the Kimber wasn't noticeable and the butt of the grip very comfortably nestled into the area below the ribs. I really like the cant of this holster-not being able to find the degree of cant online I'd estimate it to be around 20 degrees which works great for seated, in the car. Draw capability is easy, quick with instant grip contact, even with a seatbelt on, and within minutes I quickly forgot about it.
I didn't exit the truck with this holster but I knew concealment would be easy since the Kimber rides high in this holster. All in all, a great choice and well worth the full price I had to pay for it. They are hard to find used for your specific model but once you holster it up you won't mind parting with your money.
A definite keeper.

#3 - Sparks VM-2, with the Kimber 1911.

The first thing I noticed was the larger footprint of the VM-2 against my side and the slightly less forward cant of the gun. I'm estimating a 15 degree cant but cant verify that degree, however it's noticeably less than the Royal Guard. Sparks says it has the "FBI" cant. This is also a very comfortable holster but seated in the truck I felt the cant slightly awkward and repeatedly adjusted the positioning until I settled at 4:00, which was the best position for holster to body comfort and seat belt conflict. Draw capability wasn't as quick as with the Royal Guard and took more control to get on the grip quickly. Concealment isn't an issue with this holster upon exiting the truck, which I tested at a quick pit stop. I really like the VM-2 for all day wear but for vehicle wear, I didn't like it as well as the Royal Guard. But if it was all I had, I would find little to complain about. The wider spaced belt straps do make a very secure fit to the belt.

#4 - After my stop I switched to the M&P Shield in the smaller Sparks VM-2

Again, first thing I noticed was the wide footprint of the VM-2, even though the holster built for the M&P Shield is shorter than the one for the 1911. But the same degree of cant, same seatbelt latch area adjustments, same draw challenges were present, just as they were for the 1911...just in a slightly shorter package. These are very high quality hostlers and if this was all I had to work with I could easily make it work. I've spent several days carrying the M&P S around my property in the VM-2 with zero complaints, even when I got in he truck for a short errand. And hadn't noticed any vehicle seating challenges until I tried the Royal Guard. It's a very comfortable IWB holster and sits against the body with great stability and great concealability. But in the truck, with other options available, it just wasn't the best option for me. The difference is in the forward cant alone.

#5 - Bladetech Klipt Ambi, a kydex single glip IWB holster for the M&P Shield.

I got this holster with my M&P S, recommended by the Cabelas gun dept Mgr who I did my deal with. When I asked him to recommend a holster he immediately showed me the Bladetech and, among other praises, said that was what he used for his M&P S and he even jogged with it. Since he was covering the cost I went with it and I have to say, being a leather fan and a bit doubtful of the plastic design at first, it was a good choice. I've carried the M&P on my daily routine, in and out of the vehicles, (both truck and car), around the property, sitting at the computer in the home office, mowing on the tractor, and now-on this leg of my trip - and found it to be a comfortable carry. Draw capability is quick, natural, and easy. Seatbelt conflict is minimum, and the holster can be positioned in a variety of ways from 12 to 5 o'clock. If this were the only holster I had for the M&P S it would cover every use without compromise. It's comfortable, easy to get on and off, and it's kydex so it won't suffer the detrimental effects that leather will from a variety of wear and weather conditions. There are many kydex offerings on the market and I've looked at all of them since getting this one, and they're all designed well and worth a look. But for me, the single clip is a winner. I ended up with the Bladetech because it was free. And it's a keeper.

********
I reached my destination. The next day I started on the return trip home with the shoulder rigs.
********

#6 - My first shoulder holster test was the Galco Miami Classic with the Sig 220 & 2 spares

My first thought was, "this is the way to ride with a CC rig". The MC is well balanced, comfortable, easy to forget after a few miles, conceals extremely well even with a full size 45, draws easily and naturally, doesn't conflict with the seatbelt system, and even in summer clothes can disappear under a loose fitting shirt. If you are comfortable in, and can get used to a SH the MC is a great choice. I paid $75 for this one and couldn't be more satisfied. Of course, season, weather, clothing, etc will have an affect on how well a system like this wears and you wouldn't want to wear it while doing hot weather work but for vehicle travel it's hard to beat. Exiting the vehicle and maintaining concealment is no problem. A good fitting to avoid printing is obviously important. This is the only holster I have that is rigged for spare mags. A nice addition.

#7 - Galco Executive - PPK/s

The Executive is one of Galco's pride and joy holsters. It's hard to find one at any measure of discount and I've put off buying one of these for well over a decade due to the cost. But one day a "follow search" email popped up with an Ebay BIN price that I couldn't refuse. When it arrived I was surprised to see that it was in new condition...hardly used, if at all. The Executive is everything the reviews claim it to be...very well constructed, comfortable, easy on and off, and the PPK sits in the holster with authority. The right side tie down is a simple but very sturdy suspender type clip that goes over the right shoulder and down to attach to the right side belt or pants. Slip it on, clip it down and done. Draw is quick and easy. Concealment is 10 on a 10 scale, even with light clothing. Like the Miami Classic, seatbelt conflict is a non issue. For travel, if your preferred carry is a PPK/s and your willing to spend the price for one, it's pretty hard to beat this holster. And, of course, the weight of the 380 is easy to wear compared to a full size pistol.

#8 - KL Null SMZ - PPk/s

This was the last rig test on my trip. The Null SMZ is less of a holster and more of a pistol hanger with a shoulder harness, and it just seems to make sense in every way. This one is not the standard synthetic material Ken now makes his SMZ's from. The holster itself is somewhat similar to the current SMZ, but made of leather, an early version, with similar straps as the newer ones. It has seen a ton of wear, been sweated all over, and conformed to the exact shape of a PPK over time. It's also lost almost all of the black synthetic covering from the straps, but that actually makes it even more concealable under a shirt. I slipped it on and the first thing I noticed was a high degree of comfort and concealability. It works extremely well. It's quick on the draw. And the pistol hangs in the holster with complete security and almost forgettable. I can find no faults with it. If a small semi auto is your preferred carry and you're hunting for a good SH then this is a great option, in or out of the vehicle...and at less than half the cost of a Galco Executive. This old one, being leather, is a bit cool and vintage in the Bianchi #9R kind of way, but I can see the advantages of the synthetic material used now.

So there you have it. 600 miles and 8 carry rigs. Which ones were the keepers? For now, they all are!
But for long distance car/truck travel only, within my options, these worked best for me;

Kimber 1911 - Galco Royal Guard
S&W M&P Shield - Blade Tech Klipt Ambi
PPK/s- Null SMZ
Sig 220 - Miami Classic.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
289 Posts
Thanks for the drive.. good info to have. I've been looking for a 1911 holster. Glad you got to see your grandson while doing our review...:image035:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,200 Posts
It's good to see that others bargain shop for holsters! I buy the same way. the only reason I don't have a big box of holsters is that I sell the ones I don't use.
It's good that your review is geared toward driving. there are so many questions that pop up on this forum about driving holsters! Thanks DR
 
1 - 4 of 4 Posts
Top