As noted elsewhere on the blog, my preferred concealed carry method is appendix inside the waistband (AIWB). As was all over the web as well as in my article here, several notable instructors banned the use of AIWB in their classes.
I lack the “closet/drawer full of holsters” so many gun owners seem to end up with. I’ve got a pocket holster that works well for me, 3 inside the waistband holsters, and then a drop-leg holster. In June, with the Trident Concepts Combative Pistol Level Two class (AAR here) only a couple of months away (and Jeff Gonzales, the instructor, being one of the instructors who bans AIWB in his non-concealed carry classes), I needed to acquire an outside the waistband (OWB) holster for use in his and possibly other, future classes.
I looked at Blade-Tech (http://blade-tech.com), which I’ve had good luck with, and also at Raven Concealment Systems (http://rcsgear.com/), whose magazine pouches I use and whose reputation is all but unmatched in kydex holster world. Raven holsters tend to be a bit on the pricey side, and since I only viewed this as a holster I’d use in classes, I didn’t feel the need to spend $100 on a holster that might get used once or twice each year.
I found F3 Holsters (http://f3holsters.com) on m4carbine.net, where they do some advertising on the equipment exchange page. I visited their website to find a holster that would fit my needs. Although I usually train with a Glock 19, I wanted a holster that would give me options to also use with a Glock 26 or the longer Glock 17 and 34, should I choose to use those pistols in the future. This dictated an open muzzle end. In the end, I settled on their “slide modular” model (http://f3holsters.com/owbslhoforgl1.html), which advertised the ability to be used with Glock 26 thru 17 (or, presumably, 34 and 17L).
I paid online (they were having a sale that weekend, so I saved $6.59, bringing my total shipped to my door to $40.31), and the holster arrived in less than a week. Packaging was minimal (just a padded envelope) but adequate. No assembly of any type was required. I mounted it on my belt and tried it out with various sized Glocks, and it seemed to work as advertised. The pistols fit nicely into place, snapping with an audible “click”. I also, with the holster off the belt and an unloaded pistol inserted, held the holster upside down (over my bed) and gave it a light shake to see if the pistol would fall out. It did not. I spent much of the next few days walking around the house with the holster on and a pistol inside of it to get used to the feel. At times, I practiced my draw (with an unloaded firearm, of course) and found that the slight, 10 degree cant seemed to fit my drawstroke very well.
While working with it in this environment, I found a few spots that irritated my strong hand when drawing and holstering. They weren’t rough spots; I would just say that the edges weren’t as rounded as I’d like. A little sandpaper cured that, and I felt good to go.
I used this holster over the two day course with Jeff Gonzales, and it functioned well for me. This was a high round count class (1385 rounds), with lots of drawing and reholstering involved, and the holster was up to the challenge.
There were two issues that I had with the holster.
- I have modified all of my Glocks with the Vickers/Tango Down extended slide stop/release. There were a handful of occasions in class when Jeff Gonzales had us holster our pistols with the slide back. I found that, if I holstered with the slide back and then bent down to pick up an expended magazine, etc., that the stress/flex on the holster would activate the slide release and send it home! This kind of shocked me the first time it happened and Jeff noted it as well. It wasn’t a problem per se. However, given how many people use this extended slide release or the Glock factory extended slide release (which comes standard on the Glock 34 and 35), it seemed odd that the channel in the holster that accommodates the slide release isn’t recessed enough to allow its unfettered use. When I got home I changed out for the standard factory version and holstered the pistol with the slide back and could not get the slide to release on its own when bending down, etc.
- The area of the holster just below the trigger that the middle finger of the strong hand touches when acquiring the firing grip doesn’t really allow enough space for that finger, especially on the reholster. Accordingly, my middle finger got repeatedly rubbed in that one spot, which became an annoyance given how many times we drew, fired, and holstered. I should be able to sand that section down/back a bit more.
- This is last issue is no fault of the holster, but just a word of caution. If you’re going to shoot repeated strings of fire (5 rounds, holster, 5 rounds, holster, 5 rounds, holster), then getting an open-ended holster MAY not be the best idea. We performed many such strings in this particular class, and the result was a hot muzzle that protruded just a bit which, even through my pants, made one spot on the outside of my leg/hip uncomfortably hot at times. This is not a design flaw of the holster, of course, as it was my choice to go with this open muzzle design.
Overall, however, I feel like this is an excellent holster, especially given the price point. If you are someone like me who usually carries IWB, or even AIWB, but wants a simple, no-nonsense holster for classes or possibly competition, look at this or other models by F3 holsters. Indeed, John just ordered a pair of holsters from them, so hopefully we’ll see what his impressions are in the next few weeks.