I’m going to take a look at some of the Inside The Waistband IWB Holsters I’ve used over the past few years for concealed carry and cover some the many questions people who are looking to start carrying usually ask me.
Safariland ALS vs BLACKHAWK! Serpa
I recently had a friend show me their Safariland Automatic Locking System (ALS®) holster, and in playing around with it, I decided I really liked the retention release. So I picked up a Safariland 6378 ALS holster to compare to my BLACKHAWK!® CQC® Serpa® holster.
I normally use the Serpa holster for Outside the Waistband (OWB) carry, and have used them for many training, etc. So that is what I’m most familiar with. I really like them, but the release on the ALS is something that I really like.
Theis Holsters IWB
I recently purchased a Theis Holsters Inside the Waistband (IWB) holster… It’s a form of cross bread holster, part Kydex and part leather. In my limited experiences, I’m finding that this form of holster is much more comfortable because it molds to your body better. I’ve found with pure Kydex style holsters, they are more one-size fits all, so they usually cause some uncomfortable pinching or just feel strange, especially after many hours of wear.
For IWB carry, I like something that is easy for holstering, drawing and then re-holstering a firearm. It’s much smoother for training, and I find more convenient for the simple things like just putting your pants and belt on. I also prefer something that maintains its shape a bit better. So all of that is boiling down to the fact that I like something that is part Kydex. So the best of both worlds, in my mind, is the cross-bread type holsters.
Breaking it down, Theis Holsters offers holsters in multiple fashions (IWB and OWB) and for a very large collection of firearms. I’m just going to cover the IWB holster, because that is what I have.
The options for the IWB holsters, once you choose your firearm type, are the type of leather you want (horsehide or cowhide), the type of clips you want (metal, Kydex, or J-Clips), and finally if you want standard or full muzzle coverage.
For my holster, I chose horsehide, metal clips and the standard muzzle coverage.
I decided to go with the horsehide per the recommendations on the site. Theis notes the following positives about the horsehide…
- They are stronger, yet thinner than cowhide, making them easier to conceal.
- Horsehide does not absorb sweat like cowhide, because it is more dense and much more durable than cowhide.
- The horsehide I use is 100% natural with no color or dyes to stain your clothing.
With my couple of weeks of usage, I would have to agree 100%. The thickness is about the same as one of my cowhide holsters and just has a better overall feel about it. Also, I’ve noticed that it hasn’t been absorbing a lot sweat, it has changed a little in color, getting a bit darker. So I would assume its absorbing a bit. But its not noticeable. I also often wear a white undershirt, so the holster is not rubbing directly on my skin, I just don’t like the feeling of any holster on my bare skin. But I haven’t noticed any discoloration on any of my shirts, even after wearing it for 10-12 hours non-stop.
I did decide to use some leather conditioner on the holster. Its something that I use on most leather items that I get. Its called saddle soap, and it’s amazing. You can get some here, Kiwi Saddle Soap The results turned out great… I didn’t go crazy with it, just gave it a little coating to help protect it. In a couple months I’ll give it another coating to clean/protect it. Just something I think will help the holster last longer.
Next up is the clips, I chose the metal clips because I’ve had good luck with them in the past, so I figured why change it. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!
And finally, I also chose to get the normal muzzle coverage, not the full coverage, for more versatility between firearms. e.g. a Glock 17 and a Glock 23. If you get the full muzzle coverage for a Glock 23, the Glock 17 wont fit. So I figured having an open muzzle was the best choice. And so far, I am very happy with that choice. I’m not concerned about my pants getting a little dirty or anything like that.
For my preferences, I did make a couple modifications to the holster. The leather that protects your side from the slide of the gun stuck out a bit to far for my tastes… Basically it was interfering with my grip when trying to draw my weapon. Your results may vary, but I simply used a razor knife to cut away about a 1/4 inch of material. Here is what it looks like with that done.
After that, drawing was clean and easy, and I didn’t have any obstructions. Depending on your gun, your body type, and the size of your hands you may need to cut more, less, or none at all. But remember, you need to practice. A change in holster is a major thing, especially when your life may depend on it. It can alter everything about your shooting. So make sure to do dry fire practice, and then go to the range and practice. Practice. Practice. Practice!
So, other than the little trimming that I needed to do, I’ve found this holster to be one of the best I’ve ever used and I love it. The retention is great, out of the box, though Theis does give you instructions on how to remold some of the Kydex if you want to change the retention. He also sends out very detailed instruction on the holster and what to expect with it. Like anything new and good, it takes a little time to break in. Though most of the things he mentions that “might happen” never happened or I never noticed. For example, holster squeak.
Bottom line, check them out and give them a try. You will not be disappointed.