IWB Holster Comparison
There are a few things in life that make me shake my head when people use anything but the best. Brakes, tires, and holsters are at the top of that list. It drives me nuts to see people running around on recaps, and buying cheap brakes leaves me scratching my head as to why one would be so cavalier with their life on a daily basis. The third one usually merits an eye roll and a sigh however. Carrying a gun is not a thoughtless task, it's a massive responsibility. And all too often I hear people talking about the new gun they purchased to carry, only to find out they are toting it around in quality equivalent to a recap tire. Cheap holsters are a pet peeve of mine, and they always have been. Training with a cheap holster is asking for a potential trip to the hospital. More importantly, should you ever need to employ your firearm to keep yourself breathing, you REALLY want it to be exactly where you left it and not at a different angle or position on your belt. I’ve always made sure to mention to those asking me for advice on buying a new firearm for carry to budget in for a good holster and training classes (beyond the “keep your booger hook off the bang switch” intro class). This is your life you're protecting, I think it’s worth the money.
Inside the Waistband (IWB) holsters have become the dominant method of carry as they offer the most flexibility with wardrobe, while only minimally impeding access to the gun. I personally carry full size handguns out of personal preference, and the 9mm Glock is what usually fills that role for me. Of the holsters I have reviewed here, there is a single example of a holster for the very popular Glock 43, and many more for the Glock 17. The full size Glock 17 is not the easiest to conceal, nor am I the smallest of chaps, so a holster needs to be a bit more than good in order to do the job for me. I spent some good carry time with each of these holsters. Some are from well known companies, others are hidden gems well worth searching for. Just to be clear there are no bad holsters here, I made sure of that. They are all first rate tools in themselves, and can be counted on to do the job a holster is supposed to do; Keep your gun safe and ready to go should you ever need it.
Tenicor is a name that is rapidly growing in brand awareness, and is known to some pretty high speed people for all of the right reasons. They take the proven fold over kydex design and make it something not quite matched by anyone else. They also have a unique offering for those who like to carry AIWB. I optioned to review both their Certum and Velo holsters for comparison. The Certum being for the 17 and the Velo for the 43.
The Certum is Tenicor’s general purpose IWB so to speak. It can be carried either on the strong side or appendix, and it’s pretty easy to move between the two if you want one holster for both jobs. The holster has options for two separate kinds of belt loops: Pull the dot type, or solid loops. It is also available with Tenicor’s unique T1 belt clips, which is how I ordered my Certum.
The clips, made by Discreet Carry Concepts, are what make Tenicor’s holsters so easily tailored to two different types of carry. The clips are mounted to the holster by two philips head screws per clip, and the top screw is mounted in a radial cut hole, meaning you can loosen the screw and rotate the clip itself to change the cant angle of the holster. The clips themselves also are cut so that the screws have a good bit of up and down adjustment. This overall means that cant and ride height adjustments are a breeze and a user can find just the right angle where they want to carry, not a predetermined angle where the gun is stuck. The clips are also very stiff, and have a separate hook at the bottoms that grabs your belt from the bottom. Once this holster is on, it’s not moving willingly and not coming off by any sort of accident that I can foresee. Sitting and standing, as well as entering and exiting a vehicle, yields no movement at all. Actually, I struggle to even move the holster or my belt once it’s on.
Naturally being that it’s made of kydex, retention is snappy, and one handed reholstering is effortless. Holding the holstered G17 upside down with no problem, a formidable shake is required to yank the gun loose. That being said, the resistance on draw is hardly noticeable and there is no snagging even, with the raised Wilson Combat Vickers Battlesights installed on the author’s carry pistol. The sweat shield is also molded to accommodate pistols with optics. What is perhaps most surprising is just how well the Certum makes a full size Glock disappear under what is a pretty tight fitting hoodie, as well as a normal fitting T shirt. This is nothing short of impressive for such a no bulk holster without any sort of wings to hold the gun closer to the body and distribute the weight. Check them out at Tenicor.com
The Velo holster on the other hand is a bit more specified. Despite being designed for appendix carry, the Velo is a fairly unique piece among an ever growing segment of the holster market: Those designed for appendix carry. Appendix carry is becoming somewhat prevalent and despite not being my preference, I felt that I should see what the fuss is about. The Velo also came equipped with T1 belt clips, but with the Velo, cant angle is not adjustable and only ride height can be changed in the same manner as the Certum. Molded in is a camming bar, as opposed to three separate camming attachments of differing heights with the Certum. That all being said, the really unique feature of the Velo is what they call the Body Contour. This molded in wedge forces the muzzle end outward and the grip into your body. I find this a rather comforting and comfortable feature. The muzzle isn’t pointed at the valuables, and the contour also means sitting with the holster is much more pleasant than sitting with a holster without a contour. Given the difference in size and weight between my normal carry guns and the Glock 43 combined with the ultralight Velo, I completely forgot I was carrying a gun after a pretty short amount of time. Tenicor’s offerings are nothing short of impressive, innovative, and expertly crafted. They exude a feel of a professional’s tool that will work no matter what and take one hell of a beating, making them a very serious contender for most anyone looking to carry properly. Check them out at Tenicor.com
RAVEN CONCEALMENT SYSTEMS EIDOLON:
Raven Concealment is one of the biggest and best names making kydex holsters today. I don’t really need to elaborate much more. When it comes to Kydex, “Raven” is usually mentioned pretty quickly, and having never owned a Raven product before, I decided to find out why.
I selected the Eidolon, and received two variations of the flagship IWB. One specifically formed for left handed use, and their “Agency” ambidextrous model. My standard model had an open bottom, while the agency was partially closed. The open bottom gives a user the ability to carry the longer Glock 34/35 models, while both holsters could be used with all three of the standard glock frame sizes in 9mm, 40S&W, and .357SIG. Both holsters arrived completely bare with a host of mounting hardware, allowing set up in a multitude of positions that are only limited by your imagination. Mounting points are everywhere on these holsters, and they can be set up for strong-side, cross draw, appendix, small of back, you name it. While Raven doesn’t provide any real suggestions on how to set up your holster, the mounting instructions are clear. After a bit of mocking up to see what would work best for me, I was off to the races. I set up the standard model using the provided attachment wings, and the Agency model as a little more of a compact setup.
The Eidolon is a very comfortable holster. It’s lightweight, exceptionally thin, and with the included wings the weight of the G17 is well spread out, making the full size pistol effortless to carry all day. Further enhancing the comfort, a nice high riding sweat shield that comes right to the end of the slide means there will never be metal touching your skin with the standard model. The sweat shield is also low enough to accommodate those carrying pistols with optics and optic height sights, so you’ll have no issues there. Draw is smooth and snag free, always the holster right where you left it making re-holstering a cinch as well. Given the amount of configuration options one has with this holster, it is definitely the best concealing of the bunch. The full size Glock disappears entirely beneath a tight fitting hoodie or even a T shirt of normal or slightly loose fit. With the Eidolon, even a trained eye will have a difficult time identifying that you’re carrying.
The Eidolon is arguably one of the best thought out holsters currently on the market. It’s light, comfortable, secure, and endlessly modular. This one holster can be built to suit just about any occasion. Another top notch recommendation that you can count on. Get yours at RCSGear.com
MTR CUSTOM LEATHER:
Switching directions, I have always been in love with leather. Whether it's the smell, the feel, or the romanticism of hand made goods, something about a leather holster has always just appealed to me as “right." Matt Rector also loves leather holsters, and it shows in his work. I ordered an example of MTR’s “Slimline IWB Tuckable” holster. In no time at all it was at my door.
Sturdy is a good word to describe this sizable chunk of bullhide. My holster also has an additional layer of bullhide on the inside of the holster for a smoother draw that does not hinder retention. While holding the holster upside down with the G17 in it, it still takes several violent shakes to get it out, and I have no concerns about it moving when it shouldn’t. As advertised, this holster is notable for being quite thin as well. I suspect this is due to it’s design, but it does conceal the weapon very well and is extremely comfortable. Fit and finish is also top notch. I ordered my holster in Mahogany, with a reinforcement in saddle brown. The holster is a beautiful shade of reddish brown with the reinforcement being a classy contrast. The belt clips are nicely powder coated and allow a shirt to be tucked in if need be. The MTR conceals exceptionally well and does not move, with a draw that is smooth as can be and nearly silent. The MTR is a holster that looks as good as it performs, and if leather is your thing I would highly recommend you get one...now at MTRCustomLeather.com
DON HUME PCCH:
Don Hume is a fairly storied name in holsters. As suppliers of all kinds of leather goods to countless police departments for over 50 years, there was no way I couldn’t find out what they had to offer. I requested an example of their PCCH (Preferred Concealed Carry Holster) in Saddle Brown, a color close to MTR’s mahogany. The Hume is a fairly simple and well thought out piece. It employs pull the dot snaps which are a breeze to use andquick on and off.
It has a sweat shield that keeps the gun away from your skin, and also does not interfere with your grip on the gun. An extra layer of leather is provided to facilitate one handed reholstering, which works perfectly. It should be noted that while the Hume will accept suppressor height sights and threaded barrels, it will not work with guns with mounted red dot optics, as the gun sits too deep in the holster. In my testing I also found that the holster prints a bit more than some others, but I am not the thinnest of chaps and feel this is more a, “I need to drop some pounds,” issue than a problem with the holster. Retention is right in the middle of perfect, holding the gun during upside down shaking, but allowing a quick and smooth draw with no snags, as well as a smooth re holster with no extra effort required. I have a feeling the rough side of the leather aids these characteristics. Overall, the PCCH shows that Don Hume’s reputation is deserved, and they still know exactly what a good IWB holster needs to be. Be sure to give this a good look if you plan on going leather at DonHume.com
G Code holsters definitely offer products that don’t look like anything else. Their designs are instantly recognizable and oh…..that fuzz! But the question is, do they perform like nothing else? We put two of their holsters to the test: The INCOG and the Phenom Stealth.
The INCOG is a collaboration between G Code and Travis Haley. Designed for the professional, the full featured and extremely well made INCOG is a prime piece of kit for those looking for a complete AIWB solution. The INCOG is exceptionally well built. Mine came in a nice Grey color with G Code’s signature “Tactical Fuzz” on the outside. G Code has really found themselves a fantastic feature with their Tactical Fuzz. This stuff is on it’s own level. The fuzz keeps the gun exactly where you leave it, and your undergarments where you left them. No bunching up or pulling here. Weapon retention is also excellent. The pistol goes in and stays there, but comes out without any fuss when you want it. Retention is adjustable via the screw method on both the holster and the mag carrier, but it came set just so for the pistol. The mag carrier retention was very loose, and I suspect this is on purpose to allow a user to accommodate their actual magazines instead of a generic fitment. The mag carrier also does not interfere with the optic on your pistol, should you opt to carry a pistol with a MRS cut. As if G Code was not already extremely mindful of its customers, a version for light bearing pistols is also available.
The INCOG allows a very small workspace requirement and quick reloads as well as an exceptionally fast draw. The magazine carrier is detachable and cant is adjustable for those who prefer a strong side carry, the INCOG is actually available without the carrier just for this purpose, but it really shines when used as a complete AIWB solution. G Code also has other options for strong side carry…
The Phenom Stealth is G Code’s more conventional AIWB/strong side IWB holster. Conventional is a term used loosely here. Looking like it’s from the future and entirely covered in their fantastic Tactical Fuzz, this “conventional,” holster does not get lost in a drawer or anywhere else you put it, unless where you’re putting it is on your belt. The Stealth is adjustable for cant, and I would strongly recommend adding the Moclaw as it does a fantastic job at pushing the gun into your body, regardless of setup. Even with the metal claw, this holster is also the lightest of the bunch at an anorexic 3.4oz. The Tactical Fuzz covers both the inside and outside of this holster, so the same magic stuff that keeps your clothes from bunching up now also helps keep the gun completely where it is, period. This holster will not allow the gun to be shaken loose, even upside down. It’s just not coming out of there until you want it to. When you do want it to come out, it somehow is not any sort of chore, it just comes out. This minimal bulk holster is adjustable for retention, but I saw no need to touch that screw. The Stealth surprised me. I was not expecting a holster with so little material to offer so much. It does however, and both of G Code’s offerings tested here warrant consideration in a search for a proper IWB. Get yours at TacticalHolsters.com