Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Pocket Holster - Revisited

Last year, I was given the opportunity to test and evaluate ThePocketHolster for thepocketholster.com. My initial impressions were very good, and I have worn this holster consistently for the last ten months in several carry methods. It has been a very good and durable holster. I have subjected it to more abuse than the average person will probably dish out. This holster has been soaked, scuffed, dropped, hung out to dry, subject to sweat, heat, cold, and drawn from a lot. To say this holster has held up pretty well would be an understatement. Indeed, it shows its wear and a couple of the anti-print panel’s corners have dog-eared a little bit, but it is a good leather holster, and continues to find the LCP residing in it. The simplicity of this design speaks to me. I like to keep things simple.

However, not everyone seemed as pleased with this holster as I. Some complained that it would not pass the “Raminator Shake Test,” as it became affectionately known by the folks over at TPH. Some LCP’s would fall out, and some would shake out. Others still complained that some of the neato features of my holster didn’t show up on theirs. Some of the detailed forming may or may not have shown up on newer holsters. Leather thicknesses became an issue, and overall stiffness didn’t seem to be as consistent as customers were expecting. Coupled with shipping issues, as the company experienced a very high volume of orders since Christmas 2010, lead times extended further out than the company originally expected. Additionally, trying to stock all the various colors was more difficult than expected, and that didn’t help matters.

Now enter the 2nd Generation, newly redesigned pocket holster. TPH made the change from cow leather (which can vary widely in thickness, stiffness, etc) and now offers their holster in bull leather, which TPH says will allow them to produce a more consistent holster with better stiffness and uniform retention while still maintaining its shape and appearance for a long time. The new leather should allow for less variance between holsters. So theoretically, the holster I receive should be about the same as the holster you receive.

Additionally, TPH changed from water based dyes to oil based dyes, which has something to do with better coloration without breaking down the leather as much, while penetrating the pores more evenly. They also dry their holsters in a timed and temperature controlled environment to achieve uniform shrinking of the leather without affecting the quality of the dyes or drying out the leather too much.

So what does all this leather speak mumbo jumbo mean to me, the leatherworking lay man? Well, if you’re like me, you want the biggest bang for your buck. You want a product that will last, and something that will do it while looking pretty good. Now, the beauty of leather is that as it ages and wears, it takes on a lot of character. Oh, the stories a quality leather holster could tell. Now, eventually it’ll all break down and stuff, but while you use it, it has to work.

For the purposes of this entry, I’m going to go over my initial impressions of this holster. I received my pocket holster in the mail and after opening the box it came in, I found it sealed up in a zip-loc style bag, sized for the holster. Nice touch. Everything in the box was neatly packed to reduce shipping bulk and keep everything in order for the customer to receive.

Without taking it out of the package, I could immediately tell the differences and changes made to this holster. For starters, my new holster is this matte black color and it is deep and rich. Up in the sunlight, the color is uniform across the holster, and the anti-print panel is shaded to an exact match. It looks very sharp.

After taking it out of the package, I could better inspect the construction of it. I don’t know how TPH cuts their leather, but it is smooth and consistent all the way around. Next thing is stiffness. Yeah, this bugger is very stiff, yet still flexible enough to get the LCP in and out of without any problems. I imagine that with use, the holster will soften up a bit, but a brand new holster should be stiff. While the main holster thickness is about the same or a little thicker than my other one, it feels more durable.

The real difference is in the thickness of the anti-print panel. It is almost twice as thick as the original! I’m guessing this is to address the dog-ear issue that my old pocket holster developed over many hours of holster use. As an aside, mind you that a lot of times, I just left my holstered LCP in my jacket pocket, so it was constantly being subjected to the force of the holster and loaded gun pushing down into the pocket, causing the panel to roll in on the corners and sides. Still, that’s to be expected from leather so thin. But I think this is why TPH made it thicker.

The muzzle end of the holster has also been tucked in. My old holster has the muzzle end wide open. I also imagine this is to address concerns about the gun possibly falling through or crap getting into the barrel. I’m not 100% sure on that, but that’s my best guess. Either way, it seems to tie in that part of the holster well.

The thumb push off tabs have been widened and stiffened to allow very easy thumb push off. There is a lot of room to get purchase on it and push. Once you get the LCP trigger guard clear of the holster retention point up front, it slides out very easily.

Since the leather is a bit stiffer and a little thicker. The pronounced controls imprinted on my old holster are not as visible and almost appear gone on the outside. You can still feel them on the inside, and that’s what counts. However, on the new holster, I can still see the trigger impression easily, and the takedown pin and barrel lug.

ThePocketHolster’s newly redesigned logo is imprinted proudly on the holster and the anti-print panel, and I think it looks good in real life. I wasn’t convinced originally from the pictures I saw online, but the impressions are hard to see on the computer. It looks nice now that I’ve seen it up close and personal.

The little Chicago screws have been relocated to a better location. The first is still sort of in the same place it was, but since the holster cut is more pronounced, it looks better. The one that really moved was the inner screw, and it moved from the outside more toward the middle of the holster, closer to the trigger guard. I can tell you now that pinching the holster together in that location WILL provide better retention for the pistol than trying to pinch it out as far as it used to be. Very good on TPH for that consideration. Additionally, moving the screw to the middle allows them to use one less grommet in the anti print panel, which in my opinion means that you have one less area for the thing to snag or tear from. The fewer holes in leather, the better!

TPH still champions simplicity by utilizing no stitching in the holster. They simply put the leather in the press and give it the squeeze. Give me a rivet, a bolt, a screw, or even a heavy staple over stitching any day. This follows my Keep It Super Simple mantra to perfection, and it is still the main reason I liked ThePocketHolster from the beginning.

My only real concerns are that the holster will print with that thick back panel. But honestly, it’ll look like a book or some smart phone holder – anything but a firearm in your pocket. The thick leather will also help it maintain a wallet shape in your back pocket.
The screws on my old holster would sometimes loosen up. I don’t know why. I probably couldn’t wrench on them since there’s nothing to grab on the smooth side. I solved this problem with blue loctite. Just be aware that it’s hard to unscrew them after you do that. There are some thread locking compounds that aren’t as extreme as loctite though. The way I see it, you are either going to use the print panel or you’re not. After fussing with taking it on and off, I eventually just left it on because it was more convenient that way. Therefore, locking the screws down made sense to me. If you don’t want to lock them down, just check them every once in a while. The screws come pretty tight from TPH.

Well, that’s about it for an “initial impression” review. Now, I’ll wear it awhile and tell you how it works out for me.
 
-James

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