Sunday, August 21, 2011

Addressing The Need

If you have been following this blog (and surprisingly, a lot of people actually read it), then you know that I've purchased a Beretta M9A1 and mounted a Streamlight TLR-1s light to the rail.  You may have also read an entry where I had it mounted to my Ruger SR9.  To be honest, I really didn't like it on the SR9 - but I digress.

Well, okay, I've got the gun, mounted the light, bought a bucket of magazines for it, so I guess I'm ready for when the SHTF, right?  Nope.  I still need a holster for it.  The problem is that it's really hard to find the right holster for my personal needs.

For me, it's not all about the most tacticool holster there is, hence the most expensive and ridiculous.  It's more about practicality and economy, as well as adaptability.  Now, that's a hard pill to swallow when you are sourcing a holster that will accommodate a large framed gun with a mounted light.  Unfortunately, my search for something that will do all that I require, and still be inexpensive, has turned up nothing.  Most of the holsters, systems, rigs, or whatever you want to call them, seem to center around being drop down thigh holsters, molle adaptable holsters (not a bad option if I was wearing a tactical vest all the time), belts, weapon specific, and I even found an inside the waistband holster if you believe that.  But none of these could adapt.  This holster is going to be primarily for my go-to gun for when all hell breaks loose, but I also want to be able to run other guns I have in it for when I'm using them.  If I'm out hiking in the woods, it'd be nice to stuff a 4" magnum revolver in it instead of a 9mm.  Instead of rattling off the crap I need, I'm going to go another route and talk about the crap I don't need.  This list is much shorter than my list of needs, but it is a deal breaker for about 90% of the crap out there - including the economy priced holsters.  Damn!

Before I get into the list of don't wants, I need to explain exactly what this holster is going to be used for.  Aside from when the SHTF, this is open carry all the way - blatant unapologetic open carry. This holster will be used when I'm out in the back woods, hiking on trails, camping, shooting, and if the situation warrants it, home defense in a WROL type situation.  Most of the time, the holster will accompany the gun for situations where I want to run it - like in the mountains.

I have no need for a weapon specific holster.  In keeping with the economy theme, I've determined that a holster that can fit a few different pistols will actually save me cash in the long run because, a: I don't carry two pistols at once in the field and, b: if 1 holster can accommodate 5 pistols, that's 4 less holsters I have to buy for the application.  This also opens up my pricing options, as I can justify a more expensive holster up front.  Buying a single $100 holster will save me in the long run instead of buying 5 different model specific $50 holsters.

I have no need for a belt use only holster.  As much as I like belt holsters, they do not always work.  On backpacking trips (and I'm talking day hikes and short overnighters), I'm likely to be carrying my Osprey backpack, which has a hip belt.  The downside to a belt-only holster is that it interferes with the pack's belt system and vice versa.  Additionally, the interference may compromise me in the event I have to quickly draw the gun from the holster.  If the padded hip belt is in the way, then I can't quite draw. 

I have no need for a leather holster.  Leather is great for concealed carry and even open carry in an urban setting (face it, leather is more refined looking), but leather isn't my personal choice for backwoods carry.  The reason is because when leather gets wet, it tends to shrink when it dries, and it can hold the moisture against your weapon.  Nylon tends to dry out faster and you can brush of mud and debris easier.

At the end of the day, there were two obvious options available to me: the Tactical Tailor modular light holster or the Blackhawk Omega VI Ultra holster.  Initially, I was leaning toward the Tactical Tailor holster because of the initial price point of about $45.  However, after seeing how much a drop down panel would cost (in order to get the holster off my belt and below my backpack's hip support), I'd be spending as much as other holsters that were already drop down capable.  What drove me away from other drop down models is that they were exclusively drop down holster and incapable of becoming belt holsters for those time I might want them to be.  The Blackhawk Omega VI ultra fits all my needs completely, but I was initially scared away by their asking price of over $100. 

However, determined as I was, I found one on Amazon.com for only $67 with free shipping.  Hey, now that's a good deal!  Considering it is only $22 more than the Tactical Tailor holster, I figure the Blackhawk is worth it. 

I'm very intrigued by the fact that it can adapt to serve as a belt holster (as shown above), a drop down thigh rig holster, and can even be attached to a molle adaptable vest or chest rig, should I desire in the future.  The other benefit, from what I've read is that it can also close up in the snout so that guns without lights can be secured easily.  Another neat feature is the pouch in the front.  Blackhawk calls this a magazine pouch, but there is no way I'm storing my spare mags on the holster.  This would be better served as a multi-tool pouch or for a flashlight, like my new Streamlight Scorpion X (more on that later). 

With this holster, I hope to strike a balance between practicality, economy, and adaptability.  I have read very positive reviews about Blackhawk products and will look forward to running this through its paces.

-James

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