Last month, I made an entry regarding the need for a holster that would accomodate my Beretta M9A1 pistol. Ultimately, I purchased the Blackhawk! Omega VI Universal Modular Light Holster, PN# 40MLH1 in olive drab. Since I got a good deal on it, I just could not pass it up. I bought the olive drab over black or digital or brown since the area I live in is heavily wooded (well, in the woods at least).
I had hoped that the holster would arrive before my shooting trip last week, but what can you do? I got it today though. The first thing I noticed when I opened the package is that this thing is big. For some reason, the pictures online made it look smaller. I don't know what I was thinking though; it had a picture of a Beretta holstered in it. Guess I should have thought it would be large. Well, okay fine. It's big, but it seems really nice. The stitching appears to be double stitched, or even triple stitched in all the critical areas. There's enough velcro on this thing to hang a small car from a wall. The amount of adjustment this thing has is seemingly endless. It's a pretty complex holster design - no doubt about that.
After trying it on, I realized the drop down was way too low. Will have to adjust that up a bit. And I'll need to adjust the two leg straps to fit my large legs. But this evening, I spent the better part of an hour getting my big ass gun fitted into this big ass holster. Fortunately, Blackhawk thought of everything. I'll talk about some of the go-fast features of this holster:
Internal Weapon Locating Strap: On the inside of the holster, toward the bottom, there is a wide strap with velcro on it. It is used to locate the weapon up or down in the holster. This allows you to fit the holster for shorter guns, or in my case, longer guns, and have the grip in the same spot. I made the adjustment so that my weapon's rear sights are just inside the upper lip of the holster, about 1/8" down. This also leaves the entire grip completely clear of the holster so I can get a postive grip when drawing, yet still keep the trigger and trigger guard completley covered.
Weapon Retention Straps: On the back of the holster (the side that the gun's frame is located), there are two straps that are designed to provide retention for the firearm so it does not flop around the inside. They allow the holster to really widen so it can accomodate large weapon lights. Since my Streamlight TLR-1s is not that big, I was able to crank the straps down pretty tight, but not so tight that the gun has a hard time on the draw. Nope, just a quick tug and the weapon comes free. It also reholsters one-handed very easily.
Adjustable Thumb Break: I'm digging the thumb break on this holster. It can be fully adjusted up or down, and you can put the thumb break anywhere you want it. Blackhawk says to have the male side of the button towards your body for carry. This worked out for me because it allowed me to place the thumb break in a familiar location. Additionally, another strap can velcro over the thumb break for added security. This way, there is very little chance of the thumb break coming loose. So, if you intend to hike, run, climb, or just do anything outdoors like I would do, you know the weapon is very secure.
Magazine Pouch: Okay, as a magazine pouch, mounted to the front of the holster, I think it's hoaky. I would never keep my spare magazines on my strong side. It would be very ackward to reach across with my weak hand to get to it, and forget about me switching my weapon over to my weak hand. Forget that noise! So, I adjusted it to accomodate my Leatherman tool. I normally carry my leatherman on that side anyway (typically in front of my holster), so it works out well. I figure that if I'm in the woods or doing something that requires me to wear this piece of gear, I might as well have my multi-tool at the ready too.
Speed Clips: One short one and one longer one. These are designed so you can quickly attach the holster to MOLLE webbing. I'll save this little things because you never know when you might need them. Heck, my next backpack purchase will probably have them, so this would be nice.
I took all the drop down gear off (which isn't hard once you get used to it), and carried it around on my belt for a little bit. I practiced drawing and reholstering, and eventually was able to soften the thumb break strap enough so I could snap it shut with one hand. After drawing and pointing the weapon, I was satisfied with the fit of the weapon in the holster. I put the drop down gear back on, which is kind of a pain in the ass. All that velcro is very sticky and you need to use the provided plastic tool to do anything. It all gets pretty easy to do when you take the time to understand how everything interacts, but as far as holsters go, it is still fairly complicated. The holster is so complicated, in fact, that it comes with an actual Instruction/User's manual, which is 10 pages long! Most holsters I buy have a small card with care instructions and a mailer to join the NRA or something of that nature. The directions are clear enough if you read them a few times. If you can read the instructions to your VCR, you should be okay with this holster.
All in all, the construction feels great. The nylon is thick and the entire rig, while somewhat bulky, seems well made. We shall see how it holds up on my next outing.