Sunday, April 08, 2007

New Holster

Sunday 8 April 2008

My new holster finally arrived!

When I got here I determined that I wanted to go armed at all times, as I do at home. It is an option in this command, although many people choose not to. I did not, however, want to wear around a web belt or a shoulder holster all the time. So I decided to get a concealment holster for my issued Beretta M9.

The holster I really wanted is hand-made and has at least a five month wait to acquire one. So I ordered a DeSantis inside-the-waistband holster. It is a typical off-the-shelf holster, well made but not especially well-designed. It's a simple leather holster with a metal clip that goes over the belt. The gun rides low in the waistband, so it is well-concealed if you have a loose shirt hanging untucked over it, but the grip is not well positioned for a quick draw, and once the gun is drawn, the holster collapses so it is hard to replace.

I also ordered a clip-on magazine pouch from DeSantis. I hadn’t brought any gunleather with me, since I do not normally carry a large double-stack automatic like the M9 as a concealed weapon at home.

My normal carry weapons at home are a Heckler & Koch P7M8 (a single-stack 9mm which was a revolutionary design when introduced, and which I still think is one of the finest pistols ever made) and a Seecamp .32, a tiny pocket auto which was also revolutionary when it was introduced in 1985 and which still serves well after 21 years in my pocket.

As an aside, my other two favorite pistols are my 9mm Brno CZ-75 (original Czechoslovakian Combloc manufacture, customized by a German gunsmith) and my .45 ACP Colt Combat Target (factory stock except for an exquisite trigger job by Marianne Carniak). Both of these are large-frame autos which I shoot in PPC competition but rarely carry concealed due to their size.

My normal carry holsters are all custom-made. For the Seecamp .32, I have a custom pocket holster I had to wait a full year to get. I don’t have the manufacturer information over here, but it was worth the wait. I also got a pocket magazine pouch from this manufacturer which holds one magazine each for the Seecamp .32 and the P7.

For the H&K P7, I have a Milt Sparks Versa-Max II. This is the same holster I ordered for my M9, and which just arrived this week. For my money this is the finest concealment holster made:

(The pistol at the top of the photo is an HK P7. Interestingly, it is an original P7 PSP with the European-style magazine release on the heel of the butt, not the later-model P7M8 with the single-handed magazine release near the trigger guard. I have one of each, and strongly prefer the one-handed magazine release, even though the original P7 is a somewhat sleeker design).

The holster is worn inside the waistband on the strong side. It is handmade from the finest materials, with outstanding workmanship. It has all the features you would expect of a top-end holster. Custom-molded to the particular gun, it has a steel spring clip around the top to retain the holster’s shape when you draw. This makes it easy to re-holster the gun one-handed. It also makes it easier to put on your pants, since the gun does not have to be in the holster when you fasten your belt. The pistol rides high in the holster, with the grip well above the waistband so that you can get a good firing grip before drawing. A leather flap extends upwards from the back side of the holster, protecting the pistol from perspiration and protecting your waist from sharp edges. (I wish the magazine holder had one of these - the corner of the baseplate digs into my waist and the blueing has already worn/rusted off the edge despite daily cleaning.)

It comes with two fastening systems for holding it to your pants. The first is a set of typical leather loops which fasten over the belt and snap at the top. This is fine when wearing a jacket or loose untucked shirt, and works fine with ACUs (Army Combat Uniform).

The other fastening system is the really unique and attractive feature of this holster, and is the main reason I chose it above all others. As an alternative to the leather loops, it has a set of Kydex (plastic) clips which fasten onto the waistband of the pants, under the belt. These clips are S-shaped, and go up over the waistband, down inside the pants, and back up to where they attach to the holster. This creates a space between the holster and the waistband into which you can tuck your shirt. Once a loose-fitting shirt such as a button-down Oxford is tucked in over this holster, it is invisible to all but the closest scrutiny. It allows you to dress normally, without any of the tell-tale signals (such as a multi-pocket vest, fanny pack, or untucked shirt) that scream “GUN” to a trained observer.

I broke in the holster using the leather loops, as recommended, and last night installed the Kydex clips. While this pistol is not as concealable as my P7 because of the double-column magazine and consequent bulkier grip, it is still very difficult to see unless you are looking for it, and is by far the best solution to the problem of concealed carry, permitting a nearly invisible gun with a reasonably fast draw.

Of all thing the things I miss about being in the USA, my collection of vintage military firearms and regular shooting are near the top of the list. I can go to the range and shoot my M9 once a week if I wish, but it’s just not the same as having my own guns and being able to go to the range whenever I want. Plus I just plain miss having them around to handle and admire. I took a look back through some of my old photos and found this one of my room at home:

My Rifle Rack
Originally uploaded by

2004 Camp Perry
Originally uploaded by

Originally uploaded by

*Sigh*. I do like this life, and am very much enjoying being a soldier again. But in addition to missing my family and the woods, from time to time I miss the pleasures of everyday life as well.

I think that my longing for some of these familiar pleasures is the source for at least part of the delight I’ve felt in receiving this holster after such a long wait. It may seem silly to derive so much enjoyment from such a trivial thing, but in the absence of the beauty of the well-rubbed walnut and parkerized steel of my military rifles, the comfortable heft and feel of my pistols, and the familiar smells of oil and gunleather, the traditional craftsmanship embodied by this holster is a little taste of home.

Mood: Good
Music: North Sea Gas, Gallowa Hills


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