Gear Review: Kholster Crescent IWB Holster

Last month I found myself searching for a custom-fit IWB holster for the eminently-concealable SIG/Sauer P250 subcompact. I’ve heard nothing but praise for the Crossbreed Supertuck, but I had a gun to review and Crossbreed’s advertised 4 to 6 week waiting list made me look elsewhere. Kholster’s online store promised a custom fit and quicker shipping, and they delivered in less than two weeks. Their designs can accommodate anything from an LCP to a Government Model 1911, but they recommend their medium-sized Crescent design for the subcompact P250. And I’ll assume it’s pronounced ‘K-Holster’ instead of ‘Cholster’ or something sounding vaguely like Farsi . . .

Design

All Kholster models are ‘hybrid’ IWB holster designs, combining the retention and durability of rigid Kydex with the comfort of soft leather. The pistol rides snugly in its custom-molded Kydex sheath which is riveted to the sturdy (and velvety smooth) leather backing. That keeps it from digging into your hip and kidney. The whole rig hangs from your belt with two widely spaced and height-adjustable steel belt clips.

The Kholster uses a supple, unstained full-grain cowhide backing. It’s not very pretty, even in comparison to the already-ugly Crossbreed, but it’s a very practical design feature: no matter how profusely you sweat, the Kholster’s unstained leather can never leach brown or black dye onto your shirt, trousers or skin.

Here’s one of the clips; each of them has seven mounting holes to choose from, and the leather washers allow them to pivot to accommodate whatever height or cant floats your boat. The outermost leather washer also grips your belt/waistband from the inside of your pants for extra security.

Comfort

Remember the first time you laid on a waterbed and thought “Mmmmm, this is really comfortable…” right before you fell asleep? Even if you’re too young to remember waterbeds, you’ll feel that way the first time you slide your gat into the Kholster on your hip. Your well-hidden gun won’t dig into your side, and it won’t drag your pants down like Mark Wahlberg’s Sean John sweatpants either.

IWB holsters are not generally renowned for their comfort, but you’ll never suffer the dreaded Sweaty Kydex Rash with a Kholster on your hip. The leather backing is breathable and incredibly soft and smooth against your skin. It molds itself to your shape (yes, even your love handles) and keeps the pistol from shifting around while you move through your day.

It’s so comfortable that the 25-oz. SIG becomes completely unnoticeable, and I only notice it when I twist or bend sideways. That’s basically the Holy Grail of holster comfort, so let’s move on.

Concealment

When it comes to concealed carry, I’ve always been an inside-the-waistband kind of guy. I know this may put me in the minority around here, but I’ve never felt that an OWB holster provided adequate concealment unless I wore a long cover garment like a raincoat or “Shoot Me First” photographer’s vest. It’s not that I hate raincoats (I’d have to move to another part of the country if I did) but I’d hate to have to wear them 24/7/365.

Here’s is the SIG at my preferred 3:00 carry position. I feel much more discreet knowing that the barrel of my gun can’t somehow poke out from beneath my cover garment. And I just plain love that my cover garment can be an ordinary rugby shirt or bomber jacket instead of a long sweatshirt or Shoot Me First vest.

If this isn’t concealed enough for you, you can move the belt hangers upwards and lower the holster deep beneath your waistband. Keep in mind that this will result in a slower and more difficult presentation, though, because you’ll be fishing the butt of the gun out of your trousers with your fingertips.

Presentation isn’t the Kholster’s strong suit to begin with, and I moved the belt hangers down (to move the gun up) a half-inch from the starting position to give me a better grip when drawing.

Even if my cover garment falls open, this is the most anyone will ever see of what I’m carrying. If my cover garment is a shirt, the natural leather backing becomes almost indistinguishable from the skin it’s rubbing (oh so softly and smoothly) against. But it’s pure luck that it perfectly matches my mid-winter, lighter shade of pale skintone; maybe their leather comes from sun-deprived Pacific Northwest cattle?

If you have to move the belt hangers up or down, be sure to use a good Phillips head screwdriver and tighten the hell out of them. If you don’t, the spiked washer nuts won’t lie flush against the inside of the leather backing. And you will want them to lie flat.

The Kholster gets just one demerit on its Concealment Report Card: the leather washers are cut from fairly dry pieces of hide, and they sometimes make a tiny ‘creak’ when you bend or twist your torso. A few smudges of Mink Oil will soften the leather and make this go away (eventually) but Kholster ought to prevent this creaking by cutting the washers from leather that’s been pre-oiled on its contact sides.

Retention

I wore the Kholster while hiking, sitting, driving, jogging, hauling groceries and heeding the call of nature. The SIG P250 never budged a millimeter, and the Kholster never dragged my trousers down (except when they were unzipped.)

There are no retention adjustment screws; this firm retention is owed to the very close fit of the model-specific Kydex sheath. As this picture shows, it hugs the contours of the pistol (even the trigger) closely and the pressure of your body through the leather backing holds it in place firmly.

The trigger guard is not absolutely enclosed, but nothing bigger than a toothpick could slip inside and I usually empty my underpants of toothpicks when I’m folding the laundry anyway.

I couldn’t manage dislodge the pistol through any ordinary exertions, so I finally put it through the most extreme test I could think of: I jumped up and down on a trampoline with an empty chamber for safety and a full magazine for weight. The gun and the Kholster still didn’t budge, so I gave up.

Presentation

OWB holsters always have an advantage when it comes to drawing your pistol quickly, and this photo shows why: IWB holsters are presentationally-challenged.

In an IWB holster, your gun rides tight against your kidney and there’s very little room to slip your thumb around the body-side of the grip before you draw. It’s an inescapable compromise: if you move the gun away from your body it becomes less concealable, and that’s kinda the whole point of IWB holsters in the first place.

Hybrid IWB holsters only compound this problem by jamming your gun extra-tight against the leather backing, and there’s really nothing you can do about it. Lowering the Kholster’s belt hangers (thereby raising the holster above your belt) doesn’t help much because the leather backing is still pressed tightly against the grip. If you cut away the leather backing to relieve the grip, it digs into your kidney and chafes your skin and it still doesn’t help the presentation all that much.

I have to draw the SIG with three fingers around the grip and my thumb holding the rear sight while I edge it out of the holster; then I slide my thumb down to an aiming/firing grip as the muzzle clears the Kydex. It’s not insecure (I’ve never come close to dropping the gun, and I’ve practiced a lot) but it’s slightly awkward and noticeably slower than any sensible OWB holster.

The rigid Kholster can’t collapse, so it allows fairly easy one-handed reholstering. This makes it safer and more practical than most IWB holsters.

Ease Of Use

If you’re used to clip-on IWB holsters like those from Uncle Mike’s, you’ll have a steep learning curve to climb with hybrid IWB holsters like the Kholster or Crossbreed. They’re basically a major pain in the ass to put on and take off. Unless you buy your pants several inches too loose, you can forget about putting them on without undoing your belt and unzipping your trousers.

But this inconvenience is the price of their security and comfort: once you get the Kholster on, you’ll forget it’s there and it will never shift or come off until you want it to.

Workmanship

The Kholster is executed with clean workmanship all around. The Kydex fits the gun perfectly, the leather is cleanly cut and punched (no fringes or hanging chads here) and the rivets are flush and smooth-backed. The belt clips are strong, black and springy, and the unstained leather is, as I mentioned, supernaturally smooth and soft on the inside.

Conclusion

If IWB holsters are your thing, the Kholster offers exceptionally secure retention and mobility at the very reasonable price of $50. If IWB holsters aren’t your thing because you’ve always found them uncomfortable, the Kholster might just win you over.

If you need to put your holster on and take it off several times during the day, you should probably find something else.

Ratings (Out Of Five)

Comfort * * * * *
You’ll start to forget you’re wearing it.

Retention * * * *1/2
Might as well be the official holster of Cirque Du Soleil acrobats. Passive retention doesn’t get any better than this.

Presentation/Reholstering * * * 1/2
Typical IWB presentation issues aren’t helped by the (very comfortable) leather backing. Easy reholstering is better than most IWBs, however.

Ease Of Use * *
Major PITA. ‘Nuff said.

Materials and Workmanship * * * *
Simple, well-executed design doesn’t need frills to deliver the goods.

Value * * * * *
All this comfort for $50? Shut up!

Overall Rating * * * *
What other guns do I need concealment holsters for?

comments

  1. avatar Rabbi says:

    Your access problem is not because the holster is an IWB design, it is because it is a bad design. A good holster enables the shooter to get a complete and proper grip on the firearm while in the holster. The backing of that holster (and others designed like it) prevents that and gains the holster a “F-” in my grade book.

    With a properly designed IWB holster, it is not harder to grip the gun than a OWB design. The key phrase here is “properly designed.”

    I use a Fist K1 Universal. It is not perfect, but it is the best I have found so far.

    http://www.fist-holsters.com/vm.html?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=57&category_id=2

    1. avatar psmcd says:

      I’m a fan of the leather backing design. I have no credentials other than an interest in determining the practical trade-offs between concealment, retention, comfort and presentation. The backing on some designs is cut away “combat cut” so only the rear of the slide has backing, allowing the thumb to encounter only skin or shirt when grasping the grip. Depending on the user, the thumb can hang just as easily on skin or the shirt as IWB holsters press the grip to the body. The leather backing provides a stiff, uniform surface the thumb slides against when grasping the grip. It does not, in my use, prevent gripping the pistol with the thumb. I find that with the 3 hybrid holsters I have(only one has full backing like photos above), I am able to obtain a full, secure grip, while in the holster, on each of the pistols they’re designed for. The 3:30 position is best for me.

      1. avatar Rabbi says:

        The backing does nothing to aid concealment nor retention. It does add some comfort if you are wearing your holster next to bare skin which I never do, so no added points there.

        The backing does, however, GREATLY impede presentation which is why backed holsters such as that design get a F- from me. Compare it to a proper design that gives you a full grip without backing to see how much the backing impedes proper gripping of the gun.

        1. avatar Josh says:

          Can you educate us a bit further on what you mean? Is this an issue for anyone using that kind of holster, or do you think it presents more of an issue for folks with a certain body type?

        2. avatar Rabbi says:

          It’s with any holster that has a backing. The backing slows down the process of gripping the gun because it is more difficult to get the thumb between the gun and the backing.

          Basically the thumb need to push the gun away from the backing in order to get to the grip. Gripping a gun in a holster without a backing is much less awkward and faster.

        3. avatar psmcd says:

          Hah, you made me go out to the safe. Fetched the model (Crossbreed) with slight amount of leather where thumb wraps grip. Yes it does interfere, leather presses against flexed joint of thumb, but it does not prevent gripping gun at 3:30 position. At 3:00 position it doesn’t work and you have finalized my notion to cut this holster for thumb relief. That said, any of these holsters can be cut to provide full, unimpeded grip. Maybe you haven’t tried one of the versions with no backing in the grip area? Check out pictures – I’m not promoting, I just like this type of holster.

          http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=218&ad=15026526&cat=474&lpid=&search=shtf

        4. avatar Rabbi says:

          Just cut off the offending piece of leather!

          The KLS looks decent, but I would have to have one in hand to be sure.

        5. avatar Chris Dumm says:

          I’m learning a lot from this thread, and I’m probably headed out to the garage to find my chisels: they do a good job cutting thick leather.

        6. avatar PWolf says:

          I agree with Rabbi. I bought a Crossbreed QwikClip without the combat cut. The first thing I did was “cut off the offending piece of leather.” http://crossbreedholsters.com/#dd-iwb (Of course, I did it in about two minutes and saved the $7.50 “combat cut charge.” Never did understand that charge.)

    2. avatar NR says:

      I got to the bit about access and thought, “the Rabbi won’t like that.”

      1. avatar Not Too Eloquent says:

        Rabbi: I would rather wear this holster than none at all. Your holster is an F- in my school because i wouldnt wear it.

  2. avatar Brice says:

    I use an Old Faithful Holster I built from a kit. I don’t have any trouble getting a full firing grip on the gun. I’d be looking at cutting that leather back some. Really, the grip shouldn’t dig into your side at all, it’s the slide that most often causes problems and I’d leave the leather full height over the slide.

    1. avatar Xaq Fixx says:

      I recently got one of those Old Faithful kits as well and have been amazed by how much I love the hyrbid holster design. The only place it has been less that wonderful is curled up on the couch, and shifting the holster just a bit fixes that. Driving, Hiking and working at a computer desk have proved it to be wonderful. It even stays put when nature requires you to site down and read.

  3. avatar old and scarred says:

    Chris, you sold me. just bought one & it was $41! that included FREE shipping this weekend. for that price i will try it out. Did tell Jimmy it was your review that drove me to spending money on his product, so make sure you get your referral discount on that next Kholster! b/r

  4. avatar girlswithguns says:

    I’m very tempted to buy the Little Moon for my S&W 638. However, I’ve never carried so am pretty clueless as to what would work best for me (although the review and comments help).

    As a female, I usually wear snug-fitting pants with no belt, and often no waistband, which means any IWB holster will add bulk. I’m thinking that the design of the Kholster will spread that bulk out enough to just make me look a little fatter (:P) but at least not look like I’m carrying. Here in the la-la-land of the SF bay area, if anyone even thinks I’m carrying they’ll make a panicked call to 911.

    I’m also considering an ankle holster since my pants are usually loose around the calves and ankles, but the accessibility is an issue.

    I’d appreciate any advice.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Ankle holsters are for a back-up gun—at best. Start to think about dressing around the gun; find a gun, style of carry and holster you like and then figure out the best way to dress. It’s all about deciding what’s worth compromising and what isn’t.

      1. avatar Rabbi says:

        Robert is right. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to concealment. Find the gun that is best for you. Find the most comfortable and accessible place to carry and a holster to fit. Then find garments that will allow you to conceal, yet still offer easy access. As RF stated: dress around the gun.

        That means that you will probably need to change the way you dress. Belts, jackets, pullovers, etc. are what is needed.

        Ankle holsters are slow to draw, and don’t allow you to move.

        Avoid purse holsters as they are slow to draw, require two hands, and often get left out of your control.

        Carrying a gun is a lifestyle change. You need to change the way you think, the way you dress and the possibly the way you act.

        1. avatar Not Too Eloquent says:

          Maybe some of us like to tailor our guns and holsters to the way we dress!

    2. avatar Brooklyn in the house says:

      How did you get a CCW in the Bay area?

      1. avatar girlswithguns says:

        I don’t actually have the CCW yet, just planning for the future (submitted my app last week). However, the sheriff in this county has been issuing lately and I have pretty good cause compared to what he has been approving, so I’m hopeful.

        1. avatar Brooklyn in the house says:

          Which county if you dont mind me asking? Is it Sacramento or San Mateo? I travel to the Bay area a couple times a year and its virtually impossible to get a permit there as is NYC.

        2. avatar girlswithguns says:

          Not Sacramento or San Mateo. If someone on this site with access to my info wants to send you my email address, you’re welcome to email me.

        3. avatar Brooklyn in the house says:

          That would be great. I am interested in knowing which counties are issuing.

        4. avatar Brooklyn in the house says:

          If they dont forward the email can you tell me what county it is?

    3. avatar old and scarred says:

      know several woman (one is my daughter) who use a SmartCarry Holster https://smartcarry.com/index.html?cc=1 and are pleased with how it works for them. it is one of my options that i use in the 3 o’clock position. Agree other comments re ankle holster & purse carry, not the best solution.

      1. avatar Rabbi says:

        The problem with Smart Carry and alike, is that they are deep concealment–meaning they are slow to draw and usually require two hands. I have tried them and find that for me they don’t conceal well at all and are very uncomfortable. YMMV

        1. avatar old and scarred says:

          don’t disagree, guess that’s why we keep buying IWB holsters………I’M ON A QUEST! just because better is the enemy of best doesn’t mean i don’t keep trying! Just doing my part to keep the economy going.

    4. avatar Rich says:

      Take a look at the Flash Bang holster.

      http://www.flashbangholster.com

      Whatever you do get for a holster, try carrying a plastic training gun first. If there are any issues with accidentally displaying the firearm, it might save you from a brandishing charge.

    5. avatar PWolf says:

      Check out faliaphotography’s YouTube video’s on women’s holsters:

  5. avatar Taurus609 says:

    I have two Crossbreeds and love them both, and one is for my everyday carry Sig Pro 2022. I have learned to make it a point to always get my thumb between the leather backing and the grip when drawing. At first it was a problem, but after I identified that my draws were weak, I corrected it.
    As for the Kholster, are all of their models cut that way on the bottom? I don’t like the fact that if you’re re-holstering after a day at the range, that little bit of hot slide/barrel is touching bare skin!

    1. avatar Chris Dumm says:

      Only the short-barrel Kholsters have the leather cut away at the bottom. Their ‘full moon’ pattern is designed for longer barrels.

      1. avatar Taurus609 says:

        Chris, I tried the link above to no avail, so I went onto their website and noticed the larger portion below the barrel for longer guns. I had tried the Galco King Tux for my M&P but it (the kydex part) was set up too low for easy re-holstering plus the leather at the bottom was cut like the one you have, so I took it back.

  6. avatar Taurus609 says:

    Chris, just ordered one for my M&P. When I went to check out, they charged me tax, thought that was unusual, but after going all the way to the bottom of their page noticed they are local folks (at least to me), so that makes it even better!

  7. avatar Ralph says:

    On the company website, the owner says that the brand is pronounced “kolster.” Maybe it is Farsi.

  8. avatar racer88 says:

    I’ve been using a regular cut Crossbreed Supertuck for a few years. I can promise that the leather backing does NOT interfere with me getting a full grip and effortless draw. Maybe it’s because I’ve practiced it. All I know is that it’s not an issue at all.

    A very similar holster I have recently bought (just because I could and I wanted to try it) is the White Hat Holsters Maxtuck. One option they offer that I really like is custom kydex shells. Mine has an image of the Constitution and the American flag on it. Nobody but me will see it. But, I just think it’s cool.

    A photo of the Supertuck over the Maxtuck.

    Close-up of the custom-printed kydex shell from White Hat Holsters.

    I like the leather backing for comfort. I regularly wear an undershirt, making it even more comfortable. I don’t like feeling the pistol grip against my side.

  9. avatar dunsho says:

    I’ve got a 3 different kholsters.

    to fix that grip issue, i just cut the leather off where the grip is, kept trimming till i got the full grip and still keeping enough leather to keep the slide from touching my skin.

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