Gear Review: Raven Concealment Vanguard 2 IWB Holster

In my continued search for the ultimate IWB concealed carry holster, I stumbled across this little beauty from Raven Concealment, the Vanguard 2. I don’t really feel right calling it a holster. And Raven calls it a “holster shell,” but that’s really what it is. And that’s what it does. Call it whatever you like, it’s surprisingly effective . . .

At first glance I wrote it off as another gimmick targeted at all of us gear-obsessed concealed carriers. But at $35, I thought I’d give it a whirl and I’m glad I did. This thing is easily the most concealable holster I’ve ever tried.

My bulky Glock 19 disappears under a t-shirt in the appendix position. That’s thanks to the minimalist design. All of the other holsters I’ve tried add bulk to the gun; whether it’s the leather or plastic wrapping around the gun, or the snaps holding it onto my belt. There always seems to be something adding that ½ inch or so of girth. Not with this Vanguard 2.

My biggest concern was retention. With so little material and only covering the trigger, how was it going to hang onto my G19 with a full mag? The answer…fit and finish. This thing hugs the frame nice and tight. In a solid month, I have yet to jostle the firearm out of the holster. And the adjustable belt loop holds the entire package securely to any belt I’m wearing.

As with most R/C products, they put some thought into the practical use of this thing. There’s a thumb tab on the left side for one-handed removal. And the tab on front allows ripping the holster away on a pocket or stationary object. It’s adjustable for both depth and cant. And is tuckable.

But this thing isn’t all peaches and cream. It’s got one major downside; you can’t safely re-holster the gun without removing it from your belt, which means I can’t train with it. Because of the design, it’s extremely dangerous to re-holster a hot gun without first removing the Vanguard completely from your belt and pants, then reinserting the whole package back into concealment. And Raven makes sure to spell that out in their extensive instructions for the Vanguard 2.

But this isn’t a flaw — it’s a function of the ultra-deep concealment the Vanguard 2 offers. So while that can be annoying, it’s just a compromise to allow for this level of secrecy.

Bottom line: if you don’t try to make this holster into something it’s not, then it’s literally perfect. It’s also great for protecting the trigger when keeping the gun in a glove compartment or carry bag. Currently the Vanguard 2 is only available for Gen3 and Gen4 Glocks, and you don’t have to deal with the standard “30 days or less” lead time of other Raven Concealment products. Mine arrived in about a week. Has this replaced my primary appendix holster? Nope, but it is something I use when I need a little extra stealth, or when I’m wearing a light t-shirt and don’t feel like carrying a smaller gun than my trusty G19.

Ratings (out of five stars):

Design: * * * * *
If you look at this for what it is, then the design is perfect. If you want to train hundreds of draws with it, then it sucks. In typical R/C fashion, it’s got the features necessary for various defensive gun use situations.

Durability: * * * * *
After testing this thing for a full month, I have yet to find a flaw. It’s still holding my Glock nice and tight.

Overall: * * * * *
I want to give it four stars because I can’t train a lot of reps with it in a reasonable amount of time. But it was never meant for that, so looking at it as an ultra-deep concealment solution for $35, it gets a solid five.