Gear Review: StealthGear USA ONYX IWB Holster

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It’s August. The dog days. You know what that means. This is when a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of comfort. You want to pack your pistol. It’s become a habit to the point that you feel positively nekkid without it. You know that gentle lurch in the pit of your stomach you get when you’re in the car, you’ve gotten about a half mile from home and realize you left your phone on the table by the door? Like that. That’s not a feeling you want, but when you’re minimizing clothing in 90+ heat and humidity, it’s easy to rationalize. Do I really need to bring it this time? What could possibly happen on a trip to the grocery store and the cleaners? . . .

You could go with a snubbie or a .380 in a pocket holster, but that can feel like a boat anchor bopping around in shorts and you may end up with them down around your ankles. There’s always the OWB option – a paddle or pancake rig – but if you bend over too far or lift your shirt a little too much going for your wallet, the nice lady behind you in the checkout line might get a look at more than she bargained for.

But inside the waistband? In this heat? Sure, that’s the most concealable option, but it means schvitzing. And that’s the problem StealthGear USA set out to solve with their ONYX holster.

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I can hear you now. Puh-leez, another hybrid holster? What’s the BFD? Well yes, in theory it’s another hybrid holster. Molded Kydex and steel belt clips tacked to a backing to hold it all together. But it’s that backing that’s the story here.

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Traditional IWB hybrids, of course, have a leather backing which, in the summer, inevitably gets wet. And then clammy. An then annoying as hell. The ONYX backing – sorry, they call it a platform – as you can see, isn’t made of leather. It’s…well it’s probably just easier to let them describe it:

The StealthGearUSA ONYX IWB platform is constructed of all-synthetic, non moisture-absorbing materials, and is completely VENTED for breathability and comfort.

  • Platform backing is constructed with tri-dimensional polyester VentMesh (also used in high-end backpacking and mountaineering equipment) to wick moisture away from the body.
  • Two types of closed cell foam, strategically-positioned, minimize that uncomfortable weapon “bulge” by more evenly distributing pressure across the holster platform
  • Polyester-reinforced flexible support platform (used as a stiffener or armature to which all padding and mesh are attached).
  • 100% hard nylon RhinoMesh facing used where the weapon contacts the platform. This mesh has a twist in the warp yarn for extreme strength and abrasion resistance, but still allows maximum breath-ability. We have tested the durability of this facing mesh by holstering and un-holstering a gun in a test holster the equivalent of once per day for 30 years with NO visible wear.
  • VentCore TM – The ONYX is completely vented by laser-cut diamond-shaped ports throughout the platform. In our field-testing, we found that on a fully-vented platform, the perspiration moisture escaping away from the body passed through the ports and condensed on the metal slide of the weapon. To solve this problem, and to protect the weapon from corrosion, a non-vented area is designed into the slide or barrel area of each platform to protect the weapon from condensation moisture. We call this the “integrated moisture shield” and it is built into each holster, and custom to each handgun slide or barrel.
  • Nylon blend UV-resistant binding is used to finish the edge of our platforms.

Got all that? What it boils down to is this: it’s light, airy and feels great. Really great. I’ve been giving it a go for most of this summer. I just about always wear a t-shirt between any holster and my baby-soft skin and with that intermediate layer – yes, even in the summer – the ONYX is about as comfy as an IWB rig can be.

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Of course all those slick materials and the attendant assembly processes (they’re not just stamping those platforms out of a sheet of cow hide) come at a price. An ONYX will run you $99 before shipping. But when the humidity really gets up there to the point where it’s hard to breathe and you can’t bear the idea of wearing anything more than a loose covering shirt, the ONYX will. Breathe, that is. You’ll be able to strap it on with nothing between it and your epidermis. No chafing…honest.

Most of the rest of the ONYX’s features are pretty much what you’d expect. Steel three-position adjustable belt clips let you set it for the height and cant of your choice. They also make the ONYX tuckable.

04

And there’s the requisite Kydex shell. It’s nicely molded and holds your heater snugly, just as you’d expect it to. But wait. Unlike most holsters, the ONYX’s shell isn’t riveted to the backing platform. It’s screwed on with rustproof fasteners. All you need to take it off is a garden variety hex head wrench. But when I asked the StealthGear guys if that means you can buy mix-and-match shells for all your guns, they said it’s not quite that simple.

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They tell me that each holster’s custom-designed for each gun, not just the Kydex part. The Plaform’s custom cut, too. So since the model I tested was made for my Kahr CW9, bolting on a shell for a bigger gun – an M&P 45 or a 1911, for instance – could lead to problems. Issues like the trigger guard being exposed or the Plaform “combat cut” not covering everything that needs covering.

What StealthGear will do, though, is leave the end open.

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The standard design (mostly) covers your pistol’s muzzle. But if you own, say, both a Glock 19 and a 17 and ask nicely, they’ll leave that end open for you so you can tote either gun.

Oh, and another thing. I already mentioned that flow-thru ventilation thing, but there’s another aspect that adds to the ONYX’s carry comfort factor. It’s slim. Slimmer than other IWB’s I’ve tried for the same gun. Check this out:

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On the left is my (slightly modified) N82 Tactical IWB holster and on the right is the ONYX. As you can see, the ONYX has a significantly lower profile (aside from the N82‘s clip). That profile has its pluses and minuses. On the positive side, the svelteness makes the rig noticeably more comfortable and results in a slimmer, more concealable silhouette because the gun nestles into that cushy platform material.

The negative is that re-holstering isn’t quite as easy. To get your piece back in the ONYX, you have to sort of nose it in there a little. It doesn’t require two hands, but it won’t smoothly slide back home quite as easily as it does with the N82 or other similar leatherback models. It gets easier with practice, but you may laser your own hip if you’re not paying attention.

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Is that a big problem? That’s up to you. As far as I’m concerned I’d rather be more comfortable for the 99.99% of the time the gun sits in the rig on my hip, meaning I’m more likely to have my nine with me than opting for something smaller. But that’s a judgement each toter will have to make for him- or herself.

Long story short, this is the most comfortable IWB holster I’ve tried. That breathability thing really does make a difference and the ONYX’s slim profile is a definite plus.

Specifications:

Models: StealthGear makes one for most popular pistols. Customs available, too.
Colors: stealth black, urban digital, desert digital, forest digital
Price: $99 from StealthGear USA

Ratings (out of five stars):

Comfort: * * * * *
The whole idea behind the ONYX is comfort. They call it the original vented holster and vented it is. If you’re going to carry IWB in the summer, this is the way to go.

Value: * * *
There are tons of options out there for hybrid, tuckable IWB concealed carry. There may be pricier rigs, but ONYX is the most expensive one I’ve seen. Twice as much as some. At the same time, it performs as advertised.

Concealability: * * * * *
IWB and tuckable with a slim profile. Gun? What gun?

Overall: * * * *
Again, the ONYX does just what StealthGear designed it to do. It keeps you cool and your heater hidden. No, it isn’t cheap and yes, you’ll want to practice your re-holstering a little. But the ONYX is light and lets moisture move away from your body. If there’s a better hot weather IWB option, I haven’t seen it yet.

57 Responses to Gear Review: StealthGear USA ONYX IWB Holster

  1. avatartangledthorns says:

    I have a n82 as well and I like that it covers the grip so it doesn’t touch your back which is really nice if you’re not wearing a undershirt. Stealth gear’s material looks very comfortable. A perfect holster would be a n82 using that Ventcore material.

  2. avatarthingi says:

    This looks… perfect.

    Another thing I don’t like about leather is all of the chemicals involved in making/tanning it, much of which apparently stays in the leather after being made and theoretically could leech into your skin.

  3. Thanks for the great review, Dan. I just wanted to mention that we are running a promotion right now, type in the coupon code “stealth” at checkout for 10% off.

  4. avatarDirk Diggler says:

    remora holsters. just saying

    • avatarRalph says:

      Me too, DD. Remora has everything I need and nothing that I don’t.

    • avatarPhydeaux says:

      Yes, Remora is my go-to in-the-pants holster in the summer too. While it stays in place, even against my sweaty skin and underwear, it feels sort of gross having that wet sticky plastic against my skin.

      This looks very appealing. As thin as a Remora and more comfortable.

    • avatarCliff H says:

      I have a Remora I purchased with my new SR9c and it did in fact work as advertised and was very comfortable. One word of caution if you are packing a semi-auto – I wear a heavy leather pistol belt and tuck the Remora IWB. Several times when I accidentally bumped my hip against a table or countertop the pressure against the VERY flexible Remora managed to depress the magazine eject button. The result of this Was: 1) When you draw the weapon the magazine falls ignominiously to the ground, and 2) with my Ruger, and I’m sure a lot of other modern pistols, without the magazine in place the pistol will not fire the round in the chamber. Just sayin’.

  5. avatarRKBA says:

    Too bad, I carry two of Kahr’s most popular pistols, and they don’t make holsters for them!!

    P380 is only available if a laser installed, and P9 is not listed. :(

  6. avatarTexheim says:

    I wear a Sig P250 compact in a full size Old Faithful IWB holster and the heat hasn’t gotten to me at all. Don’t see what the problem is. Oh wait, been in Texas all my life. Must be used to it…

  7. avatarRalph says:

    Not only is it a fine holster, but in a pinch it doubles as a codpiece that’s certain to keep the goods feeling fresh.

  8. avatarmediocrates says:

    meh. for the half the price I’ll stick to Old Faithful….

  9. avatarErnie says:

    Buy once, cry once. This will be the last iwb holster you will own. If you prize your weapon, this holster protects it from sweat rust, and you, too. If you are happy letting your holster ‘dry out’, sniffing it to see just how bad it is getting, catching your weapon when it ‘pops’ out and you can’t wait to get home to take the holster off…… I’ve got a charter arms .38 you might be interested in! Just ‘OK’ is not a word I use in the same paragraph with my weapon! Carry your weapon in comfort and protect it as it protects you! You won’t be disappointed!

  10. avatarTaurus609 says:

    I’ve been using the Cross Breed STD for my M&P 9MM for years, summer, winter all year everyday. Tried the Kholster TTAG reviewed here a while back, TOO much leather, went back to the CB. Don’t see a problem in the summer heat, and St. Louis gets mighty humid. Plus CB is much cheaper, and I’m tired of “another new holster’ in my holster drawer!

    • avatarMark N. says:

      Maybe if you didn’t “crossbreed” you wouldn’t get STDs.

    • avatarIan Johnson says:

      I too have a Crossbreed Supertuck…thought it was great (and still do, for the most part) until I ran across a Stealthgear at a gun show this last January. Now the Crossbreed just sits in my holster drawer. I do wish it was a bit cheaper, but there is honestly no comparison when it comes to comfort.

  11. avatarDon says:

    Significantly less expensive than a leather hybrid holster? then yes. Same or more expensive then a leather hybrid holster? then no.

    -D

  12. avatarTroutslayer says:

    I’m new to CC (Illinois Resident) and I’m wondering the best way to carry while wearing a tucked in shirt. IWB holsters seem ideal if one is wearing untucked, but I can’t imagine having to untuck my shirt as part of my draw. Any pointers?

    • avatarPavePusher says:

      It’s pretty easy to clear the shirt away with the non-drawing hand. You almost certainly have to do this with an un-tucked shirt anyway, the technique is nearly identical.

  13. avatarSixpack70 says:

    I had some money to blow so I just ordered one of these for my LCP. I’ll see how it works.

  14. avatarKR says:

    If it’s hard to re-holster, you won’t practice your draw. If you don’t practice your draw, you’ll be slow and/or suck at drawing. If you buy one of these for daily carry, consider getting an all-kydex holster that’s similar (Comp-Tac, for example) that you can use for dry and live fire practice to develop skill.

    There’s nothing scarier on a firing line than watching somebody who bought some loose, floppy, sloppy holster that’s hard to reholster back into cover his support hand or other body parts with the muzzle struggling to get the gun back in the holster, while the whole firing line waits for Mr. Comfort to be ready for the next drill.

    • avatarTE says:

      I carry an M&P shield, and have no problem reholstering in the ONYX holster. It does not drop right down into it, but it does easily slip into it when you press the muzzle of the gun into the platform, and down, at the holster opening. With any holster, it takes a few times practicing to really familiarize yourself with exactly where it is on your body and to build the muscle memory so that the gun goes right to the holster every time. Reholstering is second nature at this point, and I never have to take 2 shots, or look at where I’m putting the gun.

  15. avatarTyler Ely says:

    I carry an M&P shield, and have no problem reholstering in the ONYX holster. It does not drop right down into it, but it does easily slip into it when you press the muzzle of the gun into the platform, and down, at the holster opening. With any holster, it takes a few times practicing to really familiarize yourself with exactly where it is on your body and to build the muscle memory so that the gun goes right to the holster every time. Reholstering is second nature at this point, and I never have to take 2 shots, or look at where I’m putting the gun.

  16. avatarPavePusher says:

    Why, why, why…. can’t one of these companies make one of these with swappable shells? Simply make the mounting hole span for the largest gun, and extend tabs on smaller-gun shells to make it fit, or run two or three sizes of shells with multiple mount holes on the backing. Simple, and you’ll actually get someone like me with multiple guns and a limited budget, as a customer.

  17. avatarClark Sevy says:

    Instantly comfortable/forgettable. Nicely done

  18. avatarKittenfists says:

    I’m on the edge with this one. I want one because it looks amazingly comfortable in this 100% TN humidity, but the last thing I need is one more holster. Who am I kidding…this will be on order by the end of the week.

  19. avatarMark Chamberlain says:

    Do they make a holster designed more for appendix carry?

  20. avatarCaleb says:

    I have a Remora and an Onyx, the Onyx is by far a much nicer holster. The Onyx is extremely comfortable, infact I’ll often forget I have it on and only remember when I sit down to relax on the couch. Excellent holster worth every last penny, I’ll buy additional holsters for each carry gun I buy in the future. It’s good to see a quality review of this holster.

  21. avatarJan Pierce says:

    Just ordered one. I’m sure it will be awesome.

  22. avatarB says:

    No Sig C3 1911 or EAA Witness P carry, darn. What I get for liking weird guns I guess.

  23. avatarRon says:

    I don’t know about $99. I currently use a N82, and was going to buy a ‘pro’ model until I saw the price. For me, they have priced themselves out of my market.

    IWB carry is what I prefer, but $99? I can get a custom made leather holster for less. I love the idea and the materials, but that price is too pricey.

  24. avatarMatt C says:

    I hate bringing threads back to life, but I bought a holster from these guys 4 weeks ago and have not heard shit from them.

  25. avatarRLC2 says:

    Nice review. Will be interested in the followup by owners after a few weeks of use, if you can pull that together, Dan. $99 seems like a lot, but not compared to buying and trying on 4 or more for $30, that dont work for one reason or another.

    PS: In re: the comments about having to practice to take extra care to reholster- if I were worried about “keeping up with the fast draw mcgraws on the firing line”, wouldnt I be carrying OWB in some cut-down IPSC rig?

    This holster looks functional for my intended use – civilian self-defense, so I would be carrying IWB for CCW all the time, and

    if I am training as I would fight in an actual use, I would NOT so worried about fast holstering – as my muscle memory is built on:

    a controlled pair, checking the target is down/shooting again if not, then clearing the area, moving to cover,

    all that in a low ready, and reloading, and holstering only AFTER my
    threat re-assessment, and my exit route, are clear FIRST.

    Anything I am missing?

  26. avatarerick says:

    light weight & ventilated yea but your body will still sweat & that ventilated area just makes it easier for the sweat to travel to the gun eventually leading into slight rusting, in my opinion any ways

    • Erick, there is a moisture shield over the slide to prevent that from happening…I carry every day in the Arizona heat and I’ve never had a drop of sweat reach the gun. Our customers in more humid climates say the same thing.

      • avatarKeith says:

        Hello Alex,

        You mention living in Arizona per the comment I’m responding to. However I note on the website that StealthGear’s production facility is located in American Fork, Utah. What part of StealthGear is in Arizona as I would prefer to buy from a Arizona based company??

        Thanks, Keith

  27. avatarAl says:

    Just watched Hickok45 on youtube mention this holster in his G27 review, for him to even mention it – well I guess I’ll have to get one and thanks to this article will have them leave the bottom open for my G23-
    Great review

  28. avatarSteve says:

    Yeah, late to the commenting game here, but after waiting almost 6 weeks I do finally have my StealthGear holster and I totally love it. Very slim profile, lightweight, and very comfortable. I honestly have no problem holstering my gun. The first couple times were tricky but that was just because I was getting use to the position and angle, after a little practice holstering is no issue at all. Time will tell how well it stands up to wear but at this point I’m glad I got it!

  29. avatarAlan Cranney says:

    Just picked one up. Matt C, did you get yours and if so, how do you like it?

    • Hey Alan, I’ve got email alerts set up for this article and so I just read your comment…just in case Matt never sees it, I wanted you to know that he wrote a testimonial for our website, you can find it on the reviews/testimonials page, it’s the 3rd one down in the customer testimonials under the initials M.C. Let me know if you have any questions!

  30. avatarArthur says:

    Could someone @ Stealthgear help me with order #1438?

  31. avatarKgnikon says:

    Ordered 2 holsters–one for a Shield and another for a G17 (they were running a 20% off deal from Cyber Monday through Fri). I ordered them and then re-thought if I wanted them with or without laser/lights. Alex and Tyler have both been VERY responsive with my emails. Haven’t received my order yet. I await them eagerly–hoping by Christmas :-) . I will certainly give my impressions once I have them both. Thus far its seems like its a small company trying to bust their butt growing it and offering quality gear

  32. avatarMarty says:

    I have a Sig P250 and was wondering if you offer a holster with the platform large enough to keep the grip from rubbing the body.

  33. avatarMatt says:

    Been wearing the Onyx for a few days now and I LOVE it. Mine is for a Glock 26. I wish I had known about ordering it with an open bottom so I could put my Glock 19 in it… that sucks. I’ve been using a White Hat holster (which is excellent) but admittedly not as comfortable as the Onyx. Also, the spacing of the j-clips is much wider on the Onyx… just something to get used to.

    As far as reholstering goes, I have no problem whatsoever. After the first day, the Onyx took a set and now the Glock 26 goes in and out perfectly. Well worth the money in my opinion. Don’t skimp on your CC gear – your rig should be flawless whatever the cost.

  34. avatarTom says:

    I have been to stealthgears website and have left them at least five messages under their contact us option. This is over a seven day period…..haven’t heard a word back from them. I have a bersa 9mm and would like an answer about getting a holster made for it. I keep seeing post about giving us a e-mail and we will get right back to you. So far I think their customer service is pathetic.

    • avatarTyler with StealthGear says:

      Tom, I’m sorry for the delay. I think that I responded to your email last night. We have had all hands on deck in production mode to get caught up with orders and design new models. We just hired another hand, so I’ll be watching the emails a lot more closely now.

  35. avatarTristan says:

    What did you do to your N82 holster? Did you trim excess off the top near the grip? That’s my only complaint about the N82….been wondering if it would stay together if I clipped the extra padding to follow the handle of the gun.

  36. avatarMike Gaddis says:

    Their customer support sucks, I bought two, one for my H&K 45 USP and one for my FN 5.7, I got the FN 5.7 but not the 45 even after many, many emails. To make the FN 5.7 work for me I needed to take it apart and re-work the fitment. I’m older so I couldn’t get the reach right. Can’t recommend these guys.

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