As soon as SIG SAUER worked through the initial hiccups with the P238, I had one on order. And when Underwood Ammo’s 90-grain .380 Auto Xtreme Penetrator +P round utilizing Lehigh’s CNC’d billet copper bullet hit the market, the P238 became my EDC sidearm of choice.
At the time, the market’s general interest in the .380 caliber, and pocket pistols for that matter, was still relatively low. As a result, the selection of IWB holsters to pair with the P238 was fairly limited. I looked at leather, Kydex, nylon, etc. And after nearly a year of searching and testing the growing selection of holsters I came across a humble website for Hank’s Gun Leather, maker of 100% American-made leather holsters.
The website was a breath of fresh air amid the then furious race to build the “coolest” website in the industry. It was simply designed and just worked. Sam Hanks’ holsters seemed to reflect the same qualities.
That was well over a year and a half ago and their website has since been updated, it still works well. Simply pick from the eleven supported firearms brands and you will be directed to a page of available holster and mag carrier styles (IWB, OWB, pocket carry, etc.). Choose your style, then choose the model you would like, and, finally, customize available features of your holster before adding it to your cart. Straight-forward and easy. No distractions or hoops to jump through.
At the time, the SIG SAUER P238 IWB Holster was the only option Hanks had available for the P238, but it was just what I was looking for.
The holster is made with 5-6oz Wickett and Craig leather, stitched with heavy nylon thread, wet molded, and then sealed. This model sports two belt straps that can accommodate belts up to 1 1/2″ in size, and are fastened with durable brass snaps (available in standard and directional styles). It has a simple, yet elegant design. Hanks also offers fancier models and upgrades, if that is your preference.
I chose the directional snaps which limit the ability of the snap to be released from its other half. The snap is aligned in such a way so the user can only release the snap when it’s pulled away from its counterpart by applying pressure on the top. This prevents unintentional disengagement of the snap, especially when holstering and applying downward pressure, which pushes your belt up into the snap.
One option I didn’t choose was a lining, but Hanks does offer three lining options: felt, suede, and leather.
The holster in the configuration shown here cost me $52.00 after adding a whopping $2.50 for shipping. Today the MSRP is $46.50 which is $3 less than I paid. Try finding a solid made-to-order Kydex holster at that price nowadays.
The holster arrived ahead of schedule — always a nice bonus. All was as I’d ordered it, fitting my gun perfectly. The leather was high-quality with good grain and softness. The stitching was consistent, thick, tight, and tucked down into the leather. Additionally, the screws holding the belt straps in place didn’t extend past the back of their female counterparts – no poking, scratching, or tearing little holes in your undergarments with this setup.
More than happy with the level of quality of the holster, I continued with the fit check, holstering the P238 and then slipping the rig into the 3:30-ish position behind my belt and into my jeans. The gap between the belt straps and holster provided more than adequate space for a variety of waistbands. My SIG sat comfortably at a 15-degree cant.
Next, I made fine adjustments to the positions of belt straps until they were aligned perpendicularly to my belt. This was easily done by loosening the screw housed within the male backer of the snap and rotating the strap into the desired position before tightening the screw back down. I recommend applying a dot of blue Loctite to the screw before your final tightening – more on why I recommend that later on.
I have to admit, the directional snaps got the best of me the first time I tried to secure the belt straps around my belt. You see, they don’t just disconnect in one direction, they also only fasten in one specific direction. It was a good opportunity to test the functionality of the snaps and they proved sturdy.
Holster secured to belt and pistol tucked snugly inside, the leather began to warm up and the holster started to form to my bony hip. The low profile holster feels very natural. It’s soft and comfortable, secure with no wiggle on my 1.5″ belt, and doesn’t poke me when standing, sitting, walking, or jogging thanks to its extended backer and rounded corners. It’s not cumbersome in the least, and concealability was a non-issue with every type of wear, from a tee-shirt and shorts to a well-pressed suit.
Retention Strength: One major difference between a leather holster and, say, a Kydex holster, is that most leather holsters don’t allow for adjustable retention. They either fit or they don’t. The Hanks IWB holster provided a snug fit and retains the weapon well. At no time was I concerned the firearm would escape.
Ability to Draw: This particular holster was built to be broken-in, something I prefer in leather holsters. When I first began to draw from the rig it was very tight and difficult to retrieve my weapon. The 1911-style thumb safety dug into the leather backer and seemed to impede my actions. After about a week into the break-in period, though, the holster loosened up to its sweet spot; a very nice balance of retention and ability to retrieve the pistol when needed.
Ability to Re-holster: Often times IWB leather holsters will collapse on themselves as the shooter’s belt and pants fill the gap left where the pistol was. Hanks’ holster maintained enough rigidity to keep the holster open for easy placement of the weapon. Additionally, Hanks utilizes a leather reinforcement strap that spans the side of the holster keeping the short side of your holster from being pushed down into the open area by your muzzle. I found that design served its purpose flawlessly and without excess leather.
In less than two weeks’ time I was confident that Hanks double-strap IWB holster was the solution I had been looking for. Now after over eighteen months of EDC with this holster it would be tough to convince me to part with it. I wear this rig almost all day, every day – office/classroom, outdoors, hunting/fishing. It has held up well, still looks great, and functions perfectly.
Not a single stitch shows signs of wear. The leather has maintained the necessary rigidity where it’s needed and has allowed for softening and flexibility where applicable. The black finish on the snaps has worn off somewhat and the straps have softened quite a bit, making it just slightly more difficult to manipulate the directional snaps.
I wish I could report that I’ve had zero issues with the holster, but the fact is I had one major incident which gave me the chance to experience Hanks’ great customer service and warranty policies. Remember my recommendation to use thread locker? Well, I didn’t.
While making my way through a marsh while wearing the IWB under duck hunting waders one day, one of the screws that secures the straps to the body of the holster backed its way out, allowing the three pieces it held together to separate and the holster to swing down. I didn’t notice it at the time and the leather spacer that resides between the body and the strap was lost. I reassembled the holster over the waistband of my pants, which was a suitable solution for the short-term.
Back at home, I called Hanks and spoke directly with Sam Hanks who was extremely understanding and helpful. Two days later I had a replacement disc plus a backup disc in my mailbox with an additional set of backup screws – at no cost to me. The holster was easily reassembled and hasn’t given me a problem since then.
After putting the Hanks IWB holster to the test for over eighteen months, it’s still my go-to holster for my SIG P238. Time has proven it to be a reliable piece of equipment that’s delivered terrific value.
Specifications: Hanks Gun Leather P238 IWB Holster
Lead Time: 2-6 weeks standard. Rush service available.
Made in USA: Yes. Even the leather is raised and tanned in our Great Land.
Lining: None, felt, sued and leather liners available
Snaps: Directional, standard snaps available
Price as reviewed: $46.50
Ratings (out of five stars):
Design: * * * * *
I believe in simple, functional, purpose-built design. This holster fits that bill perfectly. It’s just what you need and nothing you don’t.
Comfort: * * * * *
This holster was very comfortable from the beginning. With time, it easily molded to by hip and became even more so. No poking or pinching.
Retention: * * * * *
Good fit with just the right retention level after the break-in period.
Durability: * * * * *
After over 18 months of use the holster has a nice worn look, but isn’t worn-out. Not even close. I can see this holster being in service for a minimum of 5-10 years.
Style: * * * * *
It sports a simple, elegant design. This product is about quality, function, and reliability but can’t seem to break away from looking great at the same time.
Overall: * * * * *
An excellent choice if you’re looking for a traditional, high-quality leather holster you can rely on for years, while enjoying a great price.