Some of you might have noticed ads on Facebook and other social media networks advertising rather simple Kydex gear at some very reasonable prices. Amazon has a bevy of them as well.
Are any of them any good? Are they better than some other entry-level, but otherwise decent holsters that may command a little more in price? The level of quality probably varies, but as it turns out…some of them are pretty decent.
I ordered a Concealment Express holster to find out. It was just for me; I wanted to try a different kind of IWB rig, but decided to give this a go and share my impressions. I carry a Government frame 1911 and here’s what I got
Normally, I carry with a Alien Gear holster. It’s very comfortable, even with a big gun, but like other winged IWB holsters, it involves a bit of ceremony to take off and put on. I wanted to try something that could be put on and taken off a bit more quickly. I happened to see Concealment Express’s advertisement and took a chance.
The Concealment Express 5-inch 1911 holster is rather simple. Like most, it’s a molded piece of Kydex that’s folded over onto itself.
The wide clip is standard, and cant angle is adjustable from 0 to 15 degrees. A 1.75″ belt clip or belt loops can be had for an additional charge. Passive retention is adjustable by two screws forward of the trigger guard, and all hardware is black Chicago screws and rubber bushings.
You can choose any color you like so long as it’s black (or carbon fiber black for an extra $5).
The fit is great, and retention is strong right out of the box. Due to the folded design, the very bottom of the trigger guard itself is exposed, but otherwise the trigger is protected. The holster has a moderate sweat shield covering the manual safety of the pistol but terminating before the end of the slide.
The basic model I purchased is $34.95. However, I used a coupon code from Facebook to get 10 percent off, so the total was about $33 with standard USPS ground shipping. Not too shabby Granted, some gun models require ordering a custom holster instead of the basic model (MSRP $64.95 before options) but more colors and other options can be had too.
How good is it?
Quite serviceable, though not perfect. No holster is, of course; there’s always SOMETHING one wishes were better.
Fitment and retention were excellent. My gun inserts and seats with a satisfying “click.” It draws easily from the holster once you’ve broken the passive retention. No qualms there. The gun rides at a good height, with good purchase on the grip being easily acquired in any position.
The clip gets a good hold of the belt, which some lower-end holsters have issues with. It conceals fairly easily and doesn’t produce as pronounced a bulge as some others do. It carries fairly comfortably, but – just as with any hammer-fired gun – the shortened sweat guard means the hammer rubbed me a bit if positioned a bit too far in one direction or the other. The plastic isn’t uncomfortable, but you will have to find the right spot for the utmost comfort.
There were some drawbacks.
The holster moves back and forth a bit inside the waistband. Not dramatically, but enough to notice. I suspect something smaller like a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield or other compact would not have that problem, though. The effect wasn’t remotely enough to lack confidence in it in any way, but enough to want a little more support for extended carry.
The single clip puts all weight distribution in a single spot, so sag is more pronounced with a heavier gun. Having only one clip also affects the draw, since there is only one point of resistance. That means the holster starts to pull with the gun initially, unlike winged IWB holsters which tend to allow for a smoother draw. However, it wasn’t nearly enough for me to worry that I wouldn’t be able to get the gun into action when it mattered. The gun clears plastic just fine, just starts a little stiff is all.
TL, DR: It isn’t perfect, but it definitely works. Better than a good deal of the holsters on the shelf at your local gun shop and for less money to boot.
In short, it’s a very decent holster, and all things considered, a really good buy for the asking price.
I also confirmed a suspicion of mine. It isn’t a great secret that Kydex holsters are made by heating a sheet of plastic, wrapping it around a dummy gun, bolting on some hardware and doing a bit of polishing. Some makers charge seemingly excessive prices for them and after my experience with this holster, they still seem excessive. Perhaps some plastic holsters really are premium, but until I find out for sure…I shall remain dubious.
That said, a holster is only a tool and every tool has a best use. This is a good holster, even with a few peccadilloes. Since my Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB is a bit more comfortable and a bit better for all-day carrying. I’m going to keep this one for those days when I carry, but head back to the house and take the gun off shortly thereafter. An easier on/off procedure was what I was after in the first place, and I got just that and for a good price, too.
Tim lives in the Spokane area. He grew up around guns and the outdoors and spends as much time around both as he can.