As concealed carry becomes increasingly popular, people are finding ingenious ways for new converts to the every-day-carry lifestyle to tote their firearms more discretely and more securely. Tyler Kee and Chris Dumm have each provided their input on a device from VersaCarry that was, until that point, the smallest viable option for packing a gun, but didn’t provide a whole lot in terms of retention or safety. In fact, Tyler and Chris went out of their way to NOT call it a holster, because it really isn’t. Today I present a more refined option from a local gun shop here in San Antonio (Alamo Tactical) that has taken the basic components of a holster and distilled them down to their smallest form . . .
According to the competition shooting sports, the basic definition of a holster is a device with the ability to carry a gun securely while completely covering the trigger guard. Everything else is just…extra. So the boys at Alamo Tactical took a jigsaw to a typical kydex holster and sliced out everything that didn’t absolutely need to be there, and what was left is a small slip of molded plastic that hits all the major requirements of an inside-the-waistband concealed carry holster.
The tiny clip covers the trigger guard and the ejection port of the firearm, and that’s about it. The gun clips securely into the holster, and then you can slide it into your waistband. They offer two models of this holster, one that places the weight on your belt and another that places the weight on your pants. They also come in black and tan, to match your wardrobe for the day.
Because this device actually covers the trigger guard, I can call it a holster. In fact, it’s USPSA legal. And because it meets those minimum requirements it’s safe to carry cocked and locked (condition 1). The fact that the trigger guard is covered means that even in the unlikely event that both the manual safety and the grip safety on a 1911 are defeated by some object or by your movements on the dance floor one night, it is nearly impossible for the trigger to be pulled as well. QED the holster is safe enough for normal every day use. It’s no different than using one of those generic leather IWB holsters, one of which I wore for almost a year with my full size 1911.
In the field, safety didn’t seem to be an issue for me. The holster kept the gun in place, and the safety remained firmly engaged the entire time I wore it. I never even had to re-position the holster once properly placed, but then again I did have to tighten down my belt quite a bit.
When slipped into your pants, the holster is rather uncomfortable. That’s because it’s just the gun pressing up against you and nothing in between — no padding, no molded kydex, that’s all. If the gun itself isn’t particularly form fitting or has rough edges, you’ll know it. But the flip side of that issue is that this holster allows you to present the smallest profile possible while carrying. There’s no extra material to stick out or cause bulges. It’s just you and the gun.
Keeping that gun in position can be a hassle, though. The minimal design means that you can endlessly adjust the cant of the grip and the position in your waistband, but it also takes more pressure to keep it in place. It has a tendency to slip around a tad, so you’ll need to cinch your belt a hair tighter than normal.
There is one glaring issue, of course: you can’t re-holster.
That’s what killed the VersaCarry, the fact that you couldn’t easily re-holster. Instead, you need to remove the device, clip your gun back in, and re-insert it into your pants. Alamo Tactical’s holster has the same issue as the VersaCarry, but really that would be the case for any of the cheap leather IWB holsters as well. In the grand scheme of things it’s probably a small issue, since the probability of needing to reholster isn’t high, but it might steer you towards a full holster design instead if that worries you.
In the end, Alamo Tactical’s holster is the height of minimalism. It gets you some bonuses in less weight and reduces profile, but it has some drawbacks in terms of re-holstering and comfort. At the end of the day, though, it does the job and does it on the cheap.
Alamo Tactical Minimalist Holster
Types: Pants or belt based carry
Colors: Black, flat dark earth
Overall Rating: * * * *
For $25, I can overlook the comfort issues. There are times when I need a quick and dirty IWB holster, and this would fill that niche quite nicely. But the inability to re-holster is an issue.
This looks like a MIC with a belt clip.
Great looking gun. Can someone identify it?
Good taste in gats Mr. Leghorn.
Wilson Combat Bill Wilson Carry 1911
I’ve tried a couple similar holsters over the past few years and found that when a portion of the barrel or muzzle extends beyond the holster I can accidentally pop it out with a movement or a bump. I suppose I could crank down on the retention but then I’m sacrificing draw.
The Vanguard 2 doesnt do this, I think because it’s loosely clipped to the belt and allowed to float. Others I’ve had where they were rigidly clipped to the belt and barrel exposed I’ve consistently been able to pop the gun out. A free gun moving around my waistline isnt fun and not easy to correct when walking around the office or public.
Make one that completely encloses the barrel and I’ll buy it. I’m carrying an XDS in a Cooks Holster at the moment. Similar to the Alamo but covers the length of the barrel. I dislike the clip however and would prefer a reverse clip, like this Alamo, or a leather strap with a snap like a Vanguard 2.
Yeah this isn’t a new concept. Vanguard did it first, right?
I actually live in San Antonio and have worn this holster with a double stack .45 all the way down to a small 9mm its a great setup and doesn’t look comfortable but with a undershirt on was not bad at all! I would recommend them! They made mine custom for my guns for the same price they charge for the ones they keep in stock!!!
I’m hesitant to self promote, but if you’re looking for a minimalist holster which is tiny, comfortable, and provides for re-holstering, check out our Skeleton Holster.
Your Access holster is just about exactly what I’ve been looking for. Going to make them for XD/XD(M)/XD-S’s anytime soon?
It pains me to see a gorgeous gun like that shamelessly lugged around in a tiny bit of cheap plastic. There ought to be a law…
Jon, linky there buddy.
Always looking for a good carry holster.
I’m astonished that you reviewed an IWB holster which, effectively, doesn’t allow one to re-holster… and gave it 4/5 stars? Really?
Saying that the unacceptable soft leather IWB holsters also fail in the same way is irrelevant. If you can’t safely reholster your gun without doing the pants dance, then it’s a fail.
Reviews are relative to other similar items in the same price range. For the $25 range in IWB holsters, generic leather or nylon pancake holsters are the norm and therefore that’s what I used as a point of comparison. And comparatively, I’d rather have this since it’s much more stable and secure.
How much weight/space is this saving you over say a crossbreed super/mini tuck? Can’t be much.
Certainly doesn’t seem to be enough to trade off comfort, stability and being able to re-holster.
The idea is nice, except for the ability to easily reholster your weapon, but for less than $25 I’ll just buy a kydex holster kit and make a better version.
Man I don’t get this minimalist holster trend… I like a good traditional style holster, leather or kydex it doesn’t matter (I prefer leather). People need to stop whining about holsters being too heavy or thick and just spend some money on a decent product.
A. You generally can’t reholster, at least not easily.
B. They don’t protect the firearm from you. I don’t need sweat over my entire firearm.
C. I’d be willing to bet it’s less comfortable, as the review points out.
+1. Actually + several more reasons.
D. Less holster does not mean less printing. In fact, having less holster makes the outline of the gun more noticeable as a gun, depending on what shows through.
E. The front sight will dig a hole in your clothes. When the front sight is sticking through the hole in your pants, someone might actually notice you are carrying a gun.
F. If you actually use the holster in live fire practice, you’ll probably burn your leg, as the hot slide has nothing but your skivvies between it and your skin.
G. If you actually use the holster in live fire practice, your skivvies and your pants will have grimy black marks where the unprotected muzzle end touches both.
H. The front sight will get hung enough in your clothes as you draw, because your holster doesn’t have a sight track for it to ride up as you draw. Maybe not in the first dry draw you do at home…but when you try to draw from it after wearing it for 10 hours in a busy day.
Minimal holsters are a bad idea, minimal IWB holsters are even more pointless than belt slide OWB models.
If a holster is like a wallet… Then this thing is like a money clip.
I want to re holster, if i am handling a suspect and dont need to shoot him, i want to stow the weapon effortlessly and go for my cuffs, or whatever….
I have a iwb that i have used for years which meets the requirements and is reasonably secure. I am always looking for something better, but i dont think this is the zenith of pistol packing!
But new ideas are how we progress so i appreciate the coverage!
i think this holster wouldnt serve well as an edc but for say those quick trips to the gas station or something, instead of mexican carry
A word of caution: I have a similar style of holster from another maker that I’ve used to carry my S&W Shield. After a few days of carry in hot weather, the magazine release was sticking due to rust, keeping the magazine from seating and latching properly. If you use a carry method like this, be extra cautious about rust and corrosion buildup.
Agreed on this. Any IWB holster without at least a body shield of some sort along the full length of the gun doesn’t sound right to me. I was carrying in Jacksonville and Orlando for a few days, and even with a horsehide, body shielded VM-II by Milt Sparks, I still got rust on the mag release. This holster will require a lot more gun maintenance in my opinion.
Hello from a fellow San Antonian. I like minimalist designs. You just have to understand the drawbacks, like in the case of re-holstering. I am not unduly concerned about that. Take for example my Kel-Tec P11. I have installed their side clip and use it or concealed carry almost all the time. The only way to get more minimalist is to just stick a gun in your waist band. There is the adjustability of cant. In fact, what I usually do is to put it on, secure my belt, cover it with my shirt, and in the interest of concealability I place my arm in back of the gun. If I can really feel the butt then I know it needs adjusting. I just use my arm to push it in until I get the minimalist feel to it and then I know it isn’t printing. I like this holster and might be interested if I had another gun that could take advantage of it.