By: Ryan Keliipuleole
There is something inherently sexy about leather, along with a certain social status. From the interior of your sports car the old pair of beat-up engineer boots in your closet, leather stands up to the test of time and lets everyone know you value quality and character. Every little scratch and scuff tells a story. Let’s be honest, no one ever grew up wishing they had a plastic motorcycle jacket.
Your pistol is by your side on every “adventure” that you embark on (or if it isn’t, it certainly should be), and as such it should be properly dressed for the occasion, or any occasion for that matter. So, which holster do you use? The concealed carry holster market seems saturated with new plastic-fantastic products, even Barbie thinks it’s getting ridiculous.
I get it, Kydex holsters are less bulky, are easy to make, and need next to no maintenance. Like most gun guys, I have a drawer full of holsters, including Kydex, but I always seem to come back to leather. Specifically, back to my BLACKHAWK! Leather Inside-the-Pants Holster.
Fit, Finish and Quality
When first taking the BLACKHAWK! out of the box, you can see and feel the quality. The stitching is tough and well done, and the leather remains rigid despite its thin construction. While many leather holsters are quite thick and may require an extra pant size on top of the larger waisted pants already needed for IWB carry, this one remains relatively thin. Right out of the box, the holster may need some breaking in, as is expected. Practice your draw a few times and this holster assumes the perfect compromise between retention and ease of draw.
The holster secures to the belt via a strap, meant to be wrapped around the belt and held in place with a snap. Sized to accommodate a variety of belt widths, it secures to most gun belts very well, although if your belt is thin, you may notice some wiggle room. I have not noticed any issues, but I could see how some may not like that feature. The strap is also adjustable for cant. Secured via Velcro and a screw, the end user can remove the strap and replace it at any angle their heart desires.
This feature also makes the holster useful for different carry positions. If you prefer 3 o’clock, behind the hip, small of the back, or appendix carry, the BLACKHAWK! is GTG. The adjustment-friendly design does give up some stability, however. The screw holding the strap in place can be tightened fairly securely, but I still notice some movement.
The Velcro helps with this, although it can also loosen over time. The relatively loose fit of the strap may be a deal breaker to some, but I feel that a combination of the screw, Velcro, and belt pressure work together to the point where it doesn’t really bother me. I suspect that with some thread lock it would hold better.
This is not the thinnest holster on the planet, but it does conceal quite well. I am a fairly big guy, coming in at 6’2” and 220 lbs., and I have no printing problems while carrying in this holster. If you are of smaller stature, it may be more difficult to use, but I would argue it as doable. If you are into wearing skintight clothes, I would suggest considering OWB carry. But, I digress…
For me, leather is very comfortable. It conforms to the gun and the body well. This BLACKHAWK! Holster is no exception. This is one area where I feel leather beats Kydex, but YMMV. Retention is also top notch. I have multiple holsters for my EDC Sig P229, and for a gun that heavy I prefer the leather holster’s retention much more.
Not only do I have an adjustable tension screw, but I can also use my belt to put more squeeze on the gun. The retention adjustments do an excellent job, but I take comfort in knowing that I have a two-layer system to prevent my gat from kissing the pavement. Even while running, my gun stays put.
I may be alone on this point, but I appreciate the flexibility that a leather holster gives me after the draw. When shooting drills, I like feeling more freedom to maneuver. Kydex makes me feel like I still have a gun in my pants, even when I don’t. On that same note, while Kydex fans cite re-holstering as a benefit not afforded to leather holsters, I have not noticed any issue. Placing the gun back into the holster remains easy to do, even one handed.
In the end, I am quite pleased with this holster. After going through the Kydex/hybrid gauntlet, I would take this holster every time. And at a sub-$100 price tag, there is a good value in this piece. What else could I say? Guns just look good in leather.
Specifications: BLACKHAWK! Leather Inside-the-Pants Holster
MSRP: $76.45 (can be found for lower street prices)
Gun Models: Available for lots of different firearms
Location: IWB at any position
Cant: Fully Adjustable
Ratings (out of five stars):
Build Quality * * * * *
Excellent. After daily use for 18 months, there isn’t so much as a loose stitch.
Fit * * * * *
Fits my sig like a glove.
Comfort * * * * *
Very comfortable. This holster remains comfortable on the wearer while securing the gun. Knocked off one star for the loose belt strap. I would have preferred 2 straps, but this design does work.
Customize This * * *
You can configure this holster any way you like, as long as you like straight black. The adjustable cant is a nice feature.
Overall * * * *
This holster isn’t perfect. But for the average concealed carrier, it comes close. Especially at this price point. Would recommend.