It took a whole lot for me to change my EDC from a single stack STI Duty One 4.0 in .45ACP to a double stack STI DVC Carry 9mm. Once I finally made the switch, I found I had a problem: the DVC Carry didn’t safely fit the El Paso Saddlery Summer Cruiser IWB holster that I’ve used for years. The trigger face was exposed — just barely — but that’s still a no-go.
Searching for quality IWB holsters for my DVC Carry, I soon discovered it was custom or nothing. And none of the custom shops had the gun. So I narrowed my search to local companies and discovered Hell-Bent Holsters, about an hour’s drive from me in the Texas hill country.
Glade Smith, Hell-Bent’s owner and founder, started in the upholstery business, specializing in custom hot rod interiors. The work gave him the eye for style and detail he applies to Hell-Bent, which opened for business in 2011.
At the same time, Travis Miller of Miller Tactical was manufacturing KYDEX holsters, working to streamline his process and improve quality. After years of impromptu collaboration, the two holster makers made it official. Travis joined Hell-Bent as its VP in January 2017.
Located in Spicewood, Texas, Hell-Bent has made a name for themselves, but not with holsters. Their line of Combat Wallets found tremendous commercial success. They now make about 3k of them a month. If this was thetruthaboutwallets.com, I’d have my first five-star wallet review. Alas, I didn’t need another wallet, I needed a holster, and I’m very picky about my leather.
And yes, until recently, when I finally bought an OWB KYDEX holster for my GLOCK 19, I meant leather. Many if not most KYDEX holster manufacturers sell products you can build yourself for a quarter of the cost after a 30-minute YouTube tutorial. But I’d seen the quality of Travis Miller’s work, so I got in the truck and headed to Hell-Bent’s HQ to see if they could build me something I could carry every single day.
I wanted a sweat guard just high enough to fit tightly around the thumb safety, ensuring it stays in the on position. I wanted two loops that would work with my belts, which are all 1 3/4. And I wanted those loops sets a little wider so that could split them on either side of my pants’ belt loop at the 4 o’clock position.
Travis asked me what color I wanted; they offer several patterns and color options. Being a person of infinite imagination and flair, I went with plain brown. I dropped my gun off on Friday. Monday was a Holiday. On Tuesday I got the call. My custom holster was ready.
Hell-Bent nailed it, though not literally. Gun retention was Goldilocks perfect. (I can tighten or loosen the holster’s grip on my EDC STI with a Philips head screwdriver.) The perfectly set loops fit my belt. The sweat guard road high and molded around the safety. And unlike my leather holster, Hell-Bent’s custom job completely encased the trigger of my pistol.
Most KYDEX holsters I’ve found tend to be a little squishy (especially IWB). That worries me for long term use. Not the Hell-Bent holster. All of their holsters are made from .08 KYDEX. They’re rock solid; more than rigid enough to take the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
A man named Keifer Bell does most of Hell-Bent’s custom work. (Oddly enough, we happened to meet on a hunt in south Texas few months ago.) Mr. Bell not only made the EDC Carry fit perfectly, he rounded and smoothed all of the holster’s edges for more comfortable long-term carry — something they do on all their work.
Hell-Bent makes everything in-house. If they have to buy it, they make sure that it’s 100 percent American made. I appreciate that. More surprising (but equally delightful): the fast turn around time that I received was no fluke.
In addition to the Combat Wallet, Hell-Bent makes about 200 holsters a month. They have over 300 different molds in stock. Almost every order gets shipped out within a day. With staff on hand dedicated to special orders, custom work usually ships out in a day or two.
After wearing my Hell-bent holster a bit, I’ve made yet another EDC transition. From single stack to double stack, .45ACP to 9mm, and now leather to KYDEX.
Yup, my Hell-bent holster is a keeper. That’s tall praise from a guy who’s passed on every other KYDEX IWB holster he’s ever tried. Bonus! The Hell-bent holster is a lot less expensive than a quality leather rig. I liked it so much I’ve ordered an OWB for my FNX-Tactical .45ACP.
Hell-Bent Bare Bones Inside the Waistband Holster
Multiple options, custom orders available.
Price: $60-$80, depending on options
Rating (out of five stars):
Overall * * * * *
Great quality, durable, comfortable, inexpensive. The fast turnaround is icing on the KYDEX cake.