By: Austin Knudsen
A few months back, a gun brotherhood buddy of mine texted me asking for my mailing address, because he wanted to send me something. This buddy has a…unique sense of humor and I fully expected a special pink package from Uncle Enos’ Discount Sex Toy Emporium. Against my better judgment, I gave him my address and a week later I received a small manila envelope with a chunk of black plastic inside. No papers, no instructions, no notes. Just this black plastic contraption that turned out to be a Raven Concealment Systems VanGuard 2 inside-the-waistband clip/holster/thingy for a GLOCK 43.
I believe it was Clint Smith who said something to the effect that “Carrying a gun should be comforting, not comfortable.” That’s certainly always been my experience with IWB carry. On the “pro” side, there’s probably no better way to keep your gun on the down low. It’s inside the waist of your pants so there’s no exposed holster and/or muzzle to worry about poking out from under your cover garment while you’re eating at IHOP. Printing is minimized, just because the weapon is forced so close in to your body. It isn’t perfect concealment, but it’s darn near.
In the last few years wandering around the SHOT Show, I’ve noticed more and more “alternative” types of holsters, and the Raven Concealment VanGuard 2 is one of the better non-traditional designs. The belt clip can be adjusted for cant, and, as you can see, I’ve adjusted mine for as much forward cant as I could get:
The VanGuard 2 is a minimalist design. It’s really is no more than a belt clip attached to a shroud (via two bolts) that fully encloses the G43’s trigger guard, completely protecting it from any sort of interference that could cause a discharge.
The shroud is precisely molded to the GLOCK’s trigger guard and “snaps” into place securely, ensuring the pistol doesn’t come “unholstered” until you draw it.
The belt clip itself works well; it fastens to a belt securely so that when the pistol is drawn, out comes the gun with the clip and holster staying in your pants where it belongs.
To give the VanGuard 2 a good test, I recently carried my GLOCK 43 on a three-day business trip. I wore it seated in a vehicle for several hours, and then around and about town under a sweater as I conducted my business for a few days, and again during the drive home.
At the end of my trip, I got home and went to de-gun myself and felt something fall down inside my pant leg. I looked at the VanGuard2 and saw that the top bolt and nut that hold the belt clip to the actual holster were gone. It had managed to work itself loose during the previous three days.
I probably should have checked the bolt tension before I used the VanGuard 2. Instead, I simply inserted my gun, placed the new rig in my waistband, and went on my way. So this one is on me. I never did find that nut. Within a week, Raven Concealment had mailed me a package of two new screws and nuts for the VanGuard 2, free of charge.
Long story short: I like it. I can’t say I ever forgot I was wearing it and my G43. You hear that one a lot in these reviews, but that wasn’t the case here (and I’m not sure that’s true with any gun). But while I was out and about, walking and moving around, the VanGuard2 carried comfortably.
At the end of each day, I could definitely tell it had been inside my waistband and was glad to take it off (comforting, not comfortable…remember?). But the VanGuard 2 worked fantastically. It kept my 43 rock-solidly in place and stayed securely clipped to my belt, even with a loose nut and bolt. Not once did I have to discretely try to “adjust” my pistol in my waistband.
Driving or riding in a vehicle with any IWB rig is no bueno, and the VanGuard 2 is no exception. I did it just to see what would happen, and what happened was after an hour I hated that it was digging into my waist and side. But that’s been the case with any IWB holster I’ve tried. I think that a wider, flatter, more spread-out leather IWB holster would probably be more comfortable on long car rides, but honestly I don’t think the words “IWB holster” and “comfortable on long car rides” go together in any universe.
One note: reholstering your drawn pistol is a little tricky. In fact, on its website, Raven Concealment expressly recommends that you NOT attempt to reholster with the VanGuard 2 in your pants. They advise removing the VanGuard 2, holstering your pistol, and then replacing the entire apparatus in your waistband. Do with that as you will.
In the final analysis, I found the Raven Concealment Systems VanGuard2 an excellent choice for deep concealment of one of the most popular subcompact defensive pistols available today. It holds the pistol securely and safely inside your waistband, completely protecting the trigger. It stays in place and doesn’t come unclipped when you draw the gun. Most importantly, it offers excellent concealment for those who have chosen IWB carry for their EDC. And at only $30, it’s highly recommended.
Ratings (out of 5 stars):
Build Quality: * * * * *
I don’t run a lot of Kydex kit, but enough to know good build quality from bad. Raven gets full marks on the VanGuard 2. It’s perfectly formed to fit the G43’s trigger guard securely and tightly. No unsightly seams on the thing anywhere. The belt clip is sturdy and works well. Hardware is all quality, and I can’t ding Raven for the lost bolt and nut I experienced. I should’ve checked the tension on both before I used the rig.
Concealment: * * * * *
The VanGuard 2 is probably the best option I’ve seen for accessible concealment of the G43. The VanGuard 2 holds the pistol securely inside your waistband which, in turn, holds the pistol tightly against your body. This greatly reduces printing which is the whole point: you don’t want people to knowing that you’re packing.
Overall: * * * * *
I’m loath to give any product five stars, but I think the VanGuard 2 deserves it. If you’ve made the decision to carry IWB, you know that “all-day comfort” is going to be sacrificed for maximum concealment. That’s exactly what the VanGuard 2 offers: a simple design providing secure, stable, maximum concealment.