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In my continued search for the ultimate IWB concealed carry holster, I stumbled across this little beauty from Raven Concealment, the Vanguard 2. I don’t really feel right calling it a holster. And Raven calls it a “holster shell,” but that’s really what it is. And that’s what it does. Call it whatever you like, it’s surprisingly effective . . .

At first glance I wrote it off as another gimmick targeted at all of us gear-obsessed concealed carriers. But at $35, I thought I’d give it a whirl and I’m glad I did. This thing is easily the most concealable holster I’ve ever tried.

My bulky Glock 19 disappears under a t-shirt in the appendix position. That’s thanks to the minimalist design. All of the other holsters I’ve tried add bulk to the gun; whether it’s the leather or plastic wrapping around the gun, or the snaps holding it onto my belt. There always seems to be something adding that ½ inch or so of girth. Not with this Vanguard 2.

My biggest concern was retention. With so little material and only covering the trigger, how was it going to hang onto my G19 with a full mag? The answer…fit and finish. This thing hugs the frame nice and tight. In a solid month, I have yet to jostle the firearm out of the holster. And the adjustable belt loop holds the entire package securely to any belt I’m wearing.

As with most R/C products, they put some thought into the practical use of this thing. There’s a thumb tab on the left side for one-handed removal. And the tab on front allows ripping the holster away on a pocket or stationary object. It’s adjustable for both depth and cant. And is tuckable.

But this thing isn’t all peaches and cream. It’s got one major downside; you can’t safely re-holster the gun without removing it from your belt, which means I can’t train with it. Because of the design, it’s extremely dangerous to re-holster a hot gun without first removing the Vanguard completely from your belt and pants, then reinserting the whole package back into concealment. And Raven makes sure to spell that out in their extensive instructions for the Vanguard 2.

But this isn’t a flaw — it’s a function of the ultra-deep concealment the Vanguard 2 offers. So while that can be annoying, it’s just a compromise to allow for this level of secrecy.

Bottom line: if you don’t try to make this holster into something it’s not, then it’s literally perfect. It’s also great for protecting the trigger when keeping the gun in a glove compartment or carry bag. Currently the Vanguard 2 is only available for Gen3 and Gen4 Glocks, and you don’t have to deal with the standard “30 days or less” lead time of other Raven Concealment products. Mine arrived in about a week. Has this replaced my primary appendix holster? Nope, but it is something I use when I need a little extra stealth, or when I’m wearing a light t-shirt and don’t feel like carrying a smaller gun than my trusty G19.

Ratings (out of five stars):

Design: * * * * *
If you look at this for what it is, then the design is perfect. If you want to train hundreds of draws with it, then it sucks. In typical R/C fashion, it’s got the features necessary for various defensive gun use situations.

Durability: * * * * *
After testing this thing for a full month, I have yet to find a flaw. It’s still holding my Glock nice and tight.

Overall: * * * * *
I want to give it four stars because I can’t train a lot of reps with it in a reasonable amount of time. But it was never meant for that, so looking at it as an ultra-deep concealment solution for $35, it gets a solid five.

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  1. I don’t see any significant advantage of this over other ‘tuckable’ IWB holsters like Crossbreed, which will be a lot more comfortable (no big hunk of metal and plastic rubbing up against your body,) and allow the possibility of re-holstering one-handed. It seems to me that the concealment gains would be minimal….

    Am I missing something?

    • The concealment gains actually are more than you might think. I was surprised.

      This holster really shines in the appendix position. That’s where the advantages really are. Hip carry, probably not so much.

  2. Reholstering ability is imperative on the street and by extension, is it imperative to practice it on the range. No go on this concept for me.

      • Why would you want to reholster?

        I would say if the threat/s are down then you can reholster so as not to be confused as threat, so you can provide 1st aid, to carry people out of the area that are injured, etc. etc. If you can’t reholster where are you doing to put your firearm? In your pocket with no trigger protection?

        I like the idea of this holster but the complex steps to reholster is a definitely a con for me.

  3. I was intrigued until informed that it won’t fit my Gen One Glock. Maybe that’s what I get for being a dinosaur.

  4. I’ve been using the VersaCarry with my Glock 23 for almost a year. It is a similar type of holster to the Vanguard, although a very different design. The advantage of these types of holsters is that they don’t add any additional thickness associated with a conventional holster – even tuckables like the Crossbreed.

    When reholstering this type of holster, it must be removed, placed on the gun and then the gun and attached holster is reinserted into the pants. The VersaCarry has a rigid plastic clip that attaches to the belt and with practice can be removed and reattached quickly. The Vanguard has that plastic loop with snap.

    Faliaphotography did a review on the Vanguard some time ago and showed how easy it was to “reholster” and demonstrates it several times.

    The Vanguard is definitely on my list of holsters to buy as it will be more easily tuckable and quicker to reholster than my VersaCarry. Also, the VersaCarry only covers one side of the trigger guard and the Vanguard covers both.

  5. you need to try n82tactical’s holsters, i recently started using their holsters which are fair priced and american made. I have both the original tuckable and the professional, It’s my only experience with iwb holsters and i may not be qualified to say so but the fact that they are so comfortable that i forget its there speaks for it self, the professional is nice because the abs plastic makes it easy to reholster, they also have an intuitive twist release to unholster. If you havent seen them or tried them you guys should check them out, they also have a series of youtube videos showing how they are made and where all the components come from. I have read their customer service is great.

  6. I have the original IWB hoster from N82, and have loved it except for the one thing: the belt clip sits way too low on the holster, making the pistol ride really high on the hip. I carry a Ruger SR9c, so it’s not exactly a difficult weapon to conceal, but I print every time I do anything but stand straight up with a baggy t-shirt on. My 30-inch waist may make this worse, but I’ll be trying out a Shepherd Leather (Crossbreed knock-off) shortly.

  7. I have two Raven Concealment Vanguard 2 holsters, one set up with the belt loop, and one with the lanyard. Been using them for several months, no problems at all.

    I am slightly confused by the “…which means I can’t train with it” line in the review; I can (and do) train with it, it just takes more time and motions per draw/fire/reholster cycle to do so. For those who want to add minimal bulk to (admittedly) already bulky weapons, this holster fills the bill, but it has a very specific usage procedure which must be followed for safety — just like all firearms.

    • I’m also confused by the “which means I can’t train with it”. If you do not train with it you’re setting yourself up for failure. It amazes me that individuals will get their carry permit, purchase a pistol, take it to the range once or twice to qualify, and then they stick it in whatever carry rig they see at the gun store while including the “I have a gun, who needs training?” mentality. I train often with my VG2 because I use it for primary carry with either my G19 or G17. I’ve never had a problem in training, and if in a bad situation where you have to draw on an attacker, why would you even worry about re-holstering? You’ll re-holster when there is no longer a threat, which means you’ll have ample time to conduct the re-holster steps the VG2 requires.

  8. I’ve had the VG 2 for about 2 weeks, and after using it for one week I liked it so much I ordered another one so that both by 19 and 26 can have one. I’ve used the Kevlar belt loop and the lanyard method of belt attachment and it’s the most comfortable and concealable AIWB option I’ve used. The belt loops push out just a small amount so they do look like a little bump under some shirts, but when I did the lanyard loop method on the belt it just disappears. Amazing how well something this inexpensive and frankly this simple works so well for me. As long as you are totally committed to “each time every time” safety measures when carrying AIWB this works beautifully. I also have to pocket carry the 26 sometimes and this is a great option without the belt loops for that – you do need to practice removing the device with the support hand but it can be done very very quickly as part of the initial draw and presentation.

    • The Vanguard 2 works great for the M&P 9c. I have been using a generic reverse carry in the small of my back as my increased waistline makes appendix carry very uncomfortable for me. However after only 10 minutes with the Vanguard 2 in strong hand IWB position, I was instantly sold on this thing. Wish they made one for all of my carry pistols. The PPS would absolutely disappear with this!

  9. Be careful with these. I got my Vanguard 2 in the mail today and tried it out on my Glock 23. I carried it appendix style for about 15 minutes moving around the house, sitting down and getting a general feel for the setup. It feels good. You’d be suprised how much bulk a typical IWB holster creates. When it came time to put the gun back in the safe, I noticed some brand new scuff marks on the slide. Right underneath the ejection port. These must have been caused by the inside part of the metal button of my shorts. Glocks are supposed to have some of the most durable finishes. Anyway, be mindful that the slide isn’t protected while you’re carrying with this particular type of setup. The zipper and button can really booger your shit up. Anyone else have this issue?

    • I have the same problem. Only had the device one day and my Glock is scratched up. I love the device, don’t like how it affects the finish on my carry piece.

  10. I like my VersaCarry very well and this looks pretty similar. I can take it off and put the gun on and back in my pants without hurrying in around 5-10 seconds. Probably closer to 5. I also like one called Stealth Defense as it is ez to get to from about any position and very hard to print. It won’t take the large guns though–you can put one in but it’s primarily for medium on down.

  11. Very poor customer service from Cayla at Raven Concealment Systems. Recommend looking elsewhere if you think you’ll need to get assistance from their customer service.

    Received an e-mail from RCS about an accessory I left in my shopping cart. The link in this e-mail took me back to my shopping cart to finish my order with free shipping.

    The next morning Cayla e-mails me to inform that the shopping cart was wrong and my order was cancelled. We went back and forth over several e-mails about the shipping charge that I was being accessed with no resolution.

    Thank you Cayla for creating a detractor with me. I will now be ordering from another company.

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