There really isn't one that is the "best." Each has a specific purpose and what works for one person might not work for another.
The Undercover provides the deepest concealment for mid- to full-sized pistols. The Endless Summer Special is the most versatile and works best for compacts and subcompact. The In-Discreet rides lower in the waistband than the Endless Summer Special, so it conceals more deeply, but makes it harder to get a good grip. The Appendix IWB rides the deepest, only works for subcompacts, and is the hardest to grip.
It varies from state to state. In Florida, our home state, you have to have:
-- a clean criminal record.
-- your fingerprints taken.
-- a passport photo
-- a complete application
-- a certificate of training from a POST- or NRA-certified instructor.
Most states have similar requirements. Check with your state department of licensing for details. There's a ton of useful information on the Handgun Law website.
In a word, "no." But then, you don't want a suede lining in your holster. They were really popular back in the 1970s, until folks started noticing that their guns started to develop pitting from being left in the holster. You see, suede is tanned with chromium salts. And if it gets damp, when your gun presses into it the chrome salts from the leather will react with the steel in the gun and ionize little holes in your frame and slide.
Truth is, most of our holsters don't need a lining. We use a beeswax compound to slick down the fleshy side of the leather to reduce wear on the finish of your gun.
For an extra charge, we can add a lining of glove-soft, vegetable-tanned kipskin. But if we really think it's necessary, like on our Hunter's Crossdraw, the lining will be part of the holster's design.
Only if you're a Navy SEAL. If you're a civilian, you can't beat leather.
Man-made thermoplastics like Kydex or multi-layer laminates like Gunhide are used by most manufacturers today because it's less expensive to make holsters out of them. It's not just the cost of the materials, it's the manufacturing process. Properly making a custom-fitted holster is a very labor intensive process. Because of the properties of artificial materials, manufacturers can set up automated production lines that churn out holsters quickly and efficiently. But in most cases, leather is still a superior material for making holsters.
Leather is a great material for protecting your gun for the same reasons that your skin is great for protecting your muscles and bones. It's tough but soft, can be molded into most any shape, and can be crafted into a holster that fits your gun so well that you don't need a retention strap to securely hold the gun. Leather is less abrasive, and far more comfortable to have tucked up tight against you.
Artificials do have one significant advantage -- they are more weather resistant. Leather holsters are molded using water and heat, so prolonged exposure to significant amounts of water can damage your leather holster. And exposure to saltwater will cause drying and cracking. So if you're a Navy SEAL, artificial materials are the way to go.
Well, we can, but we probably won't.
Most of our holsters are designed for civilian concealed carry. They are designed to gently grip your sidearm without the need for additional straps, clinches or locks. If you actually need to draw your pistol in defense, all of those "safety" devices become obstacles that you must overcome in the most stressful seconds of your life.
If you're a cop it's a different story. The police carry their sidearms openly, and confront bad guys on a daily basis. Gun-snatching is a real threat, and so is simply losing your sidearm when you're rolling around on the ground with a bad guy. So additional retention devices make sense. But officers also have been killed in the line of duty because they couldn't get their pistols free from their extremely safe retention holsters.
Give us a call and we'll talk about it.
One-way snaps or "safety" snaps are designed so that they can only be latched or unatched in only one direction. They are used by the military and in other demnading applications to reduce the chance of the snap accidentlly popping open.
We use only top-quality leathers from Hermann Oak, Horween and other speciality tanneries.
Most of our holsters are made out of veg-tan, or vegetable-tanned cowhide. This is one of the most traditional kinds of leather. It was traditionally tanned with the tannins (hence "tanning") from Oak bark. Veg-tan can be molded with heat and moisture into a firm, form-fitting holster that will protect both you and your sidearm. Most of our cowhides are drum-dyed, meaning thaty they are cooked in a vat with the coloring, so that the color goes straight through the leather.
We do stock horsehide and you can get most of our holsters in natural, buff-colored horsehide. Horsehide is denser than cowhide, and many think it makes a more moisture-resistant holster. We've also made holsters from butter-soft, soft-rolled horsehide that is drum-dyed black or brown - -but we can't get a consistent supply of it, and can't guarantee when it will be available.
We can change the cant on some of our holsters without too much trouble, but it's almost impossible to change on the Shield, because of the steel band in the mouth. The Sheld and Appendix IWB are designed for vertical presentation, and cant is neither necessary nor desireable.
Actually, just the opposite is true. When it comes to a gunbelt, stiffer is better. A holster doesn't hang down from a belt, it sits up on it, like a suspension bridge. For the holster to hug tightly to your body, the belt has to provide a rigid platform.
When people complain about gunbelts being uncomfortable, it's not because they are too stiff, it's because they are too soft. When the belt is soft, it has to be cinched down extra tight to try to hold the holster in proper position. A rigid belt can be looser and still provide better support for a pistol.
This is even more important for high-riding holsters, because they have more weight above the beltline, and that translates into greater torque on the belt. That's why our standard CCW belts are made from two layers of 8/9 ounce leather, with a layer of kydex sewn in between. Our belts will sag less than any others on the market.
Not necessarily. Certainly, the smaller the gun, the easier it is to conceal. But that doesn't mean it's the best for CCW or any defensive application.
As a general rule, for any defensive application, you want the largest most powerful gun that you can shoot well and conceal effectively. The modern crop of tiny guns are very easy to conceal, but very hard to shoot. And they lack stopping power.
So start with a gun you can shoot well, and then figure out how to carry it.
It's simple: Choose the largest, most-powerful cartridge that you can shoot accurately, and control effectively in rapid fire.
For a primary weapon, most experts recommend not going below the level of 9mm/.38 Special. Almost anyone can learn to control those two cartridges. Most people find that the really tiny pistols in .380 are much harder to control than mid-sized pistols in 9mm.
Bigger and faster is generally better, but there is no magic cartridge that is the best for defense. The .45 has an enviable reputation as a manstopper, but it has heavy recoil and relatively poor penetration of hard barriers. And a full-sized 1911 will "only" hold seven or eight rounds, instead of 12-15 rounds common today.
Some experts say that the 9mm is too small for effective self-defense, but it is the most widely used cartridge for military sidearms in the world.
The 10mm was designed to be the ultimate defensive cartridge, but it's recoil and muzzle blast are so severe that most people can't manage them, as several law enforcement agencies discovered after adopting it.
So S&W toned the cartridge down and created the .40 S&W, a kinder, gentler version of the 10mm, and it has become widely adopted by police agencies and civilians. But it has relatively poor penetration of hard barriers, and does not have a great reputation as a manstopper.
The .357 Magnum had an excellent reputation as a manstopper, with good hard-barrier penetration, but it is only available in revolvers, which have fallen out of favor for defense.
So SIG-Sauer worked with Federal Cartridge Co. to develop the .357 SIG, which is built on a necked-down .40 S&W case. The .357 SIG mimics the performance of the 125-grain .357 Magnum that police favored, but it does it in a cartridge with the same footprint as the .40 S&W. But the .357 SIG has substantial recoil and muzzle blast. And because it has not been widely adopted, it is far more expensive than most handgun cartridges.
So try out a bunch and see which one works best for you. But keep in mind that shot placeent will trump power every time. The 10mm may be the most effective cartridge out there, but it's completely ineffective if you can't hit the target with it.