I have had a few months now to come to some conclusions about the IWB holsters I have been using. I rotate carry guns, depending on weather, destination and whim. Whim usually wins out. So, the lineup is:
- Ruger SR9c - IWB Holsters:
- N82 Tactical Pro
- Little Foxx
- Crossbreed Supertuck
- Old Faithful
At this point, the only two left that I carry with the SR9c are the Little Foxx and the Remora.
2. Ruger LC9 - IWB Holsters:
- Little Foxx (see text below for more on this)
The N82 Tactical Pro is without doubt the most comfortable IWB holster I have ever carried. I loved everything about it but one thing - the "locking" design. On the Pro model, the holster shell itself is made from relatively thick polycarbonate, which is very good. It is solid, almost indestructible, and rigid. However, lacking any flexibility, the shell is designed to "lock in" the gun by what I would term a small detent fitting inside the front of the trigger guard. This is a good design and holds the gun securely. However, the rigidity of the polycarbonate shell requires that the pistol be rotated a bit at the beginning of the draw in order for the trigger guard to clear the detent and free the pistol.
N82 specifies that you give the grip a slight inward twist as you begin the draw which will accomplish unlocking the pistol from the shell. Now, some people, most people judging from the success of this design, have no problems with this. Unfortunately, I did. It's a personal thing. I would not always remember to make this movement when I drew my weapon. Usually I did, but not always. None of my other holsters require me to give a slight twist on the draw, so I would quickly fall out of the habit when using other brands.
So, eventually, I stopped using the N82 Tactical Pro for that reason. It was difficult to surrender the comfort, especially in the summer. Once, I wore the holster and the SR9c all day while fly fishing the Arkansas River in summer. It was hot and sweaty, but the holster didn't bother me at all and held up fine. Stained, of course, but that's what happens when you wear holsters against your bod in the summer.
I suspect the standard N82 holster would have been better for me than the Pro model since it does not have a polycarbonate shell. It appears that the pistol is held to the backing by a formed piece of neoprene, with the clip, riding in a leather sleeve, sewn into that. In fact, the 'standard' version might be more comfortable than the Pro because it doesn't have the polycarbonate shell. The only down side I can see with this, for some folks, is it won't allow quick, one-hand re-holstering. But, my view is that if you are carrying concealed, you don't need to do any one-hand re-holstering anyway. If I pull my gun in public, it won't be for show and I won't need to quickly re-holster.
Recommendation: The N82 Tactical line of holsters are both unique and comfortable. I have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone who carries concealed. As Nate remarked to me: "If you don't love it, we buy it back!" Can't beat that.
Note: My inability to adapt to the Pro's retention system is an issue more with me than with the design. There are many, many satisfied N82 Tactical Pro users out there, so keep that in mind.
The Crossbreed SuperTuck is a well-regarded IWB holster, and probably the forerunner of the "hybrid leather-kydex" design. I used the model backed with horsehide for the SR9c for many months. It does conceal well, and is generally comfortable - nowhere near as comfy as the N82 Tactical Pro however. I spent a considerable amount of time moving the clips up and down to get a good cant and height position. I'm not sure I found any position I really liked though. The big negative for me was the hassle I had getting it on and off. Again, this comes down to personal preference. I know shooters who swear by this holster and have one for each concealed carry piece they own. I can't really give this holster any significant negatives, but I eventually stopped carrying in it and sold it.
The Old Faithful holster family. I had a couple of these. They are essentially a do it yourself Crossbreed super tuck design holster that costs considerably less. Because you, the owner, put it together. If I could do it, anyone could, so that's not an issue. But, with the bolts and rubber washers it seemed a bit more clunky than the Crossbreed. I passed it on to someone else to try.
The Little Foxx and the Remora.
I still use the Little Foxx. In fact, since the kydex is somewhat flexible, I find that it also works very well with the LC9 and the SR9c. One holster, two guns.... Not bad for unintended consequences. The only negatives are that although it is comfortable, it's not as drop dead comfy as the N82 Tactical, and I managed to break one of the kydex clips - they sent me two initially. I'm sure I'll be able to get another clip with a call or email. I've been too lazy to do that, but I should. So, I like having one clip and the Little Foxx is small enough so that one clip works effectively, and it's light and no bigger than it needs to be. It has an open grip area (don't like the term "combat" for this kind of feature) which is good for grip, not quite so good for comfort. But, all designs are compromises.
The Remora is in a class by itself. As you probably know, it's clipless and relies on the high friction coefficient of the material to keep it in place. This mostly works very well. My only issues with it so far have had to do with the holsters moving or changing position during the day. I think there are two key factors with this. One, I tend to wear the Remoras in a cross draw position. This works well if you don't do too much moving about during the day - sitting, standing, sitting, bending over, twisting around, sitting, standing.... you get the picture. Because a cross draw carry puts the holster and gun directly on what i'd call a 'hinge area' - the place where the upper body and hip area meet in front when you bend over or sit - the holster is then subject to a lot of forces during the day. These work to displace the holster and gun and you must check their position a number of times to be sure they haven't slipped up. I've had the holster and gun work up and be mostly out of the waistband area. It's easy to readjust though, even in public if you do it casually.
In Remora's defense, I think this tendency to become displaced is because of where I wear it, and if the gun/holster combination is quite small, like a regular Remora and my LCP. I have recently begun to use the Remora in a strong side position and suspect this might cure the displacement issue.
One big benefit with Remoras is that they can be worn practically in any position and they are easy to put on and take off.
I really like them and recommend them, but I'm still working through my preferences for how they will keep my gun secure and in the same place, and how they will hold up over time.
The pjholster. Paul Giannaula makes what I consider to be the most beautiful kydex holsters on the market. He makes them himself, not wanting to compromise the quality. They are smooth, thin and well engineered. It's a case of form following function. I know that a quality leather holster from a craftsman master is considered more aesthetic than kydex, but Paul's designs are beautiful in their own right. And, surprisingly comfortable seeing as they are made from plain old kydex. Seriously. The photos on his site don't do them justice. Even so, kydex is hard. It's not leather. Still, given the thinness of Pauls holsters, and the positive retention, which is adjustable, I would venture they are as comfortable as a well made leather IWB holster. Good leather tends to be thicker than kydex, especially the thin kydex Paul favors. Thick leather adds to bulk, along with the extra leather necessary for sewing the thing together. At least, I'd say comfort between the two would be a toss up.
The only IWB holster I have from Paul is a straight drop for my LC9, which I tend to carry cross draw. Nothing, except some OWB holsters, is comfortable when carried cross draw, so that's not a real test for Paul's IWB designs. I'd like to try one of his IWB strong side designs with a radical cant, which I believe really helps to hide the gun in the strong side position. His website (pjholster.com) links to a very good video review which you might find interesting.
I would recommend one of Paul's holsters to anyone, especially if you like thin, beautifully made kydex.
The IWB Wish List
I'd like to have a small IWB holster like the Little Foxx but with the backing of an N82 Tactical only smaller. That would combine a somewhat flexible kydex shell (with no need for the twisting move on the draw), would fit similarly sized guns (like the SR9c and LC9) and have the comfortable backing of the N82 Tactical but not the big footprint.
And, I'd like to try a couple of Paul's IWB strong side holsters for the LC9 and the LCP. I think the LCP would essentially disappear with one of his designs.
Like most of you, I'm still looking for the perfect holster. And, remember, what might be perfect for me, may not suit your needs at all.