My basic holster philosophy
My criteria are three: comfort, security and accessibility. In my view, holsters for concealed carry should meet all three of those criteria, and the best holsters will excel in all of them. Few do.
My feeling is that if one is going to the trouble and expense, and commitment, to carry a concealed pistol, one should commit to carrying wherever and whenever legally possible. It is not a matter of, 'do I think I might be needing my gun today', it is a matter of will I have it if I ever need it. To satisfy that criteria, you must carry whenever possible, regardless of the weather, situation, clothing or company. So, a holster must be comfortable enough to tolerate all day.
Some people, and holster makers, proclaim that their concealment holster is so comfortable that some people forget they have it on. No thanks. First, if you carry any gun you should always know that it is there. Feeling the presence of your weapon is fine. Feeling irritated, jabbed or rubbed by your weapon and, perhaps, also your holster, is not. Simply put, if your carry system is not comfortable, you won't carry it for more time than you can stand, and one day or evening, you will be tempted to just leave the damn thing at home since it is literally a pain anyway. Bad idea. So, in order to meet criteria number one, it must be comfortable worn in the position, or positions, you need.
An obvious criteria. The holster must fit the gun and hold it securely so that the gun, and the holster, do not move once placed into position. Some give or accommodation to one's body movements must exist, but the holster should basically stay where you put it, and hold the gun securely.
I am not a fan of "deep concealment" when that means positioning the gun so that it is mostly hidden below the belt line with only a portion of the butt showing and accessible. While it is important to keep your weapon concealed, it is more important in my opinion to have the gun readily accessible when needed. I've seen "deep concealment" holsters that hang the gun entirely below the belt about half way between the crotch and the belly button. You can't see it, that's for sure, but you can't get to it quickly either. So, what's the good of deep concealment when it gets between you and quick access to your weapon when you need it? No good at all in my opinion.
With that in mind, I have informally evaluated the holsters I have and use, and am trying out for the team, so to speak. I have holsters for three carry guns: Rugers LCP, LC9 and SR9c. Small, medium and somewhat large, both in weight and size, but regardless, all must successfully meet my three criteria in order for me to keep and use them regularly.
Good. But this varies with the size and weight of the gun. The Versacarry is basically a frame that supports the weapon with a plastic rod inserted into the muzzle which acts to press the frame of the gun against the vertical frame of the Versacarry to keep it secure and upright. There is nothing between your body and the gun. If you wear an undershirt, this is not really a problem if you are carrying a small to medium sized weapon. I find it to be fine with the LCP, OK with the LC9 and problematic with the SR9c.
Once clipped on to the belt, the Versacarry is very secure. It stays in place. The combination of the plastic rod, reinforced with a long screw, and belt pressure will keep the gun in place. The only negative that some people might have is that this minimalist design is offered with a trigger guard only on one side. The Versacarry folks pointed out to me that this is not an issue because there should be nothing between the body or undergarment and the gun that could cause the trigger to be actuated, and they do not recommend carrying a pistol with a round loaded into the chamber.
The Versacarry is offered in various frame lengths for a given caliber. You can choose to have your pistol ride very close to the belt, in fact, deep enough to partially bury the grips, or up high enough for a so-called "combat" carry - grips high above the belt.
There is no re-holstering without removing the holster from the belt. Not a big consideration for a self-defense holster.
The pjholster is available online from pjholsters.com. PJ makes them from kydex with a tension screw to enable the user to adjust the amount of retention desired. A nice touch. I ordered one for my LC9, made with a straight drop and his innovative "C" clip, which is open toward the belt. The holster clips to the waistband and the belt runs through the C channel. No clip shows over the belt.
I was surprised at the quality of construction on this holster. It is excellent. PJ obviously takes great care and pride in his work, and this shows in the holster.
This model is also made from the lightest gauge of kydex he works with so it is very lightweight.the LC9 clicks in solidly and the tensioning screw ensures you get the tension you like. Mine came just right.
Being light and with no extraneous materials, it is as comfortable as kydex can be. Probably more so than other designs. I ordered a straight drop because I like to carry in the appendix or cross draw positions and both work well without a cant to the holster. The pjholster is much like the Versacarry in that there is no "give" against your body, but I did not expect there to be with kydex. If the holster is placed exactly, I find it comfortable enough for extended periods and somewhat more comfortable than an equivalent leather holster due to it's thinness and light weight. If I had one set up for strong side carry with a suitable cant of 15 to 30 degrees and wore it strong side, I suspect it would be even more comfortable. And, if I had this exact same setup for my LCP, I suspect it would be comfortable enough for all day carry.
This holster is very secure when worn with a suitable gun belt. In fact, it would probably work as well with any good 1 1/2" belt. PJ includes a square of heavy Velcro that you can attach to the outside of your belt to match up with the Velcro square glued into the channel of the C clip. This would add significantly to the "security" of location. I have not attached velcro to my belt. Without a good belt and adequate tightness, the holster can move around a bit. I think for medium and larger pistols, the belt clip, or belt loop designs would work better. The tension screw accommodates whatever level of tightness for the gun inside the holster you could want.
If absolute positioning is important to you, I would recommend either the belt loop or belt clip design. From the photographs of Paul's holsters, i deduce that the wide belt clip (or loop) designs would offer maximum efficiency without the need to resort to velcro with the "C" clip. However, I do prefer the lighter weight kydex of the "C" clip design and I don't know if Paul makes the other belt arrangement holsters in this lightweight material.
This is good for the way I had Paul set mine up. I would prefer having the grips ride about an inch higher, but with this holster set up with a cant, I think this would not be an issue. The gun is very accessible and draws quite easily and is easy to re-holster with one hand.
These are both lightweight designs stressing the "form follows function" school of design theory. For simplicity and ease of carry both perform well. The Versacarry does not fully cover the firearm, which for many will not be an issue. It is inexpensive and effective. I often use it with my LCP.
The pjholster is an example of quality craftsmanship expressed in lightweight kydex. It's just a damn finely made holster. It is light, covers the gun (and you) and offers good security comfort and accessibility. A definite choice for your concealed carry.
Please leave your comments, or send me an email with your thoughts.