So, you finally got that new handgun, and now it’s time to take it out to the range or airsoft field. You decide that target shooting is ok, but, hey, starting from a holster is a lot more fun: waiting for the signal, drawing, aiming, firing, and hitting the target as soon as possible. We couldn’t agree more: we do most of our training from holstered. So, what’s the next step: you decide to go out and get a holster for your gun.
Now, normally, we figure that spending money on more ammo is a good thing. Ammo is what makes the gun work, right? It’s a very awkwardly shaped and ineffective club without it. However, buying a holster is one of the few accessories that is worth spending a little extra on. Getting a universal holster sounds like a great idea: you buy one, jam whatever guns you have into it (preferably one at a time), and call it a day. That is about the only positive about a universal holster…the negatives, on the other hand, can go on a lot longer than most readers’ attention spans (or bathroom breaks).
Negative #1: Retention Straps
Retention straps on universal holsters seem to come in 2 varieties: a strap over the gun with buckle at the side of the holster, or a single snap or velcro that snaps over the gun and secures it. These retention straps lead to a very slow, two handed draw, or, more commonly, to having a person leave the retention strap undone. That leads to zero weapon retention, and the gun will bounce out of the holster, or anyone can very, very easily disarm them.
Negative #2: Poor fit
A universal holster has to have a loose fit on most guns to be able to work. That means your gun will shift around in the holster, moving the weight around on your side, or your leg, which causes more stress and fatigue. It sounds minor, but it all works against you: one gun isn’t a big deal, but add other gear that doesn’t stay put, and it takes a lot more out of you. The other huge negative with poor fit is that you won’t know exactly where the gun is, which means you can’t build up muscle memory. Talk to anyone who is tactically sound and carries a gun on a regular basis, and they will tell you that their sidearm goes in the exact same spot on their belt for that kind of carry. They may build up muscle memory for different styles of carry(drop leg, belt, appendix, etc), but the gun always goes in the same spot for that type of carry.
Negative #3: Magazine retention.
Magazine retention? What the hell is this guy talking about? What does magazine retention have to do with universal holsters? Well, remember Negative #2? All that bitching about the gun moving around? And guess what’s on the side of most guns? And perfectly lined up with the top of the holster? Yeah, that little magazine release…and Murphy’s law says that it will get bumped. And after it gets bumped, your sidearm will have exactly 1 round in it, if you carry the way you should, which may or may not fire if you have a magazine safety.
So, go out and get a good holster for each handgun type you have. I’m not going to get into brands and types, but make sure it’s a quality holster made for your gun. Something that will allow a smooth, fast, one-handed draw, and almost as important, one-handed holster while maintaining effective retention.