The most neglected element in the self-defense compendium is the holster. There are too many shooters who cheerfully pay hundreds of dollars for the best available gun, ammunition, custom stocks and gunsmithing but wouldn’t consider buying a holster unless it can be found in the back of the gun shop and hidden in the half-priced used leather bin. What is it that prompts a shooter to willingly bet his life on a holster that costs less than the price of a box of reloaded ammunition? The problem seems to be that most gun owners think the self-defense fight will start only after the gun is in his hand. Sadly for many shooters that error will end up being an ugly epitaph. We need to remember that the guy with the gun in his hand before the fight starts is generally the bad guy. This is the same bad guy who will also be carefully choosing the time, the location and the conditions that will offer him every available assault advantage. This situation generally leaves a defender with two choices. A) Either you can spend the majority of your time on the range training with the gun already in your hand and hope that when the fight commences the bad guy(s) will graciously pause to give you time to access your handgun or B) you spend the majority of your on (and off) range time practicing your draw stroke from a high quality, concealable holster. Given the declining social graces of bad guys I am putting my faith in a properly designed and constructed concealment holster and lots of draw stroke practice.
A note on holsters; neither a famous holster maker’s name nor a high price tag will guarantee that you are buying a practical, suitable or effective self-defense holster. In my opinion few holster makers (including most large holster firms and famous one man shops) have mastered the balancing act required to match the snub revolver’s odd weight distribution and mate it with a holster design that combines the conflicting requirements of effective concealment and efficient draw stroke positioning. Chic Gaylord, the legendary holster maker and author of Handgunner’s Guide noted this same state of affairs over forty years ago and since then the situation has not significantly improved.
Given this situation the only holsters I am willing to risk my life on are either over-the-counter holsters that were heavily modified or custom designs built to my personal specifications. Even these options are not always a complete solution. On several occasions I have had to cannibalize the parts from several different over-the-counter holsters to acquire enough components to produce just one working holster. Other times I would sketch out a holster and forward the design elements to a famous custom shop only to have to repeatedly fight with the holster makes in order to extract from him the features I requested. On one occasion I had to pay three times for a single holster design before I could pry out of the maker hands what I wanted. Why not write off the fellow along with his insistence that he understood what I needed better than I did? Unfortunately (for me) he had a specialty I could not locate elsewhere. This by the way is not so much a complaint as it is an indication on how high a value I place on the importance of an uncompromising design in a self-defense holster.