Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Initial Review: Uncle Mike's Inside-the-Pant Nylon Holster with Retention Strap - Size 5

I recently decided to get my concealed carry permit, so I've been shopping holsters and handguns. Due to a number of factors, I've decided to work with my Ruger P95 as a concealed-carry gun. One prominent factor is that I do not want to invest in another handgun until I have a better idea of what I can conceal and where. The process of getting aquainted with the Uncle Mike's ITP holster has shone some light on my personal concealability issues, which I'll touch on later in this review. Also, I like the idea of carrying a service caliber in a service-size gun, since I am not ready to step down in power or shootability. Of course, I do have some issues with the P95 grip, which I am addressing in other posts.

Uncle Mike's Inside-the-Pant Nylon Holster with Retention Strap is a budget holster. You can find it from about $11-19. I paid about $16, because I was combining Amazon shipments and saved overall on shipping.

I bought a cheap holster, because I wanted to experiment with different locations of carry: hip, between hip and lower back, appendix, and cross draw. I had looked at other makes, including Crossbreed, Blackhawk!, Bare Asset, and Bianchi. I was real close to purchasing a Crossbreed, but I could not commit to any carry location.

First, I tried between hip and lower back carry. It felt fine, but I think I would need a heavier untucked shirt than the t-shirt I was using to test concealability. No matter how I canted the gun, the butt kept catching my shirt.

Second, I tried appendix carry. It was the best for concealability. The gun did not print at all - as long as I was standing. Sitting was impossible. The gun dug into my leg, and half the time the gun and holster started to pop out of my pants. Canting the gun had no positive effect.

Third, I tried cross draw carry. The butt printed no matter what I did, so I quickly gave up on that location.

Fourth, I tried hip carry. It made me look like I had gained 20 lbs on my right hip.

While trying different locations to conceal my gun I was also testing how well I was able to draw the pistol. It was an UNMITIGATED disaster, except that it was the first time I was attempting to draw with a new holster. Every time I drew, the holster came with the gun. The plastic belt clip is just not strong enough to keep the holster in place, even when my pants were cinched down tight. With the retention strap in place the holster might not come off the gun at all. The retention-strap is NOT a thumb-break design, so you have to fiddle with it to keep it out of the way of your draw. The Velcro tends to restick once you've opened the strap. I intend to practice a two-handed draw, but really don't want to tie up both of my hands getting my gun unholstered. I was able to get the retention strap to fold inside the holster, and with the P95 the strap still helped to keep the gun from sliding around.

After I tried all those locations for IWB carry, I figured that the holster was worthless for it - between the gun printing (And as I've mentioned, I still intend to try a different shirt.) and coming out with the pistol (And as I've mentioned, I still intend to practice a two-handed draw.). So after one of my attempted draws, when I pulled the gun WITH the holster and the retention strap securing the holster TO the gun, I just shoved the whole lot in my front pants pocket. Hmm! It printed a little bit more that all the crap I carry in my pockets (e.g. cellphone, keys, change, pens). And with a shirt untucked it was barely noticeable. And that was while I was wearing run-of-the-mill dress pants. Then I tried cargo shorts. I had to cant the pistol forward to completely conceal it, whether my shirt was tucked or untucked. Food for thought: Full-size "service" pistol pocket carry!?!

I have decided to forget about reholstering a firearm while the holster is still in my pants. This holster completely collapses. I am afraid that I would shoot myself. Reholstering was ALMOST a nonissue for me. If I have to defend myself I would not care about reholstering.  But I want to compete in IDPA with the holster I'll conceal carry. I doubt this holster will fill those two roles.

PACKAGING: The holster comes in a nice plastic bag with a ZipLok-style closure that broke when I initially opened the bag.

DOCUMENTATION: Still haven't read it. But when I bought the pistol, Uncle Mike's size chart on their website said it fit full-size autos with 4-1/2 to 5" barrels. I bought a slightly "larger" size than was specified for my pistol, because I wanted to make sure the pistol sat as low as possible. But the packaging insert said it fits 4" autos. What should I trust - the website or the packaging?

ERGONOMICS: Felt fine IWB. It helped distribute the weight of the gun, especially with the suede-like grippy texture on the outside. The retention strap didn't work for me. It just got in the way. If anything, I'll tuck it inside - and with my gun it helps hold the gun in place. My opinion is that the only holster that should ever try to get shot off your gun is a pocket holster.

MANUFACTURER'S/CATEGORY'S INTENDED USE: Why manufacturer's and category's intended use? Because sometimes individual manufacturers bow to their lawyers and say a wolf is a lamb (e.g. firearms makers saying that you should never carry a loaded gun until you are about to fire, even though they manufacture concealable defensive guns.). It meets the minimum need of having a holster. But I don't think anyone would accept an IWB coming out with the gun.

MY INTENDED USE: To have a holster? Yes. To have a functional holster? Partially. To have a duel-use holster? No.

COST: Though this is one of the cheapest holsters you'll find, the quality is cheap. I got what I paid for.


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