Good holsters are a must. There are many criteria of what makes a “good” holster, but I’m going to focus on one.
The mouth of the holster needs to remain open when the holster is empty. Reason? Reholstering without having to fiddle around, in part because fiddling around tends to put your other hand in front of the muzzle in order to open the holster mouth to permit the gun to go in. I hope you can see why this is bad.
If your holster is made of a rigid material such as Kydex, this is likely not an issue. Look at a holster like the Comp-Tac CTAC, Raven Phantom, or any host of such styled holsters. By their very nature the mouth is always open, thus it’s easy and trouble-free to reholster. Hybrids like the Comp-Tac MTAC can work out fine too (I’ve worn an MTAC for years and don’t have a problem, tho certainly it’s not the same as a full-kydex holster). Usually where you run into problems is with holsters made of non-rigid material, like leather. However, good holster-makers know this and put reinforcing bands in their holster mouths to keep the holster open, such as the Pancake from Kolbeson Leatherworks. Usually where you run into problems is with cheap holsters — and there are lots of those, just look on the shelves at your local gun and gun accessories store.
So where did I change my mind?
From time to time in KR Training classes we get someone that’s just hell-bent on using some poor-choice of a holster. Some folks just don’t know better, borrow a good holster from us, and are convinced by the end of class to ditch the poor-choice and seek a better holster. But some have a reason for the use of and desire to cling to the poor choice. We do discourage the use of the holster during class because of safety issues and simple flow of class issues. But if they really want to use that holster in their own time for their own carry well… at least my personal stance has been to let them do as they want.
On the whole I still feel that way because I cannot force people to make good choices.
But what’s changed for me is I can no longer say “well, if you want to that’s fine…” and somewhat tacitly approve of the practice. It’s strong disapproval now.
Before, the feeling was most of the time when you carry you are carrying, not drawing, so if the attributes of the holster better suit your CARRY needs then well… ok, maybe perhaps that’s fine. Yes, it might mean you can’t practice with your gear, but you still could (e.g. dry work for draw and reholster); may not be ideal, but it’s your situation to work out. And if you find yourself in a situation where you must draw, the need to reholster will be different and one you can administratively carry out. What struck me tho was that mentality contrasted against this quip from John Farnam:
By that, I mean, when using it, you may be able to draw your pistol quickly and smoothly, which is all wonderful, of course. But, what do you do with your draw pistol when you suddenly need to go “hands-on,” or you need to politely greet arriving police officers?
The act of reholstering, using the holster in the above-mentioned ad, required both hands and the better part of thirty seconds. In a continuing emergency, that obviously won’t fly. The pistol would have to be quickly stuffed into a pocket (a dangerous procedure in itself), or jettisoned.
See, we keep thinking about the situation in terms of “there will be time” to reholster. That you’ll have time to fiddle-fart around and do what’s needed to reholster. That’s the flaw in our thinking. First, we’re already aware of this because we generally recommend using good holsters (so why are we tolerating poor-choices? well… because we accept some people will continue to make poor choices despite our best efforts). Second, who says we will have time? We already know time can be precious and short, why couldn’t there be need to reholster quickly? ah… because our mentality is that reholstering isn’t a race, do it slow and deliberate — a good training/range artifact. Real life might not be that way tho, as Mr. Farnam points out. And so, an inconsistency has crept into my mindset. Thank you, Mr. Farnam for enlightenment.
So whereas before I could kinda sorta permit such poor-choice holsters (on their own time), Mr. Farnam’s quip shed a little light showing that poor-choice holsters remain poor-choice holsters, and we really shouldn’t compromise on that fact. A good holster won’t be a problem for you, ever, so why compromise in the first place? In the end, I still can’t force people to make good choices, but I now have more information to offer towards encouraging better choices. I can also remove my tacit approval of such avenues (I can at least change and improve myself).
Use good holsters, folks. :-)