My First Open Carry Holster

So with (licensed) Open Carry coming to Texas, that means some (licensed) people are going to carry their handguns openly.

If you chose to do so, please do so with thought, wisdom, education, skill, and respect.

One part of this equation? Holster selection.

As the law has been passed, open carry of handguns in Texas can only be done if the handgun is carried in a shoulder or belt holster. As well, the law mentions “restraint holster” (whatever that is, but I’m sure they mean a holster with some level of mechanical retention), but only within the context of classroom instruction and the instructor – that is, it doesn’t APPEAR that you actually HAVE to carry in a “restraint holster”. However this is where wisdom comes into play, because you would be foolish to open carry in anything other than a retention holster.

Note: the above is somewhat speculation as we are still waiting on the Texas Department of Public Safety to interpret the law and implement the necessary portions within the licensing program (which I guess is now just a “HL” instead of “CHL” program?). We (C)HL instructors are still waiting to hear on things, so you’ll just have to be patient like the rest of us. And meantime, err on the side of caution and well… don’t be stupid.

Going with that, as an instructor, while I have my reserves about open carry, I acknowledge people are going to do it, and so it’s best as an instructor to have as much knowledge and experience in the matter as I can so I can most effectively guide people to good and reasonable choices.

So after talking at length with a Deputy friend of mine and doing a bunch of my own research, I picked up a Safariland 7377.

Why?

Why get one? Again, while I don’t see myself open carrying as a general rule, I want to be educated and have first-hand knowledge, so having my own holster(s) and actually using them is part of the knowledge equation. Ignorance never serves any positive end.

Why get this particular one?

Safariland is pretty much the gold-standard. This is life-safety equipment – more so given this particular context – and I don’t care to entrust my life and the lives of my wife and children to anything less than the best. Will I explore other brands? Sure, but might as well start with the gold standard.

Why the 7377 model?

First, I didn’t want any true duty holster. Why? I’m not a cop. But more simply, the duty holsters tend to be fashioned for duty belts, which can be 2″ or 2.25″ wide. I don’t have such belts, nor pants made with such wide loops. I have a 1.5″ belt, so duty holsters are not appropriate. Thus I went with Safariland’s “concealment” (i.e. same basic holsters but with mounts for 1.5″ and 1.75″ belts), but with a wonder just how well it would actually conceal.

Second, why the ALS system? I appreciate the fact that all you have to do is reholster and it’s locked – you don’t have to flip or engage anything to activate the retention feature. Granted, ALS-alone is only a level-1 retention, but still it’s something. As well, my understanding is the older SLS feature can deactivate if you’re rolling on the ground, etc.. Finally, there are people in this industry whose knowledge, skills, and experience I trust, and they recommend ALS.

Third, of the different models of Safariland, concealment line, ALS, the 7377 seemed more likely to conceal (vs. the 6377). I haven’t been able to compare the two in person, but at least from pictures, videos, and descriptions, it does seem the 7377 is able to be made thinner thus more concealable.

Why am I worried about concealment? This is an open carry issue! Because at least in my context, I see any chance of me being openly carrying as a state change. For example, wearing a suit, gun on my hip under the jacket, take off the jacket and now I’m open. Thus I need the ability for one holster to handle both states.

So after looking and much consideration, the 7377 was settled upon.

While I was at it, I also picked up a 6006 ALS Guard, because why not order it at the same time. Try it both ways, and if I do like it it makes it Level 2 retention.

BTW, if you’re curious what all this “retention level” stuff means, here’s Safariland’s explanation. Also note that Safariland only rates their duty gear with retention levels; their “concealment” line doesn’t get such ratings/verbage.

I placed my order, and it came in yesterday.

First Impressions

While the holster itself seemed fine, I’m not sure about the belt mount. It’s the 567BL Injection Molded Belt Loop. It feels solid enough, but some of the flex makes me wonder. Plus the little bars that go through the belt loop that you are to cut out to make fit a 1.75″ belt? I’m curious how well those hold up to abuse. So… the holster seems fine, no better nor necessarily worse than any good kydex holster. Just a wonder about the belt mount.

BTW, I have seen this and other retention holsters sold with a paddle mount. FFS… no, just no. I could maybe see it if you had it on a training version of the holster, but for actual carry? No.

The ALS worked like a breeze. Heck, I could barely tell it was even there! It’s quite a natural drawstroke, tho depending what you do with your thumb you may have to adjust. Me, I do tend to get a full grip when I draw, so I do have to (re)train to adjust for this, and certainly had more than enough times when I didn’t successfully disengage the lock because training artifacts and n00b (tho that mostly happened with the Guard installed).

I installed the ALS Guard. Holy crap! That beats your thumb up pretty quickly because it’s mighty stiff. Yes, it’s a good level of protection, yes it adds some complexity to the draw, but it’s still generally a natural motion. But disengaging is so stiff well… after a couple dozen draws I stopped because my thumb was getting tender; it’s a lot of impact on your thumb’s distal joint, which doesn’t have much padding. I could not see going through an all-day training class with hundreds of draws with this setup. But if this was something I had to carry, I would just suck it up, practice daily, and just build up a callous/tolerance.

The holster itself compared favorably in size to my Dale Fricke Nehemiah. The holster itself is just a hair larger, but not by anything I’d consider relevant.

Of course, the holster does sit further away from the body. I think something could be done to bring it a little closer, or at least get it so the gun butt is angled in a bit more with the contour of the body. I’ll have to play with it.

Did it conceal? Yeah, but it was very clothing dependent. Some t-shirts I conceal IWB with no problem manifested this huge wart on my hip. But some of my 5.11 concealment shirts concealed it reasonably well. Yes, I could bend and move and you might see the shirt move or bunch in an odd way, but most people are unlikely to notice. Jackets and coats shouldn’t be a problem. I would say this holster CAN conceal, but I wouldn’t call it a concealment holster.

What Next?

So that’s just my first impressions. Overall I dig it. I look forward to trying it out more and even trying other brands/models to further my knowledge of the topic.

BTW, here’s a good article on such holster selection. It is oriented towards cops, but much of the reasoning here is same and sound, e.g. buy good gear. I don’t agree with his saying the Serpa is a good system, but otherwise his approach is reasonable and worth a read.

 

26 thoughts on “My First Open Carry Holster

  1. many thanks for your review! despite my objections to routine open carry i can still employ it if i don’t violate my own objections to it–mainly concerning public interaction. i live way way out of town and the sight of a gun in my community would elicit no notice whatsoever. matter of fact, you don’t need a law or a license to carry on your own property here outside the city.

    i ordered the following model for my new vp9. i have other choices and 9mm is not my favorite caliber but i chose it as the best open carry compromise of size and number of rounds held in one clip. of course, if i was going by rounds i would have picked my fn57 which can hold 30 rds, but i already have a holster for it and for my hk45 (tactical).

    Model 7379 7TS™ ALS® Concealment Clip-on Belt Holster
    Model 7379 | SKU 1183360 | Part 7379-593-551
    Ships within 14 days, special order items may take longer.
    Flat Dark Earth Brown | SafariSeven | Plain | Right | Pistol | Heckler & Koch | VP9 | 4.10 | 9x19mm Parabellum |

    it was about $59 with shipping which i found reasonable as the cheapest comparable one i found on amazon was an unknown brand for $99 although it had two clips and was much more adjustable.

    per your advice, i didn’t opt for any accessories. i worry about the belt size though. i knew i needed a better belt and ordered a couple of 1.5″ ones and then i found out that my loops might be close to 1.5″, but there’s no way a 1.5″ belt is going through them. the normal belts i wear are more like 1.2″ or 1.3″ and i hope there’s not too much ‘slop’.

    anyway, tks again.

    • Note that I’m still forming opinions here….

      The only “accessory” I opted for was the ALS Guard because it made sense. After playing with it well… I can see why it works, but oh it’s a thumb-beater.

      Main thing is that this will be like any holster purchase. That maybe it’ll start out ok, but the exploration will continue. Maybe will buy a different one, maybe will need to buy a different set of accessories (e.g. for belt loops). Who knows…. but it’s never without some iterations and refinements.

  2. well, this one is old and i’m not sure anyone will read it, but thought i’d post a followup now that my holster just arrived.

    to recap, here’s the line item number:

    7379 H&K VP9 SAFSEV FDE RH

    it came fully assembled although i was disappointed to find the belt clip doesn’t reverse to allow for inside the belt carry, although i guess you could carry on the left side, but that wouldn’t do many good except the lefties and the ambidextrous.

    so i plugged in the weapon (once a geek … [g]) and it bottomed out with a very reassuring /click/. so far so good. i tried to unplug the weapon and nothing doing–it ain’t going nowhere. i noticed there was a projection on the left side which looked thumb shaped and sized, but no matter what i did, that projection was doing nothing and i became concerned i was going to snap it off. plus my fingers were nearly bloody.

    i read the included instruction sheet first, but the instructions gave no hint of how to manipulate that lever to allow the weapon to unlock. it became obvious from this and the belt clip instructions that i didn’t have the model the instructions were describing and, sure enough, the instructions are for 7377 and 7378, not the 7379.

    then i came here and reread this article and you don’t seem to be describing the lever i have either and your complaints about it tearing up your thumb destroyed my confidence in getting it loose.

    i took the nuclear option and called tech support. now i basically worked one form or another of internal and external tech support, so you can relate to how much i trust some random, untrained idiot most likely from way way overseas.

    but i got a nice lady on the phone and i told her the holster i had and the problem and while i was describing to her which way i had moved the lever to try to free up the weapon i pulled it downward inline with the shape of the lever, i.e., vertically instead of the ‘paddle’ movements i’d been making towards left and right. i had also tried pushing downwards and pulling upward before i called, but i never imagined it was on an arc or track going backwards and slightly downwards. i felt like an idiot!

    anyway, even though i had obviously already bought this holster, either she was just chatty or sensed that i had many other handguns and was a potential multiple buyer–how right she is!

    so she told me that i had the very latest model right off the line. i thought she said ‘c3’ but maybe it was ‘c15’ as that’s the number on the invoice. at any rate, she said it was rated for over 300º F and would easily withstand being left on a texas vehicle dashboard, for one example, with warping or misshaping. she mentioned another couple of more subtle features that i missed.

    but one more item: you mention some sort of insert to adjust the belt clip to smaller belt sizes and indeed a separate sheet in the package says that there’s a plastic insert inside the instructions (there was an allen wrench taped to the instructions), but there was nothing in there or inside the sealed package it arrived in. nor can i see any way to adjust the belt clip from inspecting the configuration inside of it although i haven’t removed it completely to look. i actually haven’t even tried it on a belt yet and if it’s truly awful i’ll report back and maybe ask you for a picture of yours. or i could suck it up and call tech support again and cement their opinion of me as an idiot who shouldn’t own a weapon! [g]

    in any case, this seems a fantastic holster and really exceeded my expectations. i’m usually prone to buying a $15 cordura/cloth model which misshapes and stretches within days of use and wobbles around on a belt. i am seriously considering buying more of this model for at least another one or two of my weapons i might want to open carry.

    btw, i would have gotten pink instead of dark earth so i could carry ironically, but that wasn’t a color option. guess i could spray paint it.

    [g] jk of course!

    /guy

    • First, thank you for adding your experiences here; it will be useful for others, I’m sure.

      You have a slightly different model from me. Yours has a belt “clip” whereas mine has the “567BL Injection Molded Belt Loop”.

      Glad you are overall having a good experience with this holster. Good holsters matter, and those cloth/cordura models just can’t cut it, as you can tell. If you start looking for a more concealable holster, check out ones from groups like Comp-Tac, Blade-Tech, Dale Fricke, Custom Carry Concepts, Keepers Concealment. These guys all make good stuff (I went from wearing a Comp-Tac for a number of years to now wearing a Dale Fricke Nehemiah).

  3. oh, i forgot to mention that release lever falls right at the pad of my thumb (the lady said that’s exactly where it should fall if you grip ‘high’ and is so intuitive (now i know how to do it!) that it might take me 10 minutes to have it down in my muscle memory for all time. and it takes no conscious pressure at all, just the movement down to get it moving. /guy

    • Right, that’s the thing. The lever is very natural in the drawstroke, tho you do have to remember to flag your thumb (vs. getting a “full grip” on the gun). What beat my thumb up was the additional “ALS Guard” addition — it’s very stiff.

  4. i tried it on a belt, but bear in mind this was the thinnest belt imaginable and less than 1″ wide. it does rock around. also, you’re not going to want to take it off without removing the belt–you can’t get the proper fingers and leverage below it while it’s on the belt to release the hinged clamp.

    i revisited the product page and found these items related to the belt clip:

    “It comes standard with the 745BL belt clip for 1.5 in. (38 mm) to 2.25 in. (58 mm) belt widths.

    Available in 1.5″ (38 mm) to 2.25″ (58 mm)”

    i guess i just blanked out because i sure didn’t need the minimum to be 1.5″, i needed it to be 1″. some while back i realized i needed some wider belts and ordered 2-3 1.5″ ones from amazon. to my amazement, none of my pants actually had belt loops with 1.5″ of clearance. so i have 3 1.5″ belts and no pants to wear them on!

    other than shopping for new pants, i don’t know what the solution to this is. i guess i’ll keep looking on the safariland site for a belt clip that doesn’t require a 1.5″ belt. it’s always something … /guy

    • I’d shop for pants with 1.5″ loops. 🙂

      Seriously, the main reason there is that when you’re carrying a lot of weight on your belt, that thickness helps to distribute the weight and just makes things hold up a lot better. Most gun-oriented belts are 1.5″ and thus most accessories are as well. I think Mitch Rosen makes 1″ wide belts, but then it’s hard to find accessories that will fit.

      It’ll probably be easier to find pants, or have pants tailored.

  5. ok, i really am stopping soon, but i just discovered a real nice bonus. this same holster also fits my hk usp ‘c’ which i bought in .40 caliber, but is now 357 sig caliber by dint of a simple barrel change–the mags are the same.

    anyway, the vp9 is loose in the holster–there’s about 2-4mm play up and down which i just noticed and now mildly annoys me. but the upsc is very tight in it and i wouldn’t carry it in this holster unless i didn’t plan to unplug it except for a real emergency.

    also, i adjusted the cant of the belt clip although there’s not much adjustment range. it came canted forward which i guess might aid some in a quicker ‘sweep’ draw. /guy

    • If it’s got that 15º FBI cant, a man advantage there is it helps with carry and concealment. Granted, I don’t think these holsters are ideally concealable, but they can work under a coat.

  6. yeah, but if it’s canted forward, that means you have to come over the top even more with your thumb to hit the release and that’s the reason i adjusted it to the more upright position.

    one advantage i might have is that i don’t have any draw memories to unlearn–i’m starting fresh with this holster. at least as far as external holsters go–i have several concealed draw routines depending on where i’m carrying. /guy

    • Certainly, tho it all depends upon how your body is and how tilted forward it is. I hope it’s not more than 15º forward if it’s worn at 3 o’clock — that would be rather excessive. But again, even 15º at 3 could be too much depending on you and your body setup.

      Everything’s personal, and everything’s a compromise to some extent.

      • did you hear that auto knives become legal to carry (they’ve never really been illegal to own) in august?

        anyway, here’s my edc kit for open carry. i left out the million volt stun gun, but it lacks a belt clip and i’d regret it going off in my front pocket!

        i wanted a pink holster and mag holder so i could carry ironically if the whimsy took me, but i settled for this instead.

        IMG_1078

        /guy

        • Actually, auto-knives became legal last leg session (2 years ago), but there were still some issues. What happened here in the 2015 leg session was dealing with preemption.

          And if you want pink holsters, let me know. The ladies of the A Girl & A Gun Club all seem to like getting holsters and mag pouches in purple and other brilliant colors, plus getting their guns cerakoted quite colorfully. I could find you a holster-maker if you want one. 🙂

  7. I have been using a basic-entry-level ALS as my “range” holster for over 8 years…during cold weather, when I wear a large jacket, I can conceal it very well …these are very underrated holsters, I believe because many folks are swept up in the latest Kydex fad. I would recommend them for instructors first and EDC citizens second.

  8. OK, so I know this is an ancient post(at least in internet terms) but I just picked up one of these 773x holsters for my HK VP9. Mine is the one with both the paddle and the belt attachment. I also got the optional ALS Guard.

    So, generally speaking I hate paddle holsters I typically find them inferior to belt loop holsters. That being said, this is the best paddle attachment I have ever come across. It is comfortable, secure and holds the gun close to the body. I find it better than the optional belt loop attachment.

    Other than that, the holster is bigger than I expected. I didn’t intend to conceal it but I think that would be difficult. I find it very easy to draw and the disengaging the ALS is very natural for me.

    If your are still reading this, I am curious what you are doing about the ALS guard. I am still trying to decide if I should take mine off. It definitely provides a substantial amount of additional retention but I can’t imagine being able disengage it quickly, especially under stress. I find myself wondering if I should have got the ALS+SLS version instead.

    • I’m skeptical about paddle on a retention holster. Yeah, I can see paddle for situations like 3-Gun competition where you need retention because rules, but in terms of carrying around town? Doesn’t seem like a good choice because again, it’s supposed to be about retention.

      The ALS Guard is a thumb-killer for sure. I debate on it myself, but will continue to use it because the act of disengaging it is still “natural” relative to the rest of the ALS system. The SLS is old-tech: it’s bulky (if you thought concealment was difficult with this holster, the SLS will be worse-to-impossible), and it does have disengagement issues.

  9. i’m still liking my vp9 holster. i got the model with the belt clip and without the extra als guard.

    also, since i posted i got a couple of very good quality 40mm leather belts made by ‘mission’ with a unique ratchet buckle. i liked the first one i got so much i bought another one. way better than those web belts for a holster.

    btw, i also got a couple of holsters for two more of my handguns and i found the ‘sigtac’ brand which are about the cheapest you can buy. i’m dammed impressed with them and if i didn’t already have the safariland vp9 holster i’d have bought one of these instead even though they are the ‘paddle’ type.

    even though they’re in the $25 range, they have retention that clicks positively into place and is released by a button on the surface of the face of the holster which is located nearly exactly where the tip of your trigger finger falls when drawing. i can’t say enough good about these and only wish they made one for my fn57–they have nearly every other model covered.

    /guy

    • So the retention mechanism is similar to the Serpa? Are you worried about the same types of issues those holsters are known for or does the Sigtac design avoid that somehow?

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