There were a few instances, many years ago, when I didn’t carry a handgun in a holster. Several of those times were when I was doing some undercover work as a Private Investigator. One of those times, I carried a tiny Bauer .25 ACP pistol, strapped to my ankle – no holster. One such instance was when I worked a very strange case, where several misguided people planned on hijacking a cruise ship that was sailing from Miami, Florida. I worked closely with the FBI on this case, and to this day, more than 40 years ago, I still have a friendship with one of the undercover FBI agents who I brought on-board as an “arms dealer.” I also worked a suspected murder case in a steel plant, and it turned out to be an actual murder case, Again, for that case I carried a hidden handgun, with no holster.
However, for the most part, I’ve almost always carried a handgun in a holster. Most of the time it was an outside the waistband (OWB) belt holster. I’ve never been a fan of inside the waistband (IWB) holsters. Oh, and I do like some of the better made shoulder holsters. At present, I have a good mix of leather and synthetic holsters. And, I certainly have more holsters than I have guns. I have two huge drawers full of holsters, as well as two very big plastic bins of holsters, and I actually need more holster storage space.
Make no mistake, I’m a big fan of leather holsters, just something about that smell of leather, that draws me to them. However, I own more than a few polymer-framed handguns, and I can often be caught carrying one of those handguns in a polymer or ballistic nylon holster. I love a well-made leather holster, make no mistake about that. However, it is hard to find leather holsters, that are both affordable and really well-made. I’ve owned a few custom-made, handmade leather holsters over the years, as well as belts and magazine pouches. The usual wait time was about 3-4 months for that stuff and more often than not, they weren’t totally made by hand. When it came to molding the holster to fit a particular handgun, it was done, under pressure, by a press. I don’t have a problem with that, for the most part, but in the end, those holsters aren’t exactly made by hand.
There are quite a few factory holster makers in the USA, and most produce a decent holster, at a fair price. Some makers are better than others. However, one maker sent me a holster that was supposed to be for a particular handgun I own, only to find out that, the holster was much too big, the gun would easily fall out. I called the maker, and they told me that their leather holsters stretched out over time and use. Excuse me? This was a brand-new holster – not an old and used one. I returned that holster and they sent me another one – same problem – it gun would fall out…I ended up retiring that holster, rather than sending it back. Most of my work over the years, involved concealed carry, and I don’t like a suicide strap on those holsters – many folks do – just make sure you train with the strap fastened. I just prefer an open-top holster for concealed carry. And, the holster needs to be molded properly to hold a particular model of gun, without it falling out of the holster.
In late 2019, Craft Holsters contacted SurvivalBlog.com and asked if they could have one of their holsters tested, and Jim Rawles forwarded this e-mail to me, for action. Up until then, I had never heard of Craft Holsters. So did a little checking on them, before ordering a sample for testing. Craft Holsters is headquartered in Slovakia, and many of their holsters are made there. Some are also made in a factory in Italy. I have no problem with that, as some of the finest leather in the world comes from Italy. The holsters made in Slovakia are also made from some of this Italian leather. The Craft Holster company is a family-run business, and their goal was to make custom, hand made holsters. Their aim is to provide us all with custom made holsters, at a price point we can afford.
Arrival and Tests
There is a contact office in the US for Craft Holsters, and you can contact them via their web site, or at customer service line: 1-855-844-5400. The holster I wanted for testing was an open top, pancake style for my Glock 26, my most-often carried concealed handgun. Unfortunately, at that time, this model was out-of-stock. No problem, said their customer service rep. He said: “We’ll have one made ASAP for you and shipped directly to you, from Slovakia.” Hold on one second, no one offers that kind of service, right? Well, my holster was actually made that very day, and it was shipped to me the next day, via DHL world wide shippers. A few days later, the holster was in my hands. What holster maker provides that kind of service?
I took a very close look at this holster, in very bright sunlight, as soon as I opened the box. I placed it next to a Glock factory plastic holster, to compare the size. The holster is hand made and hand molded, without a doubt, not molded under a press. The thread used is from Germany, and of course, the leather — as I’ve already noted — is from Italy. This isn’t some flimsy thin leather, it is top-grain leather, full grain cut leather, and as mentioned, hand molded. When you compare a hand-molded holster from one that was molded under pressure from a machine, you can see the difference. The belt loops are spread far enough apart, so the weight of the gun is distributed and you don’t even feel the gun/holster on your waist. By the way, this leather is hand cut, not cut by a machine.
And, to be sure, who or what companies actually hand sew leather holsters these days? Not many, that’s for sure. It is time consuming and extremely difficult to accomplish correctly. My holster is called the “Panther” model, and it is designed to be carried on the strong side, at the 4:00 position. Due to the placement of my belt loops, I carried it at the 3:30 position, and it worked just fine. These holsters come with a 5-year warranty. Price on this one was only $59 – and that’s a bargain for such handmade quality and materials.
There is double hand stitching around the outline of the pistol itself, so it will hold its shape for a good long time. The rest of the stitching is around the belt loops. I compared this holster to several other leather holsters that I have, and make no mistake, I don’t have any “junk” leather holsters, they are all of the best quality – other than a few I’ve already mentioned above. However, when you compared those holsters side-by-side, to the Craft Holster I tested, you will see the difference. Oh, nothing wrong at all with the factory made holsters, but the Craft Holster is just “that” much better…And several of my leather holsters were made in Italy, too. Attention to detail, and being made by hand, make a big difference.
As I’m writing this, we are in the early stages of this Coronavirus pandemic, so the wife and I haven’t been getting out and going to town much at all. As preppers, we are set for several years worth with our supplies, and we can stay locked in our house for years and years if need be. However, we’ve been going out and doing some shooting – where we shoot is up on a small mountain, and most people don’t know there is a shooting spot there. In five years or longer, we’ve only encountered someone shooting there twice. So for the most part, it is our private shooting spot. So, before leaving the house, and loading up the truck, I’d strap-on this Craft Holster and put my little Glock 26 in it. And, within a few minutes, I had forgotten I had the holster/gun on my right hip – really! I had to feel on my side, to make sure I had remembered to put a gun on my hip.
The holster was comfortable while seated in my pickup truck, too – it didn’t poke me in the rib cage, and when we stopped at our shooting spot, I practiced drawing while seated from the holster – no problems at all. And, before you all fire off e-mails, the gun was unloaded in the holster – made sure to unload it before I started to practice my draws.
I’m more than a little impressed with this sample from Craft Holsters, and I’ll probably be doing some ordering from them, as funds permit. I’m thinking that, maybe, just maybe, a shoulder holster for my 1911s with off-set mag pouches on the off-side. I’m overweight in my old age. However, I’ve been losing weight over the past year, I’ve lost close to 50-pounds. And, my pants don’t stay up very well, even with a belt. So, a shoulder holster for a full-sized Government Model 1911 might be the ticket if I want to carry a full-sized heavy handgun.
Craft Leather says they make holsters for about 1,300 different handguns, so I’m betting they’ll have one for you.