Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pocket Holster for a Kel-tec P-3AT

I'm not thin. Well, I'm not fat either, but I was starting to feel fat. Let me explain. I was lucky when I first got into guns a few years ago. When my wife and I were trying to determine what our first firearms were going to be we had a friend whose dad is a gun enthusiast. He was kind enough to invite us over to his house to explain some of the finer points. At the end of the visit he allowed us to take a number of his guns with us to try out at a local range. What can I say he helped fuel my own enthusiam. The guns consisted of a 4" S&W .357 Magnum, Sig P239 9mm, Ruger MarkII, and a 2" S&W .22lr Airlite. Needless to say we had a great time handling these wonderful firearms. When we returned his guns, he asked if I would be interested in purchasing the Sig. He didn't have to ask me twice. At that time I didn't even consider concealed carrying and it wasn't until much much later that I realized the significance of getting a P239 as my first gun.

Back to feeling fat... Out of the entire Sig Classic lineup, the P239 is almost ideal for concealed carry. I got my license and started carrying the only way that was really possible for me, inside the waistband. The requirements for IWB almost always include a larger pant size. For me, going out and purchasing all new pants a size larger just isn't reasonable. Yes, I already knew I need to lose a few pounds, but now it was getting ridiculous. Pants I could squeeze in before without a gun, I now didn't even get close to buttoning. I didn't want to walk the streets unarmed so I came to the conclusion that there were times when my beloved P239 wouldn't be able to accompany me.

Solution: Buy a smaller gun of course!

So that's what I did. Initially looking for a Kel-tec P11 to stick with the same caliber as my Sig, I came across a used P-3AT at a gunshow with my brother. Amazed at the size and weight of this tiny gun I bought it. For a take-any-where gun, it is about as perfect as it gets.

Now how am I going to carry it. Just shooving it into a pocket would be asking for an AD (accidental discharge). I had picked up an Uncle Mike's pocket holster, after reading a review that listed it as a best buy, for my Bersa Thunder22 and tried that out for a little while. It was a little too big and the tiny P-3AT would still print when the pocket was stretched against it while sitting. So instead of going out and buying another holster that fit, I decided to modify the one I had to be smaller and avoid printing. I first cut the bottom off to shorten it. Then I melted the frayed ends with a lighter. I then put a stitch in to close up the bottom underneath the trigger guard. I left the muzzle open to allow lint and stuff to fall out the bottom. Then I cut a piece of leather to cover the entire weapon including the grip. I used two chicago screws to attach the leather onto the bottom of the holster with the rough side out to help grab against the pocket.

Here's what the finished holster looks like:
I've been using it for a few months and it's worked exactly like it should. It's small enough to put in any of my pockets including a back pocket if I need to.

Now for those "fat" days I always have a weapon and method to carry it.

Crossbreed - Extensive Review & Comparison (pic intensive) *video

I've worn my new Crossbreed SuperTuck for awhile now so I feel like I can give an honest review of it. In this writeup I will detail my experience from the beginning with ordering and receiving in addition to the normal final product analysis.

Background:My everyday carry (EDC) is a Sig P239 9mm which is reliable/reasonably compact and I love even though it's not the most efficient (weight/capacity ratio). I tuck my shirts in so that ruled out all OWB holsters and many IWB ones. Since I'd gotten my CCW about 5 months ago I make shifted a tuckable IWB holster which I posted about here.
It works well, but I wasn't completely happy. After a lot of thought, hours of review reading, research and consideration I decided to order CB's SuperTuck Deluxe as my next holster.

Ordering:I called them up (I believe I spoke with Mark) and asked a few questions which he answered promptly before placing my order. He told me about the two week trial period and about the lifetime warranty in case anything breaks on the holster. Sounds good so far. I've been using Comp-tac v-clips on my current setup so I asked if they offer velcro clips as well. They do and will subsitute one of the other pairs of clips for those. I choose to sub the j-clips (I'd rather have my belt do the supporting). From all the pictures I'd seen it always looked like the leather backing was kind of large and might interfer with a full combat grip so I asked Mark about that. He said doing that may reduce some of the comfort, but they can alter the leather for me for an additional charge. Me being the cheapskate that I am declined his offer. I figured that if it was a problem for me I could always do my own cutting (for free). Once I finished placing my order he told me it should take 4 weeks for them to complete the holster. Yay, that's much better than most of the other custom shops. I ended up calling back a little while later with an additional question which he answered to my satisfaction.

Receiving:About 4 weeks later like Mark had said, I got a package in the mail from Crossbreed. Upon opening it I noticed something odd right off the bat. The kydex portion of the holster had a hooked trigger guard where the P239's is curved. I promptly called Mark up again and told him my discovery. He said very quickly that it was their mistake and they had shipped me the wrong holster. Apparently, they'd had several orders for P229's and mine got mixed up. I realize that they have been very busy with orders and can forgive an occasional admitted mistake. Of course, I was very disappointed. I mailed it out and about 3 weeks later (which is about 7 weeks after my original order) I finally received my SuperTuck! It came packaged in one of those brown mail packets with the bubble wrap built in. Included were the velcro clips installed on the holster, a set of the standard clips, and a long length of adhesive loop velcro to attach to whatever belt you'll be using (2" wide which for most will require some trimming).


Crossbreed keeps their SuperTuck very simple. The leather backing is soft, but of sufficient thickness and size to almost completely cover the pistol except for the bottom 3/4's of the grip. The rough side is on the outside with the smooth side against the gun. The kydex portion is kept to a minimum to cover the trigger guard and most of the slide though it exposes the entire front sight. It is well flared at the opening and at the bottom. All the sharp edges are smoothed out so there's no chance of scratching yourself or your gun.
The rivets are well set and spaced for a solid hold on the leather. The clips are simply folded kydex with a hole drilled in the bottom for the attachment and the hook side of velcro glued/adhesived into place.
They are attached to the leather using a screw which is screwed into a neat "bolt" which is thin and is designed with little hooks that set inside the leather to keep from twisting. There is a circular piece of rubber between the kydex and leather to help apply friction to keep from rotating and also gives a little room for your shirt when tucked. There are 4 holes on each side of the leather for adjustability which are evenly punched out.

Fit:Right out of the package the gun slid easily into the holster. Almost too easily I originally thought. There is a noticable amount of play with the holster off. Being used to an all leather holster which grabs the gun and requires more of a tug to draw it was at first a little disconcerting. Then I tried the fit with the holster on. With your body against the leather it pushes out and holds the gun firmly against the kydex. The draw with the holster on is very fast with only a slight click on drawing & reholstering. The stiff kydex allows for easy reholstering with no collapsing.

Comfort: One of the important things for most is how it feels. In this case, I would say how much it doesn't feel. I'm wearing it right now seated and I can't tell it's on unless I lean back and shift to press the gun against me, but even then there's no pain. The big piece of leather does it's job very well. It may look a bit ungainly, but it really is not. The leather cups your body and is really soft. There's no need for an undergarment to "shield" you from the holster.

Concealment:Take a look at the pictures to see how well it conceals when tucked. Note that in these pictures my arms are over my head to pull my shirt tight.
The velcro clips work, though sometimes you have to shift them up a little bit so the rounded part of the clip doesn't show under the belt.

On/Off:Is this holster easy to put on and take off? In a word, no. It takes between 1-2 mins to position it on my pants, then thread my belt on taking care to maneuver it around the clips before fastening it, and then tucking in the shirt finally adjusting it so it's equally bloused. If you're going to tuck then you have to live with this method. I've accepted that.

Comparison:Here I will compare it to the holster I've been using. To read a description of this holster go here. The only difference is that I have since purchased velcro clips from Comp-tac and been using them.

Main Holster Body:The Don Hume holster is well made with good stitching and boning. It has a sweatguard and holds my gun firmly. Though it is fairly stiff it will collapse some after the gun is drawn which makes one handed holstering, while not impossible, more difficult. The rough part of the leather is on the inside to help grip the gun with the smooth sides on the outside. It does a great job of gripping the gun, but IWB it slides and has a tendancy to sag. The Don Hume portion looks like it did the day I got it so it looks like it should hold up well to years of use. The leather attachments are more worn, but don't show any signs of tearing. One thing about the attachments is that when in the bathroom sitting down, the holster has a tendency to flop either in or out.

The SuperTuck has a large piece of leather which resists sagging since the rough side is against the body. This makes it grab the gun less so drawing the gun is very easy. This is a pro and a con so it all depends on what you prefer. One con to such a large piece of leather is that from the "factory" it does interfer with a full combat grip. After wearing it a few days I went ahead and cut a small amount so that my hand can get a much more positive grip. I don't know why they would charge extra to trim that little bit off. The hard kydex won't collapse so one handed reholstering is a cinch. Because of the large leather when in the bathroom sitting down it helps keep the gun vertical and not flop one way or the other.

Clips:The Comp-tac clips are thicker and look more study. Instead of an adhesive/glue to keep the velcro on they wrap it around the clip and staple it twice. I haven't noticed the velcro peeling/moving at all. Comp-tac designs their clips with a total of three holes to aid in adjustability. Their clips are cut square at the top end which maximize the amount of velcro that hits the belt. They are also very well finished so there are no sharp edges or ends.
The Crossbreed clips are thinner and since the velcro is glued on there may be a chance for it to peel or move some. I haven't observed any peeling/movement yet. They only have one hole located at the bottom of the clip. Crossbreed relies on the multiple holes on the holster itself for adjustment. This works well because it doesn't reduce the amount of shirt you can tuck in behind the clip. The clips aren't well finished as the sides aren't rounded like Comp-tac's. The tops and bottoms are circular so they don't have any corners you have to worry about.

Hardware:I used chicago screws to hold everything together on my original holster. They do what they need to, but since they don't grab into the leather like the Crossbreed ones the clips can slide around which is more an annoyance than a problem. The SuperTuck hardward appears solid and secure.

Comfort:While both are comfortable, the SuperTuck shines in it's ability to conform and hug your body. From my experience it is the most comfortable IWB tuckable holster you can buy.

Conclusion:The Crossbreed SuperTuck Deluxe is a great holster and a good value. Though it may not be a looker or as well finished as some it does exactly what it's supposed to do. Compared to what you can get or "piece together" out there for the same amount or more money there's nothing that can beat this holster in actual use.

This is for anyone who'd like to see more "angles" while wearing a SuperTuck tucked in.

In this second picture you can see where I had a nice japanese man at the local Boot Doctor sew in the velcro onto my belt. It works.

The video's not the best quality and there's no sound, but I hope it helps some of you.

For a size perspective, I'm 6'1" about 225lbs (man, I need to loose like 20lbs).

If you carry daily and want to be able to tuck or even just wear IWB go and buy a Crossbreed. You won't want to show it off, but think about it - Why would you want to show off your concealment holster?

Sig P239 (9mm) in a Crossbreed SuperTuck Deluxe

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another conversion from OWB to IWB - the OTI holster

I'm the one that put together the original Bucket holster and I know that there are some out there that rolled their eyes at the thought of putting a piece of bucket inside their pants. I had a number of people throw out suggestions to use leather or kydex instead of a simple paint bucket and I listened...sort of.

The bucket holster worked for me and I like it, but I'm one of those people that can't leave well enough alone. I fiddle and experiment/mess with things. Enter the OTI holster (OWB To IWB). I had purchased a square of leather from the local Tandy store to attach a small piece to my Uncle Mike's pocket holster (it needed something else to break up the shape of the P3AT) I had a bit of extra and wanted to try out another idea. The size and thickness of the leather I had gotten wasn't quite stiff or large enough to do the same thing I did with my bucket so I improvised.

Here's what I've come up with:

For those of you that would like to try this here's a little illustration that I drew (I'm no Picasso).

It's very adjustable for cant and height depending on where on the clip or the leather you want to attach everything. I'd say it's even more comfortable to wear than the bucket because it's much more form fitting without loosing the stiffness needed to stay put. I have noticed that it's easier for me to slide it along my belt when initially putting it on, probably because before the bucket piece would catch on different parts of my pants.

Here's pictures of this rig worn.

All in all, I'd say this was a successful experiment.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How to turn your OWB into an IWB for $20...The Bucket Holster!

This was my first attempt at converting an outside the waistband holster into an inside the waistband holster for concealed carry.

Who out there has had the experience of a comfortable OWB holster that fits their CCW just right and dreads having to find a similar fitting holster that will be comfortable to wear tuckable IWB for those times when sloppy can't be worn? Last week my hand slowly would have gone up.

Here's some background... Yes, I admit I'm a cheapskate. I know that a good quality holster is worth the money, but I also enjoy ingenuity and saving hard earned money. Several weeks back I had purchased a Don Hume 721 open top OWB that I really like. It's a high-ride, well made, good fitting holster. I like it and have worn it numerous times, but it being a high-ride to pull the weapon up so that the cover garment doesn't have to be below your butt it's not very comfortable while sitting as it jabs my back while I drive. I drive a lot. I've been reading posts for some time and have seen all the recommendations for a comfortable quality IWB holster. Most of which will send you back $70 - $1?? Those typically recommended have multiple connection points to the belt and ride pretty low for comfort and concealment and are made in both leather and/or kydex. The Comp-Tac clip system seems to be vastly popular either in their CTAC or Tucker's Answer so I looked to them for inspiration.

I thought that by using a stiff piece of material, two of Comp-Tac's innovative C-clips and screw together studs I could modify my existing OWB Don Hume pancake holster into a Franken-IWB holster. After perusing a Tandy Leather which I'm very fortunate to work near, they gave me the idea to use instead of a stiff piece of leather a plastic paint bucket for my project. Using sissors I cut up the bucket into the shape I needed, drilled holes for the clips and then screwed them on.

For $20 for the clips which I could always use if I purchase one of Tucker's or Comp-Tac's holsters I think it works pretty well.

Here it is worn.

I wore my "bucket holster" over the weekend and I must say I like it. I nicknamed it that because of the paint bucket I cut up to make it. I can see why folks praise designs like the CTAC and VM2. They spread the weight of the gun along a much larger section of your belt and place it nice and low so that the butt doesn't dig into your back.

The great thing about this setup is that it offers amazing flexibility in gun placement. Where with custom holsters you're fairly limited on the cant of the gun, how low it sits and the width of the clips because once it's made it's made and you can only alter so much. Yes, I know with the CTAC you have some choice in cant and how low it sits because of the adjustability Comp-Tac designed into it, but you're still stuck with a kydex holster for those who prefer leather and what if you wanted the holster with just 5 more degrees of forward cant. Tough luck, you live with what you get.

Not so with the bucket holster. If you want it to sit much much lower or have a more extreme cant and the clips are already adjusted as much as possible then go back to the bucket and start cutting. If you're like me and have access to buckets (paint or those 5 gallon Ruco mud ones) then you can experiment to your heart's content.

I wasn't completely satisfied with the first draft of my bucket holster. It didn't offer as much of the grip as I would have liked for a combat grip. I was having to almost shove my hand into my pants. So I went back to my bucket and a new idea on how to angle the gun more and offer more of the grip. Here's what I have now.

It hides as well as any tuckable I've seen (not counting those underwear holsters), though with V-clips it would almost completely disappear.

This is my normal work wear so other than now needing to buy more pants with a larger waistline (which I'd have to do with any IWB) I can now wear my P239 daily!
For those who'd like to do this, to connect the clips to the bucket piece I used these screw posts which are easy to take off and put on ( I've used these things on those cheap nylon holsters in order to customize the fit for particular guns. They also work well as tension screws. Now enjoy!