Sunday, October 10, 2010

THE INSIDER Holster by El Paso Saddlery

Apologize for the shadow on the bottom picture and the fact they are poorly lit cell photos. Consider them cell noir art. Will post some pictures of a gun in these holsters soon. The top picture shows THE INSIDER holster containing a Beretta PX4 Storm Subcompact and note that the PX4 is using the model with the "stirrup" that catches the barrel at the bottom of the rig. The middle picture shows both different holsters open, and the bottom picture shots them closed front forward. The gun slides into the loop under and inside the leather holding the belt clip. I like the one with the barrel stop or "stirrup" better, but it's not long enough to work with more than a 3" barrel from my limited experimentation. It could easily be lengthed simply with a piece of heavy duty velcro.

A trip through the Texas Hill Country this weekend yielded all kinds of wonderful things. Family time together, and enjoying the game, cattle, wide open spaces, vistas, high and low elevations and all the views that make the Hill Country great. Nearly every creek we passed over was flowing strong and full, as good as I've ever seen them flow over the past forty plus years or so of visiting and fishing that area.

I am incapable of driving past a creek in this region without looking to see if it holds water and more importantly, to see if it looks "fishy". So for years Mrs. El Fisho does the looking now so that I can keep eyes more on road.

The Perdenales River looked good and strong as well, a drastic improvement from last year's drought in that area. Green prevailed as the seasons change slowly and more subtly in the Hill Country. From larger towns like Mason to Llano to Junction to Fredericksburg to Kerrville and other smaller burgs and towns that surround them, I've got favorite places to stop in at when passing through.

We stopped in one favorite place today. Aside from the "almost" nice pistol I thought I'd found, I did find some interesting holster bargains. You know I like a holster bargain.

The THE bettah. Particularly when it comes to "old style" holsters I like. I refuse to say that I like "old school". That would imply my interest had waned or was of recent origin in vintage holsters, but far from it. From my childhood, my dad's holsters of the fifties on have been reminders of quality solid belt holsters that are seldom seen these days in modern design.

I look all kinds of places for holsters, and I always have. In another post I'll go into the vast kinds of places where you can literally buy holsters for dollars or even literally given away if they are very worn out. Garage and estate sales. All kinds of antique and decorator and curio and just basically western and urban junk stores.

So of course one logical place to look is stores selling guns, and particularly, used guns. Or fellows that own gun shops and go to gun shows, and in their wheeling and dealing get some holsters that some customers they have might be interested in for certain vintage guns he knows they own.

I'll talk about the absolutely heavenly trip we took in a later post, but back to the case of the two unusual holsters, and the other holster I got as part of the deal.

All of these holsters were really a nice find today. I'll do a separate post about the wonderful pancake holster I found that fits Single Action .22 revolvers perfectly, a great alternative to a western gunbelt during the hot humid months, or for those of us who are older and when we are afield hunting or fishing, we're going lighter these days in all kinds of ways.

And now, after much rambling about my *bargain-holster- searcher-outer-skills, I found these two very intersting holsters pictured about. I'll do a legend about about each picture, but as you can tell what you basically have is a one piece suede folding holster that uses velcro to achieve gun fit and hold, and a belt clip for IWB wear. It's a very low wearing holster, much lower than say a Highnoon Holster Mr. Softy and I guess you could tuck a shirt around it.

There are two different sizes of these holsters I got for $5 total today. One is larger and does not have a velcro "stirrup" that sticks down to catch the barrel., and one is smaller and has a stirrup. The sides of the holster adjust to hold the gun, and there is a loop that somewhat holds the gun in place.

Once in the waist, it is a snug fit and the gun did not move and is not going anywhere. The gun rides low, so low that the rear of the grip does cantilever outwards, not so much printing as adhearing along the back of the top of the belt/pants. It's going to be a slow practiced draw, but you could wear this holster with a pair of cotton casual shorts and a regularly sized polo and no one would see your handgun. It disappears under jeans. The gun doesn't wear so low that it's in danger of falling out. As long as you are wearing some sort of halfway decent belt, the belt will act in conjunction with the belt loop to hold the gun steady topside.

They were probably be designed to be worn INSIDE a tucked in shirt, and I could see with a non-tailored shirt a bit on the semi-looser side that you could tuck and conceal with some fluffing at the waistline a Beretta PX4 very easily with this holster. That's not my style of carry. If I am carrying an IWB holster, it's under a jacket or a pulled out dress, casual or t-shirt.

But this interesting holster holding the Beretta under a jacket, sweater and even a generous t-shirt, well, it's damn near invisible. I haven't tried it under a jacket or sweater yet, but under the older and not so generous t-shirt I have on now for around the home late night lounging, it disappears.

A quick google rendered no info. Doesn't really matter, it's not a great collectors item, though I'm sure if I wanted I could turn them on ebay for more than I got in them. And who knows, just might.

What they are is perhaps the most function skeletonized IWB adjustable holster I've yet to see. I'm not expert in this field, but to me as a native Texan who grew up around the term for carrying a pistol in your pants with no holster and seeing so many folks who I thought had good sense throwing COCKED AND LOCKED 1911's WITH HAIR, I SAY HAIR, TRIGGERS down the business end of their trousers as cops, I shuddered.
Back in those politically uncorrect days of my youth, and really still up until the current day, Texas lawmen refer to sticking a gun in your belt sans holster as "Mexican Carry".
I'll admit, I've been known to jam a pistolo in my jeans in an emergency and and yes, at times it's been a CONDITION 1 ready to fire pistol like a 1911 or a Glock. I refuse to carry a cocked and locked 1911 (which is how you must carry them for defensive purposes) without a thumbreak or even old time leather strap twixt the hammer and el firing pin. But perhaps this holster was also designed for the minimalist who wanted just enough to ensure their gun didn't slip down their pants or slip out of the top of their pants in an undercover law enforcement scuffle.

This would be a good holster for folks with all kinds of older and larger autoloader guns for which perhaps no good IWB holsters are easily found. I wouldn't my Glock in it, because even thought the suede is first quality, it is supple and I could see some possibility of a finger or item poking into the trigger area of this holster with a Glock and engaging the trigger. Slim. Remote, but possible.

I make no secret my extreme opinion that I like external manual safety on an automatic pistol used for concealed carry. There are holsters that a Glock can be carried safetly in (again, endless plug but the High Noon Holster Co Mr. Softy) that covers the trigger in a manner that protects against accidental discharge, and that holds the gun absolutely secure within the holster until removal is desired.

So this holster has some kind of history but I don't know it. Could've been discontinued a few years ago but you'd think there would be some mention of it somewhere in some outdated catalog or webpage or wiki. El Paso Saddlery is a big company, and I'll send abour over there asking the history of these holsters. Maybe they have an archivist or a catalog or pricing history that could at least generate year, and perhaps intent and purpose behind.

I don't know if the holsters above are ambi or right or left handed, but I'm thinking that since there is a rounded area favoring a resting spot for a trigger guard on one side as visible in the photos, that they were designed to be lefties. That's an easy fix with a pair of leather shears right there in about 2 minutes with great care, to reverse that deal.

I wore it a couple of hours and it didn't move. Sitting. Standing. Driving. For this time of year, when it's cooler and we here in Texas are not sweating every moment of our lives as in summer, it's a great holster. I don't wear skin tight clothing, so I can easily conceal this holster and gun in shorts and the right shirt with a normal single thickness store bought 1 1/2" belt. Much better, of course, with an actual double thick gunbelt, but for true concealment, a nice stuff thicker single layer of leather belt can provide a stable IWB platform despite the fact you got it at TJ MAXX for $3.00.

In any event, with a nice good quality leather designer "non-gunbelt" that is stiff and thick, this holster does great and doesn't move.

It's also a very comfortable holster. Because the extended top portion of the single width suede holster serves to insulate the body from the hammer and of the slide and top of the grip, it's a very comfortable carry. It's adjustable, so it could fit all kinds of guns.

I have not tried out the larger holster, but suspect the larger top portion (ears? hammer protector?) would cushion a person well against any hammer poke, and perhaps protect the thumb safety area of the gun.

I plan to modify the holster fitting the Beretta PX4 Storm Subcompact soon by adding just a couple of stitches in a small triangular pattern (about 1/4" diameter or barely larger) to create a absolute trigger guard rest for this gun. If I decide to use the holster for another gun, I can pop those stitches out with just a couple teeny holes remaining. The $2.50 value is not likely to be significantly diminished by adding 3 or 4 tiny holes and some waxed cotton thread.

It's not a holster to throw your gun in your kit bag or backpack or briefcase or purse, because although the fit as is on the PX4 is snug and holding strong, I could see it working loose. It's a nice holster, though, TO HAVE in a purse for a female or a backpack for a male of he sudden need arises to conceal a gun in a waistband, such as coming in or out of office buildings and the like at night or on an unplanned event. It's small enough to take up no room at all.

I'll be trying them on some other guns and I'll let you know how they fit. The stirrup model seems to have seen some use, although it's in very good to dang excellent condition. The larger model has some printing intact "THE INSIDER" El Paso Saddlery. Large Auto. The smaller one ahs

Fortunately, I learned wayyy back in junior high school when on weekend or summer or spring break sojourns through the Texas Hill Country when being drug by parents and later friends through a wide variety of retail antique or curio operations I might not ordinarily visit, that it's not unusual to stumble upon old holsters in all sorts of antique places and curio shops and even smaller operations. Likewise, the Hill Country is DEER HUNTER CENTRAL, and all sorts of gun shops about in all kinds of towns you might not otherwise might THINK might have even one gun shop has several. And quite a few good gunsmiths in towns and communities large and small who also had small mostly used gun sale business along with the gunsmithing.

It's almost deer season throughout a large swath of Texas, and as far as the West of Austin and Northwest of San Antone from this weekend goes, in these parts the hunters will descend in hordes for several months spending money on every service imaginable. It's a good time for these towns, some of which do better than others most of the year. Each of these towns proudly lay claim to their particular attribute, but suffice it to say, there is no shortage of real mounted deer antlers just everywhere, every business, you name it except for certain corporate entities.

So one little nook in one of these towns has a sort of general western store, that sells some guns and gunleather, mostly western and single action for the "dress up cowboy and go target shooting with cowboy guns", which is a very popular sport but with about a third of their selection of large and compact Glocks, Springfields, Taurus and the odd used autoloader. Including some cool early 1900's Colt pocket autos. But mostly they had a ton of Single Action Revolvers, the western style revolver.

This store had some nice stuff. It made me think of what kind of rig I'd like to get for a full size single action revolver, as well as a cowboy/ranger set up for a late 1800's-1930's for a 1911 wanna bring a full size single action back and get a good sized holster made there. There were a lot of nice belt rigs and holster rigs and I mighta bit on a nice belt holster for the Model 22 of 1917 but I saw nothing that large.

So back in the corner of this store was a barrel with lots of cartridge loops, some dump type box for some type of rifle clip or strip or shells and a few holsters for standard single actions pistols that were still priced pretty high.

These two stood out as something I knew I could either use, gift to a very grateful person interested in cool vintage holsters like me, or failing that, ebay it. The Pancake holster for the .22 Single Action revolver is a keeper, and wears great. It's got an 1 1/2" belt loop, perfect for El Fisho Jr. I'll have to be making sure it's a good holster on fishing trips when wanted to carry some snake shot and a few .22 long rifle or magnums but not be wearing a full western rig.

So whaddya think about these holsters, THE INSIDER holster BY EL PASO SADDLERY? Good idea or junk? We'll see what I think in the coming weeks.
My first opinion is, it's a deep cover holster for the Beretta during the extremely hot summer months in Texas when the smallest and thinnest of t shirts and shorts are being worn, and that is going to likely be it's niche as a holster for me.
I will see how the larger model does with the 1911 or Browning Hi Power, but it'd be nice if the larger model had a longer stirrup for the barrel of a larger pistol. It'd be an easy matter to add, with some velcro, a piece of leather and a leather needle and thread. But I'll try it first and see how I like it.

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