Carry rigs (whether for competitive, CCW, or duty use) are really a personal preference item. Although I’m not trying to convince anyone to go out and buy a Blade-Tech rig, I do want to emphasize that gear is a CRUCIAL part of the equation for any of the aforementioned applications. Unfortunately, much of the time, the need for a decent carry rig is thrown onto the back burner and ignored at the expense of a new gun or any number of other things. So while I won’t tell you how to spend your money, I will state without reservation that the Blade-Tech holster in this review has been put through it for the past two years of competition and has served me well. So well, in fact, that I bought the double magazine pouch earlier this year and plan on purchasing an identical setup for the my VP9 in the very near future.
Here’s the thing, though: starting with a good belt, a decent carry rig can mean a HUGE difference in all-day carry comfort, and proper holsters often make a significant impact on draw times. The Blade-Tech Instructor’s belt pictured throughout features an AustriAlpin Cobra quick-release buckle and rigid supports that allow a thinner and narrower gun belt to support the weight of the pistol just as well as other, much clunkier options. The only negative to the Cobra buckle compared to other belts is that you have to slide it off to get the belt through the holster loops unless the holster has a clip (like most IWB options).
The holster and mag pouches themselves are classic Blade-Tech thermal molded kydex (mine are FDE, but they are offered in colors from black and OD green to carbon). Smooth on the draw, durable, and never lacking in the fit department, I’ve become a fan of the classic series. But for new shooters or people who need holsters for a lot of guns without spending too much on any one rig, Blade-Tech also makes the Revolution series of injection-molded polymer holsters and mag pouches, which retail for substantially less than the kydex line. If you’re testing out competitive handgunning, need several holsters all at once, or just don’t want to spend $100 on a rig, the Revolution series is a great value.
Each holster and mag pouch (whether single or double) features one of several different belt attachments (the holster pictured has the adjustable ASR attachment and the mag pouches use the SRB 1.5″) and retention adjustment screw(s) to make sure it fits your gear perfectly. The primary “knock” that I hear on kydex holsters is that they wear the finish more quickly than leather. Although kydex might wear through the finish a little more quickly on contact points, it’s been my experience that leather will wear more of the gun’s surfaces in the long run. And I use my guns, so although I take care of them, holster wear doesn’t bother me in the least. The advantages to kydex are the speed/smoothness of the draw, the ease of cleaning, and the lack of moisture-absorbing properties. One precaution with ANY holster: if you live in a sandy environment, be sure to clean it out from time to time to prevent grains of sand from sneaking into your holster and putting a nice, long scratch down the entire slide.
If all of your guns/gear/mags/whatever are already one color, the classic holsters come in Black, FDE (more of a coyote tan, which I prefer), OD Green, Foliage Green, and Carbon. You can match just about anything to your heart’s content (including your lucky boxers, which is important). I’ve become a big kydex fan since beginning to use it because of the noticeable speed increase it gave me on the draw, but Blade-Tech makes some great IWB options for concealed carry as well. Besides the fact that they put out great gear, Blade-Tech manufactures everything on US soil, which means your money is going to support an American company that employs American workers. Because let’s face it: there’s something horribly ironic about a gun belt being made in a country that disarms all of its citizens. HP
Blade-Tech Classic OWB Holster; $64.99
Blade-Tech Classic Double Magazine Pouch; $54.99
Blade-Tech Revolution Combo Pack; $59.99 (includes holster, double mag pouch, and training/dry-fire barrel)
*The author purchased the holster and magazine pouches prior to this review, but special thanks to Blade-tech for sending us a T&E sample of their new instructor’s belt!