Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Raven Concealment Systems: Phantom Holster Review

As you get into certain hobbies or tasks that involve equipment to go along with them, you often have to spend some time and money along the way to find what works for you.  Having been through that process, I learned quickly to do plenty of research before buying certain types of products.  That research led me to Raven Concealment Systems to buy a holster for my second pistol.  With the first one I had gotten a "Serpa" holster and realized that was not the answer.  So I got a Phantom to fit my HK 45C.  The quality and fit of the holster was perfect.  So perfect that I stuck with Raven's products and didn't look elsewhere until recently.  I decided to venture out and look at some other holster manufacturers, and all I really found were companies attempting to mimic the Raven product.  Some do it well, some not so much.  What I found is that you can go out and get "regular joe's kydex" to create you a kydex holster using some plastic and his oven, but if you're serious about your holsters, look no further than Raven Concealment Systems.  Let me caveat that statement with acknowledging that I've only had my hands on a handful of different manufacturers holsters out there, and there are tons of guys out there making kydex holsters these days it seems like.  The point is, I've tried several, and in my opinion and experience there aren't any that match up to the quality and features of the Phantom.

When looking for a holster for my Smith and Wesson M&P9 fullsize I had one other consideration, which was the Surefire X300U weapon mounted light(WML).  When looking for holsters with WMLs the selection gets even slimmer.   The choice was easy when picking the Phantom Light Compatible holster from Raven.  Again the quality and fit was perfect for my M&P with X300U.  The gun "clicks" in and out of the holster with just enough "snugness" to retain the gun safely, but not provide excess wear on the finish of the pistol.  The smooth edges of these holsters make them easy to deal with when carrying IWB or OWB and in any position you might find yourself.  They fit tight to your body and do not have lines that print easily.  Obviously you have to dress appropriately with any pistol in order to carry it concealed, but the Raven holsters make that easier.  The thickness of the holster material is just enough to hold it's shape and not collapse like most leather holsters will.  If you've followed my posts or talked to me you know that I place importance on holsters holding their shape and providing the capability of being able to holster the firearm quickly and easily.

With these holsters you have several mounting options, but they come standard with injection molded OWB belt loops.  Other options are pancake wings, soft mount loops, IWB soft loops and tuckable loops, as well as their newest option the OWB Quick Mount Straps that I hope to get and tryout soon.  These holsters are built for concealed carry and so the mounting options only go that far.  Despite the material they're made from they are decently comfortable carrying concealed even for someone of my slim build.  They're not built for mounting like a drop leg holster or on molle attachments like "war belts".  With a little work you can make it happen, but that's not what they're built for.

Bottom line, if you're looking for a concealable holster I would recommend you try a Raven Concealment Systems Phantom.  The price on them isn't the highest, but also not the lowest.  I would say the price is right online with the quality and priceless when it comes personal protection.  Word on the street is that RCS has a new holster line coming out next year of the injection molded type.  I can't wait.

HK45C left - M&P9 w/Surefire x300U right

So for those of you that follow my blog you know that I also reviewed the Griffon Industries holster for my M&P as well.  So you might be wondering which one do I like better, and that would be the Raven.  The sticking points on the Griffon is that they are much pricier, but not better in my opinion.  In fact, I wasn't happy with the fit of the Griffon.  It was clearly wearing on the finish of my pistol every time I drew it, but you can see the pictures and read more about that in my review.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Griffon Industries Holster Review

With the popularity of kydex holsters there seem to be companies and individuals popping up all over the place to produce their own version of the popular holster.  It seems to be creeping up similar to the way people with sewing machines and cordura began making their version of magazine pouches, which for the most part were eerily similar to the rest.  My point in bringing this up is that when you're looking at holsters, particularly if you're interested in the kydex or plastic offerings, pay more attention to the quality than the price.  I won't re-discuss the importance of a good holster as I already did that in my prior article on holsters.  There are several different methods out there for making these holsters from using an oven in more of a "homemade" version, press forming, and vacuum forming to name a few.  So it's important to do your research, which is an ongoing process.  I recently decided to look into Griffon Industries offerings and see what they were about.  The first thing I noticed was that their price is a good bit higher than most kydex holsters, so I wanted to know why and was given the opportunity to test one out.

When I received the holster it was packaged well and the guys at Griffon even included a few "Guns & Girls" type cards that were interesting and a couple patches.  The holster I received was coyote.
Griffon Industries box and holster with my M&P w/X300U

Right out of the box you can tell the holster is high quality.  The sleek lines show that this is a vacuum formed holster and there is attention to detail in the manufacturing.  I like the thickness of the holster which would make it handy for one handed reloads.  I will say the first time I put the pistol in the holster it took some extra force to get it seated all the way, and then took a decent amount of force to get the pistol out. More than what I would like.  Also, there were clear signs of the kydex being scraped off by the gun which is shown in the pictures below.  Every time I holstered and drew the pistol more and more kydex was scraped off onto the light and gun.

 Notice the kydex scraped up on about the 5 o'clock position of the light as it sits.
Notice the lines on the right and left of the slide that are kydex left behind from the holster.

The main concern is the toll it would eventually take on the pistol and light.  I didn't really have concerns about the retention it would provide.  So with my initial impressions of the holster out of the way, it was time to get it out to the range and let the rubber meet the road.  

As per usual, I started the range time with some dry fire.  The fit of the holster seemed to get better as I used it, which is nothing new for some kydex holsters.  The Griffon holster utilizes a three tier belt adapter system, shown below, which they call progressive loops.  The purpose is so you can utilize most belt widths with one attachment.  The standard belt size is the smallest and is what my belt fit.  I tightened my belt as I normally do, and with this set up it didn't quite work.  I noticed as I drew and reholstered my pistol that the holster had a lot of movement and my belt wanted to slip around in the different size slotted loops.  I remedied this by tightening my belt more so that it would stay in the proper slot, but the extra tightness decreased the comfort level.  I could immediately tell I wouldn't be as comfortable with this, but it should also be noted that I'm a fairly slim guy without much padding around the hips.  

The three tier belt attachment is for outside the waistband (OWB) of course, but Griffon also has attachments to utilize the holster inside the waistband (IWB).  The Griffon IWB system is a C-clamp style system.  You can attach the IWB loops with a few different attachment holes so that you can have the holster at the height or cant that best suits you.  The C-clamps hold tight to your belt and are a nice attachment.  You could tuck your shirt in with these attachments, but the clamps will show and aren't very discreet.  There aren't many "tuckable" IWB holster attachments that aren't a giveaway if someone is paying attention to see if you're carrying.   

The IWB attachment system for the Griffon holster works well.  The holster was held in tight and kept my firearm concealed.  The comfort level was as expected for a kydex IWB holster.  You have to expect a certain degree of discomfort.  It's not bad, it's just not the same as without the holster.  The question to ask is, is it worth it to have your personal defense weapon on you when you need it most?  

Overall, Griffon Industries is putting out a good holster.  I like the thickness of the kydex and it's definitely a sleek looking holster showing the lines of the handgun due to the vacuum forming used in manufacturing.  There's clearly much thought into the design helping it hug the body for great concealment of even a full size handgun.  The retention level was nice once I had gone through several draws.  The wait time on these holsters isn't long and customer service is good.  The only issues I had with this holster were that with every draw there was kydex left on my gun and it took some finish off my Surefire X300U, the three tier belt system didn't work for me as well as attachments I've used for a single belt size.  Finally, in today's economy price is one of the biggest factors when it comes to whether you will or will not make a purchase.  The price is well above the competition for a comparable holster at comparable quality.  Last but not least, it's Made in the USA!  I salute anyone who's manufacturing a product in the US and providing jobs.