Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Auction Holster Review Part I

I appreciate custom leather holsters by the big names in the industry as much as the next guy or gal, but the wait (although well worth it) can be months if not years. What if you needed a holster NOW? Recently I found myself in just such a position, but instead of going the pre-owned or temporary route, I decided to try out a new leather holster from a maker that I’d never heard of, found on ebay - and then put it to the test by using it in my everyday carry routine.

I chose a holster made to fit Smith & Wesson’s Model 642, but any J-frame sized revolver with a 2” or less length barrel will fit. The holster tested fit the vintage Charter Arms Undercover I had on hand to a tee.

Caldwell Gun Leather Ozark Carry OWB Holster

When I opened the package my first impression of this holster was that it would probably last forever. In fact, it’s most likely the stoutest holster that I’ve ever laid eyes on. Maker, Shannon Caldwell, is a veteran law enforcement officer of eighteen years with SWAT training, and designs and builds all of his leather goods to perform under high-stress combat conditions. Shannon has nine-years of leather experience and thousands of holsters under his belt (pun intended). Eight of those years were spent making Wilson Combat leather for Rafter S.

Caldwell’s Ozark Carry is a pancake style, hand molded, unlined holster structured from dyed 8-9oz. back / 6-7oz. front cowhide, made for a 1.5" belt. Shannon personally selects each piece of leather for the individual requirement of the piece being made. The outer layer is imprinted and dyed 2-4oz. cowhide imprinted to resemble elephant hide. The artificial elephant hide is then laminated to the holster. Shannon states that artificial elephant hide is not as strong as the real thing, but it is a lot less expensive and wears well. I like the look and the price.

Shannon uses a lockstitch machine with nylon thread and double stitches each holster at all stress points. Edges are hand-rubbed and the holster is sealed with a clear coat finish to protect the holster and your clothes. Caldwell leather is a one-man shop, but Shannon admits that family members do help out from time to time with edge finishing and such.

I’ve worn the Ozark Carry for over two-months now with excellent results. The artificial elephant does show a few very minor scratches from banging on things here on our little ranch, but that’s to be expected from a working holster. Weapon retention is superb and the weapon’s draw is smooth every time. Reholstering is a no-brainer which is of great importance in real world situations whether you’re a CCW holder or an LEO.

I like this little holster from Caldwell Gun Leather and see it staying in my carry routine for a long time. In fact, I like it so much that I’m going to order an IWB holster from Shannon for my Browning Hi-Power soon. YMMV

Caldwell Gun Leather