A variety of thoughts came up when I was asked to test HT holsters. Who are they? What are they? So while waiting I decided to educate myself on the company and products.
HT ( Holster Tech) is a Finnish company that focuses primarily on tactical holsters for military and law enforcement applications. When the day arrived I tore the package open like a 6 year old on a “sugar buzz” (some things never change I guess) then proceeded to remove each component so I could take a long hard look at what I had in front me. Thoughts of Star Wars and RoboCop came to mind as I stared at the Duty holster, but quickly getting past my geekness, I rigged myself into the drop leg and immediately noticed it wasn’t the same as my other rigs. On my traditional rigs the leg banding is simply a one inch banding with clips, but HT’s was woven into a large breathable foam pad that holds onto my jeans like glue.
We had to postpone our initial testing for a few days due to the lovely winter we have been having up here in the “Great White North”, but as always bad decisions prevailed. My buddy (you know the type of guy I’m talking about) and I proceed to go out in some of the worst recorded weather in the history of Illinois, I geared up with the drop leg device and duty holster and I have to say; one of the best parts of this system is that it’s very adaptable and modular. There are a variety of holsters that can be used with the different attachment points, and all you need is the provided Allen wrench to set up the desired rig you want or need.
The Duty holster is a spring-loaded holster that is to say the least... very powerful and with temperatures being at-30 windchill, we were
expecting it to experience a multitude of issues. My colleague (he laughed at this term, since that is the last word I would normally use to describe him) was geared up with his SERPA style rig, and immediately experienced a frozen latch, but with over an hour of exposure to these frigid temps, I had absolutely no issues with the HT holster releasing. So now we decided that our next phase of testing was for durability. Now you have to understand that we’re both vets... So our durability testing can be a bit extreme, and combined with the prolonged exposure to the frigid temps, we truly expected some serious flaws. First and foremost, I expected the drop leg rig to hinder my movement and after repeated sprints through the heavy snow, I found I wasn’t disappointed . It did exactly that, which is the nature of the beast with thigh rigs and heavy winter clothing, but despite several unintentional contacts with some large trees as well as one adventurous and completely awkward tumble down a 30 foot hill (which brought about some serious laughter from my “buddy”), the HT holster didn’t chip or scratch and still performed to expectations. One major point in HT’s favor is that the rig never shifted from its original spot. As former Navy, I’ve had to wear these types of rigs frequently and in many cases have had them shift under heavy movement. I don’t know about you, but there is nothing worse than being in the “shit” and find that your weapon is up under your butt cheek... so this aspect scored huge points with me.
Now, with the weather not playing so nice, we decided to find an indoor range that allowed us to do some serious holster work. Using my personal “customized” G22 with the duty holster in both the drop-leg and the hip position(easily transformable with the click of a button), the holster performed flawlessly. Although I could not get used to the body mechanics required with this spring-loaded holster, having never worked with such an animal, I can definitely see the applications and need for a spring-loaded duty holster, but it does require some practice to gain proficiency. My colleague on the other hand, who has some experience with these type holsters had great results with it from the leg but not so much from the hip position. From the hip, the handgun ejected so hard that for him, it propelled the firearm into a slightly improper draw, but with time and practice he learned the proper techniques. Although he did prefer the drop-leg position with this duty holster, he still felt that the ability to switch between the two different styles with minimal effort was incredible.
Moving forward, we checked out HT’s concealed carry offering, while also switching to my IDC firearm; the G23. This holster has a blade/lever that keeps the firearm locked in the holster, and can only be defeated when you remove your weapon. You have to deactivate the locking blade/lever with the web between thumb and index finger while simultaneously withdrawing it from the holster. I will say that this holster took some serious getting used to, and while using it from the drop-leg position I encountered a serious issue: The thigh rig while infinitely adjustable was already on its smallest setting and at 6’1” my arms were not long enough to catch the paddle correctly. I then had some of my other buddies try this setup, who were smaller than me and they could not get the rig to function at all. Now I will say, that the CC holster is not intended to be worn in the drop-leg position, but I had to try it and the only way I got it to work from the thigh position was by adjusting it much to low which gave me terrible form. Once I moved this holster to my hip (where it is supposed to be worn), I immediately fell in love with the ergonomics of it’s movement. It performed exactly as HT intended. I could draw flawlessly with no snaps, shrouds, or buttons to move or actuate. I could simply grab the gun and pull, as long as my draw form was good, the blade/lever was automatically triggered and viola... hand and gun were one. I do have to say, after all this practice and testing, this particular holster has since become my IDC holster of choice.
Now, most of us know that for LEOs or civilians alike, one of the biggest fear in any scenario is weapon retention. Well this holster may not keep the “bad guys” from getting it out of your hand, but is does a great job of keeping it secure while holstered. For this phase of testing we conducted CQB scenarios to see how easily the pistol could be removed from the holstered position by a bystander. In a rear approach situation the duty holster was nearly impossible to defeat, and gave you ample time to respond to the attempt. The CC holster on the other hand was removed on two occasions, but with a technique that was awkward and most likely would have been preventable had we attempted to stop the removal. We then tested them from the forward facing removal situation. The duty holster again proved extremely difficult to defeat as well as preventable if the attempt was made to stop the removal. The Concealed Carry holster was removed once, but again most definitely took the assailant time enough for the wearer to have reacted. In a grappling type scenario the duty holster was removed once while the cc was removed twice. Now obviously we were attempting to remove the weapon without trying to stop the attacker. We feel confident that with the time it took to actually remove the firearm from the holster, most people would have ample time to react and prevent it. Certainly we all hope to be able to get the draw in any situation, but we wanted to see what would happen if that wasn’t the case. We chose to test these scenarios because it’s always best to know what can happen then find out if and when it does happen.
In closing I have to say the at I was impressed with the HT offerings. Although these holsters are limited to just a small fraction of the handguns available (they are mainly used by military and law enforcement in many European countries), HT has assured us that they are working to incorporate many new models into their lineup. They also may not fit every body type or shape, as the are made of a rigid polycarbonate material that may not be as conformable as some of the more pliable alternatives, but for those of us that used them during the various testing phases; we have fallen in love. From the extreme temperatures and rugged terrain they were used in, to the multitude of different users and techniques used with them, I personally believe there is not a situation or aspect these holsters cannot fit or overcome. I look forward to testing more offerings from the HT Holster line up.