Sunday, April 05, 2009

Guns: J-Frame Holster Roundup

If you carry a concealed handgun for self-defense, you've probably experimented with a ton of different holsters for your firearm. In my experience, there are plenty of good holster options out there for the J-frame .38 snub (especially considering that many CCW revolvers, like the Ruger LCR, are intentionally about the same size and shape as the J-frame).

Here are some of the holsters that I've used in the past for the humble small revolver:

Uncle Mike's Inside-The-Pocket Holster - The most inexpensive option on this list. It's a simple pocket holster made of some kind of synthetic material - soft and flexible. There are a number of sizes available - I found the model expressly designed for snub .38s to be a little too big for the gun, but YMMV.

You'll probably be able to find this one in your local gun store, surrounded by similar holsters. One problem I noticed was a tendency for the holster to "stick" to the gun during the draw unless you flicked the holster down with your thumb (not unlike working a 1911 safety). In any case, though, the holster is so cheap that you'd be foolish not to give it a try.

Mika's Pocket Holster
- One of the coolest things about the Web is its ability to give the small business the same reach as a multinational corporation. Robert Mika designed these pocket holsters using his experience in law enforcement, and now sells them mainly through his website.

The Mika pocket holster is the biggest and bulkiest holster on this list, so you'll need some sizable pockets. Because of the holster's design, though, it is almost impossible to accidentally draw out the holster when you draw the gun. The holster also does a good job of concealing the outlines of the gun, and the wide top (especially compared with other pocket holsters) means that getting a firing grip and pulling the gun out is simple.

Galco "Bargain Bin Special" Inside-the-waistband holster - The holster hunt often inspires scavenging. I plucked a mysterious Galco IWB holster out of a sale box in a gun shop. I'm not even sure if the linked model is the same as the holster I have, but I do know it's a Galco holster.

It's a cheap, basic IWB holster. An aluminum frame .38 snub doesn't need much support since it's so light, so the holster can get away with a relatively flimsy nylon J-hook belt clip as its only anchor to the belt. The holster conceals the gun and rides comfortably, but the mouth isn't reinforced; drawing the revolver causes the holster to collapse.

Customized DeSantis Nemesis
- Another popular pocket holster, and probably my overall favorite holster after some customization (see below). The Nemesis has a textured material on the outside of the holster that limits the problems that occur when the holster doesn't come off the gun, although the draw still isn't quite as good as the Mika holster.

The default Nemesis that DeSantis recommends for the .38 snub isn't well-fitted to the J-frame. If you want to have a workable holster, you'll probably need to trim off excess material yourself, and then stitch the holster back together (in the picture above, you can see that the J-frame barrel ends well before the edge of the holster, and that the large flap on the side of the holster is cumbersome). I also modified the area around the trigger guard with an extra stitched panel to better hold the snub revolver.


At 12:03 AM, Blogger James R. Rummel said...

Good post!


At 9:56 AM, Blogger Ed Harris said...

Regretably DeSantis no longer makes a correct pocket holster to fit the Colt D-Frame Detective Special, Cobra or the Ruger SP101. If you order a holster for the SP101 you will receive the S&W J-frame size, but it fits too tightly and the holster often comes out of the pocket with the gun, which is no good. I fixed this problem by exchanging the J frame holster for the next larger size, and installing a stud-type suspender button through the holster to position the gun where I wanted it. I sew a short loop of parachute cord inside my coat pocket to anchor the holster to the button, and this works splendidly. An old Harry Archer trick, except in Harry's time the pocket holster was a simple bag of GI wool boot sock lined with a cut up palm from a D3-A GI leather glove, propotioned to fit an M1903 Colt series M pocket model in an overcoat pocket.


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