Buying a Holster

I did something this morning I haven’t done for a while: I shopped for a holster. Throughout my editorial career I’ve done a lot of carrying with what came across my desk, for better or worse. Upon exit from that career, I’ve been very content carrying my G43 in my BLACKHAWK! ARC with few exceptions.

As an experienced concealed carrier, I’m already a step ahead of where many people are in their holster shopping career: I know almost exactly what I want. (If I were to look at it objectively, I would even admit that what I want is my ARC with a slightly different clip.)

It may not make the finding of a holster any easier, but a breakdown of criteria might help newer shoppers begin to understand what to look at. We’re all going to like different things, but as we move through our carry life we can learn what we like and don’t like from different products and apply that to future purchases.

Here’s what I’ve been considering as I browse:


One of the first rules I have about any holster is that it cannot, under any circumstances, collapse if the gun is not in it. This means either Kydex, or something structurally similar such as my ARC. Actually, this is one of the reasons I’m such a huge fan of the ARC holster, the polymer material is non-collapsible, but soft enough it doesn’t chafe like kydex. Which brings me to…

Location & Cant 

Wanna talk soft and non-collapsible? I wear my gun appendix under tank tops. Usually that means no undershirt and my femoral artery is down there so I’m a little squicky about how the holster goes on. In fact, my gun stays in my holster at all times and goes on and off my body holstered. Which means, another important factor is…

The Clip

I don’t always wear belts. I’m a girl, my pants are tight enough that the right clip will hold the holster in place for a draw. I need a tight, sturdy clip that will function without a belt and is low profile. Which brings me to…


Not just the clip needs to be low profile. I’m a small girl and big holsters bulk up something that is already difficult to carry. The simplicity of the ARC is one of its saving graces for me. A lot of holsters add a bunch of unnecessary leather which may make them more comfortable for some, but make them overwhelmingly large and unmanageable for me.

There are a few things you’ll notice about my approach to holster shopping that have been ironed out over the years:

First of all, I know exactly how I like to carry. I’ve screwed with a lot of different styles, but to be frank I’ve come to the conclusion that if I hit a day my regular carry rig doesn’t work it’s time to look for alternative self-defense options rather than gimmicky gun holsters. This is a very personal decision my training and my frustration with products over the years has led me to.

Next, I know what works for me and what works for other people. I’ve tried those leather/kydex hybrids everyone seems to love, and they don’t work for me. That doesn’t mean they won’t work for you. Just like there’s probably a really good chance a majority of readers don’t drive Mini Cooper JCWs, your holster is a lifestyle choice based off of your needs and no one else’s.

Finally, safety is paramount in my choice. I know the dangers of my carry choices, from what can go wrong with the draw (especially when I’m carrying without a belt) to retention and possible injury when participating in daily activities, all based around holster choice and carry location. It’s a lot to consider, and it takes time, training, and practice to realize what will and won’t work, and what is and isn’t the best for you. There are downsides to any carry style, but understanding the downsides to your choices is an important step in avoiding accidents through precautions, proper training, and proper practice.

I still haven’t found the holster I want, but hey, at least I got a blog post out of it.

Editorial Speculation: Who will buy the K6s?

I’m not a revolver person, so when the new K6s came out I looked at it and said, “Yay! Another pretty Kimber but this one’s round and jolly!” and then that was about it because I saw the Nighthawk Hi Power and got REALLY distracted.

Then I started thinking: who is going to buy a revolver the size of an SP101 that holds six rounds instead of five? There has been some behind-the-scenes speculation that the near-$1,000 price tag revolver won’t sell. I must respectfully disagree with these speculations. While I don’t foresee the gun flying off the shelves like the Glock 43, there’s a definite niche for the K6s.

Outside of the hardcore revolver guys who are sitting with steepled hands muttering, “Yes! Yes! Six-round j-frame-sized revolver!” I am willing to bet there is a portion of the concealed carry market that is going to be excited about that extra round. I don’t necessarily think these are the most experienced shooters, but there are definitely some enthusiasts who will let that extra round and/or the Kimber name tip their buying hand.Kimber-K6s-revolver

The kind of people who buy Kimbers are totally the kind of people who will spend for a $899-MSRP revolver either for themselves or for their significant others. I can see the scenario in my head of a dedicated Kimber enthusiast taking his wife to the range and pushing the K6s on her for that one extra round and then her wanting it because “it’s so pretty.” (It is very very pretty.) I am also convinced that revolver shoppers with a little larger pockets will be more than willing to pay for that extra round and the sleek design.

Concealed carry is where the market is focused right now, and with polymer-framed single-stacks dominating the semi-automatic market, it actually makes perfect sense that Kimber would tailor its newest carry gun toward the more classically-inclined revolver crowd.

Women and Concealed Carry: Solved

Carrying a gun is difficult. You have to do things like train with it, and put it on every day.

Actually, let me rephrase: carrying a gun properly is difficult.

Actually, let me rephrase: carrying a gun properly requires a modicum of work and people don’t like work.

shelley rae 870 fde

I carry a gun. I get up in the morning, I put on jeans and a tank top (yes, I often still wear tank tops in winter in South Dakota) and I put on my gun. If I’m wearing an outfit that doesn’t accommodate my appendix carry holster (I wear tank tops in the winter because I rock sundresses all summer) I use other forms of self-defense, like a knife or pepper spray.

I go to the range (on my days off, paying full price, thank you very much) a minimum of once a week and shoot my gun.

Boom. Concealed carry solved.

Instead, firearms trainers and marketers and shoppers have turned “concealed carry for women” into this whole convoluted thing where we can’t just pick out a gun and a holster that work for us and then go about our lives, so instead of TRAINING women obsess about “oh I have hips and boobs and my hands are whatever and I need something special” when really they just need to get a gun and a holster that work for them and then train and then put it on every day. Or not, and then have back ups, and then oh yeah train because that’s really what’s important.

We are conditioned from an early age that guns are manly and scary, then we get stuck in some class with a bunch of other women and we are told that because we are women we have all these special considerations and so we enter the world of firearms thinking that somehow having internal genetalia makes us carrying a gun COMPLICATED and we need all these special bullshit guns and products to compensate for the fact we can lactate when really we just need to find a gun we like and a holster we like and train just like everyone else.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t market to women or continue to develop products for them, I’m saying we need to stop making this more complicated than it needs to be. I, for one, overthink everything in life plenty enough without some dude standing over my shoulder asking if I can rack the slide on a 1911 and telling me about this awesome .380 that will FIT MY CURVES and the TOTALLY FASHIONABLE holster purse that he must’ve seen in GQ or something since he’s SO FASHIONABLE. I also don’t need some woman telling me that because I have a butt I need a special fricken holster as if no guy on the planet has ever done squats before.

Get a gun. Get a holster. Take a class. Wear your gun.

Problem. Solved.

Publishing in the Firearms Industry is Fundamentally Broken: A (Comedic?) Tragedy

I have recently jokingly begun to refer to myself as the tragic embodiment of the downfall of the print industry. That’s not (entirely) true of course, but it makes me laugh. Now that I’ve found a new home and a new family at Badlands Pawn I have been able to detach myself from the publishing world I have been engaged in and fueling for the past years. I have a few observations from my time steeped in this truly unique working environment: there are a lot of AMAZING people behind the scenes of your favorite blogs and magazines, there are a couple terrible ones, and the whole entire thing is a broken mess and it’s really not their fault.

Making money in the publishing industry is a difficult, daily uphill battle. What GunUp almost was and frankly should have been was a true anomaly in this day and age. Even the big companies are coming out with more and more print titles – essentially throwing spaghetti at the wall – in an effort to regain and retain consumer’s attention in a rapidly changing demographic of firearms owners and an infinitely adaptable digital world. With this understanding, there are a few behind-the-scenes practices I feel you, as readers, should understand that I hope will not only help you understand why a majority of the reviews you read are essentially useless and what we have been trying to do here at Gun Nuts to be as functionally independent as possible.

What I want to unpack is how different large firearms manufacturers deal with the press. I’m not going to name any names, because some manufacturers already get my verbal endorsement on a daily basis and others I do everything I can to steer people away from, even ones whose products don’t totally (totally) suck, simply because you shouldn’t be allowed to be a whiny little jerk toward ad sales people and get editorial reviews pulled and words changed around because your feelings were hurt.

My first example of the brokenness of firearms publishing comes from an experience with one of my favorite manufacturers. They are not very open with the press, but invited a select group out to see one of their longest-awaited releases early and opened their doors to their US factory. We were thrilled, signed NDAs with relish, and lined up to get a first look at the new product. We had a very specific release date, and I guarded the knowledge carefully.

It was leaked. Not by anyone in the editorial world, but by someone out of the shipping house of one of our at-the-time competitors.

If it was just the shipping house, why am I even bringing it up? Because it’s a problem. It should NEVER have happened and now that manufacturer will be hard pressed to open their doors even to a select group of press again.

So how do we stop it? I’ll be honest, I don’t know, I’ve never run a shipping house, but maybe ask Vanity Fair. You see, I don’t care how you feel about the Caitlyn Jenner story, but one of the most sought after stories of 2015 (love it or hate it you know it’s true) was kept safe until its release date, yet our industry gets a leak out of a shipping house? This is a mild, mild example of where we’re… They’re… Going wrong.

Then there’s the example of manufacturer number two who I have – at times markedly – avoided mentioning throughout much of my writing career. This is where you, dear readers, must understand what is really really going on behind the scenes. You see, once someone I know quite well suggested that another gun was a better tool for one job than this manufacturer’s, so naturally they’re out for blood. So much so that when another manufacturer’s firearm was called “laughably bad” (it is, you can’t fire me anymore publishing industry, I can enjoy my machine guns and probable alcohol problem in peace now) they called THE PERSON HANDLING THEIR ADS and had the phrase pulled.

You read that right. Welcome to firearms publishing, where ad sales managers like to call all the shots.

Could you imagine if Chrysler pulled advertising from Jalopnik for slighting their interior?! (Bad example, Chrysler has nice interiors, but you get my point.) What if Apple stopped talking to Tech Crunch because they ran a story about the bending iPhones? The thought is nearly laughable.

Money talks. Money will always talk. But when ad sales “professionals” and company marketers are calling editorial shots there’s a problem, a real problem. Ire is oft raised toward editors and writers, but it’s not their fault every single review you read is positive – they WANT to bring you the truth. What’s really broken is hidden behind the scenes, and can really only be fixed there.

Which brings me back around full circle: welcome to Gun Nuts. Yes, Caleb’s run a Kickstarter to go independent, yes, we are talking to some of our very favorite companies whose products we trust about sponsorship, because we want to get away from this, we want to bring you the truth. Readers who are familiar with us know we have always tried, and being in a position where we are hindered makes us uncomfortable. So bear with us, and maybe call for some behind-the-scenes change from the rest of the industry, because you deserve to know what’s crap (a lot of it is) and what’s not (I probably carry it).

Editor’s note: as of December, the kickstarter campaign has been cancelled, and refunds are being issued to donors

Stock Gun Photo Fails

Stock photos: The 4chan of the photographic world. Of course, if one plugs the word “firearm” into any stock photo site hilarity is sure to follow. I had to make sure other people suffered with me after browsing through one such site the other day, thus I am subjecting you to the below photos.

Hornady Zombie 3-Gun Pandemic 2015

The Hornady Zombie 3-Gun Pandemic match is not one to miss, I don’t care how experienced you are at shooting. It’s a perfect set up for amateurs and a FUN set up for pros. Explosive targets, full auto, soda can gun… Have I convinced you yet? What about a costume contest? Will that help?

One of the coolest parts of this match for me personally was being able to bring some of my friends who have never seen a shooting match before out. It was great for them from a spectator standpoint because of the reactionary targets, the obvious theme, and the sheer mild insanity of the whole thing (that’s how you know I like something, when I mention it’s a little insane).

They had some cool sponsor booths set up spectators could participate in as well. From zombie face painting (XS Sight Sytems) to throwing knives (Cabelas) to shooting an exploding target with a suppressed shotgun (SonicBoom).

The stages included a wobbling bridge, more exploding targets, a gun that shot soda cans at a plate rack, a close-range forest scenario, a graveyard (complete with funny headstones, of course), a gutted helicopter… You get the idea.

Each stage comes with its own scenario, of course, these are zombies we’re fighting. For example: “Back at basecamp, you heard rumors of an old communications center. A chance to communicating with other survivors is worth the risk, so you set out to find this communication center. Your journey is successful and you soon stumble on the site. The array looks damaged, but you forge ahead to see if you can get a message out and hopefully find out that you and your group are not alone. You see zombies moving about but they have never stopped you before and today will be no different. Use your shotgun and pistol to clear a path and let other survivors know they are not alone! ”

All in all, it was a silly, fun, good time, that will certainly displease any srs gunfighters who like to complain about how matches don’t teach you any skills for the real world.

Be sure to check out the full write up in the next issue of GunUp the Magazine. Until then, here’s some photos:

Photos from Bianchi Cup 2015

Bianchi Cup 2015: Anita Mackiewicz

I was chided the other day for not mentioning Anita Mackiewicz in my post. The truth is, I knew she was doing well, I didn’t realize how well she was doing. Anita did a lot more than take home the Ladies’ Championship at this year’s Bianchi Cup. In my mind, she’s changed how women at the Bianchi Cup need to approach winning, because one of these years, one of the upcoming years, they’re going to start cleaning it – and then next thing you know the Ladies’ Championship and the Overall Championship won’t be so different. That’s what I want to see.

I’m all excited about this because Anita posted a score of 1916. Out of 1920. 1916-166X. She came in 7th overall. That’s tremendous, it’s exciting. We were all rooting hard for her to clean the match, but there’s always next year. No pressure, right? (Sorry, Anita.)

To put it in perspective, second place Ladies’ Champion and former Junior Champion Tiffany Piper shot an 1899, coming in 34th overall. Third place Ladies’ Championship and multiple-time Ladies Champion Jessie Duff shot a 1897 and came in 37th overall.

2015 Bianchi Cup: Day 2

Yesterday was better – a lot better. The sun was shining, it was absolutely beautiful out. And I made all my shooting times. And there were definitely holes in all my targets. It was a good day.

Rob Leatham shoots the Barricade stage at the 2015 Bianchi Cup.

In the Production race, Rob Leatham cleaned up on the Barricade, while Enoch Smith and Dave Sevigny both dropped points. If Rob can clean the plates today, the Production championship will be his, but we’ve seen Rob Leatham drop plates in the past, so the match isn’t over yet.

In the Women’s race, Jessie Duff shot a flawless Barricade, Tiffany Piper only dropped a couple 8s while Maggie Reese shot some 5s. Maggie will have to clean the Practical today to get back in the running, while Tiffany and Jessie battle it out on the Mover. Vera Koo is also shooting well this year, I’ll be keeping an eye on her today as well.

Tim Yackley appears to be leading the Junior shooters just ahead of Colton Cerino. Louis Surgi had some major points down early in the match (to be honest, I don’t remember what happened, I believe it was a gun malfunction) and is essentially out of the running.

Bruce Piatt had some extreme gun problems early in the match, so Doug Koenig and Kevin Angstadt are battling over Xs. Right now, my money is on Doug, but in this game you never know what’s going to happen.

Bianchi Cup 2015: Day 1

There’s really only one word for Day 1 of Bianchi Cup 2015: Miserable. I love this match, but sometimes Missouri is downright cruel. It was cold and rainy yesterday – Columbia saw a high of only 55 degrees. When you come out to this match expecting sunshine, being faced with pouring rain and 50-degree weather is a little disheartening. Of course, that may just be me, I had an impressively bad day. I got lost on the way to the range, missed my shooting time, and shot my worst Plates score on record, hitting only 17 plates. The rain also made it difficult to get good photos, Becky Yackley and I were both struggling with focus and lens issues throughout the day. Fortunately, Michael Voigt spared me some hand warmers, and that was the best part of my day. (Okay, it got better in the evening when I left the range).

That’s not true for everyone though – Dave Sevigny and Maggie Reese were among the shooters I spoke to who were feeling incredibly positive after the first day of the match. Maggie cleaned the Plates and then, after last year’s devastating time-out, dropped only one eight on the Mover for a score of 478, putting her in an excellent standing in the Women’s championship. Dave only dropped 8 points on the Practical, leaving him feeling positive about the Production match. There could be some interesting upsets this year, and I’m excited to keep following the progress. I haven’t seen scores yet, but I’ll look for them at the range today and keep you all posted.

Until then, some photos: