Kydex holsters and leather holsters are my preferences for my handguns. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. For outside-the-waistband carry (OWB) at the range, around home, for competition and for concealed carry, I use both leather and kydex holsters. For competition, in particular, I prefer Kydex holsters. They seem to draw more smoothly and faster for me and fit very close to the body, are compact and some are firmly canted forward slightly by design for easier draws and reholsters, and many are very durable. Also, I find the rigid mouth of most kydex holsters to easily and speedily allow re-holstering without using both hands and without the need to look down at the holster. So my need is not for a duty holster with high retention levels. I even prefer reinforced mouths for my leather holsters, since I hate it when the mouth of my holster collapses when I am attempting to quickly reholster my gun. Most kydex holsters seem to retain the firearm very well and snugly hold it in place by their design, without added retention devices like internal and external locking devices, retaining straps or snaps, loops, hoods, or thumb breaks for my purposes. Kydex isn’t without its own drawbacks as I have noticed that some of my handguns do show a little sign of abrasion and wear, but since I use multiple holsters it is difficult to directly associate that with a particular holster. So what do you look for in a good kydex holster for your purpose and which one do you choose? As you probably know, there are hundreds of kydex manufacturers out there and more are regularly cropping up. Several seem to be small “mom and pop” type manufacturers, which does not definitively mean superior or inferior holsters. What follows is my review of another kydex holster from a small manufacturer to help you make your decision, in addition to other holsters I have reviewed for this site.
Here are my criteria, process, and recommendation about The Paratus (kydex) Holster made by 1441 Gear. I certainly do not have all the answers for holsters and what works for me may not work for you. Selecting a holster is a very personal thing and there are a lot of individual preferences and factors that are involved. So, I hope this helps you with your personal decision, according to your needs, desired features, factors and priorities.
Here are my criteria and considerations for selecting any holster. I will compare the Paratus holster to each criterion using a 10-point scale to evaluate each one. For each factor, a “10” rating is the best, a “0” the worst, and a “5” a mid-level rating. I’m trying to be as objective and rational as possible, realizing we all have different goals, needs, priorities, and preferences. You probably have your own factors and that is fine. Also, we each will usually weigh each factor more or less than another because this is a very personal evaluation and selection process. Here are my 10 Criteria for Selecting a Holster, not in any order:
- QUALITY MADE & SERVICE: What is the material used and is the holster constructed with quality? Is the kydex of premium quality and thickness? Is the stitching strong and does the overall construction seem durable. Will it stand up to your particular demands, wear and tear, and is it appropriate for your use without impairing performance and mechanical function? Are the rivets, clips, grommets, snaps, buckles, rings, magnets and/or metal parts strong, rustproof, and quality made? Is it an established, reputable company that meets promised delivery times and your expectations? What type of warranty or guarantee does it have? Consider the holster’s weight and bulk and any special features (like distance between belt loops, stability features, and intrinsic and desired cant.) Is a discount offered if this article or review is referenced? If so, what % discount is offered?
- ALL DAY COMFORT: How comfortable is this holster style during each of the different physical positions; walking, bending, sitting, standing, and twisting? Can you wear it while driving? Can you wear it for the entire day comfortably and not even know that you are wearing it?
- PERFORMANCE/CONCEALMENT: Does the holster perform as required for its effective purpose/use? (This holster will be used for range and competition.) How well does the holster ride during body motions, like walking, bending, sitting, standing, twisting, reaching, etc.? Imagine wearing the holster during these different movements or your purpose. Is there an adjustment for the holster, to provide better fit?
- ADAPTABILITY & FIT: Can this holster be used for different handguns… or with a Laser sight or light? How versatile is it? The safety features of a holster require that the holster be engineered and designed for each specific manufacture and specific model of handgun. Does this holster do that and is it adaptable to other similar-sized guns? Are there modifications available, options, or additions that adapt to other handguns? What are the approximate costs of these adaptations, if any? Is the shooter’s gun(s) properly fitted for this holster? Does the handgun insert so deep in the holster that the gun grips cannot be properly accessed? Does the gun jam so tight into the holster that it takes two hands to draw it or can you draw the gun easily with one hand?
- PRICE: What is its total price relative to existing competitors now? Do you get any special features, options, warranties, guarantees, repair service, or additions that are worth something? Can you return it without any questions and within what time period? Will they repair or replace it for free? Do you get what you pay for?
- SAFETY: Does the holster secure the gun in place well? How well does the holster provide protection to the handgun during insertion into or removal from the holster or while being carried that will:
- prevent accidental trigger movement;
- prevent accidental disengagement of the safety mechanism;
- prevent forward or rearward movement of the hammer?
- EASE OF REHOLSTERING & ACCESS: Can you reach your handgun quickly in an emergency or while sitting in your vehicle? A rigid holster and/or a reinforced mouth will allow a handgun to be returned to it using only one hand, while a flexible one may collapse after the gun is drawn, requiring the use of both hands to reholster. How easy is it to access your weapon and use the holster while walking, bending, sitting, standing, twisting, etc.?
- EASE OF PUTTING ON & TAKING OFF: Can you simply and easily put the holster on and take it off. Consider if you will be putting this holster on and taking it off throughout the day and under what conditions. Must it be removed for taking care of personal needs in public restrooms? If so, can you do it safely and easily? Are the belt loops sufficiently large to easily slide the holster onto your usual belt?
- ACCOMMODATIONS: Can you wear both open or closed cover garments with the holster? Can you effectively use the holster while wearing shorts, capris, sweatpants, or clothing without a belt, as applicable? Do you have to wear special clothing or make accommodations in dress or draw when wearing and using this holster? Is a cover vest or larger trousers required to hide the holster and handgun?
- RETENTION: Does the holster retain the handgun adequately? Is the holster snug when fitted on a gun belt for a consistent and fast draw and to reduce draw resistance. Is the gun secure and safe in the holster? A holster designed with solid and proper retention will help prevent a gun from being removed from the holster by another.
My Evaluation of the 1441 Gear Paratus Kydex Holster
To simplify, I will list my 10 Criteria and then beside each factor give my rating and brief comments. My final buy or not buy Recommendation will then be given at the end. Remember, just my opinions. Here we go.
- QUALITY MADE & SERVICE: 9
This holster is made of very good, strong and thick .08″ kydex. It has just the appropriate amount of thickness for strength and durability. It is a well-made holster that is reasonably-priced for about $55 and 1441 Gear promises a shipping time of about 2 weeks for a custom holster to fit most guns. This is a relatively new, smaller manufacturer building their business and they seem anxious to meet your needs. Note: call them to make certain they have the custom gun model and setup for your specific gun to make your particular holster or if they must order it. If not available, this can add to production and shipping time. I requested an H&K P30 Paratus Patriot holster with Air Force concho, but the model and setup were not immediately available, so it took a few weeks to receive it. When I received it, a “Don’t Tread on Me” concho was substituted for the Air Force concho. The owner did tell me, however, that they had some machinery problems. The holster’s finish was hard, durable and at least for my short wear time did not get scratched or show wear for repeated draws and reholstering. I believe that this holster will stand up to constant wear pretty good. Chuck, the owner of 1441 Gear, promises a nice warranty with “free replacement for one full year if the holster fails in any way” and after the one full year, “replacement of any parts that fail.” In addition, Chuck told me for those that read this article he would give a “15% discount for any website order placed until the end of May, 2015,” if you enter the coupon code “usacarry” on his website.
- ALL DAY COMFORT: 10
I wore it regularly for 6 days during my everyday routine activities. I honestly did not know it was there after just a few hours because it was so lightweight and comfortable. It seemed secure enough when I regularly drew my handgun from the holster and re-holstered it. The natural built-in forward FBI-type cant on my belt and the smoothness of the holster helped me to do both easily with one hand without looking and without wobble. The holster for my M&P 9C was small and very light by design which allowed it to ride smoothly with my motions or change in body position. I found it to be very satisfactory when bending over, walking, sitting, crawling under things, lifting, and exercising and my gun did not fall out.
- CONCEALMENT: 9
This holster fit my handgun well after just a few hours and helped to make a small footprint for concealing it. Surprisingly, the same holster worked for both my M&P 9C and my Glock 19 handguns when I wore it. Both fit the holster, but I did notice minor differences in tightness of fit. When I wore the holster with a closed cover garment it rode very close to my body and did not print. Using the holster while wearing my untucked campshirt or guayabera shirt, my gun was very difficult to detect.
- ADAPTABILITY & FIT: 9
The kydex holster is very adaptable and several options are available for many different handguns. The company offers single and double-magazine pouches to match the various holsters. The website shows a wide variety of holster and pouch color choices are available, e.g. many solid colors (brown, black, green, orange), carbon fiber black with added military medallion, and some digital camos, etc. Chuck the owner said he did not have any of the camo & other exotic materials in stock when we talked. Again, probably best to call him for the specific feature and gun you want to ensure availability and fit. It is nice that one holster can fit 2 similar-sized guns, like the one I tried fit both my M&P 9C and my Glock 19. I like that versatility and flexibility. Of course, the 4″ barrel length of the Glock 19 fit to the end of the holster, while the M&P 9C’s 3.5″ barrel was short inside the bottom of the holster, but workable.
- PRICE: 8
Do you really get what you pay for? The price of about $55 for the Paratus OWB holster is reasonable, compared to competing models. With the 1441 Gear 15% discount, which is a reduction of about $8. off the website price for the Paratus, the price would be a respectful $47. I discovered from established manufacturers very nice Comp-Tac holsters and Raven Phantom Modulars for about $75; Blade Tech OWB Kydex for $60; and several others for around $55-$60. Personal preference for your purpose and desired features. Delivery times varied quite a bit, so that may be a consideration for you. I suggest you call them to ensure model availability, shipping time, features, and price. 1441 Gear also makes IWB and Concealment Clip holsters for about $50.
- SAFETY: 9
This holster provided more than adequate safety protection for the handgun and nearby people when presenting/drawing and removing the gun into and out of the holster. This holster was designed with proper retention properties to allow you to grasp the gun sufficiently for safety. I was able to keep my trigger finger straight along the outside of the holster easily and to grip the gun quickly and correctly to prevent negligent discharges, accidental trigger movement, and without accidental disengagement of the manual safety or hammer. Using the same holster for two different guns, I did notice some difference in the retention levels.
- EASE OF REHOLSTERING & ACCESS: 9
It was easy to reach and draw my handgun quickly and to re-holster it without looking or using two-hands after just a short practice time, even though I had not used this holster before. There should not be a presentation problem in an emergency or even when sitting in an automobile. The mouth of the kydex holster was sufficiently rigid for reholstering. Students that tried it did not have problems drawing or reholstering with it.
- EASE OF PUTTING ON & TAKING OFF: 10
This was very easy to do with my strong gun belt. Putting it on and off under stress is also probably very easy to do quickly. The solid, well-made, sufficiently-sized, and securely-attached belt loops helped.
- ACCOMMODATIONS: 10
You can wear both open and closed cover garments with this holster and not have a concealment or operational problem? There is no design problem that would prevent using any type of coat, shirt, sweater, zippered jacket, or any garment with this holster. No special clothing or extra accommodations in dress or draw needed when using this holster?
- RETENTION: 9
The holster did retain my handgun adequately? The design allowed it to ride very close to my body and helped retention and will certainly help prevent a possible gun grab. My handguns never fell out of the holster, nor even came close to doing so. I felt my gun was stable and secure. Both the Glock 19 and M&P 9C fit in the same Paratus holster, with the M&P 9C being a little looser fit.
Total Points: 92 points out of 100 possible = 92% = Recommended.
I hope my process, this analysis, and review help you to identify your criteria and evaluate your individual factors to select the best holster for YOUR purpose, needs and priorities. I suggest you call the manufacturer to ensure availability, delivery time, and proper fit and features for your specific handgun.
Photos by author.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice, your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. You alone bear responsibility for making decisions about your shooting gear and accessories for your purpose. This information should not be relied upon as appropriate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2015 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.