I got my hands on a StealthGear USA ONYX hybrid holster for a look. Out of the box this unit is ready to go to work. They custom fitted it to my Ruger SR9c with a Crimson Trace laser attached. There were a few things I noticed about this holster right away that made it different from all the others. It was made for hot climates. It certainly gives you an option that you may not have had before with plain leather holsters.
So, first off, the backing material is not leather. In fact there are two visible layers. A black nylon on the outer surface they call “Rhinomesh”, and a red mesh they call “Ventmesh” that resembles the stuff you might see on a backpack pad on the inner surface. According to StealthGear, the materials are non-moisture absorbing. For those of you who have ever used a leather holster, you know that on a hot day the leather can become damp and retain body sweat. I don’t know about you, but those also make me a bit uncomfortable. So much so, that in really hot and humid climates, I start thinking about carrying a different gun, or not carrying at all just to avoid the discomfort.
In between those layers are two types of closed cell foam and a polyester reinforced flexible support platform. If you spend a moment looking at the construction of the holster, you can clearly see that there are ventilation holes through the inner foam. However, those holes don’t exist where the weapon rests. This prevents the gun from getting affected by moisture. The vents in the inner layers are diamond cut by a laser. StealthGear tells me that each holster is prepared for the type of gun it is to carry, the backings are not a one-size-fits-all. They are cut to make sure these ventilation holes are in the right position for each make and model of gun they sell holsters for. This process takes a little more time and effort as compared to simply using a slab of leather. It’s a bit more of a scientific approach with more modern materials. That means you can’t simply by another scabbard for a different gun you may have. You’d need to buy a whole new rig which are roughly $99 before shipping.
The scabbard is made from Kydex and is attached by small anchored hex head fasteners. The nice thing about these is that they are user adjustable. If you want the Kydex scabbard to hold a little more firmly, you simply screw in the fasteners a little more. They are mounted on the Rhinomesh with small plastic spacers and rubber grommets. The rubber grommets allow the fasteners to cinch down a little more to provide a better grip on your gun. These same fasteners are used on the belt clips. They are also adjustable. Each end of the holster has three pre-drilled positions. The belt clips can be located in any of the three to adjust both the ride height and tilt of the gun. This makes it easy to customize for your preferred carry position.
One of the areas where this holster is a standout is in hot climates for obvious reasons. The ventilation is superb as is the protection of your gun from all that you exude. The Rhinomesh shell is pretty good, too, at retaining its form and coloration, even after repeated draws of the gun. Further, it did not affect my Ruger at all. There were no visible wear marks on it from drawing the gun from the holster.
The holster took virtually no break in time. Out of the box it was flexible enough to use. I had no issues with it not fitting. I typically carry with the 3 o’clock position. It fit well there; I also used it from time to time in the 5 o’clock position. In both instances the backing was flexible enough fit well and support the gun.
I spent a good deal of time drawing and re-holstering my Ruger. Re-holstering isn’t all that easy. I could get it back in 100% of the time using only one hand, but it took a fair amount of nosing the gun around to get it back in. Keep your finger off the trigger! However, in my opinion, that should be the least of your concerns when considering a holster for carry.
The Kydex scabbard does a great job at securing what your packing. At no time did it ever creep out, nor did I ever feel it loosen up. No matter what I was doing, the gun was secured in the shell. It won’t pass any upside down tests, but when was the last time you stood on your head to take a shot. For that matter, when was the last time you stood on your head? I suppose tightening the fasteners would solve this problem, too (I don’t really view it as a problem at all). When sitting in a chair or in the car the gun never slipped out of the scabbard.
One issue I ran into was the piping used to secure the front and back layers together. StealthGear says that it’s made of acrylic. I found it to be a bit chaffing. It never left any marks on me, but I would notice it after a couple hours of use. Now, I’m 6 foot and about 235 (okay, maybe a little more after a good meal), which means I may be carrying more around the middle than I’d like to admit. I’m sure if I lost a few pounds this would be less of an issue for me. My wife has now decided that I have to start eating healthier and lose a few pounds as of this writing. So, there’s that. I guess it’s finally time to start using the numerous hiking trails here in Colorado.
Overall, I would recommend the holster for those of you that want a well-built holster that is easy to use and ready to go right out of the box. This holster seems to have the market cornered for active folks and for people who live in hot and/or humid climates. I haven’t seen any other holsters that address that situation. Like all things, this is the product of evolving and improving technology.
You can learn more and buy the Stealth Gear Onyx at their website here.