A week or two before Halloween, I took a day trip down to Portland and caught a tour of the back room from Shelley Brown at Ted Blocker Holsters
. Shelley and her husband Don have owned the company for around 10 years. Getting to see the back room was really awesome, and the article I wrote about that -- and how holsters are made -- will be in an upcoming issue of Concealed Carry Magazine.
Anyway, that day I ordered myself a holster set: holster, belt, and mag pouch. What I wanted was a heavily-modified "LFI Rig," which consists of a stiff belt with a Velcro lining, and a tuckable holster which can thus be adjusted to ride at any location or any angle on the belt. Much more flexible than a typical holster, and that flexibility is important to me because, well, I get seriously annoyed
when my holster won't let me change the brand of my jeans from one day to the next!
Since I have an hourglass-type figure, I knew I'd be much more comfortable with a "contour-cut" belt. A standard belt, if you lay it flat on the table in front of you, runs in a straight line from left to right. A contour cut belt instead makes a gentle U shape (not extreme, just mild) when laid out flat. This means that when curled around the waist, the belt will flare out at the bottom just slightly to accomodate the hips. For a woman with pronounced curves, the comfort difference between a contour cut belt and a standard belt really has to be experienced to be believed (and whenever I encounter a woman who "just can't wear belts!", I know there's a very strong
chance that she's never tried a contour cut belt).
Problem: contour cut belts can't receive the full Velcro lining I really wanted. Velcro, you see, comes in straight strips and thus there's no way to place it on a curved belt. So what to do? Shelley and I talked about it and discussed options. We settled on a special belt design for me which would have a short Velcro panel centered over the area where I typically carry the gun. This would allow me to have both the Velcro attachment (for concealability and minor angle ajustments) and
the contour cut belt I really needed, but I sacrificed the extreme flexibility of positioning the gun absolutely anywhere on my waist. Instead I can position it within my standard area to any cant or depth that I wish -- far more flexible than any holster I've had before, and worth the trade off to me.
Other details: The belt would be double thickness to allow the Velcro panel to be completely finished and invisible. There were other ways to accomplish the same goal, but this one sounded best to me. I chose a dark brown color for the set, a practical consideration. It's not quite black, but it's very dark and will be resistant to marks and scars.
The LFI holster is available in two basic configurations: an older style, with the belt tab positioned directly over of the gun, and a newer style, with the belt tab positioned to one side of the gun. The old style tends to be slightly bulkier and the new style tends to suck the gun into the body just a little bit better. However, the new style takes up a little more space on the waist -- space that I, with my preferred appendix-style carry method, did not really want to spare. I opted for the old style.
My little Glock 26 has one modification that can make holster hunting difficult: it has an installed
Crimson Trace laser, the old, built in style which protrudes from the front of the trigger guard and affects holster fit. Shelley nodded at this, said, "We can cope with that," and called one of her guys in from the back. With the gun carefully unloaded (checked and double checked), the employee made several measurements before tracing the outline of the entire gun onto a piece of paper. And that was it. I was a little dubious, but was willing to trust.
So I ordered my new holster set in mid-October, then did my best to put it out of my mind. I've ordered holsters with "just 4 to 6 week" wait before, and figured I wouldn't see it before spring.
Today, when I went down to the post office, guess what was there!!
I'm soooo thrilled with this set. The belt went on immediately when I got home. It's a thick, stiff belt and yet when I pulled it on, I immediately forgot I was wearing it -- it was truly that comfortable. The holster fits the gun perfectly, just a little snug as new leather should always be. There's not a stitch out of place and the whole set positively reeks of quality. I'm very, very pleased.