Holsters by Tuff Products and AKJ Concealco
Aaron L. Brudenell
The number of states within the US that do not provide some form of non-discretionary (i.e.-“shall issue”) license or permit to carry a firearm is a distinct minority (perhaps 1 in 5) and depending on who you are or where you live within those, you may still be able to lawfully carry a personal firearm for self defense. With this increasing national popularity (and legality) of concealed firearm carry, the pocket holster business has become a prolific industry.
Tuff Products has added to the diversity of these options with the “Pock-A-Roo Holster Combo” that combines a non-rigid pocket holster with an additional pocket for a spare magazine or one of their own 5-round Quick Strips for a .38 revolver. (The strip is included!). The addition of the 5 round Quick Strip is a nice bonus to an otherwise useful holster when one considers the goal of a pocket gun is to strike the ultimate balance between what you would like to carry and what you need.
Like other similar soft pocket holsters on the market, the holster has an outer surface with more friction than the inside so that drawing the gun will be unlikely to drag the holster with it allowing for a clean and fast presentation of the handgun. The position of the top seam is well chosen to cover the majority of an exposed hammer but does not require a hammerless or bobbed design for a successful draw. The magazine pocket is angled in such a way that it does not overly enlarge the footprint of the holster within the pocket by making as much use of available space below the trigger guard as practical. This design has the added bonus of limiting the extent to which the shape, as seen from the outside, looks like a firearm, thus, enhancing concealability.
In practice, the extent to which this type of holster and a particular firearm will be noticeable through clothing may have more to do with the clothing chosen than any single factor but even when positioned to print against the outside of the pocket, this holster with a 5 shot .38 revolver mostly revealed the seam margins of the top and bottom which are not an obvious firearm shape. An additional advantage of the soft holster material is that the spare ammunition pocket can be folded to either side if that shape better fits the interior of the pocket or some other storage need. This can be done with or without extra ammunition in the pocket and that will determine how much additional thickness is produced. All in all it’s a well-designed and versatile pocket holster for small revolvers and pistols alike. The price is very reasonable, too!
Here is a view from the top of Tuff’s Pock-A-Roo holster for small automatics. Note the magazine at the rear of the holster. Tuff doesn’t include extra magazines with their holsters but do provide a 5-round 38/357 Quick Strip for those buying the revolver version.
Tuff products; http://www.tuffproducts.com/home.php
For a more traditional holster that still meets the needs of the concealed handgun carrier, AKJ Concealco has been making them for some time now and the designs have stood the test of use and time without much need for change. I bought my first one over 10 years ago for a 3” K-frame revolver and have yet to find a better rig for that gun! Their standard IWB holster design is classically styled and highly functional made from good quality leather that is attractive and comfortable but rigid and sturdy enough to withstand serious use.
The basic design is a single piece of leather molded to the exterior of the particular gun design and joined at the rear to allow an area for multiple positions of the rear belt loop—multiple positions will allow the angle (cant) of the holster to be adjusted for the user. A small additional piece of leather reinforcement stitched to the front of the holster keeps it open for re-holstering and allows for the second belt loop position to be securely anchored. The top is flared slightly to improve sightless re-holstering and the lines are minimized to allow access to all of the gun’s controls including the magazine release for “administrative” reloading (i.e.-removing the magazine without drawing the pistol). All designs cover the trigger guard so they should be acceptable for any police agency, shooting class or competition that requires such for safety.
AKJ Concealco offers more traditional leather holsters but with very well thought-out features.
The heart of what makes this design unique is the double belt loop system. I’ve used other holsters that are similar and only have the rear belt loop position. These can work well enough but I find them less stable than a rig that’s appropriately anchored down in two places (those who disagree are free to use any AKJ Concealco holster without the front belt loop as it is removable). Other IWB designs with two loops are generally much bigger because they need some additional material forward of the gun to mount the front loop assembly. Early AKJ designs had a tiny angle piece to accomplish this but it was unnecessary since the natural contour of the beltline makes the forward belt loop position fully functional and quite natural if the gun is worn just behind the midline on the strong side.
The holster can be made in a variety of colors and a number of features are also available that include a thumb break, sweat shield, adjustable retention, or in the case of my first revolver holster, reversed leather so that the smooth side is contacting the gun and the rough side is out. This last option I chose initially because the rough exterior shows abrasion less and the smooth interior makes for a slicker draw and re-holster. As it turns out, both concerns were unnecessary as traditionally built AKJ holsters do quite well in both categories! Another advantage of going with AKJ Concealco is the diverse and nearly eclectic list of guns available for molding. Even odd stuff like an early CZ75 with the rounded trigger guard, a Steyr model M or S, or an HK P7 are all guns that can be expertly molded for without ever having to ship your own handgun! I had a pair of identical holsters made to accommodate the slight dimensional differences between a pair of 9mm and .40 S&W Browning Hi-Power pistols, a distinction often not made by other leather makers.
Holsters from this company are offered with and without sweat shields.
Leather of this quality design and manufacture is rarely what I would call affordable, however, in this case I’m pleased to say that it most definitely is within the reach of the ordinary consumer’s budget. While some of the extra features listed above can tend to add cost, their greatest downside is that they will add delay to the order. These holsters are not mass produced so do not expect to phone in your order on a Monday and have it by the weekend. The good news is that if you choose from the options available under the “Ready Line” of holsters, you should have your item(s) within a few weeks. Ready line holsters are of the IWBA variety which means they are ambidextrous and reversible as needed—one more distinct advantage to the overall design.
In addition to holsters, other items such as light and magazine carriers are available. The added costs are very reasonable and the design and quality of these items are equal to the holsters they complement. What’s more, they are aesthetically pleasing to the eye as well!
AKJ Concealco: http://www.greatholsters.com/ http://www.concealco.com/