One of the problems with daily concealed carry, for those of us who aren’t able to carry openly all day, is actual concealability. If you work in an office, especially, you can’t even easily plan your attire for covering up a gun on the waistband. So, what do you do?
Choices to be Made
Most people who carry in difficult environments trade down to a pocket .380 or 9mm, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, when making these tradeoffs, the loss in performance and capacity is not always easy to justify or welcomed. Those of us who choose to stay with the platform that we shoot regularly and well, likely a full-frame auto like a Glock 17 or 19, 1911, or similar, look to more specialized concealed carry options for these times. Inside the Waistband Holsters, or “IWBs” as they’re called, offer a great deal of concealability for larger autos while maintaining a comfortable ride, and offering options to allow for carry even in common business attire.
Two main options exist for IWB platforms: Kydex, and Leather. The long-time standby, the Milt Sparks Versamax II, often considered to be the golden standard, is hard to beat, and offers a great deal of features for IWB carry. However, being leather, the drawbacks are also there: The leather body can be crushed by clothing when not filled with a gun. Also, leather tends to grip the firearm, making drawing much more difficult. On the other hand, Kydex options, such as those from Cane and Derby or Raven Concealment, bring the options of Kydex, namely light-weight, thin materials and rigidity, solve most of those problems. The downfall of kydex, however, is that the reduced flexibility of the plastic tends to cause pain points where hard plastic digs into hips or sides.
Companies have come up with numerous attempts to solve these issues by making hybrid holsters. The Minitaur MTac, Crossbreed Supertuck, and Galco King Tuc holsters all offer kydex bodies with wide leather backs. However, these options involve a few of their own issues. Many of them are not full-length holsters, leaving the muzzle of the gun exposed. Also, many of them use very thin kydex with a tendency to crack with repeated, hard use.
Garrett Industries’ Response was to come into the hybrid market with a better option. Taking the best points of the Silent Thunder holster, a molded kydex shell with a focus on reducing strain points to prevent cracking and flaring of insertion points to help guide the gun into the well, and combining it with a leather-lined neoprene backing to add padding and reduce the issues with rubbing on the side, the Fusion holster comes out ahead of the curve. By cutting the kydex to a full holster shape, and then molding it and stitching the leather backing directly onto a full piece of Kydex, the Fusion also helps spread the strain placed by belts and pants more evenly, keeping the overall size of the holster smaller than the competition.
The holster also takes into account the need for most folks to tuck their work shirts in. To accomplish this, and make this holster eminently adjustable, two kydex arms are attached to points at the bottom of the holster. These attachment points allow the cant of the holster to easily adjust, and allow for tucking shirts.
My Daily Experience
So how well does this holster work in the real world? I’ve carried my gun, a full-size 5″ 1911 with rail, 5 days a week for 12 hours a day in this holster. Comfort is absolutely awesome. Between making the gun disappear and reducing digging of gun and holster into my body during normal work activities. With the adjustable cant of the holster, I’ve been able to set the holster into a position that prevents printing under normal work shirts, making the gun completely disappear.
In the beginning, shifting was a bit of a problem, as was having the screws work loose on the hardware. A drop of blue loctite and addition of rubber washers between the hardware and the kydex to reduce movement solved that issue right away.
I spent a few weekends running my usual training drills using this holster rather than an on the belt style holster that I would normally use for speed. While I had an obvious increase in presentation times, just due to the way the holster is pulled into the body and a greater amount of grip on the gun, I found that the leather-lined kydex made for an impressively fast presentation compared to all-leather options such as the VersaMax II, my old standby. Further, reholstering with the kydex half-shell was easy as well.
No holster is perfect, and this holster is no exception. However, the points I had issue with were few and far between, and mostly related to user error or preference rather than any fault of the maker in this case. For daily carry, this holster is absolutely comfortable, adjustable, concealable, and makes a full-size auto disappear on my body with a minimum of fuss. The drawbacks of IWB carry in general are obvious, but this holster manages to reduce many of them to a level of nuisance rather than deal breaker.
This holster earns a solid A on my list.