Make no mistake about it: Kydex and nylon qualify as great materials for holsters. These two synthetic materials have become extremely popular, eclipsing leather as primary materials for many firearms-related applications, including concealed carry.

Don’t count leather out as a primary holster-making material just yet, though — it still has a lot going for it. It is durable (as long as it is reasonably well cared for), supple (which means it molds well to the body) and attractive. For those concerned about style, leather just looks good!

Craft Holsters provides great products from a wide variety of manufacturers. Headquartered in the historic mining town of Banska Stiavnica in the Slovak Republic (Slovakia), I first ran across Craft Holsters in 2014 while trying to find a holster for a Walther P1, which was the post-war version of the famed Walther P38. While a fine handgun, the P1 is not exactly at the top of the current popular handgun heap. None of the manufacturers I normally deal with made a holster for it. An internet search turned up just what I was looking for: a belt-slide holster with thumb break for the Walther P1 from Craft Holsters. It fit the P1 just right and allowed me to carry it comfortably. The quality of the holster was very good, and the russet brown finish gave the holster a distinctive look.

Recently, I decided to try one of Craft Holsters’ belt holsters for my Smith & Wesson Performance Center 686 with 2½-inch barrel, and requested one in plain black. In a short period of time, I received the holster — a belt holster with two carry angle positions and thumb break — designed for my 686 and manufactured for Craft by Falco.

The Belt Holster with Two Cant Positions is an unlined leather holster with single-row stitching. There is some form-fitting and molding used in shaping the holster for the 686, but it is not hand-boned. It is a good-looking holster. Overall, the design is of the “pancake” variety — one of the earlier styles of belt holsters. It derives its name from its manufacturing process, wherein two rounded pieces of leather are stitched together to form a pouch for the handgun. The pouch can be molded to greater or lesser degrees depending on the manufacturer. At the front and rear of the pancake are the belt slots.

I have a very old pancake rig that I got in a trade from a fellow deputy sheriff in 1980. It was made by a firm that was very well known at the time: Roy’s Leather Goods of Magnolia, Arkansas. An un-molded plain holster designed to fit Smith & Wesson K-Frame revolvers with barrels in the 2- to 4-inch range, it too features a thumb break — and, surprisingly by today’s standards, a totally exposed trigger guard. Back in those old revolver days, the trigger guard was left exposed so that you could get your finger on the trigger at the start of the draw for quicker shooting. With a 12-pound trigger pull as standard in those days, it wasn’t necessarily dangerous — Barney Fife notwithstanding. Most police duty holsters, including the famed Jordan River Holster, featured a totally exposed trigger guard back then. Where I worry about that style today is more in terms of a gun-grab attempt. The gun could be fired while still in the holster if the thumb break released, potentially resulting in a bullet hole in the wearer’s anatomy.

The Belt Holster follows modern holster design parameters by covering half of the trigger guard, leaving the trigger itself unexposed. This helps to protect it during a gun-grab attempt as well as to keep the wearer’s trigger finger outside the trigger guard until a more appropriate time.

As mentioned, the holster is designed to offer two cant positions. This means that there are two belt slots forward and one rear. The slots are designed for a 1.6-inch belt. If you need a different belt width, you can specify that on your order. The dual-angle design means three things for carry: You can wear the holster in a vertical draw position, a traditional butt-forward draw position, which helps position you in a good “combat crouch” stance, or in a cross-draw position, which is a good carry position while driving a car for long distances. It allows you to draw your handgun while still inside the vehicle — even with the seatbelt still attached.

The Performance Center 686 is a heavy handgun, even in its 2½-inch-barrel configuration. Weighing in at 34 ounces unloaded, it is at its best in an OWB belt-mounted holster like the one from Craft. The suppleness of the European leather allows the rig to mold to the curvature of the hip, increasing comfort. Mounting the holster on the belt in the butt-forward position on the strong side provides the most concealment and keeps the entire rig close to the body.

The Craft Belt Holster with Two Cant Positions is made for more handguns than just about any holster I have ever seen, including models long out of production, like the Ruger Security Six and various iterations of the CZ series. It’s hard to imagine a handgun of any type manufactured within the last 30 or 40 years that won’t fit in a Craft holster. The same can be said for most of the other holsters on the Craft website. If Craft doesn’t make it, I don’t know where else you would find it.

The Craft Holsters Belt Holster with Two Cant Positions has an MSRP of $63.95.

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