IN THE PAST 32 YEARS as a cop and police instructor, I have carried a concealed handgun or had one very close at hand, nearly every day including Sundays at Churchsince 9/11. During such time, I have used nearly every conceivable method of carry, including the carry of a Star PD .45 (the all-time great concealment .45 ACP) tucked into my waistband sans holster during my under-cover narcotics career. Carrying and using fi rearms and training civilians and cops alike, has given me an opinion or two on the topic, and as friends, associates, and students can tell you, I can be direct. So, here goes.
Direct Statement #1-Without a doubt, Crossbreed holsters makes some of the finest holsters on the market. They are undoubtedly the best Kydex-based concealment holster, although I didn’t know this until my first evaluation of them.
I had been used to using what one might call traditionally styled, mostly leather concealment holsters. When I saw firsthand the Crossbreed style of concealment holster, which is Kydex mounted on a large piece of horsehide, I was taken aback. The Crossbreed holster that I worked with first was set up for Glock pistols and was the standard cut Superslide belt holster, which was packaged together with their plain brown Instructor Belt and dual magazine pouch holder. Once I mounted the holster on the belt, it all became clear. All that horsehide protects the clothing from the butt of the gun, from oil and from friction. This was something new for me. Needless to say, the evaluation went very well using the Glock 31, 32, and 33 in the same holster. The Kydex portion of the holster, another material that I never really took an interest in, held all three sizes of standard frame Glocks in place and I decided that Crossbreed was the way to go for comfortable all-day concealment.
At a recent conference in Florida, where Crossbreed was making a presentation and providing product for testing, I requested their Superslide Holster with the Combat Cut, which still protects the clothing, but uses a smaller amount of horsehide than the standard rig. This time, however, the holster was for my Smith and Wesson Model 642. In addition, Crossbreed provided a sample of their IWB Super Tuck holster for the 642 as well, and I began an extended evaluation of these models.
In the past, I always used concealment rigs with some sort of manually operated retention device to help retain control of the holstered weapon. As a defensive tactics instructor and someone who, as a young deputy sheriff, almost lost his gun amidst a group of angry outlaw bikers, I believe that weapon retention is a critical issue. Neither the Supertuck nor the Superslide holster have a manual device, which made me skeptical initially until I began to carry concealed in these holsters. The Kydex portion is molded precisely and provides an absolutely snug fit. When mounted on the dual thickness Crossbreed instructor belt, the Superslide holsters become a solid platform mounted firmly against the body. Then, when the shirt or covering garment is draped over the platform, the weapon disappears. This makes an attempted gun grab very difficult for two reasons: the weapon can’t be seen, and having a cover over it makes unauthorized access somewhat difficult. Thus, while I was satisfied with the retention issue for concealed carry, I would not use this holster in an open carry format. It really is not designed for that.
One of the most important features of a concealment holster, beyond concealment of course, is comfort. Comfort is everything. An uncomfortable holster means you are likely to leave your pistol at home, where it does no good helping you to protect yourself and your loved ones.
I was already very satisfied with the Superslide holster models and the Combat Cut version for the 642 made carrying that particular gun feel as if it wasn’t there. I only wish they made a concealment speed loader holder for the revolver. Hopefully that is a future Crossbreed plan.
Next, I needed to try the inside the waistband Super Tuck. It is a necessary option for someone who mostly dresses with shirts tucked in.
The Ultimate CCW?
IN MY ESTIMATION, there is no better basic concealed carry firearm for copor civilian than the Smith and Wesson J-frame revolver (although if Colt still made the Detective Special, Agent, or Cobra revolvers, I would have to give them at least an equal nod) in .38 Special caliber. I have carried some form of this gun for nearly all these past 32 years on a daily basis (with some notable exceptions such as the aforementioned Star PD) in every variety including exposed hammer, concealed hammer, “hammerless,” steel frame, stainless steel frame, Scandium frame, and aluminum frame in blue, nickel, and stainless finishes but in only one different caliber, the.32 H&R Magnum which made the five-shot J-frame a six-shooter. I have never felt the need for the pain and extra expense that would have been mine in the .357 Magnum versions, and figured the .22 LR and .22 Magnum would be a better choice for the recoil sensitive. For me, the .38 Special, in the tried and true FBI load version by Winchester (158 gr. +P lead semi-wadcutter hollow point) is everything I have ever felt I needed in a concealed handgun, whether that J-frame is for off-duty or backup use. Smith J-frames can always ride comfortably with you, in an almost limitless number of locations (not so much a fan of underwear type holsters though). This means that the J-frame fits your wardrobe instead of your wardrobe needing to fit your J-frame. Yes, there are only five shots in that gun, but there is a Kimber 10mm available in my backpack and an AR-15 available in my car. That should cover most scenarios. Oh, one more little point. I favor the revolver for concealed carry because I would have to work, and I mean really work, to make it so that my revolver won’t provide the proper “boom” each time you pull the trigger, for protection or play. Bigger or smaller, higher capacity gun or stronger or weaker cartridge chamberings have never worked as well for me as the J-frame Smith and Wesson .38 Special.
I haven’t used IWB or tuckable IWB models for a while, thanks to some changes that come with age and damage done to my shoulders and back after 25 years of defensive tactics training. I can’t reach around to the small of my back where most of those holsters were comfortable in the past, which makes them worthless. I needed a style I could access more in the front, and the Supertuck is just such a style, at least when configured for a small gun like the J-frame Smith. Sliding the holster in between my body and pants on the right side proved to be easy enoughand comfortable. The Supertuck has its cross emblem stamped into the metal clips that affix over the instructor belt. I slid the 642 into place and tucked the T-shirt in over the top of the gun, which caused the gun to be invisible to all but the most trained eye and only in certain positions. Boy, was it comfortable and accessible. My first test drive involved wearing it to church and about town one Sunday, and I was able to almost forget it was there. I was sold.
Crossbreed maintains a commitment to providing a quality and highly functional line of concealment holsters with a lifetime guarantee! If you get one and don’t like it, send it back for a refund. I doubt that will ever be the case. When you order your holster, it will be custom made for you. You will find your name hand written on the back of the quality horsehide. This is a small touch, but one that makes you realize the commitment of the company to your satisfaction. Crossbreed has just come out with an ankle rig. As soon as it is available for revolvers, I will test it for you.
(Author’s note: Crossbreed founder Mark Craighead died unexpectedly in August 2012. I never knew or met Mark personally, but I know he will be greatly missed by his family, church, and certainly by the firearms world. His company is carrying on, as I am sure he would have wished.)