Hogue ARS Stage 1 Carry Holsters

While the Hogue Company has been around since 1968 and has been traditionally known for its fine line of aftermarket handgun grips, today’s Hogue is much more than that.

Back in the day when revolvers were far and away the primary type of handgun residing in law enforcement duty holsters, Hogue was one of the main companies that street-savvy cops turned to in order to improve the handling and shooting qualities of their revolvers.

I say revolvers in particular because they were the handgun type most in need of improved grips. Smith & Wesson, who owned the lion’s share of the duty revolver market, equipped police service revolvers such as the standard Model 10 .38 Special with thin, checkered walnut “service” grips.

A holdover in style from the 19th Century, the standard service grips mated up with the steel frame of the revolver, exposing the steel frontstrap and backstrap of the revolver. The service grips really only fit folks with the smallest of hands and did nothing to mitigate recoil, especially when service grips were mounted on .357 Magnum revolvers like the Model 27 and Model 28.

Because of this, the first thing agencies who were “in the know” would do was make changes to the grips to improve shootability for their officers. Both Hogue and the Tyler Company made a grip adaptor that went on the frontstrap of the revolver frame and hooked under the service grips. These grip adaptors filled the gap in the palm of the hand. It was an improvement — and it was inexpensive. In fact, the Ohio Highway Patrol mounted Hogue grip adaptors on the Model 10 revolvers used by all troopers in Ohio. The Hogue version is no longer made, which is understandable since Smith & Wesson no longer uses wood service grips on their guns (with the exception of reintroduced Classic models).

Hogue was even more famous for their line of “Monogrip” rubber replacement revolver grips. Rather than using two-piece grips like their competitors, the Monogrip was a one-piece design that used a screw in the base of the grip to secure it to the gun frame. This gives the Monogrip a “sleek” appearance when compared to its counterparts.

I must confess that I lost track of the Hogue company for many years due to the shift to polymer-framed semi-automatic duty pistols, although I did use their grip sleeves on a couple of my Generation 2 Glocks. It was not until recently that I realized that not only did Hogue still exist, but they have expanded their lineup and are thriving — truly an example of a family-owned company that adapted well to changing times. One of those areas of expansion is in the field of polymer holsters; Hogue makes some of the best on the market, and at a reasonable price to boot.

Hogue recently sent me one of their Stage 1 Carry holsters — designed for plainclothes or concealed handgun carry — and I really like it.

Featuring an eye-catching black CF (Carbon Fiber) Weave finish (plain black is also available) designed to fit my Glock 27, the ARS Carry Holster uses a good thickness of polymer, which holds its shape solidly, unlike some competing popular designs. The polymer is formed to the pistol’s outline.

An open-top design, the ARS (Automatic Retention System) Stage 1 holster features a very positive, hidden retention system — actually a true “Level 1” security design.

When applied traditionally and correctly, the holster security level number equates to the number of motions required by the wearer to release the handgun from the holster for the draw. Thus, a Level 1 holster requires one motion, a Level 2 requires two motions, and a Level 3 (the most secure type) requires three motions.

Now, not all motions are equal in terms of difficulty to accomplish or capability in protecting a weapon from a grab attempt. For example, a traditional thumb break on a leather holster is a Level 1 security device, but it is also the easiest to defeat.

The Level 1 Automatic Retention System on the Hogue Stage 1 Carry Holster is a very positive locking system. It consists of a release lever that is pushed down and toward the rear to clear the lock and release the handgun. The draw is accomplished by pulling the handgun straight up and out. Unlike a traditional thumb break on a leather holster, the lock is reactivated simply by re-inserting the handgun rather than re-snapping the thumb break with a free hand — something which is difficult to do when an aggressor is attempting to take your handgun from you.

The Hogue ARS Stage 1 Carry Holster came with a paddle mount attached and a belt-slide mount inside the box. I don’t particularly find ANY paddle holster comfortable these days, and they’re slower to remove than belt-mounted models. I immediately switched out the paddle for the belt mount by simply removing the three screws on the backing plate. Once I did that, I found the Hogue Stage 1 Carry Holster very comfortable for extended all-day carry. Some of you may find the paddle mount comfortable, so I would suggest you try it to see which type of mount you prefer.

The Hogue design is a good one indeed. It rides well and reasonably close to the body, although it rides a bit closer with the paddle mounted instead. The thumb release is easily reached as a natural part of the draw. A slightly smaller plastic release latch is included in the box if the wearer feels the one that comes mounted is too large. I found the “default” model to be just right.

Hogue makes the ARS Stage 1 Carry Holster for a wide variety of handguns: 1911s, Berettas, CZs, Glocks, HKs, Ruger LCRs, SIG Sauers, Smith & Wesson revolvers and automatics, Springfield XDs and the Walther P99Q. MSRP is a very reasonable $49.95 for all the models I checked. I highly recommend them. For more information on all Hogue products, which now also includes knives, laser enhanced grips, gun cases, rifle and shotgun stocks and — this is no joke — a Hogue Ultra Touch toilet seat, check them out at www.hogueinc.com.

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