Many are familiar with some variation of, “Don’t holster a $500 gun in a $5 holster.” A $5 holster is not going to provide the quality or security necessary to properly protect that $500 gun or to make sure that it can be drawn smoothy and efficiently.
Special Guns, Special Rigs
While reviewing the Alchemy Arms Classic Carry .38 Super 1911 for the “High End” issue of Concealed Carry Magazine (November/December 2020), I realized that carrying semi-custom or custom handguns, calls for high-end holsters. And the need increases in proportion to the firearm’s value. The components — firearm and holster — should complement each other. And as it turns out, you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot to do just that.
The Alchemy Classic Carry is a blued, all-steel commander size 1911. It is available in .45 ACP, 9mm Luger and .38 Super and priced in the $2,700 to $3,300 range. The blued finish is absolutely gorgeous.
Bluing is an advanced form of rust and does not provide protection against corrosion and scratches to the carbon steel metal beneath. This is not a major issue if proper maintenance is applied. I had a Smith & Wesson Model 19 .357 Magnum revolver as my duty handgun at the beginning of my law enforcement career. The start and end of each shift included wiping it down with an oily rag to protect it from moisture and fingerprints. This additional maintenance offered greater familiarity with my firearm.
Choosing a Top-of-the-Line Holster
Finish protection is the primary driving force in holster selection for custom handguns. Synthetic holsters are out of the question — especially holsters that have some sort of internal latching mechanism. These can cause wear on the engaged surfaces. Holsters for custom handguns need to be made of natural materials that will minimize scuff and wear. Supple leather or exotic skins are the ideal choices for custom blued handguns.
Custom handgun holsters must cover as much of the handgun as possible for protection from scratches. Minimalist holsters that allow the muzzle to protrude unprotected from beneath the holster are out. Inadvertent contact with hard surfaces is sure to occur (think seatbelt latches and buckles).
Inside-the-waistband (IWB) holsters — while fine for corrosion-resistant pistols — are also out of the question for blued guns. These holsters put the gun closer to the skin, allowing more exposure to perspiration. Most importantly, a holster must hold the handgun securely. How upsetting would it be to have that custom gun skittle across concrete due to a poorly constructed holster?
The DeSantis Gator Sting Holster
One holster that meets all these requirements — and looks incredible — is the Gator Sting outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster from DeSantis.
The Gator Sting is an open-top OWB holster with a tension adjustment screw to balance draw vs. retention. The half facing out is alligator hide, available in either brown or black color. The inner half is leather. These are stitched and bonded together. The muzzle end is open to prevent dirt, dust or moisture from being trapped with the gun. I requested the brown Gator Sting because it contrasts the walnut grips of the Classic Carry 1911 well.
Right out of the package, the Gator Sting holster fit the Classic Carry like a glove, holding it snugly but without undue tension. The holster covers all but a tiny portion of the trigger guard and most of the slide from the muzzle to the grasping grooves at the rear.
The Gator Sting held the pistol comfortably close to my body, high enough to be easily concealed by a sweater. The alligator hide is beautifully finished and tells any onlookers that a special handgun is contained therein. Since the muzzle end of the holster narrows from the top, I found that I still had reasonable access to my right front trouser pocket.
Conclusions: Gator Sting Holster Does Everything Right
I tested the combo by carrying the Classic Carry to church. The butt of the gun did not make contact with the back of the pew when I sat down. The Gator Sting has also proven comfortable while driving or walking long distances. The pistol rode at just the right position for seamless drawing when I tested it at the range. It was smooth as could be.
Everything is right about this holster. Combined with the Gator Sting holster, the Alchemy Classic Carry would make a fine Texas barbecue or church gun to carry openly. While the Gator Sting is an “exotic” holster, it is reasonably priced at $159.99 and should provide a lifetime of service.
About Scott W. Wagner
After working undercover in narcotics and liquor investigations, Scott W. Wagner settled down to be a criminal justice professor and police academy commander. He was also a SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader before his current position as patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. Scott is a police firearms instructor certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.