A few weeks back in my review of the Walther P1 from Century Arms, I described how I was able to find a well-made belt holster to fit it from the Craft Holsters company located in Slovakia. The belt loop OWB holster I received from them for the P1 was exquisitely fit, and detail hand boned. I was impressed enough with them and their product line to dig a bit deeper.
My favorite, most often used holster for full-sized handguns—autoloaders in particular—is the outside-the-waistband style of holster. While certain IWB designs are quite comfortable—like those from Remora or Hero Holsters—when carrying larger guns, I gravitate to the OWB design. I opted to test another OWB style holster from Craft Holsters, the Falco Model 184 Paddle Holster.
Paddle holsters were originally developed by various manufacturers to meet the needs of plainclothes detectives or administrative staff who worked in the relative safety of a police station, mostly seated behind desks. They felt burdened by wearing a handgun all day long while desk bound and wanted a holster that could be put on and removed easily with the handgun still secured, and the entire rig locked in their desk drawer for the duration of their shift. Manufacturers answered the demand and the “paddle holster” was born.
Basically, a paddle holster is one where a standard holster shell is mounted on a rounded “paddle.” The paddle is designed to fit behind your trouser and belt, against your shirt, with the holster shell fitting outside it. The paddle (hopefully) holds the holster in place with relative security. It can’t be so secure however, that you can’t get it off with ease. Remember, that was the original purpose of the design.
The Falco Model 184 holster I received from Craft is impressive. The boned leather shell fit my Glock 17 like the proverbial glove. The leather thumb-break retention strap held the Glock in place securely. The polymer paddle is ventilated for comfort—an important feature for a part of the holster that may be worn directly against your skin (or at least close to it). To reasonably retain the holster in place, the paddle has a series of small molded spikes on the trouser (not skin) side of the paddle to help grip the clothing. There is also a pair of movable nuts on each side of the paddle with six positions per side that allow you to adjust the position and ride of the holster. The position of the paddle itself can be rotated after loosening a locking screw on the back of the paddle. Two allen wrenches are included to facilitate adjustments. I adjusted my sample for a muzzle forward cant.
One of the most important features of a good quality paddle holster is the ability to draw the gun from the holster without drawing the holster along with it. There are older designs where this happens! The Falco 184 passed this test with flying colors! The second most important feature is easy removability. While the 184 would not pull out from the pants by pulling straight up, rocking the rig forward allowed the paddle to dislodge. There is one well known brand that I’ve used that is VERY difficult to get out once in place, to the point that one might as well use a belt loop holster instead.
The Craft Holsters Falco 184 is superbly rendered. This would be a good option for the CCW permit holder, because the entire rig could easily be removed when home without clothing adjustment, with your handgun staying protected in the rig. The 184 works with thick or thin belts, or even without a belt at all. Price is $73.95.
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