In the course of evaluating handguns for concealed carry, I have the privilege of trying out a lot of equipment. Not only do I get to evaluate the latest and greatest handguns — only temporarily as gun writers do have to return them to the manufacturer — but also the latest and greatest holsters. While determining which make and model of handgun to carry depends on a variety of factors — making it in many ways a very subjective decision – choosing a holster has just as many facets. Right-handed or left-handed? Inside the waistband or outside the waistband? Leather or Kydex? Clips or snaps? Appendix or small of the back? Cant or straight drop? Ankle or shoulder? Tuckable? And so on.
If there’s one aspect of concealed carry that consistently proves true, it’s the age-old concept of “keep it simple.” Every holster has its place and use, to be sure, and today’s holster manufacturers offer a myriad of features that have made concealed carry better in numerous ways. It’s rare, however, that just one holster suits every concealed carry need. Still, for civilian concealed carry—which by nature requires the ability to quickly and easily and safely carry a handgun on my person—I have found that a simple inside the waistband holster consistently meets these needs. Here’s just one example of how that played out.
Recently I had the privilege of evaluating a few three-inch barreled 1911’s—a Colt Defender, Kimber Stainless Ultra Carry II, and Smith & Wesson Pro 1911.These handguns are great concealed carry guns, packing several rounds of .45 ACP into a compact 1911 platform. Each rode well in various concealed carry holsters. After the reviews of the handguns were complete but before I would return them to their various manufacturers, I’d still carry them concealed—no agenda, no assignment; just normal course-of-life kind of carry. When I did, I regularly chose one holster: the Upper Cut from High Noon.
Three-inch barreled 1911’s command premium prices and demand regular practice to maintain the discipline of drawing, aiming, disengaging the safety, firing, re-engaging the safety, re-holstering, and so on. As such, some argue that a $30 holster like the Upper Cut is not a good match for such a weapon. Maybe, but consider a few of the Upper Cut’s key features and see if it is truly profound in its simplicity—and therefore a great match for a three-inch barreled 1911.
Made of thin premium grade cowhide, the Upper Cut holster is thick enough to appropriately cushion the wearer from the hardness of the gun as well as protect the gun. The cowhide, however, is also thin enough to maximize the conceal-ability of the 1911’s thin slide. So it not only helps conceal the gun well, it does so comfortably. Thin cowhide, however, is not self supporting so once a gun is drawn from the Upper Cut, it must be re-holstered with two hands.
Attached to the cowhide is a heavy-duty, all-steel, reverse J clip. This clip, one of the strongest and most robust I’ve ever seen, locks the Upper Cut holster in place on a user’s belt. It is possible to use the Upper Cut without a belt, but this is not ideal. On a belt, the wide J clip feels strong and sure. In other words, when you go to draw, you’ll only draw the gun. Since the Upper Cut only comes in black, the clip is also finished in a matte black, and against a black belt, is virtually invisible.
The Upper Cut holster is technically a “straight drop” holster, meaning it is not meant to provide any cant at all. However, when I wear it I do so with a slight forward cant—and, due to the strength of the reverse J clip, it stays that way. The holster also features an open muzzle design, which for a three-inch barreled 1911, means that while you can see the muzzle at the end of the holster it is still adequately protected. In addition, a tension screw lets you set the holster’s grip on the gun. I keep it more loose than tight as I find that my belt and the holster’s cowhide do a great job at maximizing just the right amount of retention.
As a small and simple holster, the Upper Cut easily rides on a user’s strong side but can be worn for cross draw carry or for in-front-of-hip (or “appendix”) carry. Most of the time I wear the Upper Cut on my strong side and occasionally in front of my strong side hip. As a high-ride design, it offers an immediate combat grip.