One of the dilemmas every concealed carrier faces is the choice between IWB and OWB. It’s not a fashion debate, but rather an issue of printing. It’s easier to tuck away a holster and gun that don’t hang off your belt, adding extra bulge and possibly peeking out from under the edge of the cover garment. It’s a practical matter, one not to take lightly if you believe in the saying “If they know you’re concealing, you’re doing it wrong.”
I’ve always been a big fan of IWB for 90 percent of the year, the part when a heavy coat is not appropriate. For summertime carry, especially, OWB is just too bulky for most of what I wear. So, when Aker sent me an OWB holster to review, I almost gave it back. But I decided to give it a fair shake, especially since it was winter and I could probably hide it well enough if I planned my wardrobe right. Plus, I was concealing a Shield 9 mm, which is easy to hide because of its size.
The FlatSider XR12 is a molded leather holster with two features not often found on leather holsters. First is a retention screw right beneath the trigger guard cover just like a kydex holster. I was very surprised to find this nice feature. Immediately, I safely cleared my gun, inserted it into the holster and performed the flip test. The gun stayed put. I shook it and it still stayed. For fun, I played with the retention, which adjusts with a flathead screwdriver, and found it easy to use.
The second feature that surprised me was a thumb break, a mechanism typically found on duty rigs. When is the last time you saw one of those on a civilian CCW holster? It had been a while for me. But this one had it, so I figured I better try it. I ran the leather slots through my trusty gun belt, snugged it against my waist and noticed that the holster held tight despite my fear that the thumb break might make the whole setup too thick. Next, I added the gun and snapped it closed. The thumb break worked flawlessly, thanks to a thin metal stiffener in the vertical snap receiver. Again, with a dry gun, I practiced draws and re-holsters, all of which worked perfectly, no problem clearing through the extra leather.
Then it came time for the big test. Winter chill called for a sweatshirt that was big enough to cover the bottom of the holster with zero print. I wore the holster all day during my normal activities and never once worried about it sneaking out from under cover. And talk about comfortable. The leather was stiff enough to hold the gun securely, but soft enough to contour to me like silk. I wore it several more times to see if my good experience could be repeated and was not disappointed.
The FlatSider XR12 comes in black and brown leather options and runs $81.50 on Aker’s website. If you prefer OWB and are a fan of leather holsters, this is a terrific option.