One of the biggest complaints about OWB leather holsters is wearing out over time and letting the lip of the holster curl over. The curling issue is far more than simple aesthetics: the worn leather can trip the trigger on the way in, causing an accidental discharge down your leg.
Over the past several years, leather holster makers have heard this criticism from many sources—yours truly included—and have taken steps to remedy the situation. While many of these manufacturers have added polymer or Kydex lining between the leather layers to add strength—thus preserving the look, feel, and nostalgia of quality leather—others have tried other options. 1791 Gunleather is one such company.
Their Open Top OWB Multi-Fit is a classic case of taking a new and innovative approach to solving an old problem. Let’s start with the basics of the holster first and then get into what they did.
It’s hard to argue against 1791 when it comes to leather craftsmanship. I have several of their holsters, each one a fine specimen of high-quality leather and attention to detail in trim and stitching. The leather is thick but not bulky, stiff yet not too rigid. The Open Top OWB falls right into line with the quality I have come to expect from 1791 (the year the Bill of Rights was ratified, in case you wondered about the story behind the brand).
Here is where this holster stands out: what they added to the leather. To prevent the infamous leather curl and collapse, 1791 stitched a thin layer of carbon fiber to the outside and rimmed it with sewn leather. Yes, carbon fiber, the same stuff used on exotic race cars and pricey bicycles. While carbon fiber can be layered up to be extremely stiff and unforgiving, the formula used on this holster retains a bit of flex yet holds firmly enough to perform its job of keeping the top open. It is backed by leather on the inside to prevent scratching the gun on the way in and out.
As is the case with many leather holsters, this one is not cut for just one gun. Instead, 1791 makes it in three sizes, with a pocket that is molded in the general shape of guns of each size, thus the “Multi-Fit” in the name. When it arrived, I was a little leery about how well it would work, as I have not had particularly good success with multi-fit holsters from other brands. They mostly landed firmly in the "just OK" category. So how did it do?
Retention was spot on, with the gun passing my flip test. Holstering was easy and firm. While there was no audible click as you would find with Kydex, the gun felt solid in the holster, and I didn’t worry about it flopping out at any time during the day.
At $89.99 on 1791’s website, it is a bit on the upper end of the price range, but it is also better than a lot of other leather holsters I have seen and reviewed. If you want that leather holster look and feel but worry about wear, this is a good option worth checking out.