Review: Blackhawk ARC IWB Holster

posted on December 26, 2020
blackhawk-arc-holster.jpg (1)

Blackhawk holsters are most often associated with law enforcement duty models, such as the Serpa and T Series. These holsters come in civilian models, too, but without the Level 2 and Level 3 retention features typical on LEO rigs. But Blackhawk is more than just police gear. The ARC IWB holster is firmly in the civilian court, ready for Everyday Joe to conceal carry with confidence.

Unlike their other holsters, Blackhawk’s ARC is Level 1 retention only, with a deceptively simple design that might be mistaken for a holster not worthy of a second glance. But look again.

The shell of the ARC (which stands for Appendix Reversible Carry) is injection molded from a polymer that is a bit, for lack of a better term, "squishier" than typical Kydex. At first, I thought this would be a problem because not only did it make the holster feel less robust, but I was also concerned that it might close too much for reholstering because it’s not as stiff as its more rugged plastic cousin.

However, much to my delight, the holster did not close when empty, despite tightening my belt down a bit. One of my must-have criteria in any holster is that it must remain open enough to reholster the firearm one-handed. The ARC passed the test just fine.

My other criterion is that it must cover the trigger guard. With such a small footprint—just under 4 inches at the tallest point—I was afraid it might not quite make it, but it did.

The Reversible part of the ARC means the belt clip can quickly and easily be detached and reattached on the other side, making this holster truly ambidextrous. You can also adjust the ride height by moving the clip up or down to the other hole. And just in case you swap belts from 1.5 inch to 1.75 inches, the ARC comes with both clip sizes. Swapping them out is a cinch. Both clips are flexible enough to easily work over a belt but firm enough to hold in place all day.

Because this holster is made from molded polymer instead of Kydex, inserting the gun is super quiet, with none of the typical rubbing sound. This is a feature Blackhawk adds to many of their newer holsters, starting with the LEO versions on down. The gun held firmly in place throughout my famous flip test and during everyday wear. If you do need to adjust the retention, just grab a Phillips screwdriver.

At $24.95 on Blackhawk’s website, this may sound like a bargain basement holster, insufficient to carry your firearm investment. But the ARC is every bit a worthy competitor in the holster market, available for a range of common gun makes and models.


Black Collar Arms APS
Black Collar Arms APS

First Look: Black Collar Arms APS

A new way to support your large-format pistol.

NRA School Shield Grant Program Now Accepting School Security Project Applications

The NRA School Shield Grant Program provides funds to increase school security, helping provide a secure future for our children. 

Review: Tisas PX-9 GEN3 Duty

It’s said that in life, one never gets a second chance to create a first impression. SDS Imports, the company that imports the Tisas firearms manufactured in Turkey, appears to have embraced that piece of wisdom, because I was extremely impressed from the moment I opened the box containing its new PX-9 GEN3 Duty 9 mm semi-automatic pistol. Except for some ammo, the box contained everything you need to defend yourself and your loved ones.

Review: Smith & Wesson Shield Plus In 30 Super Carry

Before we dive headfirst into the morass that is the 30 Super Carry debate, let’s start with something (slightly) less controversial: Smith & Wesson’s Shield Plus is a supremely good pistol. Building on the success of the standard Shield and updated M2.0 versions, the Shield Plus kept critical dimensions similar to allow most gear designed for the Shield to work for the Shield Plus.

2022 New Optics Guide: Thermal and Night-Vision

New advances in electronics and updated manufacturing processes have made thermal and night vision optics more affordable than ever before.

First Look: Wilson Combat 45th Anniversary SE 1911

A special edition pistol to celebrate the legacy of a legendary gun manufacturer.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.