Holster that Sig Part 2 and Part 3
“Holster al Dente” Cooking up a custom rig
By Dennis Adler
Most people who have a lot of handguns (or CO2 pistols) have a lot of holsters, it goes with the assumption. Getting a good holster for an air pistol can range from as little as twenty bucks to as much as the air pistol cost itself and really good holsters, ones you would feel confident in using with a matching centerfire pistol range from $60 to well over $100. The new P32/M17 rigs from 1791 Gunleather fall into the latter category. Even the Kydex holster Sig Sauer markets for the P320/M17 (with and without optics) is in the $60 to $70 range, so there’s no cheap way to holster an M17 ASP with the reflex sight, and if you have the centerfire model and actually carry it, you don’t want the least expensive rig, you want one that is well made, comfortable to wear, and above all holds the gun firmly while still allowing a clean draw.
Before I get into the third M17 optics ready holster, I want to go into a little more detail about the two paddle rigs I introduced in Part 1. I have a personal preference for paddle holster designs which some of you likely share because if you actually do carry a firearm (with a CCW permit) you know there are times when you have to leave it behind when you enter some buildings. Removing a belt holster is a pain, and leaving an empty holster on your hip is the best option. With a paddle rig you simply (well not simply but fairly easily) remove the holster from your waistband. A well made rig makes it easier to put on and take off with relative ease. The 1791 pair for the M17 falls into that category.
As the series of photos show, the paddle slips over the waistband and belt and then can be moved into the most comfortable position. Body weight and build are more often deciding factors. I prefer the 4 o’clock position but that doesn’t always give you the best advantage for drawing. Of curse, it only takes a moment to shift a paddle holster forward to the 3 o’clock position. I found the Kydex 1791 rig better suited for the behind the hip position for ease of draw while the leather holster worked smoother from 3 o’clock, but that’s me. You may have a totally different result. The rounded catches make it easier to remove the holsters while keeping them just a securely mounted as rigs with flat edged, squared off catches that grab fabric and make it harder to remove. (I have had a few that were so stuck I had to open my pants to get them off the waistband and my belt. Advantage of the paddle holster over belt holster lost).
This excerpt from 1791’s press release about winning Guns & Ammo’s Holster of the Year will give you an idea of what’s cooking, and I mean that quite literally.
“1791 Gunleather has changed everything we know about leather holsters. With the Ultra Custom, 1791 Gunleather was able to blend the benefits of a hard-sided Kydex holster with the comfort of a premium leather soft-sided holster. The Ultra Custom is a moldable, shapeable, IWB holster made with two layers of premium steer hide leather blended with 1791 Gunleather’s exclusive Memory-Lok™ technology. It is the world’s first moldable and re-moldable holster ever produced.”
The perfect pasta (Angel Hair in particular) is cooked at a precise temperature and for a precise amount of time, that is al Dente (literally, to the tooth, or cooked so as to be still firm when bitten.) So we’re going to cook a holster? Well, yes we are.
The construction of the Ultra Custom when heated in hot water (roughly 140 to 180 degrees for 5 minutes) softens the leather and polymer inner liner (between the leather) so the holster becomes malleable. As the instructions explain, the holster is placed in the water tight plastic bag that comes in the kit, is immersed in the water at roughly 140 degrees for five to seven minutes (it took seven) and the temperature rose to 180 degrees by the time I removed it.
After checking to see if the holster was soft, I removed it from the bag (let the rock I had placed inside as a weight drop gently into the sink) and then immediately pushed the M17 into the holster. It now pushed in easily up to the triggerguard (when it comes out of the box the M17 does not fit the shape of the holster), and then I inserted the sight channel rod included with the kit. This is used to reshape the leather to the top of the M17. The tool has a channel that fits over the front sight and as you push it into the holster it rides over the top of the slide creating the sight channel.
After that you can use the other tool included along with your fingers (I went with fingers entirely) to begin shaping the softened holster to the contours of the M17. This takes about five minutes and as the holster cools it begins to take the form of the gun as you continue pressing the leather around the M17. When the shape was well defined (as shown in the photos), set it down to begin cooling.
After a few minutes I removed the sight channel rod, pulled the gun from the holster and then reinserted it. A perfect fit. I let it cool for about another hour before attaching the belt clip, and then headed out to try on the new custom fit IWB M17 holster.
While I am not a big fan of IWB rigs, this fits exceptionally well. (While not mentioned often in the world of IWB rigs, you can place it between your belt and pants waist with the clip still securely locking the holster to your belt. It is more comfortable, especially for all day carry with a large semi-auto like the M17, though not quite as concealable. It’s an option if you find tucking the gun and holster inside your waistband uncomfortable. I have been using this technique with my smaller .380 and 9mm carry guns for years.)
So, the 1791 holsters for the M17 ASP with the Sig Air reflex sight are all perfect in every way with three very good options. I like the Kydex paddle rig best (no surprise there), but there’s really no bad choice, and with the Ultra Custom you get to do something you’ve probably never done before. Cook a holster!
This article covers Tuesday’s and Thursday’s Airgun Experience, but don’t miss Saturday, it will be the debut of an all-new CO2 pistol for 2020!