May 12, 2017
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication," Leonardo da Vinci said. When an engineer discusses an "elegant" design, they are referring to its simplicity.
The simpler an object can be made, the better it tends to work. Belt clips and the various types of holster straps aim to serve a common cause: gun retention. However, the more a holster seems to secure a handgun, the more effort and time is usually required to overcome those obstacles to access it.
Looking at the new Blackhawk TecGrip holster under a magnifying glass, the surface of the material is akin to Velcro. Even when the holster touches glass, it feels glued to it. TecGrip technology is difficult to describe, and more detailed information about the material is proprietary and closely guarded by the Blackhawk holster team.
Chuck Buis, product director for Blackhawk's tactical accessories and a former police officer, told G&A that his team had considered a clipless holster for some time, but they didn't want to use commonly available rubberized fabrics due to durability concerns after their own testing.
"TecGrip came from another industry," Buis said.
"We just happened to stumble across it. And you can be sure Blackhawk will have other applications for it in the future."
Currently, the TecGrip holster is only available in tan, which is a color that did not exist for the material prior to Blackhawk. The company specifically wanted a flesh tone, which can aid concealment of a gun carried inside the waistband (IWB). Think of how the wind can lift up our shirt to unintentionally reveal what we're carrying.
The middle layer is a closed-cell foam that prevents moisture transfer from the body to the firearm. The third interior layer is a thin, lightweight and low-denier nylon called packcloth. (It is the same material you'll find lining other nylon holsters.)
Instead of a spray-on glue that can peel, the three layers are flame laminated. A layer of foam is heated and melted by gas jets as a roller presses and bonds the layers together. The bond is much stronger than the foam itself. The holster is finished with trim tape that's stitched for a clean appearance.
I received one of the first samples for testing earlier this year and opted to carry a proven Taurus 709 Slim in 9mm that I've fired more than 3,000 rounds through without malfunction. Less than two weeks into this evaluation of the TecGrip holster, I began noticing that the layers were separating from the trim underneath the triggerguard.
I sent my sample in to the quality assurance (QA) department and was later told that they had given early samples too many stitches per inch along the seam. Once the QA department became aware of this, a change was made at the factory. In the 45 days I've carried the replacement, material seperation has not occurred.
In fact, I've also checked this by carrying other guns in other sizes of Blackhawk's TecGrip and haven't observed wear or failure of any kind. Aesthetically, there is a wrinkle forming at the bottom edge where the holster curls around lights and lasers, or lack thereof.
Carrying the TecGrip in a pocket prints similarly to that of an unassuming smartphone. The angular cut affords a proper grip before withdrawing the pistol.
At the range, I also discovered that it's important to check one's ability to cleanly draw a handgun with pants or shorts we actually wear. Loose pockets can permit the TecGrip holster to be withdrawn with the gun.
A 2-second draw time becomes a lethal 4-second fumble when we have to stop and seperate the gun from the holster before correcting the presentation and firing. (Never reholster inside the pocket.)
Blackhawk's TecGrip holster is also effective for IWB carry and facilitates fast draws when worn in the appendix position. I would recommend it for IWB over pocket carry.
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