December 29, 2021
Gunleather, to some, may seem like an enduring artifact from a bygone era, obsolete in this age of proprietary polymers and manufactured materials. But when considering how to tote fighting irons, a definitive replacement for leather has yet to emerge that pleases all. Cow- and steerhide holsters remain popular within the larger mix of materials because of leather’s advantages: It’s pliable and soft, which makes it easy to work with and comfortable against the skin. Leather is known to be durable, and it excels at being formed to the shape of its cargo and maintaining its structure through years of use.
DeSantis Gunhide has been in the leather holster making business for more than 40 years, and the company’s experience shows, not only in its holster designs but also in the quality and uniformity of the stitching and dyes, not to mention their leather’s smooth, burnished edges.
The Cozy Partner holster goes beyond fit and finish. Its body is constructed of a single piece of leather that is folded, stitched and hand-tooled to accept a specific firearm.
The mouth is reinforced with an additional strip of rigid leather that extends from the triggerguard area up and around to the full sweatguard. It won’t collapse, which means that the Cozy Partner facilitates easier reholstering than other gunleather and reduces the chance of metal-to-skin contact when worn.
On-body security is provided by split leather belt loops that can be sized for 11/2-inch or 13/4-inch belts. The extra leather above the slide and below the triggerguard form wings that distribute pressure and stabilize the holster’s position when worn.
Notably, the Cozy Partner also has a tension-adjustment screw beneath the tooled triggerguard that allows users to refine the feel of the drawstroke and improve retention.
To evaluate the Cozy Partner, I ordered a sample in tan — it’s also available in black — for the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield. I wore the combination for two months as a defensive rig and during range training sessions. I generally carry in the appendix position, so returning to a strong-side setup took some getting used to. At first, I found the 15-degree cant to be more aggressive than I prefer, and better suited for 4- to 5-o’clock carry, which is further back than I would have liked. The benefit, though, is comfort and concealability as the body contours, just aft of the “love handles.” Behind the hips is a great location to tuck a gun, as folks have been doing for decades; it was no surprise when I learned how well a short-framed pistol like the Shield seemingly vanishes.
I appreciated the added security of the belt loops’ security snaps. (I’ve seen buttons on other holsters lose their grip.) During this review, I only wore 11/2-inch belts, but I did not find it necessary to adjust the loops’ length; on-body retention was mostly determined by the tightness of my cinched belt.
And on the topic of “tight belts,” I found the reinforced mouth to be a bit of a compromise. Does it work? Kind of, but a tight gunbelt is going to force the mouth partially closed when the pistol is removed. I’ve seen thicker reinforcers and metal-core designs that are more effective, but anytime you add material the overall width is increased, as is the potential of printing against overgarments. Besides, noteworthy instructors don’t train shooters to rush their guns back to the holster; take your time and be safe.
Be prepared for a couple weeks of break-in; the holster’s wings were a bit stiff but eventually conformed to my shape. The Cozy Partner gets more comfortable over time. Though the aggressive cant and requisite carry position are not optimal for the speediest draws (a small-frame pistol doesn’t help much, either), in terms of discreet carry for a defensive pistol, the DeSantis Cozy Partner proved to be a competent companion.
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