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View Full Version : Do holsters absolutely need retention straps?


dahermit
December 3, 2012, 03:44 PM
I have been making a lot of holsters (leather-no Kydex), lately and a post I read hear recently got me to thinking. I noticed that my shooting, fast-draw, bowling pins, (home range), and when I hunted did not seem to require any kind of retention system. As a mater of fact, in my lifetime (69) and counting, there was never an apparent scenario where one was needed. I have always liked thumb snap holsters being most innocuous, but have to admit that even they seem (to me anyway), a solution to a non-existent problem. No fall I took would have resulted in a gun becoming unsheathed on its own.
Even in concealed carry, I cannot construct a realistic scenario in my head where a retention strap would not be useless if not more or a hindrance than a help.
How about the rest of you. Think about it for a minute and tell me why, or why not they are needed. Please no, "I just like them." Give me your logical rational for or against.
Civilian carry-use only please, cops likely have all kinds of examples and reasons for retention snaps/straps.

drail
December 3, 2012, 04:00 PM
Holsters absolutely need retention. You can use a strap or you can mold the holster tightly to the gun and use a tension screw. Years ago in USPSA/IPSA matches we were required to use a holster that would retain the gun when you jumped over a string (I don't remember the exact height, about a foot and a half) and your gun had to remain in the holster. For street use I want a holster with more retention than that. You should be able to survive a pretty hard fall and retain your gun. I have taken a couple of good falls (one of them off of a moving motorcycle) that I was sure would send my gun sliding across the pavement but it stayed in the holster. It's one of those things you only need when you REALLY need it. I will gladly accept a slight amount of drag on the draw to keep it where I put it. I understand you're not talking about wrestling and scuffling but even in everyday life "stuff happens". In a match range environment I use an old Ernie Hill Fastrac (if you remember those). Guys would crank them down tight for the jump test and then back off the screw right before the match. For carry guns I use revolvers and I like either a tightly molded leather rig (IWB) with or without a strap.

TailGator
December 3, 2012, 04:19 PM
A well-made molded holster gives good retention for everyday activities. I buy IWB holsters without straps and have never had a problem in a couple of decades of carry. I certainly can see the value of retention straps for OWB holsters in open carry, including and especially for LEOs.

dahermit
December 3, 2012, 04:30 PM
So, from your post, I have garnered the following information: (1) You absolutely need a retention system when engaged in some handgun competitions.
(2)You absolutely need a retention system when engaged in riding motorcycles.
One and two seem like legitimate points. But number three ("...but even in everyday life "stuff happens"..."), needs clarification. That is too much like wanting a hammer spur because of some unexplained and mystical "long, precise shot". Please give me an example of an everyday event that would make a retention system mandatory. Please consider that there are many IWB holsters where the dress belt pulls the gun into person's body and holds it quite firmly. Also, some holsters seem to hold some guns very secure by virtue of how far the gun's mass is down inside the pocket of the holster, tight fitting holster etc.
Not trying to be argumentative, just trying to get you to point out somethings that might have never occurred to me, like riding a motorcycle while CC (Even if a person were to be killed in a motorcycle accident, one would not want his gun to fly down the street a 60 mph where some kid could snatch it up before the cops found it.).

dahermit
December 3, 2012, 04:35 PM
I certainly can see the value of retention straps for OWB holsters in open carry, including and especially for LEOs. I was watching an episode of "Cops" recently, where an officer took a guy down and saw a revolver next to him as he was fighting. The officer though that the guy had pulled a gun...officer was surprised when it turned out to be his own service revolver (wow! Cop still carrying a revolver!), which had no retention strap. So, no argument here.

Skadoosh
December 3, 2012, 04:58 PM
Holsters absolutely need retention.

I have carried IWB for over a decade and have no use or need for a retention strap.

BigJimP
December 3, 2012, 05:00 PM
I think it depends on the quality and fit of the holster.....to the gun.

All of the holsters I use, are Kramer leather, IWB or scabbard....and they are all molded to specifically fit one model ( like a K frame S&W revolver, or a 1911, or a Sig 226 ....etc...) ....

so no, I don't see a need for a strap or any kind of retention system - beyond the design of a good holster. I have Kramer holsters for each of the guns that I casually compete with, use for tactical shooting, that I carry, etc.....and I've never had an issue ( in and out of cars, hiking, hunting, etc..)...

But if you're talking "generic" holsters...then I think its a different issue / where a gun could easily become dislodged / because it was never in the holster properly to start with.

James K
December 3, 2012, 05:02 PM
The main reason police use them is to make it harder for a BG to grab the officer's gun and use it against him, and that could also apply to anyone carrying a handgun openly.

As a practical matter, if there is no, or too little, retention, it is possible for the gun to jump out of the holster when the carrier has to run, jump, crawl, take cover, or otherwise engage in activity that could cause the gun to come loose from the holster. I know that some people will say that the gun should always be in the hand at any sign of trouble of any kind, but in most situations outside "cowboy country" that is not practical and could be trouble.

One of the reasons my favorite holster for many years was the Bucheimer Federal Man was its great thumb break system, but the trigger guard was exposed rather than being sealed under seventeen layers of immovable plastic, so it would never pass "lawyer" muster today. Modern holsters seem to be designed to NOT allow the gun to be removed other than by the ME prior to the autopsy.

Jim

dahermit
December 3, 2012, 05:21 PM
As a practical matter, if there is no, or too little, retention, it is possible for the gun to jump out of the holster when the carrier has to run, jump, crawl, take cover, or otherwise engage in activity that could cause the gun to come loose from the holster. I know that some people will say that the gun should always be in the hand at any sign of trouble of any kind, but in most situations outside "cowboy country" that is not practical and could be trouble.How frequently do gun owners in general have to run, jump, crawl, take cover, etc.? At my age, I cannot do any of those things, and when I was younger, I did not do those things. Remember now, I have conceded that a police officer may need to do those things and do them frequently.
As a civilian shooter, Concealed Carry permit holder, have you ever had to actually do those things? Bernard Getts did not do all those things, he just pulled and started shooting...the perps did some of those things though.
Do gun owners do those things often enough to worry about retention? Which brings us back to the central question. Is it actual need, or perceived need?

MLeake
December 3, 2012, 05:25 PM
Have you ever seen how hard people can fall when sucker punched?

ltc444
December 3, 2012, 05:39 PM
I have a minimal holster which does not have a retention strap. It is leather and will retain my 1911 while performing a somersault. It is fastened together with screws which can be tightened to the level of tension you wish to maintain.

dahermit
December 3, 2012, 05:42 PM
Have you ever seen how hard people can fall when sucker punched? Yes, when I was a kid. However, I have not seen (except for TV), any violent confrontation since my youth. I guess one would have to consider his/her environment. I only go into rural bars during lunch and dinner to get food, do not drink or go anywhere where I am likely to be the victim of a crime such as you describe. So, it would seem that I might not need a retention system as much as someone who was frequently at risk because of life-style or environment.

dahermit
December 3, 2012, 05:44 PM
I have a minimal holster which does not have a retention strap. It is leather and will retain my 1911 while performing a somersault. It is fastened together with screws which can be tightened to the level of tension you wish to maintain. Like a belt slide where only the "balance point" of the gun has leather, and the barrel is naked?

YARDDOG(1)
December 3, 2012, 06:02 PM
I only have a few holster with a strap, for when I'm out in the bush. All others are for CC ; ) PS They are for my revolvers

Y/D

barstoolguru
December 3, 2012, 06:18 PM
Have you ever seen how hard people can fall when sucker punched?

not sure about that but when I am drinking I had some nasty falls; sure hate to lose my gun then

ClydeFrog
December 3, 2012, 07:19 PM
I've been around guns for approx 25 years. As a armed professional, US military service member & armed citizen, I can honestly tell you that straps or retention systems have merit for sidearms.
Open top styles can do well for strong side concealed carry but I'd get a level II or retention type rig for everything else.
I've had 3 incidents where a firearm slid out or came out of a holster. There were no ADs or problems but my weapons got nicked up. :(

Use common sense & good judgement.
Clyde

egor20
December 3, 2012, 07:27 PM
With exception of shoulder holsters, none of my holsters have a retention strap. I've been thrown from a few horses, as has my wife, and we've yet to have a pistol fall out of the holster.

dahermit
December 3, 2012, 07:59 PM
I've had 3 incidents where a firearm slid out or came out of a holster. There were no ADs or problems but my weapons got nicked up. As a civilian, military, or police?

dahermit
December 3, 2012, 08:02 PM
...when I am drinking I had some nasty falls; sure hate to lose my gun then... Although you are likely joking; here in Michigan, drinking/being intoxicated while armed is unlawful.

Straightshooter629
December 3, 2012, 10:08 PM
There is no pat answer on this subject. It is just like many things...it is a matter of choice. I feel more comfortable with thumb breaks, therefore all of my carry holsters have them. That doesn't make it right for someone else, but it is right for me. If they weren't needed, then nobody would make them.

bacardisteve
December 3, 2012, 11:54 PM
Somebody already mentioned motorcycle riding but I also wanted to mention atv riding. Things can get awfully bumpy and if u ride hard its only a matter of time till u have some kind of crash. In that scenario I want the best retention I can get.

dahermit
December 4, 2012, 12:18 AM
There is no pat answer on this subject. It is just like many things...it is a matter of choice. I feel more comfortable with thumb breaks, therefore all of my carry holsters have them. That doesn't make it right for someone else, but it is right for me. If they weren't needed, then nobody would make them. Not looking for a pat answer. Looking for logical reasons to have one or not. Is the choice one of real need, or feeling safer that the gun will not fall out.
Years ago, when I started making my own holsters, I made a lot of them with thumb-break straps. I felt that my guns were now unlikely to fall from the holster. But now, I realize I never experienced any fall, somersault, attack, attacking-monkeys, etc. where my gun was ever likely to fall. In short, it does not appear that the strap really did anything useful after all. Nevertheless, not wanting to make an incorrect assumption, I thusly requested input from those who may have had different expediences or logic. Could not care less what others choose, only what their logic (if there was any) behind choosing to do so. So, I might actually learn something. If they cannot provide a logical reason, then it is likely that the reason they do so is emotional (feelings not backed by logic). And therefore, nothing to be learned. No one is suggesting that they should. No one is suggesting that they should not. Learning was the whole issue...I learned that (1) Some competitions actually require a retention system...I did not know that previously. (2) If someone carrys on the belt or in the waistband while riding a motorcycle, the gun could become a projectile in the event of a crash...I was not thinking in terms of riding a motorcycle, inasmuch as I carried a handgun in the zipped pocket of my leather jacket when I rode, so it could not become a projectile, but nevertheless, the guy was correct when he posted about using a retention system when riding. I hope now that you understand where I am coming from on this thread.

dahermit
December 4, 2012, 12:26 AM
Somebody already mentioned motorcycle riding but I also wanted to mention atv riding. Things can get awfully bumpy and if u ride hard its only a matter of time till u have some kind of crash. In that scenario I want the best retention I can get. And snowmobiling. I have noticed over the years that what people do on ATV's and Snowmobiles would be considered reckless driving if they did the same on motorcycles and cars. So, yes ATV riders have more than their share of accidents and should consider a retention system for their handguns. Although it would be neat to be walking past the scene of an ATV accident and find a "stray", "orphan", or otherwise unattended Colt Python lying in the grass.

MLeake
December 4, 2012, 01:44 AM
dahermit said:

Yes, when I was a kid. However, I have not seen (except for TV), any violent confrontation since my youth. I guess one would have to consider his/her environment. I only go into rural bars during lunch and dinner to get food, do not drink or go anywhere where I am likely to be the victim of a crime such as you describe. So, it would seem that I might not need a retention system as much as someone who was frequently at risk because of life-style or environment.

To which I answer: Why do you carry at all, then?

If you carry because you just feel like it, then fine. You have that right. It's great to be an American, and I mean that.

But if you carry in order to be able to protect yourself, why do you do that, if you are so careful and safe?

Is it, perhaps, because criminals can find us even in nice neighborhoods? If that is the case, then is it not also possible that the first time you become aware of the criminal's intentions, he may have already attacked you?

We'd all like to think that we are more aware than that, 24/7. Most people aren't as aware as they'd like to think.

So, once again, you might want to consider that you could take nasty falls, etc, as a result of the actions of others.

Water-Man
December 4, 2012, 01:48 AM
Why have a holster with retention? Because 'things happen'.

If you prefer not to have a retention strap, get a well made holster that is molded to the specific gun you're carrying. It will provide enough retention to safely handle the majority of situations one may encounter.

Sixer
December 4, 2012, 02:47 AM
A well built holster has no need for a retention strap. Unless, it's required for an LEO or similar... I will almost always advise against adding any kind of straps for retention.

philobeddoe
December 4, 2012, 02:51 AM
thankfully this fella had a retention strap,
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=687288

MLeake
December 4, 2012, 03:27 AM
Sixer, I don't typically use retention straps.

However, I do typically use form-fitted holsters, such as those by Sam Andrews (andrewsleather.com) and Cerise Wilson (soterialeather.com). Of course, I know and like both of them, but they also make very good holsters, that retain well without straps.

Having checked out your site, I will probably try one of yours, soon.

Regards,

M

rayban
December 4, 2012, 07:18 AM
Do holsters absolutely need retention straps?

Mine does...I carry a 642 OWB and I prefer the pouch to be form fitted but not tight...it will never pass the "upside-down n shake" test.....so I use a retention strap...and I like it.

Skadoosh
December 4, 2012, 08:25 AM
Mleake wrote: Have you ever seen how hard people can fall when sucker punched?

Yes, I have. And none of them were in any condition to prevent the mugger from removing or unstrapping a gun from their holster while they were on the floor and dazed...

For non-LE, a properly formed and well built holster doesn't need a strap.

barstoolguru
December 4, 2012, 09:14 AM
...when I am drinking I had some nasty falls; sure hate to lose my gun then...

Although you are likely joking; here in Michigan, drinking/being intoxicated while armed is unlawful.

yes I was kidding and its never a good idea to drink and handle a gun. it might be illegal to do it in public but not in your own home (just saying)

dahermit
December 4, 2012, 12:26 PM
To which I answer: Why do you carry at all, then?

If you carry because you just feel like it, then fine. You have that right. It's great to be an American, and I mean that.

But if you carry in order to be able to protect yourself, why do you do that, if you are so careful and safe?

Is it, perhaps, because criminals can find us even in nice neighborhoods? If that is the case, then is it not also possible that the first time you become aware of the criminal's intentions, he may have already attacked you?

We'd all like to think that we are more aware than that, 24/7. Most people aren't as aware as they'd like to think.

So, once again, you might want to consider that you could take nasty falls, etc, as a result of the actions of others. I always carry when I leave home, or outside on my "estate" (five and one-half acres in the country). However, my carry method when leaving my estate is always pocket carry, which of course does not have a strap. My "life-style" is that of an older "hermit". I very rarely leave home, and then only when I have to... groceries, doctor visits. If I were younger and interacted with people (other people are the threat after all) more, I might consider IWB or on the belt carry. At this stage in a hermit's life, in the pocket (I wear suspenders, never a belt),makes more sense to me. The "fall" I might take would likely be the result of infirmity, not aggressive action. With my pocket gun, however, I am always prepared for human aggressive action. The amount of time I am in contact with people is infrequent enough that I can remain on high-alert the whole time. Another aspect of my carrying that is likely unique to my stubbornness and a general lack of fear of death (going to die in a few years anyway), is that I will not surrender my money, no matter how little, or my vehicle to a hijacker. I will risk death to put up a fight even if it is contrary to the general advice given, that "...it is not worth loosing your life over...". In my stage of life, that advice has less meaning than for a younger person. No one gets my 3.50 cash, or my vehicle without me using my "little friend".
Therefore, using or not using a safety strap is not related to my carrying; it is more academic. I am making holsters as a hobby, and was curious as to the actual need for a safety strap as opposed to the perception based on emotion rather than reality. At this point it seems to me that a safety strap in most cases for a shooter is the latter.

dahermit
December 4, 2012, 12:34 PM
Do holsters absolutely need retention straps?

Mine does...I carry a 642 OWB and I prefer the pouch to be form fitted but not tight...it will never pass the "upside-down n shake" test.....so I use a retention strap...and I like it.
That test has always mystified me...I pocket carry. I am too heavy for anyone to pick me up, turn me upside down and shake me. No one has ever done that to me...although I am sure that is a frequent occurrence; other wise there would not be so many people concerned with that test.:rolleyes:

My holsters do not need retention straps...If I should fall down and the gun drop out, I would just pick it up and put it back in my pocket holster. Which is a Bianchi, very inexpensive, only about 20 bucks, but an excellent rough-out, stiff leather pocket holster. One of the few real bargains in holsters I have seen.

Sixer
December 4, 2012, 07:04 PM
Sixer, I don't typically use retention straps.

However, I do typically use form-fitted holsters, such as those by Sam Andrews (andrewsleather.com) and Cerise Wilson (soterialeather.com). Of course, I know and like both of them, but they also make very good holsters, that retain well without straps.

Having checked out your site, I will probably try one of yours, soon.


Looking forward to it! Excellent retention is something that every holster I put my stamp on MUST have.

Just as an example... here are a few pics with a couple of fairly heavy guns.


HK P7
http://i100.photobucket.com/albums/m37/ehopp_2006/Holsters/487719_448778845163096_1158316439_n.jpg

Baby Desert Eagle
http://i100.photobucket.com/albums/m37/ehopp_2006/Holsters/300_0430.jpg

These aren't going to be unholstered unless you intend to draw ;)

dahermit
December 4, 2012, 09:52 PM
Sixer, I looked at some of the holsters on your site and find that your designs are rather intriguing. Nice stuff!

MLeake
December 5, 2012, 02:11 AM
Sixer, the fact you already make a P7 holster may come in very handy, indeed...

ltc444
December 5, 2012, 08:42 PM
The holster I referred to in my earlier post is a de santis. I believe it was called a Scorpion. it is not shown in the current De Santis catalog. I have had it since 1994.

I use it when I am carrying my Springfield factory comp.

My normal carry is a Roy's Original Pancake Holster. When I purchased it Pappy, as we called Roy had me apply a heavy (almost a whole can) coat of saddle soap to the holster. I then inserted my 1911 government model into the holster and let it set for two weeks.

The holster molded to my pistol and the pistol fits like it was factory molded. On non parkerized finishes I would recommend wrapping the pistol in Teflon tape for the two weeks.

I wear the pancake because it does not print and the thumb break is second nature to me.

johnwilliamson062
December 5, 2012, 09:46 PM
You can have retention without a retention strap.

In almost very situation I prefer a button or strap type retention system. IWB where I already have clothes in the way neither of those options is great so I often go without. If you are open carrying for whatever reason retention is also a plus. I really like the holster that has what looks like a button strap, but it actually just flips down. People unfamiliar with it will try to unsnap it for plenty of time for you to react.

randyc74
December 6, 2012, 12:36 PM
As other holster makers have pointed out. A properly wet-molded and hand boned needs no additional retention.
Randy