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Old December 3, 2012, 03:44 PM   #1
dahermit
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Do holsters absolutely need retention straps?

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.
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Old December 3, 2012, 04:00 PM   #2
drail
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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.

Last edited by drail; December 3, 2012 at 04:10 PM.
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Old December 3, 2012, 04:19 PM   #3
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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.
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Old December 3, 2012, 04:30 PM   #4
dahermit
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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.).
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Old December 3, 2012, 04:35 PM   #5
dahermit
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Quote:
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.
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Old December 3, 2012, 04:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Holsters absolutely need retention.
I have carried IWB for over a decade and have no use or need for a retention strap.
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Old December 3, 2012, 05:00 PM   #7
BigJimP
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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.
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Old December 3, 2012, 05:02 PM   #8
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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
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Old December 3, 2012, 05:21 PM   #9
dahermit
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Quote:
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?
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Old December 3, 2012, 05:25 PM   #10
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Have you ever seen how hard people can fall when sucker punched?
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Old December 3, 2012, 05:39 PM   #11
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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.
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Old December 3, 2012, 05:42 PM   #12
dahermit
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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.
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Old December 3, 2012, 05:44 PM   #13
dahermit
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Quote:
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?
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Old December 3, 2012, 06:02 PM   #14
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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

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Old December 3, 2012, 06:18 PM   #15
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Quote:
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
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Old December 3, 2012, 07:19 PM   #16
ClydeFrog
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Hard lessons...

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.
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Old December 3, 2012, 07:27 PM   #17
egor20
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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.
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Old December 3, 2012, 07:59 PM   #18
dahermit
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Quote:
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?
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Old December 3, 2012, 08:02 PM   #19
dahermit
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Quote:
...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.
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Three shots are not a "group"...they are a "few".

If the Bible is the literal, infallible, unerring word of God...where are all those witches I am supposed to kill?
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Old December 3, 2012, 10:08 PM   #20
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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.
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Old December 3, 2012, 11:54 PM   #21
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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.
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Old December 4, 2012, 12:18 AM   #22
dahermit
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Quote:
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.
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Old December 4, 2012, 12:26 AM   #23
dahermit
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Quote:
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.
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Three shots are not a "group"...they are a "few".

If the Bible is the literal, infallible, unerring word of God...where are all those witches I am supposed to kill?
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Old December 4, 2012, 01:44 AM   #24
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dahermit said:

Quote:
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.
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Old December 4, 2012, 01:48 AM   #25
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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.
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