Ye Olde Holster Shoppe


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Plan2Live
October 22, 2011, 09:13 PM
[I've cut this discussion out of a different thread to keep that one on topic and also to focus on this interesting question. Thanks to all responding! -- Sam]

Sam1911
Finding a holster that lets the gun ride just where you want can be a bit of a challenge

Yeah, no kidding. It makes you wonder why gun stores don't carry a wider selection AND let you try them on, with your carry gun, right there in the store. Imagine if we had to pick out clothes and shoes (or wives/girlfriends for that matter) the way we pick holsters. The online photos generally stink and rarely show anything except the side view from 90 degrees. Dimensions are pretty much unheard of. The reviews are probably from members of the owner's immediate family. Most of the gun stores have signs posted "Do Not Open Packaging" and none (at least here) have a try on area with mirrors. Am I missing some obvious reason why it is this way other than that's just the way we do things around here?

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Sam1911
October 22, 2011, 09:51 PM
Am I missing some obvious reason why it is this way other than that's just the way we do things around here?
From a business perspective, it is a real tough proposition to carry a wide variety of types of holsters, by a sizable selection of makers, for the huge variety of guns folks might want to carry.

That would be enough of a challenge just to have them in stock, but then to allow folks to try on a half-dozen before choosing one presents a huge problem -- holsters are only "new" once. Inserting a gun into a holster always causes some wear. Leather and kydex both scratch and abrade when you insert a gun. There's no getting around that. So you'd have to be prepared to toss out each holster someone had tried in their quest to find the perfect one, or maybe to sell them at deep discounts as used, or at least to keep a "floor model" of every holster -- for every model of every kind of gun -- on hand for each person to try. That's crazy expensive. The mark up on holsters that actually get sold would have to be STIFF. The simple truth is folks would come try out your stock and then go on line and buy the same thing for 40% less.

Everyone ends up with a small (or large) pile of holsters they tried but which didn't work out. It's just part of the game, I guess. The costs associated prompt us to compromise between choosing what we think will be the holster that suits us best, and learning to live with it once we get it. ;)

Plan2Live
October 23, 2011, 08:23 AM
Quoting Sam1911 for all of the following;
From a business perspective, it is a real tough proposition to carry a wide variety of types of holsters, by a sizable selection of makers, for the huge variety of guns folks might want to carry.
I get that, but what about limiting it to the major brand holsters and most common pistols? Let's face it, not too many people are going to try to CC a S&W 500 or Desert Eagle.

That would be enough of a challenge just to have them in stock, but then to allow folks to try on a half-dozen before choosing one presents a huge problem -- holsters are only "new" once. Inserting a gun into a holster always causes some wear. Leather and kydex both scratch and abrade when you insert a gun. There's no getting around that. Given the cost of the alternative, a pile of rarely used holsters, I would persoanlly be willing to overlook some minor scuffing. We buy used houses, typically marry "used" spouses and once you test drive a car it's no longer "new". Maybe I'm the odd one for being able to accept that.

The simple truth is folks would come try out your stock and then go on line and buy the same thing for 40% less.
Don't be that guy! And shame on those who follow that practice today. WalMart, Lowes, Home Depot, Best Buy killed off the mom and pop store only because we let it happen. That is a despicable practice in my book. We should be thanking the bricks and mortar retailer for putting their cash on the line and presenting a product in a manner that we can pick it up, see for real, evaluate in our hands, etc.

Everyone ends up with a small (or large) pile of holsters they tried but which didn't work out. It's just part of the game, I guess. This is one of the times when "that's just the way we do things around here" should be challenged.

Oh and no offense to Sam, he is spot on and brings up good points, I'm just challenging the mindset that leads to that pile of holsters and as Sam points out, we perpetuate that reality by going along with the way it is and not demanding a better alternative.

Sam1911
October 23, 2011, 11:27 AM
I get that, but what about limiting it to the major brand holsters and most common pistols?Well, certainly that would have to be part of the plan. How many of what model, for what gun?

Lets see, the autos folks carry most are, Glock, S&W, Springfield, 1911s, CZs, Khars, Kel Tecs, H&Ks, and Sigs. (Yeah, I missed some.) Now each of them make what, 5-15 models that are "commonly" carried? Oh, wait, lots of folks carry revolvers, too. S&W, Colt, Taurus, Rossi, Charter -- 1-7/8 up to 4" barrels are common, but some of those cross over. Now we need an IWB, OWB, high-ride version, low-ride version, plus ankle or shoulder rigs for some choices. If there's only one company's version of each...that's a PILE of holsters.

Given the cost of the alternative, a pile of rarely used holsters, I would personally be willing to overlook some minor scuffing. We buy used houses, typically marry "used" spouses and once you test drive a car it's no longer "new". Maybe I'm the odd one for being able to accept that.You're really going to buy a holster that's been chewed up by the sights and safety levers of 20-50 guns before yours, and you're going to pay full retail, plus a BIG mark-up for that? I'd have to say you're mighty alone in that opinion. And, as I mentioned, 9 out of 10 buyers are going to come try out stuff and then go home and order it on-line to get a NEW one without the huge mark-up the brick&mortar store has to charge for keeping that huge inventory.

Or, if they're more "ethical" than that, they'll just stay home and place their order on-line without coming to your store at all. Like they do now.

Don't be that guy! And shame on those who follow that practice today. WalMart, Lowes, Home Depot, Best Buy killed off the mom and pop store only because we let it happen. That is a despicable practice in my book. We should be thanking the bricks and mortar retailer for putting their cash on the line and presenting a product in a manner that we can pick it up, see for real, evaluate in our hands, etc.A pal of mine used to say, "Wish in one hand and poop in the other...see which piles up first." ;) We all want great local stores that keep a great selection, let us try them all out, and charge less than we can get it elsewhere. But like most things, you can get one or the other but not all three. And when the business model doesn't work -- because folks won't pay enough to support it -- the business fails. We wish it wouldn't. We promise with all our hearts that we would never spend less if we could. But all those "other guys" out there are real jerks, and one or two loyal customers with deep pockets can't keep a shop afloat.

We'd like it to be different, but it isn't. And begging, pleading, and wishing won't make it so. Folks spend no more than they have to, and take whatever advantages they can. That's a natural law/condition. YOU may choose to break that natural law, but the rest of human society won't.

This is one of the times when "that's just the way we do things around here" should be challenged.Well, I'm sure some places have tried. Some may have made it work. I'd encourage you to try, yourself. Put the money into it, get the inventory. Tell folks the deal. If it works and you can sustain yourself and your shop that way, GREAT! You may have taken a step to make the world a better place. But understand that you're not breaking totally new ground and the vast majority of shops who sell that product have decided that they can't make it work your way.

we perpetuate that reality by going along with the way it is and not demanding a better alternative. Demand? Demand of whom? There's a lot of "demanding" going on these days. Folks seem to feel they can simply insist that the conditions or things they want or feel entitled to be provided for them. But the cost of those entitlements has to come from somewhere. Considering how incredibly difficult it is to survive as a business, the extra costs aren't going to come out of the dealers' pockets.

Are you going to go holster-less until someone gives you the shopping experience you want? Are you going to convince the rest of the shooting public to join your boycott? My hat's off to you if you can, but in the mean time, I need holsters NOW to carry my guns, and the system that has developed organically already works well enough to get a holster on my belt that works well enough for my needs, for a price I can afford. It seems the vast majority of shooters have discovered the same reality.

But what can I say? Develop your business model. Figure out how much you have to charge per unit sold for the service you're providing. Put up your money. (Or convince your local shop(s) to do so.) Offer folks your way and see how the experiment plays out. If you believe in something that others do not, you'll have to make it happen yourself if no-one else will.

Plan2Live
October 23, 2011, 01:31 PM
Reply to Sam1911;
No, I'm not going to go holsterless until Utopia arrives but change starts with one spark. That's all I was shooting for here, air it out and get more people thinking/believing it is possible. And yes, the real answer is develop my own model put my money where my mouth is and see what happens. The conservative numbers for start up are steep and that's if you only stock the accessories and not the fireworks themselves. With 144,000 carry permits issued in SC so far and increasing at a rate of 23,000 per year it seems feasable on paper but drawing those folks into a store and getting them to play nice is the Trillion Dollar question. Finding the venture captial is the bigger hurdle. Too bad I don't have the same contacts as Solyndra or Fisker Automotive.

zoom6zoom
October 23, 2011, 02:09 PM
to allow folks to try on a half-dozen before choosing one presents a huge problem -- holsters are only "new" once.
And that's even without considering that you don't want the average joe unholstering his loaded pistol in your shop!

Sam1911
October 23, 2011, 03:51 PM
And that's even without considering that you don't want the average joe unholstering his loaded pistol in your shop!
Hmmm... I see poured concrete "fitting rooms" with a snail shell bullet trap and a "MUZZLES THIS WAY" sign to keep folks oriented away from the rest of the customers. You'd certainly want good staff on hand to make sure folks practiced the very highest level of safety. Loading & unloading are the most dangerous moments of the gun-carrier's day -- and you're inviting the public at large to come to your shop to do it!

Even the most "liberal" of gun shops (meaning those with no rules against carrying firearms on their premises) generally have a "leave it in the holster -- NO HANDLING" type of rule. This would require having a staff member on hand to act as a holster department Safety Officer to help folks unload, clear their weapons, and keep them pointed (for lack of a better term) "downrange" while trying on their selections. That's a high-pressure position to put an employee in. He (and by extension YOU) become liable for whatever bad stuff happens.

Plan2Live
October 24, 2011, 08:15 PM
Oh come on, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about anything. If you had a system that allowed try on's, it would have to be with supervision and with and unloaded weapon. This is starting to go off into "what if" land just like the folks who think once carry laws are in place there will be shootouts in parking lots.

Sam1911
October 24, 2011, 08:28 PM
Oh come on, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about anything. If you had a system that allowed try on's, it would have to be with supervision and with and unloaded weapon.Certainly. That was my point. A firm, responsible staff member who will attend the customer's selection process and enforce that rule. It won't enforce itself. But that does add to the cost for the shop. This isn't just any counter guy, but someone who can carry a somewhat elevated level of responsibility, and wield a measure of authority without annoying your customers so much they stop coming. I.e., not a minimum-wage guy who spends the rest of the day sweeping up the store room and emptying trash cans. You have to hope he stays real busy, as if he has time to be helping out at the counter, then folks aren't trying on holsters, which means your investment is costing you money.

I'm not trying to argue, but to help think through the requirements for this to work.

Gun Nerd
October 24, 2011, 10:28 PM
How about a holster adoption club. Members send all their unused, unwanted holsters to a not for profit clearing house. Holsters are then inventoried, photographed, and posted on a website. Members can, for the cost of shipping, and a nominal annual membership, try out lightly used holsters. If you like it, keep it. If not, mail it back. Kind of like red box for pistolas.

sixgunner455
October 24, 2011, 11:13 PM
I've tried out holsters in stores before. Always ask first, always told to go ahead. Signs on doors say "Unload before coming in, action open, or leave it holstered." Can't understand why I'd spend a hundred or more dollars on a piece of leather without checking to see if it fit the gun and my hip first. Wouldn't buy boots without trying them on, would you?

Sam1911
October 24, 2011, 11:37 PM
I've tried out holsters in stores before. Always ask first, always told to go ahead. Really? That is very cool! What store? How did they handle shop wear on the merchandise?

Bigger question: How many holsters do they stock, for how many different makes and models of gun? If you walk in with a compact CZ, a full-sized HK, and a Colt Detective Special, are they going to have a selection of holsters for each of them?

Can't understand why I'd spend a hundred or more dollars on a piece of leather without checking to see if it fit the gun and my hip first. Wouldn't buy boots without trying them on, would you?
Well, that's not entirely fair. If you buy a holster, you have an entirely reasonable expectation that it will fit the gun it is advertised to hold. If it doesn't, it's entirely defective and would be returned. Guns are universally dimensionally identical across the same model (unless you've customized, and then fit is YOUR problem). Feet aren't. :) As for fitting your hip? Well, that's the rub. But a holster (leather anyway) tends to conform to you sufficiently enough given the slight variations possible in that area of real estate. Fit to your hip is hardly critical the way fit of a boot to your foot would be.

Still, a nice option if your shop will let you.

sixgunner455
October 25, 2011, 06:56 AM
Really? That is very cool! What store? How did they handle shop wear on the merchandise?

Bigger question: How many holsters do they stock, for how many different makes and models of gun? If you walk in with a compact CZ, a full-sized HK, and a Colt Detective Special, are they going to have a selection of holsters for each of them?


A number of different stores in AZ and UT. I have no idea how they handle shop wear. Some of them only have a few models and one or two brands in stock, but will order something for you to try. Others stock a lot of different models, but again stick to one or two brands. The bigger stores, especially in the bigger markets like Phoenix, stock lots of models in multiple brands.

As far as fitting oddball models, I bought a CZ75B SA. It has a different slide configuration than a standard CZ, so it was tough to find a holster that would work, let alone one that fit it well. Every store I went into let me try holsters to try to find one that would work. In one of those stores, the owner listened to my problem, walked me over to a display of Galco, Dan Hume, and other holsters, and told me to try Beretta 92 and Glock 21 holsters. Then he walked off to help another customer. When I had one picked out I thought would work, he came back over and helped me make sure it was secure, fit the gun well enough not to cause wear, and so forth. I bought a Galco Concealable from him that was made for the Glock 21. Not exactly a cheap holster. I had tried the gun in a number of other holsters. That store, and most others I've been in out here, act like that's the expected norm - make sure it fits, make sure it works before you spend your money, just like clothes and shoes.

A buddy of mine bought a holster from a store that was supposed to fit his revolver without bringing in the gun to try it out. When he got it home, it didn't work. The store took it back as a return, and put it back on the shelf. It's a holster, not a swimsuit or underwear. Putting the gun in it doesn't wear it out or contaminate it.

Sam1911
October 25, 2011, 11:18 AM
Interesting! And pretty cool! The shops around here don't keep much if any holster selection, it seems. The biggest shops are places like Cabelas, and the holsters they carry are generally either "field" models or some versions of "duty" holsters, the best of which seem to be Bianchis, lots of "universal" fit nylon floppies, shoulder rigs -- a lot of stuff I'm surprised anyone really would buy. Certainly not high-quality concealment holsters.

In your example, the owner left you alone to manipulate your firearm in his store, unattended, it seems. That is very impressive trust of the clientèle! Perhaps I read too many gun show, gun shop, etc. negligent discharge stories. And perhaps having the task of range safety officer fairly frequently makes me a bit oversensitive to a more casual attitude toward gun safety. (Just last month a lady was killed in a gun shop a few miles from my house through just such a negligent discharge of a customer's carry weapon.)

Carried guns -- HOLSTERED guns -- are safe guns. Guns that come out of holsters tend to get into a lot of mischief. Honestly, seeing folks draw, holster, clear, and otherwise manipulate their sidearms in unsecured areas of public places scares me. I tend to see any place where folks are encouraged to do so as an area of heightened danger/caution -- just like a firing range. It is good to hear that some shops' liberal attitudes about the risks have not been rewarded with tragedy. (But I tend to inexorably feel the need to add, "... yet.")

JTQ
October 25, 2011, 12:20 PM
sixgunner455 wrote,
As far as fitting oddball models, I bought a CZ75B SA.

I bought a Galco Concealable from him that was made for the Glock 21.
I'm glad they let you try it to see if your gun fit. However, I'd be willing to bet the price of your holster, that you'd get a better fit with a holster from just about any custom maker, sight unseen, that was made specifically for your CZ75B S/A. Chances are also good it wouldn't cost you any more than the Galco. That seems like a pretty big window of fitment between a Glock 21 and a CZ75B S/A.

sixgunner455
October 25, 2011, 12:32 PM
JTQ - that may be true. The big trigger guard on the CZ is as big as the Glock 21, and the slide is about the same width - don't know the exact dimensions, but I can tell you that the holster works. It would probably have been easier to have someone make one, but no one that I checked with was making a holster at that time for the S/A.

I made a lot of different leather products as a kid, but got out of it when I was in college and then the Army. I bought that pistol right after I got out of the service a number of years ago. This year, I've gotten back into making leather, and I've been having a lot of fun with it, but it takes me some time to get a holster made. OTOH, it took me some time to find a holster that worked, and I got a whole side of saddle skirting for not a whole lot more than that Galco cost.

beatledog7
October 25, 2011, 12:37 PM
Holsters are like jeans--unless you're buying the same exact model that you already have (and even then there is often variance), you can never tell if the fit will be right unless you try them.

So I buy holsters only after trying them--with my unloaded gun. Just bought two at the SGK show in Virginia Beach after being allowed to test fit them.

TI agree with those who have said that a gun retailer who won't let prospective holster buyers test fit with their own gun is like a clothier who says you have to pay for the jeans before you can try them on, or a car dealer who disallows test drives because the prospective buyer might accidentally scuff something. Who buys a new car believing that nobody else has ever test driven it? How do you think it got those 34 miles on the clock?

If I find a holster in a shop that is perfect for my needs, I'm not gonna care that a few guns may have been inserted in it and that the holster is therefore not "new." As soon as I holster mine, it's not "new."

It's unreasonable to expect a dealer to have holsters in stock yet disallow test fitting or discount any holster that's had a test fit. If those rules were applied, there'd be nothing in stock to try at any shop.

BTW, my CZ-75B SA fits very nicely in a holster marketed for the Beretta 92.

sixgunner455
October 25, 2011, 12:44 PM
Beatledog - I picked out two holsters that day. One was for the Beretta 92, and the other for the Glock 21. I bought the one that I thought was best for most of my uses, which happened to be the Glock.

JTQ
October 25, 2011, 02:53 PM
beatledog7 wrote,
Holsters are like jeans--unless you're buying the same exact model that you already have, and even then there is often variance. You can never tell if the fit will be right unless you try them.
If you are talking about how the holster fits you, such as do you find it comfortable, I'll give you that. However, as I mentioned to sixgunner455, the list of makers that will make a holster that will fit your particular gun perfectly, sight unseen, is a very long one.

I'm always amazed at the number of people that buy a 1911 holster for their Browning Hi-Power "because they are pretty close". Lots and lots of makers make a holster specifically for a Hi-Power. Heck holster makers are so good they make a different holster for the Sig 1911 with its' slightly different slide profile. There is no sense buying an "almost" holster when you can get one that really fits, and it will fit, you don't have to try it out before hand.

beatledog7
October 25, 2011, 03:21 PM
JTQ,

Yes, in part I mean checking how a holster fits you. But I also mean that how we like a particular gun to draw--snugness, angle, etc.--is a very personal thing. Even having a holster custom fit for an exact model cannot assure that it will be as snug or loose as the buyer desires or that it will ride at the exactly the right height or angle. No two people agree on what perfect fit means.

Like with jeans, we all know what we want and trying on is the only way to ensure we get it.

I bought the aforementioned Beretta holster because it is a perfect fit for me and the way I want to wear my CZ. On the manufacturer's site, the same holster model number pops up for both the CZ and the Beretta, but its retail packaging is marked only Beretta.

I'm a lefty to boot. So I have to be pretty patient to find holsters to test fit. I'm glad jeans are ambidextrous.

Eaglestroker
October 25, 2011, 09:19 PM
I fixed this problem by learning to make my own. Adapt and overcome.

Plan2Live
October 30, 2011, 07:30 PM
Well would you look at that! I'm scrolling through THR looking for new and interesting posts and low and behold I run across a thread started by me. Except I didn't start this thread. Immaculate conception? Yes, these are comments posted within another thread but just to be fair, this is not my thread. Looks like someone wanted to spotlight a difference in opinion and did some copy and pasting.

And remember, if you posed certain theories or ideas at the right time in history, you would have been told the world is flat, earth is the center of the universe, man will never fly and we should close the US Patent office because everything that will ever be invented has already been invented.

The Lone Haranguer
October 31, 2011, 11:16 PM
Back at Scottsdale Gun Club (Scottsdale, AZ), they let me try out holsters for gun fit. (I didn't ask - or even think of, for that matter - to wear them.) Even at this large dealer, they only had a modest selection of holsters, mostly Galco, for the most popular guns, e.g., Glock, Sig and 1911. Interestingly in one case, instead of trying out my gun (a CZ PCR), they took an identical gun from the display case.

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