Monday, July 29, 2013

Safariland Model 18 IWB Holster

This spring I had the opportunity to take Mike Seeklander's Defensive Pistol class hosted by Last Resort Firearms Training. Mike was using a Safariland Model 18 IWB as his carry holster. I was, and still am happy with the holster I was using at the time for concealed carry, but then a friend decided to buy one with the 50% off discount card that Mike passed out to all the students at the end of class. After looking it over, I was impressed but really had no need. It is a pretty ingenious hybrid approach to the classic Galco Southern Comfort style IWB holster. Then came along a 1911, for which I didn't have a holster and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to make use of my own 50% discount card.

The holster has a synthetic suede outer over a kydex like material. Safariland calls it Safarilaminate. How they accomplish it exactly I have no clue, but it works pretty well. You get most of the benefits of a leather holster (i.e. traction against clothing) and most of the benefits of kydex (i.e. holster stays open, positive retention, etc.). Even the belt loops are made of the same material. One thing about all leather IWB holsters is that eventually they wear out, generally quicker than a kydex holster because they absorb moisture being carried against the body. This holster, with its hybrid construction should last for quite some time.

What I really like about the holster is that the belt loops are adjustable for cant by loosening 2 allen screws. I think this is really important on a holster intended for concealed carry because different guns will require different amounts of cant in order to conceal well. For example, when carrying a full-size 1911, more holster can't will generally help keep the butt of the pistol grip from printing. Adjustable cant also means this holster can be carried in different locations depending on the user's preference. Mike Seeklander is an AIWB guy, and being able to adjust the loops to have zero cant or even negative cant facilitates that mode of carry. I on the other hand am a pretty traditional 3:30 to 4 o'clock carry guy, so the holster works well for me too.

The holster is also fast for an IWB holster and the draw I feel is very sure. These are important attributes because having to fumble with trying to get a gun out of a holster in the middle of a fight is not exactly desirable. I was using the Model 18 while running these Bill Drills.

All that being said, the speed and good access does come at a cost. The Model 18 does not conceal as well as the other IWB holster that I use. What that translates to is that I cannot carry a full-sized 1911 under an untucked polo as well. The holster also isn't as stable on the belt as I am accustomed to. Part of this is due to running it with a 5" 1911, and part of it is that I am used to a holster with mounting points set further apart. I think running a lighter and/or shorter barreled handgun in the holster would help tremendously with this.

The holster strikes a good balance. Fast, secure, and great build quality that will last for a very long time. I expect this holster to be my regular EDC and IDPA holster for the foreseeable future.


  1. Good review, I had not heard of the model 18 until now. My duty holster and mag pouch is made of Safarilaminate, I think you'll find it to be plenty durable, though it is hard on the finish of the pistols if that matters at all. I also have no need for a holster, but my curiosity is definitely piqued.

  2. I hadn't heard about it either until the Seeklander class. Even then, didn't really care that much. Really got my attention when a buddy got one and I could actually put hands on it. Ingenious concept. I don't really care about finish wear either. I am a function over form guy through and through.

  3. Very good review, The concealed holsters I bought incorporates a body shield, which keeps the gun from contacting my skin, shirt, or whatever, and protects me from having the gun snag on clothing.

  4. I like the holster. I am use to wearing tighter t-shirts so it does print a little with lighter clothes but the printing comes where the belt loops are. Which in any case is not a big deal. I use a 15 degree cant and the butt of the pistol hides well. Haven't had anyone say anything so it must conceal well and I carry 24/7. I like that it clicks in when reholstering, gives me a bit of confidence that it is snug. I like this holster a lot. Good review.