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.


This guy puts together some of the best match videos I have seen. Plus it is just fun to watch an open shooter blast their way through a stage.

Monday, July 8, 2013

50 Yard Work

Part of my criteria for a carry gun is being able to hit a "man sized" target from 50yd. To me, being able to employ a handgun from at least 50 yards should be a minimum standard. I have since raised my personal standard of performance to being able to keep 10 rounds in a USPSA A-zone from 50 yards, no time limit. I gave it a shot with the R1 a few days ago. I was a little concerned because I had noticed while inspecting the gun that the rear sight is pushed over the left slightly. It is just barely off center, but anticipated it might push the shots left a little.

Honestly, I don't think it did. At least not enough for me to care. Here are my results with one obvious flyer.

The sad part to me is I don't remember calling that flyer in the D-zone through the sights. Not seeing the mistake as it happens means I cannot address the problem because I don't know what it was. More work to do.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Why the R1

When I made the decision to try a 1911 and started looking at my options I really had no idea which way I wanted to go with it. All I pretty much new was I wanted to stick with a 5" gun and get something that could do double duty as a carry gun and a match gun. On the front end, I really knew nothing about 1911's, it is probably debatable how much I know now after just a month of owning one, but I really had no idea what I was looking at. The thing about 1911's, as I understand it, is that it is pretty difficult to tell a good one from a bad one just by looking at it assembled. Disassemble the gun and you can get a little better idea, but even then, until you shoot it you don't know for sure. My 1911 choice was basically based on what I like in a gun, or what I thought I might like because some of the things I wanted I actually have very little or no experience with.

On my hit list were a fiber optic front sight, plain rear sight, checkering on front and back strap, beaver-tail grip safety, front cocking serrations, aggressive grips, non-ambi thumb safety, and a mag well. I wanted was as many of these items out of the box as possible. I didn't really want this to be a "build" gun. I wanted to be able to buy it, maybe make a couple tweaks, then run it hard. It is fairly easy to find a 1911 with all those options, what gets difficult is finding one for under a grand. Obviously, I didn't get everything I wanted with the R1, but I got most. The only thing missing is the mag well and front strap checkering. Both easy enough to fix with a little grip tape and new Main Spring Housing (MSH). I also stayed under my price point, which means AAAAMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. And that is a big deal.

For now, the gun is being run in factory condition to see how it runs from the factory. The only adjustment that has been made is to the extractor tension. I plan on running it with the 2 factory magazines (which are Mec-Gars) as much as possible to see how they work out. The idea is to see how well the gun will run from the factory with only a slight user adjustment. We will see how it goes. Round count isn't high enough to matter yet.