first published on October 31, 2015 by Matt Silvey
Ever since I received my first holster from StealthGear USA two years ago, they have been my go-to inside the waistband (IWB) holster, whether it was their original ONYX hybrid model or the newer AIWB model. The quality, fit, finish, and just as importantly, the comfort has always been outstanding, and something I could rely on.
However, there are times when an IWB holster is not necessary, or appropriate, and an outside the waistband (OWB) holster is called for. Generally, when that was the case, I would go with my Raven Concealment Phantom, but now I have another option.
StealthGear now has an OWB holster, the FLEX™ OWB, and I was lucky enough to be included in a select group that got our hands on this new holster before it was released. One of the benefits to my new assignment at my day job, at least from a holster testing standpoint, is that I am no longer wearing a full duty belt and thus can test holsters all day long, while getting in and out of cars constantly. What better way to test this new holster?
First, before I get into the holster itself, I’ve got to say that StealthGear has really upped their game on a presentation level. I knew the holster had been shipped, but I was not prepared for what arrived in the mail. Seeing the return address label, I knew what would be inside, but the ;ook of the new packaging is outstanding. Unlike most of the holsters I have purchased over the years, from companies both large and small, this was not just a holster tossed in a bag, then stuffed in a padded shipping envelope. This was a shipping box, over and fully finished showroom display shelf presentation quality box. Inside this new box were the holster, some paperwork and a small bag containing some spare hardware. I am not sure why, because it is just the packaging, but I was really impressed with the presentation.
Upon removing the holster from the box, I immediately noticed the odd shape of the belt loops, or as StealthGear refers to them, the multi-loops. They are called that because their shape accommodates belts of varying widths, and still manages to remain securely in place, and it works. In my testing, I used both a 1 ¾” and a 1 ½” belt, and I never noticed any difference in how well the holster stayed in place.
The FLEX™ uses the same “VentCore®” chassis as their other products, which offers similar comfort levels. In fact, all of the materials are the same as the ONYX, and the only real noticeable difference is in the attachment system. The multi-loops, which are adjustable for height and cant, are attached to short Kydex® “wings” which are attached to the chassis in a manner that allows them to flex. That flexibility not only contributes to the comfort, but also is where the name of the holster originated.
My initial impression of the FLEX holster I received was just like what I have come to expect from StealthGear. The edges of all of the Kydex bits are nicely smoothed, the hardware was all clean and tight, and the stitching around the edge of the chassis was uniform. In other words, fit and finish are excellent. I retrieved my Glock 19 and slipped it into the holster while it was still in my hands, and it fit like a glove. The precision with which StealthGear forms the Kydex half of the holster is really amazing, and that precision translates to the gun being held very securely when holstered.
After test fitting the gun and knowing all was well, I began wearing the FLEX as my every day holster, both at work and at home. The comfort level is excellent, perhaps surpassing that of the ONYX, but only because I am not having to put the gun and holster inside my ever shrinking waistband (I really need to figure out why the laundry fairy keeps shrinking my clothes…). Comfort is one thing, but how about security? I’m happy to report that the retention level was perfect. I’m pretty sure I could fall off a two story building, land on my head, and the gun would not fall out of the holster, yet my draw was not negatively affected. While I never saw the need to mess with the level of retention, StealthGear says it is adjustable.
As I said, I began using this holster as my EDC holster, and as such, concealment was also tested. The holster tucks in very high and tight to my body, making it easy to conceal my Glock 19, with a +2 baseplate on the magazine, with as little as a lightweight tee shirt. While there are many IWB holsters that accomplish that feat, I’ve not found many OWB holsters that do it as well, and none that have done so while offering this level of comfort.
This brings me to the only issue I found with the FLEX holster, at least initially. The early design of the “wings” had one drawback when combined with certain clothing, such as lightweight tee shirts. When attempting to pull the shirt up with my support hand, to clear the gun and holster so I could draw, the shirt sometimes got caught on the edge of the wing, throwing a hitch in my ability to draw my gun. Upon finding this issue, I passed on my concerns to the folks at StealthGear, and it turns out I was not alone in voicing this concern. I was informed others had mentioned that as well, and that they were looking into it.
This is where StealthGear really impressed me, and set themselves apart from other entities that I have had the opportunity to beta test products for. In the matter of a couple weeks, I received an email from StealthGear letting me know they had already shipped me a replacement FLEX holster which incorporated a product change, and asking me to test it to see if there was any improvement. When I got the new holster, I immediately noticed a change in the design of the wings. I swapped out holsters and set about testing the new design. Even when intentionally trying to get my shirt hung up on the holster, I was unable to replicate the problem I had with the earlier design. Not only was StealthGear receptive to the feedback from us, but they resolved the problem in a ridiculously short period of time. That folks, is how you do customer service!
I have been wearing the FLEX for more than a month now, and it has quickly become my favorite OWB holster. I’m pretty sure that if you give one of their holsters a try, you will see exactly what I am talking about. That said, I can already hear some people complaining about the price. I will give you that there are cheaper holsters out there (I know, I own a bunch of them), but StealthGear holsters not only have those cheaper holsters beat in quality, they also come with a 30 day money back guarantee. How many other holster companies offer that?
If you have any questions about this product that you think I can answer, feel free to ask me here in the comments. Also, take a look at the FAQ page on StealthGear’s website as you might find your answer there.