I could have called this article "Praetor Defense Holster is the Greatest Thing Since Prehistoric Man Created Tools from Rocks and Sticks," and I would not have been far off the mark.
My Holster Background
I have owned dozens of holsters. They run the gamut from leather to kydex to fabric. Some are made from a combination of materials. Some have active retention systems, and some do not. Some are intended for concealed carry, and some are intended for open carry or duty use. I have holsters that are meant to be attached to or hung from practically every part of my body, whether I'm wearing clothes or not.
There is no single holster that could perform all of the duties that the variety of holsters I own perform. However, there are holsters that cover the most common situations in which one would need to carry a duty size handgun. These situations might include general concealed carry, range use/training, or open carry in the field.
In the past, I have evaluated kydex holsters manufactured by Raven Concealment, NTAC, and Cane & Derby. These were all fine holsters, and still are. Each manufacturer has a significant lead time on production, which, at the time, was well deserved. They make a quality product which they back up with efficient customer service.
However, I still found the leadtimes required for these holsters discouraging. I don't generally plan my handgun purchases for months in advance, and I like to be able to carry newly purchased handguns within a reasonable period of time after I have purchased them – after I have ensured that they work.
Praetor Defense and Weapon Outfitters
Enter Praetor Defense and Weapon Outfitters. They first contacted me about a holster review at the beginning of this year, but my schedule prevented a timely reply. When I finally got back to them, they offered me a choice between Glock and Smith & Wesson M&P holsters, with 1911 and Sig holsters being in the pipeline. I requested a Glock 19 holster, and found it on my doorstep about two weeks later. Two weeks is still a little while to wait, but it appeared that my holster shipment was delayed because the "order" was not really an order. If I had actually paid for it, it would have shown up sooner. Still, this was the shortest period of time I had ever had to wait for a kydex holster.
I have been carrying with the holster every day in the four months since. I was cautioned prior to using it that I should use Loctite on the hardware (screws), and did not heed this advice. After about a week, one of the screws worked out of the "nut" to which it was attached, causing the holster to be a little loose on the belt. This did not affect my ability to carry it for the rest of the day, or my ability to conceal or draw the weapon. Had I followed the instructions I had been given, I would not have encountered this. Still, I mention it in the interests of full disclosure. This was the only issue I have had with this holster. I used another screw and nut, Loctited all of the hardware, and carried on.
The Praetor Defense holsters are made by Blade-Tech. I had used Blade-Tech holsters before, and found their manufacturing quality to be excellent, but the designs were not ideal for concealed carry. They either stuck out too far from the belt, had inferior attachment methods, or too much of a "footprint" - they were just too big. All of these issues – and some I had not even thought about – were solved with the Praetor design.
Like every other kydex holster I have used, retention is based on the holster gripping the trigger guard. Unlike some of the others, this one has adjustable retention – although this should not be compared to the active retention offered by a larger holster intended for duty use, such as a Safariland SLS or ALS. While the level of retention offered by the Praetor Defense holster is more than adequate for anything short of falling off a cliff, it will not stop someone from grabbing your weapon and pulling it out of the holster without having to defeat some type of retention system that they may not be familiar with. While this is most obviously important for police officers in uniform, anyone who open carries should also use an active retention holster - no exceptions.
Design & Manufacturing
The thickness of the kydex used for the holster is very important. While thinner kydex offers a marginal improvement in concealment, especially within an inside the waistband holster, it also results in drastically reduced durability. Most of the kydex holster manufacturers have abandoned the thinner layers and moved to slightly thicker ones. Praetor Defense and Blade-Tech have struck a good balance here, opting for what seems to me like a slightly thicker holster. Since it is designed for outside the waistband use, this is of special importance. If you fall on a hard surface, and I have done so several times while wearing kydex holsters, you do not want the holster to break and allow your pistol to skitter across the pavement or down a rocky hill. I have no issues with the design or materials used as far as durability goes. This is a solid holster.
Beyond that, the methods and tools used to make this holster are obviously different than those used to make competing holsters. While the other holsters all appear to be made by roughly the same methods, it is pretty clear that the Praetor Defense holster was made with industrial tools or equipment that offer a much better molded or pressed holster. There's not much more I can say on this other than both appearance and quality, or perhaps the appearance of quality, is higher with this holster than others.
As I mentioned previously, this holster was meant for outside the waistband use. I'm told that they're working on inside the waistband belt loops, but these are tricky to design and manufacture. The ones I have experience with are easily broken, especially if they snag on something, and this leaves you with an unusable holster. The outside the waistband belt loops used for this holster are rather interesting. They are solid loop of material, appearing to be molded as one piece. This is an example of how I feel that Praetor Defense took the right route with this holster. While other manufacturers can turn out a quality product, the industrial capacity, capability, and knowledge that Blade-Tech brings to the table cannot be ignored. This feature is simply out of the realm of possibility for most small holster manufacturers.
I should also discuss the magazine pouch. It's manufactured using the same methods and materials. It is reversible, meaning that you can carry bullets forward or backward, on your left or right side. There's not much to say about it, other than the fact that it is the best example of a kydex magazine pouch I have seen. Anything I say about the holster can also be said about the magazine pouch.
In addition, the footprint, or size, of this holster is improved over competing designs. Holsters that are longer – that is, from front to back – are simply not as comfortable, especially if you are sitting for long periods of time in a confined space such as a vehicle. One might think that the wider holsters would be more stable on the body, but I have not found this to be the case. This holster feels rock solid when I'm drawing or holstering the weapon, even though it is the smallest I have used of this type.
Since there are no provisions for adjusting the height of the belt loops, I was initially concerned that I would find the position of the pistol in relation to my belt too high. Instead, I quickly grew to appreciate this location. Being slightly higher than where other holsters placed the pistol gives me a little more leeway in terms of dealing with items of clothing that cover the pistol. This might seem backwards at first – the farther up inside a shirt or jacket the holster might be, you would think, the harder it would be to access – but the extra room between the forward edge of the grip and my beltline allows me to get a more solid and consistent grip on the weapon before I start to draw it.
There is a bit of forward cant to this holster, which I find beneficial when drawing with the strong hand – but it is not so much as to preclude me from coming behind my back with my left hand and drawing the pistol from the holster if I am unable to do so with my right hand.
Something I actually had to think about in the course of writing this review was whether the holster had ever moved in the time that I had been using it. This is almost funny – when I was using hybrid leather/kydex holsters, I was always having to shift their position, because they were always shifting their position. This holster has not budged a fraction of an inch in the entire time I have been using it. The one drawback to this is that with the kydex reinforced belt that I wear, it is slightly difficult to get the holster on and off the belt. However, I do not find this to be a problem at all. I much preferred this to having a holster that shifts around and doesn't leave the pistol in the position I expect to find it when I need it.
While this holster was designed for use with the Glock 19, it could also be used for a Glock 26. A Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Compact fits Glock 19 holsters quite well. The Ruger SR9 fits into this holster with a more than acceptable level of retention, and the Kahr P45/CW45 fits with an adequate level of retention. Kahr CW9/CW40/P9/P40 pistols do not have an adequate level of retention with this holster. Other pistols may fit this holster as well, but I cannot state firsthand which models would fit with acceptable levels of retention.
In the video below, the first pistol I draw - a Kahr CW45 - is from the Praetor Defense Glock 19 holster.
Put simply, outside the waistband holsters do not offer the same level of concealment that inside the waistband holsters offer. However, outside the waistband holsters are more comfortable, and this leads to me not having to adopt body positions that might highlight the fact that I am carrying from time to time. In turn, this leads to easier concealment. I have never been "made" while carrying with this holster, and I am often in situations or places where concealment is essential.
Wait Time and Cost
I've saved the best for last. You can order this holster for $57 from Weapon Outfitters right now, and it will ship within a reasonable period of time – say, a business day or two. Wow.
The biggest and most obvious difference between this Praetor Defense holster and the competition is the appearance and evidence of different manufacturing methods, but what makes it excel is the attention to detail that was paid during the design phase. While I would put the other holsters on a roughly even level with one another in terms of quality and value, the Praetor Defense holster is simply without peer.