Finding that Impossible Holster

A reader took the time to drop us a line recently.  He has a simple enough request.  He’s looking for a holster and needs some help. 

With all your gun knowledge, maybe you can help me.  I’m having trouble locating a ambidextrous shoulder holster to fit a Kel-Tec PF-9 with a Crimson Trace Laser.  Every store and company I talk to says they don’t have one built to fit the laser.   Do you have any suggestions or recommendations?

He couldn’t make it easy on us?  Actually, I feel his pain.  I’ve been waiting for a Smith & Wesson Talo 3-5-7 to come in.  Not only is it a seven shot, it has a 7-inch barrel.  And I want to wear it on my hip in a leather holster with a traditional western look, but hardly any ornamentation, and I’d like the option of strong-side carry or cross-draw. 

Kel-Tec PF-9

The Kel-Tec PF-9.

That’s what I’m looking for, and I know I’m going to have to have it made specifically for this gun, and I’m Ok with that.  I’ve got a peculiar sensibility.  I’m often as particular about the aesthetics of a holster/gun combination as I am about the pure functionality. But it sounds like this reader has some more practical necessities at work.

Finding a hard to find holster 

Let’s begin with what makes this request difficult.

  • The reader wants a holster. That, in-and-of itself is a very personal decision.  We’re not told if he might prefer Kydex or leather, or if he’d be willing to use a Cordura holster.  I myself prefer to keep my more traditional guns in leather holsters, and my polymer framed pistols in Kydex.
  • He wants a holster for a Kel-Tec PF-9.  That shouldn’t be too hard.  With the popularity of the PF-9, holsters abound.  And there are multiple styles, as the PF-9 is small enough for concealed carry and large enough for less concealed holsters.
  • Which brings us to the shoulder holster. Most shoulder holsters seem to be made for full sized, or heavier handguns.  I think this has less to do with mass and/or size, and everything to do with who wears shoulder holsters.  They are more commonly associated with LEOs in suits than civilian concealed carry.  The PF-9 is not a typical service gun. If we were searching for a Glock, a Beretta, or a 1911, the options would be broader.
  • The last two are the killers.  And so I’m going to lump them in together.  The Kel-Tec is equipped with a Crimson Trace Laser, and the owner wants it to be ambidextrous.  If it were a dedicated right or left handed holster, maybe.  If it didn’t have the Crimson Trace, maybe.

I’m not going to surprise anyone when I say there aren’t many options.  This is the perfect challenge for a custom holster maker. My favorite for this sort of challenge is Tony at Multi Holsters.  He does amazing work.  Lasers are no problem.  I talked to him at SHOT a couple of weeks ago and he showed off a new ankle rig.  He’s working on a shoulder holster now. 

But when I asked him about this specific request, he balked at the ambidextrous requirement.  Tony makes holsters from Kydex.  He didn’t say it couldn’t be done, but he did say “Kydex is pretty specific.”

Why a custom holster might not be the best solution 

If you can imagine it, a custom holster maker will attempt it.  At a price.  But since we’re talking about a gun that retails for about $300, an expensive holster might not be an option.

Galco VHS

Galco’s VHS is ideal for larger guns.

Even a good leather shoulder holster is going to coast almost as much as the PF-9.  Galco, for instance, makes a holster that might work (if we were talking about a slightly different gun).  Their Vertical Holster System is genuinely ambidextrous.  And it is open beneath the trigger-guard for a distance that might provide enough clearance for the laser.  Might.  But it is a moot point.  No PF-9 VHS. 

Ambidextrous 

Left handed, no problem.  Right handed, no problem.  Both — challenging.  There are few ambidextrous holsters.  Two reasons.  First, most holsters are meant to have low profiles.  Second, most shoulder holsters have a secure form of closure that is opened with the thumb.  If a holster is to be ambidextrous, this clasp or catch, or button has to be movable.  Again, I go back to the Galco VHS.

The laser 

This last one is going to be hard to accommodate, too.  A good custom holster maker, like Tony, will have a wide selection of guns and lasers.  But it isn’t cost effective to have everything.  So the more obscure you get, the less likely you are to find what you’re after.

Options? 

Pick a side.  Left or right?  Does it really need to be both?  Lose the laser.  Or settle for an IWB.  But these aren’t really answering the question. 

Ace Case

A nylon holster from Ace Case.

There is one other option.  I don’t hardly consider it an option, but it would work.  Nylon holsters aren’t formed to specific weapons.  They are more like snug pockets.  As such, they’re more accommodating for lasers. 

The Ace Case Horizontal Shoulder Holster might work.  And it isn’t going to break the bank.  They make one for full sized guns with lasers (which might swallow the PF-9) and one for smaller autos with rails (which might be a good, snug fit). 

Conclusion 

I’m not sure I’ve solved the dilemma.  Choosing a holster is a very personal decision.  If I were on a budget, and in love with my PF-9, and had to have the laser, than I wouldn’t hesitate to order an Ace Case Holster (or two, knowing I’d be sending back the one that didn’t fit). 

If money weren’t an issue, I’d call Galco and ask how much it would cost to make a VHS for a PF-9.  They have PF-9 models, with Crimson Trace lasers (I know, because they make at least one holster for the gun). But there may be a good design reason why they don’t offer the VHS for the PF-9. 

The kicker here may be in choosing which side I’d be wearing it on.  And this might be important.  A holster is a crucial piece of hardware.  I like for the fit to be exact.  It isn’t something I’m willing to negotiate on, much.  And the more flexibility you design into a holster (like ambidexterity), the more likely something is to fail. 

The solution?  Save up for a custom rig.  Or settle on that delicate balance between need and want.

If you have a question or a tip, email us at tips@guns.com.

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