Gear Review: The Appeal of Cross-draw and the DeSantis Dual Angle Hunter

DeSantis makes a vast catalog of holsters.  Their gear is solid, affordable, and readily available.  We reviewed one of their car seat holsters recently and were impressed by its simple versatility.  This time we’re looking at holster with a bit more style.

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The DeSantis Dual Angle Hunter

Smith & Wesson sent us a classic revolver to review.  The 686 with its six inch barrel is, in my opinion, the best looking long barreled double action .357 available today.  And it is just as reliable and functional as it is attractive.

The DeSantis Dual Angle Hunter is the perfect match for the 686.  It’s finished nicely and free from visual defects.  The white stitching is uniform and adds a nice contrast.  The inside of the leather and the edges are finished in black, and the whole holster is buffed to a waxy sheen.

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A gun like the 686 deserves an equally attractive holster.  The DeSantis certainly delivers that.  But the holster offers more than just looks.  The fit is tight.  The snap closure has no play, yet closes securely. And opens easily.

On the backside, the belt loops are a good  example of the DeSantis’ style.  This is the part of the holster that no one will see, yet there is an attention to detail that speaks to DeSantis’ craftsmanship.  The leather swoops down with just enough flare.  The extra leather is double stitched along the belt channel, and down the holster, where the most stress will hit the holster.

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The dual cuts on the back allow the holster to be worn cross-draw or strong-side.  Dual Angle.

There is even a small flap of leather that rides up above the rear sight, to offer that last touch of protection for the gun.

The appeal of the cross-draw holster

I have no definitive proof of this claim, but I think the cross-draw’s origins harken back to long barreled cavalry pistols.  If you’re sitting in the saddle, cross-draw allows for unimpeded access.  The gun rides across your lap rather than sticking into your leg.

And it may come from a time when wide belts allowed for a decent way to secure a long barreled pistol or revolver.  The example below is more cinematic than historical, but it illustrates the point.

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The Outlaw Josey Wales carries four revolvers, the 19th century’s answer to high-capacity magazines.  With Colt Walkers on both hips, a Colt 1849 Pocket under his arm, and an 1860 Colt Army tucked behind his belt buckle, Wales is ready.

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The 1860 Army tucked into his belt allows for a faster draw, as there is less barrel to actually pull up from behind the leather of the belt.  While it isn’t a cross-draw holster exactly, it is cross-draw.  And it is a movie, so of course it works.

Using the Dual Angle holster

There are two distinct benefits to the cross-draw as I see it.  I don’t ever wear anything that covers that front left hip.  I often have on a shoulder bag which rides on my right hip, where I would carry strong-side.

With the cross-draw option, I can cover the gun with my coat tail.  While I wouldn’t consider this concealed, it isn’t as obvious.  I’d call this less-obvious-carry.

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And I prefer a holster with a very secure, yet easily accessed closure.  An example.  I was out in the woods last summer and stepped in a nest of bees.  I ran for close to half a mile, shedding clothes, flailing, writhing in pain.  When I calmed down, I realized I’d ditched a lot of gear.  And a gun which had fallen out of a holster I never wore again.

The thumb snap on the DeSantis Dual Angle Hunter is right where your thumb hits the holster when you reach for a draw.  The natural motion of gripping the gun pops the snap open, and the gun is ready.

Conclusion

My only gripe about the DeSantis is that there’s not a lot of room for the tail of a belt behind the holster.  A holster like this requires a stout belt.  But there isn’t enough room to tuck the loose end of a belt in behind the holster if you wear a cross-draw more centered on your waist.  But that’s it.

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The Dual Angle Holster retails for $109 or less.  While that may seem steep to those used to buying nylon or Kydex, it is reasonable for leather.  And there’s a lot of leather in this holster.

The DeSantis is a great option for daily carry of the 686.  And it is a holster that will age well with the gun.

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