Monday, June 17, 2013

Aegis Armory Shield Hybrid Holster Review

Hours after bringing home my new Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 40, I received an email from Stephen Landry at Aegis Armory inquiring if I would be interested in reviewing one of his Shield hybrid holsters.  I don't know about you, but anytime a coincidence as strong as this one comes my way, I'm definitely going to jump on the opportunity just to see how it plays out.  As it turns out, it was a happy coincidence and I've been very happy with the performance of both Shields over the last few weeks.

Aegis Armory claims that their Shield holster is "comfortable from day one".  Having suffered through lengthy break-in periods with previous hybrid holsters, I was really anxious to see if this claim was going to be truth or sales-talk.  I'm very pleased to report that for me the claim was true.  The Shield holster and pistol quickly found their comfortable spot on my waistband that works well with my wardrobe of cargo pants, jeans, and shorts.  In the photo sequence above, you can see I was two-shirting it when I took the photo series.  That wasn't due to the holster.  My Shield pistol had some uncomfortably sharp molding sprue left at the base of the magazine well that was rubbing me raw.  Rather than deal with the issue right away, it took me a couple of days to get the frame out on the bench and remove the sprue with an X-Acto blade.  Once that was removed, I no longer needed the undershirt.

If I had to make a guess as to why the holster was so comfortable, my guess would be the pre-cut back of the holster.  One more neat feature of the Shield holster is that the leather backer is cut so it can be looped through and worn outside the waistband or worn inside the waistband under the belt.  The belt cuts are strategically placed where most of the body contouring takes place as the holster mates with your body shape.   

In the opening photo above you may notice that I'm not using the standard metal clips that come with the holster.  My personal preference is to use narrow C-clips on my hybrid holsters.  Most of my belts are 1" or 1.25".  Being high-waisted, when I wear a belt 1.5" or 1.75" wide, I end up looking like Urkle.  That's fine for competition, but not a good every day look for me.  I have no reason to believe the standard metal clips wouldn't be entirely serviceable if I had used them.

Out on the range, the holster did well.  On Saturday, I ran 5 ammunition tests that involved me bending over, stooping, sitting, squatting, standing, and carrying.  I'm also in and out of my vehicle at least a half dozen times.  Though all of that activity the holster and pistol never changed position.  It was as tight in the holster at the end of the day as it was when I put it on in the morning.  That's just the way it should be with any holster.

On Sunday, I was back out on the range to do some draw and fire practice with the Shield pistol and Shield holster.  Feel free to watch the video review if you would like to see the holster in use.  At the end of the video I also include some close up bench video showing off some specific features I found to be notable with the holster.

Starting at $50, which includes your choice of 3 different color leather backers (black, brown, or tan), there aren't really many things you can do to increase the price of the holster other than select one of the 16 available Kydex shell colors that isn't Plain Black.  Even then, the up-charge is only $2 or $3 depending on which color you choose. 

Currently, the available gun models are limited.  A quick scan down through the available models list shows me spotty availability.  One example is revolvers.  If you have a Smith and Wesson J Frame, you can get a Shield holster.  If you carry the Ruger LCR, you are currently out of luck.  I think Stephen continues to add new models as he acquires blue model guns, but I did want to make you aware that your particular make and model may not be available yet.  Personally, I'd like to purchase another Shield for a Boberg XR9-L, but I doubt enough requests will come in to justify the expense of acquiring the blue gun.  Aegis Armory is still relatively new, so I expect their model list will grow as the business grows.

All Aegis Armory holsters are hand crafted in Flowery Branch, Georgia by Stephen and his family.  In addition to the Shield hybrid, the "Guardian" trigger guard and "Sheath" are Kydex only holsters that are also available.  Follow Aegis Armory on Facebook and you may even catch a glimpse of some prototype holsters as they are developed.  Here's a pocket holster design that Stephen recently posted on the Facebook page.  Dubbed the Scout, it appears to be for the Kahr PM9/40.  This holster is still on the drawing board, but may be available "on request".  As a pocket holster guy, I'll be watching how this holster develops over time.

Speaking of "on request", don't be bashful about asking for a custom holster for just about anything you may want a holster for.  Stephen also does custom knife sheaths and I've even seen some crazy cold beverage caddies that you can wear on your belt.  I'm not one to be overly bashful about floating new ideas that could be cool, so I asked Stephen to see if it was possible to create a cross draw appendix carry holster based off the Shield design.  He's checking into it. 

If you are in the market for a hybrid holster, you should definitely comparison shop Aegis Armory and consider the Shield before you buy.  The value at the current price point is really outstanding. 

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