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Old 08-24-2010, 01:44   #1
zmarshall
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IHL - Praetorian IWB Holster Review

IHL or International Handgun Leather is an Arizona based company owned and operated by a very respectable gentlemen with 15+ years as a top competitive shooter (one of the original USPSA/IPSC Grand Masters) who makes his holsters based on what he thought was missing or needed some improvement in high quality concealment holsters.

Visit his website for more info or to shop his beautiful holsters, gun-belts and accessories.

This is a review of one of his finest IWB Holsters, the Praetorian.

If you want to skip to the pictures they will be in the 2nd post, below is a detailed rundown of the holster's features and strengths.

The Praetorian is basically an IWB (Inside Waist Band) holster with a single attachment point in the form of a double snap designed to go around a sturdy belt, preferably a gun -belt. The attachment point is angled and positioned under the heaviest part of the firearm (the magazine loaded grip). Because of this single attachment point and the placement of it under the heavy area it is only wearable in the area between 3 and six o' clock of one's belt, depending on preference. As a reminder, your zipper would be 12 o' clock and the center of you back would be 6 o' clock.

There are several advantages to a holster specifically designed to ONLY be carried in this position, the biggest of which seems to be comfort. This holster holds tight against your body, stays put and feels like a part of you even when sitting in your car. This idea of sitting in your car comfortably may not be as obvious to all of you but since I own a Saturn Ion Redline which has 4 bucket seats designed to hug your body all around and be compatible with 5 point harness systems, this is a huge issue for me. I usually unholstered entirely when driving more than 5 mins, but now I don't even have to adjust the holster's position, it fits perfectly without pressing against my body to hard at any one point. Another benefit is consistency, the heavy magazine is fully supported so the holster doesn't want to twist under it's weight as the day goes on.

Another benefit also seems to be concealability, this is by far the most concealable holster I have ever worn. I am a very skinny guy and the 5 o' clock position is the only position I have ever had any real success with concealment, though there have always been issues, but with the Praetorian it fits me perfectly, it holds the firearm at just the right angle to keep the grip from sticking out the back and simultaneously increases the ease of drawing and reholstering.

Speaking of reholstering, this holster has a solid layer laminated between the 2 layers of leather which keeps the holster completely open for easy reholstering, even with a tight belt on. I found this to be a very welcome feature, but not one that I thought to hard about until I had it, in summary, IT IS AWESOME!

A feature that is designed into many of the holsters you will find at IHL is replaceable belt snaps. The snaps on this holster can be unscrewed and replaced should they get worn out, scratched up or otherwise damaged.

Putting design and function aside, this holster is beautiful and features better craftsmanship than a $200 custom holster I had recently ordered and returned.

How about their customer service you ask, well, in my opinion, 2nd to none. I spoke with the owner himself every time I called, and he called me several times throughout the build process to let me know how it was going. When we had an unusually wet couple of days during the drying part of the process he called me just to let me know what had happened and that it might take a 2 or 3 days longer than he estimated. I met him in person in his show room before I even ordered and he took the time to listen to what I was looking for and explain which of his holster designs would work and how. When I came to pick it up, I think he was more excited to see me try it on than I was, though I was way more impressed and flat out blown away by the result. He even sat down with me and talked shop for longer than either of us would care to admit.

I know one thing, this holster will never end up in the holster drawer and is only the first of many to be ordered and worn from this very talented company.

Check out pictures of The Praetorian in the following posts.
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Last edited by zmarshall; 08-24-2010 at 02:11..
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Old 08-24-2010, 01:51   #2
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Carry Issues
Holster Front

Carry Issues
Front With SA XD 40 holstered

Carry Issues
Back with XD

Carry Issues
Here you can see the angled belt attachment designed to fit around the curv of your body specifically for carry between 3 and 6 o' clock.

Carry Issues
Even a skinny guy like me can use this one...

Carry Issues
Note how the grip stays tucked against the side and the holster itself doesn't really stick out anywhere. Also note the angle which doesn't really change during carry due to the positioning of the attachment point under the heavy mag loaded grip.
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Last edited by zmarshall; 08-13-2011 at 16:58..
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Old 08-24-2010, 01:57   #3
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Carry Issues
Nice and tight against the body.

Carry Issues
Here you can see the holster keeping its shape while the firearm is being drawn.
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Last edited by zmarshall; 08-24-2010 at 02:03..
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Old 08-24-2010, 11:55   #4
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Looks Good! I've always preferred this style of IWB holster over other designs as I have a small waist & am more comfortable w/the weight of the pistol on the hip vs. behind it.
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Old 08-26-2010, 15:32   #5
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The issue of where the perceived weight is felt seems to be a big deal amongst the EDC (Every Day Carry) community, I personally just resigned myself to the idea that I was going to have a brick strapped to my hip every minute of every day for the rest of my life, and anything that feels better than said brick feels good to me.

With that said, my brick does feel more comfortable than ever in this holster and with the recent addition of a nice gun belt to the equation, my brick seems to be lighter than ever.
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Last edited by zmarshall; 08-26-2010 at 15:34..
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Old 08-29-2010, 10:22   #6
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i have the galco version of this holster in horsehide. in my case, the gun keeps tilting, one way or the other, and gives me inconsistent positioning of the gun.
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Old 08-29-2010, 17:03   #7
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Hello bdhawk, I have seen almost all of Galco's IWB holsters and the only IWB they have that is anything similar is the N3, which I actually tried to order a while back and they were not manufacturing them at the time. What I mean is that I have no reference to imagine what your holster is like, so I really can't speak to how it might compare to the IHL holster.

I can theorize as to potential reasons why you may be having the tilting in either direction problem. The 1st thing that comes to mind is the actual position on your belt, again, this kind of holster is designed to fit into a very small window on your strong side between your 3 and 6 o' clock position, usually closer to the 3 o' clock position. If worn to close to the center of your back the holster may not have enough friction to stay put, no matter how tight your belt is.

The tightness and quality of your belt used with this kind of holster also plays a huge roll in how solid and held in place it will be. If you use a cheap department store belt or dont wear your belt tight enough or some combination of the two, your holster will naturally have some play.


The width of the belt strap also has something to do with the stability. The IHL holster reviewed here has a pretty wide belt strap with 2 really solid snaps. Looking at the galco N3, which uses a very similar design, I notice the belt strap is a little thin.

Finally I think the type of firearm carried plays a huge roll in how much it will tend to tilt from one side to the other. Looking at your standard 1911 package and comparing it with any of the glock style synthetics, you can see some huge differences in weight and the location of this weight. My IHL - Praetorian is made specifically for my SA-XD 40 4 inch. This is a full size gun chambered in a medium sized round with a high cap magazine design, so the loaded grip of this gun may be much heavier than the loaded grip of a single stack 1911. This added weight to the grip area would make a holster want to tilt to the grip side if the support wasn't placed properly, however, a lighter grip in a holster like the Praetorian might want to tilt the opposite direction. If this is the case, then this might not be the best holster design for that kind of weapon, who knows.

In closing, let us also make the comparison of Galco to IHL. Galco is a holster manufacturer, IHL is a custom holster builder. The quality you get from Galco, while consistent, is not the same level of quality you will find at IHL or most other custom holster companies.

So while I am sorry the galco holster you have tilts, I do not feel that your situation carries any weight in the review of this fine IHL product.
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Last edited by zmarshall; 08-29-2010 at 17:08..
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Old 08-29-2010, 17:48   #8
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zmarshal

i just dug it out of the holster box. the holster i referred to was purchased in '93. just before my CCW went in effect. it was my first CCW holster. i carried it just behind the hipbone at 'bout 3:30 to 4:00 using a 3/4" heavy leather belt. i do not remember the brand of the belt, but it was manufactured to be a handgun belt.

the holster is embossed.....

GALCO
HORSEHIDE
PHOENIX, ARIZONA
NSA 224

it was purchased for and made specifically for a G22. it was galco's version of the then popular ARG or ayoob rear guard by mich rosen. it has a loop, about 1 1/4" wide secured with chicago screws.

and yes, the handgun grip was usually in the wrong place. it was usually tilted too far back, making it difficult to grab it properly. i even tried to sew another belt loop on the front, trying to remedy the problem. no joy.

if anyone wants to buy the IHL holster, or any other holster, knock yourselves out. i was just trying to tell folks that i had, and they may have, issues with the particular design referred to by the OP.
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Last edited by bdhawk; 08-29-2010 at 18:12..
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Old 08-29-2010, 18:56   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdhawk View Post
i just dug it out of the holster box. the holster i referred to was purchased in '93. just before my CCW went in effect. it was my first CCW holster. i carried it just behind the hipbone at 'bout 3:30 to 4:00 using a 3/4" heavy leather belt. i do not remember the brand of the belt, but it was manufactured to be a handgun belt.

the holster is embossed.....

GALCO
HORSEHIDE
PHOENIX, ARIZONA
NSA 224

it was purchased for and made specifically for a G22. it was galco's version of the then popular ARG or ayoob rear guard by mich rosen. it has a loop, about 1 1/4" wide secured with chicago screws.

and yes, the handgun grip was usually in the wrong place. it was usually tilted too far back, making it difficult to grab it properly. i even tried to sew another belt loop on the front, trying to remedy the problem. no joy.

if anyone wants to buy the IHL holster, or any other holster, knock yourselves out. i was just trying to tell folks that i had, and they may have, issues with the particular design referred to by the OP.

This problem is typical with this holster design. You are correct in that it was originally a Rosen design based on input from Mas. The extreme cant, coupled with the single rear loop are known for stability problems. Some people love them, most don't. It seems the design either works for you or it doesn't.

IMHO, there really hasn't been anything truly original in holsters in many years. There are many builders who continue trying to improve on the great builders, ie Sparks, Alessi, Nelson etc.

Nice advertisement by the way.
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Old 08-29-2010, 23:36   #10
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bdhawk:
The additional information about the specific holster, what was lacking with it, and the general design it was based on made your information much more relevant to this review, thanks for the extra info.

I have seen the original Mich Rosen design and many, MANY, copies. I would assume that if the angle is not perfect for the specific firearm carried, then tilting would be unavoidable.

While I am not saying the IHL - Praetorian is immune to this issue with every possible firearm, I am saying, that in my specific case, it is a non-issue. Like I previously mentioned, if your firearm is heavier or lighter in certain ways, you just simply need to find the holster that works best for that design. For the SA XD 40 4inch model, this holster design seems to work very well.

As a closing note, please understand that I am, in no way, advertising for this company, if they had crappy CS or bad products, you would have read about just that, this is simply a single "personal" review about my specific experience. I am not affiliated in any way with this company other than being a happy customer.
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Last edited by zmarshall; 08-29-2010 at 23:39..
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Old 08-30-2010, 09:43   #11
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Looks like a nice holster. I personally like the design and use a similar design from Mark Waldon. While it may not be as rock-solid as a two-loop design, I find that it's plenty secure while the the slight movement the single loop allows works better for me by keeping the holster from jabbing me in the butt. In other words, the design tends to work with your movement rather than against it. Having a good belt matched up with the holster's belt loop size goes a long way toward keeping the holster where it should be.
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Old 08-30-2010, 16:38   #12
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bulldog, your comment is so true, I wear a 1 1/2 inch gun belt and had this holster made specifically for it.

If I were to snap the holster to the belt without it on my body and hold it horizontal to the ground, without a gun in it it stays exactly were it is supposed to.

This actually made me reread the last post from bdhawk, he mentioned using a belt that was only 3/4 inch tall, maybe this was the reason he was having trouble. Perhaps this general design of holster, having only one snap point, needs a slightly taller belt for the best performance.

good comment, thx bulldog
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Old 08-30-2010, 17:21   #13
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Seems like that belt clip would print more then the gun itself.
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Old 08-30-2010, 22:09   #14
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HAH!

I say "HAH" because you must be joking.

But if you are not joking, then I will comment on the printing of the belt loop:
The belt loop doesn't print.

I think that about covers it.
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Old 08-13-2011, 16:53   #15
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I recently posted a video review on youtube about the crossbreed supertuck deluxe that I ordered and how I felt it really didn't live upt to the hype. This holster was used in the video several times for comparison.

FYI I still carry this holster everyday and love it. I only ordered he supertuck as i need to wear concealed with a tucked in shirt now and need a tuckable holster.

check the video out here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njRlMvFcjsM
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