Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review: Lasermax internal laser for the Glock 30 (fully updated)

When I purchased a Glock 30SF .45acp for concealed carry, one upgrade I intended to make was a laser aiming device. Amongst the Glock multiverse in the merchant's case, there was one with a Crimson Trace laser mounted on it. Handling the weapon, I rather liked the laser device, but the pistol it was mounted on came in a caliber other than .45acp (the one true caliber). I choose the G-30SF as my carry piece, and planned on purchasing the laser as an add on later.

I have owned weapons with laser's mounted on them, but never a pistol. Just once, I was lucky enough to shoot a very decent little Smith+Wesson .32 with Crimson Trace laser stocks. The fine lady who carries this weapon spoke well of it, and I trust her opinion. Seeing the bright red dot appear on the target was quite reassuring. It provided a sure method of sighting the little pistol, and rapid, accurate hits were almost disgustingly easy. I never forgot that.

My plan on mounting a Crimson Trace laser unit on the solid little G-30SF ran into a snag, I'm sad to say. Looking at the CT laser on Midway USA's site, I was almost ready to punch that 'buy' button when caution bade me look a little deeper. Going to the Crimson Trace website and checking out the unit a little closer, I found a notice regarding the SF model G-30. The CT laser does not fit the Short Frame Glock models... and I was simply out of luck.

Not to give up so easy, I wrote to Crimson Trace and asked if units for the G-30SF were going to be made in the future. The response was not what I might have wished.... not only did CT not make a laser to fit my G-30SF, but they would not even be thinking about it for quite a while to come. It seems Crimson Trace's design team only meets to consider new models quarterly.

That is.... every four months.

I waited the four months, and wrote CT again, only to get the same response. They didn't make one, they were not going to make one, and they were not even going to consider making one for at least another four months.

My choices of a dedicated
laser for the Glock G-30 carry weapon narrowed. While there are some fine units that mount on the built in rail, I dislike the idea of a bulky laser/light there. Add to that the limited choices in concealed carry holsters for pistols with rail mounted lasers, and I was left with only one choice... the Lasermax guide rod laser (the LMS-1191 model).

My final decision came after reading a review of the Lasermax by the great and wonderful JayG over at the MArooned blog. On his recommendation, I purchased the unit. Searching around the internet, I came across a dealer on E-bay who had one in stock (Infinite Pursuits). Exchanging a few E-mails, I found them helpful and friendly. Ordering the Lasermax from Tom Bendixon, the owner of Infinite Pursuits, it was here in just a few days and at a price lower than anyplace else. Tom did not know about this review til after I ordered, so I suspect he treats all his customers this well.

The Lasermax guide rod laser unit replaces the factory guide rod under the barrel of the Glock pistol. The G-30 uses a captive spring, and the Lasermax comes with a standard weight recoil spring already installed on it. Installing the guide rod laser unit is no more complicated than field stripping the weapon, popping off the factory guide rod, and pushing the Lasermax into position.

The activation lever for the internal laser unit is only slightly harder to install. Lasermax designed a new 'take down' lever to replace the standard Glock unit, and also a new spring for the lever as well. In the box with the guide rod laser came a new take down lever, the new flat spring for it, and even a very nice tool to depress the spring and install the lever with. The directions are simple and straightforward, and I had the parts change done in less than five minutes. Depressing the old take-down spring, the old lever simply fell out through it's slot in the frame. Gently prying up on the old spring, it too came out easily. Using the tool supplied by Lasermax, the new spring is seated in place, depressed, and the new take down lever slipped into place. It's that easy, and honestly takes longer to write down than actually do.

Once the new take down lever
slash activation switch is in place, the slide is re-installed on the pistol and the job is finished. The laser itself is permanently aimed by how it mounts, and is non-adjustable. There is nothing else that needs to be done.

In use, the laser is activated by pushing the take down lever sideways till it clicks. It's ambidextrous, and works when pushed from either direction. The laser is deactivated by pushing the lever in the other direction till it clicks into it's center position. The nice thing about this action is the natural way it falls into place. Carried safely with the finger extended along the pistols frame rather than in the trigger guard, the tip of the trigger finger naturally falls on the activation lever. The laser can be activated at any time, left off till just before firing, or left off altogether. This may be an advantage over the Crimson Trace uni
t which typically comes on all the time the pistol is held in normal firing grip. On the other hand, it does require a conscious decision to activate the Lasermax laser.

Another feature of the Lasermax unit is the way the laser acts upon activation. It's not a steady beam, but rather a very rapidly pulsing laser light. This has the effect of
making the laser dot truly stand out from it's background, and also makes it very fast to acquire. Aiming the Lasermax laser at various surfaces, I matched it with a fairly powerful steady laser pointer I use daily. The Lasermax pulsating dot was very easy to see against almost any background, even in bright indoor lighting with indirect sunlight streaming in the windows.

The final review will have to wait till I can do some shooting with my newly lasered carry pistol. The sparkling laser dot certainly seems to fall exactly where the sights point, and the unit is very easy operate. The weapon handles exactly the same, weighs the same, and fits in the same holsters as before. The only difference is... I now have the option of on demand laser aide
d aiming in low light conditions.

Pointing the laser equipped pistol at a mirror, it's quite frankly an intimidating sight to be facing. I wasn't sure how visible the laser would be to someone downrange if it wasn't pointed directly into the eyes, but I now see that is not a worry. There is exactly zero doubt that someone with this weapon pointed at them won't see the laser in operation, and won't know exactly what it means.

My impression of the Lasermax guide rod laser so far? Pretty good. It does exactly what the company advertises, and that's almost a novel thing in today's world. Look for further reviews as I shoot and train with the G-30 mounting the Lasermax unit.

Oh.... the standard FTC disclaimer..... Nobody provided anything to the author for this review. Not one blessed thing, just like with everything else that's ever been reviewed on this site. Anything written about on this site is done so honestly and without commercial bias. That said, the FTC can take a nice long hike off a very short pier.

Part two...... live fire testing, and an opportunity to experience Lasermax's customer service.

The first range day since installing the Lasermax unit came, and the first opportunity to live-fire function test the G-30 with the guide rod laser installe
d. Sadly, it led to another first..... my first chance at finding out what Lasermax's customer service is like to deal with.

The laser unit aligns well, and is within an inch of the sights at 30 feet. This is more than accurate enough for defensive situations. While the laser was quite difficult to see in full sunlight, the rapid blinking Lasermax unit did help with that. Understand, laser sights are not meant for use in bright light, but rather in low light defensive shooting.

All that said... a very serious problem did turn up during the days
range session. The Lasermax aiming device did not make it through one full magazine without shutting itself off. Not just turned off, but so far off that several times it would not switch back on till the slide was removed and the unit reseated.

It wasn't a matter of the switch moving to
the off position... it didn't. What appeared to be happening is the guide rod laser was slipping out of position on the barrel, and thus losing it's electrical connection. The unit seems to use the barrel as part of the circuit to activate.

When the unit deactivated itself, the take down lever slash laser activation switch felt different in operation. Clearly it wasn't fully engaged with the laser unit, and felt rather looser than normal.

Returning to castle Carteach0, the original Glock guide rod assembly was reinstalled. While doing so, both units were compared side to side, and the Lasermax unit is clearly shorter. This might account for it's slipping out of position with the barrel.

No matter the reason, a sighting laser that shuts down randomly is not something I have much use for, so.....

Bob at Lasermax was called. We discussed the problems, and he agreed the unit should be looked at. A service number was generated, and the unit boxed up for shipping.

A week passed.... and then much of another. A call made to Bob, who related the springs in the unit had been replaced, and it was in the queue for live fire testing at their range.

A day or so later, and this time the call is from Lasermax.... and here is where their customer service goes over the line. Over.... to the good side. Bob just wanted to let me know their repair took a little longer than normal, as their test pistol on this model laser is a Glock 30. My pistol is the short frame version of that, a G-30 SF.... and lasermax wanted to be sure it would work well in mine. So.... they went out and bought a G-30SF to test my laser unit in. That my friends, is above and beyond, and exceptional devotion to customer satisfaction.

The theory was the inner recoil spring was binding slightly, and this may have allowed the laser unit to fall out of contact. Lasermax's answer was to replace every spring in the unit. All in all a minor error in dimensions, but enough to stop reliable function.

The way I see it... anything mechanical can have problems. If not at once, then in the future. To demand perfection is acceptable, within reason. For those times when mechanical nirvana is not in reach, a manufacturers customer service often takes over. Understanding that things with parts sometimes get kerfloozled, it's the customer service that makes or breaks the experience. In my case with Lasermax, their customer service reached a level I have seldom seen.

Part Three: The unit returns, and is tested in live fire.

The unit arrived within a few days of talking with Bob at Lasermax the final time, packed in the same box I had shipped it in. Included was a letter stating what was done to repair the unit, and a hand written note saying if there were any other problems to let Bob know. Again, pretty darn nice service.

Now, time for a disclaimer..... Lasermax did not provide anything for me to review, in any way. I purchased the guide rod laser from an E-bay dealer with no discount. While Lasermax clearly read the review here on line, and learned of my problems here, I seriously doubt that greatly influenced the service I provided. When I called to deal with it, I certainly did not identify myself as the author of 'Carteach0'. I suspect the excellent service I received is the norm at Lasermax.

Arriving home with time for a range visit, I decided to reinstall the Lasermax guide rod laser and it's special trigger lever in my Glock 30 SF, and run it through it's paces. Sitting down at the kitchen table with the boxed laser unit and my G-30, I had the notion to time myself on the install.

Understand... I had installed the unit once before, and removed both it and it's trigger bar later. I guess you can say I am an 'experienced' installer for a Lasermax unit in the Glock.

With the Lasermax box opened and my pistol laying on the table, I triggered my stop watch. I unloaded the pistol, checked it, field stripped it, removed the stock take down lever and it's spring, installed the Lasermax spring and lever, installed the Lasermax guide rod, reassembled the pistol, and reloaded it. Time.... two minutes and thirty seconds exactly. This included dropping the tiny flat spring twice with my fumble fingers, and checking laser operation before loading the weapon.

Folks.... this is not a difficult unit to install.

Off to the range, I fired a box of warmish handloads through the Glock. There were no blips with the laser unit, and it performed exactly as advertised. I did take note of something that should be mentioned, and is perhaps an omission Lasermax might take care of in their manual. The laser unit does not operate when the pistol is not in battery. In other words, the slide must be forward and fully seated for the unit to function. This shouldn't be an issue during any normal operation, but knowing it might prevent someone from thinking the unit does not operate correctly.

This video, poor as it is, was taken as I fired the last few magazines. While the laser was visible to me as the shooter, in the video it's nearly impossible to see with the sun shining right into the lens.

My thoughts at this point? I will be doing quite a bit more shooting with the Lasermax, and also more than a little draw and point practice in the house under dim lighting. Over the next year I'll be wringing it out in full, and reporting as I go. So far.... it looks good. Understanding the excellent customer service standing behind the Lasermax unit helps my comfort level tremendously.

Lasermax update (3)

True to his word, Bob shipped my Lasermax unit back pretty quickly. This afternoon I installed it and went to the range.

Look for an article soon that combines the whole Lasermax Saga into one long post.

Looks good folks.... looks good.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shot cartridges for pistols (repost)


Reading a post regarding a ‘Snake Slayer’ on another blog, my own small supply of pistol type shot cartridges came to mind. It was languishing in the back of the ammunition locker, acquired long ago for reasons long forgotten.

Digging a bit found CCI shot cartridges for .22 long rifle and 9mm Luger, as well as empty shot capsules meant to be filled and loaded into .38 special and .44 Magnum cases. These unused and aging capsules were made by Speer, and are still produced today.

Shot cartridges in rimfire and pistol calibers have long been around. Meant to turn a sidearm into a close range pest remover, they have been bought by homeowners, gardeners, and farmers for ages. In my own youth they were handed to me by my father, with instructions to shoot any rat, flying or not, seen in the barn. I recall trying out the old Winchester crimped brass .22 long rifle shot cartridge on grain stealing pigeons, only to find them mildly amused at all the fuss. Not only did the tiny and sparse #12 shot have no deleterious effect on them, it often bounced off the age hardened wooden beams and peppered me worse than the pests!

As a boy, I turned to more useful tools such as my trusty Sheridan air rifle and the ever present ‘Wrist-Rocket’ slingshot. At least they would drop a rat or a pigeon with authority, although an elevated miss might perforate a roof shingle too. That was never a danger with the .22 shot cartridges, as their pellets didn’t even seem to reach the roof.

Today I decided to put the minuscule shot cartridges to the test, on paper at the range. Gathering suitable instruments of instruction, along with a camera, it was off to the club! With me went a .410 single shot shotgun, a CZ .22 rifle, my old Taurus .38 snubby, and a Ruger P-85 in 9mm. Ammo to be tested included the CCI offerings in .22lr and 9mm, and a few .38 special rounds loaded with the Speer capsules and #8 shot. The .410 was to serve as the baseline, being considered the quintessential garden gun and pest eradicator of all time. Many a farmers’ barn and gardeners shed boasts an H+R Topper in .410 standing sentry near the door, ready for the call of duty when snake, rat, or bunny appears in the wrong place at the wrong time.

On the subject of ‘Snake Guns’, I can see and agree with the need for protection from poisonous snakes in habitats where they live. Although most snakes will run away from a man rather than attack, there are exceptions to that rule. Cottonmouths in particular have been known to give chase to someone crossing their path. In areas where these critters live, I would happily keep a sidearm with me while hiking or working the garden. In other area’s where poisonous snakes are rare, but beneficial ones are present, I avoid killing snakes when I can. They are no threat to man, but rather eat the rodents that are.

Taking a fifty foot pistol bay for today’s testing, I put up targets featuring a pest I’d happily shoot on sight. Rats! I can handle snakes, but a rat or two will have me kicking over boxes with a club in my hand as fast as you can say ‘disease ridden vermin’.

The full choked .410 was fired at 25 feet, well within its range, but about normal for pest control ranges. Using #4 shot, the little shotgun performed with easy and quiet efficiency and fairly obliterated the rat target. Any plans on garden raiding evaporated.

Next up, the .22 long rifle CCI shot cartridges. Loaded with #12 shot, these minuscule shot shells with their little cup of ‘dust shot’ were fired from a CZ 452 bolt action rifle. Tried first at the same 25 feet as the .410, the rat on the target actually seemed to giggle a little at being tickled with sparse shot impacts.

Moving to 10 feet with the .22 caused the rat some concern, but I doubt it was more than discomfort.

Taking it to almost muzzle touching distance, 5 feet, the rat came into range of the .22 LR shot cartridge and perhaps it was an effective range. While there were strikes on the body of the target, it remains to be seen if they would have been effective. Probably they would, but not instantly. Perhaps a pistol would show a better pattern, but I lacked one for testing today.

Moving up to the 9mm pistol, it was fired first at 10 feet, and its 64 grain load of #9 shot spread fairly wide. If the rat was hit, it was by luck and with only a few pellets. Perhaps a full auto H+K MP5 rat destroyer special might have done better.

Closing range to 5 feet, the 9mm seemed to pattern much better, and would likely be fairly effective on pest like objects. If nothing else, the increase in noise over the .22 should act to alert the rat to someone’s dislike. Still, I would not be surprised to see either rat or snake not instantly dispatched with the .22 or 9mm at more than a few feet of distance. The 9mm with it's slightly larger shot and better pattern should be substantially more effective.

On another, and worthy, note... the CCI 9mm luger shot ammunition fed and cycled in the Ruger P-85 perfectly. That was not a sure thing, as the light projectile weight and unusual configuration can cause serious feeding hiccups in self loaders.

Advancing to the .38 special snubnose loaded with 100 grains of #8 shot over a moderate charge of fast Bullseye powder, the test target at 10 feet gave a telling tale. While not as effective a pattern as the .410, it was quite good compared to the lighter pistol rounds at the same distance. Shooting at a closer range was unnecessary, as the 10 foot target showed sufficient pattern density to easily dispatch pests. The heavier shot was more impressive as well, judging from the backstop upheaval on impact.

Given the easy carry characteristics of the snub nosed pistol, and the fairly decent results of pattern testing at a reasonable pest shooting range, it seems the .38/.357 revolver might be the way to go for pest control, given a situation where a .22 rifle or a light shotgun are inappropriate. While the single barrel shotgun is far better suited to garden pest elimination, it’s just a little hard to pull weeds with one in hand. As for walking a trail in snake country, a decent revolver on the belt with a shot cartridge up first under the hammer would sure settle a travelers mind as to Mr. Slithers intentions.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Concealed carry shooting drills..... Get Real!



Practice Prevents P*** Poor Performance. That's an old saying, but one to be respected. What it means is really pretty simple; Practicing for an event helps prevent one from performing poorly when the real action needs to be taken. Whether it be playing a guitar, driving a car, or just buttering toast, the more we practice the better we'll perform.

That said... why do so few people who carry a weapon for self defense practice using it like they would have to in a bad situation? I suspect most folks who take advantage of their right to CCW do go shooting occasionally, and some shoot a lot. But... i
s target shooting at the range the only kind of practice needed? Familiarity with the weapon is important, yes, and so are a dozen other factors of accurate shooting... but what is left out?

Think it through. If the goal is bulls eye target shooting, then practicing stance, trigger control, grip, and sighting counts for much. If the goal is being capable of shooting in a defensive situation, there are other considerations. Things like carry position, drawing the weapon, and firing from awkward positions. In the gravest extreme, being able to overcome these issues will likely be more important than anything except actually hitting the target.

So... Like the saying above goes... figure out what situations might be faced, and practice for them. In the case of defensive shooting, the scenarios are endless, but some factors are common. We can assume the shooter will not know in advance of the danger (otherwise the scene would have been vacated before trouble started). We can assume the shooter could be in any position at all, just like daily life entails. We can assume the weapon is holstered for concealed carry, and there will be a cover garment over it.

Add all these together, and our work is cut out for us!

For many folks, the opportunity does not exist for live fire from a draw, let alone from odd positions. Most monitored public ranges do not allow such shenanigans for fear of injury and lawsuit. On that note, we must be clear. Drawing a loaded weapon from concealment and firing it is dangerous in ways target shooting is not. The chances of shooting oneself by mistake go up by an order of magnitude, if for no other reason
than the possibility of covering oneself with the muzzle on the the draw.

Even if the local range does not allow realistic practice, that doesn't totally prevent a shooter from doing so. There are other options that don't require shooting live ammunition. Practice in the home is always available, and valuable too. Safety is paramount though, and the weapon must be assured empy, and no ammunition in the room.

Choose scenarios from everyday life... and 'what if' role play them turning bad. With the weapon empty (snap caps are a great option here) practice getting from the position you would normally be in, to a firing position with the weapon drawn and on target. Target orientation could not be choosen in a defensive situation, and the odds are the attacker will be coming from an unexpected direction. So.... practice drawing the weapon and turning to face an attack from each quadrant in turn. Forward, right, left, and to the rear.

Don't let the practice stop there. Imagine other positions one might be in when the situation turns nasty. Suppose our contestant is relaxing at the local book emporium, enjoying a cup of coffee and the latest novel... and an armed robbery begins to unfold at the register. What would one likely be doing then.... sitting down? Book in hand? Try getting up from a seated position, and smoothly drawing a weapon... but it's suggested there be no witnesses the first dozen times or so. The results can be quite embarrassing.

Work through each scenario, and each position, a dozen times per practice. One session moving from various standing positions, and the next try seated positions. If possible, choose an outside trigger to move from. The sound of someone else shooting at the range, or maybe a commercial coming on the TV at home. Take the time to turn your head and evaluate the 'imaginary' threat. Training yourself to draw before target evaluation could lead to a very bad situation, so check it out! Consider the movements involved, and begin in slow motion the first dozen times. As the actions become learned, speed will increase naturally. Beware of trading away smoothness and deliberation in favor of speed.

As above, having a video camera on a tripod, aimed at you are recording, can be a valuable tool. Not only is it a fine motivation to get back in shape (sigh) but it reveals problems in movement and presentation just as well. In the short video shown above, some issues with foot placement and threat scanning show up at once. Through the course of practice, these can be worked on as well.

Why go to this much trouble? Because it's important. If one is serious enough to carry a weapon for self defense, then one should be prepared to use it properly, accurately, and efficiently. It's a moral obligation that goes with the territory. Only practice and self improvement will meet the goal.

Remember... doing this with live ammunition can be dangerous... so take every precaution and follow the range rules. Be aware of your surroundings, and of those around you. If doing dry fire exercises at home, make certain the weapon is unloaded and no live ammunition is in the area.

There is a reason my club range has first aid kits posted, each with large wound dressings. Consider that.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Get a grip on it..... holding a pistol

I would never set myself up as an expert pistolero, nor take on airs that I'm somehow elevated to such lofty altitudes as the real competition shooters out there. That said, I have learned how to hold on to a pistol over the years, and it seems to work.

If it was just a matter of not letting go, a little twine and some duct tape would be all that's needed. But... that's not the case. When we look at a proper 'grip' (or hold) on a pistol, it's about much more than simply hanging on. It's about draw, control, precision, and repeatability.

The ultimate goal in most pistol shooting is to hit the target. Sometimes that target is a small bulls-eye on a paper target far away, and sometimes the target is roughly the size of a drug crazed maniac bent on mayhem and destruction. The target may vary, and the speed with which it must be engaged, but the goal does not change. Hit the target... slow, fast, near, far, in daylight or dark... the goal is to hit the target.

Pistols can be difficult to shoot well, and therein lays the magic for many shooters. The challenge of holding a little bucking chunk of steel in your hands while it explosively sends small projectiles downrange.... and actually having the bullets strike the target like we wish them too... that challenge is what brings dedicated shooters to the range week after week. Whether a competitive bulls-eye shooter, an IDPA pro, or simply someone who carries a pistol for defense, millions of pistol shooters work on this skill on a regular basis.

To those who have managed to gain a leg up on the matter, proper grip of the weapon is resoundingly key. Trigger pull, sight picture, proper draw, follow through... all these come into play. Proper grip, on the other hand, is the foundation of accurate pistol shooting. Without it all the others simply don't work well.

What follows is intended for shooting a semi auto pistol, although most will apply to revolvers as well. Left handed shooters can simply swap 'Right' for 'Left' in the descriptions.

First, the pistol should fit into the 'pocket' of the hand, with the recoil directed into the web between thumb and fingers. Ideally, the arm should extend to find the pistol directly in line with the major bones of the arm. This helps control recoil and speed recovery.

The thumb should extend forward, pointing at the target. The trigger finger, in safe position along the frame, should also align with the target as well. The position should feel natural, almost like making a 'pistol' out of your hand and pointing it at the target.

The hand holding the pistol forms the basis of the grip, and it's very important that it be firm and stable. All control and accuracy is built on this part of the grip, and it must be tight. Not just a little tight, but so firm the muscles in the hand and arm are just short of beginning to shake from the effort. Todd Jarret, world champion shooter and experienced instructor, has been heard telling people to 'Grip 20% Tighter' (no matter how hard they are already holding on). After hearing his advice, I tried it and can't find fault. It truly helps with accurate shooting.

Once the foundation of the grip is built, the off hand is brought into play. Wrapping around the base hand, the left hand thumb covers the right hand thumb, and also points at the target. The top thumb should be pressed firmly against the one below, and thus against the pistol. This aids in recoil control and recovery. Make sure not to have the thumbs touching the slide, as this may cause a miss-feed or jam.

The fingers of the left hand wrap around the fingers of the right, as if to pull it back at the shooter. Many shooters actually do pull the pistol back with the left hand while thrusting it out with the right (I am one of those). Some shooters simply support the base hand. In either case, the offhand should grip the base hand very tightly. Imagine how hard you would be holding the pistol were someone trying to yank it from your hands... and hold that tight all the time.

Done correctly, and practiced, this simple grip will vastly aid in both accurate shooting and rapid recovery from recoil. There is no reason for any normal pistol to break the grip with recoil. Even .44 magnums can be tamed by a proper grip, although anything larger may very well break the grip structure no matter how hard the shooter hangs on. Since .500 magnums are so seldom carried for self defense, or used in competition, this matters little.

Perhaps this short video clip will help illustrate the point.

A proper grip is only one factor in accurate pistol shooting, but it's arguably one of the most important. It should be practiced and worked on till it comes as second nature, both in dry fire and live range work. Once a good, solid, grip is built... the rest can be applied one at a time till the magic happens. Accurate pistol shooting, under almost any condition, with almost any weapon. First... build the foundation. Get a grip on it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Holster review: Galco JAK Slide

There is a true-ism concerning people who carry a pistol for personal defense. It involves the search for an ever better carry solution, and a 'Big Box 'O Holsters'. It seems everyone who carries will eventually build up their own box full of holsters tried out over the years, never fully satisfied and always yearning for something just a little better. We at Castle Carteach0 are not immune to the phenomenon, and have reviewed some of the various efforts in the past.

Well.... this review is of yet another holster... although it's a design with a 35 year proven track record. Now made by one of the top holster makers in the country: The Galco JAK Slide. This holster was originally designed by the 'Jackass Leather Company', predecessor to Galco Leather (the same company designed the only shoulder holster I own, a 'Miami Vice' rig).

I first stumbled on this minimalist piece of carry gear when I bought a S+W M+P 9mm compact. The pistol was a new model, and the holster industry simply hadn't caught up yet. The result.... no listings for the pistol in the holster catalogs, and this author standing before a humongous wall of holsters at Trop Gun Shop. I had to literally open each package on anything that looked likely, and try them out one at a time. The plastic-fantastic kydex rigs were right out. Those things are designed for one pistol model, and really don't do well with change. That left leather, and leather is expensive.

Very expensive, leather is... which is why the Galco holster was one of the last to be tried. Not only was it made for the 1911 pattern, but it cost almost $50. That works out to a 'per ounce' price higher than silver! Still, if the M+P 9c was to be carried, a holster was needed, and the JAK Slide came out of it's package and onto the belt.

The fit to the pistol, to be blunt, was pretty darned impressive. 'Like a Glove' might be one way of putting it. The little M+P is wider than a 1911, but the holster seemed to take that in stride nicely. There was a suspicion the wider body of the M+P would stretch the holster out, but that later proved not to be the case.

The Galco JAK holster rides inside the belt, and outside the pants. Not an IWB, (inside the waist band) but perhaps an IB (inside belt) rig. This has the wearers belt snugging the pistol tight to the body, keeping it close like no outside the belt rig can possible accomplish.

It's certainly not a range holster by any means, and competition shooting is right out of the picture with this rig. That said, in the three years I have owned and used the JAK Slide, it has proven itself to be a valuable CCW holster all out of proportion to it's size and cost. While there was an initial concern over weapon retention, several years of frequent use has shown the design to work. Not once has any pistol even worked loose, let alone fallen out.

On top of that, it's a comfortable carry with shirt tucked or not. All day wear is not an issue, and the weapon is securely held even while fading into comfortable obscurity on the belt.

Please notice in the above paragraph, where it says 'any pistol', and here we arrive at what might be one of the JAK Slide's nicest unintended features. Perhaps because it is pliable leather, and certainly because it's placement inside a tight belt makes it secure, this holster can be used to carry more than one model of pistol!

Yes, it is designed and fitted to the 1911 pattern pistol, and it works remarkably well in that duty. That said, we already mentioned it's use for CCW carry of a S+W M+P. Add to that list of pistols a Ruger P-85, and now a Glock G-30 SF. Yes, this author has successfully and happily carried four very different models of pistol in this holster, for days on end.

There is very little more to be said about the Galco JAK Slide holster. It's a simple rig, built to high standards, that does it's job well. After three years of constant use, there are no other concealed carry holsters in use at Castle Carteach0. Sure, there is a box of range and competition rigs, but only the JAK Slide see's daily use. The JAK slide rules that niche, and has earned the position.