BlackDog Concealment holsters... a visit to the shop.
A few weeks ago (as I write this), I had the honor of visiting Carl Witt in his dungeon at BlackDog Concealment holsters. There, I watched as he masterfully crafted my very own IWB hybrid holster. I found BlackDog holsters through an ad placed in our local gun club's newsletter. The usual ads, the size of a business card, which local business's use to support a local club and reach out to local customers. In my case, I noticed just how close BlackDog is to my home (about 10 minutes), and thought to myself "Self... Maybe you can see how this Kydex holster making stuff actually works!" Contacting Carl, he readily agreed to open the dungeon doors and show me how the magic is made. BlackDog is a 'Retirement' business for Carl, who spent his life making machines behave. Now, he spends time with his son building holsters to, as he puts it, make money to buy beer and gas. I have a feeling it's gone a bit beyond that at this point.
I asked how he got started making holsters, and got exactly the answer I suspected. Carl shoots competition, and just couldn't find a holster he was happy with... so he made his own. And another. And another. And..... before long it just happened. Asked if he advertises, Carl replied "No, pretty much just word of mouth". Asked how many holsters he makes a day right now, he says about ten or twelve. Doing the math on how long it took him to make mine (while I had to keep dancing to stay out of his efficient way), I gather Carl's 'retirement' business is more than a full time affair. I chose the Hydrid IWB Minimalist holster for my Glock 30sf. This holster has a leather backing where it touches the body, and a Kydex outer sheath which is molded to fit the pistol. It attaches to the belt with a springy polymer clip, allowing the holster to be installed and removed easily while fully dressed. Pistol retention is achieved by the shape of the molded Kydex, and is fairly stiff.
The process of making the holster is pretty straight forward, yet Carl's attention to detail is profound. There are rows of identical machines, each set up to perform a specific function. I believe the man orders presses and buffers by the six pack. When I ordered the holster, I half expected to hear back the 30 'SF' was a no-go. It has different dimensions than most compact Glocks, and many accessory makers don't work with it because demand is too low.
Silly me..... Carl has that covered. He has wall full of 'Blue Guns', used to mold the Kedex. All neatly arranged, classified, and marked.... just like everything else in the work shop. There is also an impressive collection of lasers and weapon lights arranged in likewise fashion. They can match up most combinations of pistol and attached light to build a perfectly fitting concealed carry holster. In fact, I am now considering mounting a light on my daily carry G-30sf, simply because now I know I can get a holster to fit it.
There is an equally impressive wall full of custom wood and metal dies used to mark off and form the leather and Kydex. Most appear to be made in house, in separate wood and metal working shops. Carl is pretty much a jack of all trades, and it shows in the custom jigs and fitting used around the workshops.
So... the real question.... what about the holster? Like most people who carry for self defense, I have amassed the 'Big Box 'O Holsters'. Bought at one time or another in efforts to find something better. That said, I've been been carrying in the very same Galco JAK Slide daily for maybe 15 years. It's simple, fits, and works well enough I'm willing to let the few down-checks pass. I've now been carrying with the BlackDog holster for a few weeks, and find it to be more comfortable than I imagined. It's the first IWB holster I've had that doesn't rub or irritate in any way at all. It's also at least as secure as the Galco Slide, if not more so. I like the idea of installing and removing the weapon and holster as a unit, giving me a few less chances each day of having an accidental discharge. Like any holster, there are a few quibbly things I'd consider changing, and just might ask Carl's advice on. Those aside, I believe this holster will not be destined for the 'Big Box', but will be worn in rotation with the Galco for quite a while to come. It's *very* comfortable, quite secure, easy to install and remove, draws nicely, and re-holsters WAY better than the JAK Slide. I'm happy with it.