Shooters, be they active duty military, law enforcement, Vets, or civilians, love to talk about their carry.

A day at the range is never complete without a little gun gossip — swapping stories about a given pistol or rifle and any modifications that have made the firearm superior. Haggling over stopping power versus not printing, 1911’s versus Glocks…all part and parcel of the gun community fun.

But something that often takes a back seat to the pistol being carried, but which is also vitally important, is the holster. A person can be trained and ready to be that sheepdog or lion, but if the holster is subpar, accidents can happen and the draw and reholstering can be dangerous.

As a gal who’s never served in the military, never been in law enforcement, and never competed in shooting, I’ll lay out what I have learned over the last few years and expect many of you will add fantastic comments. I have absolutely no fragile ego concerning my gun and accessories knowledge: I only desire to learn and help others take steps to join the concealed carry community. Or at least be able to proficiently fire a weapon, to prepare for “Left of Bang.”

For years holsters were made of leather. What’s not to like about leather? It smells great and looks good, almost western-like. And regardless what all the Lefty gun-grabbers assert, cowboys are cool. They represent that Audie Murphy and Gene Autry appeal of the “Cowboy Code.” Cowboys were (are) gentlemen and protectors. That’s good stuff.

But there are some problems with leather.

First, let’s look at what a shooter should consider when choosing a holster. Matt Schlueter had a fine article in USA Carry a few years ago that outlined the following:

  1. Concealment
  2. Drawing
  3. Comfort
  4. Retention
  5. Exact Fit/Form Maintenance
  6. Quality of Workmanship
  7. Reholstering/Re-enforced Throat
  8. Covered Trigger Guard
  9. Removability
  10. Clothing

Like a lot of folks, I was trained by very good NRA instructors and could go to the range, charge mags, and put the lead down range in a reasonable group. But that is light years away from real-life, high-stress, imminent threat situations. And certainly has nothing to do with drawing and reholstering.

Last winter I was fortunate to take a Conceal Carry Tactics course from the highly respected, former Navy SEAL Jeff Gonzales, of Trident Concepts LLC. Boy did I learn what I didn’t know: a lot. A hell of a lot.

Starting with loadout. Can I carry my Glock 19 and my 5.11 A1 Tactical Mission Torch and 5.11 Min Pin Folding Knife? Can I clear my clothing, strong hand only draw my pistol, and concurrently draw my flashlight? Jeff also talked at length about holsters, and after the three long days, and over 1500 rounds down range, I began to fully appreciate what was a good IWB holster.

Jeff recommended JM Custom Kydex holsters, and now, having my own JM Custom Kydex Tricon Pro Carry (designed in collaboration with Gonzales), I understand why.

Sure leather is pretty sexy, smells good and all that. But leather has vulnerabilities: it’s sensitive to temperature, humidity and moisture. And what makes leather GREAT for a baseball glove — the fact that with time it softens up — makes it dangerous for a holster. (check out this story of a guy who nearly shot his ass off due to a softened up leather holster).

Kydex on the other hand?

As written in The Truth About Guns:

KYDEX holsters are virtually maintenance-free. If a KYDEX holster gets dirty or dusty, you wash it off and wipe it down. KYDEX holsters are ready to use right away; they don’t have a “break in”period. They will maintain the desired shape over a lifetime of use. What you see is what you get and what you get is what you’ll see even after years of hard use.

Kydex “was originally produced in 1965 by Rohm and Haas, having been designed for use in aircraft interiors.”

One thing I learned in Jeff’s class was a firm, and almost fast (I will improve over time) draw and a GENTLE and mindful reholstering. Clearing clothing for both is essential, and you sure don’t want a holster that doesn’t stay put. Also, for in the waistband, it must be comfortable.

The Kydex holster is virtually indestructible and can be completely comfortable.

I had a conversation recently with John “Tony” Mayer of JM Custom Kydex and thought it would be interesting to share a modern shooter turned entrepreneur story.

How does anyone decide “I’m going to design and make holsters for a living?”

Interestingly, Tony’s story sounds like so many others I heard: he ended up owning his own business as the byproduct of making something he loved.

Tony loved to shoot, wanted a good holster and decided to try making his own. He had been in construction for sometime, decided to go back to school in ’09 (when the housing industry went bust) to better himself and his career possibilities, and to finance the schooling began making more holsters for others.

The holster making became lucrative, such that he quit school and nurtured his thriving start-up.

About the beginnings? How did you figure out how to make Kydex holsters? What special equipment did he have to start with?

Tony: Trial and error, mostly. When I first started I think I had a bench grinder, a cordless drill, a tiny convection oven, a foam press and two saw horses and a little table. I bought Kydex when I could afford it. Started making designs and it kind of evolved from there.

Tami: One thing that says a lot about you is the fact that Jeff Gonzales would collaborate with you, because he’s a perfectionist. Having been special forces as a Navy SEAL, he requires nothing less than excellence. How did you come in contact with Jeff?

Tony: A customer bought a holster from me, was in a Jeff Gonzales class. The customer said he really liked the holster and told me he would put me in contact with Jeff. Jeff called me one day, asked about a couple of my designs. And it went from there. He really liked the scabbard design that I was making at the time — which is basically my version 3. And the mag pouch, he wanted something to go with the Tricon package, he wanted inside the waistband. We put the package together and have been going ever since.

Tami: So you got interrupted during your second go around with school, the business took off, and it’s been growing ever since?

Tony: Pretty much. It’s been growing every year.

Tami: What would you say is your biggest percent of customers…do you get a lot of military or law enforcement, or just shooters out there who want their holster?

Tony: The biggest percentage is civilian, some law enforcement…but the biggest is civilian.

Tami: Are you seeing a growth in the civilian purchasing?

Tony: Oh yea. Huge. Appendix carry right now is crazy, it’s by far my best selling design. But yea…big growth. I don’t advertise at all. I have had zero advertising budget since I started. I’m on a couple forums…and Facebook here and there. But that’s about all I do.

Tami: I didn’t know how I’d feel about an IWB holster for a Glock 19, but was surprised at how very comfortable it is.

Tony: Yea. I’m a bigtime minimalist. So I try to keep everything as small as I need to.

Tami: Any last words you’d like to add?

Tony: I think the thing that separates me from a lot of holster companies is that I design every holster that I make to serve one purpose, and try to do that one job really well, before I learn how to make it fast. So I made the holster with a really defined purpose, which took me longer. Then I learned how to the make the design as fast as I could and still make it well.

I say well done, Tony! Like so many inventive, hard-working Americans, Tony Mayer turned his passion into a thriving business that helps his family, his local and state economy, and certainly helps the shooters who are proud to wear and depend on his quality custom holsters.

I’m sold. And highly recommend the JM Custom Kydex Tricon Pro Carry, but since conceal carry is a personal matter, and must be tailored to the individual, check out the JM Custom Kydex website. The selection of holsters is amazing. You tell JMCK your pistol, carry side, cant degrees preferred, guard preference, belt loop, thickness and color. And what you receive about 8 weeks later? The perfect holster for you.

This is why Jeff Gonzales has partnered with both JMCK and Robar Guns. In fact, any of you Glock™ 19 or 23 owners should make note: ROBAR® has partnered with Jeff  to bring two custom Glock packages (Tricon Pro Carry Mod 1 and 2) with all the modifications that Jeff has on his personal Glocks™.

And with the Pro Carry packages you can add the JM Custom Kydex Tricon holster/mag pouch.

You see Mister Smarty Pants President, people DID build that!

Tony Mayer built JM Custom Kydex with his hard work and ingenuity. Jeff Gonzales built Trident Concepts LLC (weapons and tactics training) with his hard work, experience and passion. And Robbie Barrkman built Robar Guns with his hard work, creativity, and determination.

And just think, I’m blessed to reap the benefits of the hard work of those three entrepreneurs. That, my friends, is the America I know and love.

A country where FREE citizens, patriots, can toil and sacrifice and achieve dreams. A country where no man, no president who would be king, has the power to take away our God given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Not to mention copious amount of guns and ammo…and the perfect holster!


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