The exact position we carry the handgun, and the type of handgun we carry varies. Those of us living in a true four-season climate will rely upon more than one holster. However, the demands are constant. The holster must represent a balance between speed and retention. The holster must be firmly in place whenever we reach for it not wallowing on the belt. The holster must allow a good sharp draw.
Often holster makers try to reinvent the wheel. A solid reliable design is timeless and gives good service. Taking a proven design and manufacturing it with modern material at a fair price is a good trick—as long as the good attributes of the holster are maintained. Blackhawk! has done so successfully with the two holsters featured in this review. While it makes many holsters, these are representative of the gear Blackhawk! offers. I have tested each of these holsters thoroughly. They meet my own—by no means lenient—criteria for personal defense.
The Compact Askins
Some years ago, Charles Askins, a well-known writer, Border Patrolman and soldier, designed the Askins Avenger holster. Since then, many makers have manufactured the Avenger holster. The Blackhawk! version is well made of good leather material. The holster has the main advantages of the Avenger type. The holster mouth is reinforced to facilitate holstering and re-holstering after the draw. The holster is well molded to the individual handgun.
The original Askins design features a belt loop that rides tight and close to the trigger guard, pulling the holster in close to the body. As a result, the holster is almost as close to the body as the pancake design, but offers more rigidity and a better draw angle. The first belt loop is a tunnel loop. The holster cinches in tight when married to a proper gun belt.
You have to notice the double stitching. Many makers get by with single stitching on inexpensive holsters. The Blackhawk! holsters are double stitched, and this is a good feature. There are a couple of changes to the original pattern. The first change is the addition of a tension screw. I like that a lot. While the draw tension may be adjusted, the holster may also be tightened as the leather wears and becomes loose over the course of years of use.
Second, the Compact Askins is shortened into a belt slide type. This allows the use of an Officer’s Model, Commander or Government Model in my 1911 models. The same would be true of a Compact Askins holster for the Glock, with the Glock 26, Glock 19, and even the Glock Long Slide accommodated by the same holster. There is enough tension and length in the leather to keep the pistol secure. The draw is sharp and the holster is a good choice at a fair price.
The Check Six
At first, I thought the Check Six might be a new variation on the small of the back (SOB) or middle of the back holster. I was incorrect. The original SOB was developed to allow European security personnel to wear their SIG’s concealed on the belt under a short blazer. They worked well enough. They remain popular with those that wish to conceal the handgun but cannot adapt to an inside the waistband (IWB) holster. Some folks find the IWB irritating. I do not and use it often.
The SOB had its share of tactical drawbacks. The problem of attempting to draw with a bent wrist and wearing the holster over the mid back are neatly solved by the Check Six. The holster rides high and features a manageable forward rake. I am always skeptical, however, after a few fast draws with the Check Six I am a convert.
The Check Six is a well-made holster with good retention. If you elect to carry under a pulled out shirt the Check Six rides high enough to offer good concealment. Just be certain the covering garment does its job. In common with the Askins holster, the Check Six exhibits a good stitching and finish. I am going to adopt this holster and wear it often under a jacket. It is a unique design that offers real speed and retention.
When all is said and done, Blackhawk! offers excellent designs that are well executed and worth their price.
What are your impressions or experiences with Blackhawk!’s holsters. Share them in the comment section.