Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Safepacker Holster

In a previous post I recommended bringing a pistol along with you when taking a walk in the woods for defense against both criminals and animals, especially wild or unrestrained aggressive dogs.  When carrying a pistol it is important to have a good holster which will both protect the gun and allow for easy access.

The gun I've carried the most frequently is a Smith & Wesson Model 640, which is a small 5 shot revolver.  It's small enough to fit into a pocket.  I've frequently carried it in a pocket holster in a cargo pocket in my EOTac Field Jacket.  However, I've wanted to pack something with a bit more punch and that's easier to shoot under stress. I also wanted something with a higher capacity, after encountering a couple of unleashed dogs simultaneously.

Since I don't need to be concerned with large wild animals in Pennsylvania (I am not worried about black bear), this meant one of my 9mm autoloaders -- a Springfield XD9, Browning High Power, or SIG P225.  (I might be willing to go with a 6 shot revolver if it's a medium frame piece in .38 Special or .357 Magnum.)

Concealed carry was also desirable.  Although open carry is legal Pennsylvania (including in Philadelphia so long as you have a concealed carry permit) it tends to draw unwanted attention from law enforcement and urbanites unaccustomed to anyone other than a cop carrying a pistol.

Based on these requirements and reading several reviews posted on some online forums, I decided to give the Safepacker from The Wilderness a try.  I ordered on in the "Commander" size which would fit any of the pistols mentioned above.

The Safepacker is made from nylon fabric over a closed cell neoprene foam core.  The main body of the holster has two compartments, one for the gun and the other for a reload.  The main compartment is covered by a flap which is secured by a fastex buckle.  The front edge of the main compartment is closed with Velcro, allowing an easy draw.  The flap also has hidden pocket secured with Velcro.  On the back there's a wide belt loop that wraps around and secures with Velcro on both the back and the front.  The top has a hand carry loop and two D-rings for adding a shoulder strap (not included).  The Wilderness ships Safepackers with a small carbiner snapped to one of the D-rings, to hold your keys, etc.

My Safepacker is black and could be easily mistaken for a case for binoculars or other gear, as it doesn't really look like a holster.  Fabric and stitching are of high quality and don't look like they would show appreciable wear for quite some time.

After receiving the Safepacker I tried it out with a few of my pistols.  As expected, the XD9 and Browning High Power fit perfectly.  Out of curiousity I also put my Springfield M1911A1 in it.  The Springer is a full size 1911 with a 5" barrel and despite my Safepacker being labeled as the "Commander" size, my full size 1911 fit fine.

I also tried it with my 1952 Polish Tokarev which fits well, as does my 2" S&W Model 15 revolver.  It would probably take up to a 3" K-Frame as long as it had a round butt.  A 2" J-Frame fits with plenty of room to spare. I'd like to find a 2.5" Ruger Speed Six to try but they are pretty uncommon.  Anything larger will require the "Government Model" size Safepacker, or larger.

As with any holster, how comfortable it is when carrying depends in large measure upon your belt.  You can have the best holster ever made, but if you hang it off some wimpy belt it will flop around, droop, and generally be uncomfotable.  For the past several years my everyday belt even when I'm not packing has been a Mitch Rosen gunbelt purchased from Dillon Precision.  It's stiff and supports the weight of a holstered handgun well.  The Wilderness sells their "Instructor" belts which are also suitable for use as a gunbelt, but would look out of place in my normal business casual dress.

After using the Safepack for the first time I am quite pleased with it.  The wide belt loop stabilizes the entire unit on my belt and it's comfortable to wear.  The loop will allow you to attach the holster to a backpack's waistbelt, something most holsters cannot accomodate.  Accessing the pistol is similar to other full flap holsters, though I find the Fastex buckle especially easy to undo while still being secure.  It's definitely easier than releasing the flap on a GI M12 holster, for example.  Further, the design of the Safepacker lends itself to use as a pistol case for transport to and from the range or for storage.

If you're in need of a well made flap holster which offers excellent protection for your gun, while at the same time not looking like a holster, you should give the Safepacker from The Wilderness a very close look.


Tony said...

How covert is that holster? That is, is it like a regular flap holster where you can see the gun underneath the flap, especially the end of the butt, or is the gun entirely covered by the holster? Looking at the Wilderness web page, it would appear that the gun is sort of in a "pouch" so that it is entirely out of view, but I would be interested in getting verification of this.

Dave Markowitz said...

The gun is completely covered.

Ed said...

Depending on the size, the Safepacker is either a square or rectangle a few inches thick when a weapon is held, with the flap secured by the buckle. The contents are not outlined as they are covered by the padding. If you carried one in your hand it would resemble a business planner/organizer from all but close-up. There are even D-rings on the upper corners for hanging a key ring or for use with a shoulder strap, enhancing the binocular case look. One side edge is held together with hook-and-loop fastener enabling quick removal of the weapon once the buckle is released. Forcing your hand onto the butt of the weapon opens the hook-and-loop fastener readily. Overall, a great, inconspicuous design.