August 17, 2011
By Greg Rodriguez, Special to Handguns.com
Holsters come in a lot of varieties. There's leather, Kydex, belt holsters, inside the waistband holsters and much more. And then there are retention holsters, which range from the simple thumb breaks to more modern designs. The new Reflex holster from Uncle Mike's is an example of the latter.
Some folks find comfort in retention devices, and some police departments even require their plainclothes officers to carry their pistols in a retention holster. If you fall into one of those categories, Uncle Mike's new Reflex is worth a closer look.
The $39 Reflex is a molded holster designed to be worn on the strong side. The belt holster comes with two mounting systems: conventional loops and a paddle. Switching from one to the other is easily accomplished by turning three screws. The belt loop attachment had dual one-inch and 1.75-inch loops, while the paddle has two hooks designed to keep the holster from coming out with the pistol during the draw stroke. Extra screw holes allow both attachments to be canted at various angles and allow the user to wear it high or low on the belt.
The Reflex's Integrated Retention Device is a simple spring-style bump that pops into the trigger guard when the weapon is holstered. To disengage it, twist the butt of the pistol inwards and draw. It requires only a minor change to the draw stroke, and the difference in draw speed is minimal after a bit of training.
To see how much the device slowed me down, I trained with it for a half-hour or so two days in a row before heading out the range to train with it. I was a fraction of a second slower on target due to the retention device, but the difference was far less than I expected—especially given how little I really trained with it.
Because I admit I am not a big fan of the retention holster, I decided to get a couple of friends involved in the evaluation process. My buddies have very different backgrounds. The first is a police firearms instructor who carries a gun every minute of the day and trains constantly. The second is in the liquor business and wears a gun occasionally, though he doesn't train as much as he should. Even so, he is a competent shooter who does a fair amount of draw practice with his normal carry rig.
I let both gentlemen practice with the holster for an hour or so before their respective sessions. The police officer liked the rig right off the bat, though he had a valid concern about switching between holsters with different retention devices. Even so, he performed very well on the range, with most of his presentations coming in less than 0.2 second slower than from his regular concealment rig and a hair faster than with his duty rig, which has a slightly more complicated security device.
My other friend also performed very well with the Reflex. Though he didn't have his other carry rig to allow us to compare draw times, his draw from the Reflex was smooth and fast. He had no previous experience with any retention devices, but he really liked the I.R.T. and was contemplating changing to one for his regular carry rig. He also praised the holster's adjustability and gave much of the credit for his speedy draws to the fact that the rig fit him so well.
I continued to train with the Reflex for a few weeks after that initial evaluation. Its adjustability made it easy for me to put the pistol in the right spot for a fast draw and make it comfortable to wear. That simple twist of the butt proved to be a lot easier to master than I feared.
As much as I like the new Uncle Mike's holster, I have not changed my mind about retention devices on concealment rigs. They can be handy, but I am not prepared to wear one exclusively which is, in my opinion, the only way you can count on drawing your pistol from one reliably when things go bad. That said, if you have a need for a concealment rig that provides an extra measure of security, you would do well to consider Uncle Mike's Reflex.