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Dear Gun Manufacturers: Make Me A Gun!

Dear Gun Manufacturers: Make Me A Gun!

I love that gun manufacturers are starting to really give us little people what we need.

With concealed carry booming and available in all fifty states of our union, with national reciprocity of some sorts on the horizon (it’s going to happen, people!) and the continued surge of female carriers and shooters the need for full-size, double-stack combat pistols is going to be met by the need of compact pistols that people can carry concealed but also shoot well.

Ahh.. shoot well.

There it is. The operative phrase.

Shoot. Well.

Let’s not mince words, there are hundreds of compact carry pistols on the market. I could go to a gun store today and pick up a P3AT or an LCP or a S&W Shield or Bodyguard or a Kahr PM9. I could go even smaller if I wanted to cut caliber or more capacity and potentially increasing my displeasure at the range. I could also go slightly larger and find a far more comfortable shooting gun and struggle with concealment.

The problem is (and well known) that many of the best carry guns are notoriously hard to shoot. Okay, the Shield isn’t bad (it’s actually quite good), but there are still people who do not find it easy to shoot.

We NEED a missing link. I’m stressing need here because I’m going to be addressing the needs of many people (men and women) all over the industry.

I am a small female and I’m not the only one. I’m also not the only one who has small hands or prefers single stack firearms. There are thousands upon thousands of women and men, like me, who have been begging and pleading for smaller-framed firearms that fit better in the grip and hand. You have answered the call by making single-stack 9mms! Thank you!

But for some reason you’ve assumed that means we have to have short barrels, too. That’s not necessarily so.

We all know that the lighter and more compact the firearm the more recoil the shooter needs to control and absorb. For individuals who already have lesser upper body strength, small hands or disabilities like arthritis this makes compact pistols intimidating and hard to control. Even if they love the gun for its size they shy away from shooting it or muscle through it for the sake of training to end up with sore elbows and wrists and arms. Not to mention we all know that longer sight radii help with accuracy.

Where are the small-frame, single stack, long-slide firearms that don’t come in the form of 1911s or also have long grips?

Glock 43 vs a S&W Shield

Glock 43 vs a S&W Shield

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my Shield. It’s a great carry gun and the best compact 9mm I’ve ever shot. I will likely end up with a Glock 43 in my arsenal as well. I might even carry both. At the same time!

But I (and others) would pay good money for a S&W M&P 9mm Shield with a 4″ barrel (particularly threaded so that I might be able to add weight to the end for better recoil management, but I’ll start with a standard barrel, thankyouverymuch). I would also love for the grip to remain the same length but with options for larger/longer magazines. This way I could still carry the 4″ model if I wanted to (because it’s the grip that is hardest to conceal, not the barrel) but I could still compete and practice with a 9 or 10 round magazine.

Glock, if you’re listening, how about a 44? Please? A G19 length barrel with a G43 frame… that’s all I’m asking (oh, and larger capacity magazines with sleeves but baby steps).

Pretty Please? I would rock that.

Forever Yours,
Melody Lauer

Keeper Concealment Errand – My First AIWB Holster Review

Keeper Concealment Errand – My First AIWB Holster Review

Let me tell you a tale. A tale of a holster and a gun.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, a young princess heard about Appendix Inside the WaistBand (AIWB) carry. Little did she know about this carry system and even when her handsome prince switched to AIWB she considered herself unable to acquaint herself to such a new and awkward mode of carry.

The years rolled on and fondly did she look upon this means of carry with desire. But it was not to be.

Then, one day, a knight shared his secret of the mystical weapon called, The Shield. It was concealable! She purchased one but still had no holster.

Another knight sent her an Errand to try. The match was made. The relationship was forged out of mutual respect, superior concealment, comfort and ease of use. The kingdom rejoiced and they lived happily ever after.

That’s the truncated version.

It’s also the true version.

When I got my safety-less S&W Shield and was considering my first AIWB holster Spencer Keeper’s Keeper was on my list of potential holsters, but not at the top. I feared his holster would be too thick and I wouldn’t be able to conceal the firearm well. I am, after all, a pretty petite female.

Knowing I was searching for a holster, Spencer contacted me and asked me if I wanted to try his new holster he dubbed The Errand. It wasn’t out on the market yet and he wanted to see what I thought. He told me he wasn’t expecting miracles with concealment because I am so small but I could try it.

I immediately accepted. I had nothing to lose. It was a chance to try one of his holsters without being out a lot of money and if it didn’t work out I could go back to my long list of holsters to start working through.

I got it in the mail a few days after our conversation (November 8th, to be exact) and I don’t really remember my first day carrying with it. Or my second. Or my third. Or my first time going to town. Or the first time to sit down and nurse my baby while wearing it. Or the first time I fell asleep wearing it. In other words, the holster system immediately melded into my daily life and practices.

It entirely surpassed all of my expectations for a concealed carry holster and even a way of carry. More importantly, however, was the fact that I could carry my Shield from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to bed in total comfort and concealment (if I chose) and even in unconventional clothing.

The Errand in draw-sting sweats.

The Errand in draw-sting sweats.

At first glances it looks like any other kydex holster with a few oddities. If you’re curious, like me, you call Spencer and drill him for an hour as to what those oddities mean. In the true form of someone who understands guns and long-term carry, Spencer designed a purpose-built holster with a specific reason for pretty much every nook and cranny of the design.

The Errand doesn’t rely on belt loops like a lot of conventional holsters. Instead it has a wide, stiff belt clip that is stippled on the tooth for better grip on casual wear like sweat pants or shorts. The whole point of the holster is that it’s meant to be something you could wear at one o’clock in the morning for a trip to the convenience store in your pjs, or bumming around the house in your sweats, or to and from the gym in shorts. No one wears jeans and a belt 100% of the time and the Errand is meant to fill that gap.

Despite being designed to be easily worn in the comfort of sweat pants and belt-less shorts, it still fits snug with a belt and, of course, has more stability and perhaps a little more concealment when one is used. More on that, later.

Belt or not, the clip makes for comfortable, stable carry.

Belt or not, the clip makes for comfortable, stable carry.

Spencer’s goal was to make the Errand as thin as possible. I asked him why he then chose to put the loop directly on the thickest part of the holster vs by the trigger guard where a lot of other AIWB holster makers put their loops or clips for a thinner overall profile. He said he’d considered doing that but without the stability of a belt, one of the heaviest parts of the gun, the slide, would be forward of the clip and could cause the gun to start tipping in.

Having experienced that with another AIWB holster that was not fit well to my belt I understood how that could be a concern. The centrally located clip does leave the gun more stable on not-so-stable clothing.

When I got the holster, at first I was a bit confused as to why it is so long. The length of the holster is about an inch longer than the gun itself. The tip tappers down on both sides to a comfortably rounded point that is open. I didn’t even get around to asking Spencer why this was before he started explaining that small guns like the Shield are heaviest in the rear and many holster makers leave their holsters so short that the gun can roll out over top of the waistband. Particularly those with generous midsections. The extra length of the holster keeps the gun from rolling out and the tapered, rounded tip eliminates pinching in the soft tissue of the thigh or groin but also allows air to circulate to cool hot muzzles while attending classes or having high round count range sessions.

The entire rear and tip of the holster is covered with soft Velcro and this is for the application of Spencer’s unique foam wedges. I’ll admit that I thought the wedges were dumb, or at least unnecessary. Most importantly, they were ugly. Why that mattered to something you stuck in the pants? I don’t know. But I’m a chick. We chicks are funny about those things. I also didn’t feel like I needed them. The point is to cushion the bottom of the holster and press the muzzle out so that the grip will be held more snugly to the body. The holster was very snug to my tiny little body. So for the first month I didn’t put them on the holster.

When I called Spencer to talk to him about the holster one of the first things he asked me was if I used the wedges. The holster comes with two but replacements can be purchased from his website. I confessed that I had not. “You should try them,” he chirped, and left it at that.

I felt guilty. I also felt like if I were to do a thorough review I should at least try so I could explain why I chose to leave them off. I wasn’t entirely sure where I wanted to put one because I really didn’t feel like I needed it. Then I remembered that in one pair of my jeans when I wore the errand I would get the slightest bit of chaffing on the inside of my right thigh. I figured that was a good place to start.

The foam wedge makes the holster that much more comfortable and concealable.

The foam wedge makes the holster that much more comfortable and concealable.

I put the wedge on the bottom of the holster so that it wraps around that area and it has stayed there ever since.

My only complaint is that I didn’t do it sooner.

I didn’t see a noticeable difference in my concealment (because, well, I really am tiny) but it does help push the grip into the belly more.

It’s ugly. But it works!

The Errand has a pretty generous sweat guard. In general, I am anti sweat guard. All of my favorite holsters have the sweat guards removed or I asked holster makers to cut them down. The first AIWB holster I ever used also did not have a sweat guard. I thought I would eventually want to take a Dremel cutting tool to it but I no longer see that happening.

AIWB carry is different in that you are going to be to bending your body around your gun. If you squat, sit, reach for anything or move you are going to have your belly moving around your gun. With no sweat shield or undershirt that is going to mean, A: that you will get sweat on your gun and B: that you will end up with a nice little imprint of the side of your gun in the skin of your belly.

It’s also probable that you will end up with a nice little hot spot where the rear sight and slide have been stabbing you.

A well formed sweat shield keeps the rear sight and slide from poking and pinching.

A well formed sweat shield keeps the rear sight and slide from poking and pinching.

This has not happened with the Errand. The sweat guard comes off the body of the holster strong, tapers in slightly and then flares out again before curving around the back of the slide and rear sights. This added curve protects the body from any pinching or poking of the rear sight and slide and leaves the wearer very comfortable.

Even with the large sweat shield, the magazine release is still accessible. Something I am fond of seeing in any holster. Neither does the sweat guard prohibit the shooter from getting a high, sure grip on the firearm as many sweat guards in the holster industry over are wont to do.

It’s well known that re-holstering is the most dangerous time for any kind of carry. Those who carry appendix appreciate the re-holster even more because of the sensitive nature of the pelvic area over which the gun rests. Looking and carefully placing the gun in the holster are paramount when carrying AIWB and the Errand assists to that end. The large sweat shield and generous open mouth act as a sort of funnel that is very easy to slide the firearm into with a solid, audible snap once the gun is fully seated.

The hardware is metal. The main retention screw is a nylon lock nut so one does not have to worry about it loosening over time. While the retention can be adjusted by removing a thin metal washer or adding another I have found the retention (which comes from the molding around the trigger guard) to be pretty ideal. Tight enough to retain the gun, loose enough to not have to fight to get your gun out of the holster.

A high, complete grip while in the holster is paramount!

A high, complete grip while in the holster is paramount!

AIWB carry by its nature allows for better access than many other forms of carry but the holster can have a fair bit to do with it as well. The Errand carried the gun high enough off the belt to allow for a full firing grip on the gun while still in the holster but not so high that it is not concealable.

The overall molding of the holster is good. There is no over molding around the ejection port or front sight which prevents those parts from snagging on the holster during the draw (a problem I’ve encountered with other kydex holsters). If you’re into changing your sights there’s plenty of room around the top of the slide/slight area for new, larger sights. You can even order the Errand to accommodate a Red Dot Sight (RDS) equipped handgun.

Spencer doesn’t make the Errand to accommodate lights or other laser mounts but any grip-activated lasers like crimson trace will likely find no interference.

I saved concealment for last because it was where I was most skeptical. I am not exaggerating when I talk about my size. The reason I had to go to a S&W Shield at all was because concealing a Glock in the AIWB position looked like a tumor on me. Going down to a single-stack firearm was my only option if I was going to go AIWB and even then it is not as concealable as I would have hoped. That is no fault of the holster, it’s simply my body size and type. On larger frames I have seen this gun and holster combination virtually vanish. To illustrate that I asked my friend and trainer, Greg Ellifritz, to send me some pictures of him carrying the Errand. It’s remarkable to note the difference that body type can make in concealment.

Even as small as I am, however, the holster does a very good job of concealing something so large relative to my body size. It conceals well enough without wearing a belt but with a belt it seems to tug the gun into my abdomen and conceal itself nicely behind any belt buckle I’m wearing.

The Errand allows for full access and grip even while holstered.

The Errand allows for full access and grip even while holstered.

Conceals fairly well for such a small-framed individual.

Conceals fairly well for such a small-framed individual.

Greg Ellifritz wearing the Keeper Errand with his Shield.

Greg Ellifritz wearing the Keeper Errand with his Shield.

Far more concealable on larger-framed bodies. Even in fairly fitted clothing.

Far more concealable on larger-framed bodies. Even in fairly fitted clothing.

I’ve had this holster for just about two months now and have lost count of how many draw strokes I’ve put it through. I’ve run it through a two-day defensive handgun class and done a little rolling around in it. It’s been spit up on, had sweet potatoes down it and a whole other slew of madness. It’s still going strong and I anticipate it will for a very long time to come.

Spencer knew what he was doing when he designed this holster and from one end to the other it is packed with features only a seasoned shooter would appreciate. To say it’s a good investment is an understatement. Right now the Errand is going for $90 on the Keeper Concealment website and is available for the S&W Shield, the Glock 42, the Walther PPS and the Springfield XDs though I know Spencer is actively looking at adding more firearms to that list. If I were rating holsters on a 1-5 star rating system, the Errand would get a blazing 5. It fits every one of my needs. It is far more comfortable than I could have imagined possible. It is accessible and concealable but also stable. Rarely does a holster fill all of those criteria without compromise.

If you’re looking for a good holster for a compact gun, check out the Errand.

Cornered Cat

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