Friday, July 6, 2012

Hip Hip Hurray - a Review of a Dragon Leatherworks Holster

Regular readers have heard me talk about how much I like my Dragon Leatherworks holster.  Dennis has made one for more than one of my friends and all have just loved them.  He's getting more attention to his work, especially now that his leathercraft has turned up on NCIS.

In addition to making Abby's goth lunchbox he also crafted a holster for one of the female characters who complained about how her gun stuck her in the ribs.  That's not an uncommon problem and what brings us to this post.

Most shooters have a drawer full of an assortment of holsters, like memories of really bad dates, some of them just lie there as you hope they just go away (note to friends trying to set you up on a blind date,  when he's got one of those ankle bracelet thingys and he said he prefers redheaded LEO's he's talking about the astrological sign!)

I've a few  holsters I tried once and never used again.  I've had some that started out OK, but I liked less and less over time. A holster is a very individual thing, you need to find out what YOU like, and it may not be what your spouse or best friend likes.

I've written of it here before, but designs I'm NOT fond of are are the “small of the back” and ankle holsters. The “small of the back” holster has some problems. The draw is difficult and therefore dicey. There is a danger of sweeping the muzzle of the gun in directions you don’t intend to cover. This is an easy holster to disarm. Someone can come up behind you and grab the pistol, and from where it is on your back, it's going to be hard if you aren't trained in tactical to stop them from taking it. Lastly, should you fall on your back, the small of the back holster is a steel bar across your spine that could accentuate the impact of hitting the ground. If you're small boned to begin with this is NOT a good place to be as the injury could make you an easier target. The leg holster is only really valid as a backup option and it’s not really great as a backup. The ankle holster is great concealment, but unless you are a professional or one of the Amazing Walendas the draw is so problematic that it is almost useless.

There's another one recently out, designed by a woman for women, that carries just under the bustline. No, not the waist, but right underneath the bust. I admire the woman for the idea, but it seemed to me the perfect way to get a accidental fire into the femoral. I can't even see my FEET, how am I supposed to instantly get the gun out from underneath there with a clear field to draw up and away from the holster in some sort of stealthy manner.  (Plus it adds in  the opportunity for all those bad puns about female crooks wearing one and having to call out "you're busted.) I'm all for free enterprise and the promotion of self defense, but that just seems like a bad idea.

No, I like a holster I carry on my hip. My favorite is my Dragon Leatherworks holster, pictured above.  So when my friend Miss D. (pictured below) got one and offered to bring it over for me to try out and review I said "sure!"
What she was looking for was one that wasn't just "pretty", as "pretty" will only get you so far in life and then quality has to take over.  She wanted one that would fit her build.  Miss D. is reasonably tall but slender, athletic in build, with long legs but a short waist (small distance between hipbone and waistline).  Like the complaint heard from the star on NCIS, most guns dig into her ribs and that hurts, making carrying for any amount of time uncomfortable.  Positioning it to where it didn't dig, sometimes put the gun where she couldn't draw as easy.  She asked Dennis to make something for her new KelTec PMR30 that would fit her short waist.  He agreed.

But everyone is different. I'm 5 8" bare foot, but I'm shorter legged and longer waisted.  Plus I have, well, hips (the polite term).  There is a definite jut out of bone and flesh from my waist in certain directions and not all holsters will conform to that, even after breaking them in..  Some are so stiff they stick out from my waist like some little aerodynamic lifting foil.  Even the ones that fit will stand out more, just in the way that they lie, making concealed more of an issue.

One holster, two different body types. Where Miss D. is a race horse, I'm a carnival ride (mention Tilt a Whirl and I will smack you :-).  But we both loved this holster and in our favorite jeans and tee's, both could wear it.  On me, worn where where my hand naturally comes to when I draw my elbow back, it molded to me.  Miss D, wearing it just a tad behind center of hip, it fit and made for a comfortable draw.

On Miss D. hip fit was not as much an issue as waist fit, and it worked really well, sitting out enough from her ribs as not to gouge.  Dennis at Dragon Leatherworks can probably explain it better, but the picture below shows his design which kept the firearm from "digging in".

Another thing we both loved about it was the snaps, allowing it to be placed on the belt AFTER one is fully dressed.  That's my way to get out the door  - tactical lipgloss, gun and then GO!  No fumbling around with getting your holster through your belt loops and getting said  belt on those pairs of blue jeans.

It did this by a simple "snap and go", making it easy to get on and off the belt while you're already wearing it, while holding the holster quite firmly where you want it to stay.

The snaps were well made and looked as if they would stand the test of time.

Like all his work, the stitching was tight, well defined, and even.  There was not a stich even THINKING about being loose, no roughness anywhere on the surface your hand or firearm would have contact with.   Like all his designs, it's all hand stiched here in the USA, not sent out to be stiched in another country and brought back in to be marketed as "made in the USA".

The Keltec drew quite nicely out of it, nothing to hang up, but the gun fit snug.  We even took the firearm, empty of all rounds, put it back in the holster and shook it upside down hard, trying to dislodge it.  It wasn't budging.

The gun was made out of a dark wine colored leather with a wonderfully patterned belly cut snake skin that blended perfectly with the color Miss D. liked.  Black or custom, plain or fancy, Dennis can make a holster to fit your taste and your form.  Good looks and functionality, a holster you will reach for again and again.

A good holster makes the carry much more comfortable and with comfort comes safety.  No matter who you are or what your favorite manufacturer, color or style is, that's something to remember.


  1. First off, amazing leather, and as always a good read...but when did you get a PMR-30? I've been on the waiting list on two shops here in the Tri-Cities for well over a year...

  2. I started to post about the carnival, then remembered I don't live that far away.;-)

  3. What impressed me immediately from the pictures was the very apparent "out of the box" approach to design. This is not just a tweak of a same-old, same-old holster. It starts with function and lets form follow. Along the way it looks pretty darn good as well.

  4. Great post, great sense of humor as I am of curvier proportions. Functional and Beautiful! I like it. I do not, however, like to open carry. I'm more of an IWB girl, or in a pinch, a thigh band. While I have ample proportions to hide a off the bra holster, I'm not comfortable with them, for the reason you mentioned and others.

    Love your writing, thanks for keeping us amused and educated!

  5. I tried a fellow Schuetzenverein member's PMR-30. It has a good feel in the hand and the magazine seems to last forever. What amazed me was the plainly visible muzzle flash in daylight. It might be interesting to try this in low light conditions.

    I'm in the market for some new holsters. Dragon Leather works looks interesting.

  6. As always, well written and thorough. But, I kept getting sidetracked. First the MHI hat, then something about a Tilt-A-whirl, and Amazing Walendas...

    Bottom line - Dragon Works, great holsters. Get one there.

  7. I can't picture you as a tilt-a-whirl. Roller Coaster maybe... ups and downs and curves all around.

    Nice review too. I've been eyeballing Dennis' work for a while now. I think he will be my choice to provide holsterage for the new revolver when it arrives.

  8. Thanks for the post. One more reason to look into having Dennis build a holster for Wife v2.0. As for the carnival ride- definitely the Gravitron- between brand and looks, you pull them in.

  9. Very nice, and y'all are correct, custom holsters ARE the way to go! Dennis does a good job with them, and also stands behind his product!

  10. I used to date a redhead who carried her shorty Kimber 1911 in a belly band just below her, uh, chest area.
    The presentation was spectacular!

  11. All the pictures I've seen of Dennis's holsters are very nice. Everybody has good things to say about them. I may have to start saving my pennies for one.

  12. I like a good holster but I don't know if that color will go with my European shoulder bag.

  13. greg - it's D's pistol, hit her link and go ask her in her comments. I'm not sure where she got it.

    Don - you've met me, I may not be a size 0 but I'm FAST.

    Ed - Thank you, that's about the nicest thing a craftsman could hear. Thank you all for your kind remarks.

    Lynne - I have rarely worn open carry, when I have it's been that due to clothing requirements for the situation, it wasn't practical. I don't like to show my hand. The element of surprise is a big advantage and even more so for a woman, I think.

    Jerry - his prices, given the quality are affordable. I'd go check them out, read Jay G's and some of the other reviews.

    Thor - you recognized the hat!!! Bonus points!

    Shepherd - I'd definitely add one to my wish list, if I were you.

    Ken - Fravitron - cool!! Your wife would be quite pleased. I'm really happy with mine.

    NFO - he's good folks to, he and his wife are going to try and get up this way for a visit soon.

    armedlaughing - you and redheads. ha! Glad all is settled at home and you and friends can relax a little bit.

    fastrichard - there's quite a variety, I'm having fun figuring out which one I want next.

    Duke - probably not :-) But I'm one to talk, my "girl tote" for shopping is cammo

    Dinner it about ready to check and company's about due to arrive so I will talk to you all tomorrow.

  14. I prefer OWB on the strong side and a proper paddle or straps just like this holster. The LAST thing I want if I need to get rid of the gun is to pull it out of the holster, second is to have some soccer mom call 911 and say that there is a pervert taking his pants off in the parking lot with a GUN!

  15. Dennis made a Flajack (w/Gadsden flag) for my Taurus PT145. I love it!

  16. Got four of his and love 'em.
    The first Fugly he sent the beavertail on the Kimber poked me in the 'lovehandels'.
    Called him and he told me to send a picture, keep the one I had and he made me a perfect replacement, at no cost.
    Fine man.
    Get a lot of compliments on the B-B-Q rig.

  17. Just got my Flatjack from Dennis. Trying it out now, but it looks and feels great!


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