Most, if not all of us who carry a PDA (Personal Defense Assistant) concealed, have come across trying to find the right IWB holster for the firearm that we carry. As a long-time gun owner and carrier of, I had encountered this problem before many times; Buy a new gun and start the task of searching for the right holster. If a holster is too bulky or that is a pain to put on, searching for something that is light, effective, and simple to put on is far more desirable and I am more likely to use it. As more holsters end up in the holster drawer, there might, finally, be one that suits the need for IWB carry.
Recently, I decided to have the Glock G48 as a “Business Bag” firearm but needed the capability to carry the G48 on the body if necessary. Thus, the housing for the G48 had to be capable of being hidden in my “Business Bag” without detection and also hidden on my body under the same condition. There was also the possibility that I would change firearms at some point, say to a Sig Sauer M11 or Glock G19 for example, and would want to use the same holster rather than invest in separate holsters for these products.
For the most part, a single holster that will house the Glock G19 would also work for the G43, the G45, and G48. However, the Sig Sauer M11 or a CZ 75BD or CZ 75C might require different holsters. With that said, I have several holsters that will work with all of these, but while they pose no problem concealing on the body, concealing in a “Business Bag” while at work was another matter entirely, as discretion is the better part of keeping one’s livelihood intact.
While I have published an article on holsters for the Glock G48, I decided to write this article exclusively for the Versacarry Element w/ Mag Pouch holster. This holster is a new product (to me) and because the holster is manufactured to fit many, many pistols I felt that a stand-alone article was warranted.
I was introduced to the Versacarry line when I purchased one for a 1911 pistol. The holster has served me well for the 1911, but a Glock G48 is an entirely different animal. A search of the Versacarry website revealed that one holster would serve my purposes, the Element w/ Mag Pouch (IWB) Holster.
Before I get into the holster itself, I have read articles that claim having a magazine pouch on the same side as the firearm is not correct…it should be on the opposite side of the firearm. Well, I have this to say about that; If you are trained to carry a magazine pouch, or a speed loader pouch (in the case of revolvers) on the same side as you carry a firearm, then continue doing so. For one, I am faster reloading if my magazines are on my right side (the same side I carry and shoot). Rather than reaching my left arm around my body to reach a magazine on or behind my left hip that is much slower than dropping my hand down to a magazine that is located just forward of my right hip and in line with the pistol that I need to reload. When I was a LEO, my double magazine pouch was carried on my right side at the appendix position. I was trained that way and under stress I will resort to my training. When wearing a shoulder rig, the magazines are on the right side…the correct side for me. In summary, carry your spares where you need to carry them for your particular case and forget about the “Expert” writers, as most of the time they are spouting ‘their’ preference and not what necessarily works for you.
Now, back to the regularly scheduled writing.
When shipped, the Versacarry Element is sent in a plain brown envelope that envelops a clear plastic resealable bag that protects the holster. The first thing that you will notice is how flat the package is. The Versacarry holster is not a “Kybrid” holster and. Therefore, is not as thick as a Kydex shell that is attached to a backing plate made out of leather or other material. This lack of thickness is one of the reasons that I like the Versacarry and other carriers of its ilk (belly band and Smart Carry come to mind).
Let’s take a look at the Versacarry Element’s features and specifications:
- Raised Protective Backing
- Spare Magazine Storage
- Adjustable Cant
- Easy On/Off Clip
- Discreet Comfort
- Vegetable-Tanned Water Buffalo Leather
- Industrial Grade Bonded Nylon Thread
- Designed for use with a standard 1.5″ wide belt designed for carry.
- Proudly Made in the USA
- Limited Lifetime Warranty
- 30 Day Returns
The Versacarry Element comes in Distressed Leather and Black – and I prefer the former. There is a richness to the Distressed Leather version that I like, although it is highly unlikely that anyone will see this holster when worn IWB.
Heavy stitching is used throughout the holster, which is 0.122-inch-thick layer of Buffalo hide and approximately 0.227-inches thick at the stitching points.
The body of the holster is not conformed to the pistol’s shape and that allows the holster to be used for whatever pistol will fit in it. Note that you can select the size of the holster you need at Versacarry’s website.
I prefer full muzzle and front sight protection and the Versacarry Element affords me both. There are three basic sizes (1, 2, and 3). Simply select your pistol from a very large list of pistols and you will be informed about what size to order.
Two substantial, adjustable metal mounting clips secure the holster to a belt up to 1.5-inches. The clips allow the user to adjust the holster for cant and depth. Some cant is already built in to the design and the front clip is attached to the center of three adjustment holes, which allows for limited cant adjustment. The rear clip mounting serves as a pivot point for the front clip adjustment. The mounting hardware is more than adequate for securing the clips to the holster, although I would recommend a dab of ‘Blue” thread sealer be used to ensure that they stay mounted.
Although the holster body needs very little break in, the magazine pouch, however, may. Being that the Versacarry Element is a full-leather holster, some ‘give’ of the leather will occur when holstering the firearm. While the magazine pouch is also leather, a Glock G48 magazine takes quite a bit of effort to insert it into the pouch…and just as much to remove it from the pouch. With non-Glock magazine, fit may not be an issue. I had to do a “press fit” on the G48 magazine to get the bottom plate of the magazine to align with the sweat guard. Some “conditioning” treatment will be applied to my holster’s mag pouch to aid in the insertion and removal of the magazine. The magazine pouch can, of course, accommodate items other than a magazine, such as a knife, protein bar, or short Slim-Jim snacks.
The back of the holster is not padded in any way, which means that if you do not wear an undergarment between the holster and your skin you may experience chaffing. Also, the mounting nuts are a tad bit higher than the leather back. I highly advise wearing a good undergarment when wearing any IWB holster.
The Versacarry Element has a sweat guard for both pistol and magazine. Neither are obtrusive. The firearm sweat guard prevent the firearm from rubbing against the body while also protecting the rear sight. Normally, I don’t care for sweat guards, as I find most of them too large. The sweat guards on the Versacarry Element, however, are minimal and work just fine. With that said, there are several reasons why I would not remove this sweat guard and why they are important.
When the firearm is fully inserted into the holster, there is no issue with wrapping the hand around the grip of the firearm; There is adequate clearance between the front of the grip and the holster, even with a Hogue grip sleeve mounted on the firearm, as with my Glock G48.
When the firearm is drawn from the holster, the holster will collapse under belt pressure, as there is no provision for it not to collapse. The sweat guard serves as a ‘guide’ for inserting the firearm back into the holster. When re-holstering, rocking the butt of the G48 toward the body helps the pistol’s trigger guard clear the holster’s trigger guard (while keeping the trigger finger alongside the trigger until the trigger is inside the holster).
The sweat guard also protects the rear sight and keeps the pistol from digging into the body. More importantly, and especially in high temperatures, the sweat guard helps to keep moisture from reaching the firearm.
“Vents” are cut into the holster and magazine holder to help mitigate moisture by providing some airflow. Others may argue that the vents simply let unwanted debris into the holster. Time and use will tell the story. The vents add a little style to the holster that nobody but you will know about while it’s being worn.
Initially, the holster is stiff but begins to conform to the body once mounted and worn for a while. It is highly comfortable to wear. Being made of leather, Buffalo hide to be exact, the holster has some flexibility that Kydex cannot offer. The flexibility can be both a blessing and a bane. Let me explain.
With a ‘Kybrid’ holster the outer shell (the Kydex part) is form fitted to the firearm and the backing is the flexible part. With an all-leather holster, however, the entire holster is flexible. With some holsters, an additional layer of leather, which may also include a metal band, helps to prevent the holster mouth from collapsing after the firearm is removed from the holster. This is very helpful when you must insert the firearm back into the holster. Simply insert the firearm into the holster and the backing flexes enough for the firearm to be inserted easily, and it may take only one hand to do so. With a holster, such as the Versacarry Element w/Mag pouch (IWB) holster (or other Versacarry models), a provision may not exist to prevent the holster mouth from collapsing when the pistol is withdrawn from the holster, and this may require two hands be used for holstering.
Additionally, I found it best to mount the holster on the pants with pistol and magazine inserted, since the holster and mag pouch have the tendency to collapse under pressure. This would have you unnecessarily trying to manipulate the pistol into the holster after it was mounted and with a collapsed mouth of the holster…too many bad things can happen during this process with a chambered cartridge if you are not very careful. I prefer to mount and secure my IWB holster first, and then follow-up with holstering the firearm and performing final adjustments after the belt is tightened. The less manipulation of the firearm, the better I like it.
For my purposes of using the Versacarry Element w/Mag pouch (IWB) holster, which is to more effectively conceal the pistol when placed into a “Business Bag,” while having the ability to transition the rig from bag to belt, the lower profile of the holster/pistol combination is a plus. I prefer a different holster if the pistol is to be carried IWB all day every day, and I have holsters that serve that purpose.
The Versacarry Element w/Mag pouch (IWB) holster is an excellent holster constructed from excellent materials and fills the need for an excellent means to house your favorite PDA. The holster simply does the job it is intended to do.
The Versacarry Element w/Mag pouch (IWB) holster is friendly to the firearm but not so friendly for re-holstering the firearm.
The Versacarry Element w/Mag pouch (IWB) holster is available for a variety of firearms and may be an excellent choice when you exchange firearms for your carry rotation.