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Kolbeson Leatherworks (our own JoshK) G17/22 holster review

Discussion in 'Carry Issues' started by nitesite10mm, Mar 21, 2010.

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  1. nitesite10mm

    nitesite10mm Proud Husband

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    Let's face it. There is a vast array of choices in front of us when it comes to the concealed-carry holsters that we can can purchase.

    Kydex or leather?
    "Inside" the waistband or "Outside" the waistband?
    Paddle or belt loop or pancake style?

    When you face these decisions, it can ultimately wind up being a complete crapshoot if you go uninformed into the process of a holster decision.

    I have been a handgunner for thirty years. And I have been either a law enforcement officer or US Army soldier for several of my 52 years. I've seen and bought some holsters over time that were good from the start, but unfortunately several performed below expectations almost right from the beginning.

    It has been my great fortune to have the recent opportunity to own a true handworked leather IWB holster from one our fellow forum members, Josh Kolbeson owner of Kolbeson Leatherworks. On this forum he is known as JoshK .

    When I say that I own one of his holsters, I need to clarify how I came to posess it. Josh actually offered a free giveaway for a leather holster to fit a G17/G22 that he admitted having problems with the leather dye and final finishing process. And I was the fortunate winner in his drawing! When my name was chosen, I promised Josh to give a report of my first impressions after receiving the holster.

    For anyone looking for a leather IWB holster that has more hand processes and personal attention than lots of the "catalog brands" you can buy, you should realize that here is a holster maker who makes this claim about all of his holsters.

    "There is no use of machinery whatsoever in my holster making process. Everything from cutting and sanding, to punching each individual stitch hole, is done 100% by hand and each holster is made to the options that you specify. For this reason, no two holsters will truly be identical."
    After opening up the package and examining it, here are my first impressions.

    Josh's IWB holster design is rather traditional, without any design features which would be considered trendy or unconventional. This is, in my opinion, a good thing.

    [​IMG]

    Josh built a reinforced opening at the top which allows for re-holstering even when a good tight gunbelt is trying to pinch the top closed.

    It isn't easy to stitch gunleather in a tight circular pattern but Josh is obviously very capable and skilled. It is this extra step which Josh adds that makes for re-holstering a fairly easy process. Is it as slick to operate as an outside-the-waistband (OWB) design? Well, obviously not. An IWB holster cannot compete against an OWB holster when it comes to re-holstering. But... keep in mind that there are a lot of IWB holster makers whose designs collapse flat when the pistol is removed. Josh has avoided that problem with the design of this holster.

    [​IMG]

    As he admitted, this particular piece of leather was resistant to taking the black dye and the acrylic top finish. I believe the reason he gave it away was because he didn't feel the finished product was up to his personal standards. I will comment on the fit and overall quality being outstanding but I will not say anything negative about the final finish. If it presented problems for Josh, it came out looking pretty good to me.

    The stitching work is first-rate. If you notice, it follows the cut edges quite well. But if you look carefully, the areas that are double-stitched have absolutely perfect parallel sewing and none of the threads overlap or jump each other. It amazes me that no sewing machine is used, and that Josh hand-punches each and every stitch hole, followed by true hand stitching. This feature alone defines the difference between catalog brands and what an artistic craftsman can produce.

    [​IMG]

    Josh attempted to final finish this troublesome piece of leather with an acrylic top coat. I think he managed to successfully blend the sanded and buffed edges, so that the two layers of leather came together as one final piece. I believe that if this is what a problem holster looks like then the rest of the edges on all of his other holsters must be very nice indeed.

    [​IMG]

    I have always preferred a generous front-sight channel, be it in molded kydex or hand leather. This is perhaps my only concern regarding my critique of Josh's holster. In all fairness, I spent a good deal of time in bright light as I slowly inserted my G22 into the holster several times. I watched from the holster opening as the front Trijicon sight slid up the sight channel. As far as sight clearance went, all was good until just before the weapon was fully seated. At that point, during the last half-inch of insertion, there seemed to be some tight contact of the Trijicon front sight and the holster. I would have liked to see more sight channel clearance right at the muzzle.

    So I called Josh to talk about the holster, and after thanking him over the phone, we started to get down to the details of the holster. It turns out that he was already aware of the sight channel issue and the size dowel used on this holster. He was already up and building other holsters with an "improved" dowel size to better accomodate aftermarket sights and provide some higher clearance.
    [​IMG]

    Continued.....
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2010
  2. nitesite10mm

    nitesite10mm Proud Husband

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    Josh adds a very nice personal touch with each of his shipped holsters. A few business cards which are very professionally done, an extra leading belt-loop designed for 1.5" belts, and a very cool handmade leather keychain with his company logo!

    [​IMG]

    Does this holster fit my issued Glock 22? Absolutely! A quick draw is easy from Josh's nice design. And re-holstering is rather simple, with almost no holster collapse at the opening.

    I'll start carrying it right away. Not because it was a free gift. But because I believe it is a well designed and very well crafted handmade holster. And isn't the concho a very nice accoutrement? Josh, Thank You again. As I break it in and get some more time with it I'll let you know more of my impressions and try to give everyone here a fair critique.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I'll try to get better photographs in the future. I've had lousy weather and lighting every time I have had some time off from work and tried to take photographs. This holster looks far better than pictures illustrate!
     

  3. BigJoe13

    BigJoe13

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    nitesight10mm,
    WOW! Talk about a glowing review. Thank you for your service and the review.

    Josh I may need to check out one of your holsters. Of the two Reviews of them that I have read, I am very impressed with your work, as are the two owners.
     
  4. Jason D

    Jason D INFRINGED Silver Member Millennium Member

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    Congrats on winning the holster.
     
  5. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

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    It just keeps getting better, don't it?
    Hmmm... that concho came out looking way better than I would think. I am a very conservative guy and like my holsters to be plain, being that concealed is the key word and I was thinking... who would even see that concho... but it does add a nice touch to the whole deal.
     
  6. 3rdpig

    3rdpig

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    Wow, that's almost a direct copy of Concealco's holster design. Is this on agreement from them?

    Comparing your pictures to my Concealco holster I'd say he's got a little bit to learn. The Concealco holster has a more complete, molded sight channel and the bottom of the holster is moulded around the muzzle of the gun a bit, providing for some protection to your skin and hip. Also, the Concealco holster doesn't need a reinforcing band to allow one hand reholstering.

    It's always good to have more people in the business making holsters, but the direct copy of another makers rather unique design is somewhat worrying.

    I won't comment on the concho, other than to say if I couldn't order it without it I wouldn't order it. It's about concealment, not about flash. If my shirt pulls up I don't want something shiny there to attract attention.