GUEST POST by Barry Peterson

I’ve been shooting IDPA for the better part of a decade, but didn’t start to get more serious about it until about two years ago. And recently, I’ve made the extra effort to upgrade my gear. That means new holster and new mag carriers, to start with.

Anybody who has spent any amount of time in the shooting world knows that holsters and mag carriers can be found anywhere. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of manufacturers of all sizes churning out gear in leather and Kydex, in all sorts of patterns and colors, and with any of a million different features. After deploying some rudimentary Google Fu, I stumbled upon a shop called Art of War Industries. Their gear looked good, fit my budget, and I read a couple of fairly positive review. Then I noticed they’re located just a few miles up the road from me, and you all know how I like to support the locals. So I placed an order for a basic holster for my Springfield XD. That was my first order, but it would not be my last.

When I decided to upgrade my 3-gun gear, I didn’t even hesitate to call up Joe over at Art of War Industries. The first thing I ordered was the mag carrier. I figured I would just continue to use my other holster in the meantime, but I really needed the mag carrier. Joe and I chatted for a bit, he made some recommendations and I swiped my credit card. The result was a fine specimen of craftsmanship and ingenuity. The carrier holds two pistol magazines as well as two AR magazines. The Kydex is formed specifically for my XD mags, though of course they can do them for just about any mags on the market. It will hold any standard AR mags, because AR mags are mostly pretty standard. Hooray for mil-spec!

I opted for the heavy duty belt loops, rather than clips. I run the carrier on a sturdy HSGI rigger’s belt, so it made sense to go heavy on the loops. The loops are simply screwed into place on the back of the larger AR mag carrier piece. Oh, I should have mentioned, the whole rig is essentially two carriers affixed to one another to make a single rig. At first that sounded a bit overly complicated to me, since I’m not terribly bright. But that quickly became one of my favorite features. When not used as a 3-gun rig, I can detach the smaller pistol mag carrier, screw the belt loops onto it, and use it by itself. So essentially it’s two completely different rigs that combine to form a larger, more awesome one. Basically it’s Voltron.

I used that carrier for a few months before I finally decided to get myself a fancy new holster to go with it. I should note that by this time I had purchased another Art of War Industries holster also, an AIWB holster for my FNS9C. But that’s a whole other review for another time. In this case, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. Texas recently approved open carry of handguns, beginning next year. I’m not a big fan of open carry and I’m not here to start political debates. But I figured there may be instances in which open carry would make sense for me. In such cases, I personally feel a holster with retention is a must. That combined with fears of being DQ’d in competition for having a gun fly out of my holster (yes, I’ve personally witnessed it happen to other shooters), made this purchase a no-brainer.

I made the drive back up to Las Cruces to see the Art of War Industries guys again and discuss what I was looking for this time. My goodness, so many options. I knew I wanted a single piece design, with retention, in multicam to match a ridiculous battle belt setup that I bought because I have no impulse control. Joe went over the different mounting options, retention options and finishes. I left the plans in his hands and left excited and anxious for my new holster. Apparently my request was more complicated that either of us expected, which resulted in some delays. Joe was great about keeping me in the loop on the progress though and eventually got it squared away.

Finally, just in time for our next 3-gun match, Joe personally delivered the holster to my house. Man, it’s pretty. Fit and finish are perfect, he provided two different mounting options (for both belt and MOLLE attachment) so that I can run it on different gear. The retention we went with uses a type of thumb-break that has taken a bit of getting used to, but it does the job it’s supposed to and I have no complaints. I just need to work on getting better at breaking it open at speed.

In the near future I will be doing a short write-up on different types of holsters and why one would be better than another for different situations or uses. I’ve now got three different holsters from Art of War Industries, so expect to see them represented heavily in that discussion. In the meantime, check them out at their website and on Facebook. They can fabricate just about anything you need, just throw ideas out and they make it happen. Tell them I sent you. You won’t get a discount for that or anything, I just like it when folks drop my name. It makes me feel important. And if Joe and John read this, I’m dead serious about that cheeseburger holster.

Thanks again to Chad at Ambrosia Studios for the photos, please go check out his work here and here.

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