Gear Review: Soteria Leather “Kratos” IWB Holster

20121224-155636.jpgI don’t know about you, but I appreciate gear that isn’t just functional, but that also looks good. Function is definitely important, but so are aesthetics and workmanship. I’ve never been excited by plain black Kydex holsters – they do the job, but I’ve yet to find one that qualifies as beautiful.

For that reason, I was excited to try a handmade leather holster from Soteria Leather. Soteria, the brainchild of Portland, OR-based entrepreneur and craftswoman Cerisse Wilson, produces custom-fitted leather holsters to fit just about any gun, with a dizzying array of thread and material colors and several holster styles. Cerisse’s holsters are definitely functional, but they’re also beautiful works of craftsmanship. I had high hopes for my holster after reading about them on Cornered Cat. Even still, what I got vastly exceeded my expectations.

The holster I tested was an IWB design which Cerisse calls the “Kratos“. When it arrived, I was just blown away – the craftsmanship was impeccable, with every stitch perfectly neat and even. The leather was perfectly cut with round edges everywhere, and it fit my belt perfectly in both the 3 o’clock position I use for IDPA and an appendix-carry position at about the 1 o’clock position on my body. (Cerisse makes dedicated appendix carry holsters as well, but since I can’t use an AIWB holster for IDPA, I didn’t get one of those.)

Be warned: You’ll have to do some work breaking in your holster before you can use it. This was a new experience for me, having only ever used Kydex holsters before this, but it’s not a difficult process. Kathy at Cornered Cat has some good tips for accomplishing the break-in process, and they worked well for me. In just a couple of days, the holster was broken in and ready to go.

The first thing I noticed when I started testing for real (with a “true-weight” blue gun, since where I live, CCW permits are printed on unobtainium unless you’re wealthy and/or politically connected) was how amazingly comfortable it was. After a day or so, I barely even noticed the weight of the gun, and the leather back-piece of the holster had conformed itself nearly perfectly to the curve of my hip. I’ve heard people say that if you have properly fitting gear, you can get to a point of almost forgetting you’ve got a gun on; this was the first time I experienced that sensation for myself.

Concealment-wise, the holster did a great job, easily losing even a fairly large gun under my normal clothing, as you can see:

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The gun I tested with, a Springfield XD-9, is about the same size as a Glock 19 but has a longer grip, which usually makes concealment hard for me. (I’m built roughly like “curvy celery“, but even still, have enough curve to my hips and waist to make the grip poke out if I choose holster and clothing poorly). The XD is also a few ounces heavier than the Glock, so comfort is doubly important to me. With this holster, I wasn’t disappointed. Should the ridiculous “may-issue” CCW system here ever get fixed, I’d have no qualms about using it for day-to-day carry.

Functionally, the holster worked great once it was broken in. The draw was smooth, and a reinforced area held the mouth open for easy re-holstering. Despite the easy draw, retention was good, and I’d have no concerns about a gun falling out. In my tests – and I have to say, I’m not anywhere close to an expert in this area, I could draw just as easily and quickly from this holster as I can from a Kydex one. In fact, I’m looking forward to using my Kratos at my next IDPA match, even though it might look odd to have a leather holster and a Kydex magazine carrier.

So, overall impressions…I am just blown away by how much I love this holster. There’s no doubt that a handcrafted leather holster will cost more than a comparable molded Kydex model, but to my mind it’s totally worth it. With Cerisse’s holsters, you’ll get something that feels great, works great, and is beautiful besides.

What more could a girl want?

Disclaimer: I’ve gotten email about this in the past, so I want to be very clear: All of my ‘in the field’ testing of this, and any other holster, is done with a weighted blue gun. The photos for this post were taken at a range and under the supervision of a Range Safety Officer. I do not carry, and do not advocate carrying, a concealed weapon in contravention of local laws, even when I think those laws are stupid, discriminatory, and unconstitutional. I support the efforts of the Second Amendment Foundation and the Calguns Foundation to change the laws here, but in the meantime I comply with the laws we have.

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