By Gary Paul Johnston
Handguns Magazine Aug/Sept 2004
High Noon Means High-Quality Holsters
The century-old phrase "skin your pistol" means to draw one's gun from a leather holster in a hurry. The old adage of only drawing your gun when you're going to use it, or "every time I drew my gun someone died," is pure B.S. The truth is that every time a law enforcement officer draws his gun, he is prepared to use it, but he often doesn't. A good holster is half the battle, but the holster must retain the gun until it's needed. I'm not just talking about law enforcement officers in connection with holsters. Having owned well over 100 handguns, I would put the holster tally at about three times that number, and I still own about 50 of the best.
Recently, I had the opportunity to take a close look at a selection of concealed carry holsters from High Noon Holsters of Florida. Having heard of but never having seen High Noon's rigs, I was more than pleasantly surprised. Not only were the samples extremely well designed, they were superbly put together--a combination that is too often not the case.
Made of the finest cowhide or horsehide--that's right, genuine horsehide--High Noon's holsters are beautifully dyed, stitched and sealed. Unlike many leather holsters, most of High Noon's are precisely and deeply molded to fit each individual handgun. Thus, ordering nearly any High Noon holster requires information as to the exact pistol it is to hold and perhaps even how it is to be carried. In addition to High Noon's near-perfect fit, a tension screw adds a personal level of retention, and most models can be had lined. One of my samples was so constructed with a smooth, thin leather interior that was as good as I've ever seen. The shoulder holster was one of my favorite carry rigs in plainclothes. Its advantages are good control and concealment and fast access. Shoulder rigs are of the three basic styles: vertical, horizontal and upside down. Retention is a big concern, and most shoulder rigs have good retention systems. The upside-down shoulder rig needs better retention than any other, but you do not often see them made yhese days. Although High Noon makes 20 models of belt and inside-the-waistband holsters, it makes only one shoulder holster, but it's very cool.
Called the Undertaker (great name), this rig has all the best features in shoulder-holster evolution plus one of its own. With all the features found in High Noon's belt holsters, this one has two swivel mounts for the harness connections. This means that the holster pivots to fit any angle at which the harness can be adjusted. The same goes for the double magazine pouch, too. A small but very innovative feature of the Undertaker is its diamond-shaped back plate where the four leather harness straps attach by rivets. This allows the straps to pivot on the plate instead of bunching up as with harness straps that pass through a plate. Lining and tie-down straps are optional, and the Undertaker can be had in cowhide or horsehide in black or natural finishes.
The most popular place for a pistol is the waist, and this location offers several positions, the most common being the strong side, which is the right side for right handers and the left side for southpaws. Even when worn strong-side concealed, I prefer some type of retention capability. This can be accomplished by a good fit, extra tension provided by the belt, a top strap, a mechanical retention or a locking mechanism. Holsters allowing the pistol to be freely drawn will allow it to fall out, and if it can fall out, it will.
Offering good concealment and retention, IWB rigs come in many styles, hold the pistol inside the trousers against the body or between the trousers and belt and can be worn strong-side or cross draw. However, the IWB rig isn't for everyone's build. Even if it feels good at first, it might not after eight hours. I worked with High Noon's Down Under for this job. In the IWB category, nearly all High Noon IWB holsters are made rough-side-out, which is the way I like them. This leaves the smooth side of the leather next to the pistol with the rough side out to help keep th rig in position. What about IDPA? No problem; nearly all High Noon holsters are IDPA approved, and High Noon even makes double-and single-magazine pouches for most popular auto pistols.
Pocket holsters have recently made a comeback thanks to better materials and designs. Intended to fit snuggly in the pocket, this rig is also meant to stay put when the gun is drawn. The advantages of the pocket holster are obvious in terms of concealment, security and easy access to small-frame handguns. The Pocket Grabber by High Noon is a true pocket holster, and, like most, it fits snuggly in one's trouser pocket. It is ambidextrous and is made of top-grain leather. Sewn on the outside of the Grabber is a special extruded synthetic material made exclusively for High Noon. Reminiscent of the exterior of an NFL glove, the surface of this stuff adheres to the inside of a pocket like Velcro, so when you grab your pistol, the Pocket Grabber stays in your pocket. High Noon also makes high-quality trouser belts that not only hold the holster securely but also are great looking.