Earlier this week I received an email:
From: BravoBelt Team
Sent: Monday, October 4, 2021 5:59 AM
Subject: LOVE YOUR ARTICLE!
I was searching around and came across with your article: A step in the right direction. I love the content! My name is Oliver and I’m on the Outreach Team for @BravoBelt. We recently released an updated BravoBelt holster that I think your readers would appreciate.
Let me know if you would like one to review and I will drop one in the mail for you.
Digital Operations Manager
The BravoBelt Team
After looking at their website I was skeptical, but at 3:00 AM the next day I agreed to review their holster. I was skeptical for three reasons:
- The opening for the gun is elastic and collapses when the gun is removed which probably makes it difficult to reholster one handed and without looking at the holster.
- The snapped strap over the top of the gun will slow the draw.
- The spare magazine are shown on the same side of body as the gun. This will slow your reloads. And for the left handed shooter it’s going to take some real contortions to reach your reload.
From their website (see more pictures on Amazon):
I received the holster two days after agreeing to review it.
The first thing I noticed when I opened the package was the smell. The smell of neoprene was almost overpowering. Thankful the smell faded after a couple days in the open air.
I was pleased to observe the magazine holster was different from what was pictured. The magazine holster was a separate pouch which fastened with Velcro to almost wherever you want it. I was easily able to position it on my left side exactly where I wanted it.
The holster is extremely comfortable. It was almost soothing!
This is where I run out of nice things to say about the holster. My other concerns were mostly realized.
The elastic opening immediately collapsed when the gun was drawn. I could wiggle the gun back into the holster with one just one hand but I really needed to look at it as I was doing it. There are various scenarios in defensive handgun usage where this can be important. In the General Defensive Handgun class from Insights Training one of the critical features of a holster was that it be relatively easy to holster your gun, sight unseen, with one hand. This holster fails that test.
The same sort of story can be told about putting a magazine into the holster on the other side. If you do a reload with a partially empty magazine and want to put the used magazine in the holster you need to use another hand (holding the gun? Nope.), get your eyes on the holster, or fumble one handed for a bit. I’m not liking these scenario in a defensive encounter.
The strap over the back of the gun is required for secure carry. The gun moves around too much without it.
I practiced drawing for several minutes and I was able to get into a “groove” that was faster than I expected. It was more complicated than a typical draw with the snap needing to be released, then flipped over the back of the gun, and then the hand going down again to get under the strap. The elastic helped some. The strap would do a lot of the flipping on it’s own but I still needed to time things right and make sure my hand was under the strap when I gripped the gun.
I could comfortably and repeatedly get off my first shot in 2.25 S from concealment from underneath a unbuttoned flannel shirt. Not too bad, I thought. I could not get it down to 2.0 S. As I sped up the strap and/or my t-shirt would inevitably get between my hand and the grip of the gun.
I put my Kramer IWB #2 holster back on and tested my draw speed. 1.5 S was repeatable. Hmmm… 1.5 S to 2.25 S is a 50% increase in draw time. Is a 0.75 seconds critical? One could make the case that it could sometimes mean the difference between life and death. It’s probably not super critical in the big picture. I think I would worry more about the increase in complexity in a time of stress causing a tangled clothing draw of 5.0 S instead of the 2.25 S draw under controlled conditions.
I asked Barb to model the holster for pictures and she readily agreed. Pictures are with the holster unconcealed for demonstration purposes. Wearing it over a t-shirt and under my flannel shirt made little difference in functionality than as shown below:
Notice the pouch for your cellphone in the picture above? That worked well for me.
The Velcro attached spare magazine holster had the advantage of being adjustable to exactly the right spot regardless of your waist size.
She was not happy with it. If it was low enough to easily draw then it was just below the widest portion of her hips. This made it more difficult to conceal, risked having it slide down, and made walking and bending over uncomfortable. I had her raise it up to where it was above the top the widest area of her hips. Then the draw was difficult because she was running out of range of motion to be able to lift her gun high enough to clear the holster:
The fit on me was a little better. I could position the height of the holster such that the gun didn’t poke me when walking or bending over and I could complete the draw even though I was reaching the end of my range of motion.
The price for this holster is $27.77 to $29.95 (depending on waist size) on Amazon. That is a great price for a functional holster. But this holster has functional deficiencies for defensive carry. That said, because of the extreme comfort it might be that someone is more likely to carry than not carry. And the first rule of gun safety is to have a gun.