Garrity Gunleather BHP "Changeling IWB" Holster
Several weeks ago, Mr. Mark Garrity of Garrity Gunleather in Phoenix, AZ contacted me concerning an evaluation of an inside the waistband holster for the Browning Hi Power. I advised that I'd be happy to do an up or down report on the product and would call it as I see it. On a few occasions I've had people retract their requests, but not this time. Mr. Garrity advised to go ahead.
The initial description is in Mr. Garrity's own words via a letter that accompanied the holster:
"Enclosed is the adjustable cant IWB holster I contacted you about doing a review on a while back. The sample is right handed, open-top, with a 1 1/2-inch belt loop in cordovan color; for a Browning Hi Power of course. I'm calling it "The Changeling IWB" based on the ability to change the degree of cant from approximately25 degrees forward rake to 25 degrees crossdraw and anywhere in between. The belt loop is equipped with one-way snaps and attached by two allen screws. The left screw is stationary and acts as a pivot point. The right screw post rides under the mouth bound in a plastic-lined track. To adjust the cant, slightly loosen the left screw, loosen the right screw a good bit and move it up or down in the track to the desired angle and tighten both screws in place to lock it in that position."
The Garrity Changeling IWB holster is trim and streamlined in my opinion. I wore this one for a few days with a Browning MkIII 9mm. The holster was quite comfortable, remained in place, and allowed the pistol to easily be drawn and reholstered with one hand. Note that the leather intended to surround the belt is shaped specifically for that purpose and not "just" a loop. This may be a "small thing" but it smacks of class and shows a maker's desire to provide a superb quality product. It is just a little "extra" that might easily be overlooked. Notice that the holster is molded to the pistol and note the flap of leather at the holster mouth that rides between the body and the rear of the pistol. This is a very good idea and this one is quite well done. The allen screws Mr. Garrity mentioned are under the two snaps visible in the picture above.
Lifting the leather that surrounds the belt we see the slot that allows the Changeling its name. This is the slot that allows the cant to be so quickly altered to fit the individual needs of its owner.
The leather that protects the skin or undershirt from abrasion from the gun and protects the gun from corrosion from perspiration also has another feature that is very good, particularly for Hi Powers.
On the left we see the rear of the "skin saver" side of the holster. Notice the particularly deep molded slot for the extended factory thumb safety common to the Mk II and Mk III pistols. The location is perfect and the safety lever does ride in this depression quite well. The Hi Power thumb safety is not known for being as positive in the "on" position as the 1911 and they can work themselves off in some holsters, particularly IWB designs. Despite my best efforts this did not happen with the Changeling. Neither did it interfere in drawing the pistol nor reholstering. This is a really good idea that was well done. On the right we see how this piece of leather, which is integral to the main body of the holster "intercedes" in the constant battle between skin and steel. I really like this feature and Garrity Gunleather's attention to detail with the deeply molded depression for the thumb safety is a superb touch.
When I first got the holster, I slid a Mk III Hi Power into it and found that while the fit was plenty tight, it was not like trying to shove a nail into a 2 x 4 by hand, as some holsters can be. The pistol fully seated in the holster and when held upside down, it never budged in this open top design. I wore it a couple of days around the house, withdrew the pistol, reholstered, and so forth. On the third day, the holster and gun had gotten "happy" together and while firmly held in place, there is no impediment to a quick presentation for those interested in such. I am not quick compared to many but I could easily tell that this design did not add any time to my draw from an IWB holster.
The holster has not loosened up noticeably in the days that followed. It seems to have "stretched" to where it needs to be and no more. Neither has there been any dye stains on the white undershirt I purposely wore to check for this.
On the left is the holster worn with the cant as delivered from Garrity. Note that the retainer is formed for specific belt sizes and is not just a loop of leather. As can be readily seen, this reduces bulk and therefore printing when carrying concealed. The butt of the Hi Power is properly turned inward toward the body. On the right we see the muzzle of the Mk III 9mm Hi Power in the Changeling. I chose this pistol for this evaluation because it had somewhat larger than factory sights but in the same dimensional ballpark as the standard fixed sight Mk III. The sight does not rub on the holster. The molded sight track is not excessive but it is more than adequate for about any high-visibility fixed sight one is likely to use. The edges of the holster are turned inward and this is very good on an IWB holster. It is similar to having a bevel job done on the sharp edges of a carry pistol. It is less likely to abrade either skin or pant material than if the edges were not turned nicely inward.
The holster is well put together. Notice the double row of stitching in the upper right and left pictures on certain parts of the holster. Under the piece of leather marked "Prototype #3" must be a piece of spring steel. This holster will not collapse when the pistol is drawn. Being able to reholster without having to use both hands is essential in a serious holster used for serious purposes.
Construction: It is my observation that Garrity's Changeling is a well thought out, well-executed quality holster. Not being a holster "expert" I obtained the following information from Mr. Mark Garrity.
He uses 6 to 7-oz. cowhide for IWB holsters (He will use horsehide on special request.) The leather is vegetable tanned. (I presume that this eliminates any possible corrosion problems from the tanning agent.) The thread used is bonded nylon and a Randall Union Lock-Stitch machine is used.
Mr. Garrity also advised that he prefers to use real firearms whenever possible in the molding of his holsters but used a Rings Mfg. replica of the Hi Power initially and finished up with the real thing. His attention to detail shows; my Mk III fit perfectly.
It appears to me that the holster is built for years of daily use, perhaps a lifetime.
Conclusion and Observations: I didn't hold the observations to the end as I sometimes do. I chose to illustrate with photographs throughout the article. It is my view after approximately 6 days of wearing this holster that it is darned sure a good one and I find it quite comfortable and functional. It is my opinion that both of these factors must be met if a holster is to faithfully serve its user. If it is not comfortable, it will not be worn. If it is comfortable but not functional or has hidden flaws, it is a liability rather than an asset. I believe that the Changeling is an asset.
If an IWB holster is on your short list, I strongly suggest that you increase it by one and take a long hard look at the Garrity Changeling. It reportedly will be priced at $85.00.
(I am not yet sure what pistols these will be available for, but was told that Prototype #1 is for a 5" 1911 and #2, a Glock 21 as well as for a Glock 30 and HK USP.)
Contact Information for Garrity Gunleather: If you have specific questions concerning this or other Garrity Gunleather holsters, here is the contact information I have:
P.O. Box 82664
Phoenix, AZ 85071