A Hi Power Holster by Eric
For those who don't know, a while back Eric Larsen jumped into holster making and leatherwork with both feet! In my opinion he landed like a cat and turns out some very fine holsters that are well suited for both visible and concealed carry. His enterprise is HBE for "Holsters by Eric". I have HBE holsters for the Makarov (works great with the Bersa Thunder .380, too) and the CZ-75. It was my pleasure to report on an early prototype holster for the CZ-75 and while it was certainly good, Mr. Larsen has most successfully negotiated a great "learning curve". What I'm saying is that his holsters today show significant improvements over his initial efforts. That many get better with practice is no surprise but it is apparent in this latest holster that Mr. Larsen has shown great effort in making his products first-rate, not just good enough to get by! (While his earliest efforts were certainly quite satisfactory, if the improvement shown in this Hi Power holster is indicative of his entire line, some very positive upgrading has been done!) This speaks highly of the man, his ability, and his devotion to his craft. It also means that consumers get a very fine and dependable product.
I don't know about you but I determine a holster's worth via a number of criteria:
1. Is it comfortable? If it is not, it simply won't be worn and represents money wasted.
2. Does it hold the gun securely? If not, the holster can be a liability rather than an asset. At the least it will allow for more rapid and unnecessary wear to the gun's finish. At the worst, it could allow the gun to be lost during strenuous activity such as running or in a struggle with an opponent.
3. Is it durable? No one wants to spend his or her hard-earned cash for a holster or any other accessory that simply won't provide long service life.
4. Does it allow for comfortable and quick presentation? While the holster should securely carry the handgun, it must not impede a rapid presentation for its user.
5. Is it pleasing to the eye? Not as important as the preceding criteria, it is still something many of us consider in holster purchases; I know I sure do!
The holster being evaluated is closely molded to Mr. Browning's classic Hi Power pistol. Initially you can expect the holster to be tight. No small effort was required to seat my Mk III 9mm in the holster but after several days, fit became secure and firm but without slowing the draw. When the pistol is holstered it does not move. No retaining strap is present and none is needed! The excellent fit provides all the retention needed to hold the gun securely until purposely drawn.
Here we see an Eric Larsen holster for the 9mm Hi Power. Stitching is more than ample for long service life. This holster is molded for a precise fit.
As I am in no way a leatherwork specialist, I asked Mr. Larsen to describe the holster for those might be interested. Here is what he says.
"The holster is a basic pancake style.
This is a common term used for an OWB holster using 2 pieces of leather, one on front and one on back with fore and aft belt loops.
This holster can be vertical/canted/cross draw or combinations thereof.
I do my OWB holsters slightly different than most others. Most use smooth side out front and rear. I use smooth side out in the front. This makes for a gorgeous holster on the very outside of the holster and puts a smooth side on the inside also. This aids in a smooth draw and is less harsh on your gun's finish. I see no point in wasting smooth side out on a side that no one will ever see. (I can incorporate a high, mid or low back/bikini style into this design and can have a reinforced opening.)
I use 6-7 oz leather on the rear panel and a heavy 7-8 or 8-9 oz on the front panel for the leather weights...this gives a narrow profile to the holster and offers adequate rigidity for OWB carry. The weight of the holster is primarily taken by the front panel...thus its heavier.
The stitching is a poly twisted braid that withstands UV/Ozone/Moisture and has great tensile strength along with good abrasion resistance. I use #346 on the Outside/front and #277 on the Inside/back stitching.
Some design work that I incorporate into this is rounded stitching lines on all of my later produced pancakes and my makers/stamp.
Price on pancakes is $ 65-80 including Priority mail Shipping w/ delivery confirmation."
This side of the holster is against the body. It is the "rough" side of the leather and Mr. Larsen's reasons are explained in the text, as is my opinion on this approach.
The first time I tried to put my Hi Power into the holster it was extremely tight. I let it sit overnight. The next day wasn't much better, but I wore the holstered pistol much of the day and did so for a few days and drew and reholstered the Hi Power quite a bit. In less than a week the holster's fit became quite nice and drawing the gun, no problem at all. Reholstering is easily done. This does not mean that the holster is now loose; it is not, but has loosened exactly right for a firmly held but instantly accessible sidearm.
Though purely subjective, I find the holster extremely comfortable and will be using it for lawful concealed carry with my Hi Powers. There is plenty of room built in for the Mk III front sight as well as those from Novak. This holster also turns the butt of the pistol in toward the body to reduce "printing" under the outer garment, an important consideration for concealed handgun licensees as well as plain-clothes law enforcement officers.
Viewed from the rear we can see how the rear belt loop slot turns the gun into the body to avoid "printing".
Finish is a deep and glossy black that is evenly applied. Earlier, Mr. Larsen advised that he doesn't care to put finished leather where it won't be seen. The backside of the holster is of the rougher texture and I like it. Even though unlikely due to belt tension, this surface is less likely to allow the holster to move from its intended position. Probably more theoretical than real, I still like it.
This holster is well made and the finish is a glossy black. Visible outside surfaces have a gloss finish.
Cutting to the chase, do I think it's worth the money? The answer is an emphatic yes. Depending on the available options Mr. Larsen provides, the buyer gets a very high quality holster that should last a lifetime of regular use. Depending on what the buyer chooses, he will eat up the better part of a hundred-dollar bill, but he also gets a product that will serve well long after the initial cost is forgotten.
A fine holster and a dependable firearm can be an asset. Both the gun and the HBE Hi Power holster meet these criteria in my view.
I have fine holsters from other makers and without taking anything from them, I believe that HBE holsters compare exceptionally well and the Hi Power holster I was sent meets my personal requirements exceptionally well. There is no doubt in my mind that HBE holsters for other pistols are also of superior quality.
Folks, these are really good holsters and I believe worth a very close look for people interested in quality leather gear at most reasonable prices.