IWB Hi Power Holster from HBE Specialty Leatherworks
I recently received a package from holster-maker, Eric Larsen. It was an inside-the-waistband (IWB) design and obviously intended for concealed carry. Mr. Larsen sent the holster to me to say thank you for some past activities and did not solicit or expect any kind of report.
In fact, here is part of his email message:
"I'll say this as honestly as I can. This is not an "evaluation holster" in any sense of the word. This is a thank you from me to you for all of the support you've given me over the years…"
For those already owning HBE holsters the reason I was able to wholeheartedly support these products is already known. For those who do not, it is because they are well made and of very high quality. I recall one of my first "e-conversations" with Mr. Larsen. I advised that when I report on an item, the results are simply stated, be they good, bad, or in between. He didn't back down an iota. He didn't need to; his stuff is really good and I have taken it upon myself to spend a few words on this one.
Here is the brand spanking new IWB leather holster for the 9mm Browning Hi Power. The holster is tight when it arrived but loosened up a just "enough" after being worn a couple of days with the pistol in it. The holster's color is black cherry except for the rougher textured black, which is sharkskin. The snaps are one-way and only open if pulled from the top. Notice the leather extension that blocks the inside rear of the slide from the body. This is becoming more and more popular and is a good thing in my opinion. Not only does it prevent the pistol from possibly abrading the skin but helps prevent corrosion to the gun from sweat. It can also prevent the thumb safety from inadvertently being moved into the "off safe" position. The holster fit the pistol (Browning Mk III 9mm with Novak fixed sights) perfectly. The rear of the holster is "rough," meaning that it is not smooth like the leather visible in this picture. Mr. Larsen has stated that this tends to help keep the holster secure. I can assure you that it is not uncomfortable at all.
The holster is comfortable for an IWB design. I have never found any of them as pleasant as OWB, but that is subjective. While some have opined that the pistol is meant to be comforting and not necessarily comfortable, I prefer both if I can get them! On those occasions when I want a service size handgun on me but cannot dress to cover an OWB holster, the IWB fits the bill perfectly.
This holster was no exception. It held the pistol close into the body and because of the somewhat spread out distance between the belt loops, the butt of the gun is turned nicely inward, preventing a most common form of "printing."
In this picture we can see not only the strong stitching of a quality holster but the sharkskin reinforcement at the mouth of the holster. It keeps the holster open so that the pistol can be holstered using one hand. Some makers use steel to provide this function. Mr. Larsen advises that the sharkskin reinforcement "is cut, glued, stitched and molded on a curve for strength...arc's are very strong." We can also see the tab at the leather tab that prevents the gun and thumb safety from rubbing against the body. For those interested, the extended thumb safety on this Browning Hi Power never worked its way off safety. (It is the factory extended thumb safety common to the Mk III pistol. Mine has simply had the right-side lever removed and the end of the shaft rounded off.)
The rear of the holster is not finished smooth. It is sort of like a pair of "rough out" work boots. Mr. Larsen is not cutting corners here. He opines that this helps the holster's stability. In any event it is not at all uncomfortable. Notice how much of the gun is protected from contact with the body but that a quick access to the pistol is in no way impeded.
I took the holster and Mk III to the firing range to do some "practical" shooting from the draw. Wearing a holster is not the same as using it, albeit under simulated deadly force conditions. Essentially, testing focused on three things:
1. Was the holster both comfortable and concealable?
2. Would the pistol stay in place and could it be reholstered one-handed?
3. Would the holster's design impede quick presentation?
Shooting was done using Federal factory "Classic" 115-gr. JHP ammunition. All shooting was done at 10 yards.
With the pistol holstered, I drew the Hi Power and shot steel plates, one per draw, and now and then all six from one presentation. I also shot on paper, practicing single-shots per draw as fast as a flash sight picture could be obtained and a few failure to stop drills. The holster was up to the task and did not impede a quick presentation to any greater degree than any other IWB holster I've tried. The holster was comfortable and does a fine job of concealing the Hi Power. It does remain in place and one-handed reholstering is no problem..
The temperature was 102 degrees, even at 7PM when I went to the firing range. The holster dye did not come off despite the sweat; no stains were visible on either skin or clothing.
Cutting to the chase, I believe this to be a fine holster that is up to the tasks that might be given by a plainclothes officer or a legally concealed private citizen. It exudes quality and long life.
The 9mm Hi Power in the HBE holster is one that I've staked my life on in the past…more than once. It has been present at "burglaries in progress" calls, and more than one felon has seen it from the muzzle. It has been present at one hostage rescue operation. In short, I trust this gun but no matter how fine the weapon or competent the user, if it is not present in a crisis, it simply cannot do its work. Eric Larsen's IWB design addresses the latter. With this holster, serious folks can truly carry a handgun capable of the job. I will use this holster more but preliminary results are that I would stake my life on this gun/holster combination.
The version that I have is not the only choice. In Mr. Larsen's own words, "Customers can have anything they want on it. I've got stingray, shark, alligator etc. Any cant/angle, color…"
If interested in this holster or other HBE leather products, here is the link:
Contact information can be had via this link and I think you will find that Mr. Larsen is not only a gentleman who is happy to accommodate his clientele but also a man who knows his craft.