Adjusting the retention on our holsters can vary from holster to holster. We will go over adjusting the retention on all of our shells that are held to their respective bases with spacers and screws. The different series that use this style of retention are as follows:
- All Cloak Series Holsters, indicated by 4 screw holes on the shell. If it has "Cloak" in the name it is a Cloak series holster.
- All Low Pro Holsters- these are specially cut shells to keep it as low profile as possible but also use 4 screw holes on the shell.
These holsters offer "Level One" retention. Level one retention is defined as retention that is purely pressure and gravity. There is no mechanism or device such as a lever or a strap that must be moved, articulated or "defeated" to draw or holster the firearm. Other retention offerings Level Two and Level Three. For the sake of this article we will focus on Level one retention. The best indicator you have one of these holsters is that the shell is held on by four screws and between the shell and the base are green or black spacers. Another indicator will be that you will receive a set of spacers and 8/32 (Thread Pitch) screws in the parts pack, with four small size screws and spacers, two mid size screws and spacers (all holsters are assembled with the mid size) and four large size screws and spacers. Any black IWB will come with green as they are not visible when being worn. Any OWB (Outside the Waist Band) or open carry options will come black spacers to be less eye catching. We provide these options so that you can be in full control of the retention by swapping out to the spacers that provide the level of retention you are needing for your daily application. We do recommend applying a medium retention thread lock on the screw threads, such as blue LocTite or nail polish, once the desired retention is achieved.
Adjusting your Retention and Best Practices
When you get your holster it will come with spacers already installed. The size may vary from holster to holster. To start, you will want to get your pistol into a "safe" condition. This means removing the magazine and pulling the slide back and locking it to the rear. If there is a round in the chamber this should remove it from the chamber. Cycle the slide manually a few time to ensure any rounds have been ejected. Next do a visual check. You should be able to see down into the ejection port and into the mag well. This should be free of any magazine, ammunition and obstruction. You should also be able to see into the barrel where the round was chambered. Some folks will opt to triple check this by sticking their pinky into the barrel through the ejection port. Once the firearm is in a safe condition, you will need to release the slide lock, allowing the slide to close. Be sure all appendages are clear of the ejection port before dropping the slide.
You can now slide the pistol into the holster for an initial baseline of how easy or difficult it is with the spacers and screws that came installed from the factory. You are only doing this to make sure that the holster will accept the firearm. If the holster is loose, wiggles or is not secure you will need smaller spacers. If there is heavy resistance to holster or draw, or, if the holster is causing the slide to cycle (move the slide backward, putting the pistol out of battery) you will need to select and install the larger spacers and screws.
If the pistol holsters easily or without extra force needed, you are ready to put the holster on in the general area you are hoping to carry. If you do have to apply extra force to get the pistol to holster, you will want to go to your parts pack and select a larger size spacer and screw. Once these are installed you should be able to holster the pistol without excessive force.
If the pistol holsters too easily, or is not providing a positive retention without rattling or wiggling in the shell you will need to select the smaller spacers and screws from the provided parts pack and install them. You are going for a smooth consistent drag that is easy and comfortable but also a comfortable amount of resistance.
Once you have the baseline for drawing and re-holstering established and running smooth, you need to put the holster on where you intend to where it as close to how you will wear it every day without reloading the pistol. Any IWB (Inside the Waist Band) products will result in a tighter fitment as the back pressure from the base pressed against your body pushes the pistol more firmly into the molded shell. This will manifest as a tighter fit. That is why it is important to test the retention this way. If the retention is still too loose, tighten the screws in small increments and re-holster/draw to test until the desired retention is achieved. If the retention is too tight, loosen the screws in small increments until the desired retention is achieved.
Once the correct retention is achieved while wearing the holster you will want to remove each screw, one at a time, and apply blue, medium retention Loc-tite or a similar adhesive that will allow you to easily break it lose should you need to re-adjust the retention. Clear nail polish can also work well for this. Once applied, you will want to reinsert the screw and tighten it to the same level it was before you removed it. Once this is done move to the next one and repeat the process until all four screws are back and installed with adhesive.
Best practices and things to not do.
Do check your equipment frequently, if not every day, to make sure everything is where you set it. Inspect for loose/missing/broken hardware, rust, dirt or debris. This is very important to keep your holster working in top performance and preventing an "oops" moment where your pistol is no longer secure.
Do use the proper size screws for the corresponding spacers. Using too long of screws with shorter spacers will result in screws poking through the base and potentially digging into you or your clothes. Using too short of screws with longer spacers can result in not enough purchase by the screw threads and ultimately the screw failing and/or falling out.
Do apply medium retention thread lock, such as blue LocTite or nail polish to the screw threads once you have the desired retention.
Do Not check retention by holstering the pistol and flipping it upside down and shaking the rig. Lots of holster companies use this method to demonstrate positive retention and it is very misleading and potentially dangerous. There is also almost no scenarios that mimic this behavior in live day to day carry. If it wont come out of the holster when it is not on your person, attempting to draw the firearm when it is against your body could prove to be very challenging and maybe unachievable. If you can shake the pistol out you are now in a situation where you have to catch your firearm or it is tumbling out onto whatever surface is below it. This is just poor practice for handling a fire arm even if it is completely unloaded.
Some pistols and/or Rigs (Rig= Any combo of Pistol and/or Light/laser, and/or optic) are just very wide. Other folks choose to wear the holster in such a way that more space is needed to draw and holster their firearm. When this occurs a double spacer may be needed to create the room needed to improve fit. This is when two spacers of whatever size combination are stacked. Some of these may need a longer screw than is normally provided in the included parts pack. For expedience and cost savings you can go to your local hardware store and look at their selection of 8/32 screws. It will be important to match the head type as best you can. In many instances only one side of the shells will need the extra space and in more cases than not, the extra space is needed for a rail mounted light/laser.