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pdb’s Big Fat Open Carry Retention Holster Roundup: Part 2: 5.11 Thumb Drive

The 5.11 Thumb Drive retention holster is made for them by Blade-Tech and is available for around $60. I got mine from LA Police Gear. The Thumb Drive is available for medium and full sized Glocks, full sized S&W M&Ps, full sized SIGs and the Beretta 92. Like the Safariland, the 5.11 unit can be configured with either the paddle or belt loop attachments, but offers a wider range of cant adjustment. Three screws hold the mounting plates on, and a set of adjustable bits to fit the exact width of your belt. I tried both and like the Safariland I preferred the paddle attachment for the comfort and stability. Kydex belt holsters are universally plagued by belt loops that are close together, and since they ride further out from the body than a leather pancake, tend to rotate and bounce around even on a stiff belt. I feel that the kydex body paddle is a good compromise.

The 5.11 is not as attractive to my eyes, having prominent angular lines and several exposed screws. There’s also a thick swoop of plastic that protects the thumb button lock release. It’s sandwiched between the holster and belt loop or paddle plate, and adds about 1/4″ of thickness to the holster where it can least afford it. I tried assembling the holster without the swoop, but the screws were too long. Shorter screws would help here, but I didn’t have time to track any down, and I’m unqualified to judge whether this would negatively affect the operation of the holster, so I can’t suggest you try it yourself.

The 5.11’s lock is engaged around the trigger guard and is disengaged by a big plastic button that moves up and down. If you have a modified trigger guard, it might not work out for you, but the holster held both my G19 and G17 securely without rattles or movement.

To disengage the 5.11 lock, you need to press down with your thumb as you are pressing the gun into the holster. If you are pulling up on the gun at all, the lock will not disengage. I managed to screw this up a few times even after quite a few repetitions. On the other hand, I felt the system offered more secure retention than the 6378. It’s really going to depend on your priorities. If you are going to commit to learning the system and feel like you need more secure retention, the 5.11 will work for you.

Reholstering the pistol requires a committed shove to get the lock to engage, but it lets you know with an audible and tactile click.

I open carried my G17 in the 5.11 for an afternoon of yard work and a few trips in the car, and a day of practicing my plate shooting. It was comfortable and secure, but felt like it was riding outboard more than it should’ve been. As I mentioned above, despite a lot of dry and live practice, I occasionally had to try twice to get the gun out of the holster. This would probably get better with time and practice. I didn’t have a shot timer to check, but I felt like my overall times were slower with the Thumb Drive than the 6378.

On the positive side, the downward press of my thumb onto the release button felt like it gave more consistent grip acquisition. I never had to readjust my grip after drawing like I did with the 6378.

At $60, the Thumb Drive is hard to recommend compared to the 6378 that just plain worked better for me at almost half the price. But that’s how it worked for me. If you need the more robust retention and are less clumsy than I, it may work out for you. It certainly is put together well and made out of rugged materials. I would still rather have one than a SERPA, even at twice the price.

Here’s a short demo video I made:

Come back tomorrow for a look at the Uncle Mike’s Reflex IRT.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. ZerCool | September 19, 2012 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Downside can be seen on YouTube… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYvAxLX6OzE ;)