Guest Post: Prep now! Carry Later!


The worst part about buying a new gun ………is the cost of all the accessories! It seems that your estimated amount you allot for the purchase of a new firearm doubles or triples by the time you’re finished getting everything you need with it. Hands down, AR’s are the worst! Slings, magazines, different stocks, lasers, lights, scopes, sights, more magazines, BUIS, grips, forward grips, rails, rail covers, bipods, bayonets, NVG, even more magazines, assault cases, hard cases, ammunition and finally even more magazines. It is no wonder that your $1000 AR (that you got a great deal on) ends up costing you $3000 or more!

Second to the AR…is the pistol. Pistols require holsters (unless you’re strictly a range guy). If you’re an occasional carrier, you can get away with a holster or two. But if you’re more likely to not have your wallet (or purse) on you than to not be carrying a sidearm, then you likely have bins of holsters.

While I may get in trouble here, holsters to one who carries are like shoes are to the ladies. Each holster serves a different purpose. While a single holster might (with effort) be marginally adequate for a variety of situations, selecting the right holster for the situation will get the job done better and more comfortably. I usually end up with 5 to 10 different holsters for each model firearm. Body weights change. Climates change. Purposes change. Clothing changes (ever try a belt holster while wearing a flight-suit or coveralls?). And some I just tried, didn’t like, and tossed in a box.

There are advantages and disadvantages to every style of holster and that can be dictated by the situation for which you are wearing it.

If you’re a hunter, you have either carefully selected what holster will give you maximum comfort while protecting your weapon and having easy access to it….or you have suffered the pains of rubbing, weight, sore backs, etc.\

The same for CCW holders who likely chose comfort, concealment and speed, whereas officers are looking for security, speed and comfort.

What area is often overlooked are the factors that go into considering a holster for TEOTWAWKI.

Let’s start with materials. The common holster materials out there are:

  • Leather
  • Nylon
  • Kydex
  • Injection molded plastic

LEATHER – Leather is probably the oldest material out there for holster construction. Properly cared for, leather holsters seem to last forever. There are numerous holsters out there that are easily in excess of 100 years that still do the job when demanded of them. A fine crafted molded-for-your-gun is a thing of beauty (and unfortunately is sometimes priced like designer shoes). Over time, the leather will loosen up (usually over many, many years) and if the holster is friction fitted, it may loosen up too much. While slower to bring into action, a thumb-break style will continue to securely retain your weapon even when the leather loosens up. Leather, depending on the climate, can also rot out, dry out, retain moisture (which can rust your firearm) or tear. With some basic leather working skills and tools, many can be repaired (usually snaps and stitching) with a little time and effort. In addition to usually a higher price, another downside to most leather holsters is that they usually only hold one type or model of firearm (or variations within that same model – i.e. 1911 Govt vs. 1911 Officers).

NYLON – There’s good nylon holsters……and LOTS of bad nylon holsters. The majority of nylon holsters out there seem like they were sewn at the end of a 60hr work week by a half blind monkey using the remains of a used nylon duffle bag. While lighter than a lot of holsters, they seldom retain their shape well and unless reinforced, collapse when not filled with a firearm (making re-holstering one-handed a challenge). They tend to move around a bit more than leather holsters, regardless of whether they’re on your belt, ITP, or as a shoulder rig. On the plus side….they are usually inexpensive. They also dry out faster and require less maintenance than leather. Unfortunately, they’re also extremely ugly, though they can often be made to reflect and complement your choice of camouflage patterns.

KYDEX & INJECTION MOLDED PLASTIC – Kydex and Injection Molded Plastic (IMP) are the “latest and greatest” in the world of holsters. Generally more inexpensive than molded leather, the majority utilize a friction fit. Often as light as nylon, they retain shape, shed water, are impervious to most chemicals, are low maintenance, and (at least the quality ones) don’t move around much on your belt. They are usually extremely fast for a weapon’s presentation and are highly favored by CCW holders and off duty cops. On the down side…….they break. And when they break, they are usually NOT repairable. If they utilize a retention system other than friction (i.e. thumb break, SERPA button, SLS/ALS, etc) those parts also wear out and break eventually.

A TEOTWAWKI holster is different from other holsters. It has different requirements and as a result, different characteristics. While not all of characteristics may apply to your situation, please consider each individually and how it can or might apply to you.


First, the TEOTWAWKI holster might possibly be the LAST holster available to you. Finding a replacement holster, or repair shop is likely NOT an option. Select a holster that will last! Kydex and IMP holsters usually last me 1-3 years with daily carry (I carry daily, though it might not be the same holster every day) before breaking. While I love them and use them often for CCW, they are not TEOTWAWKI holsters.

Second, the perceived majority of the time, in a TEOTWAWKI situation for prepared individuals, the pistol will be for convenience and backup. It will NOT before primary defense, or hunting, or, god-forbid assault/counter-attack. Those functions will be taken up by long arms. In the majority of situations, “fast draws” are NOT a reality. Instead it will be “fast shots” from a weapon already out of the holster because you’re in a bad area/situation and were smart enough to pull it out of the holster before you needed it, OR you used a long gun instead.

Third, since your sidearm is technically your backup, it should be protected so that when needed IT WORKS! While I love my Wilderness Zip Slide holster and Galco’s Yaqui Slide holster, they don’t do the greatest job of protecting the weapons from damage, loss, moisture, dirt, etc. Remember, this is TEOTWAWKI. For those who bugged OUT, you’re likely crawling through brush….not walking down a sidewalk. Crawling through brush and dirt is hard on gear, especially exposed handguns! There’s a reason a lot of the older military holsters had flaps. They were protected from weather and debris and rarely “fell out” accidently. A lot of hard molded holsters are crushed (when empty) to the point of the firearm no longer being able to be slid in when the person is done rolling around on the ground, and certain brands are known for getting debris in the release mechanism and disabling the release, thereby not allowing you to take your pistol out of the holster.

Fourth, who says you’ll be using your sidearm? What happens when you lose your sidearm (theft, misplaced, lost, confiscated, etc)? You may acquire a new sidearm, but you might not be lucky enough to get the holster for it. A holster that fits a variety of models and styles adequately may be better than the holster that fits one model perfectly.

Fifth, who says that you’ll be able to carry it for your dominant hand? Accidents happen and with accidents, come injuries. On several occasions, I’ve had to carry with my “off-hand” when my dominant hand is injured. As a result, in addition to regular “off-hand” shooting practice (both off-hand only and off-hand side with two hands), I try to maintain at least two or more left-handed holsters for some of my more common carry pistols.

Sixth, who says you’ll be the one using the sidearm and holster? While this may not affect everyone, it will certainly affect many. Not even going into the discussion of loaning a weapon to a “new” team member, or an extra handgun to a friend/member who lost theirs (again, theft, misplaced, lost, confiscated, etc), I’m talking about family! Especially the kids! While your 14 year old loves “his” .38 spl or 9mm, don’t expect that to last as they grow. Right now, my .22LR Ruger MkIII, which I purchased with my very own money, somehow no longer belongs to me. It now belongs to my daughter! In a TEOTWAWKI situation, I can easily see her returning the Ruger for something stronger, and I can guarantee that it will also be something I purchased, for me, with my very own money! Are all your family and friends all right or left handed?

Lastly, while weight and comfort are always an issue, for those who don’t already daily carry, it will be a new experience. The holster that works for a few hours hunting or at the range or target shooting, are rarely comfortable all day every day unless you’ve really done your homework.

Holsters For Consideration

While there are numerous brands and styles out there, I can only comment on ones I’ve seen and used. I’m not advocating giving up your custom leather or Kydex rigs. However, while I’m sure everyone has prepped with spares for everything, you might also consider getting a few spare holsters as well. For those on a budget, gun show discount bins, pawn shops, Craig’s list postings, etc are excellent ways to find new and used holsters FOR CHEAP!

Blackhawk makes several nylon tactical thigh holsters that carry a variety of models/sizes. They are reinforced to stay open for re-holstering and will last a lifetime even under harsh conditions. One of my favorites is their “Special Operations Holster” with the protective flap, perfect for protecting the weapon when rolling around, while allowing easy access. The flap can also be fastened out of the way when necessary while still securing the pistol with a thumb break.

If you like the old military leather flap holsters, originals and reproductions will fit many of the current stock of sidearms. Just make sure that you care for and maintain the leather. Bianchi offers a nylon version of the leather military flap holsters.

Wilderness’s Safepacker will also completely protect a sidearm while allowing easy and fast access (with practice). In addition, the Safepacker holster is a “low-key” holster that doesn’t scream, “Hey! This guy is armed!”

The Zip Slide holster, also by The Wilderness, while it doesn’t protect the weapon very well, it is great as a backup/spare holster to stick in your pack. Extremely small and light weight, you won’t even notice it. When I take a larger holster, like the Special Operations holster, I usually throw in a Zip Slide holster in the event that I need a CCW holster (or just am tired of having something strapped to my leg all day).

Condor’s Tornado holster is a great lightweight holster. It comes in a variety of colors (including Multi-cam). Not only is it adjustable to fit a LARGE variety of pistols, it does so without the “loose slop” of many of the other “one-size-fits-all” holsters. Easily fitted to your specific sidearm, it can be also be adjusted for carrying a sidearm with, OR WITHOUT, a light/laser mounted on the weapon’s rail. It is an extremely versatile holster for a generally good price.

Lastly, because I’ve said too much already, is Safariland’s Model 567/568/569 “Custom Fit” holster. It comes as either a belt, a clip, or a paddle holster and can be adjusted for both strong side and cross draw. With just four different sizes, this holster will accommodate over 100 different kinds of handguns. More of a CCW style holster, it can cover the times when the larger holsters are excessive (those Sunday-go-to-meeting times for example).

A spare holster (and for that matter a spare rifle sling) can be worth its weight in gold! While I’m sure trading will be active during a TEOTWAWKI situation, and that numerous talented individuals will begin handcrafting products, it seems that more and more holsters are made for ONLY a specific model, and during TEOTWAWKI, the likelihood of happening to find your model holster for trade is right up there with finding free food sitting on the sidewalk. Prep now! Carry later!


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    Good post but I might disagree with you a little bit on your assement of the AR-15 platform.

    “The worst part about buying a new gun ………is the cost of all the accessories! It seems that your estimated amount you allot for the purchase of a new firearm doubles or triples by the time you’re finished getting everything you need with it. Hands down, AR’s are the worst!”

    Only if you choose to spend your money that way.

    Slings – I bought a slightly used Blackhawk! Single point sling at a gun show for $10.00 and by slightly used, I mean I don’t think it made it out of the guy’s closet more than half a dozen times.

    Magazines – Magazines are easy to find. Their is a shop that sells used GI mags near my house for 5 bucks. They are scratched and not to “purty” looking but they do the job. Have run hundreds of rounds thru them and have never had a jam or misfead. Heckuva deal. I also purchase six 30 round windowless magpul magazines on craigs list from a guy who only charged me $30.00!

    Different stocks – How many different stocks do you need? I have found one’s on clearance for under $40.00. Heck, if you wanted to go really cheap, you could get the old A1 style furniture. That stuff is dirt cheap.

    Lasers – Now there’s a gimmick. Also, a lazy man’s tool. If more people spent time at the range and learned how to zero their weapon, perhaps they would not need a laser.

    Lights – I have never had a light and those little buggers are expensive. If the SHTF, I don’t plan to do a lot of breaching or scavenging. I plan to stay invisible. Pluse I can think of a better use for batteries. Light discipline comes to mind.

    Scopes – Now there is a high value, high price item. You can spend a lot here if you want too. But you can also find some good deals online. I have also found excellent deals on EOTech’s at pawn shops and gun shows. There is a whole cadre of folks who buy all this gear, then don’t want it and bring it down to their pawn shop or gun store.

    Sights/BUIS – Doesn’t anyone trust stuff out of the box anymore? What if this is your first AR? Are you going to spend a ton on iron sights? Get a used DPMS and shoot the crap out of it and then see what you need.

    Grips/forward grips – Front grips are for wimps. LOL J/K. I am old school. Again, this is an item you can find very cheaply online or as a used item at a gun show. Heck, Fleet Farm is now selling them.

    Rails, rail covers – You can spend some money on these if you like. BUT! Just like everything else, why would you want to do that for your weapon? I prefer the DPMS glacier guards.

    Good deal at $40.00

    Like I said, I am old school and I think these are some of the best hand guards around.

    Magpul also makes good ones for carbines. Cheaper still!

    Bipods – I have never used a bipod on my AR’s. Not that I wouldn’t. Makes the weapon more heavy. I would rather spend the money on an extra bore snake, Hoppe’s, Militec!, extra gas rings, charging handles etc.

    Bayonets – Really? Gonna do a lot of HTH are you? Lots of CQC? Money spent on a good fixed blade would be better spent. Besides, most people have never been trained on how to use the M9 bayonet much less attach it properly to their weapon in a quick manner. Do these same people know how to compensate for shooting with a bayonet attached? And why would you? Not to mention all of the hazards of walking around with a fixed one on your weapon. Ditch that notion. We are not in the Bois Jaques and the Jerry’s are not coming thru the woods.

    NVG – Not that will cost you. But Night vision does not go hand in hand with your weapons purchase. You do not need it to be a better shooter. That is a different force multiplier altogether. It is a nice thing to have in your cache!

    Even more magazines – See above. Quite possibly the easiest items to find in all of gundom.

    Assault cases/hard cases – Most AR’s come with a hard case. They are dirt cheap if you need an extra. I bought a Plano at a pawn shop recently for 10 bucks. I also bought a Condor duo soft side case at a garage sale for $45.00. It was hardly used at all! Again, probably sitting in the closet.

    Ammunition – Don’t skimp there and stay away from certain types. Better still, take the time to learn to reload and save a mint! Not to mention, you will have a new skill! Will probably be quite useful post-SHTF.

    “It is no wonder that your $1000 AR (that you got a great deal on) ends up costing you $3000 or more!”

    Like I said, only if you want too. I think a lot of new users think that all of the doo-dads are going to make them better shooters. The highest end AR and the best sights on that weapon will not do you any good if you don’t learn the fundamentals of shooting and learning how to use your weapon, learn how to zero it, and practice, practice, practice. Then make sure you know how to clean it…and keep it that way.

    I am not trying to bash your article, but rather, point out some things to someone who might want to purchase an AR-15. You are right, you can spend a ton on accessorizing it but what good is that if you don’t know how to use it or take care of it? I go with the axiom of more crap on your weapon, more stuff to take off when you need to clean it.

    I shoot with a guy at my range who is an older gentlemen, he has an old Colt. A-1 style with the triangular hand guards! That thing rattles and hardly seems like it would make it for another 1000 rounds but if you thought that you would be mistaken. This guy is deadly with this thing at 50m or 250m and I don’t think he would have it any other way. He knows the fundamentals of shooting, he takes pristine care of his weapon and knows exactly how to use it.

    So that is my point. Gimmicks and a bunch of Magpul accessories will not help you become a better shooter.

    Practice does. So practice, practice, practice and take a class if you are unfamiliar with your weapon. That is half the reason I think some of thes rifles end up in closets or at pawn shops with less than 200 rounds fired thru them.

    Good stuff.

    Liked the rest of the article too.

  2. What’s your point? YES, firearms are expensive. If you can only afford one, it’s more practical to get a handgun,
    because you can carry it. Yes, there are lots of accessories. The ONLY necessary one is ammunition. No, there is no such thing as too much ammo, it can also be used for barter!………That’s all.

  3. Excellent points Ben! I agree with much of it. Keep in mind that different weapons (even in the same platform i.e. AR-15) may be set up for different purposes.

    An entry gun needs to be lightweight. Perhaps a single point sling, light and a simple red dot sight.

    An AR set up for longer range may have a variable magnification scope, bi-pod, a two or three point sling and perhaps a cheek rest.

    Military/Combat rifle may have night vision/laser combo, red dot sight or Trijicon scope, heck might even have an M203 mounted underneath.

    Most of what was listed (in reference to AR accessories)was tongue-in-cheek humor. Everyone I know sets up their AR differently based on needs (both real and perceived) and experience.

    I, for one, will NOT carry an “assault/defense rifle” for without a light or sling. A sling is a holster for a long gun. Even ignoring “Rifle-failure-transition-to-handgun” scenarios, you eventually need to free up your hands and setting your rifle down means it will be out of reach when you need it (Murphy’s Law). A light is not only for night, but for indoors. I can think of numerous TEOTWAWKI scenarios in which you may have to enter a building or structure. While I ALWAYS carry a flashlight (actually two to three for EDC) the practicality of using a handheld and swing a long arm, while possible, is asking for trouble when a simple “attach the light to the gun” solution is available.

    While Iron Sights (and BUIS) are useful and necessary, the ease of use, higher accuracy and quicker time on target of red dots and battle proven scopes have proven themselves time and again. I know of many individuals that are excellent with iron sights, and are probably faster than many others are with a red dot, but with an open mind and a bit of practice, that same person (that loves iron sights) would be that much faster and more accurate with good battle optics. And unfortunately, a good scope or red dot is often times going to cost the same as the rifle and in some cases more. And nowadays many AR are “flat tops,” so even their primary iron sights are of the BUIS variety!

    Everyone loves deals! If you can find it for cheaper and it works….BUY IT! And I also have found great deals on items. I bought a 1000 round case of factory .223 last year for $75 because he didn’t need it any more. But I’m still going to buy more at typical prices because 1000 rounds just ain’t gonna cut it.

    I have numerous 20 and 30 rd GI mags that I bout anywhere from $5 to $15. They are “range mags” and extra “TEOTWAWKI mags.” My carry mags are magpuls and HKs because reliability is NOT an option.

    Completely agree on bi-pods! In general, they make your weapon heavier and more cumbersome. I thought I would never put a bi-pod on my AR until I had to watch a house for1.5 hours not knowing if/when the command to fire would come. After even 5 minutes, the barrel starts to waver when trying to keep it on target waiting to fire. 15 minutes was a nightmare! I still didn’t want a bi-pod attached until I found a Samson-style grip/bi-pod (gun show $25). It is light weight, simple, complements my tac-light, and easily removable when not needed.

    All that being said, the AR accessories was just there for a semi-humorous lead in (based on my experience that people often DO put way too much crap on their ARs!!) to the need for holsters!

    Glad you enjoyed the article.

    Bayonets – link – They’re not quite dead yet. No, I don’t expect to ever need a bayonet. No I haven’t bought the mini-bayonet for my pistol rail (I figure I’d forget to remove it and slice up my nice leather when I re-holstered). HOWEVER, I do believe that is is a criminal offense to own a Garand and NOT own a bayonet for it. I believe the punishment is 5-10 years of loading everyone else’s magazines at a full-auto shooting convention. While it may never be mounted for actual usage, it’s just a crime not to have an historical piece missing an item like that!

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