Last year, shortly after Shot Show 2020 I contacted the folks at Craft Holsters about doing a review on their newest holster model, the Panther Pancake model. Due to my inability to let them know that I am indeed left-handed, they shipped me a right-handed holster.
While I was able to conduct the review, the folks at Craft felt bad about the mix-up even though it was none of their fault.
They reached out to me about making me a new holster that would be something I would be able to actually use for an everyday carry (EDC) for the firearm of my choice.
After some internal back and forth as to which handgun was going to get the nod for my long-term EDC, I finally settled on another of my favorite platforms, a 3rd Generation S&W 4566.
You can check out my overview video on this pistol, here:
I chose this pistol due to the fact that it is a stout and reliable DA/SA semi auto pistol that is the epitome of the things that Smith & Wesson did right back in the 1990s.
I currently own a few Gen 2/3 S&W pistols and have fired thousands of rounds through them and unlike my beloved M1911s, I have never had a failure with any of them. Reliability is something I deem necessary in a pistol I may have to bet my life or the lives of my family on.
With the pistol decision made, it was time to go through Craft’s website to find a suitable holster for everyday carry. They have many choices, but I settled in on an old favorite of mine, an open top pancake. I prefer this design because it provides the best combination of an easy draw stroke and retention without use of straps or screws.
I prefer to stick with the KISS principle when it comes to my gear because less stuff means less stuff to break/fail.
The Open Top Belt holster model lt.141 in black leather for the S&W model 1076 was my choice as the 1076 and 4566 share similar dimensions. With the order submitted, the wait began.
Each Craft holster is made to order, and the turnaround on your holster is roughly 4 weeks according to the website. Unlike some other custom manufacturers however Craft keeps their customers apprised as to the status of their holsters by sending emails out to keep you abreast of when your holster has been started, completed, and shipped.
Almost 4 weeks to the day I submitted my order, a large envelope showed up in my mailbox containing a box from Craft Holsters and presumably my new leather.
As with the first holster I received from Craft this one came in a handsome cardboard box in a pouch with a little letter from the folks at Craft. It was exactly what I had expected from them based on my earlier experience.
The holster is constructed with the same heavy gage leather as the earlier one, but with double stitching through the entire piece, a step up from the earlier model.
The hand-boning of the leather definitely makes the work of the artisans at Craft stand out in the crowd of leather holster manufacturers. The deep sight groove and wide mouth makes for a smooth draw and easy re-holstering with no snagging on the way in or out. The holster also has a roughly 10-degree forward cant to facilitate a smooth draw.
As with most leather holsters the fit was extremely tight at first, but the nice thing about leather is that it stretches and will fit itself to your pistol. As a young little league player, I was taught that the best way to break in a new glove was to put a ball in the webbing and tie a belt or rope around it and let it form under my bed for a few weeks.
In my experience leather holsters are no different, the best way to break them in is to work the leather until it is pliable. Then, holster your pistol and let it sit on a shelf in the closet for a few weeks to allow it to mold to the pistol.
The last 3 weeks sitting in my closet with the pistol holstered has done its job as the holster now fits my Smith like a custom-made glove. I look forward to strapping it on to allow time and body heat to finish the break-in and molding.
The Craft Open Top Belt Holster lists for $75 and comes with the same 5-year warranty as the rest of their offerings. From my experience with them, their customer service is top notch.
Stay tuned for updates as I will be doing a 90 day and a 6 month on this holster since it will be my exclusive EDC for the foreseeable future to let you know how it continues to hold up to repeated use.