Dara Holster Review: out of the box, into the match
Folks who train and shoot with me regularly know I have a fondness for a certain brand of range holster for myself and students, and for myself, a certain pistol that’s a little—as one friend puts it, Bohemian. I can’t help that the Canik TP9 SA fits my hand like a glove and won’t stop being reliable.
Problem is, that certain brand of holster isn’t available for my go-to pistol. Not enough of ‘em on the market, a company rep explained. So when I found a company that makes an offset, drop holster for my gun, I was over the moon.
Santa was true to his word, delivering a Dara brand competition holster under the tree. With two months of range work now under (well, actually on) my belt, I can vouch that this company is a great alternative to some of the bigger names, for more reasons than making a holster for offbeat brands.
First, some backstory. The Canik is sold new with a perfectly functional, Serpa-style knockoff with the user’s choice of paddle or belt attachment. It’s a setup that mostly serves me well, except in some situations.
It’s not allowed in certain classes and schools due to the Serpa’s embattled safety legacy. While those concerns are almost entirely based in operator errors, the holster’s got a bad rap in some sectors. During winter months, a drop holster is a great way to keep a jacket closed and still be able to shoot. And during certain drills that demanded extreme speed, defeating the level 2 retention device was costly.
Stumbling upon the Dara website, I found the solution. Among their offerings is a dropped and offset action sport holster, and among the available fits was the TP9 SA. Yes! A three-year search had just come to an end.
This model is made to order, down to details like belt width, color, sight height, light-bearing, and there’s even an accommodation for extended mag releases. As the name implies, this holster was designed for match shooting and slide coverage is minimal, to accommodate an RMR and facilitate a fast draw.
It’s made for speed, alright, but I was more concerned about whether it would retain screws and hold up to my rather physical days at the range, which entail carrying targets and armloads of gear, as well as some ground work like shooting in prone.
So far, this Dara competition holster has proven itself tough. It has six screw-in attachment points between the belt mount and holster, three high and three low. At first, I thought the retention was a bit tight, so I gave the retention screws a half turn counter-clockwise.
I dabbed a bit of Loctite on them after the fact, not expecting it to do much good as I’d not coated the threads. That was over a month ago, and the screws have maintained their new setting. Likewise, none of the attachment screws has offered to loosen, something I’ve come to expect while breaking other brands’ belt holsters in.
I’m hard on gear, often carrying too many things and squeezing into tight spaces loaded down. When the Dara holster is pressed against the ground or a solid object, I feel a slight flex in the setup, and it has yet to indicate it might crack under weight. Of course, it’s still relatively new, but I’ve used it hard, and so far, so good.
The outer texture of the Dara is slightly rough, the finish matte. It does tend to cling to dirt, but for tactical purposes, is not reflective. The lower gun position makes it easy to wear with a coat and/or body armor, while keeping the gun accessible.
This holster has indeed eliminated the problems associated with the stock holster. I can get to my gun with a zippered winter coat on, and the draw is fast as it should be, enabling me to pass a certain federal qualification my friends and I use as a skills check.
If I were to change anything about this holster, it’d be to shorten the drop just a bit, say 0.75 inches or even less. It’s just long enough that I must consciously, firmly press the muzzle end of the gun toward my leg at the moment the drawstroke begins. That’s safer than it sounds, as the gun is still holstered in that moment. It’s a minor annoyance, but if I forget to press, or on the occasion I’ve loaned the rig to another, it’s easy to almost pull oneself up by the belt rather than snatch the gun out of the holster.
At $104, and currently on sale for $99, the American-made Dara is a step above competitors’ match holsters, and fairly priced. This gun holster has a two-week production window because it’s a custom order. Dara makes many other Kydex holsters in a variety of configurations and for a broad range of handguns. Lots of Inside–and outside–waistband models are available and ready-to-ship. Prices for those are $55 and up.
If you’re looking for a custom Kydex holster for a match or carry gun, this is one company worth checking out. Dara sold the holster featured in this article at full price with no disclosure it could be a media topic.
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All photos by Team HB.