We’re always looking for great quality gear at affordable prices; this time was no different. The objective was to find a solution that allowed the carry of a service pistol in a vertical rig that was well made, didn’t get in the way of the H-Harness, could hold a variety of pistols, and would be worn as Level 1 (on your person at all times). Currently, our pistols are carried on our H-Harness, which works fine, except when you take off the harness for whatever reason. We like to have our general purpose knife and pistol on us when we’re otherwise stripped down from our standard field equipment, but are still in a possible hostile environment, or doing specialized training that is less than optimum wearing a fully equipped H-Harness.
In our search, I came across the BDS LIGHT Vertical Shoulder Holster from BDS Tactical, here, pictured above. It comes in all the popular colors or camouflage patterns, except old school woodland, which would be nice. I chose Coyote Brown because it can adapt itself to civilian attire more readily than Multicam. I don’t do black for a universal piece of equipment that I plan on using in any and all situations, nor do I use any camouflage pattern.
Here’s their description:
“The BDS LIGHT Vertical Shoulder Holster is designed to fit military and civilian semi-automatic pistols such as the Beretta 92, All Glocks, and the H&K USP and USPC’s. The holster is designed to be easily converted for use with different weapon system to include those with illumination and laser devices.
The holster is made of 1000 Denier Cordura, heavy duty webbing and premium hook/loop material for extreme durability.
This holster is available in Coyote Brown, Black, Multi-Cam, Ranger Green and Foliage Green.
The Vertical Shoulder Holster’s shoulder straps have 4 adjustable straps to be worn stand alone, over body armor or Flight Vest. The BDS Tactical Vertical Shoulder Holster comes with adjustable back strap, and adjustable sternum strap with side release buckle assures a custom fit.
To fit the handgun to the Universal Holster, first fit the barrel length by adjusting the internal muzzle stop. Then, close the hook flap around the holster for the width of the slide and the trigger guard. To keep the fit of your holster, secure the 2” hook and loop holster strap. Last, adjust the thumb break tight and your holster is ready for use. An adjustable Belt Attachment Loop is included on he holster for attaching to waist belt (Duty, Rigger, Modular, etc.) The BDS Light Vertical Shoulder Holster can be fitted to must handguns (please specify model.) Offered for both right and left hand shooters. The BDS Light Vertical Shoulder Holster comes in eight colors. This product is made 100% Made in Oceanside California and comes with a Lifetime Warranty.”
Price Point: $47.50 from the manufacturer is pretty fair, especially when the same holster from various retailers is selling at about $80 elsewhere.
Options: As this is the “light” model, it comes in four colors and can be sewn for both right and left handed people.
Delivery Time: About a month from order, as these are not mass produced. They sew by the order and then send it through their QC program to ensure you get a ‘first quality’ product. Necessary evil, I suppose, if you want a really good product.
Communication: They are pretty good about letting you know the status of the order; the closer you get to production finish, the more notifications you get of where the product is, and then once shipped, it’s fairly quick, as they use Priority Mail.
Out of the Box Impression:
- Extremely well made. In fact, it’s so well made that it should prove to be ‘bomb proof’ in normal to above average use in the field doing NPT training.
- The cordura pad pistol grip pad that outlines the area of the pistol grip will not be too short for the grip of any pistol holstered in it and you is a nice touch to eliminate or keep down any chafing that might occur from the pistol grip itself from rubbing on your torso. Also serves as a ‘sweat shield’.
- The holster is provided with very long adjustment straps and keepers to fit a wide range of body types. I’m 5’10” and 178-180, depending on the day, and I had to bring the straps in almost 2/3’s of their length to fit it over my outer shirt.
- Lightly padded shoulder/chest straps that have a couple MOLLE loops; another nice touch as you could, if needs be, attach a couple small accessory pouches (think USGI lensatic compass pouch size). The padding is very comfortable and promises fatigue free wear for long periods of time.
- Horizontal Magazine Pouches – Well made; don’t like velcro closures on mag pouches, but it’s a small thing. Glock 17 mags fit nicely; they’re a bit loose for single stack mags like 1911 8 rounders.
- It is not for people with smaller torsos, like women or short men (those of you who are 5’6″ or under are going to have a hell of a time adapting it). The holster comes all the way up the side from the belt retention strap at the bottom of the holster to keep the pistol in place.
- You’re going to have to invest some time. It’s not a simple, ‘zip, zip, zap’ it’s done and you’re wearing it, especially as you must adjust the front, back and sternum straps quite a bit. Took me about 45 minutes of tinkering for both the holster (my Glock 19 is about the smallest pistol you can put in it to fit); maybe faster for some.
- Adjusting the thumb break is a bitch. The good point? Once it’s set, it is NOT coming undone. Velcro is attached on both sides of the strap, so you need help breaking the velcro loose to move the strap larger or smaller to retain the pistol properly as well as operate smoothly (no, not for ‘quick draw’ purposes – strictly for getting the pistol in and out of the holster in an efficient manner). I used a couple of butter knives, sliding one on each side of the female snap portion of the thumb break and moving them back and forth while sliding the thumb break strap to the desired position. As the adjustment is such a pain, BDS might consider a demo video on what they use/how they adjust the double velcrod straps on the holster and possible include a couple of stiff pieces of plastic maybe 3/4 inches wide, 6 or 7 inches long and an eighth of an inch thick to allow for less hassle in adjustment.
- Adjusting the Muzzle Stop strap is less of a pain, but it’s obvious it’s made for longer barreled pistols. My full size 1911 fits it like a dream. When they say in the description, “all Glocks” that’s not entirely accurate. It would swallow any Glock smaller than a 19. Suggestion: Have one for shorter barrels like the Glock 19 or the Kimber Pro Carry series.
Overall Rating: Out of the box, I rate it as a 4 Star due to the points made above. It was worth the half-MSRP price the manufacturer charged without question. Yeah, I know, some may say, “well, you want your cake and eat it, too!” Well, not necessarily, but I do think the suggestions above might help with increasing the number of people who purchase the holster. If the adjustment effort doesn’t bother you, it’s worth the risk to buy it now, and get it before the price goes up.
Sometime this summer I’m going to be heading to my training area for 4 or 5 days with the objective of wearing the holster non-stop to see how it feels/functions during bush time. More to follow when I hit the field.