I am sometimes asked, “What is the best holster?”
The answer is first, what best serves your needs/mission; second, what is your personal preference in regard to aesthetics; and third, how well it’s made and fits the firearm. Cost should be the least of your concerns for a holster used for self-defense. I recently came across a holster that meets the first three requirements for myself and is also reasonably priced: the Guardian Arc Angel from Versacarry. Available for most popular handguns, the holster evaluated was for a full-size 1911.
In a departure from the norm, Versacarry uses premium water-buffalo hide rather than cowhide. It is not a pancake design, with the holster formed and then stitched to a heavy backing. Instead the backing is made with two pieces of leather to add stiffness and support. The finish is a distressed dark brown that, to me, is reminiscent of oiled harness leather. I like the looks of it.
A spare magazine pouch is incorporated into the design.
At the top of the holster is a black overlay with a cutout in a shape I would describe as a Crusader’s cross. Adding to the aesthetics are small slots cut into the holster, the mag pouch, and at the top and lower left edge of the backing. The belt slots accept a belt up to 1¾ inches wide.
The backing is sewn around the entire perimeter, as are the holster and mag pouch. Stitching is absent around the inner edges of the belt. Although unlikely, this may allow the double-sided backing to come apart, creating a weak point—although it would take a lot of wear and a lot of time.
For over two decades, I have worn a spare magazine pouch on my support-hand side, though I find reaching across my body to access a reload less than optimal. Versacarry offers the Arc Angel without the incorporated magazine pouch, as well as single mag pouches (single or double stack) that can be worn separately.
I did find the spare mag pouch with the holster useful. While evaluating the Arc Angel, I used it to carry several similarly sized items, rotating among a magazine, multi-tool, knife, and flashlight.
I believe the foundation of a good drawstroke starts not only in the holster, but also by having a quality belt that supports the holster properly.
In addition to the Arc Angel holster, I received a Versacarry Underground Series belt. Like the holster, the belt is made up of multiple layers of premium water buffalo leather. Using different colors and textures, the belt has five stripes with a nickel buckle, giving it a very distinctive look. It could easily be worn as a dress belt.
The end of the buckle has a roller around the body of the buckle so the belt can more easily glide through while it is being fastened. Available in sizes 36 to 44 inches, it has five adjustment holes.
The buckle along with a keeper is sewn in place. Personally I would prefer that Chicago screws be used instead of sewing so the buckle could be changed, allowing a bit of customization, but I admit this may be nitpicking.
Although subjective, I believe the break-in period of the Arc Angel was less than that of many other holsters I have evaluated over the years. The only reason I can think of is the use of water buffalo hide.
The suggested retail price of the holster is $69.99. The belt is $89.99 and a single mag pouch is $12.99. Considering the quality and craftmanship, the price of each item is a bargain.