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Posted: 5/16/2003 5:28:48 AM EDT
When I began searching for an IWB holster for my Beretta 96 Compact, I found Mr. Olson's holsters for sale on gunbroker.com.  I was intrigued for two reasons: 1) the photos looked good -- the design is one I like, and 2) it was a very reasonable price for horsehide.  So I sent an email.

He didn't have any for sale at the moment, but since it was a model he usually keeps in stock, he told me it would be ready in a few days.  When he notified me, I paid him through his Ebay store and he sent it out.  $35.00 and a few days later I had it.

Hand sewn horsehide, 30 degree "FBI cant", belt loop snaps sewn on so they can't scratch the gun.  Reinforced top to keep the holster open for easy reholstering.  

The stitching and finish were neatly done, above the quality level I am used to seeing on the sub $50 products.

It didn't appear particularly contoured to my specific gun, and it was a little on the loose side.  It wasn't as tight as my Alessi or Safariland leather, but it still held the gun securely when the holster was inverted.   Though to be fair: apparently horsehide is much more difficult to wet mold since it isn't as flexible as cowhide when wet.  

As a familiarization process, I took it out to the steel target range at my club.  It was easy to draw and reholster with no problem.   I wish it had been cut a little lower around the trigger guard area as it took a while to get the hang of getting a good finger index on the grip when drawing.  But I eventually discovered the shape of the leather in this area forms a "pocket" for my middle finger to fit into when I am grabbing the pistol.  

It stayed put during the drills without much of a tendency to wiggle around, like some other IWB holsters I own with bigger belt loops.

Over the next few days I carried the Beretta concealed for a total of about 12 hours.  It was comfortable enough, not to say that packing a double-stack Beretta on your hip is anything like "comfort" as most folks would define it.  But it didn't move around on my belt, it tucked the gun in nicely into my side, and the "FBI cant" positioned the bulk of the gun butt vertically in line with my torso, minimizing the chance of printing toward the rear.   The reinforced mouth looks as it will hold up well.  The photos below illustrate the degree of rake, and the Beretta in full concealment.

Nothing major, but it could stand a little more wet molding.  The area where the pistol's trigger guard meets the frontstrap needs to have some leather removed to facilitate a good grip on the gun when drawing.

Bottom Line:
Before I found R. Olson's site, I was resigned to having to pay big bucks for a 96 Compact holster, or make do with a (too-long) 92FS holster.  For the money it is a very nice holster and a good value.  I own more than my share of budget leather: a half-dozen designs by Don Hume, a couple by Dillon Precision, and a couple by Galco.  I'd put the Olson above both the Dillon and Hume, and near the Galco in quality.  Another big plus: he makes holsters for a fairly wide variety of guns such as the SIG P225, CZ-75, and Makarov, in addition to the usual Glock and Colt styles.

Though not perfect, it's a very functional piece, and I guarantee I will be getting at least a couple more for some of my other guns before much longer.

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