Craft Holsters Review
Leather Open Top Pancake Holster

July 18, 2018

I'm not exactly sure why, but it took several years before I fully understood the need and value of a good holster.  Initially I considered holsters as an afterthought when adding a handgun to my collection.  This view was probably based on ignorance and the fact that I seldom carried a handgun.  Today, I carry a handgun as much as I can and I'm a firm believer that every handgun should have a good holster ready and available as needed.  Also, today there are so many great holsters to choose from that it may make it a little difficult deciding on the best holster for your situation.  I'm not going to tackle selecting the right holster for each handgun in this review because there are so many things that are based on personal preference, but I am going to point out why I selected the holster shown in this review.

First I want to be full disclosure and say that I was contacted by Craft Holsters to consider one of their products for review.  When a manufacturer contacts me for a review, I always do a little research and study their products before I make the time commitment for a review.  My first thought when going to the Craft website was they are a legit company that offers a wide range of styles and accessories in a variety of materials such as leather, nylon, Kydex and polymer.  Since I have a drawer full of Kydex and polymer holsters, and since I do love the natural look of a leather holster, I decided to focus my attention on selecting one of their leather holsters for review.


Next I was faced with deciding on which carry style (IWB, OWB, etc.) to use for the review.  This is where body type really comes into play (my opinion).  In general I like IWB (inside the waste band) for smaller handguns and OWB (outside the waste band) for larger handguns because it just seems more confortable.  Since I already have several holsters for some of my smaller handguns, I decided to take a look at an OWB holster for a full sized pistol.  In the end I decided on using my Ruger SR1911 with a 5" barrel for the review.  I'm a fan of the 1911 pistols and felt a holster for this pistol would give me a good example of a Craft Holsters product.  When you put Manufacturer and Model into the Craft "Find Holsters" tool you will see Craft offers a wide variety of holsters for the 1911 (link here).

After reviewing the Craft Holsters website, I decided on the Leather Open Top Pancake Holster with Sweat Guard (Item HHC1).  I selected this style for a couple of reasons.  The first was it is an attractive simple stitched leather holster.  The second reason was the 4 o'clock carry position provides a good spot for concealment of a large handgun.  The price of this holster from Craft is $59 plus S&H which seems reasonable.  Once I placed the request for this holster with Craft, the review holster arrived about a week later.

The holster came packed as shown below with the holster wrapped in foam inside container.

Figure 1                                                               Figure 2       

The holster looked great right out of the packaging.  Unfortunately I got overly excited about trying it out that I didn't take my photos first, so the single scratch on the holster is most likely my fault.  Other than that, you can see that the stitching looks great and the holster has a quality finish.  I do want to point out that it is hard to capture the true color in my pictures and I feel that the actual color of the holster is a richer darker shade than what is shown in these photos.

Figure 3

The back of the holster is marked with the "Craft Holsters" name, logo, "Made in Italy" and the item number "HHC103".  Italy is known for their leather work and this is seen in their craftsmanship of this holster.

Figure 4

The photo below shows looking down the pocket of the holster and you can see how the two layers of leather are firmly glued and stitched together along with seeing various molding details.

Figure 5

These next photos show the fit of my Ruger SR1911 inside the Craft Holster and in my opinion it was a great fit.  Actually the fit was so good it made me think this holster was molded around this exact pistol.

Figure 6

There was clearly a tight fit between the holster and pistol when inserting the pistol for the first time.  Craft provides recommendations on how to break-in a holster, but I choose to let it happen naturally over time.  The belt slots allow for a 1.5" belt to be used and can also accommodate a relatively thick belt.  For my purposes, I used my 5.11 Tactical 1.5" Trainer Belt.  Having a good belt is a must for OWB carry and even more important when trying to carry a heavy pistol such as this full size all steel 1911.

Figure 7

The overall length of the holster was a perfect fit for this 5" barrel pistol as you can see in the photo below.  Originally I was going to request a holster for my Commander version, but the barrel length on that pistol is 4.25" and Craft Holsters only listed the 4" version holster at their website.  I was told that this added length wouldn't be an issue after break-in, but I decided to go ahead and get the 5" holster to be the most fair for a review.  The added length will be insignificant if I choose to carry my Commander pistol which is a few ounces lighter.

Figure 8

The inward part of the holster has a higher portion (Sweat Guard) which keeps the upper portion from contacting your body and also provides for additional comfort.  You should also notice that the pistol will be canted and in my case this is a right hand holster.

Figure 9

I'm pleased with everything about this holster from a bench review perspective, but the real test comes when putting it into action.  Before I start with this part of the review I want to make a couple of points.  In my opinion, an OWB holster should be used for conceal carry and not open carry for most city situations.  I have had this holster for about 6 weeks and with it now being mid July and the fact that I live in the Atlanta Metro area, I haven't used it near as much as I would in the winter when jackets and long sweatshirts are part of every day life.  Another point is that you have to make a commitment to carrying a heavy firearm.  For me, it is hard to find any holster that will make you forget that you are carrying a 40+ ounce pistol at the hip.  My hopes for this holster were that it keeps the pistol snug against my body and be comfortable to draw and re-holster a pistol.

These next photos show me with Craft Holster using the 5.11 Trainer Belt.  Another important detail to point out is that everyone's body is different so my experience may not be exactly the same as yours.  I'm 54 years young, 6' 2" and about 225 lbs with a set of 12-pack (not 6-pack) abs.  With the pistol at the 4 o'clock position, it is not visible from the front.  The sturdy belt and relatively stiff support of the jeans kept the pistol snug against my body.  If I had a larger butt, this would provide more support on the barrel to tilt the grip into my back.

          Figure 10                                                        Figure 11

You can see this 40+ ounce pistol definitely puts some weight on the belt.  It is important to make sure your belt is tight.  Overall I'm very happy with how the holster rides tight against my body.  If you are more athletic, then I would expect it to be an even better fit.  If you have 18 or 24 pack abs, then I doubt that you would find this style of holster appealing on a heavy pistol.  A key point here is that holster style is a preference and holster quality is a feature.  Craft Holsters offer many different styles to suit difference preferences, but my impression is that the Craft Holsters are quality products.

 Figure 12                                                   Figure 13         

Again, you can see that the heavy pistol will weigh down your belt, but the holster fits the pistol snug against my body.  With the pistol at this 4 o'clock position I spent hours sitting at my desk and it wasn't too noticeable.

Figure 14

I found that drawing the pistol and re-holstering was quick and easy.  This style of holster does take a good range of motion out of your shoulder to do so, but if you have that range of motion then you are good to go.  Notice how high my hand is when re-holstering.  If you are not comfortable with pulling up your shoulder to this height then you should consider another style.

       Figure 15                                              Figure 16

As I mentioned, I didn't have the right opportunities to carry this setup as much as I would have liked, but for the amount of time that I did carry my 1911 in the Craft Holster I was pleased with the level of comfort.  At this point I feel the holster is broken-in and it still has some positive retention of the pistol.  I can hold the holster upside down and it still barely holds the heavy pistol in place.

You can see a video version of this review below.


Bottom Line:

From everything I have seen using this holster and doing this review, Craft Holsters appears to be putting out a quality product at a reasonable price.  Sometimes doing a holster review is difficult because it becomes hard to separate personal preference with the different style of holsters available and the features of a holster.  In this case, the Craft Holsters' Leather Open Top Pancake Holster seemed to do a good job at meeting my preference and desired style while at the same time providing the features and quality at a reasonable price.  If you are in the market for a good holster, I would put Craft Holsters on your list to consider.

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