A Rugged Blend of Old and New Technologies
For the past several weeks I’ve been wearing a holster from a company previously unfamiliar to me: Falco Holsters. Specifically, Falco’s C-908 Compact Hybrid. And by “wearing” I mean continuously, other than bedtimes and early morning showers (two hopefully justifiable exceptions).
When the holster arrived, I wasn’t sure what to expect since it had been provided through a third-party source. But, if first impressions are lasting ones, Falco and I were off to a good start.
The holster was tastefully packaged in a cardboard box with a packet of multi-language literature – a classy extra touch. As for the holster, despite its hybrid Kydex and leather construction, my first impression was “quality.” The second impression was “big”; not really a fault of this system, but more a matter of scale.
Small Handguns & Carry
This particular Falco was built to hold a very small pistol; an S&W .380 Bodyguard. Actually, it’s small enough to, perhaps, question the need for a holster of any kind. Many handguns of this size are simply stashed in pockets (not my preferred method). And, as indicated by purpose-built pocket holsters, others must agree.
They’re the better alternative, since a loose gun is an invitation to an accidental discharge (AD) – especially with other items present. Either way though, the pocket should be reserved for the gun.
In my area, jackets and coats are the norm for all but, maybe, three months. My little Bodyguard will unobtrusively drop into the pocket of a coat, okay for missions on-the-fly – as long as it’s worn. If it comes off, I’ve introduced a custody issue (also true of purses, etc.). Falco also makes shoulder holsters for those so inclined, which is pictured in my article Should You Wear a Shoulder Holster?
Pants pockets are the less comfortable alternative during our too-short summer months and, being right-handed, my side-pocket is occupied by keys and coins. Another option, a rear pocket, is less defensible and uncomfortable when seated. Also, I’m a strong proponent of consistency. I want the gun in the same location to take advantage of long-ingrained muscle memory.
To that end, I fitted my Bodyguard with a Techna Clip. Its springy metal finger mounts directly to the pistol, providing a holsterless IWB alternative.
The clip thingy beats a holsterless “Mexican Carry” (and the gun will still fit in a pocket), but it’s less secure than a true holster. Also, the gun is still visible during warm weather unless covered by an untucked shirt, which leads to a holster that rides high enough to use the same technique.
Falco Holster History
Europe doesn’t pop into my American mind regarding gun leather, so I was surprised to learn Falco is located in the Slovak Republic. And like a few well-known American firms (such as Ruger), Falco started out in a garage.
Production began in 1989 with a line of quality falconry gloves and holsters made from sewn leather for locals, but people recognize quality when they see it.
Today, Falco is a global supplier with a diverse line of holsters, available for a wide variety of firearms. And, beyond the standard listings, their Holster Finder is the gateway to a “custom holster.” Click on your firearm and you’ll soon be navigating through a list of customized options that factor in lights, sights, sweat guards, cant, color, material, carry style, attachment style, security features, etc.
Despite this extensive list, thanks their direct sales approach, lead-time is usually around 10 – 14 days. Falco also advertises a lifetime warranty and 30-day buyback. Shipping is via Fed Ex Worldwide Delivery (that’s how mine showed up).
Falco C-908 Hybrid
Falco’s Compact Hybrid OWB Holster is an interesting meld of technologies, old and new. The handgun rides in a molded Kydex shell that’s securely fastened to a thick leather backer. The result is a rock-solid assembly, designed with a radius that conforms to the curvature of the hip. And, since OWB stands for “outside the waistband”, two replaceable Kydex belt loops are affixed to the rear of the leather backer.
The Kydex shell has a built-in sight channel; however, I my Bodyguard is fitted with a large XS Sights Tritium Big Dot. Hoping the taller front sight would fit, I slipped the Bodyguard into the standard C-908 version. A pleasant surprise, I scored a two-fer. The pistol easily snapped into the molded shell – without resorting to the removal of its Techna Clip!
Had the sight been too tall, Falco had me covered through a taller sight option. For those who own S&W’s integral laser model, Falco offers that as well. The two synthetic loops turned out to be a perfect match for my thick 1 ½” Gould & Goodrich belt so, within minutes, I was wearing the .380 Bodyguard. The next impression was “comfortable”, which, happily, continues.
Useful Holster Features
With defense as the priority, two priorities are quick deployment and positive retention. But there are others, something we (the cadre of my firearms training unit) tried to take into account when procuring holsters for our agency. Worth noting, some of our staff were non-uniformed folks who carried their firearms concealed, like many civilians.
The feature list that follows is an abbreviated version of the one we used, but the criteria should still be relevant.
Some IWB strategies give pause for concern. Horizontal shoulder holsters, too. Rule Two should not be taken lightly: Don’t point the firearm at something you’re unwilling to destroy. No issues with this Falco though.
Convenient But Secure Mounting
A holster needs to stay put, but it should attach (or detach) without a battle, or excessive play. I had no trouble sliding the Falco over a heavy-duty 1 ½” belt, thanks to its rigid corresponding loops. Because they’re separate you can locate a trouser loop between them.
Mounting seemed a bit tricky at first due to the rigidity of the belt but, like most things, it’s more a matter of technique. Piece of cake now – and the holster does stay put. FYI, a sturdy belt supports retention, subconscious access, and a positive draw-stroke.
Adjustable Drop & Cant
Drop is the vertical location of the holster relative to the belt. Cant is the angle. My holster shipped with zero-cant loops (as preferred), but canted loops are available. Regarding drop, within reason, OWB concealed-carry becomes more discreet with less. The Hybrid’s drop is fixed, but centers fairly high on a belt – a nice compromise that also balances well.
Secure Gun Fit
No issues here. The Bodyguard snaps in via a positive molded fit. As for the Techna Clip, after wedging it open for a comparison, the pistol felt every bit as secure.
Active Retention Device N/A
But unlike LEOs, CCW folks probably won’t be wrestling with drunks. Retention is a more a matter of holster fit and concealment, easily accomplished thanks to the Falco’s elevated belt ride.
Covered Trigger Guard
All-good here. This feature helps prevent insertion of the trigger finger during the draw and recovery process. It also offers some protection against the introduction of loose clothing.
Given the Falco’s snap-in trigger guard feature, it would be hard to find a faster holster. And, why not? The open-top design speaks for itself.
Another well-conceived win. A design requiring both hands for re-holstering is fundamentally unsafe. It’s just a matter of time until the support hand winds up in front of the muzzle. Eventually, it turns into an unsafe habit, that also distracts from situational awareness.
Check. A holster that somehow captures a foreign object could cause a discharge (strange as it sounds, it’s happened with striker-fired pistols and pens). A possible downside is the introduction of snow, more of a concern for those tough enough to sit in it.
Access to the Magazine Release While Holstered
Another check. The rationale? For clearance (unloading) purposes, we train our troops to pop their magazines while their pistols are holstered – a safer first step that minimizes out-of-holster gun handling. And if popping the mag takes some doing, we consider this a plus.
My Bodyguard’s mag release isn’t protected by the holster, but the slight stand-off design does provide enough clearance for easy access, without worries about an inadvertent release.
Time will tell, but it’s plain to see this holster is a rugged design. No extra synthetic gadgets to snap, either – a problem we’ve encountered during sub-zero winter temps. The Falco’s loops could break (maybe), if the holster was left in a vehicle overnight, but they’re easily replaceable and covered by the warranty.
High ratings here! The biggest issue for me; it’s easy to forget I’m wearing a gun.
A Word About Holster Tests
Some holster reviews are based on a month’s worth of carry, maybe with timed shots thrown in – a possible indication of the tester’s prowess more than anything. I will say, having run thousands of shooters through timed holster drills, the Falco is plenty fast! But don’t take my word for it. Instead watch the video on the Falco site showing sub-one second shots.
I never had a lick of trouble drawing my little Bodyguard. Its Garrison Grip Extensions helped, but the Hybrid is intrinsically fast.
- Take control. Be accurate. Be safe and not sorry. Improve your shooting accuracy with a Garrison Grip extension designed specifically for your firearm.
- You get quality comfort and control with the Garrison Grip. Helps to eliminate painful kickback when shooting. It is hard to stay steady when you are anticipating pain.
It’s also a straight-forward design, meaning there’s little to go wrong. Normally, we’d procure a few T&E samples and proceed cautiously before advancing to a large agency purchase – but you still never know for sure. We’ve seen supposedly positive retention devices release from energetic seat belt maneuvers or gyrations in armchairs (disengaged magazines, too).
The flip side involved guns that were hopelessly stuck in their holsters. One supposedly well-vetted example was tied up by a small piece of gravel that wedged in its hi-tec release during a wrestling match. Another was immobilized through distortion of its synthetic shell through exposure to intense sunlight.
A rugged but simple design is less likely to run afoul of Murphy’s Law (although the user can toss in a monkey wrench).
A month’s worth of routine carry may not paint a full picture, but it’s still worth doing. My tactical Falco maneuvers consisted of a half-hour low crawl (home improvement project on the kitchen floor), a ladder ascent (clogged gutter), wilderness expeditions (dog-runs in the woods), ATV reconnaissance, and a number of successful F-150 missions.
My one problem had nothing to do with the holster. While attempting to draw the pistol, I discovered its Techna Clip had tangled in the weave of my handknit sweater, literally tying up the whole works. No issues encountered regarding security or comfort though!
Falco Holsters Final Take
Others might prefer a classic pancake with integral slots (also available), but the belt is the foundation of a holster. For me, it’s easier to thread a heavy-duty belt through a pair of separate loops. The additional standoff also provides some clearance for quick access and improved carry comfort. Recovery is an effortless single-hand process.
And once the gun is in the holster, it sits in reassuring close proximity to the inside of my forearm for ongoing subconscious security checks.
Defensively, the number-one rule is to actually have a gun! Comfort translates to regular carry, improving the odds of having one. Again, the Falco certainly checks this box. In fact, I like it enough that I I’m planning on buying another one for my high-mileage S&W Shield. Overall size shouldn’t be any larger, so it I expect it would carry well in a Falco C-908.
Meanwhile, for more info about the world of handguns, here’s a link to Handguns: A Buyer’s and Shooter’s Guide
- Markwith, Steve (Author)
- English (Publication Language)