As many of you will know, I recently bought the Tokyo Marui M45A1…
Holstering options are not exactly easy to come by for this awesome pistol, Especially if your left handed. The first two games I played without a holster forced me to run around with only the M45 as a primary, Not ideal but a lot of fun. I initially tried to source a genuine USMC issued left-hand light bearing Safariland 6004 but unfortunately they are pretty hard to come by.
Having dealt with them before on many occasions, I approached Craig from HW Holsters to see if a custom piece could be made for my needs. As the worlds most annoying customer, I required the holster to meet the following criteria;
- Left handed
- Bladetech WRS Hood
- Safariland mounting holes to fit UBL/QLS
- Surefire X300U-A compatible
- Fabric wrapped (Multicam)
Without so much as 24 hours and from my initial enquiry I received a “test shell” which we hoped would confirm a fit with an existing model he produced… however it wasn’t to be, we soon realised that the holster would need to be fabricated around an actual model of the pistol itself.
I duly shipped off the pistol to him and awaited the results… a few days went by and knowing from our long chats that there was a big order underway for a major military customer, I didn’t expect a rapid turn around… however within a week I received a reply asking for confirmation on options required… eager to receive the holster I once more specified what I wanted, and except for the fabric wrap that’s exactly what was created.
Unfortunately the fabric wrap isn’t always suitable, depending on the complexity of the mold. I wasn’t too disappointed as I was hoping to potentially try my hand at wrapping some gearskin I’ve acquired, With this in mind I asked for Coyote Brown (a suitable option for the M45A1 as it’s the colour of issued USMC load bearing equipment). Now I’ll be up front and admit that I’ve received this one for free, HW were not willing to charge based upon the fact this was a new prototype for them, A nice touch and not one I’d expected as a willing paying customer.
Once the holster arrived I quickly mounted it onto the UBL I’d pre-ordered, I’m a relatively new convert to Safariland, mostly due to cost and the lack of Left hand stuff in the UK… But the quality of their gear cant be denied, Its exceptional (I’ve also recently grabbed a bargain £25 left hand 6004 for my Beretta).
On the UBL it was pretty solid, The retention was a little tight but after adjusting the bolts on the open side of the holster I got it in that sweet spot of right in the middle of smooth draw/retained whilst running.
HW Holsters also include stand off bolts and thread-lock to keep ’em tight, However I decided to place this and my Beretta 6004 on a Safariland QLS Quick Detach plate. This ingenious device which resembles a large belt buckle with guide rails and a secure locking system allows for the rapid transfer of a whole holster and pistol on or off of a compatible base plate… Both MOLLE and belt options are available and it works very well with the UBL belt system.
The colour of the holster is a touch bright, but thats just kydex… I’ll most likely end up giving it a paint job to blend in with my Multicam belt gear. The hardware supplied is as ever excellent, and the WRS Hoods from Bladetech provide a great LVL 2 retention but snap out of the way with an easily practised motion.
The definition and finish is superb and looks great (Almost too great to paint… Almost) I’ve not taken this to a game yet but I’m sure I’ll get a few questions about it.
I’m always shocked at how many airsofters put very nice replicas in sub standard holsters. A good friend of mine once said “Universal holsters invariably aren’t” and its absolutely true… Don’t rely on that universal holster to provide the retention needed and ensure your mags stay in the weapon, This in itself is the reason you tend to see a lot of pistols in holsters without mags, they’ve either lost said mag or have made a conscious decision to leave their secondary in a non ready state… Useless… You might as well leave it all back at the safe zone, a transition is supposed to be quicker than a reload, Add a pistol reload to a transition and its a pointless exercise.
Do yourself a favour and spend a little more money on a nice, purpose made holster, a genuine SERPA (The debate on SERPAs is something i’ll possibly cover down the line) is only going to cost £30 and Blackhawk! make one for almost every pistol on the planet. Or a Kydex made to fit a specific sidearm such as this will cost £60-£90 depending on your requirements. Kydex has become a firm favourite for many real shooters, Even the Marines have on occasion commissioned custom holsters for their M45A1s, see the below shot from 13 seconds in to This Video…
Another little thing that I’ve seen other kydex manufacturers neglect is the sight channel, HW keep this over sized, this ensures that you’ll not knock your sights (Not a good thing for real adjustable sights) or that bigger, Taller sights will still be absolutely fine should you decide to buy them.
As I said at the start of the review, I’ve long been impressed with the work of HW holsters and this is my 6th holster from them (A 7th will be ordered shortly). I know in the past that they’ve not been the easiest guys to get hold of (Although I’ve personally not had to wait longer than a day or two for a reply) but with advancements made with the tools in their workshop, It should make their workload a lot more manageable… And manageable workloads make lead times and prompt replies even shorter.
If your in the market for something to wrap your tool and a Safariland or T-Rex Ragnarok isn’t for you, I’d suggest having a look at HW Holsters and see what they can do… If your unable to find the model in their vast inventory, they might still be able to help due to the 3D Scanner which allowed the creation of this very holster.
So, With this holster now a firm part of the loadout I’ll be looking to increase the use of the M45A1 as my go-to sidearm. With its fantastic performance and paired with the ever impressive Surefire X300U, There’s going to be a concerted effort towards pistol and SMG gameplay over the next few months.
There is so much more I wanted to cover with regards to holsters, but I’ll leave it for a future blog… I’m also hoping to write something on basic kydex bending, but its not something I know a great deal about yet (I have started to make a few bits and bobs though).