Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Everything you need for the Shooting Range, on a Budget

Everything you'll need for a successful day at the range, without going broke.

Let's start with the basics...

Let's face it- this hobby isn't cheap. Ammo alone will force you to take out a second mortgage, depending on how often you're making trips to the range. But a common myth is that you must buy the most expensive gear. What's that saying, "Buy once, cry once?"
While that does apply to many products in the firearms/shooting industry, it doesn't apply to everything. There's a ton of great products that don't break the bank. So how do you determine what to spend money on and what to buy cheap? Here's the answer: learn from other experienced shooters who've learned these facts the hard way.
A very valuable source of knowledge is r/CCW. This is a hangout spot where seasoned concealed carriers give advice to newbies, and answer all sorts of questions about guns and gear related to carrying. Another great spot is r/Guns- this is strictly firearms are products directly related to guns and accessories.
Let's dive a bit deeper and breakdown which products are worth the price.


This is probably the most common product that people advise not to skimp on. There are TONS of holster options out there, all claiming one thing or another. The best way to get a feel for the product (without actually getting to feel the product) is to check out reviews and search the forums for personal opinions. If a company seems to have a pretty solid reputation- that's a sign that they're legit and probably a good choice. Some things to look out for when buying a holster:
  • Make sure the holster material thickness matches your training methods. If you're planning to run and gun, diving over bales of hay and lying prone in the mud, you'll need a holster with premium thickness such as .093" to make sure the holster doesn't literally crack under pressure.
  • Check out the holster company's warranty. A Lifetime Warranty is obviously the best- only companies with the most confidence in their product will offer such a guarantee.
  • Pay attention to the details. At Dara Holsters, we take pains to ensure every detail is covered. Our holster retention is completely adjustable featuring screws pre-coated in a shock absorbing thread weld to prevent the retention screws from backing out due to the vibrations of movement caused by daily carry. Our holsters are rock solid- standing up to vigorous training even in the elements. There's nothing worse than running an el presidente at the range, only to find out you can't re-holster properly because your hardware fell out. Ouch.
  • Have a Custom Gun? Make sure your after market mods will fit. This gun hobby of ours is evolving. No longer can you run a stock gun without some side eye at the range. However, even updating your sights run you the risk of an ill fitting holster. Be sure to check that your add ons and upgrades won't cause any fitment issues in your new rig. This may result in ordering a custom holster, but the result will be well worth the money and wait time.
Range Holsters
A good OWB Range Holster will run you about $60-100; the former price point will get you a sturdy no nonsense OWB Holster, the latter holster price will be more suitable for intense training.
If you decide to buy a cheap holster to start out with, bear in mind the materials. Many opt for Kydex, and it's for good reason. Nylon and leather both tend to show wear overtime, causing the opening of the holster to sag. This has caused negligent discharges that could end up fatal. No matter what gear you choose, always check it before you wear it.

Gun Belt

Man, if there was one thing I wish to be common knowledge, it would be that a good gunbelt solves almost all your problems. Concealed holster leaning outwards and causing printing? Get a better belt. Competition holster hanging away from the body causing you to fumble when you draw? Get a good gunbelt!
A good belt is usually a double layer of some sort- preferably leather or nylon- stitched together offering stiff support, able to carry a loaded firearm daily with no sagging. Most good gunbelts run from $40-$80 and some even have the added bonus of a limited- or dare we even suggest-lifetime warranty.
Gun Belts
Our favorite belts:
Nylon Tacbelt
2" Tacbelt
Leather Gunbelt
Respectively: the 1.5" Dual Layered Nylon Tacbelt ($40), the 2" OD Green Duty Belt ($50), and the 1.5" Bullhide Gunbelt by the Belt Man ($80). These belts are the only belts we recommend, and the only ones we've worn in the last 5 years. I cannot speak highly enough about either of these.
These belts are perfect for everyday carry and/or range use. I even use my Dual Layer Nylon Tacbelt for Competitions, it's a great multipurpose belt that will be reliable for any application.

Mag Carriers

Mag Carriers for the Range
I prefer a mag carrier that is intended for my exact magazine model. I like to run matches that require me to go from prone to jumping over obstacles and back again. For this, I need a mag carrier that won't drop my magazine once I'm no longer vertical. Thus, one that was molded precisely to my mag model. If this sounds like you, avoid words like "universal" or "one size" when shopping for a reliable mag carrier. Anything with that description is made with a very vague mold, and will drop your mag if it doesn't match up in size. Leaving you magless and out of luck for your next reload.
Most OWB Mag Carriers run about $25-30 per carrier. This isn't too bad- considering a universal nylon pouch will run $12-25.

Range Bags

I'll be honest- I have a mildly pricey range bag. It was a Father's Day gift, something I would never have bought on my own. I'm currently rocking the GPS Handgunner Backpack below ($109 when I bought it, but $88 here) :
G.P.S. Handgunner Backpack
While I wouldn't have gone out of my way to purchase this, it's a really great buy. I've had it for 3 years now, putting it through it's strides. It's held up pretty well and I'm far from gentle with my belongings- I generally buy something and run it until it's dead.
Something I did buy for myself: A Rigid Stackable Toolbox, grab the entire set here.
Related image
While the whole set will run about $200, the single box above is about $45 at Home Depot. It's got a rubber lined seal around the opening, making the case water proof. The compartment boundaries meet the top of the lid, preventing the contents from getting mixed up when you toss the toolbox into the bed of your truck. The 6 removable compartments are where I sort my ammo by caliber. One size is for 9mm, the other for .40 or .45. The space in the middle is perfectly suited for a couple of guns and your eyes & ears. Buy some pick 'n pluck foam to protect your guns from being jostled, and you're good to go!

Eyes & Ears

Call me crazy but I don't see the need to go to extreme lengths, buying expensive ear and eye protection. I'll buy those cheap packs of protective eyeglasses at Walmart every time I go to re-up on ammo and call it good. No matter the costs of the eyewear, I always end up tossing them on the dashboard of my truck after leaving the range, resulting in a thick layer of scratches across each lens. But no worries, I still have another pack in my toolbox.
For ear protection I always bought those giant boxes of 3M foam ear plugs. These are awesome, as you can just take a large handful and stuff them in any range bag taking up virtually no retail space. They're super handy, especially because there's always that one guy who forgets his ears at the range and you can feel like the prepared-for-anything responsible person when you are able to offer him some of your spares. He'll take the proffered ear plugs in your outstretched hand, with tears in his eyes, thanking you for your generosity because his wife would kill him if he went prematurely deaf due to his expensive and misunderstood hobby. But I digress...
I did end up splurging last year on some high tech ear pro. I bought them because I've gotten more into competitive shooting and found myself struggling to hear range commands and was constantly removing my plugs to try and hear. At $45 these weren't too bad. I don't regret not buying them sooner, as my 3M foam plugs still serve me well when I'm on the range by myself.


I don't wear gloves to the range unless it's below freezing. When I do wear gloves, they're the thinnest ones I can find at Walmart, generally made of some sort of slip resistant material. I don't believe this is a necessity, or something you need to spend a ton of money on.


Unless your targets are firing back, I don't think it's necessary to take a helmet to the range. I know there's a market out there for them, but unless you're needing to train in full tac gear, I suggest keeping it light and comfortable. I recommend wearing your everyday clothing, so that you have experience drawing and maneuvering in your daily attire.

Run and Gun Shoes

There's a ton of great footwear options that are geared towards shooters. This isn't something I would spend a ton of money on, but that's a personal choice. I bought a pair of hot weather military boots at the Dixie Gun Show a few years ago for around $30 and never looked back. They've held up great and are intended for hot weather, perfect for shooting outdoors.
If you tally up the items mentioned above, you're sitting around $200 for all of your range necessities. This includes some competitively priced top of the line gear, and some budget items, all time tested and shooter approved.
Always be on the lookout for sales and coupon codes to save you even more! Have gear you highly recommend? Sound off in the comments, we'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

What is a Holster Claw?

What is a Holster Claw?

There's been a lot of talk lately about holster claws, but unless you've done a ton of research and/or keep up with the firearm or concealed carry industry lingo- how the heck are you supposed to know what a holster "claw" is?

Let me tell you: a holster claw is present on most AIWB Holsters (appendix carry specific holsters) and is used to tuck the grip into the body to avoid firearm printing while carrying concealed. The claw comes in several forms, but most commonly, it presents itself as a piece of plastic mounted under the trigger guard. See below:
Light bearing Appendix Carry Holster with Claw
Appendix Carry Holster with Claw

The Holster Claw or "Grip Concealment Claw" as we at Dara Holsters call it, is mounted right underneath the trigger guard. In some cases, like with Light bearing AIWB Holster shown on the left, the claw has to be relocated due to the light attachment, but the general location stays the same. Some claws are relatively small, and appear to be cut pieces of holster material, while others provide more of an aggressive approach, such as the ones that we currently use on our AIWB Holsters. The benefits of our larger claw is that they simply work better and don't create a wider foot print.

What does the Holster Claw do?
Essentially, the Claw uses the rigidity of the gun belt to push the grip side of the holster and gun into your body to prevent the grip from sticking out, a common occurrence during concealed carry.

Quick Ship AIWB Holster with Claw

As you can see in the picture above, the claw aligns with the belt attachment to ensure that contact is made to the belt. The clip attachment is the point of contact that secures your holster to the belt- if the claw is not correctly aligned, it will not work properly to tuck the grip into the body. A perfectly executed AIWB Holster with Claw will tuck the grip completely to the body, like in the picture below:

Holster Claw tucking Grip into Body

Do you see how the grip of the gun is flush to the body? This is because of the claw. The Grip Concealment Claw allows carriers to conceal larger firearms that they wouldn't have been able to conceal otherwise. Before the claw, you had to rely on a holster maker to know how to position the belt clip in order to reduce printing or carry a smaller firearm. With the Claw, even folks on the slimmer side can successfully conceal a full size firearm with ease.

Check out Jon in the picture below:

Slick Side AIWB Holster with Claw
Slick Side AIWB Holster with Claw

Jon is carrying Appendix Carrying a Glock 19 in our Slick Side AIWB Holster. This holster features the slimmest profile AIWB Holster on the market, completely with a Grip Concealment Claw and Tuckable Belt Clip. This holster is flying off the shelves, as it can help conceal almost any firearm for nearly any body type. Rockin' a dad bod? This holster may solve your printing and comfort problems!

Frequently asked Questions about the Holster Claw:

Can I purchase a Claw separately and put it on my holster? Quick answer: No, it won't work correctly. A holster has to be designed for and around the claw to work. If you throw a claw on a holster not made for it, it either won't line up with the belt or you'll mess with the retention of the holster trying to attach it. Check out this article about putting a claw on existing holsters.

What if I don't like the Holster Claw? Take it off. Most AIWB Holster claws can be removed with a Philips head screwdriver very easily. Our are removable this way, and you'll be left with a normal AIWB or IWB Holster.

My Appendix Holster has a Claw but it's not working. What do I do? This could be for a variety of reasons. The #1 reason for a Holster Claw not working is because the claw does not line up with the belt clip. You can tell just by looking at the holster itself. If it looks questionable, just slide your belt through the holster clip while the holster is off body. If the claw is positioned under the belt, it will never do its job. At Dara Holsters, every single order goes through 5 signature-required quality checks. One of these checks is dedicated to catching issues such as this. We guarantee your holster will be shipped out with perfect form and function.
Now, if the claw is lined up with the belt clip but still not producing the intended results, it may be due to two factors: a poor gun belt, or too small/poor placement of a claw. If the claw isn't even reaching the belt to push against it, you may be able to contact the manufacturer for a larger claw. If they don't have one, you should ask for a replacement holster or refund.
If the issue appears to lie with your current gun belt- this is a problem easily fixed! Just purchase a better quality belt- preferably something thick and sturdy, able to withstand the constant task of holding up your fully loaded firearm with ease.

Is the Holster Claw comfortable? It depends. How sensitive are you? How tight is your belt? The common rule is that concealing a gun should be comforting, not comfortable. But there's no reason why you can have both simultaneously within reason. If the claw seems too aggressive or unbearable, take it off and research other ways to tuck the grip in comfortably, such as a foam wedge. BUT, most people find the claw to be nothing short of a miracle worker.

Something to think about:

If you are in the market for a holster and unsure about the difference between an AIWB Holster with Claw and a regular IWB Holster, keep in mind: the claw is removable. You can purchase a holster with claw for appendix carry and remove the claw if you want to carry on the hip. The claw is simply an added bonus to aid in further concealment.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Custom Drop Offset Holster with Thigh Strap

Drop Offset Holster

Introducing our NEW Drop Offset Action Sport Holster with Thigh Strap! This New & Improved Drop Offset System now comes with an optional Thigh Strap for optimum performance.
Drop Offset Holster
Double Loop and Drop Offset
Double Loop and DOH

Drop Attachment
This Drop Offset Attachment can be purchased separately and attached to any existing Dara Holster, however the hole pattern is proprietary and will only fit a Dara brand Holster. To start building your Dara Drop Offset Holster, click here.

Drop Offset Competition Holster

We currently offer the Drop Offset attachment with our Action Sport Holster. This holster is intended for Competition use, featuring an ejection port cut out specifically designed for a quick draw and faster target acquisition. Furthermore, the Drop Offset attachment offers a lower ride height, dropping the holster for a more natural and comfortable draw. The optional Thigh Strap offers stability and better performance by keeping the holster flush with the leg during the draw.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Level 2 Retention Holsters for Open Carry

Level 2 Retention Holsters for Open Carry

Open Carry is a somewhat controversial topic, but one thing nearly everyone will agree on: You need a second level of Retention if open carry is going to be a habit for you.
A second level of retention is a step that requires deliberate manipulation to draw the pistol, aside from the passive retention that should already be built in. 
Our holsters are molded specifically for the exact firearm you have (providing retention in and of itself), as well as adjustable retention held in the trigger guard. Our  Level 2 Holsters also have a manually operated rotating hood as the second level of retention. This hood operates in a way similar to that of a tight operating safety on an AR 15 variant rifle, it clicks in and out of place due to a molded detent.
Level II Retention Holster for Open Carry
Level 2 Retention Holster for Open Carry
As you can see in the pictures above, our Level 2 Retention Holster design is very simple. This holster will not hinder you from being able to draw quickly, should you need to. It will, however, hinder someone else from taking your firearm in a bad situation.
If you have a light or laser on your carry gun, you'll need to check out the Light bearing Level 2 Holster.
Light bearing Level 2 Retention Holster
Light bearing Level 2 Retention Holster
Light bearing Level 2 Retention Holster
Light bearing Level 2 Retention Holster
For more information regarding our Level 2 Retention Holsters, please don't hesitate to contact us via  e-mail!
If you're interested in Level 2 Retention Holsters, you may be interested in these:
Level 2 Mountable Holster
Light bearing Level 2 Mountable Holster
Duty Mag carrier