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Thread: Discuss: What is the Optimum “Draw Weight” of a Gun+Holster?

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by RJ View Post

    In the last 18 months, I’ve bought and sold a number of carry guns, seeking the optimal solution. In so doing, I’ve also had to purchase myriad holsters. Each time the new holster arrives, I spend a good bit of time “tuning” the retention screws, which govern “draw weight”, so that the holster has “just” the right amount of tension, for the new gun, to suit my preference for force I need to apply prior to the draw release.

    I have never sat down and thought, could this force be measured?

    This thread is to discuss the “Draw Weight” of a gun and holster, to determine if there is an optimum. The “draw weight”, or DW, is defined as the force, measured in decimal pounds, that must be exerted on a gun within a holster in order to “start” movement in the draw. Can one can measure DW? If so, what is the optimum value, for a kydex holster for CCW?


    For purposes of this thread, I will focus on Kydex holsters which provide retention at the trigger guard area. I don’t have any expertise and am not capable of commenting on duty or LEO retention, nor am I well versed in competition, being a very lowly D class shooter in Production in USPSA. So for this discussion I’d like to focus on civilian concealed carry.


    I devised a simple method of measuring an approximation of DW, as follows.


    - Trigger Pull Gauge (Wheeler “Trigger Pull Scale” in my case)
    - 12” of 550 Paracord


    First I verified the gun was empty and locked the slide back. I then threaded the paracord through the grip, up and over the rear sight aperture. I then tied a Bowline knot to keep the paracord secure, and another Bowline to form a loop for the Trigger Pull Gauge hook.

    This is pictured below.

    Attachment 65331

    (If you don’t recall how to tie a Bowline from Scouts, shame on you. A simple overhand knot will do.)

    To perform a measurement, I zeroed the Pull Gauge, then slowly stretched the cord until the gun “just” released from the Kydex. The value of the trigger pull gauge then gave me an approximation of the DW that would need to be applied to the gun to release the retention and start the draw.

    As an example, I ran five measurements on my Glock 48, holstered in a JM Custom Kydex IWB 3, which is my normal EDC (in other words, this holster was already set as my EDC). My results were:

    RJ’s EDC:

    Gun: Glock 48
    Holster: JM CK IWB 3
    Avg DW: 5.0 lb.


    Do you think this is a valid approach to measure holster/gun retention DW? If you do, what do you think of the value of the retention I got for my EDC? If you don’t, how do you approach setting retention on your kydex / EDC holsters, consistently? Do you think, specifically in my case, 5.0 lbs is too much, or too little, retention?

    I would be very interested if anyone can repeat this with their EDC and holster combination. Please follow all gun safety rules if doing so.

    Post back your findings, if you wish:

    Avg DW:
    You know I like and appreciate overthinking things.
    In this case, there might actually be a little bit of UNDERthinking...

    Humor me....

    I have holsters that are plastic like the N82 that require a twist before releasing. So if you're drawing from 4 o'clock IWB, the twist is natural when you draw. It also helps prevent someone else from getting your gun.
    But if you were trying to pull straight out... it won't come out. It's a nice intuitive extra retention mechanism.

    But for straight kydex friction fit... Optimal depends on what purpose you're using it for!

    Like people said, most carry holsters you might want at least to pass the upside down shake test.
    If you carry a Glock or something you aren't sure is drop safe, you might choose a little more retention.

    For pure gaming where you control the holstered environment, you might choose very little retention and wax your holster for a smoother, quicker draw....

    But because I like visuals...

    With the Wheeler gauge pulling from where I would be mainly pulling from on the frame with my third finger.
    My normal carry holster (Hidden Hybrid with a P365XL with manual safety) the gun has a very low sub-2 pound draw weight (*).
    Then a Bravo G43x holster with >8# draw (I like a nice solid retention with carry Glocks).
    Then a WeThePeople light bearing MR920 holster with around a 4# draw.

    But holy cow!!! Am I nuts carrying a sub-2 pound draw weight carry holster? Well, the gun has a manual safety... but that's not the whole story.
    It's a hybrid holster which means the backing is leather and molds to my body. It also means that when it's under a belt and pressed against me, it has more retention.

    Same holster, but attached to my belt and on me. >8# pound retention... but if I tighten my abs, it reduces the retention (by reducing the pressure on the leather) and gets down to closer to the sub-2 and speeds the draw.

    My advice for you as an USPSA D-level shooter that I would go for more positive retention weight (like 6+ or 8+) to help you get a GOOD grip before drawing and practice your dry firing to get your draw to 1" target index down under 1.5s at 10 feet.

    At your level, (probably) the thing that's hampering your draw isn't your holster, it's likely your presentation to index.

  2. #12
    40 Year Old Glock Boomer Casual Friday's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Overthinking. The shake test is kinda like a mandatory minimum so to speak. It doesn't address the issue of too much retention though.

    After my hernia surgery last year I pulled a Raven Phantom out of the gun box because a gun down the front of my pants wasn't happening right away. I'd forgotten how much retention they have. It took considerable force to break the gun free, enough to yank my belt and pants up about 6" on the draw stroke. I had to take the heat gun to it until I got it to the point where it felt "right".

    The perfect amount of friction retention in a holster is one of those things that is hard to explain other than to say you'll know it when you see it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Duke View Post
    I love a sub second aiwb A zone hit so much that my hands twitch when the microwave goes off.

  3. #13
    don't call me 'they' blues's Avatar
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    Aug 2016
    Blue Ridge Mtns
    The best retention I've ever had on a holster was my right hand holding the gun in place while two U. of Tennessee linemen, (bouncers), were trying to remove it from my holster.

    (Little did I know that Knoxville did not allow local L.E. to carry in bars back in the 80's...and as a visiting fed at the time, I was oblivious to the local ordinances.)

    It never left the holster until the deputies arrived. Thankfully, the linemen weren't beating me to a pulp while I was occupied with retaining my weapon.
    ...and just like that, the America I knew and loved had gone missing.

  4. #14
    Site Supporter MasterBlaster's Avatar
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    Sep 2016
    Raleigh, NC
    Does the blue dildo take D batteries or double A?

  5. #15
    Rich, I love your posts and would be totally down for sharing an adult beverage some day. But this is kinda nuts.

    I do the upside down shake test, and after one or two dry presentations I say, “yeah that feels about right” I move on.

  6. #16
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    Mar 2020
    Quote Originally Posted by Casual Friday View Post
    It took considerable force to break the gun free, enough to yank my belt and pants up about 6" on the draw stroke. I had to take the heat gun to it until I got it to the point where it felt "right".

    The perfect amount of friction retention in a holster is one of those things that is hard to explain other than to say you'll know it when you see it.
    The heat gun trick works both ways, including adding retention. I carry in a Raven on-duty and added a lot of retention on the ejection port. I never have a problem with the amount of tension and whenever I need it it seems to magically appear in my hand. This was even true back in the day when I was running a triple retention holster that required two snaps and a rearward rock.

    The extra retention helps keep my gun in the holster when running and climbing and falling and jumping in and out of cars. You need to decide the amount of tension for yourself given your needs. Train. Try. Understand your needs. This is more software than hardware.


    Sent from my SM-N975U using Tapatalk

  7. #17
    Member JHC's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
    North Georgia
    Quote Originally Posted by GJM View Post
    Simple two part test.

    1) fly in moderate or greater turbulence for more than ten minutes, and if your handgun pops out, you need more tension.
    And it's a short trigger movement fully tensioned striker design which was later found to go off if dropped in an unfortunate manner.

    That was a helluva story.
    As a man sows, so shall he reap.

  8. #18
    Maybe next year, we will let Rich in on the dirty little secret of holster tension.

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    Likes pretty much everything in every caliber.

  9. #19
    don't call me 'they' blues's Avatar
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    Aug 2016
    Blue Ridge Mtns

    "What do you mean, an African or European holster?"
    ...and just like that, the America I knew and loved had gone missing.

  10. #20
    Overthinking for sure.

    For most of us, it's a "feel". Enough that the gun doesn't come out if I fall, but still allowing a good smooth draw.

    Measuring it is irrelevant, to me.

    And the Bowline is awesome and useful, but the Prussik is the unsung hero of the knot world!

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