WML Functionality in a Small Package: The Armordillo Concealment X-FER Holster
If you carry a concealed pistol (or plan to) very quickly you realize there are no perfect setups and there is no free lunch. Every setup is a compromise. Several factors come into play, including:
Every person who carries must strike a balance of these based on personal and situational requirements. Sometimes you can find a product that attempts to even the scales. More comfortable holsters, deeper concealment methods, stiffer belts to transport larger loads etc can all help to alleviate and mitigate downsides.
A long time ago, I made the decision to never go without a WML on a pistol, concealed or otherwise. For this increase in capability and functionality I took a hit on the weight and concealment. This meant a larger holster (OWB or IWB) on the strong side, subsequently modifying dressing habits (such as larger shirts and thicker belts) and alternate carry methods (such as off-body) when possible. In the late-fall/winter this wasn’t stretch in the region I live (Midwest USA) as being without a jacket generally means frostbite. However, it was far more difficult to accomplish in any other season.
Before you ask, no, I was not going to wear a, ‘photographer’s vest’ to comfortably carry; I take fashion advice from neither the IDPA nor bass fishermen.
Holsters that allow for a WML, whether OWB or IWB, invariably have a larger footprint, are harder to conceal, and are not comfortable in any position other than strong side carry – or at least they used to. Enter the Armordillo Concealment X-FER.
It’s actually fairly rare that something truly innovative is released in the firearms industry. Yes, incremental improvements are plentiful but sometimes I cannot help but think there is some truth to the old cynical statement, “Want to learn what’s new in the gun world? Open up a twenty year-old firearms magazine.”
The first thing you notice about the X-FER is that it’s weird looking. Upon initial inspection it appears to be an IWB holster for, uh, well something sort of cylindrical.
The X-FER is an IWB holster that solely attaches to the WML and not the entire WML/slide assembly. This means that the holster itself is quite compact (especially important if carrying Appendix) and can accommodate a myriad of pistols so long as they sport the same WML. Shop around a bit for other WML holsters, they are all pistol make, model, caliber, and light specific. Sure, you might be able to get away with a Glock 17 and Surefire X300 in a G34/X300 holster but that’s usually the limit—God help you if you have tall suppressor sights or a micro-RDS on your slide.
With the X-FER, a Sig Sauer P228 with an X200? ….same holster as a Glock 17 with an X300. A 1911 with a TLR-1? …exact holster as an M&P with the same.
Though the X-FER attaches to the WML, the trigger guard of the host pistol is still covered. There are wings that go beyond the light itself to cover the trigger guard. Due to the universal nature of this holster, it may be a bit wider at that point than you’re used to with a more traditional design.
There are currently six models of the X-FER holster: Surefire X200/300, Surefire X300U, and Streamlight TLR-1. Each WML holster has the option of fitting a Standard (Glock, Sig, 1911) or XL frame. Unless you’re utilizing a rail adapter, such as on an Hk USP, the Standard is probably what you’ll need. Is your pet light not on the list? Fear not, as Armordillo Concealment also offers custom work.
Right out of the box, the X-FER can be setup for left or right hand use. There is a single Pull-The-Dot belt loop to affix the holster IWB and it can be adjusted for cant and ride height. I was initially skeptical about how secure the X-FER would be, being only anchored by a single loop. That concern was alleviated after my first range session. Once the loop is tightened down after adjustment, it remains fast in place and holster stays put.
Largely I prefer to carry Appendix IWB (AIWB) because even a larger sized pistol can be readily masked even under a simple T-shirt. Give a small man a very outsized button up shirt and humongous pants and he could successfully conceal a field artillery piece; I like AIWB because it passes the, ‘fitted jeans and a t-shirt’ test—and the X-FER lets me do the same with a WML. Yes, there are certainly compromises that have to be made regarding AIWB but that is a discussion about the carry methodology rather than the holster itself.
The way that the X-FER rides, a shooter can establish a master grip with the strong hand prior to the draw. My X-FER configuration naturally allows my trigger finger to run along the front side of the belt loop to obtain a consistent index point during the draw.
Like with any new holster setup, one has to practice their draw stroke. Due to the open nature of the X-FER, one may find that some sights/accessories can catch on clothing or skin during the draw. I am rarely if ever found without an undershirt on and haven’t experienced any issues stemming from snagging. As with any IWB some may experience chafing. Some moleskin on the body side of the holster should assist in long-term comfort (as well as only stippling/grip-taping on the non-body side of a carry piece).
Depending on what you’re used to, holstering may be slightly different from your normal practice when using an X-FER. Since the X-FER clamps onto the WML, the pistol should be guided into place via the front of the WML as opposed to the front of the slide. Holstering any IWB setup should always be performed methodically and conscientiously to help deter disaster (remember—holstering is taking place after the action so you can take it slow). Many shooters prefer to remove the holster from the body before placing the pistol in the holster to be extra careful. Though the X-FER can be used for strong side IWB carry, I find it far easier to holster AIWB.
One of my friends called the X-FER the, ‘Weapon light holster version of the barefoot running shoe’ and he’s right–getting the job done while keeping everything slim and trim. If you’re looking for a compact and versatile solution for the concealed carry of a pistol with a WML (or maybe just want to stop having to always dress around your gun) the X-FER might be your answer.
About the author: An experienced Marine combat veteran, Dave Merrill was formerly an urban warfare and foreign weapons instructor for Coalition fighting men. Dave is currently an instructor and operating manager for MilCopp Tactical. MilCopp teaches and advocates a constantly evolving amalgamated method of military and law enforcement tactics. These TTP’s are based on a combination of hard lessons learned and practical real-world results.