Gear Crow’s Tactical Universal Modular Platform Holster Matt Stagliano February 25, 2017 Join the Conversation Innovation (/ˌinəˈvāSH(ə)n/) – noun – a new method, idea, product, etc. Crow’lster (/krohl – ster/) – noun – the CTO UMPH (sort of) Universal Modular Platform holster Sometimes innovation can be good, such as magazine fed weapons. Sometimes innovation can be bad, like imported personal hygiene kits. When it comes to kydex holsters these days, the average user is befuddled by choices and interpretations of innovation. Thin, thick, pancake, molded, retention strength, screws, rivets, belt loops, flexible, rigid, open, closed…the list of variables goes on. The potential confusion is compounded by marketing spin and internet fights about quality, durability, and of course originality — as in, who invented that first? One thing that is typical of all manufacturers, however, is that the kydex is generally molded to fit a particular gun. For example, if you order from an established, top tier manufacturer, they should have specific molds that will fit your Wonderblaster™ right down to the all the lumens you hang off the end. These days we rarely see true functional innovation in the holster market. Most holsters do what they do – hold a gun safely and securely. There is typically not much beyond that. With many gun owners also being multiple gun owners, there have been many attempts to make a decent universal style holster, all hoping to the be the one-size-fits-all panacea for a cluttered gun safe. Some are injection molded and fit the standard frame dimensions or retain the gun based on the light or rail accessory and fit a wide array of guns in your collection. For example, the Safariland Model 578 GLS Pro-Fit, the BLACKHAWK Omnivore, or the Raven Concealment Vanguard 3. Your average consumer may be satisfied with one universal holster, or have several dedicated buckets for each gun. I tend to be of the latter type. Like many of you, I have shelves full of plastic. Crow’s Tactical Outfitters based in Houston recently sent us the CTO UMPH Universal Modular Platform holster, otherwise known as the “Crow’lster.” Looking past the neon green interior and not-so-subtle matching green logo we read the included literature and quickly surmised that this was a hybrid dedicated/universal holster meant to be configured for any of your daily carries. Kinda. The UMPH bases its design on the use of “blades” that are inserted into the interior of the holster, creating the specific fit for a given platform. The blades are interchangeable and according to Crow’s they are available for over 19 different platforms. Thus whether you are carrying a CZ, Sig, HK, Glock or Smith & Wesson, there's a way to switch the holster up for everyone. Blade sets run an additional $15 above the $60-ish price tag for the holster itself. According to Crow’s verbose website, “You decide which weapon fits your carry needs of the day, insert that weapon specific blade and “Lock n’ Load” and when your carry needs change to a different weapon, you remove the current blade and insert the new designated weapon blade into the core holster, and while each comes with a set of angled belt loops for outside the waistband carry it can just as easily be fitted for inside the waistband carry by adding soft loops, J-clip, etc or you can use any other attachment device that will accommodate a 1” center to center which allows you to use just about ANY method of attachment and you’re back up and running…without having to purchase another “one use” holster.” Not being fans of the simple 42 step process for gun-totin', so we set out to figure out how to configure the holster for a Glock 17 with an RMR. The Crows rig came assembled to fit an M&P, and we were able to get our full sized Smith & Wesson 9mm in and out without a problem. We ran our Ares Gear Aegis belt through it easily and the slightly forward cant felt fine. So far so good. The holster was shipped with an additional Glock blade. In our efforts to understand the procedures needed to outfit a different blaster, we disassembled and reassembled the Crow’lster. Despite not being the read-the-directions type, we were able to get through the process in about 10 minutes. There are only 5 screws that need to be removed. The process is more tedious than difficult and it took more time than we typically want to spend configuring a holster for our gun. We found that using a drill was much faster than a hand screwdriver. As we disassembled the UMPH we were looking ahead to figure out how else this could be carried. Given the included leather in-waistband body shield, we reckoned the UMPH could conceivably be carried IWB as well. Unfortunately, the included polymer J-clips did not line up with the holes drilled in the holster. They were almost there, but nooot quite. We would have liked to have seen more consistency in the spacing of the holes, as our digital calipers indicated that they were *just* off enough to forbid good purchase of the screws. We did not fiddle with a Dremel or a drill to make it work. We wanted the out of the box experience. The clips were a no-go, so we were left with external carry only. Inserting the Glock blade and reassembling the frame, we found immediately that our Glock 17 with RMR was never going to fit in this holster. The top cut of the holster does not allow for the RMR housing. This, however, is not a strike against Crow’s because there was never any claim that it would fit a pistol with a red dot optic. It's entirely possible we should have double-checked that before beginning. Based on how the M&P fit, there is no reason to believe that a stock Glock would behave any differently. We pressed on. The rubber standoff washers that are molded into each blade are a great addition, since that means less pieces to lose. However, we did find it very easy to over-tighten the screws, causing so much tension that the pistol wouldn't fit. We backed out the screws to alleviate the pressure, but found they remained loose afterward due to the compressed washers. Our fear was that the screws would eventually fall out. Of course, we considered Loctite, but having to bring Loctite into the assembly process seemed counter to the goal of easily and quickly outfitting a universal holster to a new gun. Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that the process of modifying this holster is a much more involved (and difficult) process than the manufacturer would like you to believe. There are certainly simpler options on the market. As a standalone holster you’re not going to swap very often, the CTO UMPH seems similar to many other Kydex offerings — but using it for a single gun is completely contrary to the “universal” part of its name. It can be ordered in a dizzying array of colors and prints which may appeal to a more fashion forward gunslinger, but sartorial advantages aside, we felt it fell short of hitting the functional mark. Your experience may vary. Explore RECOILweb:RECOIL Issue #15Testing Hunting Rifle Skills At Rifle Competitions like the Vortex ExtremePredator Looking for Contest IdeaRecent Magpul Product Releases NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. 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