Bianchi has been in the holster making business since the 1970s, and they’re known for their quality leather and nylon holsters. Bianchi just changed their logo and launched a new website, and to highlight that fact, they offered us a chance to test out a few different models, of which I chose the Bianchi P.I. holster for my Smith & Wesson Model 36 J-Frame in .38 Special. Even though this review will feature the holster made for a J-Frame revolver, the readership will be glad to know that the Bianchi P.I. holster can be made for 112 different handguns, including semi-autos, between 11 popular firearms manufacturers.
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BIANCHI MODEL P.I. HOLSTER
Bianchi’s P.I. holster is a traditional belt slide, open-top, single retention holster made of full-grain leather. Aside from the 112 specific guns the P.I. is made for, it’s also offered in either tan or black leather, with the option for right or left-handed folks. I chose the black color to match my belt since I don’t even own a tan belt, I’m sophisticated like that. Despite the lack of people clamoring for pocket revolvers, I was quite looking forward to this holster, since it’s a classic and simple design, and the only time I actually put it in my pocket (with a pocket holster) is when I’m running. Generally, I’m much more accustomed to carrying at my 3-5 o’clock position, mostly inside the waistband (IWB), but the S&W 36 is such a small gun that I figured the Bianchi P.I. holster wouldn’t be too visible from under an untucked shirt. Bianchi’s specs for the P.I. are listed below.
- Open-top for quick access and draw with a low-profile, compact design
- Heavy 30-degree cant holster allows for convenient hip carry
- All molding to the front of the holster, providing more comfortable fit for wearer
- Low-profile, ultra hi-ride design effectively conceals firearm with minimal bulk
- Dual belt slots fit up to 1.5” (38mm) belts for better, tighter fit with belt
- Available in full-grain leather
Once I took the Bianchi P.I. holster out of the box, I could tell it was a quality build, the outside was finished with a glossy black sheen, while the inside was left unfinished and soft. The holster was molded to the lines of the revolver, which add to the friction retention and give it a professional look, for the user and from a manufacturer standpoint. The stitching is noticeable, but not distracting, but the seams where the two pieces of the leather meet are hardly discernible, which seems to add to the overall sturdiness of the construction.
One potentially confusing item is the naming of this particular holster. When I placed the order, Bianchi referred to this model as the 58 P.I., but later dropped the 58, and now refers to it strictly as the “P.I. Belt Slide Holster.” However, the branding on the backside of the holster I received calls it the Model 57 and does not mention the “P.I.” This isn’t a huge issue, but if readers are interested in getting their own, just look for the P.I. designation on Bianchi’s product page.
BIANCHI P.I. HOLSTER: CONCEALMENT & RANGE TIME
The Bianchi P.I. holster felt comfortable on my hip anywhere from my 3 o’clock to 5:30 o’clock positions on my belt. As someone that typically wears a gun IWB, the change in comfort was noticeable since my gun wasn’t being held tightly against my body. Due to the fact that there was nothing holding my gun to my side, there was a bit more printing of the grip through my solid color shirts, whereas a patterned shirt should help break up the lines more. The P.I. holster allows for a higher profile to get more of the gun and holster under clothing. Depending on which shirt I wore, there was a slight amount of the muzzle end of the holster that peeked out, but for general use, I wasn’t worried about getting spotted by a few people whose eyes aren’t glued to their phones.
From a traditional sense, this holster doesn’t have to be concealed and could be worn for open carry, and it would have a classy look while doing so, but I focused more on concealment. If open carrying, just know that this is strictly retained by friction, but an elastic strap could be added to the wearer’s belt or through the slide loop on the holster, which could be wrapped around the hammer of the revolver, or around the back of the slide of a semi-auto. My S&W 36 was held snuggly and I could turn the holster over and shake it without having the gun fall out.
Since the P.I. holster was pretty much concealed, and comfortable, I decided to take it along on one of my two-mile runs and I hardly noticed it was there. The Bianchi P.I. holster was really comfortable with everything I did, I mean, if it passes the running test, then it should meet all of the other functional tests as well. While driving, the holster was tucked back enough that it was a bit slower to draw, but I was able to keep it concealed even when I tucked my shirt behind the holster. The biggest drawback to any belt slide holster is how to maintain concealment while using a public bathroom. I usually flipped it into the pants so that the muzzle faced up, but if you have more ideas please share them in the comments section.
Drawing from concealment was pretty straightforward, but the holster sits higher than my normal IWB style, so I just had to bring my weapon hand up higher to grip and pull. It really only took about five tries to reholster without looking. The back panel of the holster is raised to protect the gun from contacting your skin, which also aids in finding the reholstering position.
I really liked the Bianchi P.I. holster as tested with the S&W 36, it was comfortable, generally concealable, well made, well fit, and looks professional. The lack of extra retention may be a deal breaker for some, but a bit more retention could be added simply enough if desired. Price-wise, the Bianchi P.I. is in the middle ground, between boutique leather holster makers and the lower spectrum of Kydex holster makers. The Bianchi P.I. holster is listed at $61.00, and can be found HERE for all gun make and model compatibility. You can also check out Bianchi’s new website at bianchileather.com for the rest of their holsters and other products.
What do you think about the Bianchi P.I. holster? If you’re considering buying one, which gun would you have it fit?
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