Holsters can be one of the most hit-or-miss firearms accessories that one can encounter, and I’d be willing to bet that most longtime handgun owners have a collection of a least a dozen that didn’t work out at one point or another. The holster world has come a long way from the “Milt Sparks” type holster being one of the only viable concealed carry designs, and it’s super interesting to see what new designs each year holds. Some of the better new designs I’ve recently encountered are the new Protos-M and Entrada holsters from Black Arch Holsters.
Black Arch Holsters was kind enough to send us some samples of these new holsters, and I gave them a three-season long-term review to see how they held up to near-daily use with a SIG P365XL. Let’s see how they did!
Price, Per Black Arch Holsters:
Protos-M: $ 98.95
Entrada: $ 99.95
(Certain clip or custom color configurations can add cost)
Black Arch Protos-M: Perhaps the most comfortable IWB holster ever.
The first holster I got to try from Black Arch Holsters was the “hybrid” Kydex, leather, and Dri-Matrix breathable padded backer Protos-M. The Protos-M has a huge range of options, including six different styles and four different belt sizes for its super-secure dual clip system. One can also choose from four stock color combinations of shell and backer, or request custom colors as well.
The Protos-M is a hybrid holster made for the traditional 4 or 8’oclock inside the waistband carry position. It holds one’s pistol extremely close to the body, and I did not really have to “dress around the gun”. This holster kept my P365XL well concealed at all times. It also had an excellent level of retention (passing a standard upside down shake test), and my pistol never once came loose even when running or climbing fences around the ranch. All the hardware held up great, too, with not one screw coming loose in 4 months of use.
Black Arch sent me a selection of dual clips to try out, and my personal preference were the Discreet Carry Mod 4 clips. Once the Protos-M was on my belt with those clips, it was not going anywhere! With such clips, your holster will stay in place all day long (albeit it will be a bit difficult to remove once the day is over).
Black Arch touts the Protos-M as having “unmatched comfort”, and I can attest to the fact that this was true in my experience. The breathable backer was comfortable either over an undershirt or next to skin all day long in summer, fall and winter conditions. The Black Arch Protos-M also was one of the only holsters that was comfortable to use underneath a pack with kidney straps while hiking all day long. Whether driving, working, standing, sitting, or running the Protos-M stayed securely in place and did not chafe or cause pressure points. If you’re looking for an all-day comfort holster, this is it. As a bonus, the Dri-Max backer never got funky or gross after multiple consecutive ranch workdays.
Black Arch Entrada: A solid choice for Appendix Carry
I’m not the biggest practitioner of appendix carry, but it does have its place and does require a high-quality holster. The Black Arch Entrada would be a solid choice if appendix carry is the technique that best suits your carry style. Like the Protos-M, the Entrada comes in a number of different clip and color configurations, including the color of the flexible webbing between the holster and spare magazine holder.
The Entrada has a few extras. One, using similar technology seen on a few other appendix holsters, is the ModWing, essentially a polymer extension that tensions the holstered firearm against the inside of one’s garment/belt in order to keep the grip from having an outward stance, resulting in printing. The other extra is a spare magazine holder attached to the holster via three flexible connecting webs. Not only does this give you a concealable spare magazine, but it also provides a second clip point to attach the Entrada to one’s belt.
Again, the Entrada performed well throughout three-season use with and without an undershirt. There was zero printing of any kind, and it also displayed a perfect level of retention with the P365XL. The level of comfort wasn’t nearly as high as with the Protos-M and its Dri-Max backing, but I’ve never found Kydex appendix carry to be the most comfortable carry method in the first place.
Regardless if you’re an old hand at concealed carry or if you’re new to the whole thing, one would be well served to give Black Arch Holsters a look. The Entrada provides great concealability with the added benefit of a mag carrier. The Protos-M is my favorite full-featured holster going right now, and provides excellent concealability and all-day comfort. For more information, and to see if they fit your model of handgun, give Black Arch Holsters a look. They might be expensive, but in my opinion, the value is there.
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