It’s hard to set yourself apart these days when it comes to holsters – especially ones that are geared towards concealed carry applications. However, I recently took the opportunity to review one of Bianchi’s hybrid leather holsters that caught my eye, and today we’ll be taking a look at it. The Bianchi Shenandoah OWB/IWB holster is a fully convertible, dual-carry holster with the ability to easily switch between IWB and OWB carry positions with minimal parts change and also with a 50% leather construction but in the reverse of how many other companies accomplish this. This holster is more interesting than meets the eye and today I hope I can properly demonstrate its features and advantages to you.
More from Bianchi Holsters @ TFB:
- TFB Review: Bianchi Universal Revolver Holster – UM84R
- TFB Review: Bianchi Agent Shoulder Holster
- Allusion Series 126GLS Concealment Holster by Bianchi
TFB Review: Bianchi Shenandoah OWB/IWB Convertible Holster
The Bianchi® Model 175 Shenandoah™ is a fully convertible, dual-carry holster. With the ability to easily switch between inside-the-waist and outside-the-waist carry in seconds, the Shenandoah offers an all-in-one solution. Crafted with a premium full-grain leather exterior and suede-lined, precision-molded interior for a secure fit that won’t tarnish the firearm.
The Pinch Retention Device provides added security by clicking into the firearm trigger guard and providing palpable feedback to notify to the user that the firearm is fully holstered.
The Bianchi Shenandoah OWB/IWB Convertible holster is sold for a very affordable price of $78 regardless of configuration. This means you can have either tanned or black leather, right or left-hand configuration, and four different makes of firearms for under $100 and you’re also adding onto that the ability to carry either outside or inside the waistband – options are always good.
As opposed to many of Bianchi’s full leather holster options, the Shenandoah has the other 50% of its structure tied up in polymers for both the rear shell and the unique Pinch Retention Device (PRD). The PRD is quite honestly the main feature of the holster for me as I’ve come across several different holsters that can also provide me with hybrid construction, or the ability to be adapted to IWB or OWB with simple parts change.
However, what Bianchi does differently than a lot of other hybrid holster companies is keeping the polymer shell as the backer and instead using the full-grain leather as the outer shell. This keeps the holster looking more classy than a lot of Kydex options. Really, aside from covering the trigger, muzzle, and magazine release, the outer shell is just there as fancy window dressing as the PRD is the only thing actively retaining the firearm.
As a final note, the Bianchi Shenandoah comes complete with all the accessories you’ll need to adapt and fit the holster to your waist including belt loop adapters, IWB adapters, an IWB J-Hook, wedge device, and even a little convenient pad for carrying AIWB (Appendix In the Waist Band). So for a little over $75, you’re getting a lot of value, as well as a lot of options, in my opinion.
The Bianchi Shenandoah holster starts with a flexible polymer backer featuring a sweat guard. A small section of this backer features two small holes that allow for the addition of the previously mentioned AIWB pad which actually does a lot to help alleviate pressure when bending over. The interior of the holster features the Pinch Retention Device (Bianchi sent me 3 options to play around with), and a suede-lined interior for a smooth draw.
The Leather itself seems to be of good quality. The interior is quite supple to the touch, and the stitching is professionally done and has shown no signs of splitting or fraying. The exterior of the holster is prone to a bit of scratching and scuffing but I think with any amount of polishing and buffing any heavy scratches could be blended or removed and would probably even add to the character of your holster over the years rather than outright destroy it.
I’ll have to give the fitment of the holster an 8/10 and I’d give it a 9 if it weren’t for one small issue I had, particularly with my Glock and Taurus pistols. The Glock 48/Hellcat PRD that was sent along with the holster seemed to have a small issue with getting caught up on the front end of the Glock 48’s trigger guard. I found the same issue happened with both my Taurus GX4. I didn’t run into the same issues with the SIG P365 or the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus as they featured rounded trigger guards.
Another small issue I would run into occasionally is that with the leather cover being on the outside of the holster rather than the inside, you will inevitably run into issues with reholstering when carrying IWB. The leather is so flexible that it almost immediately collapses inside your waistband unless you’re wearing very loose-fitting clothing. This isn’t an issue when the holster is carried OWB. Regardless of configuration or carry position, I always had a smooth draw thanks in part to the suede-lined interior.
Bianchi Shenandoah Pros and Cons
- Good construction
- Adaptable to OWB or IWB/AIWB with a simple swap of parts included in the purchase
- Optics compatible
- Reduced slide/frame wear due to PRD
- PRD can be replaced without disassembling the entire holster
- Comfortable in either IWB or OWB configuration with added accommodation for AIWB (polymer backer is flexible enough to bend with your body)
- Smells good (like leather)
- Reholstering is sub-optimal for many pistols or when carrying from the IWB/AIWB position
- The leather finish isn’t super durable and is prone to scratches when carried OWB
- Trigger guard shape can interfere when interfacing with the PRD
- If your belt/pants combo is too thick, the IWB clips can stick out
I think Bianchi optimized the Shenandoah holster for comfort over everything else and this isn’t a bad thing in my opinion. 99% of the time you’re carrying your gun, it is going to be sitting nestled safely within your holster on your waist. The flexible polymer backer is probably the best I’ve felt on the market in terms of flexibility and the inclusion of features like the comfort pad just make it a better option overall for AIWB or IWB carrying.
The issue regarding reholstering isn’t completely insurmountable and quite honestly only requires a few extra moments to shove the muzzle of the gun into the holster shell first before you can get a good angle and reholster the gun completely, however, I think with a slight modification, the issues I saw with the Glock 48 and Taurus GX4 can be avoided entirely. I do also wish that the finish of the holster was a tiny bit more durable and perhaps a bit more textured. Although the holster is made from full-grain leather (the best kind of leather) the finish is nearly smooth and I felt like this was an area where it could be a bit more attractive. However, I’m not a leather craftsman and I don’t know if this would inadvertently affect its durability with how thin it is.
All-in-all, the Bianchi Shenandoah is a perfectly serviceable holster for any firearm in its compatibility roster and I think the best value comes from its affordability. For $75 I wouldn’t cry if I had to swap firearms and for that matter, I think if you asked nicely enough, Bianchi would probably just sell you a new PRD for whatever firearm you were going to carry next.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on the Shenandoah holster. Have you ever tried one? Have you tried any of Bianchi Leather’s holsters? Let us know what your experiences and thoughts are down in the comments below and a huge thanks to Bianchi Holsters for letting me check the Shenandoah out!