Holster Review: Elite Survival Systems Mainstay Hybrid IWB

At a time when folks are donning sweats to work from home but still want to conceal carry in the house just in case, or you need a holster you can just throw into your waistband for a quick run to the store (where you might have to wait in line 6 feet apart just to get inside), a clipless holster that doesn’t require a belt or a lot of planning can be a great option.

This is exactly what Washington, MO-based Elite Survival Systems offers in its Mainstay Hybrid IWB/Pocket holster. For those who are unfamiliar with the clipless concept, the holster uses friction instead of clips or loops and does not require a belt. It stays in place by being wedged between the wearer and the waistline. So long as tension is maintained, the holster will not pop out or slide around.

One great feature of friction holsters is they fit a wide range of guns because they aren’t molded to particular models. So long as the guns are the same general size, you can switch them out and use the same holster. This saves money if you don’t carry the same gun every day but do carry one of similar size.

The Mainstay starts with a pliable silicone-coated outside, which is typical of clipless holsters, but most others are smooth, whereas the Mainstay is bumpy, with grey and black friction dots all over. This material wore a bit better in my testing and didn’t develop the tiny cracks that appeared on other brands. This leads me to believe it will last longer, but I would need a longer test to know for sure. The bottom corner is sewn to fit right below the trigger guard, so the gun stays in place.

Its inside is lined with soft nylon for smooth draw and re-holster, with the outside edge smoothed over and single stitched all the way around. The stitching has held up well under repeated use and shows no signs of wear.

Both the interior and exterior are moisture-resistant to keep sweat away from the gun. This is especially important as we enter the hotter months. It is also extremely comfortable, as the soft material easily conforms to your waistline.

The Mainstay is completely ambidextrous and easy to use with either hand. I’m right handed and my son is a lefty. Neither of us had any issues using it.

As with every clipless/friction holster, its biggest advantage is also its biggest drawback. Because it is held in place by squeezing it, that means it closes when the gun is removed, making one-handed re-holstering nearly impossible. The holster must be removed from the waistline and the whole assembly of gun and holster replaced. 

The Mainstay comes in a huge selection of sizes for pretty much every handgun on the market. And at just $26.95, you can afford to buy one for every gun you own.

Reprinted with permission from ShootingIllustrated.com.