I received my GunfightesINC Kenai Chest Holster just before the cold weather set in last year. I was anticipating that I would use the holster for carrying my G21 (with .45 Super loads) on hikes in areas with lots of big critters. I never would have dreamed of all the ways I ended up using this holster.
The Kenai Chest Holster is a kydex holster mounted to a chest harness that places the firearm on the wearer’s chest. It is basically a modernized version of the classic leather guide holster.
The holster body is constructed via two pieces of kydex joined by eyelets in typical kydex pancake-holster fashion. It features a nearly full sweat guard and full trigger guard coverage. The Kenai can be ordered with a number of light and muzzle options. The holster in this review has been formed to accommodate an extended, ported barrel.
The nylon webbing chest harness is joined to the holster body in 3 places forming a lat strap and a single shoulder strap. The straps are wide to spread the weight of heavy handguns and has strategically placed elastic sections to allow the holster to be worn tight without constricting the wearer’s breathing.
Observations from Use
I have been chomping at the bit to write this review but I have been finding so many ways that I liked using this holster, that I have held off until to now to ensure that I could cover them all. The reason that I have been so excited is that this is just a very, very well designed piece of gear that serves its purpose far better than anything else I have used. In order to understand how good it is, you really need to understand the limitations of other guide holsters.
Historically, quality guide holsters have been made from leather. Leather offers very little in the way of retention so the designers of these holsters had to orient the holster vertically resulting in an awkward draw angle and/or add some kind of secondary retention like a hammer strap or thumb break all of which adds complexity to the draw stroke. Additionally, the harnesses are often an afterthought with thick leather straps, buckles in places that cause hotspots under a pack, and course adjustments with no stretch. These problems are basically endemic to all leather guide holsters because they are a direct result of the materials used. Don’t even get me started on the cheap nylon bucket type holsters.
GunfightersINC addresses EVERY SINGLE ONE of those shortcomings with the Kenai. The result is a truly excellent piece of gear that is only possible because of the materials used in its construction and the know-how that comes with working with those materials for a long time.
The Kenai uses a molded kydex holster body which means the retention level can be tweaked and tuned. My example has enough retention that the gun will never come out on accident and yet it allows a one handed draw without having to stabilize the holster with the off hand as long as the straps are adjusted properly. In other words, the retention is perfect for the application.
This solid retention allowed the designers of the holster to cant the gun so that the grip faces the strong hand of the user which creates what is likely the easiest draw stroke you’ll find on a chest holster. There is no need for secondary retention and the placement of the gun provides a surprisingly efficient draw stroke – just clear the kydex, bring your hands together, and press out. It happens faster than you can read about it.
The harness is very well designed. It is constructed of mostly thin but wide nylon webbing. It is thin enough to add minimal bulk under your pack and wide enough to comfortably distribute the weight of large, outdoor oriented handguns. You can adjust the length of each of its three straps via a tri-glide and these tri-glides can be adjusted so that none of them are on the back of the harness to cause hotspots under your pack. That alone could make this the best chest holster I have ever used.
There are two thoughtful features built into the harness that allow it to flex and move with the wearer. The first is the use of elastic in the center back of the harness. This allows the lat strap to be worn fairly tightly without making it hard to breath. There is also elastic material at both ends of the shoulder strap which acts as a sort of shock absorber that softens any potential bouncing of the heavy firearm. The second is the use of pivoting attachment points on the lat strap. This allows the straps to move with the wearer and allows the harness to fit a wide size range of users without binding.
Additionally, the Kenai is modular. Each point at which the harness meets the holster is joined with a side release buckle. This allows the user to quickly doff the holster in an emergency and swap out holster bodies. You could buy separate holster bodies and run them all on a single harness.
The quality of the Kenai is very good. The harness is well-made with good materials and large box stitches to join the elastic to the webbing. The holster is molded with good detail, good edge finish, and retention that is perfect for the application. This holster is right from top to bottom.
I have used this holster for its intended purpose. It is great for time spent in the outdoors with a pack on that prevents carrying on the waist. If you hunt, hike, or fish in dangerous critter areas you will love this holster. None of that surprises me. What surprised me is how much I like it for other activities. I wore it on the tractor while plowing snow around the homestead, over a heavy winter work coat while clearing trees broken by snow load from our trails, on my bike under a light coat, and all sorts of other places where clothing would prevent easy access or it was undesirable to have a gun on your waist.
This holster is also so easily donned and doffed that you will find yourself using it in the winter like you would a paddle holster in the summer. We have a few farm animals. Their care and feeding doesn’t stop in the winter and the Kenai become my go to hoslter for when I needed something to throw on before heading out to the hen house. It is so quick to don and doff that I found myself reaching for it frequently in these situations.
I was also pleased with how well is conceals. In my neck of the woods, there are places you can go where there are large hungry critters but you are also very likely to come across other people using the trails. I prefer to remain discreet in these cases and the Kenai absolutely disappears under even a light rain shell or a fleece.
I should also note that this holster comes with plenty of adjustment and this is important because you will want to run the harness fairly snug to reduce movement and promote a crisp draw. I ended up with long tails of left over strap when I adjusted the holster to fit but I didn’t cut the straps, choosing instead to gather up the excess with rubber bands. I would suggest that you do the same until you have used the holster through all 4 seasons. You will need plenty of extra strap to adjust the holster all the way from where it is tight over a thin wicking layer to where it is tight over a heavy winter work coat.
I try not to throw words like “best” around a lot but I will here. I have owned a few chest holsters over the years and this is the best. It is best in terms of comfort, best in terms of draw stroke, best in terms of concealment, best in terms of design… It’s just the best. GunfighterINC has managed to use good design and modern materials to improve a classic design that was largely unchanged for a long time.
Disclosure: This holster was provided to me for review by GunfightersINC.