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Review: Orion Concepts MOD-1 Holster

Sometimes it seems that holsters are such simple things that are designed to do a simple task – carry a handgun. However, the sheer number and variations of holsters on the market should tell you that holsters, especially good holsters, are not such a simple thing after all. There are a lot of holsters on the market that really just aren’t any good. Thankfully, the MOD-1 from Orion Concepts is good – not perfect but really, really good.

The Same but Different

The MOD-1 from Orion Concepts looks new and familiar all at the same time. At first glance it looks like a leather pancake holster until you notice that it molded from kydex. There have been other companies who have adapted proven leather pancake holster designs to kydex but none that were quite like this.

While this looks very much like a typical pancake holster, it is designed to be worn in a different way. The MOD-1 has very large belt “loops” that are designed to allow the wearer to route their belt over the holster, not behind the holster. This results in a holster that wears in a way that I have never really experienced. The grip is drawn into the side of the wearer tighter than any other holster that I have tried and that is a very good thing. The gun rides very close, like an inside the waistband (IWB) holster, but allows the easy access and comfort of an outside the waistband (OWB) holster.

Other Features

The front of the holster (the part that is away from the wearer) is more molded than the back. The back of the holster (the part that is against the user’s body) is very lightly molded. This seems to be part of why this holster is so comfortable. There are no real hotspots or pressure points even though the holster is pressed very tightly against your body. I have always found leather holsters to be more comfortable than kydex. This is the first kydex holster that I have used that challenges that notion.

The MOD-1 has a small but effective sweat guard. It does a good job of keeping you separated from the slide of your handgun and, maybe more importantly, does a good job of preventing your shirt from sticking into the holster (especially important for striker fired pistols with no manual safety). There is also a small projection on the sweat guard that covers the magazine release button. It is molded generously enough to work with the Vickers Magazine Release.

Fit and Finish

As good as this holster is functionally, it is a bit lacking in the area of fit and finish. There are areas where it looks like whatever tool is used to finish the edges slipped and marred the surface of the holster. The edges are finished so that they are smooth but this has created some sharp spots on the bottom of the holster (these edges don’t contact the wearer at all and are easily fixed). Thankfully, the opening of the holster is nicely rounded and lacks sharp edges. The molding is not as crisp as some kydex holsters but the retention is solid. It also seems like there could be a couple more rivets used in the construction and the material around the bolt loops could be left thicker though I had no durability issues during more than 4 months of carry. These issues are purely cosmetic.

In Use

The MOD-1 carries very well. Like every other shooter, I have far more holsters than I have handguns and this is the most comfortable one that I own. It also carries closer and conceals better than any other outside the waistband holster that I own.

It carries very well right on the point of the hip thanks to its curved shape. This is generally where I like to place OWB but many holsters are either too flat or too bulky on the belt for this position to work.

One thing that worried me about the holster when I first received it was I had to skip a belt loop with most of my pants in order to wear the MOD-1. With a typical OWB holster you can route the belt through the holster so that it passes through the holster, a belt loop, and then the holster again. The MOD-1 doesn’t allow that but after months of use, it has been a complete non-issue.

The MOD-1 allows a pretty smooth draw stroke. It holds the gun closer like an IWB holster but higher like an OWB holster. The result is a draw that is easier than an IWB holster but perhaps a tiny bit slower than some OWB holsters that don’t conceal as well. Anytime the grip is held in close to the body, you will sacrifice some speed. This is why competition holsters ride out away fro the body and concealment holsters ride close. You are trading some speed for a holster that conceals very well.


The MOD-1 is a tremendous holster based on function. It rides so comfortably and so close to the body that it really just exceeds anything else that I have tried. There are some fit and finish issues with my example but these issues do not diminish function at all. I suspect that we will be hearing a lot more about Orion Concepts and their MOD-1 holster as they get into the hands of more users. These are excellent holsters.

Check out the MOD-1 with and without weapon lights on Orion-Concepts.com.



If you are reading this blog, there is a pretty good chance that you carry a few EDC (Every Day Carry) items like a knife and flashlight. Well, now there is a new online store from some familiar people that you can visit to help get your EDC gear in shape.

PredatorEDC.com is the latest venture of PredatorIntelligence who are also the company behind PredatorBDU.com and PredatorARMAMENT.com. The new site carries EDC focused items like knives, flashlights, and pocket tools. They already have a ton of great brands listed and there are more coming.

Check out PredatorEDC.com.

Afrankart Prybaton

What happens when you dim the lights, turn on some music, and lock the door behind a pry bar and a kubotan? Something a lot like the new Prybaton from Afrankart is what happens.

You may remember some of Andy’s (afrankart is his screenname) other work that I profiled on JTT. The Prybaton is his latest project. It blends of the functions and features of a pry bar and a (kubotan). The result is a versatile self defense/EDC tool that can handle a surprising number of chores. The tapered pry edge is not only a useful tool but it also packs a heck of a wallop in training hands.

The Prybaton is made from 6-4 Titanium and is 6″ long by .6″ in diameter. The Ti construction keeps the weight of this handful of metal down to just 3.8 ounces. The handle features texture to lock the Prybaton in your hand during strikes or while you are prying. The pry tip is cleverly designed to be flat on one side and hollow ground on the other to facilitate prying.

The Prybaton is a clever and down right nasty tool. Contact Andy via email at afrankart@woh.rr.com for more information.

CCW Friendly Clothes Getting Mainstream Attention

It looks like the ever growing market for CCW friendly and tactical clothing is getting some mainstream attention lately. The NY Times recently published an article on, among other things, Woolrich’s line of CCW clothing.

From the NY Times article…

Woolrich, a 182-year-old clothing company, describes its new chino pants as an elegant and sturdy fashion statement, with a clean profile and fabric that provides comfort and flexibility.

And they are great for hiding a handgun.

You can check out the full article on the NY Times website.

Battle Systems LLC Vinyl Tape Heat Test

Battle Systems LLC is out to prove that their tape can take whatever abuse you throw at it while it is attached to your gear. Other vinyl tapes turn to a gooey mess when they are exposed to heat, but Battle Systems’ Vinyl Tape, Coyote Brown shrugs off the heat of an AR-15 barrel after a mag dump with no visible loss of integrity. It stays stuck and doesn’t leave a mess when removed. Every Tactical Handyman needs some of this tape!

Get your own at BattleSystemsLLC.com or BeyondIssue.com.

Crosstac D-Belt II Tactical Belt

Some belts just hold your pants up. Some belts can hold up your pants and your gun. Then you have the new D-Belt II Tactical Belt from Crosstac which does both of those things and more.

The D-Belt II Tactical Belt features a Cobra Buckle and military grade webbing construction. There is a “D-Cut” poly stiffener sandwiched in the belt to add rigidity without bowing at the back of the belt. The result is a belt that looks pretty standard but there is more than meets the eye with this belt.

It also features a hidden pocket that allows you to discreetly carry some emergency cash and a hidden storage area designed to carry an included Boker Credit Card Knife as a discreet last ditch self-defense option. These features are integrated in such a way that you don’t have to use them if you choose and they won’t get in your way if you don’t use them.

Check out the D-Belt II Tactical Belt on the Crosstac website.

Adventure Medical Kits Escape Bivy

I am a big fan of the Adventure Medical Kits (AMK) bivvy bags. They previously offered two different models that offered a very lightweight and compact way to carry an emergency shelter. Now they are offering a third bivvy option – the Escape Bivvy.

The previous AMK bivvy bags were great at keeping moisture out. Unfortunately, they also kept moisture in that bag where the user might start to become damp with perspiration or chilled. The new Escape Bivy boasts similar small size and light weight to the AMK Thermal Bivvy but it is also breathable. It keeps external moisture out and allows internal moisture to leave the bivvy. This should be a huge boost to the overall function of the bivvy.

Initial reports on the Emergency Bivvy are so good that many ultralight hikers are using them as a minimalist sleeping bag. It is not designed to stand up to that type of sustained use over time but it does shows this bivvy’s potential in less frequent emergency use.

Check out the new Emergency Bivvy on AMK’s website.

Zippo Emergency Fire Kit

One of the most famous names in lighters, Zippo, is now selling a new Emergency Fire Kit. That seems pretty logical to me.

The new kit capitalizes on the familiar Zippo hinged metal box form factor. However, unlike the typical Zippo lighter, the Emergency Fire Kit is o-ring sealed to prevent moisture from getting into the contents of the kit. The kit uses water resistant waxed cotton tinder sticks (also available separately) to catch sparks from a typical Zippo flint wheel. The concept is similar to using wax or petroleum jelly coated cotton balls with a spark source like a ferro rod. The Zippo Emergency Fire Kit just gathers these components into an attractive kit form.

Check out the Zippo Emergency Fire Kit on Zippo.com.

Surefire SFR2 Batteries

Surefire just released their rechargeable SFR2 Batteries. In the past it seemed that they were ignoring rechargeable batteries in favor of their lithium primary batteries. As surprising as this is, it is certainly a welcomed announcement.

The SFR2 Batteries are lithium-phosphate chemistry which Surefire claims will retain 50% of their charging capacity even after 500 charge cycles. They only offer about 50% of the runtime that regular lithium CR123A primary batteries offer, but this should become easier to live with as lights continue to become more efficient.

You can purchase SFR2 batteries separately or as part of a kit that comes with a charger. The charger comes with AC and DC cords for wall and car charging. It also has a light that indicates the status of the charge.

Check out Surefire.com for more details.

Review: Bogota “Titan – Mini” Entry Toolset

The Bogota Entry Toolsets that I have reviewed were already one of the smallest lock bypassing sets available at about 3″ long and barely wider than a toothpick. Now, small but functional lock bypassing sets have been taken to the next level with the introduction of the Bogota Titan-Mini Entry Toolset. The Titan-Mini is only 2″ long but still just as functional as their larger counter parts.

The Titan Minis (bottom) are even smaller than the already tiny Bogota Titan Entry Toolset


The Bogota Titan-Mini Entry Toolset utilizes the same proven rake design and titanium material as the Bogota Titan Entry Toolset. The difference is that the Titan-Mini is 1″ shorter overall (2″ versus 3″ for the Bogota Titan Entry Toolset). This compact size makes them even easier to carry tucked in a wallet, pinned in a backpack, dropped in a pocket, or just about anywhere else. The aircraft grade titanium alloy that they are constructed from makes them non-magnetic and extremely corrosion resistant.

The kit contains two pieces: a Bogota Rake and a feeler pick. Each piece is capable of serving as a tensioner for the other piece. Most locks can be bypassed with just these 2 pieces.

What Makes the Bogota Rake Special?

Bogota Rakes feature an ingenious design that sets them apart in terms of ease of use and function. The design features 3 small mountain peak shaped bumps that are spaced in such a way that they can disrupt all 5 tumblers in a typical lock with very little movement. It is so effective that even unskilled users will find success at bypassing some locks within minutes of use. However, they are also very rewarding because a practiced hand will find that locks will often yield to the Bogota Rake in seconds. In that sense, these Bogota Entry Toolsets remind me of the old board game Othello – they take a minute to learn and a lifetime to master.

The Bogota Titan-Mini Entry Toolset shown with a quarter for scale.

Instructions for Use

Using a Bogota Rake is simple. You position the rake and the tensioner in the keyway and then shake the rake almost as if you have had too much caffeine. This caused the peaks to move the pins and tumblers up and down rapidly. If you have set your tension correctly, the tumblers will eventually become caught at the shear line, allowing the lock cylinder to rotate. It is as easy as it sounds, but doing it quickly will take a lot of practice to develop the type of “feel” that is necessary to maximize the rake’s effectiveness.

The Bogota Titan-Mini Entry Toolset can also be used as a typical feeler pick and tensioner for locks that may be difficult to rake.

In Use

I have been using the Titan-Minis for several weeks now and I have been very, very impressed. I expected them to perform well since the Bogota Rake is such a proven design. What caught me off guard and impressed me most was that they really don’t give up anything in terms of performance to their larger counterparts. I think this is due in large part to the handle shape. The “handles” (the part you hold on to) aren’t as small as I was expecting. Some of the shorter overall length comes from turning the hooked end of the handle down further rather than just chopping an inch off the handle. There is still enough handle to work with.

I did notice that the shorter tensioner does require a more delicate touch. Tensioning a lock already requires a delicate touch and has always been one of the most difficult parts of lock bypassing for me to master. The shorter overall length of the Titan-Mini set seems to mean that I just have to be that much more on my game.

The 90 degree hook on the handle and smaller overall length opens up some new storage possibilities for the Titan-Minis. They sit sit nicely in the crease of a wallet with the hook down running along the bottom of the wallet. They also lay flat in even the smallest coin pockets in a pair of jeans. Of course, there is almost no limit to where you can carry something that is 2″ long and barely wider than a toothpick.

A gutted piece of paracord with melted ends makes a perfect sheath.


It is hard to imagine that there could possibly be a smaller, more discreet, fully functional lock bypassing kit than the Bogota Titan-Mini Entry Toolset from SEREPICK. These work so well that I really can’t see a reason to buy the slightly larger Bogota Titan Entry Toolset except for slightly more forgiving tensioner performance. I am really amazed by these little guys.

SEREPICK.com has all your Bogota Entry Toolset needs covered.

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