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GunfightersINC has been rolling out a lot of great content on their YouTube channel. Their latest video conveys a lot of solid information about their Kenai Chest Holster. The video includes information on how to wear the holster, tuning it for best fit, and how to execute a safe draw-stroke.
We like the Kenai Chest Holster a lot around here (see our review) and this video is the best primer you’ll find on this handy holster.
GunfightersINC’s newest video shows their Spectre Shoulder Holster in action.
GunfightersINC is offering 15% off through 2/20 in honor of President’s Day: GunfightersINC.com
Our review of the GunfightersINC Kenai Chest Holster is one of the most visited reviews ever posted on this site and we get a number of emails asking questions about it. One of the most common questions I receive regarding the Kenai is how it compares to the Hill People Gear Kit Bag. Well, I happen to be a long time user of both and that sounds like an idea for a post to me!
The Same but Different
At the most basic level, the Kenai and Kit Bag are similar. They are both designed to carry a handgun in the most advantageous position for many outdoor pursuits – on the chest. However, the functionality and materials used are drastically different. This leads to different strengths and weaknesses for both, enough that I have purchased and use both depending on the situation.
Both are better than tucking your handgun into your backpack or not carrying it at all!
Background with the Kit Bag
My background with the Hill People Gear Original Kit Bag is fairly long. I’ve owned one since the first or second run. This was before they added a dummy cord loop and Velcro in the handgun compartment. I simply wanted a way to carry a handgun that was comfortable and concealed while backpacking. The Kit Bag worked well for that but I never really completely filled all the carrying capacity offered by the Original Kit Bag. I eventually sold it and replaced it with a Runners Kit Bag.
The Runners Kit Bag is ideal for me. It has the same footprint as the Original Kit Bag but is slimmer overall since the “middle” cargo pocket has been removed. It is large enough to keep my full sized handgun concealed but significantly slimmer while still offering more than enough carrying capacity to carry some basics.
Background with Kenai Chest Holster
I’ve been using a Kenai Chest Holster since late 2015. I find it to be the best interpretation of a “guide holster” available. GunfightersINC used their experience in the outdoors and some modern materials to bring the guide holster concept into the current century. It is slimmer than any traditional leather guide holster could ever hope to be, offers better retention without the need for a strap, creates a better draw stroke, and its modular.
I’ve worn this holster extensively and I find it to be extremely comfortable and extremely easy to draw from. They even designed the harness so none of the adjusters had to be positioned on the back where it could catch on wader shoulder straps or cause hotspots under a backpack. This is the level of thoughtfulness that went into this holster.
For a long time, the Original Kit Bag was the only way I had to carry a handgun on my chest and it worked. When I added the Kenai Chest Holster to my gear bin, I wondered if it would replace my Kit Bag but it hasn’t. It has only highlighted the strengths of both carry methods.
I can’t replace the Kit Bag because it offers three important benefits over the Kenai:
- It can conceal a handgun without the use of a covering garment.
- It can carry a huge variety of handguns from small to large.
- It can carry additional items in a location that is easy to access.
The Kenai is surprisingly concealable under a cover garment but I live in an area that sees triple digit heat in the summer. I can’t always use a covering garment. I’ve used my one Kit Bag to carry everything from a Glock 43 or J-Frame, to a Ruger 22/45 Lite with RDS, to a large frame revolver. Additionally, the Kit Bag is great for carrying items like nav tools (compass, GPS, UTM grid, etc.), basic survival goodies (lighter, some bits of tinder, etc.), and other items you may want close at hand. It may not seem like a big deal but the efficiency of reaching to your chest for gear like chapstick or a GPS unit versus having to stop and remove your pack is not trivial when you are trying to cover ground.
I can’t replace the Kenai Chest Holster because it offers three important benefits over the Kit Bag:
- It is more compact.
- It offers a faster, more streamlined draw stroke.
- It is more concealable.
The Kenai Chest Holster is smaller and slimmer than the Kit Bag that makes it a little easier to dress/pack around. That also means it is cooler to wear and that can be big deal when it is 95+ with less than 15% humidity. The Kenai’s draw stroke is very fast and straightforward. There is nothing between your hand and a full firing grip on your handgun with Kenai. The Kit Bag is fast but the Kenai is faster – how much faster will depend on your specific gear and some training. Finally, if I absolutely need to conceal the fact that I am carrying and the weather permits, the Kenai conceals under a coat easily.
I live in a very rural area that is a destination for outdoor recreation. That means that we have a healthy mix of the NRA crowd and Sierra Club crowd. Our property is on the outskirts of National Forest land that contains Grizzly habitat. My choice for which carry “system” to use often comes down to balancing those factors.
If I am headed to a popular trail, I know I am more likely to encounter the Sierra Club side of the house and prefer to remain discreet in how I carry. I usually reach for the Kit Bag in that case. If I am working or hiking on our own property, I don’t have to worry about concealment and I almost always use the Kenai. If I am going on a very long day hike (or overnighter), I am more likely to reach for the Kit Bag because of the convenience of carrying important items in the outer pocket. If I am going into an area where the grapevine says there was recent bear activity, I am inclined to take the Kenai.
There are always factors to balance when deciding which gear works for you. If you are knee deep in big coastal brown bears while fishing for salmon you might choose differently than you would if you were knee deep in college kids while hiking the Appalachian Trail. For me, both the Kenai Chest Holster and Hill People Gear Kit Bags have been invaluable and I am glad I have both in my gear box.
GunfightersINC is now offering Next Camo Vista with a Blaze Orange background as a color option for their holsters. They are the first company to offer this camo pattern on kydex and it can be a great option for those who plan to use their Kenai Chest Holster while hunting.
Hunting season is right around the corner and GunfightersINC is holding a Fall Sale. You can save 15% off their kydex holster line including the excellent Kenai Chest Holster which we previously reviewed.
GunfightersINC is now offering their entire line of holsters including the CZ P-10 C. This includes the Ronin OWB, Kenai Chest Holster, Wraith IWB, and more. As part of their decision to include the P-10 C in their line up, the GunfightersINC crew put 2000 rounds through a sample and came away impressed. It’s refreshing to see that kind of vetting from a holster maker.
The GunfightersINC Solace Hybrid IWB is different than most hybrid holsters on the market. Sure, it has the kydex-on-the-front-leather-on-the-back format that makes hybrid holsters so comfortable but also has a handful features that are less common.
It is significantly more compact than most hybrids thanks to it’s CAD design holster mold and single clip design. The leather backer is only as wide as the kydex front panel making this hybrid similar in size to an all-kydex holster.
The Solace also features a fully enclosed trigger guard with retention points on both sides thanks to a kydex wing that is riveted into the holster. Many hybrid holsters lack the firm, positive retention that only being completely enclosed in kydex can provide. This allows the retention to be consistent regardless of the tension on the leather backer.
I’ve professed my appreciation of the Kenai Chest Holster from GunfightersINC on these pages before. It is a handy holster to have if you spend time in places with large, sharp toothed critters wearing gear like a backpack or hip waders that hinder traditional carry methods. It is, in my opinion, the most modern and best iteration of a classic guide holster… Then GunfightersINC went and changed it!
Lucky for us, they made it better.
Better Holsters Through Better Manufacturing
To understand the improvements in this holster, you have to understand a little bit about how kydex holsters are made. The kydex is heated until it becomes pliable, then it is pressed over a form of some kind and allowed to cool. The kydex (or similar material) then hardens as it cools, retaining the imprint of the form. That is the basic overview but the exact ways all those steps are accomplished has changed over the years.
On the original Kenai, the two holster halves where molded over the form with blocking in place for things like slide stop levers, extended barrels, or anything else that either needed to be accommodated or that would foul the draw stroke. The holster was molded in two halves, roughly equal in depth, and joined together to make an entire holster. At some point, the part of the holster that received the shoulder strap would be reheated (this sometimes shows as a shiny spot on the kydex) to be slightly reshaped to receive the strap. The holster body was finished by polishing edges, adjusting fit, etc. GunfightersINC turned out great holsters using these methods.
GunfightersINC is now improving their processes from top to bottom. They are now machining their own custom molds and using vacuum forming to create their holster bodies. All of the improvements to their holsters have been made possible by these changes and the design flexibility, control, and definition that they make possible.
Kenai Chest Holster Gen 2 Improvements
The first thing you will notice when you look at both holster bodies is that the Gen 2 version has much better definition – the lines are more crisp. That translates to a cleaner looking holster and, more importantly, it also translates to improved retention, a smoother draw stroke, and a more distinct click-in/click-out. This kind of definition is really only possible with modern vacuum forming.
When you dive a little deeper, you see improved blocking and molding. My Gen 2 holster body is molded for a Glock 17 so you see things like a channel that allows the slide stop to run all the way out of the holster without touching anything, the slide lock area is no longer molded creating a potential unwanted drag on the draw stroke, the magazine release is partially shielded to prevent accidental release, and the retention pad in the trigger guard is large and made to a consistent depth.
If you dive deeper still, you’ll notice GunfightersINC taking full advantage of their new manufacturing processes to really get the most out of the Kenai Chest Holster. The accommodation of the shoulder strap is actually molded into the back plate of the holster. This saves a manufacturing step and creates a stronger, cleaner holster overall. Finally, the two halves of the Kenai area actually molded to different depths with the majority of the pistol being molded into the front panel of the holster. This allows the Kenai to lay flatter, closer, and more comfortably against the wearer.
GunfightersINC didn’t just redesign a holster, they redesigned how they make the holster. The result is more control over the end product, easier accommodation of various options, and, most importantly, better holsters for the customer. You can expect to see these manufacturing improvements touching all the holster in the GunfightersINC line up.
See our review of the original Kenai Chest Holster for more information on its background and use. Check out GunfightersINC to learn more about the Kenai Chest Holster or purchase your own.