The Smith & Wesson J-Frame and other similar small frame revolvers are one of the main reasons revolvers are still relevant today. These handguns are ubiquitous and hold a place in many shooter’s collections. Yet, as we move further and further from the wheelgun era, holster makers seem to have less and less of a clue on how to make holsters for them. Thankfully, there are still holster makers like Harry’s Holsters who understand the nuances of holster design for wheelies.
The Harry’s Holster Icon, is a kydex holster designed for Smith & Wesson J-Frame revolvers. It features the excellent Discreet Carry Concepts Mod W clip (which is a big part of many of the observations to come later) which is mounted on a wedge (another key feature) and adjustable for ride-height and cant. The clip may be mounted on either side making the Icon ambidextrous and there is a single tension adjustment.
The holster is molded to accept Crimson Trace LaserGrips. Rather than simply cutting for the laser module, Harry’s Holster actually molds a section that completely covers the module, protecting it.
Observations from Use
To understand why this holster is great, I think you need to know a little holster history and a little about what makes many revolver holsters made today lousy. All revolvers have a great big pivot point in their middle. If you do not account for the cylinder, the holster will rock on this point.
If you look at popular concealment holsters from the era when revolvers ruled, you’ll see that many of them place the cylinder below the belt at least partially, allowing the belt to do the work of holding the grip in toward the wearer. The lower ride height wasn’t just for “deep concealment”, it served the purpose of holding a short-barreled handgun with a great big fulcrum in the middle in toward the wearer.
Typically, if a holster maker is used to making holsters for slab-sided semi-autos, they will set the height to provide a full grip and clean draw-stroke. This usually places the cylinder under the belt and the grip will tend to rotate over the belt, away from the wearer which is exactly the opposite of what a concealment holster should do. This is EXTREMELY common in today’s kydex holsters. The holster maker has to understand how to work with the cylinder or the holster will suck.
Harry’s Holster makes use of some modern materials and a clever mold feature to mitigate the cylinder rocking issue. The clip is mounted on a wedge-shaped mold feature that sits directly under the belt. This, coupled with the cylinder itself seres to the turn the grip in toward the wearer without sacrificing ride height or a full-firing grip straight out of the holster. This wedge is under the clip so it is completely unobtrusive and adds little to the size of the holster. The result of all this geometry stuff is a holster that is extremely compact, exceedingly comfortable, and turns the grip in when worn on the hip or the appendix position.
The use of the Discreet Carry Concepts Mod W clip is a real win for this holster. It is easy to take on and off the belt but stays in place tenaciously enough that it can be worn with gym shorts sans belt. Many J-Frames are actually lightweight enough to consider doing this and I have on several occasions. The clip is also great for appendix carry and it allows the user to easily remove the gun from their belt while still in the holster, adding an extra layer of safety while performing mundane, administrative handling. Throw out what you think you know about holsters with metal clips. These Discreet Carry Concepts clips are actual game-changers.
The edges on this holster are finished well enough. They aren’t polished or anything like that but they have been cleaned up and sharp edges have been removed. The retention is excellent with a very sharp snap in and out. The blocking is excellent with nothing dragging or binding on the way in or out and the sight channel is very generous. Harry’s Holsters ships the holster with a small packet of thread locker for securing the clip screws and retention screw once you are happy with the positioning. That is a nice touch.
Pictures really just can’t convey how well this setup conceals. You have to work to make it print when carried AIWB. The gun/holster combo just wants to hug the body without the need for large padded wedges or wings. It could even be carried as a backup in the AIWB position to a primary handgun worn on your hip.
I should also point out that this is a holster that Harry’s keeps on hand. That means they can ship it quickly. There is typically no production lead time on this holster.
I think if I could make some changes, I would add support for the Ruger LCR as the LCR line offers some really nice options to concealed carriers and is becoming quite ubiquitous itself. Myself and several people I know would be standing in line for an LCR version. The Icon only works with barrels of 2.125″ or less so I can see accommodation for barrels up to 3″ being a useful addition.
This holster is nice on it’s own but I think what I like about it most is how well the holster seems to compliment the strengths of the J-Frame itself. It maximizes the inherent features of the venerable old work horse like concealability, lightweight, and comfort. It also allows you to be armed some situations or attire that can otherwise be tricky to conceal a handgun.
The Harry’s Holsters Icon is a well designed, well made, and useful holster.
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