Those of you who carry a gun regularly know the importance of a good holster. Everyone has their own definition of what that means to them. For me, I prefer leather holsters to Kydex or other material. I also prefer a holster that is custom made for the gun I carry, as opposed to a “one-size-fits-all” holster that is generically designed to fit as many guns as possible. I guess you could say that I’m pretty specific in my holster needs. Luckily, several years ago I found UBG Holsters, a holster manufacturer that specializes in handmade, custom leather holsters and other leather products for shooters. Over the past decade I’ve purchased more than a dozen products from Nate Gable, former U.S. Marine and maker of UBG Holsters.
UBG Holsters was founded in 2007 by Gable with the intention of producing superior quality concealed carry holsters at competitive prices. From his base of operations in Farmington, Utah, Nate produces holsters for IWB (inside the waistband) and OWB (outside the waistband) carry, as well as magazine pouches and belts. I’ve even seen a shoulder holster or two on his website before.
According to Nate, UBG stands for Ugly Bald Guy, a self-deprecating reference to the company’s founder.
Handmade Quality and Unmatched Beauty
What sets UBG Holsters apart is their quality and attention to detail. You can see that quality in the fine details like the stitching and the snap closures. I have owned UBG holsters for years, and never had so much as a stitch come undone or a snap closure to fail. Nate says that although UBG Holsters are intended to be concealed, their beauty is worthy of a showroom display case. I concur. The combination of colors and patterns lead to some of the most beautiful holsters I’ve ever seen.
Because the custom leather holsters are molded to your gun’s specific contours, Nate recommends that you not wear the holster without your gun in it. This will cause the opening to press together and lose its rigidity, thus losing the molded shape and lessen retention.
To get yourself one of Nates handmade masterpieces, the best place to begin is with his comprehensive gun list located on the website. Chances are good that your gun is on his list. Next, choose your design. He has a wide selection of both IWB and OWB styles of his own design, with names like Canute, Phaetos, and Regulator. IWB holsters tend to conceal better, while OWB are generally more comfortable to wear. Nate offers all of his holsters for left or right-handed firers and in your choice of black, brown, or mahogany leather. After you’ve chosen your design and color, the fun begins. You can choose to order the holster in plain leather, or have Nate add an accent of exotic animal skin. Shark, ostrich, stingray, python, and elephant skin trims have all popped up on his website from time to time (depending on what he has in stock at the time). My personal favorite combination is black shark skin trim on a brown leather holster.
Click here to view a video of how Nate makes his holsters, from start to finish.
UBG Canute Review
The Canute is my favorite UBG holster. I currently own four Canutes for four different guns (Sig Sauer P229, Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, Kel-Tec PF9, and Ruger LCP). The Sig Sauer P229 was the first gun I ever owned, and still the only handgun I owned when I got my first concealed carry permit in Missouri in 2010. The P229 is a great gun, but as a full-size service pistol, not ideal for IWB concealed carry.
The Canute is perfectly suited for compact, large caliber pistols such as my Shield .40 or Kel-Tec PF9. The gun fits tightly into the holster with no possibility of slipping out from movement such as running or jumping. When worn, the Canute holds the gun tightly to my body at the 5 o’clock position on my belt. Its forward cant allows for an easy draw, bringing the gun forward into shooting position as fast as possible. One of my favorite features of the Canute is the belt loop closures. They stay fastened tightly with just a simple press, and release when pulled. This type of belt loop allows for retention of your holster on your belt much more securely than metal clips, while still allowing you to remove the holster without undoing your belt.
My EDC is the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield .40 with the Canute IWB (see below, right). In jeans and a tee shirt the gun conceals completely with no printing while standing erect, or even slightly leaned forward. Paired with my UBG belt, the gun and holster stay in place nicely and can be worn comfortably all day long.
The belt is an often overlooked piece of equipment when it comes to concealed carry. Without a solid, sturdy belt, your holster (and pants) will sag and become uncomfortable, resulting in carrying less and leaving your gun at home more. The UBG Gun Belt is made from two pieces of leather glued and stitched together for maximum support of even the heaviest gun. Available in in a variety of colors, trims, and buckles, you can design a UBG Gun Belt to match exactly your custom UBG Holster.
No matter what gun you carry, everyone wants to carry more ammo. Magazine pouches are an excellent way to carry your spare magazines and have them ready for fast reloads. What good would it do to carry a magazine in your pocket, then have to fumble with keys, change, or phones when you need a fast reload?
UBG Mag Pouches are available in the same colors and trim as the holsters and belts. You can choose single or double pouches, as well as pouches for inside your belt or outside.
With the quality and craftsmanship of a custom, handmade holster, you will pay more than you would for a generic holster that you would find in a sporting goods store. For a plain leather Canute, expect to pay around $135, with an additional $65 for an exotic animal skin trim. This is comparable to other custom leather holsters based on a quick scan of search results. What I have yet to find is someone that matches UBGs level of personalization and customization.
The Canute is the only product over $100 listed on the UBG website (presumably it’s the most popular). All of the other holsters are available for a relative steal at $65 for the basic design. The Regulator with shark skin trim (see photo at top of article) is my favorite OWB holster. Although mine is made for my Shield, I think it would look great holding a 1911 (the most popular open carry gun).
Conclusion: Is It Worth It?
A custom handmade holster is not for everyone. Companies like DeSantis and Galco make quality products. But for what you would pay for one of their mass-produced holsters, you can get a handmade, custom holster of the highest quality, designed around the gun of your choosing. For me, the UBG holsters I’ve purchased have been worth every penny.