Stealthgear Onyx IWB Holsters

I have carried a concealed handgun nearly every day for the last 17 years. In those 17 years, I have gone through a ton of different holsters, holster designs and carry methods (yes, even the much maligned fannypack), but I have always come back to the strong side hip as the preferred location. That is where I carry my gun while working and that is where I carry it whenever I train, so that location makes the most sense as the place to carry concealed since that is where my hand will automatically go if something arises causing me to need my gun.

In the winter months, with longer hours of darkness, I prefer an outside the waistband (OWB) holster that accommodates a weapon mounted light. However, in the warmer months, when I am wearing lighter clothing and cannot conceal that large a system easily, I remove the light and go with an inside the waistband (IWB) holsters.

For the last four years or so, I have been using a Crossbreed holster for this task. I really like them for their comfort and their ability to conceal a full size gun with ease. That hybrid design has been produced by a number of other companies, both large and small. In fact, one of my early articles here at The Bang Switch was a review of the Crossbreed holsters.

SG_04So, being a fan of the hybrid holster design, when I was offered a Stealthgear Onyx holster to review, I already had a few thoughts in my mind. While I awaited arrival of my new holster, I read another review of the Stealthgear holster in which they discussed the comfort level of the holster. Initially, I just chalked up the proclaimed comfort to the similarity in design to the Crossbreeds I was so accustomed to. After all, the Crossbreed holster is by far the most comfortable IWB holster I have used, that is until now.

The box arrived and I opened it like a kid on Christmas. The particular holster I received was for my Glock 19. When I opened the package, I was immediately struck by appearance of this holster. The photos I have seen of it, including those attached to this review, do not do the holster justice. The attention to detail is phenomenal. The edges of the Kydex are all slightly radiused, and the Kydex is thick, especially in comparison to some other holsters I have. The hardware (screws, washers, etc.) are all stainless steel so no need to worry about your sweat or body oils damaging them, and the belt clips are just long enough to clear a 1 ¾” belt, but not overly long which in my experience can cause them to dig into your leg or hip when you are seated. The belt clips both have three different mounting holes to allow you to adjust both depth of carry and cant.

SG_03All of those items are nice, but most of them can be seen in the photos. What I find more noteworthy, and which unfortunately does not translate to photographs well, is the material that the platform itself is made from. You can actually hold the holster up to a light source and can see the ventilation holes that run through its core. Since I cannot describe the platform any better than the manufacturer, I’m just going to quote them at this point.

The StealthGearUSA ONYX IWB platform is constructed of all-synthetic, non moisture-absorbing materials, and is completely VENTED for breathability and comfort.
• Platform backing is constructed with tri-dimensional polyester VentMesh (also used in high-end backpacking and mountaineering equipment) to wick moisture away from the body.
• Two types of closed cell foam, strategically-positioned, minimize that uncomfortable weapon “bulge” by more evenly distributing pressure across the holster platform
• Polyester-reinforced flexible support platform (used as a stiffener or armature to which all padding and mesh are attached).
• 100% hard nylon RhinoMesh facing used where the weapon contacts the platform. This mesh has a twist in the warp yarn for extreme strength and abrasion resistance, but still allows maximum breath-ability. We have tested the durability of this facing mesh by holstering and un-holstering a gun in a test holster the equivalent of once per day for 30 years with NO visible wear.
• VentCore TM – All foam padding and armature positioned between the facing and backing mesh of the ONYX is completely vented by laser-cut diamond-shaped ports. These vent ports give the holster its breathability (VentCore TM). In our field-testing, we found that on a fully-vented platform, the perspiration moisture escaping away from the body passed through the ports and condensed on the metal slide of the weapon. To solve this problem, and to protect the weapon from corrosion, a non-vented area is designed into the slide or barrel area of each platform to protect the weapon from condensation moisture. We call this the “integrated moisture shield” and it is built into each holster, and custom to each handgun slide or barrel.
• Acrylic binding sewn with polyester thread is used to finish the edge of our platforms.

Ventilated core visible when held to the light

Ventilated core visible when held to the light

What all of that translates into is “aaahhhhhhhh”. And by that I mean, this thing is comfortable, super comfortable. Not only does this holster distribute the weight well like other wide IWB designs, but the padding and materials that the platform is made from really do make a difference as far as comfort goes. I have never before worn a holster and forgot I was wearing it, but that has happened several times with this holster, and yes, the gun was in it. This holster takes comfort to a whole new level for me.

But there is also more to a holster than just comfort. If comfort was the only goal, we would just leave the gun at home. The primary job of any holster is to carry the weapon, and here too the Stealthgear Onyx excels. With the carry depth and cant left as they came from the factory, I found my gun sit just where I wanted it, and was very secure. However, unlike some other hybrid design holsters, the retention level with the Onyx is easily adjusted by either tightening or loosening the screws that hold the Kydex to the platform, using the hex wrench included with the holster.

My original intention was to forego my normal OWB holster this winter and just continue wearing the Onyx. However, the weather has been ridiculously cold which necessitated heavier clothing, which in turn disallowed the use of an IWB holster. So, for now, the Onyx has been benched until the weather warms up. Thus far, I have about four (4) weeks of continuous use on this holster, which really is not much in the scheme of things. At this point I can positively say several things about the Stealthgear Onyx IWB holster. I have zero concerns about the durability of the Kydex portion of the holster. The concealment offered by this holster is on par with all the other IWB holsters I have used, if not slightly better. And finally, this is by far the most comfortable IWB holster I have ever used.

SG_02Initially, before receiving this holster, I had some concerns about the price of this holster. It lists for $99, which is nothing to sneeze at. However, when comparing it to the Crossbreed holsters that were my go-to standard for IWB holsters, which start at $69 and increase depending on options chosen, the extra level of comfort provided by the Stealthgear Onyx could justify the $30 price difference. In my case, for my daily carry gun, it definitely is worth the added cost, but for guns I only carry on occasion, I would have a hard time coughing up the extra dough. The final determining factor will be whether the Stealthgear has the same durability as the Crossbreed. As for now, it is too early to tell.

Once the weather warms back up some, I will revert back to the Onyx and after a few more months of use, I will write a follow up review in which I will address both warm weather comfort and the durability. Right now, it is far too early to address long term durability and I have only worn it in cold weather. I am anxious to see how well the vented platform allows for breathing which should increase the warm weather comfort when compared to other holsters. Thus far, I am highly impressed. If all goes well, as I suspect it will, I think I have found my new favorite IWB holster.

As always, your questions and comments are welcome.
Be safe out there,
Matt

Matt

Matt is a full time Deputy Sheriff that has been on the job for 17 years. During his time as a LEO he's attended countless training classes and is a court recognized firearms expert. Matt brings a unique perspective to TBS given his LEO experience and life time appreciation of firearms and our 2nd Amendment rights.

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  • John

    I have been eyeing this holster for a while but have yet let go of $100 for it. I am waiting for a few more reviews by actual users. looking forward to your follow up review.

  • Michael

    It looks great, but I don’t like that it is specific to a single size glock. My crossbreed holster will work for my 26, 19, and 17. I’m not going to spend $100 on a holster that restricts me to one gun.

    • http://www.stealthgearusa.com Alex at Stealthgear

      Michael, if you order and then shoot us an email, we can leave the kydex open so it accommodates all 3 Glock models. We get a lot of requests for that, as you might imagine. Thanks for looking.

    • Steve

      If you ask them, they will keep the bottom of the holster open so you can use it for various Glock versions.

  • Defiant

    Matt,
    Curious as to if this (or anything) works well for those of us still stuck in full suits (thankfully ties only 1 in 5 days!) all the time. Tucked in shirts. In Florida. Year round. Blah. If not this, what? Those “holster shirts” from the glock store? Have the 19 and 26 and haven’t found a solution. Looking for deep conceal as an over-the-shirt shoulder mount under my coat won’t work in the summer… the coats come off at every opportunity!

    Regards,

    • Matt

      The design is similar to others that tout the ability to tuck a shirt in over them and the only part visible is the clips so I would suspect you could. That said, I am have never needed to tuck my shirt in over the holster so I cannot comment on how well it works in that regard.

      • Defiant

        Matt,

        Thanks; may give it a try. Haven’t found anything else that works yet.
        Regards,

  • http://www.simulationhq.com Jeff

    I’m still not sold on synthetic materials against my skin. I like my horse leather Crossbreeds.

  • Roy M.

    I’ve been using a Stealthgear Onyx holster for several months now, it’s the most comfortable holster I’ve ever worn. I even wear it when I’m not carrying, don’t even notice it.

  • Tyler Campbell

    looks like a really nice holster, this spring i may be looking for a new iwb to carry my 1911 in and this may be a good step up from my foxx.

  • Steve

    I’ve been using this holster with my Glock 26 for a couple months now and love it. Combined with a good carry belt it’s completely comfortable.

    The material reminds me of a lot of the high quality material I find in some of my backpacking gear and that stuff holds up really well, not to mention it’s light.

  • Jason
  • Hugh

    I just read a review on another site (http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2013/08/daniel-zimmerman/gear-review-stealthgear-usa-onyx-iwb-holster/) and he says they’ll leave the end open if you ask them to. That allows you to fit a G17, G19, etc. in the same holster.

  • D. Hide

    Very interesting. I’m big on comfort (as we all are to some degree) but especially since I carry a bunch of other crap with me daily. Looking forward to the follow-up. Got my eye on this one.

  • Derek

    My CCW permit finally arrived and I just ordered a Crossbreed, my first IWB holster, this week for my Makarov. I’d love to find a IWB holster that could make my S&W 5906 comfortable to carry. Guess that really isn’t a CCW type gun though.

    • http://www.aliengearholsters.com T Miller
      • Derek

        Thank you T Miller. I decided to take a chance on your recommendation and give an Alien Gear S&W 5906 holster a try. In the “referred by” part of check out, I noted I heard about this product from another user in a Bang Switch forum.

  • Joe

    I have had this holster for a few months. I use it with my Kahr CM9. I bought this because I live in S Florida, and the ventilation sounded good.
    It is very comfortable. Overall I am very happy. I will say that for the price (not cheap at all), the clips are a little cheap, and the Kydex isn’t as nice as what the Crossbreed has. I use a Crossbreed IWB (horsehide) for my XD9 Sub Compact. The Crossbreed is also very comfortable and built better than the Onyx. But the ventilation on the Onyx does work.
    With that said, I still recommend the Onyx, but it should be priced at around $50. Better clips, thicker Kydex and it would be perfect.

    • Matt

      Joe, your comments about the Kydex thickness differences are the exact opposite of what I have experienced. The Kydex on my Stealthgear holster is almost twice the thickness of the Kydex on any of the 3 Crossbreeds I own.

      Also, and you are not the first person to call the metal clips cheap so this is not directed at you, but I don’t think of the metal clips as cheap. I personally prefer the spring steel metal clips over plastic for both strength and durability.

  • Terry

    Matt, have you done any reviews on OWB holsters? I’m looking for a good one but like the IWB holsters there are dozens to choose from. You said you use an OWB for the colder months. Which one do you use/recommend? Thanks.

    • http://www.military-arms.com MAC

      I use Raven Concealment and Bravo Concealment holsters almost exclusively for OWB concealed carry.

      • Terry

        Thanks for the info. I looked at both the Raven and the Bravo, they look exactly the same, with a slight price difference. What are the differences from your personal experience. Thanks.

        • http://www.military-arms.com MAC

          Very little difference really. They’re nearly identical.

    • Matt

      I second the Raven Concealment holsters. They have been very sturdy and they conceal very well considering the size of the gun/light combos I use them for.

  • http://THEBANGSWITCH Mike

    ALWAYS LOOKING FOR ANOTHER HOLSTER AND YOUR REVIEWS ARE GREAT.

  • Al

    In so far as the metal clips go – I’ve ordered from raven concealment their soft loops it does add a few dollars to the outfit but I believe will conceal better and be a better “system”
    PS Great review!

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  • Michael

    Here is the thing with this,and many other holsters, is does what a holster that cost half or more, does very well. My Alien Gear Holster cost $40 shipped. Why should I pay $100 plus for this thing? Just saying.

    • Matt

      By that logic, I should just buy a $10 Uncle Mike’s soft sided generic fit IWB holster because it does the same thing.

      While yes, all of them hold the gun and prevent objects in your pants or pockets from accidentally activating your trigger, the difference is how well they do that job and at what level of comfort. Alien Gear is another of the many holsters in the same design as a Crossbreed, who I believe (but won’t swear by it) was the first to offer this design. I find this design to be very comfortable as is, but the Onyx takes that comfort to a whole different level.

      Additionally, where this holster is supposed to really stand apart is in hot weather, which I get plenty of during the summer, which is why this is only part one of the review.

      As I said in the article, the cost difference is something that the user needs to consider for themselves. Personally, for a gun that I carry very frequently, I will choose to spend the extra money because the added level of comfort provided by this holster is worth it to me. But for a gun I rarely carry, I cannot justify the added cost. Whether you decide to pay the extra amount is something only you can decide.

      Nothing I said above is intended to bad mouth Alien Gear holsters. I have no experience with them and only know what design they follow because of their website.

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  • Kg

    Ordering a 5 topping pizza from Pizza Hut cost 30 bones with the tip. If it’s MUCH more comfortable than other holster it’s worth a pizza.

    • http://gravatar.com/roadrunner681 roadrunner681

      thats good logic right there, if its comfy you actually take the gun.

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  • sianmink

    Hey Matt. I just got my SG Onyx. Did you have trouble at first with the tension? I had to loosen mine up a lot to give up its death-grip on my Glock-19. Also it’s not critical but re-holstering is about as easy as bathing a cat.