By Sammy Reese
This year at the SHOT Show, I was paying a visit to Ed and Lisa Strange at their Wicked Grips booth and met Carl Collins, who was helping out and showing some of his holsters. Being the tactile guy I am, I couldn’t take my hands off of the Illusion holster Carl handed to me. As my eyes took in the beauty of the Cape Buff creation, my hands examined the meticulous detail in every stitch and contour. When I asked Carl if he was a one-man shop he smiled and in a smooth-as-molasses drawl he said, “My better half and I make ’em all.”
The more traditional Slide Pancake in Cape Buffalo is rugged and beautiful.
You don’t have enough days to wear this holster out.
Carl told me he was raised shooting rifles and shotguns but didn’t get serious about carrying a pistol for protection until about eight years ago when he took the CCW class. He immediately began the quest to find the perfect holster and just couldn’t find what he wanted, so he started to tinker with making his own. After some trial and error he began to get requests from friends to make them holsters. With the help of Internet forums, word spread and orders began flowing.
His better half, Amy, gave making holsters a try and she found she was a natural. Carl took on making holsters and accessories full time and Amy continues helping out part time. Carl said, “I know its cliché, but behind every successful man is a great woman and I wouldn’t be doing what I love if not for her love and support.”
Every so often I come across holsters made for concealed carry and wish I had a reason to open carry. When I opened the box from Exodus Gunleather, I had one of those moments. Other than BBQ’s or hunting I don’t let anyone know I’m carrying. There’s no reason to let the bad guys know you’re armed.
These holsters are truly works of art. All four sample holsters are flawless in fit and finish yet remain 100-percent functional for all day carry. When I yelled for my wife to come take a look at the new holsters I had just unpacked, she gave me the “what now” response. When she saw them and picked them up, her tune changed. “Beautiful really doesn’t describe them, does it?” I nodded my head in agreement as she moved from from one holster to the next. “Way too nice for a Jar Head like you,” she mumbled as she walked out of the office. She’s right — way too nice for me.
What I didn’t realize when I met Carl at the show is he focuses his efforts into making holsters for 1911 pistols. I’m a big fan of the 1911, but my every day carry gun is a Glock 19 (no hate mail please). I was surprised to find a note in the package saying the two Glock holsters were the first two he’s ever made. Could have fooled me, the craftsmanship is identical to the two 1911 holsters.
Double-thick and fully-lined Illusion made from Giraffe. Too cool
for words — you have to strap it on to really appreciate it.
Brown Cape Buffalo Illusion — way too nice for me.
The Illusion holster is a new twist on an old concept. The Pancake holster, as you see in the picture, has the belt slots cut into the holster body. The Illusion has tunnels on the backside of the holster making for an ultra-smooth appearance and very tight to the body carry. The addition of the sweat guard protects your clothing and skin.
The bad part is having to cover these functional works of art. While wearing the holsters I found myself wishing I was still a cop and had to go to court in a coat and tie so I could see the look in everyone’s eyes when I took my jacket off in the waiting room. Since there are (hopefully) no more days in court, I’m trying to figure out which one I’m going to wear to the BBQ this weekend.