Holster Comparo: VM2 vs. PCH
So, like many of you I wanted a good concealment option for my commander sized 1911and therefore looked towards some of the highlights of the holster industry, namely the Milt Sparks Versa Max 2, notably in cordovan color cowhide, and the Alessi PCH. I bought both (second hand.) The PCH was used and the VM2 was unused by a great guy whom offered it on Ebay at cost (he sold his 1911 while waiting for the VM2 to arrive.)
I researched, at length, opinions on these two. TwinCarry on this sight is always an excellent resource, so great thanks to his pictures and writings. As luck would have it, both were available at roughly the same time and I got them within days of each other.
Each one of these holsters has strengths and weaknesses, and both are very much worth every penny you might spend on them. Here's my personal opinions of the highlights of each (excluding the obvious, yes they are both more costly than, say, a loaf of bread….and the nice people at Milt Sparks can only build so many holsters in a day) :
Most Concealable; The VM2 is EASILY concealed under a thin T-shirt, mostly because of the tiny printing on the belt. The VM2 cause the belt to bend and contort less, so I could wear this holster to Disney World in Florida in cutoffs and a relatively tight t-shirt due to it's flatness. The wide straps also mean I, at 5' 9" and 150 lbs., can bend over and be reasonably confident that I am still concealed. Keep in mind that, at least for me, this is especially true for 4 O' Clock to 5 O' Clock wear (see below.)
Best Looking; The VM2 inspires pride of ownership, and I admit this is an IWB so ideally no person but you and your significant other will see. But still YOU have to look at this thing everyday, so you might as well enjoy it. Holy Cow does Mr. Tony Kanaley build a good looking holster. My wife is at best lukewarm on holsters, and even she wanted to go show it off to other "gunnies."
Most Adjustable; Those wide straps mean that your pant belt loops will not get in the way of the holster. If you need the holster to work with dress slacks as well as cargo shorts, the VM2 has got you covered.
Most Stable From the Draw; Really Really excellent "boning" means that the gun stays put until you draw. This fit also give a smart "snap"when the gun reaches its home position. I have a Comp-Tac "C-Tac" that is fast on the draw, yet I don't have confidence in its retention (please no flames here, I'm just being honest). Not even kidding - I could go jogging with the VM2 if I wanted to do so, it's just that solid. I will be going to IDPA shoots with this holster.
Finally in the VM2's favor its perceived weight is the lowest, but there is more to the concealment than just the spreading (distribution) of the weight.
Most Comfortable; Yes, its true. TwinCarry called this one, and I wouldn't have believed it until I tried it myself. The Great One Lou Alessi really did his homework. That wing in the front of the PCH nestles perfectly into the shallow hollow behind the hip, and that is what you feel instead of the muzzle. In addition the back of the PCH is moor flatly constructed, whereas the VM2 is formed with gun more centerline to holster. I have gotten other's opinions on this too…if a comfortable IWB is most important to you, the PCH is the real deal.
Easiest To Apply (Put On); The PCH gives up some concealabilty with the narrowly placed straps à la Bruce Nelson Summer Special. But that does make it much faster to get on and under wraps. You've got to get out the door because you are late? Need to get a holster into concealment in the time it takes to get from the bedroom to the garage? The PCH will win. Its so quick to place and snap-on that you can do it with your eyes closed quite easily.
Best at 3 or 9 O'Clock; I don't see this discussed much, but it is important to me. The closely spaced straps make it possible that a belt loop might befuddle your PCH holster placement. But in the PCH's favor if you want to wear your holster straight out to one side, left or right, it is going to be more concealable. The "floating wing" of the VM2 doesn't go around the corner of the front hip bone very easily. In the case of the 3 or 9 O' Clock carry the slim design of the PCH works to its advantage, which also means it is…….
Best at Frontal Carry; I know at least one person whom cannot carry concealed with the holster anywhere except appendix carry because of back problems. The PCH does this pretty easily. There are also times when this is useful to me. With the PCH up front and just slight to the right of midline, I can remain concealed comfortably and even sit down. Your mileage may vary, but for my frame (see above) this method of carry is do-able with the PCH.
Even though mine are both second hand, that just goes to show what great products these American owned and operated businesses produce. Speaking for myself, I favor durable goods produced by Americans, for Americans. Milt Sparks and Alessi holsters deserve every penny they get from the open market. One can feel confident that a purchase from either exemplary company will be money well spent.
Oh, and one other thing, don't skimp on the belt. It makes a HUGE difference in the feel and function, plus gun belts are quite nearly a lifetime investment. In my opinion, go ahead and buy one from the holster maker of your choice when you order your holster.