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PHLster Skeleton vs. Raven Vanguard 2

Pictured: PHLster Skeleton on the left, Raven Concealment Vanguard 2 on the right.

A couple days ago, we released our review of the Vanguard 2 by Raven Concealment. Almost immediately, longtime readers of Monderno asked which holster we preferred for inside the waistband (IWB) carry: the Vanguard 2, or the previously reviewed and much loved PHLster Skeleton. So I decided to put together a comparison of the two holsters using my Glock 19, and choose a winner as I see it.

Whenever I do comparisons, it’s important for me to first point out that these are my opinions (all of my reviews are my opinion by the way, in case that wasn’t clear haha). Your opinion may vary, and that’s ok. Let me know in the comments if you think I’m missing something, but I seem to have to remind people of this in comparison reviews for whatever reason. Let’s get started.

Scoring System

I like to define a scoring system in comparisons so that it’s easier to pick a winner in the end, and here’s what I came up with. I weighted the categories based on what was most important to me, so keep in mind that your mileage may vary. Points will be awarded using the Glock 19 carrying in the appendix position.


Possible Points
Concealability 15
Comfort 15
Quality 15
Materials 10
Features 10
Retention 10
Availability/Lead Time 10
Logistics 10
Value 5
Total 100


[notice]Note: points are awarded comparing the holsters to each other. I am not comparing the VG2 or the Skeleton with every holster ever made.[/notice]

Glock 19 in PHLster Skeleton – view full-size Glock 19 in Raven Vanguard 2 – view full-size



Just what it sounds like, how well does the holster conceal. Wearing the holsters, I can’t tell a difference, but if you compare them side by side, the VG2 is of course smaller, so it gets the slight advantage in score. Both conceal extremely well for me.


Skeleton 14/15
VG2 15/15



Both holsters are very comfortable. The edge in comfort however, goes to the Skeleton in my book. The side that rides against the body is flat Kydex, whereas on the VG2, there is one little area that pokes a bit until you get it in the right position.


Skeleton 14/15
VG2 12/15



Both holsters are top notch quality. Nothing to see here.


Skeleton 15/15
VG2 15/15



Both holsters are made out of excellent materials. The Skeleton is made out of Kydex, the VG2 out of injection molded plastic. I prefer Kydex, but I can find no fault in either holster. The loops are very similar as well. The VG2 loops feel more like rubber, whereas the new Skeleton loops are a polymer coated webbing, but both are great.


Skeleton 10/10
VG2 10/10



The features I’m looking for are the ability to adjust for ride height and cant, and whether or not the holster is tuckable (the ability to tuck your shirt into the holster to aid in concealability). Another tie, both holsters can be adjusted for ride height and cant, and both are tuckable.


Skeleton 10/10
VG2 10/10



Retention is perhaps the most subjective of the categories, since everyone seems prefer a different level. Some like it hot, some like it cold, as the saying goes. I like a medium level of retention (just right, you know?) – that is, no more retention than is needed to prevent the gun from coming out when running, jumping, etc.

Both holsters have a pretty much perfect level of retention in my opinion. The VG2, being a snap on trigger guard, has a bit more retention than the Skeleton because of its need to function in off body carry. It does not, however, affect your draw stroke.


Skeleton 10/10
VG2 10/10


Availability/Lead Time

To me, availability and lead times are important considerations when purchasing a holster. Personally, I don’t want to wait 4 or 5 months for a holster, and it’s also no fun not being able to get a particular holster because they aren’t being made for your gun.

The Vanguard 2, unlike other RCS gear, has acceptable lead times at 7-14 days, but they are only available for Glock at the time of writing. That’s great if you own a Glock, but no so great if you don’t.

Availability: 1/5
Lead Time: 4/5

The Skeleton has a mixture of lead times. Glock and M&P Skeletons are in stock with no wait, which is great, all other guns have a 4 week wait, which is not so great. But they score big in the availability department, as you can get them for just about any popular handgun. Having said that, in order to compare apples to apples, I scored the Skeleton Glock lead time since that’s the only manufacturer the VG2 supports right now.

Availability: 5/5
Lead Time: 5/5


Skeleton 10/10
VG2 5/10



The logistics category is a general “holster in use” category – dry fire practice, live fire practice, concealed carry training, range use, and real world concealed carry.

As I mentioned in my Vanguard 2 review, the VG2 requires you to modify the way you train. One handed re-holstering is not possible with the VG2, nor can you train at your normal speed. The slide isn’t covered with the VG2, so you have to put some time between reps in order to let it cool down. I don’t think it’s very practical for most people with a limited budget to have multiple holsters for each carry method/position. If all you have is the VG2, it will limit your capabilities, which bugs me. In all other aspects, the holster excels.

The Skeleton does not suffer from these limitations. The normal Skeleton comes cut to cover the slide, and you can also get them cut to your specifications. I ordered my Glock 19 Skeleton (pictured above) cut with an open bottom so that it would additionally fit the Glock 17, for example.


Skeleton 10/10
VG2 4/10



Value is good for both holsters. At the time of writing, the VG2 is being sold for $35 plus shipping ($41 total for me), and the Skeleton is being sold for $45 shipping included. So essentially a wash, and I think both prices are reasonable.


Skeleton 4/5
VG2 4/5


Final Score


Skeleton Vanguard 2
Concealability 14/15 15/15
Comfort 14/15 12/15
Quality 15/15 15/15
Materials 10/10 10/10
Features 10/10 10/10
Retention 10/10 10/10
Availability/Lead Time 10/10 5/10
Logistics 10/10 4/10
Value 4/5 4/5




Wrapping Up

The PHLster Skeleton is the clear winner with a score of 97 out of a possible 100 points. To date, it’s my favorite minimalist AIWB holster, and I have purchased one for pretty much every gun I own. The VG2 is also a great holster, but has limitations. Overall, two solid options, but in the end because of the Skeleton’s versatility, PHLster will continue to get my money.

13 Responses to PHLster Skeleton vs. Raven Vanguard 2

  1. Austin August 24, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    Excellent review! Thanks.

    • Brandon August 24, 2012 at 7:20 am #

      Thanks Austin.

  2. Thomas August 24, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    AWESOME review man, these two holsters were on my list. Very comprehensive, this is why I read Monderno!!!

    • Brandon August 24, 2012 at 9:13 am #

      Thanks Thomas, glad to have you.

  3. jcha August 24, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    Another well done review. I’m a big PHLster fan myself too..btw i was rocking the Monderno shirt in the great Pacific Northwest yesterday!

    • Brandon August 24, 2012 at 10:08 am #

      Thanks! That’s awesome on the shirt, thanks for the support!

  4. Jamey August 25, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    How does the Phlster Skeleton stack up against the Dale Fricke Archangel?

    • Brandon August 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

      The Skeleton is about half the price of the Archangel, and about half the size too. The Skeleton is a single loop attachment, the Archangel is a double loop attachment. The Archangel is a good holster, but overpriced in my opinion, and it cannot be adjust for ride height/cant. Overall, I would go with the Skeleton.

      • Jamey August 26, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

        OK. Thanks. I greatly appreciate your input.

  5. Tim S. February 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    Looking for something minimal, like the Skeleton, but with a full sweat guard. Any recommendations in the same $40-$50 price range?

    • Brandon February 4, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

      At that price range your best bet is to contact PHLster and have them make you a Skeleton with a full sweat guard.

  6. bsneeks May 29, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    I love PHLster, I learned a lot from Jon’s videos. I made a clone of the access but made it to accept my G23 w/ APL. Jon put a lot of work into the R&D and I owe him a debt of gratitude for that.

    Awesome review, though your opinion, pretty much spot on for most users.

  7. Jason January 25, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    Thanks for your reviews! They have been very helpful!

    How about Skeleton vs. INCOG? Those are my two front runners for my next holster — a minimalist, kydex AIWB for G19.