Raven Concealment recently rolled out the second iteration in their Vanguard series of holsters, the Vanguard 2 (VG2). The Vanguard holsters, and the VG2 specifically, are a truly unique design concept. The Vanguard holsters are essentially trigger guards with an attachment mechanism, and provide an extremely minimalist way to carry your handgun.
The idea is simple – cover the trigger guard, and provide a way to attach the holster to your belt, bag, etc. Then when you draw the pistol, the holster stays behind and weapon comes free.
When I first saw the original Vanguard holsters, I was completely disinterested. It didn’t take long, however, before Raven had developed quite the following for its original Vanguard holster. When the VG2 was announced at SHOT Show 2012, it sent the Raven fan base into a veritable tizzy. “What is the big deal?” I wondered.
The original Vanguard holster is made for several different handguns, but not the Vanguard 2. In its current form, it fits only Glock pistols generation 3 and 4 chambered in 9mm, .40 S&W, .357 SIG, and .45 GAP. So it’s a versatile holster for sure, as one holster will fit many different Glock models.
Recently, I became a Glock owner, so when Raven announced that the VG2 was finally available for order, I decided it was time to find out what the hoopla was all about.
The Vanguard 2 can be adjusted for ride height and cant, is tuckable to aid in concealment, and is fully ambidextrous.
Materials and Colors
The Vanguard 2 is injection molded plastic. The plastic has a quality, durable feel to it, but it’s distinctively different from Kydex, which I have a bit of a thing for. At the time of writing, it comes in black only.
Not much to report here – it’s injection molded. There are no rough edges with injection molding, you can pretty much get any shape you want.
Retention is excellent. I tested the VG2 in both concealed carry and off the body carry in a bag (read man purse), and my G19 never came out of the holster when I didn’t want it to. It’s also not too tight either.
Raven Concealment is famous for horrible lead times, but the VG2 is a departure from their standard 16-18 week lead time. As mentioned, the VG2 is injection molded, meaning they are not made by hand the way other Raven holsters are, so you get them faster. At the time of writing, the Raven website stated a 7-14 day lead time. Considering they are almost assuredly manufactured in bulk, this still seems a bit long, but not that bad either.
The Vanguard 2 is a minimalist inside the waistband (IWB) holster. Having said that, I think most people who are interested in the VG2 are running it appendix carry, which is how I tested the holster.
Comfort and Concealability
I think comfort and concealability are the two of the biggest selling points of the VG2. As you can tell from looking at it, there’s not much to it, so it concealability is excellent. The loops are low profile, Pull-the-Dot rubber loops that don’t print, and that essentially is the only part of the holster that you have to conceal. The rest of the holster rides below the belt line.
Comfort is also very good. It took some adjusting to find the right position for me (more so than other appendix holsters), and I did initially have some trouble with one of the inside corners poking me. But after I got used to the holster and where to position it on my belt line, the poking issue went away. No carving was required.
Drawing from the VG2 is excellent. Retention is spot on, and even though the VG2 holds my Glock 19 very close to my body, it’s still very easy to get a full firing grip on the pistol. Re-holstering, however, is where the VG2 story changes from most other holsters.
One handed re-holstering is pretty much not possible with the VG2. In order to re-holster, you have to remove the VG2 by unsnapping the Pull-the-Dot loop, snap the VG2 back onto your pistol’s trigger guard, and put the holstered pistol back into your pants. In my opinion, this is a distinct disadvantage compared to other designs – the VG2 forces you to modify the way you train.
Another note on training is that since the VG2 is a trigger guard only, obviously the slide is completely exposed. So if you are practicing drawing from concealment, taking a few shots and re-holstering, you’ll want to put some time between reps to let the slide cool down. After a magazine or so, the slide starts to get hot.
Overall the Vanguard 2 does exactly what Raven Concealment Systems says it will do. It gives you a minimalist way to carry your Glock that conceals well and provides a pretty good level of comfort. The design, however, has distinct drawbacks that will be a deal killer for some. But if you are willing to live within the restrictions of the design, the Vanguard 2 is worth taking a look at.
Update 8/24/2012: Check out our comparison of the Raven Concealment Vanguard 2 and the PHLster Skeleton.