There are a lot of great holster companies out there, making great products at fair prices, and in today’s installment of Industry Spotlight, I’m going to tell you about one of my favorites. PHLster is a Kydex holster company located in Philadelphia, and if you read Monderno, you’ve seen several of their products reviewed here already, like this ACCESS holster.
The ACCESS remains one of my favorite inside the waistband holsters, check out my ACCESS review to learn why. In addition to the useful and practical, PHLster also scores big in the cool factor category. A perfect example is this Han Solo Blaster holster they recently made as a showcase piece.
It fits and retains a Glock 19, and is in my opinion a combination of both awesome and hilarious. Would you want to carry something this big on a daily basis? No, probably not – even though Han Solo did – but that of course isn’t the point.
The PHLster Story
PHLster is a shining example of American capitalism and ingenuity. A few years ago founder and owner Jon Hauptman saw a gap in the industry, and set out to fill that gap. That’s nothing particularly unique, but what’s interesting about PHLster is the way they filled this gap.
I asked Jon to tell the PHLster story in his own words, and here’s what he had to say.
Back in 2011, I started documenting my Kydex projects on YouTube. I had become interested in Kydex holsters, but my budget and need for immediate gratification lead me to exploring the material and process as a hobby. More than anything, I expected that documenting my projects would be a learning experience for other interested folks, primarily so they could witness my failures and learn from my mistakes. This was back when the best info out there were a couple forum posts with some decent pictures.
I was surprised to find that there were others out there, struggling through their own learning curves AND they were happy to share their self-learned lessons with me. Thanks to guys like Adam at GunfightersINC and SentryGunLeather, my holsters and videos improved. Combined with my own research and trial and error, it wasn’t long before the PhillyEDC channel actually had GOOD information on it. At that point, my inbox started filling up with messages from people who actually wanted to pay me to make stuff for them.
Things started getting busy. I’d come home from my day job and make holsters until 2 or 3AM. When that became totally unsustainable, I took the plunge and launched PHLster.com, leaving my day job behind to make holsters full time.
A major step for PHLster was codifying all of our knowledge into that two-part DIY Kydex video. Rather than taking down the helpful information, in the fear that we’d generate our own competition, we thought it’d be disingenuous to pull the ladder up behind us. It was the help and knowledge of others that got us here. Paying that forward seemed like the right thing to do. I don’t think we’d have 1/10th of our success if we did that.
The DIY videos do a couple really important things for us. First, being in touch with thousands of DIYers allows us to work with companies like Index Fasteners as though we were a larger, more productive business. Second, the amount of good-will it generates allows us to be extremely flexible on a relatively low budget. The number of people who want to give back as a result of benefiting from the free knowledge has been a continual help to us. Just for example, we can call on this enthusiastic audience, consisting of many people we’ve become friends with, to help us turn ideas into prototypes within the space of a matter of weeks (or even days, in some cases). We don’t take it for granted for a second, so we’re pretty driven to keep producing helpful content.
Our most recent content has been the Holster Clinic. Since releasing the DIY video, we received countless responses from folks who had started their own small holster businesses from home. We had also received emails from folks who had been introduced to Kydex gear by a friend or neighbor, locally. We decided that it was important to the sustainability of the small-scale Kydex industry to help ensure that people’s first experiences with Kydex were positive. The Holster Clinic is a venue for small-scale holster makers to send in examples of their work to receive feedback and advice to help them improve their products. Since Kydex gear has become more prevalent and available as the result of the sheer number of people producing it at home, we felt it was important that consumers have a positive first-experience with their gear.
Since PHLster started, essentially, in response to high prices and wait times, we’ve done everything we can to keep our prices and wait times low. Over time, that has resulted narrowing our focus. Currently, we aim to produce the most functional and slim concealed-carry solutions as possible, concentrating on solutions for Appendix Carry. We’ve tried a number of things in the past, but since our area of experience is entirely Concealed Carry, we decided that it’s only honest to strictly produce what we use.
At this moment, we’re developing a cutting edge production process which we hope to dramatically reduce or eliminate our wait time. It’s not technology-based. Like our origins, however, it is community based.
PHLster is a great company, and if they aren’t on your radar, they should be. Not only do they make practical and useful products, but they continue to spend their time and money teaching others their innovations, techniques and “secrets” to make others successful. In this day and age, that’s virtually unheard of.
I’m proud to call Jon a friend, and one of the easiest recommendations I make to people is to check out PHLster holsters.