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PHLster

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.

PHLster Han Solo Blaster, photo by PHLster

PHLster Han Solo Blaster, photo by PHLster

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.

By the way, you can bid on this holster here if you’re interested. At the time of writing, there’s 3 days left in the auction, and 25% of the proceeds goes to the MARSOC Foundation.

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.

Wrapping Up

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.

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18 Responses to PHLster

  1. Jon S.----Tennessee August 30, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    Did you see where they are having issues with the quality of the g-code clips? Mine just shipped today so we will see what’s the deal. They are shipping loops with the orders until G-code fixes the problem. G-code comes on a few other holsters. I wonder if they are having same issues?

    • Brandon August 30, 2013 at 11:50 am #

      Yes I did – I will be looking into it.

    • Jake August 30, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

      Wait – what’s wrong with the G-Code clips? WTF?

      • Jon S.----Tennessee August 30, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

        Jon at PHlster is saying that the quality on this last batch is sub par and flimsy compared to what they tested to use on their holsters

        • Jake August 30, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

          That doesn’t sound like the G-Code I know…

      • Al Cohol August 30, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

        It sounds like its not really a quality issue but more like G-Code intentionally changed the material their clips are made out of to be even more flexible. So now complaints have come in to PHLster that the clips aren’t holding up properly and aren’t grabbing around the belt as they should. PHLster has handled the situation properly, as one would expect from a solid company like them, and has suspended ordering of the ACCESS holster, switched out all soon-to-be shipped holsters to a pull the dot loop, and offered free pull the dot loops and necessary hardware to anyone affected. Great customer service if you ask me. They deserve every bit of accolades they receive from Monderno and anyone else.

        As for the clips, they were flexible before the change, but just enough to be perfect. The fact that they changed anything about them baffles me. Nevertheless there are alternatives out there and it sounds like PHLster is looking at their options.

        Great write up Brandon, glad to see PHLster getting featured for this.

        • George Hill August 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

          This is George from G-Code. We did not change our clips. The clips that were returned to us were carefully examined by G-Code’s Owner, Product Designer, and Production Manager. There was nothing wrong with the clips in the slightest.
          Having the clips flexible is a feature. It insures that there would be no breakage causing some catastrophic failure or accident. Clips made of a more ridged material could result in work-hardening of the material or cracking that could result in a breakage. If we changed them, we would have said that. Announced it on FB. Explained why we changed something. But we didn’t change anything.
          Our clips are the same as they ever were. Best in the Industry.

          • Jon S.----Tennessee August 30, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

            Thanks for the info. Always good to hear from the other side.

          • Aarons Battles August 31, 2013 at 12:57 am #

            I’m not bashing the quality of the G-Code clips, and neither was Jon. I actually love your guys products as do most, and Jon made it very clear in past videos how much he stands behind G-Code products, but there most definitely is a difference in the clips I received on my Access a few weeks back versus the the Access I received today. There’s is no denying the difference in rigidity and stiffness, maybe the plastic was off or something. Either way G-Code still makes some of best shit out there.

          • Al Cohol September 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

            Yeah, I’m not trying to troll on you guys, but there is an obvious difference in the clips I have on my INCOG and the clip I saw in the demonstration Jon posted on YouTube. So if you didn’t change them, why are they now more flexible?

  2. TK August 30, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    PHLster is still one of the coolest companies in the industry.

  3. John N August 30, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    I really dig the access holster they make, it’s pretty much a toss up for me over the incog. Trying to decide between the two is tough.

    • Jon S.----Tennessee August 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

      I was in the same boat, flipped a coin and went with PHLster Access and single mag holster. Should get it tomorrow so we will see

  4. Carlos Arias August 30, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    sweet belt! who makes the belt?

  5. William August 30, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    I sure like the reviews they were doing on other peoples hplsters.

  6. ~Wyatt August 30, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    It is because of the AWESOME videos Jon put up that we were able to get started confidently with our holster endeavors here in Washington..

    Actually had the chance to meet him at this years SHOT Show. Sat down at lunch and was thinking to myself, ” I wonder where PHLster is at and if we will run into him at the show..” And I look across from us two tables away and there he was. I walked up and introduced myself and my partner in the holster business and he was totally polite and had a nice short conversation. Gave him a Patch and business card and went about our day..

    We have also recently submitted a Holster for his Holster Clinic and hope to hear from him soon about the holster..

    Keep up the awesome work sir!!

  7. Charlie Mackafee August 31, 2013 at 12:53 am #

    I have been carrying a gun for over 15 years and PHLster is one of the best holsters I have ever owned and operated with. Tier one operation, all the way! /cm.

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