A Review of Phlster Products: Surprisingly Functional
I have been wearing a few Phlster products for concealed-carry and thought it was time to share my experience with them. To date, I have purchased by my own account the Floodlight IWB holster, the Flex Mini, the Flex Utility Pouch, and ARC Enhanced WML Switches. We’ll go over the product, the reasons I choose them, and my thoughts on them as of today.
Right off the hip.
The Floodlight is a universal pistol holster designed around a WML, specifically the Surefire X300 or Streamlight TLR-1 type WMLs. It accomplishes this by being split into 2 kydex halves connected on one side by a screw-post, rubber spacers, and with shock-cord on the other side. All the mounts are mirrored for left or right-hand configurations. Let’s be clear, this is not a duty holster with active retention. It will not hold your pistol for you while you swing upside-down.
It won’t hold if I shake, but has some passive retention.
The trade-off is that this will fit almost every pistol with the appropriate WML and provide enough retention for normal, everyday use. Anything from G19 to G20 to HK45 to Beretta 92X with an RMR fits; same holster, same position. The fit is tuned using the shock cord. Since I am made of soybean oil, my CZ SP-01 Phantom w/ X300U-A fits but I had to move the shock-cord into what I originally thought was an unorthodox position. It hasn’t moved in 4 years and it seems that flexibility is baked into many of Phlster’s designs.
The SP-01 is pretty thin, but there’s plenty of room for a larger gun with a twist of the cord.
The AIWB position of the Floodlight has worked. Save for a Shmedium fitted-T, even a full-size pistol concealed well in the Floodlight although I can’t get away with anything larger than the Mec-Gar 17rd mags without a larger shirt. The claw absolutely works and creates a pocket with my belt which helps the shirt hide the butt of the grip. I started with the holster at essentially 12’o’clock with the included button straps. These are extremely convenient to take on and off but being a narrow beanpole, I didn’t have a lot of space even at 12-noon.
This brings me to the first negative, the holster is large-ish. Not necessarily thick, but tall and wide. That is a consequence of the universal design. Peep the catalog and you’ll see a few options which are gun-specific and thus more space efficient.
My fix for this was to move the holster up higher. The first attempt was with the Phlster plastic IWB J-clips which came with the holster. Honestly these are pretty sub-par compared to other offerings. I have no doubt they are strong, but they are also very thiccc, enough that they stuck out from my belt line noticeably. They also had trouble with thicker belts. Most importantly, they couldn’t be arranged much lower than the loops. These parts don’t match the level of thought in the holster.
Phlster J-hook on top, Bravo Concealment on bottom. A little redesign would go a long way.
I ended up with 2 Discreet Carry Concepts Mod 4 Shorties. Not only did this raise the holster, but they also lay much flatter than either Phlster options. In a future design, I’d like to see the 3 mounting slots shifted down a little. I am a tall beanpole of a man; combining the top slot with the length of the Floodlight makes for a very low ride and I’m not sure whose pants those fit.
That all said, in its final resting place the holster is surprisingly comfortable. No sharp edges, plenty of airflow, and my mounting solution places it high enough that I sit and walk comfortably. I’ll drive several hours with no issues. Oddly the holster without the gun is not as comfortable, so make sure to try it with a gun before making a final verdict.
Regarding retention, a really good jolt will dislodge the pistol. However, in everyday life, I haven’t had an issue in over 2 years of use. That includes hiking, crouching, car work, yard work, rough-housing, small obstacles, etc. The only time I can think of the pistol coming loose was partially-inverted climbing a tree. So if you happen to have a more active job, or you find yourself in such motions more often than I do you might consider another everyday holster solution.
Once the holster was squared away I realized I had a bunch of real estate on my left-front area to carry a reload IWB and some medical items.
The Flex Mini and other Flex products use Hypalon sheets as a flexible mounting platform for knife-holsters, pouches, etc. The sheet is then patterned with screw holes and MOLLE-type cut-outs to mount all manner of things in all manners of ways. The only thing that peeves me is that the Mini comes with only 1 hook and 1 loop. Sort of a bummer considering the Mini is meant specifically to mount without attaching to the holster. Luckily, I had 2 loops leftover from my holster adventure.
I went with an Emdom universal mag pouch for universal retention of a flashlight/mag/multi-tool and the Flex Utility Pouch. Phlster does make a universal soft mag pouch for the mini but I wanted something that would handle reinsertion; when I purchased this the Ascent pouch was not an option and the other Phlster product wouldn’t fit the 75 mags. The Utility Pouch however fit my needs just fine. It was specifically made to hold an M4 magazine but also doubles for medical gear.
I was skeptical at first with the principle of the Flex. It isn’t rigid and the material sags with the pouches attached and filled. This seems to work in its favor though. The Hypalon allows them to sit in a natural position and flex (ha, pun) with motion, sitting, and shifting. Correct height and position is controlled by the mounting hardware. Despite all the motion, weight applied, and sweat, the material has held up. It works as a standalone item for non-permissive environments and its placement evens out the belt pressure and aids comfort.
The Utility Pouch isn’t very sexy but does its job well. I’ve managed a set of nitrile gloves, a compressed gauze, and a SOFTT-W Gen 4. The attachment method is a very flat Velcro closure which is non-abrasive in contact with the skin. The medical gear comes out with a good pull.
Last product on the list is the ARC replacement switches for the SureFire X300. They come as a set of 3: Short, Long, and Custom. The custom one is basically a flat plastic piece and is there specifically for someone handy with a dremel AKA professional gunsmiths. There’s not much to say here, except that the X300U-A and B OEM switches are sort of tiny. With my spindly fingers, the small ARC gives me a little better purchase, especially with gloves. The longer switches might be good for those with shorter fingers on pistols, and both could be a good option if you’re running the X300 on a long-gun.
Nothing really prompted me to move away from the OEM switches, just browsing when I saw them. After using them, it’s a nice quality of life enhancement and if you’re having issues activating the light the way you want, they might be the solution.
High speed, low res.
These products probably won’t draw those looking for duty-level retention or high-speed gear, but for every-day they’ve provided a stable solution for the foreseeable future. I can conceal a full-size with a light competently; a more compact option like a G19 will only do better. The Flex Mini has provided a versatile option, one which I can still modify or customize with different items if my needs or wants change. The ARC is a solid improvement over OEM hardware. Phlster has made some well-thought products here, and their catalog is worth checking out if you’re looking at an EDC refresh.
If you’re looking for more holster options, check Elias’ write up on Bravo Concealment‘s offerings.