If there is one thing I hate about holster reviews it’s when the writer covers every detail of how the holster performed at the range, but completely ignores the every-day aspect of wearing the holster. If a review were to be accurate it should have a heavy focus off the range, as most of us do not spend our daily lives on the range. There is also the fact that if a holster does not possess standard features and qualities, such as durability, retention, build quality, etc. then they won’t be worth the time to review and the capitalist market will either force them to improve or fall to the wayside. With this in mind I would like to cover my experiences with the FL3X™, rather than just state that it conceals well and can take a beating.
I had been carrying a holster with attached mag carrier for a year when I first heard about the FL3X™, and to be honest, I didn’t think it offered much more than my current set up. I was wrong, which shouldn’t be that surprising. I have noticed the more I learn about the firearms industry, the less I truly know. This time I was more than happy to be wrong — what the FL3X™ has to offer has been a thoroughly great experience.
The FL3X™ is advertised as possessing several distinct features, copied here directly from the website:
- Three different ride heights
- Three different cant angles between the gun and magazine (0°-7°-14°)
- Built in wedge to draw the grip of the gun in
- Puck on the body side for added comfort and concealability
- Optic ready
I did not utilize the various cant angles as I carry from appendix and have found that I don’t enjoy any degree of cant in this position. However, the three different ride heights are one of the features that I believe makes this rig so easy to wear. The holster ships with the clips in the position shown in all the photographs, which as you can see place more of the holster above the beltline than similar holsters. I didn’t realize what a difference this made until I tried switching the ride height after a few weeks of carrying in this manner. I adjusted the ride height one notch lower, so that it rode more similarly to comparable holsters. After less than an hour I switched back, this higher ride height is the optimal placement for the holster.
The comfort and ease of carrying with this holster does not come from the ride height alone. A feature I initially didn’t think much of was the puck design on the backside of the holster, stated to add comfort and concealability. I have used wedge designs with past holsters, and each time found the wedge uncomfortable at best, and a useless design that caused a hotspot at worst. Chris’ puck design didn’t strike me as anything revolutionary, but I was wrong yet again. No hotspots, a not so useless design, and concealability and comfort that I hadn’t experienced before.
Now before someone goes off the rails for my use of the word ‘comfort’ in describing a holster design I would like to point out a few things. First, I understand that comfort is a relative term and will vary for every individual, and obviously no holster will be more comfortable than not wearing a gun at all. I also know that comfort should not be the leading feature for a quality holster design, and that’s certainly not the case here. However, features such as retention, durability, and so on should be a standard feature, not a surprise. Simply saying this rig is comfortable for me has no discernible metric. Rather than try to quantify what comfort means to mean, I’d just like to share a situation that occurred less than a week after the holster arrived, when my father-in-law requested my help in removing a tree from his front yard.
Normally when it comes to heavy manual labor I do what I am sure many others do, I leave my pistol inside or in a bag nearby. However, I decided it was a great opportunity to test the holster, so I kept it on and got to work. For the next two hours I didn’t touch the gun once, I never felt the need to adjust its position and didn’t feel like it was getting uncomfortable. In fact I didn’t think about it at all. I’ve never been able to say that about another holster. Using the chainsaw, constantly bending over, ripping at branches, crawling, dragging the old tree, digging out all the old roots, and transplanting another tree, I never once regretted testing the system out. When we were finished, and I pulled my gun and holster out to remove any wood chips that had found their way down my shirt my father-in-law was shocked to see that I was even carrying. It was hard not to be sold on the system not even a week into testing.
Since then I have continued to work the holster throughout my daily life. Dry fire and range use are only a small part of the time we carry, so why focus merely on those times. Yes, I have gotten several thousand draw strokes out of this rig so far, but what I have also done is found myself carrying more often around the house and in the yard. Anyone with small children understands how much unconventional movement is involved in caring for them and having a holstered firearm can often be an uncomfortable impediment to that. For me this meant I had been leaving my pistol in the house or locked in the safe, obviously less than ideal if I needed it quickly. While I don’t advocate this laziness for anyone, having a holster that makes carrying less cumbersome is always a good thing.
Somehow, I’ve gotten this far into discussing the FL3X™ without discussing the main feature, its ability to flex. It has a simple leather strap to which three screws from the holster and two from the mag carrier attach. This keeps the magazine positioned closely to the holster, which in my experience has made it easier to position on my belt. Since each kydex piece has one side attached to the leather strap it allows just enough movement for the holster to flex as you move throughout the day, without being too loose to reliably retain the gun and magazine. This flexibility lends itself greatly to wearing the holster for long days without the discomfort or brittleness that can come from one solid piece of kydex.
With how much I’ve praised this holster I don’t want to mislead anyone, there are a few points on the holster I didn’t like. First is the built-in wedge. There are two problems with it, the first is that if you adjust the holster to ride lower than I have it, the wedge itself rides lower. Although some of the wedge still contacts your beltline when its moved one notch down, it is much less effective. It also does not stick out as far as wedges from other holsters, which means it does not draw the gun as tightly to your body. This is a bit of a double-edged sword, the more the gun is drawn into your body the easier it is to conceal. However, when the gun is pressed tightly into your body it is slightly easier to get your master grip on. With other holsters I’ve scraped my skin after repeated draw strokes as my three fingers grasp the pistol grip. That doesn’t happen with this holster because there’s plenty of room to work with. Personally, I’ll take the fact that it prints slightly more than other competitors for that added space.
The second issue is minor, but as this is a review I feel it should be mentioned. The clips that ship with the holster performed extremely well, they don’t budge once clipped onto your belt. The issue arises only when you go to drop the holster into your pants, the clips are long enough that in the standard configuration they extend about an inch past their mounting points. This can make putting the holster on a bit of a pain as that inch of excess likes to catch on everything. Once you have the holster clipped in place the issue is nonexistent, and it is so minute I would not count it against the overall performance. I may simply cut the excess off or switch the clips out for shorter ones or soft loops.
One of the coolest parts about writing reviews for Spotter Up is the companies we get to interact with and the relationships we build. I didn’t know Chris Payne, owner of CJP Custom Concealment, before this review. I don’t design holsters for a living, so I obviously had quite a few questions for Chris throughout the testing process. He has been extraordinarily helpful and patient with my questions, and extremely understanding as my family life delayed the completion of this article. This customer service is good for everyone in more than one way. Customer service goes a long way for me, because when the company cares about what the customer has to say, they care about how their product performs for them as well. Not only is Chris extremely responsive to questions about his holsters, he’s open to criticism. Ironically the issues I presented and have listed here in the article are things he’s already working on, and the improvements are going to exceed anything I had anticipated.
Retention is the last aspect I’d like to take note of. Until August of this year I would have believed the “turn the holster upside down and shake test,” was the best way to determine whether a holster possessed quality retention. What changed in August was taking some classes from Scott Jedlinski, aka Jedi, at Friends of Pat. During his AIWB dry fire class he briefly covered what he carries and more importantly, the why in how he sets up his equipment. When he tilted his holster upside down and his gun slid out my perception of what retention meant for a holster was shattered. He explained that the reason he doesn’t run his holster with all of the retention is because when the holster is actually inside your pants, your body and it’s pressure on the gun and holster become the retention you need. Now I know someone is going to protest and say that changes when you get knocked to the ground or fall, etc., but that’s simply not true. Again we will refer to Jedi’s experience rather than have me demonstrate some somersaults in my backyard. Although for my own experience I did do a few rolls in the yard, and have spent a lot of time playing on the ground with my son, without any issue. With more time in martial arts training than I’ve been alive, and much of that with a holstered blue gun, Jedi has proven how little that shake test matters. Not once did he have to deal with his gun falling free during any of that training. So if you take my advice and buy a CJP FL3X™ and find that it doesn’t pass that shake test, don’t panic.
Everything we read on the internet must be viewed with a critical light, and what I say about a holster may not mean much to you. The fact that I have since put my previous holster up for sale and now trust the FL3X™ to be my EDC, that might speak a little more than anything I write here. If you’re searching for your first holster, or if you have a few already and you still haven’t found the perfect fit, give the FL3X™ a close look. You’ll be glad you did.
Cost: 5/5- The FL3X™ can be purchased for $109.97, which is significantly cheaper than its competitors. During the time this holster was reviewed Chris dropped the price and credited anyone who had purchased the holster at the higher price the remaining difference. How incredible is that?!
Functionality: 3/5- The only thing that detracted from this holster for me was the wedge. While it functioned as well as some competitors, it did not conceal as well as I wanted, and the way adjustment of the ride height lessened its capability was an issue.
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
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