Polymer/Leather Holsters from Bianchi (Gear Review)

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Bianchi 126

There is only enough holster to cover the slide and trigger, and a short 1911 like this Ed Brown Special Forces Carry won’t fill the entire holster.

Bianchi has a new holster that is pushing the limits of traditional leather. The 126 Assent is a light brown holster made from smooth grained leather, but it has a twist. The 126 is a leather shell that’s lined with thermo-molded “synthetic” that feels like really thin Kydex. The result is a traditional look with more modern functionality.

Before we get to what really makes the 126 revolutionary, let’s push through the basics.  The 126 is meant for sports-coat style concealment. It has a slight forward cant that pulls the grip of a 1911 in line with the natural angle of your wrist when you go to draw. This one is a 1911 holster, but makes no pretension about carrying cocked and locked. There is no strap to separate the hammer form the pin. If you want that level of retention, there is the 131 Confidential, which is also in this lined-leather series.

Bianchi 126

The black part, clearly stitched in, is the plastic that makes the 126 unique.

What’s wrong with leather?

If you gave me a choice between leather and Kydex for everyday carry, I’m going with the Kydex. The material is just more stable. Leather expands and contracts. It dries out. It is prone to dry rot and mold. These considerations are minor when compared to the real danger of the leather constricting around your gun, which can make it hard to draw. Leather just seems so 19th century.

But sometimes it looks so damn good. Not that I’m a slave to tactical fashion. I am, but I’m not so far gone that I’d let it affect my judgement. Most of the time.

There are times when I want the clean look of well-cared-for leather. And all of the things that can go wrong with leather are easy to avoid with basic care. If you are wearing a suit, or even business casual, or if you are out on the ranch in a good pair of jeans, leather just seems like a good fit.

If I had to simplify my thinking, I’d say look at the gun. Is it a steel pistol or revolver? Leather. If part of the gun is made out of plastic, then the holster should made out of plastic. And I’ve always wanted the speed that Kydex allows for concealed carry.

Bianchi 126

The 126 has a nice flap to help insure the safety stays in place.

Why not both?

The logical question here is why not include both leather and polymer in one holster? From the press release:

The Model 126 Assent and Model 131 Confidential holsters are made with premium, high-grade, full-grain vegetable-tanned leather, which is then wrapped and laminated around a thermo-molded synthetic core. This synthetic liner supports a very quick draw and effortless re-holster. These models feature a formed trigger guard detent to help retain the gun in the holster. This enhanced weapon retention is due to the durable laminate structure not typically found in holsters made with leather-only construction.

The leather work on these looks very polished. It is free from the tooling marks that often define custom work. That’s fine. Bianchi isn’t a custom leather worker. It is part of a big corporation that uses its size and influence to bring innovative products for a wide variety of applications to us at affordable prices. As such, the holsters have a manufactured look. But they also sell for $64.

Bianchi 126

The belt loops are clearly built for thin dress belts and not wide tactical monsters.

When I first handled the holster, I didn’t even notice the plastic. At first glance, it looks like the holster has been sealed and painted inside, as the brown exterior flows into the black interior. The thin sheet of plastic is so well molded, and sewn in, so that it all seems like one piece.

The result is a Kydex style draw from a leather holster. It is slick. You get the added flexibility of the leather which helps hold the gun tightly, especially when the holster is on your hip. Yet a firm draw pits the steel of the pistol against the slick texture of the plastic instead of the split grain of leather. Best of both worlds. The 126 should be everywhere soon, so keep your eyes open.

Bianchi 126

The molded shape of the 126 is flexible enough to allow the gun to be worn on the hip or in the small of the back.

Bianchi 126

The process isn’t perfect, as you can see in the fine detail here, but it is pretty close.

Bianchi 126

The swell for the safety is the widest point on the holster.

Bianchi 126

Many 1911 holsters will have a separate strap that blocks the firing pin. Not the 126. If you want a strap, look at the 131.

Bianchi 126

The 126 is made in Mexico. That is the only piece of the puzzle that I’d like to see changed. But it is what keeps the cost down, too.

Bianchi 126

The leather, even when backed with the plastic, is still thin.

Bianchi 126

A full sized 1911 will not protrude from the end, which helps give an added measure of protection to the front sight.

Bianchi 126

The satin finish on the leather looks good with a nice pair of khakis.

Bianchi 126

The width between the belt loops helps stabilize the holster during the draw.

Bianchi 126

The stitching that edges the holster also lines the outline of the gun.

{ 4 comments… add one }
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  • Russ July 28, 2014, 3:46 pm

    Same here.

  • rip July 28, 2014, 1:45 pm

    I with you. I’ll buy from holster makers in the good ole USA.

  • Loyd Garcia July 28, 2014, 7:20 am

    This looks like a pretty nice holster but I am appalled that Bianchi is having them made in Mexico. What will be next, moving their whole operation south of the border? Over the years I have owned several Bianchi products and have been well satisfied with them. I, personally will have to keep a close eye on them as I would rather pay a few extra bucks and help to keep jobs in America.

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