Upstart Holster Brand for Misfit Blasters – Red Balloon Industries

Authors many pieces Glock in Blood and Ashes coloring

This week, we are taking a look at a new player in the holster space. A USMC Veteran of the GWOT era, Red Balloon Industries started for a reason I think many of you will appreciate. The hero of our story went looking for a high-quality OWB holster for an 80% (allegedly) paperweight in 40 S&W, and couldn’t find one. He was actually told by several large manufacturers that they wouldn’t touch it, both for political reasons and because there are minor size differences depending on whom made said Ghost Brick. Which I get. Segments of the holster industry depend on volume of sales, and it makes no sense to them to even create a Kydex mold if they can’t move 50,000 or more of a product.

RBI QLS package in Brushstoke

But our guy was undeterred, and perhaps is what some of us would call “on the scale”. Meaning obsessive-compulsive, hard-headed, and functionally incapable of being told something can’t be done. Also entirely too invested in 80% boat anchors at this point to quit. So he did what any rational human being would do. He quit his real job and started cranking out Kydex holsters for other “mostly uncompleted chunk of plastic that could one day be maybe a lower receiver for a pistol but only in legal jurisdictions and never for sale only for private use” cult members enthusiast.

Woodland camo with light and QLS attachment

Right when it was starting up, Red Balloon offered to send me a test holster for a Glock. which I accepted because looking at new stuff is part of the gig here at GunsAmerica. We sort the wheat from the chaff for you and trust me, there is a lot of chaff. I fully expected to get a pretty decent Kydex holster, not much different than what 50 other start-ups do in local garages, but not groundbreaking either. Molding Kydex around a gun isn’t exactly rocket science, and there is a cottage industry of one-man operations that will do a decent job in the color of your choice.

Beretta 92 in carbon weave

What I got showed was some dedication to the craft. The nice thing about getting a dude that is both a gunfighter and obsessed with perfection to make a holster is the subtle details. I got a G19 holster that is remarkably comfortable and unique in the niche it fills. It is an OWB holster that hangs off solid loops just enough to be better than a belt ride. It is comfier than a paddle. The top is rounded out slightly to facilitate reholstering. The molding is top-notch and fits a factory Glock like a glove. An excellent sample, to be sure. But if we are being fair, not enough different than anyone else to compel me to write an entire article about it for you. What happened next, however, is why Red Balloon Industries became worthy of a monkey banging on the typewriter. No, they didn’t buy a bunch of ad space from us. No, they didn’t send me a holster filled with cocaine and hundo’s (which would work, for anyone taking notes.) And no, they didn’t send me a picture of myself drinking coffee on my front porch with a Horus H59 somehow overlayed on my face. That I am admitting anyway.

Chiappa Rhino mold. You don’t see that every day.

The compelling changes all happened when I wasn’t paying attention. I have been very, very distracted with a long-distance move for the last 3 months. You may have noticed my contributions here at GunsAmerica Digest have been lean, as most of my goodies were in boxes. I finally secured my new base of operations, looked up RBI for an upcoming feature, and was shocked at what I saw.

Two-tone options are available.

Red Balloon Industries found a niche that has made them very, very popular. They became the guys that would do things others would not, and at a very reasonable price. They are the only small company I know making Cordura wrapped holsters and in colors beyond multicam regular. They adapted to be able to make Level 2 retention holsters, in nearly any model, as an optional upgrade. They have tons of options for belt attachment, including Safariland QLS clips. And most important? They became the guys that will build a holster for that fruit cake oddball gun you have, and not demand an absurd pile of cash to do it.

Threaded barrel compatible

They have more guns as an option than any other small company I have found yet, and more than a lot of the big players as well. Which is hugely helpful to those of us that buy odd stuff, or in my case, review odd stuff. Ruger 57? Present and accounted for. P320 X5 with optic and flashlight? What color, and yes. Springfield Armory Hellcat with QLS clips and an OWB belt slide? Say no more fam. The owner was asked to create a holster for a Chiappa Rhino, and guess what? Red Balloon now has a Rhino mold. Perfect for all three of you that own one.

Red Balloon’s ability to adapt to a cutthroat market has been remarkable. This is a side of the industry where companies die quickly and often, yet they continue to grow. Are they the cheapest game in town? No, but that was never the idea. With high-quality products priced from $65 up to about $180, they are not going to put Uncle Mike’s out of business. And with personal service and a willingness to work with odd guns, they aren’t likely to knock Safariland off the throne anytime soon either. But they are proof positive that niches do still exist in the gun world, and you can capture a following if you take care of the customer. So if you have a blaster in the safe that has yet to be rotated into the duty gun line up, get on the phone. RBI has you covered.

Red Balloon Industries

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About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website, Off-The-Reservation.com

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • CitizenHush July 27, 2021, 3:29 am

    Ive ordered 3 holsters from Red Balloon Industries and they’ve quickly become my go-to. It started with my search for a polymer80 light-compatible holster (virtually unobtainable) but I’ve since added an M&P 2.0 and Glock 19 holster from RBI.

    Solid holsters with surprisingly high degree of customization. I highly recommend them as well.

  • Ryan H. McGrath July 26, 2021, 12:34 pm

    Amazing company with big company products with small company feel. You can talk to them and they will do everything possible to accommodate your needs.

  • Robert D McCowen July 26, 2021, 8:01 am

    I love it when the little guy hits it out of the park. Than you Red Balloon industries.

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