If you are addicted to red dots on carry guns like most of the firearm industry has become, the greatest bane to your red dot ownership is finding suitable holsters to house your red dot equipped carry gun. You need that holster to be reliable, supportive, afford you strong retention with a smooth draw, and come from a reputable source.
With the Springfield Armory Hellcat being one of the most popular carry guns on the market – both the OSP (Optical Sight Pistol) and the standard configuration – many holster manufacturers have catered to that model. The only gap in the holster market for Hellcats are holsters that are accepting of red dots. You can check out my prior article on the top holsters for the Hellcat OSP.
One of my favorite carry pistol systems is the standard-configured Hellcat, to which I added a Trijicon RMRcc red dot to with an adapter plate from Trijicon. Sourcing a good holster for my doctored-up Hellcat has been difficult, but Craft Holsters has crafted an open-top, outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster exactly for such a pistol.
The Craft Holsters open-top, outside-the-waistband (OWB) Panther holster features a small cant, or tipping of the firearm and holster forward, allowing for an easier draw than if the orientation were completely vertical. I appreciated this because drawing forward is easier than straight upward towards your armpit. The movement is faster and it requires less mobility for the shooter.
The belt loopholes on either side of the holster were wide enough to fit my rather large 1 ¼” tactical belt, so this holster should be compatible with a wide array of belt options; tactical or otherwise. The Craft holster is stiff yet pliable. I found that after one week of consistent all-day carry the holster conformed to the firearm nicely. With the associated leather holster care kit that Craft Holsters provides with the holster, you can care for your holster and maintain it over time so it does not degrade or deteriorate from excessive wear like other leather holsters on the market.
The stitching on the holster is tight and the thread used is thick, so during my one-month period of utilizing this holster I saw no fraying in the threads or in any of the sewing lines. That impressed me because you will typically see the stitching fail on a leather holster before other areas break down, if it is going to break down at all.
Also, near the mouth of the holster where you insert your firearm, there is a double layer of leather near the mouth as a reinforcement precaution so after repeated insertions and draws of your firearm from the holster that area should not wear out or deteriorate over time either.
This holster is advertised as being compatible with a standard Springfield Armory Hellcat (which is the model I own and used for this review) and I was able to utilize my Hellcat with a Trijicon RMRcc mounted on top in a dovetail plate. So, although this holster is not openly advertised as being compatible with miniature red dot optics, it worked with my firearm very well. There was enough clearance for the red dot and the firearm still seated properly for retention and depth in the holster.
If I could change one thing about the Craft Panther holster, I would like to see an open bottom to the holster to allow for it to be compatible with the Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP (Rapid Defense Package) and its Self-Indexing Compensator. I also own that version of the Hellcat and would love to be able to utilize the Craft holster for that firearm for carry as well.
Overall, for my month of carry with the Craft holster I was impressed. The Craft Panther holster is crafted of Italian leather, which has an attractive appearance. Whether you have Flat Dark Earth pants with a black belt or even a slate gray t-shirt (which I sported all of the above in the photos throughout), this holster will pair well and look good with all of the above.
The holster is easy enough to draw from and would be best suited for a lot of outdoor activities like walking your dog, ranching, hiking and similar outdoor activities. If I were to utilize this holster for everyday carry (EDC), I would like a little bit more positive retention so I would not go with an open-top style, but something with a button-snap instead (which Craft also produces). Again, this is not so much a drawback as it is my personal preference.
At an MSRP of $59, it is hard to go wrong with this holster from Craft. If you are in the market for a leather holster for your Springfield Armory Hellcat, I would highly recommend them. As always, join us again soon on The Armory Life and happy shooting (and concealed carry)!
Editor’s Note: Please be sure to check out The Armory Life Forum, where you can comment about our daily articles, as well as just talk guns and gear. Click the “Go To Forum Thread” link below to jump in and discuss this article and much more!
Join the Discussion
Featured in this article
Craft Holsters Panther