The advantage to the large loop tunnel is the inherent stiffness on the hip. The officer can always predict where the gun will ride. However, if the belt loop on the pants aligns with the outseam of the pants, the holster will either need to be forward of the hip or behind the hip. This means more care in wardrobe selection.
The holster has belt tunnels for cross-draw use. It rode comfortably on the opposite hip while the user was seated. We found this to be the ideal type of holster for homeland security duties that include flying or vehicle-borne operations like diplomatic protection. In either position, care had to be taken not to let a shirttail hang on the thumb break, which is typical of any similar design.
The retention strap has a positioning tab on top that firmly indexes the slide in the holster. This contacts the back of the slide once the thumb break is snapped closed. This simple feature accomplishes two things. One, it positions the gun so the top strap firmly seats against the top of the holster. Thus, if the gun is holstered without the light, the feel and security is exactly the same. Second, it protects the gap between the rear of the slide and the receiver from the elements.
Two critical aspects of the "widget" positioning tab are whether it changes anything about drawing or reholstering the gun. While drawing, the positioning tab is unnoticeable. When reholstering, the tab is both unnoticeable and virtually invisible. It seemed to add to the positive feel of the thumb break, which has an obvious advantage.
The Bianchi Model 90 Vision holster is quickly and easily mastered. Any officer can use a Level I holster, which simply requires the release of the thumb break to employ. The funnel opening is cut low enough for the muzzle to clear the leather quickly, allowing the officer to punch a level firearm forward. We were able to consistently find the opening and index the muzzle by feel alone for reholstering. Where simpler is better, the Bianchi Model 90 Vision excels.
Bianchi holsters have one thing in common. They never look mass-produced. Instead, they look and feel like hand-boned leather. We anticipate that the Bianchi Model 90 Vision customer will be the traditional user who appreciates the tactical advantage of the light/laser combination.
The Bianchi Model 90 Vision comes in plain tan or black. Models are available for the Glock 17, 19, 22 and 23; SIGARMS P220R, P226R and P229R; Smith & Wesson M&P .40; Springfield XD-40; and Beretta Vertec. In all cases, these handguns are paired with the Streamlight and Insight Technology M3, M6 or M3X; Streamlight TLR-1/TLR-2; or SureFire X200 rail-mounted tactical lights. Inexpensive, it will fill a niche in the law enforcement trade.
Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer who teaches Administration of Justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, California.