With a closer look at nylon platforms, and with the advent of the MOLLE system, some manufacturers got smart and started putting MOLLE webbing on the platforms and a few even went so far as to make the holster body itself modular so that the MOLLE "tactical thigh" platform could be completely customized to your handgun and whatever you wanted to put on it. The challenge was hanging that MOLLE covered nylon platform off a single stiff strap that hung off your gun belt at your hip. Still, this is a good platform to work with - and with a piece of soft body armor inside the nylon platform, it even offers some extra protection from projectiles.
The best I've seen (just my opinion and preference) comes from BLACKHAWK. After they produced their SERPA holsters and then the thigh platform for carrying such, the next step was immediately taken to create a blank platform that is MOLLE/STRIKE (BLACKHAWK's proprietary MOLLE compatible system) compatible. Taking that concept one step further, they offered a secure method for putting a mounted rail system on the platform that allowed users to build said platform into almost any variation they could want. The interoperability of the CQC magazine pouches, flashlight holsters, knives sheaths, etc allow you to build the platform as you need it quite securely and with a minimum level of work - once you know what you want. And, as a guy who just can't resist doing something different, I've also used zip-ties to mount other manufacturer's products to the BLACKHAWK platform.
So, before you build your platform you need to know a few things:
- What handgun are you building it around?
- What accessories do you want to add on the platform?
The handgun is totally your preference unless it's an assigned duty weapon. I've built platforms around 1911s, Beretta M9s (92/96FS), Glocks and Sig Sauer P226s. Let me share two examples so you can get an idea of what's easily possible.
Springfield Armory 1911 platform
I started out with a Level III SERPA Duty Holster from BLACKHAWK for a government model 1911 type pistol. As I already had plenty of extra magazines on my gun belt and vest (which I'd almost always be wearing if I had on this holster), I wanted to add a decent flashlight and a knife. In particular, I wanted to add a knife I could use both to cut and penetrate as well as to pry. With the platform and holster picked out I chose the Night-Ops Gladius flashlight with a Mod-U-Lok holder for it (also from BLACKHAWK). The knife I chose was a Cold Steel Recon Tanto. It's thick blade made it a good pry tool and the tanto style blade gave it good penetrating ability. I decided I'd more often need the light than the knife so I placed the light in front of the holster where it was more easily reached by either hand. I placed the knife sheath behind the holster and had to zip-tie it on because the Cold Steel sheath didn't have attachment points to suit my needs. With the platform placement adjusted correctly, when I relax my right arm / hand, the pistol's grip is just a short distance above (I wear my tactical thigh platform a bit higher than most), the light is right there and the knife is just a short reach back.
Glock Model 17 platform
I built this platform predominantly for my wife. Her primary sidearm (should she need one) is a Fourth Generation Glock Model 17 9mm. I have seven magazines for that pistol. With one in the gun, two on her gun belt and two on her equipment vest, I have two left that need to go somewhere. However, knowing I was going to put a magazine pouch on the platform, I had to decide what else was going on it and what would be place in front and back. With four magazines elsewhere within easy reach, I felt that the magazine on the holster didn't have to be in front. I put it behind the holster and it sits within easy reach just below the gun's grip. It's ideally placed if, for some reason, she's shooting with her left hand (her non-dominant hand) and has to reload with her right. In front of the holster I put a BLACKHAWK Razorback TROCAR knife. It's only got about a 4" blade but is wicked sharp and the spine has notches preplaced for using the knife in medical applications. The TROCAR is much lighter than my Cold Steel Recon Tanto so her holster platform as a whole is also lighter. Since I didn't perceive the same level of security needed for her holster, I used a Level II SERPA Duty Holster which provides plenty of coverage and two methods of security.