Many of us will go through holsters fairly frequently until finding what works best for each of us. Holsters vary just as individuals do, and often one holster will not meet the needs of every situation or individual. For quite some time I had been searching for a minimalist setup that would both conceal well and be comfortable. Being both concealable and comfortable is a parameter I tend to follow for holsters, but remaining minimalist in nature proved more challenging. Fortunately, a coworker of mine introduced me to the Raven Concealment VanGuard 2 that he had been given. After seeing this minimalist setup I decided to order one myself and give it a try.
To initially begin my testing I strapped on the holster and simply got a feel for it. For holsters this is the only practical way to test them- incorporate them into your daily life. Wearing the VanGuard 2 for quite some time gave me insight to what I enjoyed and disliked about the setup.
First, and most important to many, is the ability to conceal. I chose to get the holster that did not have the claw for appendix carry so I could utilize multiple carry positions. If needed, the claw could be added on later for appendix specific carry. Since much of the bulk from the holster is eliminated, concealing the handgun is much easier and the soft loops I chose to go with limit bulk as well. Due to the less rigid nature of the soft-loop attachments, there is some flexibility and movement in the holster giving it the ability to move with your body. Some will enjoy this aspect; however, there are clips available for a more rigid point of attachment to your person if preferred.
As stated previously, there is hardly any bulk due to the nature of the holster's design. With less bulk from the holster you have a more comfortable form of carry. Position the gun to your preferred position of carry and go about your day comfortably.
Though there is less bulk and material, there is still a great amount of safety. The trigger guard of the handgun is completely encapsulated protecting the user from the trigger being manipulated before use in any way. Compared to a traditional holster, the rest of your handgun will not be protected from wear and debris. The VanGuard's design will allow safe access to clear your weapon without the trigger being accessible as well. When using the VanGuard 2 I did find that the handgun's slide will rub on the button of your pants if you carry appendix towards the direct center of your body. A traditional holster would not allow for this, but to carry in a minimalist fashion some aspects have to be lost.
The soft-loop form of attachment was new to me. All of my previous holsters utilized clips to secure on my person. I enjoyed the design so much that I will probably be picking up more holsters using the soft-loops in the future. I tried carrying with belts that were not specifically made for concealed carry (which I do not advise) and the soft loop securely snapping to itself allowed me to even use a flimsy leather belt with great success. When combining cheaper belts that have flexibility and standard holster clips, you will sometimes find that a holster comes out with the gun while drawing the weapon, or it will not even support the weight of a handgun. With soft-loops there is little to worry about if you do not have the ability or means to wear concealed carry belts. The button where the soft-loops snap is a hassle to use at first. Pulling the button out of place is a challenge in itself and will take some effort to break in properly, yet I would rather have a secure point of attachment over one that could easily become loose.
A further note on the soft-loop design is that you could utilize the straps for off-the-body carry for attachment in a bag or some other form if you so choose. This is personal preference on if you believe this is a form of carry that will work for your lifestyle, but the option is available to you.
For your safety, please take note that this holster is not designed for reholstering your handgun. There would be no safe way to slide and click the trigger guard back into the VanGuard 2 without removing it from your person. Would I consider this a flaw or downside? Simply, no. It may be a hassle to counteract while training, but in a real life scenario you are not reholstering with a threat present. The design was made for concealability and minimalism, not for reholstering.
One last consideration would be the inability to carry a light-bearing firearm with the standard VanGuard 2. A variation does exist on Raven Concealment's website to do so, but I was not looking for such at the time. Due to the design and its goal to completely surround the trigger guard, you will be unable to use this holster with any object mounted to the rail.
If I was only able to use the VanGuard 2 for concealed carry, I do not believe I would have any issues. Drawbacks exist such as not being able to reholster easily for training purposes, but the reason for owning this holster outweighs the few drawbacks. I am able to easily conceal my Glock 19 at any position along my waistline, which some traditional holster cannot even accomplish. Retention on the Glock is stout even though there is little interacting with the surface of the gun. Since I have the option to carry many other holsters though I will most likely stick with what I am used to, but have the VanGuard 2 for occasions where deep concealment is a must or optimal. In the future, I will consider trying more of Raven Concealment's products since I was impressed with this simple set up.