Blackhawk’s new TecGrip FormLok IWB Moldable Holster delivers both a custom and a comfortable fit for your EDC handgun
by Rob Reaser
I admit to a seriously lopsided love/hate relationship with concealed carry holsters. I love very few of them and hate most of them. It’s not that there is usually anything wrong with the holsters. New designs and technological advances geared toward the growing number of CCW and EDC practitioners have delivered holsters that are light years ahead of where they were just a decade or two ago.
The problem is me. Age, unfortunately, has shifted too much bodily real estate from my backside to my front side. As a result, it is a challenge to keep most holsters from dragging down my britches unless I cinch my belt so tight that I’m blue in the face.
Yes, the struggle is real.
Earlier this year, the folks at Blackhawk introduced us to a new inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster they developed called the TecGrip FormLok. This holster intrigued me for two reasons.
First, and as the name implies, the holster is intended to be thermoform-molded to your specific firearm. The holster features a thermoplastic core that you heat with boiling water and then hand form it to your gun. The purpose of this is to provide a lightweight holster similar in heft to a conventional nylon holster but with enough passive retention and security to keep the gun in place during daily wear.
Second, this is a friction-retention holster design, meaning it does not use belt loops or waistband clips to secure it inside of your pants. Instead, the holster’s outer TecGrip shell has a high friction coefficient that keeps it from sliding against clothing or skin, negating the need for a belt or waistband retention system.
Having never tried a friction retention holster, it struck me that this might be a solution to my sagging garment dilemma. If the holster could sufficiently cling to my skin/base layer and the inside of my pants, then, in theory, there should be no uncomfortable holster droop.
So, I ordered a size #7 TecGrip FormLok, thinking it would work well for my Taurus GX4 — one of my two primary EDC pistols and a gun that is far more accurate than it should be.
The TecGrip FormLok comes in six different sizes, covering pocket auto, full-size auto, micro-compact auto, compact auto, sub-compact auto, and small carry revolver. Included in the kit is the holster, a sight channel forming tool, thermometer, tongs, a plastic “cooking” bag, and a black apron with the snazzy Blackhawk logo on the front.
As mentioned, this holster has a multi-layer construction. Starting on the outside is the TecGrip layer that does an excellent job of gripping clothing and skin for no-slip performance. Beneath this is a high-density closed-cell foam layer that provides cushioning comfort and helps contour the holster to your body and clothing for a solid fit. Next comes the Memory-Lok thermoformable plastic that, when heated, can be custom molded to your firearm and provides the passive retention of the gun. The final, interior layer is made of a friction-resistant polymer. This layer protects the holster and the gun finish from wear.
The #7 size TecGrip FormLok was the perfect choice for my GX4. The gun will sit deep enough in the pocket to ensure good retention with enough exposed grip to prevent fumbling the draw. Although I do not run optics, lights, or lasers on my EDC pistols, the holster is cut to accommodate a micro red dot and there is enough acreage ahead of the trigger guard for a wee laser if one so desires.
To form the TecGrip FormLok holster to your firearm, begin by placing the holster into the prep bag. Since the bag will float in a pot of hot water, it must be weighed down. I grabbed a couple of lead ingots from my shotgun handloading stash and placed them in the bag. The next step was to evacuate as much air as possible from the bag and seal it up.
With ample water in the pot, I dropped in the holster, turned up the heat, and hooked the supplied thermometer to the pot. The holster needs to be heated to between 155- and 175-degrees Fahrenheit for eight minutes. I found it difficult to maintain that temperature window and ended up cooking my holster nearer the 200-degree range for most of the time. Didn’t hurt a thing.
While the holster was cooking on the stove, I installed the sight channel tool onto the slide. This tool ensures a clean sight channel will be formed during the molding process, preventing the front sight from hanging up on the draw.
After eight minutes, I pulled the holster from the pot and placed the GX4 inside. Working quickly before the plastic core had a chance to cool, I pressed the holster against the gun to make the form.
The result…a perfect fit. The gun sits solidly in the holster with enough friction/tension to keep it in place yet still deliver a smooth and even draw from inside the waistband.
I will give a bit of advice here: be sure to make a good impression inside the trigger guard, as this is where the critical retention point is. I had to cook my holster twice because the first time around I didn’t press firmly enough into the trigger guard and the fit was looser than I wanted.
As for wearability and, most importantly, draw performance, the TecGrip FormLok beat my expectations. To be honest, I was skeptical as to how well the holster would stay in place inside the waistband. To give it the ultimate test, I spent a lot of time wearing it inside my cargo shorts. They are loose-fitting and have a bit of stretch to them, so if the gun could ride inside the cargo shorts without slipping, it would ride in jeans, cargo pants, or anything else I would wear. And that is exactly what it did.
With regards to draw and reholstering, the TecGrip FormLok holster performed about as well as my primary IWB holsters. I could easily find my grip and come out of the holster smoothly. Reholstering presented no issues.
Another advantage of the TecGrip FormLok holster is that it is ambidextrous, so you can place it anywhere you like inside the waistband, 360 degrees.
If you’re having issues with conventional IWB holsters, the Blackhawk TecGrip FormLok may be worth a try. The $45.95 MSRP isn’t too tough to swallow, making it an easy bet in my book. So, go ahead and roll your own. I think you’ll like it.