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Review & Giveaway: Braids IWB & Pocket Holster for the Sig Sauer P290
February 21, 2015|Holster Reviews

Review & Giveaway: Braids IWB & Pocket Holster for the Sig Sauer P290

Review & Giveaway: Braids IWB & Pocket Holster for the Sig Sauer P290

A Neat Little IWB / AIWB/Pocket Holster, for the Sig P290RS

Braids Holster for Sig P290 and P290RS w/o laser

Braids Holster for Sig P290 and P290RS w/o laser

This month we are reviewing the Braids Holsters, Inc. IWB for the Sig Sauer P290.  This review is actually going to be a 2 in 1, because not only are we reviewing the Braids IWB, but we are comparing it to the factory Sig Holster.  In this case, the gun is actually a P290RS, but as the two models have identical dimensions, the holsters work for both.

The Holsters:

So, we’ve got two holsters up for comparison.  First, is the Braids Holsters, Inc. IWB/Pocket Combo for the Sig P290.  I purchased this on Ebay of all places, for $29 plus $5 shipping.

Nicely formed Braids Holster

Nicely formed Braids Holster

Ever since buying the P290, I’ve been looking for an alternative to the factory paddle holster.  With such a small profile, I wanted to try this pistol in the waistband (IWB) at the 3 or 4 o’clock and also AIWB.  The short barrel makes is well suited to this last position.  I also wanted to find something that fit the gun, but without the laser in place.  More about that later.  The Braids Inc. Holster is a quality piece, nicely formed to the gun, with rugged stitching.  It adds very little bulk or thickness when carrying IWB and the clip is removable for pocket carry.

image

The removable belt clip allows for pocket carry. In my opinion, this little lump of gun is too heavy for pocket carry, but it’s nice to have the option.





For comparison, we are also going to look at the Sig P290 Factory Holster.  This holster is provided by Sig, when you buy the P290 with laser.  As you might imagine, it accommodates the laser, mounted on the gun.  It’s easy to slip on and pretty much indestructible.   If you’ve seen those stupid videos of someone running by and snatching a paddle holster off your belt, by breaking the rivets, rest assured that it won’t happen with this holster.  Once those teeth bite in place, they are going to have to pick YOU up and point YOU at the target, should they want to grab the gun with the holster.  No doubt there is a YouTube video of THAT too.

Short Mag Installed in the P290. As small as you can get with the factory-provided holster.

Short Mag Installed in the P290. As small as you can get with the factory-provided holster.

The holster is perfectly suitable, but it kinda defeats the purpose of such a small pistol by creating a larger carry lump than you’d have with an IWB holster.

Sig P290 Factory Holster Reverse

The back side of the factory holster. It’s a sturdy piece and once those big teeth are over your belt, it’s going NOWHERE!

First Impressions:

As a rule, I’ve been disappointed with every no-name holster that I’ve purchased through Ebay.  If you don’t recognize the manufacturer and/or know exactly what you are after, I’d avoid Ebay altogether.  However, in the case of the Braids, I was pleasantly surprised!  I purchased this more because it was the only option I could find, for an aftermarket holster.  I guess a lot of holster makers ignore the Sig P290, because it comes with a holster in the box.  But, I ended up with solid holster for my smallest Sig.

Braids:

Nicely molded, seems on the thin side–which will turn out to be an advantage.  Not tuckable—in case you were wondering.  Good attention to detail with molding to the gun profile and a bump out for the rear sights.

Factory Sig Holster:

Quality plastic…..I think my 1911 might fit in there.  Kinda ruins the concealability angle of the P290.




 

Concealability and Carry:

Holster allows for a good purchase, without crowding out the middle finger.

Braids Holster allows for a good purchase, without crowding out the middle finger.

The Braids Holster is made from good quality leather that is on the thin side.  That’s a plus here, because it doesn’t add any bulk to the gun.  My fat already crowds anything carried IWB, so I appreciate the help of the thin profile!

IWB by Braids Holsters Inc., for the Sig Sauer P290

IWB by Braids Holsters Inc., worn at 3 o’clock

The provided clip is plenty strong enough to keep the holster in place when you draw and has no sharp edges to mar your belt.  Thank you Braids for addressing this pet peeve of mine!

 

IWB by Braids Holsters Inc., worn at 3 o'clock, w/extended magazine. Even with a grip as long as my Kahr CW9, it still conceals easily.

IWB by Braids Holsters Inc., worn at 3 o’clock, w/extended magazine. Even with a grip as long as my Kahr CW9, it still conceals easily.

 

Sig Sauer P290 AIWB Holster

Sig Sauer P290 AIWB Holster? Because of the size, the Braids Holster works really well AIWB. However, the extended mag gives you better purchase (short magazine show in picture)

Although Braids does not advertise it, this holster works great for AIWB with the little Sig.  All the usually warnings about blasting your balls off still apply, but with the Sig’s long trigger pull, you have an extra margin of safety.  The Braids Holster covers the trigger guard perfectly and completely.

Factory Paddle Holster for Sig P290 w/laser

The factory provided paddle Holster for Sig P290 w/laser. It’s easy to get a full grip with the extended magazine installed.




The Sig provided holster works great for outside the waistband carry and I wish they had the same unit for all of their firearms.  However, it makes little sense with the P290.  The whole point of this gun is supposed to be the small size and once you put it in the paddle, you might as well carry a 1911 or at least an M&P9c.  I guess it makes marginally more sense if you also have the extended magazine in place.  However, the whole reason I went looking for another holster is that the factory paddle doesn’t make a lot of sense on such a little gun.

Sig Sauer P290 Factory Paddle Holster Review

Sig Sauer P290 Factory Paddle Holster with short magazine. This is as small as you can get, with the provided holster and magazines.

Sig P290RS holster at 3:30

Sig P290RS factory paddle holster at 3:30. This is a really nice paddle and it pulls in tight.

Retention:

Braids Holster:

Like Sir Mix a Lot, the Braids is down to get the friction on.  That’s all that’s holding the little 9mm in place, but it’s not going anywhere.  The swede inner coddles the Nitron and once in your pants, requires a firm tug to whip it out………so to speak.

Braids Holster for the P290

Braids Holster for the P290

Factory Sig Holster:

The factory holster has good friction retention with the laser in place.  HOWEVER, the holster seems to grip on the laser, rather than the gun itself.  Soooooo, if you remove the laser, there is absolutely NO friction holding the gun in place.  It is pretty much sitting in the holster hole and would fall out if you tipped it.  It’s such an incredibly stupid oversight, I can feel my bloodpressure rise whenever I think about it.  C’mon Sig, whose running your R&D over there???  Now I have to leave the dis-functional laser in place (see below), just to use the holster.

Sig P290 Factory Holster

This holster comes with the P290RS and accommodates the factory laser. Long Mag installed.

 

What We Liked:

Braids:

Thin minimalist design

Three (count em’ 3!) carry options with IWB, AIWB, and Pocket

Quality workmanship

Sig Factory Holster:

Free

Impossible to remove, once in place.  Really, I just bought another belt and pants and will just leave this holster in place, forever.

Nice for the range




What We Didn’t Like:

Braids:

The leather is really thin, which is a good thing for concealability, but not so good for all day comfort.  Making the inner side of a thicker material would make it more of an all-day holster.  That would be a nice option for Braids to offer.

Sig Factory Holster:

NO retention without the laser in place—-arrggh!

Using it gives up all of the advantages of carrying a tiny gun

Chiropractic assistance needed after twisting it back off your belt (hint–pull outward to disengage the outer tooth, before pulling up)

Conclusion (except for the gunporn, below):

If you need to conceal a Sig Sauer P290, I don’t think you can do any better than the Braids.  The 290 melts away when you wear it IWB or AIWB and you also have a pocket carry option.  The gun itself is a little heavy for pants pocket carry, but in a Carhartt jacket, it would work fine.  For date night, the holster is perfectly comfortable.  However, for all day, it could use a little more padding.  Or, a heavy sweatshirt tucked behind it.

For a chance to win this holster in our monthly drawings, put your email in the box above at the top of the right column.  This month’s winner is going to get a choice of THIS very holster, or if they don’t own a P290, a Braids Holster of THEIR choice!

GunPorn:

We are not a gun review site, but I think that we should at least add a little info about each gun used in the reviews, because weight can have a lot to do with how the gun carries in each holster.  And God knows, this is a heavy gun…

Long Mag In place

Sig Sauer P290 RS.  Long Mag and laser in place

Today’s review used my Sig Sauer P290RS 9mm w/factory laser.  The “RS” designates a re-strike capability that was absent from the first run of 290s.  So, if it fails to fire, you can pull the trigger again.  That will often take care of a stubborn primer, but it doesn’t do anything for your other malfunctions.  However, it’s still nice to have re-strike like most other hammer equipped pistols do.

Sig P290 RS, short mag in place

Sig P290 RS, short mag in place

But, the P290 seems to be a pistol in search of a niche.  On paper it seems to be a good fit for the micro-9mm role, being small enough for pocket carry or summer clothes, while still packing a punch.  Then, if you want, you can put in a couple more rounds with the extended magazine and it “transforms” into a compact (vs micro) 9mm.  However, in practice, it is a gun that doesn’t do anything exceptionally well…..In trying to be everything to everybody, it does not excel at anything.

Let’s look first at the possibility of pocket carry.  The Braids Holster offers this option and does a good job of protecting the trigger, while keeping the gun oriented in your pocket.  The issue is the weight of the gun.  It’s a Sig and like all Sigs, 20% heavier than its competitors.  Unloaded, with the short mag in place, this Sig weighs in at 20.8 oz.  That’s 4.5 oz heavier than my Kahr CW9 and only 3 oz less than my Ruger SR9c.  With my carry loads in place, it weighs 23.5 oz.  Concentrate all that weight in a small space and it feels like you are carrying a brick in your pocket.  If it doesn’t print first, people will wonder what the hell you have bouncing off of your thigh.  Heck, they might try to rob you thinking you’ve got some gold in there!   Goloollllllld!  For comparison, my loaded .357 Airweight comes in about 10 oz lighter.

Sig Sauer P290RS what's in the box.

Sig Sauer P290RS what’s in the box.

Now let’s look at conventional carry with the provided holster.  Although the factory holster is perfectly serviceable, I can’t figure out why they pack a paddle holster with this gun.  The paddle takes a fairly thin, concealable pistol and turns it into something much larger.  At that point, you’ll want to use the extended magazine and then, The Sig p290 turns into something akin to a M&P compact.  In fact, a 1911 IWB prints less than this micro 9mm. in the paddle.  Comparing paddles to paddles, I can carry my lighter CW9 in a Fobus holster and it prints less.  So…..no advantage in the 290 there.

Shooting the P290 is….ok.  I’d stop short of saying it’s fun, as the little 9mm is a handful.  But it functions like a Sig, which is to say, flawlessly.  However, this is not a pistol for the inexperienced.  The short sight radius and thin profile grips require some concentration to make hits.  Also, pulling the slide back and over a round is not for weak hands.  In a couple cases, I actually lost purchase on the slide while cycling it.  Your mother and quite likely your wife are not going to be able to load this weapon unless they rock climb in their spare time.  Note that if you use the extended magazine, it seats hard.  You’ll want to really ram it home, or you’ll find it falling out when you bring the gun up.  Oh and when you ram it, watch the fleshy parts of your hand.  They tend to get caught in that ugly seam you see in the picture.  Even seated, it LOOKS like it’s going to pop back 0ut.

SigLite Night Sights on the P290

SigLite Night Sights on the P290




SigLite night sights and Laser:  This 290 (and really, all the 290s I’ve seen) came with Sig Sauer’s own tritium sights.  Three dot picture, bright in low light, very functional.  No complaints there; they are some of the best on the market.  However, the laser is a piece of crap.  The laser that came with the gun stopped working the second time I brought the gun to the range.  It was not a battery issue as I bought a nice $10 set of batteries to confirm that……the sight is crap.  So I then bought a second laser off of Amazon.  It too is a piece of $%#@!  The switch may or may not activate it and when it does come on, any shaking (or shooting) makes it intermittent.  After investigation, both issues appear to be related to the switch.  I’ve also found people who sell “refurbished” lasers.  Well, you don’t have a supply of refurbs without a supply of failed units.  So, if you DO buy yourself a Sig Sauer P290, I suggest saving the money on the laser.  Even if you find a working one, I would feel uncomfortable relying on it when the chips are down.  Sig should really look into this because the rest of the gun is as reliable as……a Sig.  At least the SigLite sights give you a low light option.

The laser issue has been VERY disappointing because the primary reason I bought the P290 was for use as a “movie gun”.  “Huh, a movie gun?”  Let me explain:  I like movies and I like to bring my family with me to those movies.  Hopefully, the worst experience we ever have is Matt Damon popping up in a cameo, in Interstellar (really, does he have to be in EVERY sci fi?).  But should something else go wrong, I want to be carrying a pistol that works in low light or in the dark.  That means night sights and if possible, a laser.  The laser gives you options for shooting from behind concealment, or at odd angles.  I also carry a superbright flashlight.  Unfortunately, although I trust the P290 to fire when called upon, I cannot trust the laser.  Therefore, I usually grab something else now.  Note: I’m eyeballing the new Ruger LCP with night sights as my new “movie gun”.  My current LCP has a LaserLyte laser installed and it works flawlessly, so I’ll transfer it to the new LCP.  It’s an awesome unit that goes on the side of the gun and let’s you use most of the soft holsters that will fit an LCP without laser.  You can also get a Shepard IWB Holster for it, formed around the laser (got one).  Hmmm, I’ll have to review that in the future.  For now, here are links to both the laser (which you can now get for about $60–SMOKIN’ DEAL) and the holster:

LaserLyte Laser for Ruger LCP

Right Handed Shepard Holster for Ruger LCP w/LaserLyte

Left Handed Shepard Holster for Ruger LCP w/LaserLyte

Full disclosure: If you buy through these links, I’ll get a few cents of the sale, but it will NOT cost you any more than it would if you didn’t use the links.

Now, let’s talk about the last issue I had with the P290.  Namely, it is a BITCH to field strip!  A BIIIIIIIIAAAAAATCH!  Because of the short slide travel and low slide mass, it has one MOTHER of a recoil spring.  I think it is sourced from an F-350 Diesel coil spring.  I honestly couldn’t figure out how to hold the slide back and push the takedown lever out, without the assistance of my 17 yr old.  You need a third hand.  But, I did some searching on YouTube and found a couple tricks.  I’ve distilled them down to the following pictures.  Remember, unload before cleaning (do I really need to say that?)

Sig P290 Field Stripping Instructions, Step 1: Pull the slide back with your index finger hooked around the end. Look for the slot in the slide to line up with the take down lever.

Sig P290 Field Stripping Instructions, Step 1: Pull the slide back with your index finger hooked around the end. Look for the slot in the slide to line up with the take down lever.

It looks easy in a static picture, but add in the sound of someone squatting 400 lbs to get the full effect of the effort involved.  My fingers are not normally purple.

Sig P290 Field Stripping Instructions, Step 2: Reach under with your other hand and press the "button" end of the lever, until it pops out the left side of the gun. S-L-O-W-L-Y let the slide move forward and off the end.

Sig P290 Field Stripping Instructions, Step 2: Reach under with your other hand and press the “button” end of the lever, until it pops out the left side of the gun.  Remove the takedown lever. Then, S-L-O-W-L-Y let the slide move forward and off the end.

So in summary, although it shoots fine, the Sig P290 RS has been a disappointment to me.  It doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally well and it has some real negatives (weight, extended mag, factory holster, laser, recoil spring from an F-350!).  But, if you do decide to get one, be sure to pick up a Braids Holster on Ebay.  That will let you carry this gun in its best locations, either IWB or AIWB.  I’m going to pick up a couple more of these, for some of my other guns.  I’m also going to pick one up for the winner of this month’s drawing.  If you win and you don’t have a Sig Sauer P290, I’ll buy you one that fits something you DO have!

Notes about our Reviews:

Please look at our “Categories” section and read the About info.  There, you can see some photos of my “body type” (no, I’m not naked, nobody needs to see that).  I’m a middle-aged guy with a little bit of flab.  Not a whale, but the six-pack abs passed by about 300 cases ago.  You need to have a look, because the comfort of any holster system is strongly dependent on body type and any review will be biased accordingly.

Next, the belt.  Hold the “get a proper gun belt” comments.  I’ve got one.  But, it’s hard to see where the holster starts the belt stops, when I use a 1.5 inch black leather strap with no markings.  So, I’m using a 5.11 Nylon belt, which provides a nicer background for the photos.  For that reason, I don’t comment on belt sag, because, some of it is the dang belt!

Please comment and add your experiences with this or any other holster for this model of firearm

Thanks!

–Hank

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