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Uncle Mike's Sidekick Professional: Michaels of Oregon's versatile nylon holsters.

If a manufacturer could show you how to take that whole wall of leather goods and convert it into a few feet of nylon goods which were more versatile than any leather holsters could ever hope to be, you'd pay attention, wouldn't you? Well, listen up then, because Portland, Ore.-based, Michaels Of Oregon offers dealers just such a chance with their "Uncle Mike's" Sidekick Professional line of nylon holsters.

For years gun enthusiasts have purchased leather shoulder and belt holsters because there was no alternative. Leather holsters are very attractive, but they are also heavy and uncomfortable, and they require a lot of maintainance. During the past few years, however, shooters have been discovering the benefits of nylon holsters as an alternative to their tried-and-true leather counterparts.

In order to fulfill the needs of these shooting customers, Michaels Of Oregon produces several lines of nylon holsters, including the Sidekick Professional line. The Professional holster, as the name implies, is marketed for the police officer, detective, off-duty police officer, CCW license holder, sports shooter, or anyone else who must wear a gun for an extended period of time.

Although Michaels makes the Professional series holsters available directly to police departments, Steve Rowe, the company's vice president of marketing, said that more than 80 percent of their sales come through sporting goods distributors. "Most departments still rely on their old stock of leather goods," he said. "The officers are willing to invest their own money to purchase holsters which are more comfortable than what's issued to them."

Versatile And Comfortable

Nylon holsters offer customers several advantages over leather. The first advantage which most customers notice is the price. Michaels nylon products are approximately half the price of leather, which is an attractive sales feature for the police officer who purchases his own holster.

Versatility is another advantage of Michaels Professional line. "With leather, the customer had to buy a new holster every time he bought a new gun," Rowe said. "Since the Professionals are much more pliable than leather, we can make a holster to fit a whole range of guns."

The Professionals all feature nylon outer construction with soft closed-cell foam walls and a smoother nylon liner to protect the gun's finish. One holster will fit most gun models within a specific size range, and that means less inventory for the dealer to carry. It also means a higher perceived value in the eyes of the customer. "Customers had to sell their leather hoisters along with the guns that fit them," Rowe said. "With these, dealers can sell the holster and gun a a package. The customer won't worry that their holster will become obsolete if they their gun."

Michaels' holsters do not retain moisture, which makes them ideal for bad-weather situations. Since all of their metal parts are fully covered in nylon, they are also fully washable - another advantage over leather: "If the leather holster gets sand or dirt in it, it's going to scratch up the finiss of gun," Rowe said.

Michaels' holsters are also perfect for specialized usage, such as on hazardous material or narcotics teams. "Since the nylon is non-reactive, it is highly resistant to the chemical damage that undercover police often face," Rowe said.

Weight and comfort are also important selling points to most police and extended-wear customers. The foam walls of Michaels' holsters make them conform to the wearer's body as well as the gun contained in them. The nylon bends and gives with the user's body, which reduces the perceived weight of the gear.

A Look At The Products

One of Michaels' newest holsters is the Super Belt Slide Holster. Michaels only makes six models of this nylon holster, but by stocking these six, dealers have a full line of off-duty products which fit all guns from 2-inch-barrel, double-action revolvers up to 5-inch-barrel, large automatics.

The Super Belt Slide is a slim holster with just enough foam inside to hold the weapon securely without making the holster bulky. However, it's deceptively simple. With belt loops on either side of the holster, the Super Belt Slide can be worn either inside or outside the belt for maximum concealibility.

The holster also comes with a steel-reinforced thumb break which can be converted to either right- or left-handed operation. The package instructions imply that this operation is simple, but it does require a bit of manipulation. The Velcro strap holders are hidden underneath strong patches of nylon webbing. The webbing is there to keep the Velcro in place, but, in order to loosen it, customers must use something long and thin (a butter knife works well) to slide under the webbing and free the Velcro. However, aside from this minor inconvenience, the holster is very well suited to its purpose.

Another of the premier products in the Sidekick Professional line is the GunRunner Fanny Pack. Fanny packs are rapidly becoming the off-duty holster of choice for police officers, and the concealed carry choice for most gun owners. One of the biggest complaints about these fanny packs has been that they don't look like normal fanny packs; most come in dull black or gray and they look like something in which a cop would hide a gun. Michaels' GunRunner, on the other hand, comes in a number of "designer" colors, like neon green, hot pink, and royal blue. The GunRunners feature two small pouches in front and one large compartment in back. The large compartment is intended for gun carry and comes with a heavy-duty Velcro strap to secure the gun in place. The concealed carry compartment is closed with Velcro as well, so it is easy to open with just a tug.

Like the Super Belt Slide, Michaels' Ankle Holster is almost infinitely adjustable. The elastic band which secures the holster to the upper calf, the heavy, soft strap which holds the hoister on the ankle, and the thumb break strap are all held in place with strong Velcro fasteners, and they are all adjustable to the size of the wearer.

Michaels has done a lot of research to make sure that these holsters are comfortable and easy to use, no matter who is wearing them. Even with a heavy, medium-sized revolver like the Ruger SP101 jammed into the little ankle holster, it stayed in place and was extremely comfortable. In fact, the only problem was trying to slide the pants leg past the oversized grip, but that was certainly no fault of Michaels.

Support For The Dealer

Michaels Of Oregon sells their products through several wholesalers across the country, including RSR Wholesale Guns, Sports South Inc., Bangers, and Ellett Brothers. A small amount of Michaels' holsters are sold by direct bid through police-only distributors, but Michaels monitors these sales closely to assure that their retail distributors are not being undersold.

In order to assure customer satisfaction, Michaels Of Oregon maintains a toll-free customer service line. All of Michaels' products come with a no-questions-asked, lifetime guarantee which assures that if they ever fail or become unserviceable, they will be replaced at no charge.

Michaels Of Oregon is dedicated to producing the best products possible, and their Sidekick Professional line is no exception. With their versatility, durability, and value, these nylon hoisters should be a money-making addition to any gun store inventory.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sighting In
Author:Farrell, Scott
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:Column
Date:Feb 1, 1992
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