When I stop and think about it, it’s really crazy how much influence 2015’s SPECTRE has on my daily life. I frequently wear a Bulova Marine Star with an homage NATO strap, I carry a Gerber 06 Auto every single day, and for the past year, I have used a Vega Holster, as seen in the film. Today, we are going to analyze the Vega IB333, as used by Bond in both SPECTRE and Skyfall, looking back on a year of heavy carrying with it. In the gun world especially, reviews aren’t something I love. They often happen with first impressions or exposure—and leave a lot to be desired in regards to authenticity. Gear is different though, its definitely not something to be immediately discussed–especially a daily carry holster. That said, over the past year, I have done everything from carry this holster to work daily to hiking in Colorado and going on runs with it on. I’ve found what I really love, and what I would be keen to change. So let’s get to it!
The Vega IB333 is an incredible minimalist and basic holster. It’s basically a pouch of suede leather with an ambidextrous polymer clip. That’s it. When you look at it, you can immediately understand why Vega has been the choice of EON since Casino Royale. The market is flooded with holsters that are loudly branded, tacticool and excessive. That’s not to say you don’t get more functionality out of a kydex holster with a branded clip—in fact, it has better retention and probably conceals better too (we’ll get to that). But they just aren’t Bond, or me for that matter. James Bond looks good effortlessly and is mostly timeless with his wardrobe selections. Minimalism plays a great deal in that. Character can exist more prominently in something with less detail or garish color, as Bond proves time and time again with his attire. The same goes for the holster. A simple cognac suede, with matching stitching and a large black polymer clip fits the bill perfectly in my opinion. And, it only has improved with age. The distressing on the leather honestly holds more character than any cerakoted holster I’ve ever seen. You know it’s been used, and with the distressing has come more comfort honestly. So not only does it look better, it just feels right.
I love every small detail on the holster now that’s its seen over a year of heavy use. The corner has rolled up in the front, showing the PPK profile clearer when looking at it outside of the waistband. The gun has left its imprint on the inside, and what used to be an undefined pouch of suede now is something with a bit of structure thanks to its constant usage. Overall, I love the way this holster looks. I find it so fun to photograph too, so I apologize for the constant stories and posts on Instagram featuring it!
Carrying Like Bond
So it looks cool—that’s half the battle in feeling 00 with your choices. But how does it carry?
1. The Retention
Retention is how well the holster holds the gun. You don’t want your firearm just falling out of the waistband when you go to tie your shoes because you’re bending over—that would be very bad indeed. You also don’t want it so tight that it is impossible to access your firearm in a defensive situation. Could you imagine Bond attempting to draw his pistol and it just being stuck? Because Fleming certainly did, and Bond almost died in From Russia with Love (the novel) after his .25 Beretta got snagged in the waistband. While that was an issue due to the lack of a holster, the point still carries.
This holster, being constructed of simple and rather thin suede doesn’t retain super well outside of the waistband. If you turn the holster upside down, out goes the PPK. Where the holster does shine though, is when the pistol is inside the waistband. With the pressure created by the waistband, the gun is retained well. As I said in the introduction, I’ve hiked miles and miles in Colorado with this inside the waistband, and have ran in the evening with it in a pair of joggers—which to me speaks the most volumes about the holster as I never worried about losing it once. So, while there’s none of the locked in retention of most modern holsters, this rig can hold up to life, without much fear of losing your sidearm.
All that said, I don’t have a lot of experience carrying with it in the 4 o’clock position like Craig does in SPECTRE. I personally find that carry choice to be limiting–making the firearm harder to access. But, if you’re wearing jackets as tight fitting as Craig’s in SPECTRE, you certainly aren’t going to be using a shoulder holster, so really its the only option.
2. The Clip
Here’s where my complaints arise. I have a love/hate relationship with the Vega carrying clip. Its obscenely wide and sits entirely too tall. I carry AIWB (Appendix Inside the Waistband) most days. The clip is such a print hazard due to how far off the holster it rests. In shirts and sweaters, it’s really not that bad. But in the summer months, when I am wearing my FYEO navy v-neck t-shirt or another casual shirt, I find that the clip is a dead giveaway—with the shirt perfectly defining the outline of the clip. While the vast majority of people won’t notice such a thing, it’s best to always assume someone does. So this clip is honestly the bane of my existence in these warmer months. So much so, I wrote a whole blog about adjusting your summer carry to still conceal like Bond. Sometimes I even find myself trading out handguns—a last ditch effort. When I do, I end up carrying Fleming’s Choice, the Beretta 418. While it is certainly less than ideal, the 418 is far better than nothing and allows me to still have a firearm and something Bond inspired on my person.
Overall, this holster is one I will be replacing soon, but with another Vega IB333. My positive experiences with comfort and concealment most of the year keeps me coming back to it every day. While it may not be the most modern or effective holster, it does the job and captures the Bond aesthetic at the same time. This one in particular was a Christmas gift from Emma. That alone makes it incredibly special to me.
I may experiment with the clip on this older one, once I buy a replacement, and attempt to replace it with something more functional in lightweight attire. I’ll keep you all posted on that!