Black Arch Protos-M Holster Review: IWB Hybrid with a Breathable Backer

Welcome Sam Noziska to Guns Holsters And Gear. In Sam’s first article for us, he reviews a Black Arch holster – the Protos-M. This is an IWB-style hybrid holster with a breathable backer called Dri-Matrix. This dual clip IWB can be worn as a strong side rig or as an appendix carry holster (AIWB). Feel free to offer feedback to Sam (please be kind) in the comments section below. Also, some links on the page may be affiliate links meaning we earn some money if you purchase anything using them.  

The hot sun beat down relentlessly as I trekked across the deserted shooting range, its parched earth cracked and dusty beneath my boots. Though it was only mid-morning, rivulets of sweat already soaked through my shirt in the oppressive heat. As a writer constantly moving from one assignment to the next, staying sharp with my concealed carry firearm is essential for personal protection.

Testing IWB Holsters for a Demanding Lifestyle

As I set up targets for practice, I pondered the countless miles I’d logged over the years, often through uncertain territory far from the protections of civilization. My writing as a correspondent requires venturing deep into the field to capture authentic stories, exactly as they unfold. From war-torn countries to lawless border towns, maintaining competent fieldcraft skills has kept me breathing more times than I can count.

review of the protos-m holster

Foremost among those abilities is pistol proficiency. As a southpaw, my catalog of quality holster options is admittedly limited. Through trial and error, I’ve become quite savvy at identifying high-performance carry gear that can keep pace with my adventures.

So when a promising new holster hits the market, you better believe I take it for a test drive. For about three months now, I’ve been evaluating the Black Arch Protos-M holster paired with my ever-reliable Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro compact pistol. After putting this rig through its paces, I’m thrilled to report the Protos-M handles the Hellcat Pro superbly and is about as comfortable as I could imagine.

Hellcat Pro – My Trusted Companion

I drew my Hellcat Pro from its resting place on my hip, the compact pistol melding seamlessly into my grip like an old friend. Though diminutive in size, the Hellcat Pro boasts an impressive 15+1 round capacity standard. I’ve upgraded a few of my magazines with the Springer Precision +4 extensions for 19 rounds without giving up any of its concealment features.

Shooting the Hellcat Pro

[Be sure to read our Hellcat Pro Review.]

Despite its petite dimensions, the Hellcat Pro’s pedigree is all business with an 18-degree grip angle for natural pointability, aggressive slide serrations for positive manipulation, and a tactile textured grip, called Adaptive Grip Texture, to tame recoil. The iron sights lined up instinctively as I depressed the blade safety and squeezed the trigger, sending a Federal Syntech 115-grain projectile hurtling downrange.

photo of black arch protos-m holster for edc

This micro-sized powerhouse may fit discreetly into the palm of your hand, but make no mistake – the Hellcat Pro brings serious capability to personal defense. So choosing a holster that fully complements this platform is paramount.

Why the Black Arch Protos-M is My Holster of Choice

For optimal concealment, comfort, and draw performance, the Black Arch Protos-M holster is my top choice for the Springfield Hellcat platform. Here’s why:

Unmatched Trigger Protection

The Protos-M utilizes a hybrid design, mating a partially synthetic backer to a 0.08” Kydex shell for the best of both worlds. The supple backer makes all-day carry comfortable, while the Kydex provides rigid protection and retention.

hellcat pro in a black hrch holster

Critically, the Protos-M’s Kydex wraps fully around the trigger guard area. Many hybrids leave a gap here, but the Protos-M completely seals this vital zone to prevent debris intrusion. Check YouTube and you can find videos of accidental discharges from things getting into the trigger guard. For me, when conceal carrying, keeping the trigger comprehensively guarded is a non-negotiable for safety.

Dialed-In Retention

Drawing the Hellcat Pro from the Protos-M produces an audibly satisfying “click” as the pistol disengages from the adjustable retention “lock.” It’s the sound of assurance – confirmation that my pistol is properly secured until called to action.

protos-m backer dri-matrix being tested

Re-holstering echoes that same definitive click, guaranteeing a locked-in fit. Yet the retention pressure remains dialed-in for buttery smooth draws when fractions of a second count. The adjustment screws\ let me fine-tune retention and perfect the draw stroke.

Adaptable to Any Body Type

As a proud lefty, ambidextrous operation is helpful for me. The Protos-M delivers here too, with fully reversible components to accommodate right or left-hand use. I keep my holster dialed in for a perfect 3 o’clock carry position.

The Protos-M further adapts with adjustable ride height, cant angles, and spacers to customize fit. The curved shape wraps comfortably contoured to my body profile when carrying concealed inside-the-waistband. 

I also tried the Protos in the appendix position. It worked, but I still prefer to carry on my strong side. As they say, your mileage may vary. 

Effective Concealment Design

Several prime features of the Protos-M holster enhance concealment and all-day wearability:

black arch protos m holster review

The holster effectively wraps the gun around my body, bringing the grip tight against my side. Many holsters allow the pistol grip to flag outward, creating a conspicuous printing hazard. The widespread belt clips work together and eliminate this issue by streamlining the profile. This stabilizes everything to prevent sagging or shifting, even during rigorous activity.

The modularity of the Protos-M lets me configure the holster for maximum concealment for any body type or carry position. I keep mine dialed in to disappear effortlessly under an untucked casual shirt.

All-Day Comfort

The premium leather and Dri-Matrix backing on the Protos-M wicks moisture and breathes far better than pure Kydex designs or those with a monolithic leather slab. I’ve worn this holster for long 18+ hour days in brutal heat, and it stays comfortable. The quality materials and anatomical curves eliminate any abrasion or hot spots. And bonus feature: the Dri-Matrix synthetic material seems to fight odors.

I’ve also put the Protos-M through multi-day backcountry excursions covering miles of steep, rocky terrain. Even when I’m loaded down with gear, the holster rides secure and comfortable for the long haul.

Built to Last

Constructed of top-shelf American-sourced components, the Black Arch Protos-M delivers exceptional durability. The rugged Kydex shell shrugs off abrasion that would grind lesser holsters to shreds. I’ve crashed through untamed brush-busting stories without a hitch.

The premium backing doesn’t sag or deform permanently like cheap materials. Adjustment screws stay locked down despite hard use. After severe testing that would destroy common retail holsters, my Protos-M looks nearly brand new.

This level of Made-in-USA quality provides peace of mind that my holster can handle anything my exploits demand. When failure is not an option, trust is paramount.

Why the Black Arch Protos-M is My Go-To Hybrid Holster

After months of punishing testing and daily concealed carry, the Black Arch Protos-M continues earning my enduring loyalty. Simply put, this holster rises above the rest to deliver everything a demanding Hellcat Pro owner needs:

  • Total trigger guard protection for maximum safety
  • Dialed-in retention tuning for smooth, consistent draws
  • Adaptability to conceal optimally on any body type
  • Proven sturdy construction that thrives through rugged use
  • All-day comfort for extended wear

For these reasons and more, the Protos-M remains my holster of choice for carrying the superb Springfield Hellcat Pro concealed.

The Hellcat platform continues gaining immense popularity with good reason. This micro-compact packs impressive firepower into a discreet size. Combined with the stellar Protos-M holster, this potent duo provides compact every-day carry capability without compromise.

If you’re in the market for a new concealed carry holster, take my advice – get the Black Arch Protos-M. Your Hellcat Pro deserves a high-performance hybrid holster crafted to the same exceptional standards. Confidently carry your concealed pistol the way it was meant to be – close at hand and ready to protect innocents at a moment’s notice. Just as I’ve done countless times across this beautiful country we call home.

You can buy the Protos-M here. This is not an affiliate link.