Ever find a product that you wanted to like but just couldn’t? That’s what I feel as I sit down to write this Phalanx Stealth Operator Compact Holster review.
Manufactured by Phalanx Defense Systems, this is a one-size-fits-most holster that should allow you to securely carry more than one kind of pistol in a concealed manner. For someone with more than one gun, the rig looks like it could be an alternative to purchasing a unique holster for every firearm.
I want to like this concealed carry holster, but I think it has some shortcomings that make it unsuitable for my use. I encourage you to read this review before deciding if this rig is right for you.
Contrary to the marketing, I do not believe the Phalanx Stealth Operator Compact Holster offers a reasonably secure way to carry a wide range of handguns. Phalanx states several of the pistols I tried would fit the holster. However, some were too loose while others fit so tight as to make drawing them difficult. I do not recommend this holster unless you have checked the fit with each of your guns before purchase.
The Stealth Operator Compact Holster is a Yaqui-style, belt slide holster designed for strong side carry. It leaves the muzzle of the gun exposed and has a forward cant. As an open top rig, it does not have any security strap and relies on a friction fit to prevent the gun from falling out.
Phalanx Defense Systems markets the Stealth Operator Compact Holster as a single rig that “…securely fits 150+ handgun models with positive retention…” and does so “…without any adjustment.” (emphasis theirs)
The company publishes a “Will Fit List” of handguns that are supposed to work with the holster to secure the pistol for self-defense purposes. More on that below.
Phalanx Systems manufactures these holsters in Florida. The company uses an injection molding process to manufacture the holster bodies. According to the company’s marketing, the rigs benefit from “military grade construction.”
The compact holster has a retail price of $34.95 and is available in both black and coyote tan. Right- and left-handed versions are available. The company also offers full-size holsters and rigs with hydro-dipping and other cosmetic features.
Using this rig is simple enough: just wind your belt through the loops. Phalanx uses large enough belt loops to allow for a thick, stiff gunbelt to work through them. I’m currently testing a Relentless Tactical gun belt that is quite sturdy. I was able to run it through the Stealth Operator holster loops without much fuss.
Once I mounted the holster to the belt, it did an excellent job of staying in place. Whenever I wore this rig, it did not move around.
Another nice feature of this rig is that it hugs the body tightly. Some outside-the-waistband (OWB) holsters allow a wide gap between the body and gun, which can cause concealment issues. In contrast, the Stealth Operator compact holster tucked in close to the torso and concealed almost as well as an inside-the-waistband (IWB) rig.
Does It Fit?
Unfortunately, I don’t feel the holster lives up to its claim of securely fitting more than 150 different firearms. I tested nine different handguns in the Stealth Operator. The company lists each of these handguns as fitting this holster. Of these guns, only three fit in a way I would deem to be correct: the Glock 17, Glock 27 and Walther PPS M2.
Four of the guns were loose fits. Those guns were the Bersa BP9CC, Kahr CM9, Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm and Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 380. Some of these guns rocked back and forth in the holster as I moved. The 9mm Shield was particularly bad as it wanted to push up in the rig any time I bumped it.
Two of the guns were very tight fits. They were the CZ P-07 and the SIG SAUER P226.
I sent my concerns to Phalanx Defense Systems about the fit of the guns, and I received a reply from Tracy Shank, the company’s marketing director. Shank stated:
Our will fit list is heavily influenced by customer feedback. Because they are the ones using it, we trust them most to let us know if they feel something fits and we do request images or go out and take our own to try to support this. We know that the holster can ‘fit’ a variety of firearms and, because of that variety, they will all fit a little different. We always encourage users who have fitment issues to try the gun in the holster while it is on a belt against the body as that can change the fit and replicates real-world use.
Shank went on to say that the company offers a “30-day satisfaction guarantee” that will protect you if the gun does not fit. However, this guarantee only applies if you purchase the holster directly from the company’s website and retain your receipt. If you buy the rig from your local gun dealer or favorite online site, you are out of luck.
Phalanx Defense Systems states the holster uses “military grade construction.”
There is an old military joke that points out that the lowest bidder manufactures all of the gear an average GI carries. While I’m sure Phalanx Defense Systems is not trying to relay that message about its products, it did leave me scratching my head at what is meant by “military grade construction.”
This was meant to mean that we are following MIL-SPEC with some of our material selections. Specifically, with our fasteners, used on both the eyelets and rivets. The grade of material that we purchase is tested in an environmental tank for 72 hours to replicate 7 years of use. I can agree that this isn’t going to mean much to end consumers and is basically a substitute for ‘durability,’ so we will reconsider it for the next round of packaging. Our lead engineer made this material selection because it is critical that anything that is making contact with the body and is exposed to sweat should not be at risk for rusting.
According to the Stealth Operator marketing, the holster has “rounded edges for comfort.” On my sample, it appeared that only half of the edges were rounded and left a sharp edge that could be uncomfortable when rubbing the skin the wrong way.
You are not the first to provide this feedback. Since creating the mold, we see that our product could go from good to great with a little retooling. It is not a small or inexpensive undertaking, but making it so the mold can support the smoother edges is on our road map.
Molds are expensive to make, so I can sympathize with the hesitancy in developing a new one. However, I found the claim of rounded edges fell a little short in actual use.
One of the things that I really like about Phalanx Defense Systems is the professional staff it employs.
All of the interactions I’ve had with the company have been cordial and helpful. At no point have I experienced anything less than a professional demeanor from any of its representatives. I cannot say the same about many other companies – even in the shooting industry.
I spoke with an associate of mine familiar with the company’s highly regarded DKX line of armor plates. He too was impressed by the staff at Phalanx.
While there are a few positive aspects to this holster, I believe the Stealth Operator fails to live up to its marketing. While it was acceptable for use with a Glock pattern pistol, other handguns of mine did not fit nearly as well.
If your local gun shop has one in stock, check the fit prior to purchase. Otherwise, I would pass and purchase something made specifically for your self-defense pistol. If you would like to purchase one of these, click here to pick up one from Amazon. It’s been my experience that Amazon does a superb job at protecting buyers and accepting returns when something doesn’t fit or work correctly.
If you are interested in having one holster that works well with multiple pistols, read my review on the Safariland 578 GLS Pro-Fit.
The Safariland rig is an outside-the-waistband holster that is said to fit more than 225 different firearms. In my testing, it worked well with almost all of the guns I tried. The key in its design is that it has an adjustable trigger guard hook that securely locks the gun into the holster.
I believe in full disclosure when I review products so you know what potential biases may exist. I wish everyone voluntarily adhered to such a policy because I don’t want you to waste your money on gear that doesn’t work.
Phalanx Defense Systems provided this holster to me as a free sample. Someone from their company reached out to me and offered to send one for my evaluation. I agreed. No promises of a favorable review were made or requested. No money was paid by any person or entity for me to produce this article.
I do not have any financial interest in this or any other holster company.
Before publishing this article, I did reach out to Phalanx with my concerns, and I have noted in the review their responses where appropriate. They did not ask for me to change anything in the article, nor were they given an advanced look at the review.
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