Kramer Handgun Holsters


by R.K. Campbell

Photography by R.K. Campbell

November 13th, 2005




Among the first custom quality holsters I obtained was a Kramer Vertical Scabbard. I still have the holster and it has served admirably for over a decade. I think that we have come to accept and appreciate Kramer a great deal over the past few years, but until recently I was ignorant of how the company originated.  I think that the history of this company is interesting.

Greg Kramer began his long apprenticeship in leather in 1976, working with DeSantis Holster and Leather Goods first on a part time, then on a full time basis. At the time, DeSantis was located in Long Island, New York. Greg Kramer moved to Washington State in 1978 and continued working with leather gear. For five years or so, holster making was a hobby shared with his friends. But by 1983 Kramer had advanced to the point his wife,  Soon Ja,  suggested he form his own leather company. The company was born under a different name but soon become Kramer Handgun Leather. The rest is history!

In the meantime, Greg Kramer took a job as a mail carrier and made holsters at night. Then, a young solider named Duane Thomas ordered several holsters and also produced a magazine article, one of his first, featuring Kramer Handgun Leather. The magazine was Handguns, now headed by the knowledgeable publishing veteran Jerry Lee.  I learned of Kramer holsters from Handguns magazine.  Editor Jan Librouel, now at Gun World, seemed particularly impressed by this gear.  Kramer always kept his ears open and appreciates customer feed back. As new-found publicity and customer satisfaction came to his shop, new designs came from dealings with professionals in the industry and warriors such as Navy SEALs and big city cops.

Among the most successful holsters Kramer Leather markets is the MSP paddle. Originally designed as a standard off duty holster for the Michigan State Police, this is a first class all leather paddle. It must be worn and used to be appreciated. The all leather paddle fits against the body comfortably and a special stabilizing strap uncommon to paddle holsters is also used.  Overall, this is among the very few paddle types I find acceptable for harsh duty.  An advantage is the fact that this holster has just enough offset to be truly fast. I have performed rapid draws from many holsters but this holster stands alone in allowing a rapid presentation while maintaining security. 

Kramer was among the first, if not the first, to work exclusively in horsehide. Even today, horsehide is his forte while he allows a discount if the holster is ordered in leather. Pound for pound horsehide is stronger than leather, allowing greater strength for equal weight.  Horsehide is much less porous than regular leather, shedding oil, moisture, perspiration and cleaning solvent in a superior fashion.  Overall, Kramerís dedication to horsehide has been appreciated by professionals. 

I have used several of Kramerís cross draw holsters with good results. I appreciate a good cross draw for many reasons. When seated, the cross draw offers an efficient draw. If you are behind a desk or driving,  the pistol is accessible. This is not true with a strong side belt holster. Strong side carry is the best choice for most situations but the cross draw offers real advantages in certain situations. When you need a proper cross draw holster, the Kramer product is among the best.

Kramerís IWB (inside-the-waistband) line is extensive, with purpose-designed holsters for various handguns. There is even an inexpensive holster that fills the bill for low risk use. But a hard look at the Kramer line shows nuances in design not appreciated by the uninitiated. I think that those with more experience with handguns and concealed carry will appreciate the line more. Several of the IWB holsters are well suited for the long, slim 1911 pistol. They stabilize easily due to the long slide and weight of the 1911. Such holsters are equally well suited to the Browning High Power design. However, some holsters presented a problem when the SIG and Glock pistols became popular. It is a simple matter to obtain molds for the individual handgun, but when it comes to designing an effective holster the nuances of each handgun must be taken into effect.

The Glock is blockier than the 1911 and the holster must be designed to accommodate the square slide and keep this slide away from the body. As for the SIG, the balance is more in the handle and the holster must tilt the handgun to accommodate this balance. Some of the earlier IWB designs just didnít work, or at least didnít work as well, with the new pistols coming into service.  Kramer quickly developed superior designs to accommodate bulky slides and frames with a different balance than the 1911.  Considering that all of the popular fighting handguns, from the 1911 to the Glock, were designed as military weapons for open belt wear, Kramer has done an estimable job in designing and manufacturing holsters to adequately conceal such pistols.  Kramer also offers holsters for the Baby Desert Eagle pistols, excellent-all around double action pistols with impeccable credentials.

Kramer has not simply rested on his laurels after his pace-setting work in horsehide. He moved to exotic leather and has become the recognized leader in this field. Sharkskin is a specialty material Kramer especially excels in.  Sharkskin is rugged and will take abrasion far better than any other material I am aware of. While expensive, in comparison to the long service and pride of ownership afforded, I consider sharkskin a bargain. As a bonus, when a sharkskin belt is added to the ensemble, the surface tends to mate together strongly, preventing slippage when the two are cinched together.  Altogether, for a hard use holster material for the armed professional, sharkskin is possibly the best choice. 

Whatever the material, Kramer holsters feature excellent design.  Tunnel belt loops, reinforced holster mouths, and well designed spines with excellent stitching are part and parcel of the package.

R.K. Campbell


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Click pictures for a larger version.


The author's SIG, a Kershaw knife, Federal ammunition and a Kramer holster. All first class gear for the armed professional.



This sharkskin holster is several years old.  After a period of time, despite many knocks on walls, seats, and other obstacles as well as a hearty practice regimen, the holster remains as rigid as the day is was issued.



If looks matter - and Iíll say they do - a Kramer holster can be brought by to shining new in a few minutes. An application of Kiwi polish and Neetís foot oil made this decade-old holster appear as new. Sharkskin is a worthwhile investment.



If the holster bottom is stitched closed, it will protrude a few inches more than an open bottom holster, but Kramer manages to crimp his holster bottom, achieving much the same as a closed bottom but with greater concealment. A touch that many customers will not notice, this is Kramerís attention to detail.



This simple belt scabbard is a more complex design that it first appears, with a strong reinforced belt loop and a well designed welt for reholstering. This holster carries the author's FM 9mm.