by Frank Winn, Guns & Gear Editor - Saturday, December 5, 2015
You don’t shoot handguns without, sooner or later, trying, buying, using and inevitably cursing holsters. For us, at least, it’s a process we’ve repeated over and over and over again.
A detailed explanation of why this happens isn’t needed; deduction will serve. “Generic” holsters are a vast compromise, and this goes well beyond the revolver vs. autoloader dichotomy. Size, weight and intended use bear heavily, and are only compounded if concealed or other real “carry” comes much into play. The generics may even border on peril, too, because of the unsafe gun handling they de facto encourage. (Two-handed re-holstering is the most common: A loaded pistol sweeps the hand that steadies such rigs while the trigger is still exposed. Not a good plan.)
But it isn’t all bad news: With a couple of caveats in mind, the Dale Fricke “Zacchaeus”© is a small, inexpensive and amazingly versatile holster that deserves a look, especially if carry is—pardon the expression—your aim.
On first sight, even we said of the Zacc’, “That’s a holster?” At under an ounce including the attachment, er, system, it takes a discerning eye to see how the darn thing works, much less comprehend the remarkable utility of the Fricke design.
The Zacchaeus consists of a small, intricate fold of kydex with a single hole and lanyard. In the fold is where the ingenuity lies: The same design (though not the same fold) has been adapted for 40 brands of pistol, and fits many, many more when you consider all the variations that can be accommodated within a line of pistols. To wit: We have a single example that fits all our 9 mm, .40/10 mm and .45 Glocks, irrespective of “Gen,” and excepting only the minis—the G42 and G43 (though we have one that works for both of those too).It requires many fewer concessions in the Bermuda Triangle of security, comfort and wardrobe selection.
Our photos show best how it works. The aforementioned fold grabs only the trigger guard of the pistol, but very completely and snugly with the trigger itself fully enclosed. The lanyard, via the hole, secures the holster to belt, belt loop, or other attachment point (you listening, ladies?) on a short tether, and the waistband or belt tension actually holds your pistol.
When you “draw,” the holster moves with the pistol until you run out of slack in the lanyard. At that point, momentum keeps the hand and firearm moving, but pulls the holster off the trigger guard. Viola! A drawn pistol.
Particularly for men, the advantages of the Zacchaeus are manifold. Depending on our trousers (or shorts) and belt (or lack thereof), the Zacc can be used for appendix, pocket, hip or even kidney carry, and on either side; there’s no “handedness” to this gem. Key here is the length and positioning of the lanyard loop. This is an experiment for everybody, but the variables are limited. Tied too long (most common), you need a lot of movement to “break” the holster off the trigger guard. Too short, and you limit the tuckability for the various positions. Got just right, and looped around the belt (as opposed to belt loop), the flexibility is amazing: At a 10 o’clock (for lefties) and a 2 o’clock position (for righties), we can use all four carry locations without re-tying the lanyard—it just slides along in the arc between belt loops.
Another huge plus of the Zacc is how it accommodates to individuals in terms of “cant”—angulation forward or back once in place at the belt. This facility not only makes a big contribution to overall comfort by accounting for highly individual body contours, but potentially to deployment speed: If you’ve ever “locked-up” mechanically in a holster, you know what we mean.
The potential for such lock-up is an unavoidable consequence—and a damn rude shock—which occurs when the essentially straight-up draw angle defined by attachment mechanics and sheathed length of a pistol are exceeded. Outside these generally narrow arcs—fore to back, side to side, or any combination thereof—haste or unexpected movement during the draw can result in enough friction between firearm and holster to slow or even stop presentation. As we said, it can be a rude shock—up to and including a disastrously fumbled gun. Not good.
We see no way for this to happen with a Zacchaeus: At the crucial moment where the Zacc breaks off the trigger guard, lanyard tension has ensured near-perfect alignment. We’re not saying it can’t happen, but we’ve never encountered it—not once.
Like every other holster, the little Fricke won’t please everyone. It simply isn’t as secure as a regular, belt-affixed holster, we grant. But it is much, much smaller in terms of “caliber,” however (avoiding that “I’ve got a BRICK in my belt” sensation), and requires many fewer concessions in the Bermuda Triangle of security, comfort and wardrobe selection.
If your imagination runs to extreme test scenarios, we’ll save you one, at least: Even a fully-loaded Glock G40 that falls out of tucked-in-the-waistband/belt carry doesn’t have sufficient mass to yank it out of the Zacchaeus. Even some jumping up and down didn’t pop it out for us. Why you’d carry a G40 that way, we’ll consider another time; but there’s little need to worry about the security of the holster itself.
Another occasional gripe comes about the “snap” a Zacchaeus makes as the draw stroke is completed and the trigger guard released. The complaint, as far as it goes, is legit. Whether it’s of tactical consequence is another thing altogether: We can only envision a tiny number of engagement types where a theoretically silent draw is even legal. Particularly outside the confines of a defensive situation in the home, it may even constitute “brandishing” and be a chargeable offense. Otherwise it’s almost certainly inside an OODA loop—the very rapid action cycle of a real engagement—and therefore is so far down the list of imperatives and sensory inputs as to be immaterial.
The Zacc also demands diligence along a safety axis unique to itself: Always snap the holster into place first, and from below the muzzle (so you don’t sweep yourself). Then position the pistol in the belt, waistband or wherever. Keep in mind that you can avoid the bulk of the risk here altogether: Simply cycle the slide to chamber a round after the Zacchaeus is in place on an empty pistol. You can also clear your firearm without ever unholstering—as far as we know, a unique capability!
We’ve run the Fricke Zacchaeus in earnest on many pistols over a long period—logical candidates like the G19/23, G26/27 and G42/43. We’ve also tried it on G17/22s, G34s and even a G40, just because we could (the “all Glock” thing is merely circumstantial; 39 other manufacturers are covered). In every case, the holster performed much better than we expected, particularly once we got the lanyard length correct.
The unconventional form and small size of the Zacchaeus make it easy to dismiss, but that’s a mistake in our view. While that same unconventionality obliges added caution as you learn to use it, we found it decidedly worth the effort. It’s a clever alternative that can solve many real-world carry issues, and all without costing an arm and a leg.
Now Carry on.
Email your comments/questions about this site to: 1stFreedom@nrahq.org
To advertise on America's 1st Freedom, visit nramediakit.com for more information
Get updates on America’s 1st Freedom features, NRA SHARP and American Warrior—delivered directly to your Inbox.