Reviews > Gear Review

Massaro Holster Works American Purebred Holster IWB - Glock 19 Gen 3


I first met Eddie Massaro at one of USCCA's Concealed Carry Expo. This smaller show was a welcome respite from the massive SHOT Show and NRAAM conventions, yielding more opportunities and time to visit with the exhibitors and check out their wares.

To be honest, one of the main reasons we stopped in to the Massaro Holster Works booth was to get a closer look at the crazy belt clips on his holsters. Maybe I even thought that it didn't have clips, since they're so small. Talking to Mr. Massaro - another midwest guy who describes himself as "an engineer by trade and a patriot by nature" - was easy going and we had a good chat given our similar backgrounds and interests.  At the show, Eddie and his crew showed us the holsters, gave us a little background about the features and why they came up with them. After a bit of talking about the holsters and other topics of shared interests, we thanked him and moved on to continue through the show.

A little while after the show, Eddie got in touch with me to ask if I'd be interested in trying out one of his American Purebed (get it, like a "hybrid" holster, but purebed) models and he sent one for my EDC Glock 19.

Massaro's American Purebred is kind of an odd duck. It's one of those products that you might look at and say "ehhhhh, I don't know about that." It had little wires for the belt clips! The shell attached to the back of the holster using Velcro! It wasn't as slim as some other IWB holsters! The backing is just neoprene with a layer of Velcro! Ehhhhh, I don't know about all that.

But the more I looked at it and used it, the more features I noticed and the more the whole thing made sense. Eddie is an engineer and a tool maker and it became obvious that he had poured a lot of thought and quality craftsmanship into the American Purebred. "Ehhhhhh, I don't know about that" turned into "Hey, this thing is pretty good!" That's why this is a fairly long review for a holster - it has a lot of attention to detail. I think I figured out all of the features - if I missed any, I hope he gets on here and points them out.

In broad-strokes, the American Purebred holster looks pretty similar in general appearance to most hybrid holsters. It's got a flexible, winged backer (Velcro-faced neoprene, here) with belt clips (thin spring wire loops, in this case), and a polymer shell on the front to hold the handgun.

But, Those Belt Clips...
Those dinky little wire loops where you would normally see a flat spring steel or polymer clip or leather strap? Tuns out they're not so dinky. The first thing I noticed is how stiff they are. They aren't difficult to pull open, but it does take some force. I spent some time pulling on them pretty hard (certainly harder than I would feel comfortable pulling traditional clips) with no signs of weakening or deformation. Likewise, they can't be splayed open thanks to the heatshrink-like coating on the back side and the closed loop on the front. After all that pulling and months worth of cycles of putting the holster on and off over a belt, the clips still close just as tightly. That close fit and the upswept hooks helped make sure that the clips wouldn't slip over even the thinnest cloth belt we tried it with. I would guess that the grip is good enough to wear without a belt (provided that you have a good waistband seam and your gun doesn't pull down your pants).

Also, notably, the clips are nearly impossible to see. No trying to dress them up with logos or try to disguise them as belt loops - just make them small. Problem solved. They all but disappear when worn with a black belt and are small enough to go unnoticed with just about any belt.

But, That Backing...
Neoprene has some good qualities - it's squishy, moisture-proof, flexible - but it's not leather, and it won't wear like leather. But this thing isn't just going to rip in half - there is some kind of reinforcement in there (non-magnetic, as far as I could tell, but I didn't have a very strong magnet). Shaped like a big, open, smiling mouth, the reinforcement runs from the permanently attached belt clips to a pair of top and bottom rivets in the backer, adding strength and structure to the rubbery material.

While the backing material is around 1/4" thick at first glance, it's also light and squishy, providing padding between any pointy parts of the holster or firearm and your body and making it very comfortable to wear. The American Purebred info page notes that the padding compresses down thinner than most leather backers.

Another benefit of the backing material: neoprene's high coefficient of friction. The backing pad does a good job of holding the holster in place all by itself. I wouldn't try it, but if you had snug pants, you could probably almost wear this holster even without any belt clips.

I'm currently located in what many would consider the bottom end of the midwest but the Census Bureau calls The South. It gets pretty warm. It isn't strange for spring weather to toy with triple digits and summer frequently buries that needle into the red. Good news: neoprene is water (and sweat) proof - hence why they use it for wetsuits. Bad news: neoprene is air tight. For me, anyway, the skin under the holster gets pretty damp. Massaro tries to remedy that with a bunch of holes through the backer (almost everywhere except where the reinforcement is), but it's no match for a big sweat-prone guy in the south. It would ruin the friction-hold feature, but I wouldn't mind seeing an option to put something on there like a layer of cloth to add an extra layer of breathability (or, at a minimum, absorbency - gross).

The backer is further strengthened by the front face, which is covered with a layer of Velcro.

A Velcro Holster?
Yes, a Velcro holster. Well, a Velcro component on a holster, at least. Not just store-brand "hook and loop" tape either - actual, real, name-brand Velcro™ complete with the little ™ thing after it. The good stuff. I seem to recall a blurb on their website (or was it on the flyer Eddie included with the holster?) that called it something like "military strength" and even gave the shear strength specs, with and without the additional pressure from a belt. That thing isn't going anywhere.

But it's not just a convenient way to stick the shell to the backer. Massaro put some thought into this one as well. With the American Purebred, I can use it as intended as an IWB holster. I can adjust the ride height as deep or high as I like it. I can adjust the cant to any angle I please. And I can do it without any tools. Technically, as Eddie points out, it can be done without even removing the holster by slipping your fingers between the shell and backer, adjusting, and removing your fingers. While that can certainly be accomplished, I found it a bit awkward, and prefer to either remove it to adjust or, a least, loosen up my belt and trousers for extra room.

But it's not only about adjustability - with just one backer, you can get multiple shells and swap them back and forth in a few seconds with no tools.

Or you can rip the holster off of the backer and stick it in a Velcro compatible pack, bag, or purse's concealed carry pocket. No more cheesy, poorly fitting nylon sleeve for your off-body carry - use the Purebred's custom molded shell. Note that on the Massaro holster, the loop (soft) side is on the backer and the hook (scratchy) side is on the holster shell - keep that in mind when planning what bags you can use it with... Maxpedition murse - yes, Glock backpack - no.

Not sold on the Velcro yet? I typically keep a pistol near my bed, stuck to a Magna-Arm magnet. It's great - it's convenient, it's close, it's reasonably hidden, and it's quiet since I don't have to open the night stand. It really works well. On the other hand, it costs $20, it's not portable since it's screwed on, and it can allow the pistol to slightly rotate out of the position I place it in.  What do you know... Eddie included a couple squares of adhesive-backed loop-side Velcro with the holster. Stick some to the side of my desk - BAM, office gun. By my recliner - BAM, tv gun.  By the door - BAM, get-off-my-lawn gun. And they don't rotate out of position, either. Just pull the shell off of the backer and move it to wherever you want. You don't even have to unholster it to move it around between your Velcro hidey-spots, making this type of administrative handling safer.

What about the shell
At first glance, I thought that the holster shell was a bit thicker that what you might see on some hybrid holsters. At second glance, I realized that form has function - gotta love engineers. In school, we had to read The Design of Everyday Things - Eddie must have read it to. Features don't "just happen" on the American Purebred -  everything has a defined purpose - and the shell has a number of nice features.

The entire shell isn't extra-thick, like I first thought. There is an angled ridge on the back of the shell - a shellf, if you will - that lifts the top (slide) away from your body, forcing the grip to tuck in toward your body, helping it conceal better. The triangular lines on top of the slide don't just look like they will accommodate supressor-height sights, it makes a smoother transition for your waistband between the lump of the pistol and your body instead of just having an empty gap.

The Glock shell Eddie sent us doesn't just have "some weird extra blocking on the front," (well, for 19.3 pistols it does), it's ambi Gen5 compatible with blocking for the right-side slide release. Forward thinking. It's also cut to accommodate an RDS, since putting an optic on carry guns continues to grow in popularity.
It has a sweat guard built into the shell (whereas they may normally be on the backer on most hybrids). Sweat guards aren't exactly unheard of, but it's a feature I appreciate.

There is even a little hidden notch cut into the muzzle end of the shell where the back surface meets the forward edge. If Eddie didn't design this to allow a little bit of flexibility for the sake of comfort and concealment (allowing the muzzle to push inward as the but flexes out slightly), then it's a heck of a coincidence that it does that perfectly.

Lastly, the American Purebred has balls. No, really. They're in the 2-screw retention system. They are easy to adjust and seem to allow a little more flexibility than the standard cylindrical bushings you might see there, so I don't know if it's a design feature, a joke about a Purebred with balls, or if those parts were just easier to source.

The only nitpick I have with the holster shell is the texture on the inside. I'm not sure if it is another Massaro's design features that I don't get, or if it's just an artifact of the production process, but the inside of the shell has a texture like the mold was cloth covered. It is a very tight basketweave texture that makes it somewhat abrasive - enough so to wear off some high edges on the Glock's polymer frame and rub a shiny spot on the slide. It's not like that's something I care about on my already well-worn carry guns, but if it's the type of thing you worry about it's something to consider.

Overall Opinions

I think Eddie did a great job with his holsters. There has, of course, been innovation in holsters over the years, but many offerings on the market today aren't much different than their counterparts from the 1800s. Eddie is using modern components and materials and processes and clearly put a lot of thought into the design to make it a comfortable, versatile, functional holster that works anywhere from AIWB to strongside to off-body to around-the-house.

If it sounds like something that would suit your needs, you can find out more at or


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