Classic Leather for the Hellcat: Galco Combat Master

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Classic Leather for the Hellcat: Galco Combat Master

August 4th, 2021

5 minute read

Combat Master is a unique name for a holster with a decidedly classic leather feel. When I think of combat holsters, I think of full-sized holsters with active retention — maybe a bomb-proof drop-leg rig from Safariland. But Galco has always led the market on leather and polish — and that’s exactly where this classic beauty fits in. Strap in as I review the Galco Combat Master.

Combat Master leather holster with Hellcat
The Galco Combat Master holds the Springfield Hellcat at a steep cant. The leather rig has a pair of wide slots for a range of belt widths.

The basic design is familiar — a robust pancake design that holds guns close to the hip. The design is canted forward. As such, it is excellent for strongside carry. With the butt forward, it works towards the small-of-the-back, too — if that’s your thing. In both positions, the draw is unencumbered by and active retention. The friction of the leather and the tension created by the belt is enough to hold it down through most activities.

The Leather

The material construction is clean. Like most leather holsters, there is some glue that shows in the joints where the front and back meet. I picked up this one in tan and it has a nice contrasting white stitching that adds a touch of flare. While it isn’t what I think of when I think of combat, it is what I know to be the defining aesthetic of Galco.

Galco Combat Master holster with Hellcat pistol in it
The finish on the Combat Master is a high-luster gloss. The rich brown is accented nicely by the double stitching.

The stitching itself is doubled all the way around. Again, this is a mix of practical strength and aesthetics. The surfaced has been boned to match — roughly — the profile of these types of guns. There is a slight rim pressed around the edges that aren’t stitched, and the edges have been polished and slicked, but not finished with edge coat.

Where Function Meets Fashion

The tan-dyed leather does have a gloss surface treatment that makes the Combat Master shine. This is a piece of firearms fashion. The Hellcat has proven to be an extremely effective platform for Springfield Armory. The XD line has always put form behind function. While they have a dedicated fan base, some think the looks are more utilitarian than beautiful.

Edge detail on Galco leather holster for the Springfield Armory Hellcat
Note the glue in the seam. This is hardly a problem and is common in steep angles where leather pulls open before the stitching locks it in place.

A quick tour around #Hellcat on IG will show you the flip-side. With its 13 rounds of 9mm and easily concealable size, the Hellcat is popular for its potential. But the gun looks good, too, and has drawn thousands of new shooters to the brand.

Form and function. The Hellcat has both, and so does the Combat Master. Galco has made a holster that’s easy on the eyes. And the time’s right to look past Kydex. Why not have a holster with a classic look for a modern polymer pistol?

Concealing the Combat Master

While this is a holster designed to be seen, it is easily concealed. Most coats would cover it well. A bowling shirt would cover it well enough. The snug fit pulls it in tight and the cant helps to reduce printing. In total, there may be an inch and a half that hangs below the level of the belt with this size of the holster.

Back side logo on the Combat Master leather holster
The back of the holster has some branding but is still the same leather as the front side.

What It Is, and Isn’t

There are a couple of points that should be mentioned. The holster is made of steer hide. Steers are raised for beef, so there’s a sustainability there. Vegetarians won’t agree, but at least Galco is using what’s left over. This steer hide is a split, so there’s a uniform thickness throughout.

The steer hide isn’t lined. Many higher-end leather holsters are, and that adds a cushion. A bit of pig skin or suede will help protect the finish on steel. But vegetable tanned leather isn’t too aggressive and it will take a lot of daily wear to begin to cut through the finish on the Hellcat.

There’s nothing odd on the back, either. Many of the newer IWB leather designs are being backed with synthetics-but this is an old-school outside the waistband.

Room for Improvement?

The Combat Master isn’t cut for red dots. The classic designs weren’t. Since I’m championing a mix of old and new, I’m arguing for fixing that. It wouldn’t take much effort to trim this pattern to allow for a RDS.

Man demonstrating concealment characteristics of the Combat Master holster
While not meant for deep concealment, the Combat Master is easy enough to hide. Printing is minimal beneath a thin coat.

I’d also like to see the stitching follow the lines of the belt slots, too — but now I’m splitting hairs. The belt loops, such as they are, work fine. The slots will fit belts as wide as 1.75.

Conclusion

The Combat Master is built for pistols and revolvers and comes in tan and black. Both colors have a super-slick gloss — the black isn’t as shiny as patent leather, but it isn’t subtle, either.

The MSRP on these is $103. I picked this one up for less from my FFL. At the time of writing, Galco says they’re backordered, but orders ship within two weeks. If you think this might be the perfect holster pick for your pistol, it will be worth the wait.

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

David Higginbotham

David Higginbotham

David Higginbotham is a writer and editor who specializes in everyday carry. He was a college professor for 20 years before leaving behind the academy and moving to Arkansas for a more practical profession in the firearms industry.

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