Today, we’re going to take a close look at the Versacarry® holster. This holster is technically not a holster, but a new yet-to-be-categorized firearm concealment system. Available since 2011, they are advertised as the ZeroBulk Holster®.
While we generally agree with the old saying: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”, we think there is probably an exception for evaluating firearm use and safety.
Believe us when we say that after a hard look over the course of a few months, we concluded that we should share with readers our view of the pluses and minuses of this innovative device.
That said, let’s get on with it.
We tried it for months
We’re not just writing this article out of the blue. We tried the Versacarry® with a Glock 27 for a few months. We really wanted to love it. Innovation is what keeps things moving, and while it’s definitely a different concept and design, this method of carrying a firearm raises some serious issues that any owner should be aware of and consider. We’ll start with the retention rod.
Just stick the holster into the barrel
The fact that you need to stick the holster into the barrel of your firearm is counter intuitive to most seasoned gun owners (except perhaps when we are cleaning it). It’s just asking for trouble and does not sound like safe practice. However, the company says it is ok, but recommends that you do not carry with a round in the chamber while you are using their holster.
Umm, did we get that right? It seems very odd that a pro-concealed carry company would actually recommend that you do not carry with a round in the chamber. Anyone carrying with an empty chamber over a loaded one would need to plan the additional time necessary and remember to chamber a round if they ever really need to use it.
Another potential problem is the entire holster coming up with the firearm while drawing, or something breaking off (see section below regarding plastic). We had this happen once (after the ‘break-in’ period) and had the trigger been pulled, we would have been in a lot of trouble. Firing with an obstruction in the barrel is probably not a great idea. We were always taught to keep our barrel’s clean and clear, and that it is inherently unsafe to put something into the working end of a firearm barrel.
You’re breaking two of the 4 Rules of Gun Safety
Many times when someone uses the Versacarry®, they are breaking two of the four gun safety rules that everyone should adhere to without exception. The four rules are listed below, and we’ve bolded the two that are at risk of being broken frequently when using the Versacarry®:
- #1: The Gun Is Always Loaded
- #2: Never Point The Gun At Something You Are Not Prepared To Destroy
- #3: Always Be Sure Of Your Target And What Is Behind It
- #4: Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Your Sights Are On The Target
When holstering your firearm in the Versacarry®, you need to stick the plastic rod into the end of your barrel. When watching people do this via YouTube and from photos around the interwebs, fingers and/or hand are sometimes directly in the path of the barrel, breaking the first two rules. Even though the manufacturer recommends that a round not be chambered when using this device, we must always assume that any firearm we handle is indeed loaded.
The way that the Versacarry® is designed, many will be inclined to insert the rod into the firearm in a way that brings the hand in front of the muzzle. At a minimum, this is something that needs to be addressed as a warning on packaging and/or the product website.
While this isn’t the fault of the company (after all, they aren’t responsible for what other people do), we feel that because of the inherent way many people will holster the firearm, Versacarry® should offer a specific warning.
The screenshot below from this video, that’s been viewed over 35,000 times, shows just what shouldn’t be done with a loaded or unloaded firearm being holstered with the Versacarry® (we added the ‘NOOOOOO’):
It’s good to note: Shortly after we launched this article, we received a PM from the owner of the above video that stated the following:
Then shortly after that, we noticed that he left this comment on his video:
Interestingly enough, this next screenshot is from this video, which is prominently displayed on Versacarry®’s website under their Reviews tab [since removed]:
As we all know, safety is and should always be the #1 top priority whenever handling firearms. This product will undoubtedly be used by many who are new to firearms and they shouldn’t be introduced to concealed carry by forming bad habits from the beginning.
Carry with an Empty Chamber
We need to elaborate on this again because it is important. We are certain that, while their recommendation is to carry your firearm with an empty chamber while using their product is prudent because there is a rod stuck in the barrel, we find it to be irresponsible. The Versacarry® will be used not only by seasoned firearm owners, but also people who are brand new to the scene.
The video below illustrates just how quickly things can change for someone, and why it’s important in many cases for owners to carry with a round in the chamber that’s ready to go. After all, many of us carry to be prepared for encounters such as these:
You can’t re-holster quickly
This may not sound like an issue with day to day life, but what happens if you’re met with a threat that we all hope never to encounter? What if you have to use your firearm in self defense? If you can’t re-holster quickly, what are you going to do with your firearm while waiting for the police to arrive? It’s doubtful that you’ll take your Versacarry® out of your pants, stick it back into your gun barrel, and then put it back in your waistband. After all, you just shot someone. The last thing you want to do is just hold onto your firearm while police approach the scene. That’s a quick way to get shot yourself. You don’t want to lay it down, because then it’s no longer in your control. These are problems that should be addressed by owners of Versacarry®.
The Trigger Guard is Still Exposed
The Gen 1 versions of the Versacarry® did not come with a trigger guard. In fact, it wasn’t even an option. However, after getting feedback from consumers, Versacarry® changed the way they manufactured their products and added a trigger guard on the Gen 2 versions. This is better, but not perfect. While they did install a trigger guard to cover the trigger on the outside, it still leaves the inside completely unprotected (see photo below). This can allow something to manipulate the trigger, whether it’s an article of clothing or something else. It’s simply not covered, and that alone presents a risk we would not take.
Retention Rod: What if it breaks off while drawing?
Again, we’re bringing this up because it’s a real concern since the user is required to put the plastic retention rod into the end of their barrel. It’s just something to think about because it isn’t something that you’d normally think about, since it’s the only holster that we know of that has this requirement. Also, the setup is made of plastic which can and does fail. A local gun shop has reported that they have seen Versacarry® holsters come back because the base that holds the retention rod in place broke.
Pieces of the Retention Rod coming off inside your barrel is a normal part of the break-in process
Did we get that right?? Should we really put things inside barrels? We’re sorry, for us nothing should be in the barrel of our firearms except cleaning equipment, and a bullet on it’s way to it’s intended target. These plastic shavings, as illustrated below, can (and do) end up inside the barrel. They don’t belong there.
It’s Plastic, and it still breaks
We have come across numerous reviews online that talk about the setup breaking. Some say the clip broke, others said that the retention rod base snapped. The dead honest truth is that it’s made of plastic, and plastic breaks easier than metal (comparison to metal clips on a leather/kydex holster for example). Furthermore, for owners who use the holster in frigid or extremely cold weather as many do, is this risk enhanced?
One review that hit the nail on the head is this one that we found on the Amazon.com product listing for Versacarry®:
I did 10-15 back to back quick draws with my 1911 and the VersaCarry in the small of my back when I heard a snap (whoopsies!). I’m sure if I contacted VersaCarry, they would’ve sent me a replacement, but I didn’t bother.
I definitely don’t want to risk drawing quickly in the heat of a confrontation, only to be surprised by the Delrin “barrel retention rod” stuck in my barrel.
I’m sure I’m not the only one with this issue! I almost didn’t care to write a review, since it only cost me $20, but writing this might save a life or two.
There are also numerous reviews where users explain that their Versacarry® broke.
Questions Answered From Versacarry®
We sent Versacarry® a few questions about some of these issues to make sure we had not missed anything and to give them a chance to address them. In the interest of fairness, the questions and answers are as follows:
Question 1) While watching some YouTube videos that deal with Versacarry reviews, we often see people installing the Versacarry on their firearm by pushing the retention rod into their barrel with the palm of their hand. Do you offer any warning on your packaging to alert people that they should be careful not to place their hand in front of the muzzle while installing/removing their Versacarry?
Answer 1) The proper way to install the Versacarry is to grip the belt clip portion.
Question 2) Are there any plans to give protection to the trigger guard on both sides of a firearm that is using the Versacarry?
Answer 2) We are always looking to advance our designs in new and innovative ways, the exact specifics of new models to come is something we can’t release at this time.
Question 3) Important Question: We read an article (PDF) back when your company was in it’s infancy. In that article, the owner of Versacarry was quoted as saying that, if a firearm is discharged while the Versacarry is in the barrel, that it is designed to either fall out or disintegrate. Can you provide us with any data and/or video that demonstrates this happening to back up this claim?
Answer 3) I am not familiar with the exact article in question. We do not advise discharging a firearm with a Versacarry installed.
Question 4) Important Question: What factors played a part in the decision to recommend that users do not carry with a round in the chamber while using the Versacarry?
Answer 4) As a manufacture we have no way of knowing the level of training our customers have experienced, and we must adopt policies that are safe for everyone.
Note: All questions and answers above appear as asked and answered and are unedited.
We followed up with two questions regarding #1 and #3. For #1, we asked if the packaging had any warnings about placing your hand in front of the muzzle. For #3, we referenced the article (PDF) and quoted the section in question.
We have not received follow-up responses to these questions, but hope to receive some more feedback from them in the near future.
When dealing with firearms, leaving something to chance isn’t something anyone should do. We would not even recommend any non-molded holsters because they can get caught up in the trigger (go halfway down the post to see the images we’re referencing).
Our suggestion: stick to a high-quality holster that offers full protection of the trigger guard and is molded to fit your firearm. If you spend the money now on a quality holster, you may be very happy you made that decision one day.
We’re all for innovation, but the Versacarry® needs to evolve and be modified in ways that address some of these observations.