REVIEWED: DeSantis Summer Heat J-Frame IWB Holster

In this article we’re looking at the DeSantis Summer Heat holster; specifically their J-Frame Inside the Waist Band holster. Ironically, as I type this, we are in the midst of a summer heat wave, complete with not only high temperatures but also humidity that you could cut with a knife. I’m sure the reader will excuse my chuckle at the irony.

A Smith & Wesson 642 .38 Special Revolver is paired with the DeSantis Summer Heat, Speer Gold Dot hollow points, a Streamlight tactical light, and a Spyderco PM2 folding knife. A good holster should absolutely be a part of any EDC loadout with a firearm in it. 
A Smith & Wesson 642 .38 Special Revolver is paired with the DeSantis Summer Heat, Speer Gold Dot hollow points, a Streamlight tactical light, and a Spyderco PM2 folding knife. A good holster should absolutely be a part of any EDC loadout with a firearm in it. 

Since 1972, DeSantis has been making holsters that shooters can count on. In fact, I’ve been using them since around 1989, and I consider the company to be at the top of the holster-maker line. Out of all the holsters that I’ve owned from them, I’ve never had one single complaint. All have performed admirably and have lasted through years of use.

DeSantis Gun Hide Summer Heat holster
The holster was delivered in a plastic, zippered package. It will fit barrels up to 2 1/4 inches in length. The S&W’s 642 has a 1 7/8 inch barrel.

DeSantis Summer Heat Holster: Specifics

The Leather

According to DeSantis, this holster is a “barebones, minimum IWB holster.” If you ask me, they sold themselves a little short in that description; this holster is really nice! It’s made from premium saddle leather, which is very thick! To be blunt, it reeks of quality.

DeSantis summer heat holster mouth
The thickness of the leather can be seen here. The mouth of the holster is very stiff, thanks to the thick reinforced leather.

The leather on my particular holster is tan. Personally, I think the tan gives it a pleasing, classic look that I like a lot. The edges of the leather around the border of the holster are nicely finished, which adds to the pride with which these pieces of gear are obviously made.

DeSantis Summer Heat Holster finished edges
The nicely finished edges of the leather are apparent in this photo.

Many other holsters that you’ll find are made from very thin leather that probably isn’t going to last all that long. This stuff is going to survive a ton of abuse and use. Additionally, the leather is molded perfectly to the gun’s shape, so there’s a nice, snug fit with good retention. At the same time, once you’ve done a few dozen draws from the holster, the inside slicks up and the firearm slides out easily and quickly. Great retention with a fast draw—precisely what I am after.

This particular holster is for a J-Frame revolver. Mine happens to be a Smith & Wesson 642 .38 Special. More on that later.

Reinforcements

Around the top of the holster is a band of leather that reinforces the top to help keep it stiff for holstering. This band also extends down the back of the holster and reinforces that portion of the holster where the clip is attached. I have to smile when I see how they worked the piece into the design like that, it’s ingenious.

The reinforcement piece around the mouth of the holster can be seen here. It does a superb job of stiffening the holster mouth for ease of holstering.
The reinforcement piece around the mouth of the holster can be seen here. It does a superb job of stiffening the holster mouth for ease of holstering.

The Clip

The clip is black and powder coated, being a very simple affair. It’s stamped with the DeSantis logo, which looks pretty neat. As mentioned, it’s simple, there are no hidden tricks to using it; just clip it over your belt. A helpful feature is that the clip flares out at the bottom so that when you want to unclip the holster from your pants, you can grab that protrusion with your fingertips and pull it out easily. The holster comes off quickly and efficiently.

The DeSantis holster clip is simple, attractive, and works perfectly. It's easy to put on and take off.
The clip is simple, attractive, and works perfectly. It’s easy to put on and take off.

Stitching

The stitching that DeSantis puts into their holsters has always been something that I love seeing. It’s just done so well! Heavy and precise, it ensures many long years of service from their holsters. And I’ve never had one fail or begin to come unstitched.

They chose white stitching to go with the tan holster color, and the two seem to go together well.

White stitching on DeSantis Summer Heat holster. It's gorgeous, uniform, and durable. This holster is built to last!
Look at that stitching! It’s gorgeous, uniform, and durable. This holster is built to last!

How does the holster perform?

Comfort

As mentioned, we are in the grip of a determined heat wave, during which I have been wearing this holster. All in all, it is a very comfortable holster. I mean, let’s face it, when you shove a leather-ensconced handgun down the front of your pants and you’re a sweaty dude, there’s going to be a modicum of sweating and discomfort going on. That’s life.

That said, this holster kept it to a minimum. I wore it in the Inside The Waistband Appendix (AIWB) fashion. For comfort, I give it the highest ratings.

It's comfortable and disappears underneath a t-shirt. The weapon is held very securely, and yet draws quickly.
It’s comfortable and disappears underneath a t-shirt. The weapon is held very securely and yet allows a quick draw.

A few friends pointed out that Kydex holsters, being made of thinner materials, take up less space in one’s pants. In short, they’re thinner. Okay, I’ll give you that. However, Kydex is hard and unforgiving. It does not flex and often digs into your body and skin. Granted, it’s ultra-durable stuff, and performs its job well.

But leather just has a “warm”, classic feel to it. It doesn’t dig into you as much when bending over and performing other maneuvers. To me, the comfort level of leather his higher. It will boil down to a personal preference thing, as both materials have their advantages.

Concealability

This holster achieves absolute perfection in this category. Under a t-shirt, it simply disappears, keeping the handle of the handgun tucked into the body nicely while still maintaining comfort.

The DeSantis Summer Heat holster has an open bottom. Also note the small ridge on the bottom of the clip, which makes removing the holster a lot easier.
The holster’s bottom is open. Also note the small ridge on the bottom of the clip, which makes removing the holster a lot easier.

Security/Retention

Again, super high marks in this category. The clip does a perfect job keeping the holster in place and not sliding around on the belt or waistband. Yet it’s easy enough to pull the clip away and adjust the holster’s position if need be.

As I already mentioned, the molding of the holster really retains the revolver well (and this goes for every other DeSantis holster I’ve ever used) while still allowing a very fast draw.

Variety

The Summer Heat holster is available for S&W J-Frames, Keltec P3AT, and Ruger LCP. At the time of writing, it is only available in the tan color.

The 642

Why the .38 revolver? Because it’s incredibly light and small, making it comfortable to carry. I deliver merchandise to some unseemly areas of a big city as part of my job, and I like being armed without anyone knowing it. This particular city is home to a large concentration of former convicts whom I know from my service in the prison system. I’m alone, so I don’t have to engage in a raging gun battle to rescue family members or anything elaborate. All I’m after is to engage a threat if I’m forced to and then break contact.

This is the author's preferred carry revolver, the S&W 642.
They never fail! Or do they? This is my preferred carry revolver, the S&W 642.

The 642 and two spare speed strips seem adequate for getting me out of a jam and breaking contact. The reliability factor of the little wheel gun is also attractive.

Conclusion

The Summer Heat holster used as part of an EDC loadout.
DeSantis’s Summer Heat holster is the perfect addition to a carry package. Also seen are a tactical light from Streamlight and a Spyderco Paramilitary 2 folder. Aside from great performance, it also looks good doing it.

Well, DeSantis has done it again. They’ve provided a simple, rugged holster that does exactly what it’s designed to do. And looks good while doing it! Retail price for the Summer Heat Holster at the time of writing is $61.99, so it can be found for less at various outlets. For the quality that the consumer receives, I think it’s an excellent price. This one gets two thumbs up, I’d absolutely recommend it.

One final thought: no matter which holster (or holsters) you’re using, you need to safe the weapon and practice your drawstroke.

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities.

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