DeSantis Inside Heat — Smith and Wesson CSX Holster

Presently, there aren’t many manufacturers who offer Smith and Wesson CSX holster options. This has created some problems because I recently did something I normally would not have — I rushed out and bought a pistol model that was new to the market…the Smith and Wesson CSX. I did so because it checked off several boxes in my Wants/Needs list and I’ve not regretted it, but it did make it difficult to find a good CCW rig. At least, until I found the DeSantis Inside Heat.

Smith & Wesson's CSX pistol has proven to be a micro-compact winner. It's a very nice little handgun. 
The CSX has proven to be a micro-compact winner. It’s a very nice little handgun and deserves a good rig to carry it. Enter the DeSantis INSIDE HEAT Smith and Wesson CSX holster. 

But I digress. Back to the holster issue. I looked around, and there weren’t all that many offerings on the market. Naturally, I began perusing the website for one of my favorite holster makers, which is DeSantis Holsters. I’ve been using DeSantis holsters to carry my pistols since the early 1990s and have never once had a complaint. Truth to tell, I still have two holsters from way back in that era that are still functional and that I occasionally use! We’re talking around 30 years old. Granted, they look used and show their wear, but they’re still functional.

The folks at DeSantis have been making holsters for quite a long time. Since 1972, to be exact. And they’ve been doing something right, namely producing durable, good-looking holsters made from leather and Kydex.

I was after an IWB (Inside The Waistband) holster for Appendix Carry for the CSX, and DeSantis had a leather one. Up until this point, all my IWB holsters had been Kydex, so I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted a leather holster for the task. I figured that sweating heavily into the leather might not be the greatest thing for its longevity.

Since I didn’t see any Kydex offerings on their site, I went ahead and ordered the leather Inside Heat holster. The waiting began, and I’ll admit, I was impatient; I had an exciting, new pistol to carry, and I wanted to carry it now! Alas, it wasn’t very long before the holster arrived (DeSantis’s customer service and shipping is pretty quick). With visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, I unboxed the new holster.

This version of the Inside Heat is an IWB (Inside Waist Band) Smith and Wesson CSX holster.
I “settled” for leather, but was pleasantly surprised. The Inside Heat holster keeps the pistol tucked in nice and tight, and it doesn’t move around on the belt. The leather construction also doesn’t dig into the skin the way Kydex often does.

I was not disappointed at all. This is a well-constructed rig, which is important. The best concealed carry holster is one that’s well built, designed for your specific firearm, and comfortable enough that you’ll actually wear it. 

You should not ever half-ass a concealed carry holster. 

DeSantis Inside Heat

DeSantis describes the Inside Heat holster as a “…bare bones minimum IWB holster built from black saddle leather.” 

They really did not skimp on the quality of the leather, as it is very thick and extremely stiff so that the holster will not deform. In fact, it looks and feels much thicker than some of the leather I’ve seen other holster makers use. At the time of this writing, the holster can be had in any color you’d like, as long as that color is black. One thing that I really like is that it is made in the USA, which is a huge plus in my book these days.

This DeSantis CSX holster uses thick leather and rugged stitching.
DeSantis used thick leather, much to their credit. The holster is very stiff and will not deform, so we don’t have to worry about it being crushed during IWB carry.

The stitching that DeSantis uses on the holster is done with heavy braided thread, so it’s going to last for decades.

Look at that stitching! It's heavy and the thread is braided, so it will last for a very long time. This is quality.
Look at that stitching! It’s heavy and the thread is braided, so it will last for a very long time. This is quality.

Smith and Wesson CSX Holster (Specifically)

For retention, the DeSantis Inside Heat holster is perfectly molded to the shape of the pistol that will be carried, and it holds the pistol very securely. As expected, there is a short break-in period. At first, drawing the pistol was a bit stiff but in a surprisingly short time, the inside of the holster smoothed up nicely and the draw stroke became faster and smoother.

Since I wear this holster and pistol daily and practice drawing, it has been coming along very well and provides a wonderfully smooth draw stroke that will only improve with time. I noticed this smoothing effect within the first couple dozen draw strokes that I performed, so it’s not as though you have to invest a couple of days doing thousands of draw strokes. You’ll notice improvement almost immediately.

When the pistol is in the holster, the trigger guard is completely covered for safety.

One stellar feature of the holster is the reinforcement that is around the mouth of the holster, which really helps in holstering, as the holster will never squeeze shut. Having a piece of gear that helps you instead of fighting you really makes it a pleasure to use.  That piece of reinforcement also runs down the back side of the holster and is the part where the spring steel clip is attached. It’s all one piece, which adds to the strength. All told, this is a very solid, sturdy holster.

Desantis Inside Heat leather Holster for S&W CSX
Here we can see that the piece that reinforces the mouth of the holster (which makes holstering easier) also wraps around and secures the clip. The fact that they used one piece makes the construction stronger.

A word about the clip—it is very simple, hooks over the user’s belt, and is very durable. At the same time, it is not difficult to grab underneath the edge of the clip when it’s time to remove the holster and take it off. You get the best of both worlds, easy on and off while it keeps the holster in place on the belt.

Here we see the clip on my Smith and Wesson CSX holster, which is a simple, sturdy affair that keeps things in a fixed position on your belt, as it should be.

One of the qualities that I’ve experienced and did not expect is how “soft” the holster wears. Allow me to explain. When using Kydex holsters, one of their good qualities is the stiffness, for the reasons mentioned above (holstering is made easier, as the holster won’t crush). However, Kydex holsters can really dig into the skin because of that stiffness. Sometimes, especially when the wearer is bending over, they are not the most forgiving or comfortable things that you can think of to jam into your pants.

Not so with the leather holster. As mentioned, it wears a bit more “soft” than the Kydex, and doesn’t seem to dig into my stomach as much. In short, it’s just a more forgiving material. I did not expect this because this is my first leather IWB holster. What a pleasant surprise this has been. I think I might be getting spoiled!

Another positive byproduct of using leather is that it will not scratch up the finish on your firearm like Kydex will. I have a Kydex holster for my S&W 642 Airweight revolver and that holster has worn the finish completely off of the gun at the places where it contacts regularly. Mind you, the holster does its job perfectly and my guns are tools, so if they happen to get scratched up while doing their jobs, so be it. I have no “safe queens” as far as firearms are concerned. However, I do like that the CSX isn’t getting all scratched up just the same!

DeSantis’s Inside Heat holster along with some EDC items that are essentials: A spare magazine, Spyderco Para 3 folding knife, and a Streamlight flashlight.

The Inside Heat isn’t just available for the Smith & Wesson CSX; it fits many different handguns, including brands from Browning, Mossberg, FN, Savage, Colt, Glock, Kahr, Kimber, Para-Ordnance, Ruger, Sig, Springfield, and Walther. By the time you read this, there might even be a few more makers that are included in the list.

The DeSantis Inside Heat precisely fits my needs, in that it is a minimalist rig. I didn’t want anything elaborate, I wanted a modest price point, and I wanted durability. It delivers each of these requirements with perfection. The retail price, at the time of this writing, is $50.99, which is a great buy considering the quality that the consumer is getting in this piece of gear that will likely last a lifetime. This one gets a hearty two thumbs up!

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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