HGR 104 - Viridian ECR & Training Update with Shan from Werkz Holsters

Hello and welcome to Handgun Radio! I’m your host Ryan Michad from the wild woods of Central Maine, and this is your home for all the news, information and discussion in the handgunning world. This week, I’m joined by Shan from Werkz Holsters to discuss his work with the Viridian ECR system, some new pistols he’s had the chance to work with, and some training classes he attended!

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Week in Review

Most of the show is a week in review, but a few updates:

-Picked up some Hornady Critical Duty 135 grain +P ammo for my guns. I am really impressed. I ran a box through my guns and found it to be reliable so far (I know, it’s not 200 but the gun WAS dirty and definitely in need of a cleaning)

Main Topic: Viridian ECR & Training Update with Shan from Werkz Holsters

Shan has been a guest on the show before. The last time he was on, we discussed how Kydex is used to make holsters, as well as the 9x23 Winchester cartridge. It was a great discussion and its great to have Shan on again!

As for topics, I think topics I could be prepared to discuss are:

  • My view on The Walther CCP, H&K VP9
  • CCP - looks good, feels good on paper
  • Wife compared the CCP side by side with the Shield, and preferred the recoil impulse of the shield.  She said she didn’t feel like it was less.
  • I wasn’t impressed with the CCP trigger.  I didn’t feel like I would prefer it over the VP9.
  • Any key learnings from my training this week.
  • Spent two days shooting.  First day normal fundamentals, both strong and weak hand.  Some moving.
  • Second day emphasized moving, including shooting around and from a car.
  • My lessons (from those who have seen combat) included:
  • When shooting, move.  When need to get the weapon going, move or seek cover.
  • When cover is available, use it!
  • In combat, you may not get a perfect sight picture, have perfect form, etc.  Getting the shot and keeping alive is what matters!  This means you need to seek cover.  This means you may make very awkward shots that are from a high degree of cover rather than taking an optimum position that is exposed.
  • We did one exercise that was set up by the instructor that allowed us to take a shot through a tire, and we could do it by going around a car, or going through the car and taking the shot from our side in the hatch.  My natural instinct was to go around, kneel and get the shot.  However, after looking at it from the target, that left me -very- exposed.  When shooting from laying on the side in the back of the wagon (after climbing through the car), It’s amazing how little you might expose from certain positions.
  • The VP9 fits my daughters hand better, so she will be running it for the next class.
  • The VP9 is a nice pistol, and I love the mag release.  I did run it dry in lots of dust, and had failures to chamber the next round.  I also broke off one of the charging wings during a disabled drill (racking on my belt or heel) and never found it.
  • Viridian's ECR system
  • The theory behind it
  • The idea is that, under stress, finding a switch to activate a light or laser is a fine motor skill that may not happen, either due to forgetting, or due to the adrenalin dump causing the operator to not be able to effectively manipulate the switch.  Also, I suspect there is a chance that manipulating a switch forward of the trigger may not be as safe as keeping the trigger finger along the slide.  Some manufacturers solve these issues by using a pressure switch.  The Viridian system is another potential solution.
  • How it works
  • All Viridian lights / lasers are now ECR-enabled.  The “Enhanced Combat Readiness” system pairs the light with the holster, such that immediately upon drawing from the holster, the light activates.  If you have an X5L, for instance, which has both a light and a laser on it, and each can be set to be on / off / or strobe,, you would set it up how you want it to come on when drawn.  You then holster the pistol, and the light goes on “pause.”
  • Practical use
  • I see the reasoning behind Viridian’s system.  If you want the confidence that your weapon light or laser will be on immediately upon being drawn, this system makes sense.  No switch to hit (or not), no pressure switch that requires a proper grip.  I believe that under stress, a lot of things can go wrong, and while all equipment can fail, this removes a lot of possibilities for operator error.
  • As with all lights, I would occasionally check to make sure the batteries are in good shape.  With the ECR, the light/laser turns on before the pistol is fully drawn from the holster.  This also means that if you’ve set the pistol in the safe, if it slides partway out, it could turn on and drain the battery.  This shouldn’t happen with most holsters, but it is possible.
  • It is possible the activation system could be inconvenient in rare circumstances.  For instance, if you’re drawing, but don’t want to give away your position.  The light or laser will come on before you can access the off switch, which may potentially give away your position.
  • How holsters need to work with it
  • There are a few holster manufacturers listed on Viridian’s website that build holsters for the ECR.  Viridian’s own holster line uses rare earth magnets positioned properly to activate a magnetic switch.  This is what “pauses” the light activation.  For Kydex manufacturers, they’ll either position the magnet inside or outside the Kydex.  It’s a fairly simple process, and one that should be reliable as long as both the magnet and the magnetic switch maintain relative strengths.
  • I look forward to Werkz being listed on the Viridian website for holster manufacturers in the coming weeks.
  • Werkz updates
  • Now have the full line of X5, C5, and Reactors from Viridian to build holsters for.
  • AIWB carry:
  • I have become a big proponent of AIWB carry.  For those who are built to be able to use it, it has many advantages.
  • Comfort:  I can sit, drive, move, put my shoes on, and generally perform all my daily activities with a minimum of discomfort.  And this is while wearing the VP9, a full sized pistol, all day.  The most discomfort might be when putting on shoes, where the slide pushes in on my belly more, but that’s it.
  • Concealable:  I simply untuck my shirt, and even with many tighter shirts, it is difficult to tell that I’m carrying.
  • Secure retention:  I’ve never had a pistol slip or move from this position.  Our holsters are snapped around the belt, so there isn’t a question about the holster staying in place when drawn from.  In addition, there is little chance someone is going to draw your pistol without you seeing them coming.
  • Easy on / off:  With our holsters, we use a single one-way snap to hold the holster on the belt.  This means it is very easy to put on or take off.
  • Quick access:  The pistol is available, whether I’m sitting, driving, standing, etc.  I do a fair amount of driving, and one thing I’ve noticed is that my pistol is quite ready when I’m stopped at a rest area.  The Werkz crew has just completed two days of training with Retical LLC training group.  We compared reaction hand draw for myself AIWB versus hip carry, and AIWB was both much faster and much more sure grip.
  • One of the problems I have is that I’m not carrying an extra magazine.  I now have a solution to that problem.  We have integrated a single mag carrier into the AIWB holster.  The whole holster is more narrow than a single mag carrier and holster placed side by side, and attaches using two of the straps I mentioned above for easy access.  It places the pistol just to the right of centerline, and the magazine is next to it.  The rig is shaped with a bend between the holster and carrier so that it isn’t just “flat” across the stomach.  The pistol remains straight drop, but the magazine is angled to the left side to allow for better draw.
  • I’ve provided a few out to people, and they seem to love it.  I’ve also completed that two days of training, all from concealed using this AIWB rig.
  • We will make these available for right handed only (sorry… I’m left handed myself, but so far I only have built the tooling for right handed draw) for a limited set of pistols by the end of the week.
  • This is simply another option for those searching for the perfect holster and mag carrier.  I do not however, recommend it for an inexperienced person.  It requires a degree of comfort with the pistol as well as strong trigger and muzzle discipline.
  • Stocking 36 colors / patterns of Kydex
  • Looking forward to class with Mike Seeklander
  • 2 days pistol, 1 carbine
  • My daughter (who just completed the 2 day pistol class) is coming with me
  • Will probably run AIWB again.  Need to decide which carbines to

run.  Looking at Tavor for myself, but don't have one yet.

-The awesome Steyr C9A1 Holster & Mag Pouch you made for me


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  • Thank you Shan for taking the time! Where can people find more about you?
  • WerkzUntil Next Week, Have Fun & Safe Shooting!!!