PHLster Skeleton Review – A Minimalist Holster [2023]

Disclaimer: The Skeleton was purchased by the author for testing and review.

PHLster Skeleton Featured Image

I picked up a standard Glock 48 in the Summer of 2022. Over the following months, I did some work on it, including slide milling for an RMRcc, and swapping to Shield Arms magazines. I wanted a smaller gun to wear in the warmer seasons, and for use in the gym, and the G48 fit the bill. However, I needed a holster for it, which lead me to the PHLster Skeleton. I’ve been using the Skeleton since November of 2022, and have a fair bit to say about it. How’s my experience been with this basic holster?

Construction & Features

The Skeleton is a slimline AIWB kydex holster, made for small to medium sized handguns without weaponlights.  It’s a fairly simple design, but it’s got some pretty solid features.

PHLster Skeleton Profile

The body of the holster is a single piece of kydex, with screws clamping it together. This is a tried and true method, giving a fairly solid holster design. As part of the minimal design, the screws hold our clip and wing in place too.

PHLster Skeleton Clip & Wing
The clip and wing of the Skeleton.

The clip on the Skeleton is a tuckable plastic clip, with adjustable cant and ride height. I’ve got mine set so that the gun is at a zero degree cant, and sits as deep as possible below the beltline. Between the holster and the clip is the attached wing. I’m a fan on wings on AIWB holsters, as they help with concealment, and keep the holster from moving while carried.

PHLster Skeleton Holster Bottom

The Skeleton has an open muzzle, which means a threaded barrel could (tentatively) poke through. The clearance is tight, so depending on your thread protector, it might be a squeeze.

PHLster Skeleton Optic Clearance

All of the Skeletons have a mid-ride sweat guard, and are already cut for optics. There’s plenty of room for the optic on the G48 version, which I really dig. The holster also has a tall front sight groove, so fairly tall sights will still work with the Skeleton.

PHLster Skeleton Magazine Protection

On top of giving clearance for the optic and barrel, the holster covers the magazine catch on the pistol. While I’ve not had issues with magazines getting launched while in a holster, having some protection for the magazine release is nice to have.

How Many Bones In the Skeleton?

PHLster offers the Skeleton for a range of common guns, like the smaller Glocks, the SIG 365, Springfield Hellcat, and more. The full list is below:

  • Glock 19
  • G43/G43x
  • Glock 48
  • Sig P365/P365x
  • P365 XL
  • Sig P365-X Macro
  • Springfield Hellcat (Non-RDP)
  • Springfield Hellcat Pro
  • M&P 2.0 Compact 4in
  • S&W Shield 1.0/2.0
  • S&W Shield Plus 4in
  • Shield Plus 3.1in
  • Walther PDP-F  (3.5in Only)

With the single clip design, I would recommend that you stick to a smaller gun here. While the Glock 19, Walther PDP-F, and Smith M&P 2.0 are offered, those guns are just a tad big and heavy for a single clip holster.

PHLster Skeleton G48 Rollmark

Weight of the Glock 48 Skeleton is 3.7 ounces, which is fitting for such a slim and svelte holster. One of the features that I didn’t use was the ability to swap the hardware on the gun for left handed use. I’m a righty, but this feature is certainly appreciated. MSRP is $59, which while not budget priced, is very reasonable. I purchased my Skeleton directly from PHLster, which arrived very fast.

How’s concealed carry with the Skeleton?

Carrying With the Skeleton

I’ve been carrying the G48 since November of 2022 as my gym gun, and since April of 2022 as my standard EDC gun. As such, I’ve worn this gun with the Skeleton quite a bit. I’m the type of guy that has a gun on from the second that I’ve got clothing on in the morning, till I go to bed at night. Comfort is important with a holster, and I’m glad to report that in my use, the Skeleton has been very comfy.

PHLster Skeleton PHLster Rollmark

The general profile of the Skeleton, along with the deep carry clip and wing, have lead to comfortable carry. Whether in standard pants or with a Mastermind Tactics Covert Belt, carriage has been concealed and comfortable. The Skeleton was made to be a holster that is not too-long, as the goal was a holster that was perfectly sized for the gun. As such, we’ve not got any wasted space here, which leads to more comfort, and often better concealment. Now, there are times where you’d want a longer holster, which Dan covered in his holster series, but for a fairly compact gun like the G48, a compact holster is preferable.

Now, I don’t have much negative to say about the Skeleton, but there’s a teeny bit.

Sweat Out the Toxins

With carrying about 16 hours a day, I’m bound to run into some gear related hiccups. With the Skeleton, they’ve been minor. The tensioning screws eventually began to loosen in carry, but not to a point of backing all of the way out. A little loctite fixed that. I also unintentionally added some natural loctite, in the form of rust formed via body sweat.

PHLster Skeleton Tensioning Screws
The biggest sweat-pooling spot on the Skeleton.

Speaking of sweating (eww), I want to talk about the sweat-pooling of the Skeleton. I’m not the sweatiest guy, but when I’m lifting weights or out in the 90 degree and higher heat, sweating happens. Our gun is certainly a place that we sweat on, and with the Skeleton, there are parts of the holster where it likes to pool. The biggest spot is actually near the tensioning screws. The cutout for the trigger guard likes to retain sweat, which pools down to the end of the dustcover molding and tensioning screws. I’ve had a little rust take hold inside the threads on the screws, but nothing that couldn’t get cleaned out. The sweat guard actually works quite well too, as only the slide serrations tend to catch body sweat with the Skeleton.

Now, you’ll sweat on any gun that you carry. It’s not a knock against the Skeleton, really just outlining the spots that the sweat likes to pool. How’s my shooting performance been when using the Skeleton?

Shooting With the Skeleton

Since starting to carry with the Skeleton, it’s been used in all of my G48 dry/livefire. It also accompanied me to the NPE Counter Robbery class in April of 2023, and to Tests & Standards in July 2023. The G48 has been my gym gun for nearly a year, and a full-time carry gun since April. During that time, the holster has been excellent in use.

Glock 48 & Reload & OC
The Skeleton & G48 with my other carry gear.

Aside from being comfortable and concealable, the Skeleton is very retentive, and fast to draw from. I monkeyed with the tension to get it perfect, and I’ve had a positive “click” when holstering or drawing. Drawing from the Skeleton is fairly easy, as a I can form a pretty solid grip on the gun while it is still holstered. A bad presentation can make-or-break your shooting, and I haven’t really felt hampered by the Skeleton.

I’ve shot a lot of drills with the Glock 48, so I’ve used the Skeleton a lot. Whether Tests, Baseline Assessment Drills, or Wilson Comprehensive Handgun drills, I’ve been happy with the Skeleton’s performance. A full playlist of my G48 drills are linked here.

Obviously, the vast part of the shooting performance comes from the gun. However, the Skeleton didn’t hinder my ability, and I dig that.

The Verdict

If you are looking for a quality holster for a small gun, I’d recommend the Skeleton. While not perfect, I’ve not got much to complain about here. The construction and design are solid, with offerings for a range of common guns. The single clip design might turn some people away, but if you understand the limitations, it works great.

If you have a Glock 19 or larger handgun, avoid the Skeleton. The PHLster Pro would be a better option there, as the two clips/loops will serve you better with a larger gun. While I haven’t reviewed the Pro (yet), I will recommend that holster, as I’ve got a good chunk of time with it too.

For me, gifting a product to someone else is indictive of how I feel about it. If I can help it, I try to make sure my friends aren’t using crappy gear. The Skeleton is a holster that I have purchased for friends in need of quality holsters. If me buying it twice isn’t a recommendation, I don’t know what is.


About Paul Whaley 198 Articles
Paul Whaley is a guy with an interest in practical and defensive pistol shooting techniques with an eye for quality gear. He has received training from Holistic Solutions Group, John Johnston of Citizens Defense Research, Darryl Bolke, Cecil Birch, and Chuck Haggard. When not trying to become a better shooter, he can be found enjoying a Resident Evil game or listening to Warren Zevon.

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