I'll start with the bad. After the Holy Trainer proved problematic I got a deal on a Strict Gate, hoping the soft back "tab" would alleviate the issues that I have with the Holy Trainer. Due to my high and tight scrotum, previous generations of silicon devices just didn't look promising. If you struggle to stretch it across a 10mm wide ring, what are the chances of it working with a 35mm wide ring? I had very high hopes for the Strict Gate as a hybrid device, solid ring with silicon cage.
First off, the tab is even longer on the Strict Gate. Its soft and flexible nature alleviated one problem but created a new one. The Strict Gate is marketed for being able to switch out four different "pledge rings" that are a solid plastic ring that sit inside the cage. They make standard, glow in the dark, spiked, and smaller inner diameter pledge rings to suit this purpose. This ring serves as the "pinch point" for the trapped ball design of this device.
Due to the shape of my parts, it made it impossible to close the device without having the back tab flex, bend, and twist while working it on. Unfortunately, if you bend, flex, or twist the top part of the tube it pops the pledge ring out of place and it is pretty much impossible to secure it back into position after it is attached. "Use it without the pledge ring" was a hope, but without the ring in place and with the help of the "cord" on the bottom applying pressure, the testicles just pull out of the ring.
I spent two and a half hours struggling with this thing. I was not able to get it closed a single time with the pledge ring in place. It was slightly maddening to say the least. I did manage to get it to hold on for a few minutes without the ring in there. The end result was an extremely comfortable device that barely felt like anything except for the large ring holding my scrotum forward. I could see this as being a good thing if you have standard parts but this was a complete and utter failure for me.
Which brings me to the good. Over the years I have purchased most of my chastity items from Kept for Her or Locked Up Love. These are US-based retailers that specialize in chastity-related items and stock devices, parts, extra security measures, and the like. I have had positive experiences with both companies but today I want to talk about Locked Up Love. My first experiences with them were years ago when trying to track down replacement posts for my CB-2000. If you are familiar with the CB-2000/3000/Curve, you are aware that once you have the device fitted you have to trim the plastic posts that guide the cage to the ring or they would gouge into your skin. I thought I had found the magical combination of ring/spacer and trimmed the posts only to find out later that this was not a good fit and I could not return to a wider spacer with the shortened posts. Locked Up Love was the only place I could find that sold those parts and they were inexpensive and with very cheap shipping.
Aside from access to parts, if you aren't picky on what generation device you get or are looking to experiment with something else, they often have some very good clearance deals on previous generation models. One of the big differences separating them from other companies is that they have a return policy on most items, even if they are opened. There is a restocking fee on unopened items as well as a percentage deduction on opened items. Yes, you can return a chastity device that you purchased but doesn't fit for a 50% refund or 75% store credit towards a different device. This might seem like a lot, but seriously, if you just spent $150+ on a device and 5 minutes out of the package you realize it just won't work, being able to get anything back on it is a good feeling.
The other byproduct of having a return policy is that they sanitize and resell the returned items at a significant discount (~40-50%) and these items are also covered under their return policy for a full refund minus shipping. While I'm sure someone is thinking this sounds gross, it's not very difficult to sanitize plastic and if you aren't sure how a device will work and don't feel like throwing away money, this is a great option. You can also buy returned parts, such as a Holy Trainer base ring for a significant discount. The Strict Gate I purchased was through this method and thankfully I will be getting a refund on it rather than wanting to curse and punch someone in the face.
Now for the meh. I've decided to give the Holy Trainer another shot. I'm trying to think back to how the other devices felt when I used them and I realize that the way the HT sits is just so different that it actually feels different in the way that it blocks an erection. It is still frustrating but also a little bit painful (not in an excruciating way), so being teased while in it is a bit less "fun." I have been able to pinpoint that the skin pain issues are caused by the fact that my left nut is larger and shaped differently than the right. I will be experimenting quite a bit over the next few weeks trying to see how to get the bits and pieces properly seated to minimize the problems as well as working on stretching things out. This won't be a lot of fun as much of it will involve figuring out what parts need lube and which ones should not have it.
At some point I may look into a different size ring for the HT, but at $57+ per ring and no clue if it will actually help, I'm not really excited to go down this path, especially considering I have no idea if a larger or smaller ring will help as each solves one problem but causes another.