multiple gun holsters

Gun Holster Guide

In Reviews by Wayne

GUN HOLSTERS

The Definitive Guide


This guide will teach you everything you need to know about gun holsters and how to select the perfect holster.

Advanced strategies.
Cool features.
And specialty holsters you probably never knew existed.
Let's get started...

holster with gun

CONTENT

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CHAPTER 1
Quick Start
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CHAPTER 2
Holster Types
holster carry modes
CHAPTER 3
Holster Carry Modes
holster materials
CHAPTER 4
Holster Materials
holster retention level
CHAPTER 5
Holster Retention Systems
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CHAPTER 6
Gun Placement
magazine holsters
CHAPTER 7
Magazine Holsters
womens holsters
CHAPTER 8
Holsters For Women
specialty holsters
CHAPTER 9
Specialty Holsters

CONTENTS

quick start button
CHAPTER 1
Quick Start

multiple holsters
CHAPTER 2
Holster Types

holster carry modes
CHAPTER 3
Holster Carry Modes
holster materials
CHAPTER 4
Holster Materials
holster retention level
CHAPTER 5
Holster Retention Systems

gun placement
CHAPTER 6
Gun Placement
magazine holsters
CHAPTER 7
Magazine Holsters
womens holsters
CHAPTER 8
Holsters For Women
specialty holsters
CHAPTER 9
Specialty Holsters
holster maintenance saftey
CHAPTER 10
Holster Safety & Maintenance
 
 

1

QUICK START


If you are new to concealed carry then in this section we will give you advice on a good starter holster. There are holster designs for nearly every type of gun design, person and season.

Introduction

Like most people when you purchase your first handgun you will then wander over to the holster section of the store only to stare at a wall holsters in many different styles and configurations. Knowing which handgun holster to choose can be bewildering and confusing to a person new to concealed carry. Yet having the correct holster is a vital part of concealed carry and will ultimately determine how comfortable, safe and accessible your handgun is when carried. Holsters are a bit like clothing in that they are very personalized to each individuals needs and body shape. Choosing the wrong holster can result in an uncomfortable and unsafe experience while choosing the correct holster will make carrying your gun a joy. I hope this article will guide you to just such an experience so please read on.

quick start button

It does not matter if you are a big dude with a pot belly, a small shapely women or something in between, there is a holster type that will fit your body type and every situation. The holster is key to succeeding with your first experience carrying a concealed handgun. But there are so many choices when it comes to handgun holsters that it can get a bit overwhelming for someone new to concealed carry. So we decided to write this quick start guide to cut out all the white noise and let you make a quick holster selection right now, let's get started.


multiple gun holsters
There are so many different types of holsters that choosing one can quickly become overwhelming.
It does not matter if you are a big dude with a pot belly, a small shapely women or something in between, there is a holster type that will fit your body type and every situation. The holster is key to succeeding with your first experience carrying a concealed handgun. But there are so many choices when it comes to handgun holsters that it can get a bit overwhelming for someone new to concealed carry. So we decided to write this quick start guide to cut out all the white noise and let you make a quick holster selection right now, let's get started.

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There are so many different types of holsters that choosing one can quickly become overwhelming.

Why Do I Need a Holster?

A holster does not simply just hold a gun. It conceals the handgun, secures the handgun and gives you quick access to the handgun. Other things to consider are that the trigger is covered for safety and the gun barrel is also protected from scratches and damage.

The most critical thing to consider is how your gun fits into the holster as you certainly do not want the gun to fall out while moving around. The gun has to fit snugly in the holster but not so tight as to make it difficult to draw out. Fit is key here as you will be hanging a handgun that weighs from 12 ounces to 2 pounds of your hip. So it must feel comfortable from the start.

Why Do I Need a Holster?

A holster does not simply just hold a gun. It conceals the handgun, secures the handgun and gives you quick access to the handgun. Other things to consider are that the trigger is covered for safety and the gun barrel is also protected from scratches and damage.

One Holster You Need To Own

Visit any gun shop and you will be confronted with multiple choices in sizes, colors and configurations. Specific models of guns will have a holster made just for that gun. There will certainly be a model 19 holster for a glock model 19 handgun. And that is just the start of the different options you will need to take into account. So don’t worry about all those options for now.

Start with a Galco Royal Deluxe holster or the Alien Gear Cloak Mod OWB paddle holster made for your specific handgun and you will be of to a good start.

galco royal deluxe holster
For your first holster it’s hard to beat an outside-the-waistband leather holster like this Royal Deluxe Holster from Galco. This design is simple and comfortable, it works.
masc pancake owb holster

This leather holster from Masc Holsters, is made from premium leather with top quality workmanship, and all for a reasonable price. It has the correct tilt for concealed carry and a fast draw. If you can't handle the IWB holsters then this OWB holster will keep you happy.


Our best advice is to start with an outside-the-waistband, strong-side, leather holster with a pancake style.

galco tuck n go holster

Inside-the-waistband holsters are also very popular and many people will tell you to start with a IWB such as this Galco Tuck & Go holster. They do conceal better but some people find them uncomfortable plus you will probably need to buy a wardrobe of larger pants to accommodate the extra bulk.

Masc owb holster

This leather holster from Masc Holsters, is made from premium leather with top quality workmanship, and all for a reasonable price. It has the correct tilt for concealed carry and a fast draw. If you can't handle the IWB holsters then this OWB holster will keep you happy.

Our best advice is to start with an outside-the-waistband, strong-side, leather holster with a pancake style.
galco tuck and go holster

Inside-the-waistband holsters are also very popular and many people will tell you to start with a IWB such as this Galco Tuck & Go holster. They do conceal better but some people find them uncomfortable plus you will probably need to buy a wardrobe of larger pants to accommodate the extra bulk.

Thats It!

So that’s it, start of with one of these holsters and it should tick all the boxes. I have seen so many people start with this style of holster and never look back. It is the one style I can say I use the most, it just does the job. Personally I like the OWB pancake holsters made by Galco Leather. Some other factory brands you may consider are Desantis, and Bianchi. At the handmade high end you should look for Soteria Leather, Rosen, Milt Sparks. I know from experience that if you only buy one holster and you make it a leather, pancake style, strong-side, configured for outside-the-waist carry, and pair it with a good gun belt you will be very happy. 

Want A Different Holster Type?

If you want something different to the OWB holsters we have suggested then to speed things along we have selected some of the better holsters from each style for you.

Hover over the tiles below to see our best holster pick for that style.

If you want something different to the OWB holsters we have suggested then to speed things along we have selected some of the better holsters from each style for you.

Touch one of the tiles below to see our best holster pick for that style.

Ankle

The best ankle holster

Our Pick

Galco Ankle Glove

Compare Prices

Bellyband

The best bellyband holster

Our Pick

Galco Underwraps

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Shoulder

The best shoulder holster

Our Pick

Masc Shoulder Holster

Compare Prices

IWB

The best inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster

Our pick

Alien Gear ShapeShift 4.0

Compare Prices

OWB

The best outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster

Our pick

Alien Gear Cloak Mod

Compare Prices

Pocket

The best pocket holster

Our Pick

Galco Pocket Protector

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SOB

The best Small of Back (SOB) holster

Our Pick

Gould & Goodrich Back Holster

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Gun Belt

The best gun belt

Our Pick

Relentless Tactical

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Gun Belts

Don't forget about the belt! You don’t see too many people writing about gun belts. And that’s a mistake because there is not much point in having a good gun and holster if you hang it from an inferior belt. A good gun belt is essential if you want to carry your weapon in comfort and maintain functionality. Check out our review to find out what the best gun belts are.

relentless tactical gun belt

To support your holster, ammo, and gun you will need a good belt as the foundation. This belt from Relentless Tactical is one of the best you can get.

Quick Guide Summary

This is the end of the quick guide and you should by now have everything you need to know to get your first holster. That's a strong side, pancake style, outside-the-waistband, leather holster that matches your make and model of handgun plus a good gun belt that fits the holster. This is a solid foundation to start carrying a handgun in public.
  • Strong Side: If you are right handed then that is your dominant side and the same applies for left handed persons with left being their dominant side. So purchase either a left or right sided holster depending on which hand is your most dominant. You will find your dominant hand has more strength and has better hand-eye coordination. The holster will need to be placed on the rear right side hip, somewhere between the 3 - 5 o’clock position for a right handed person. We have more info in our holster placement section.
  • Leather: Probably the best material to start with and more comfortable than plastic. Leather is still considered a quality mark in holster construction. There have been advances with plastic polymers but they still cannot match the durability and natural feel of a well made leather holster. You can’t go wrong if you start with a leather holster.
  • Outside-the-Waistband: Often abbreviated to OWB it simply means the holster is not tucked on the inside of your pants. The holster is placed on the outside of the waist and belt. It can still be concealed with a shirt, coat, or jacket.
  • Pancake-Style: This refers to the shape of the holster which will be a flat style. They are easy to identify with wings on each side of the holster and a slot through each wing for the gun belt. The design allows for the holster to have a snug fit against your body making it easier to conceal the weapon.

2

HOLSTER TYPES


There are so many holster types for concealed carry that it can become very confusing if you are new to this. We will attempt to decipher the types of holster from the standard designs down to the specialty types.
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Ankle Holster

Typically used for backup guns the ankle holster is best used with snubby revolvers and semi-auto handguns. It should not be a first choice for a main defensive gun as you need to bend down and pull up your pant leg to draw it.

bellyband holster

Bellyband Holster

This is a old and well proven concealed carry method. The bellyband holster consists of a roughly four inch wide band of elastic that a holster pocket has been sewn into and usually includes a retention strap to secure the gun.

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Vehicle & Home

When you are not carrying your handgun then you will need some type of storage for it. This will likley be in your vehicle or home and at the very least your gun needs to rest in a good holster to ensure the trigger is covered.
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Chest Holster

These holsters are popular among outdoorsmen due to the handgun being easily accessible. The holster is also in a good position if you are carrying a backpack. Chest holsters are made in a variety of materials.

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IWB Holsters

Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) holsters are probably the most common type of holster in use today. The IWB holster sits on the inside of the pants, hence the name Inside-the-Waistband. They are attached to the belt with either clips or belt loops.

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OWB Holsters

Outside the Waistband (OWB) holsters are made from a variety of materials including leather, Kydex, nylon, and polymer. These holsters attach to the belt using a variety of different methods.

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Pocket Holster

As the name suggests pocket holsters are slipped into the pocket of pants. Before they existed people would line their pockets with leather to make the carrying of a handgun more comfortable.

shoulder holster

Shoulder Holster

Made popular by many detective shows that went to air the shoulder holster is actually not the most widely used holster in the real world. Although it is useful for some specialized purposes.

2

HOLSTER TYPES


There are so many holster types for concealed carry that it can become very confusing if you are new to this. We will attempt to decipher the types of holster from the standard designs down to the specialty types.
Image

Ankle Holster

Typically used for backup guns the ankle holster is best used with snubby revolvers and semi-auto handguns. It should not be a first choice for a main defensive gun as you need to bend down and pull up your pant leg to draw it.

bellyband holster

Bellyband Holster

This is a old and well proven concealed carry method. The bellyband holster consists of a roughly four inch wide band of elastic that a holster pocket has been sewn into and usually includes a retention strap to secure the gun.

gun holster mounted in car

Vehicle & Home

When you are not carrying your handgun then you will need some type of storage for it. This will likley be in your vehicle or home and at the very least your gun needs to rest in a good holster to ensure the trigger is covered.
chest holster

Chest Holsters

These holsters are popular among outdoorsmen due to the handgun being easily accessible. The holster is also in a good position if you are carrying a backpack. Chest holsters are made in a variety of materials.

iwb holster

IWB Holsters

Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) holsters are probably the most common type of holster in use today. The IWB holster sits on the inside of the pants hence the name Inside-the-Waistband. They are attached to the belt with either clips or belt loops.
Read more...
owb holster

OWB Holsters

Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) holsters are made from a variety of materials including leather, Kydex, nylon, and polymer. These holsters also attach to the belt using a variety of different methods.

pocket holster

Pocket Holsters

As the name suggests pocket holsters are slipped into the pocket of pants. Before they existed people would line their pockets with leather to make the carrying of a handgun more comfortable.

shoulder holster

Shoulder Holsters

Made popular by many detective shows that went to air the shoulder holster is actually not the most widely used holster in the real world. Although it does still have its specialized purposes.
Read more...

3

HOLSTER CARRY MODES


Now that we have looked at holster types in the previous section the next consideration is carry modes. Due to the many holster configurations on the market you will need to understand the terms used if you want to avoid buying a holster that does not conceal well or is uncomfortable.
iwb holster

Inside the Waistband (IWB)

IWB carry is the way to go if you want to conceal a medium or large sized gun. The holster is attached to the belt with either metal clips or leather loops and rides inside the pants which offers better concealment. You will need to buy a larger size in pants for it to work comfortably and some will always find it too uncomfortable. In case you are not sure if this mode is for you then I suggest you purchase a dual mode OWB/IWB holster like the Galco Double Time which you can switch from IWB to OWB configurations.

owb holster

Outside the Waistband (OWB)

OWB holsters ride on the outside of the belt. They are very versatile but slightly more difficult to conceal than IWB holsters and will need a shirt or jacket to conceal. OWB holsters like the popular Blackhawk Serpa are easy to access and comfortable. They will usually have either an open top or retention strap to hold the gun in. The open top will allow for a quicker draw but I prefer having a retention strap in case a person tries to grab the gun from behind.

strong side carry holster

Strong Side Carry

Strong side carry is when the holster is on your most dominant side. So that would be the right side for a right handed person or left side for left handed person. This will place the handgun at the 3 - 5 o'clock position, your front is at 12 o'clock and allows for a quick draw while being well concealed and comfortable. The only negatives I can think of is if you bend over the gun will print and it will be obvious you are reaching for a gun if you do need to draw.
weak side carry holster

Weak Side Carry (Cross Draw)

Weak-side carry is also commonly called cross-draw carry. In this mode you reach across your body with your dominant hand to grab the handgun which has been placed on your non-dominant side. If you are right handed then the holster would be in the 8 - 10 o'clock position. It's a good option if you are seated in a vehicle for long periods as it allows easier access to the handgun from a seated position while wearing a seat belt. Women who have found strong-side carry uncomfortable often use this carry mode.
small of the back holster (sob)

Small of the Back (SOB) Carry

Just over the lower spin on a persons back and at waist height is a natural indentation that is perfect for concealing a handgun.  One great holster that works well in this carry mode is the Gold Line Small-of-Back holster made by Gould & Goodrich. This mode is a bit slower than others as you need to twist your torso to reach your back and grip the gun, you will also require a bit of flexibility to achieve this. It's also not a good carry mode if you are driving as the gun will be pressing against your spine while you are driving and very difficult to reach with a seat belt around your body.  SOB carry is best reserved for special situations and not recommended for beginners to concealed carry.

shoulder holster

Shoulder Carry

Shoulder carry is another mode that is useful in vehicles as it is easier to reach the handgun than if you were wearing a hip holster which would be covered by a seat belt. You can shoulder carry via a harness style holster, bellyband shoulder holster or special garments that place the handgun under your arm. Useful in colder climates as the gun is easily accessed by unzipping a jacket compared to pulling up heavy winter clothing with other carry modes.
ankle holster

Ankle Carry

Ankle carry is another mode that is great for vehicles as your ankle is very accessible when seated in a car. Also often used for a backup gun it will require the use of smaller pistols or revolvers. Keep in mind that if you are standing then access to the gun would be quite slow as you would need to bend down and lift your pants leg before drawing the gun. So ankle carry should not be used as your primary mode of defense.
fanny pack holster

Off Body Carry

There are many ways you can carry a handgun off body. These include purses, day planners, fanny packs, briefcases, hollowed out books and much more. The danger with this carry mode is that you can be separated from your weapon and loose control of it. This carry mode does have uses, such as a women wearing an elegant dress, in this case a purse would be the best option.
appendix holster

Appendix Carry

When you place an IWB holster in your front side waistline at the 1 o'clock position this is called appendix carry. Its a super quick position to draw from and conceals even large handguns fairly well. To draw you will need to grab your shirt, lift the shirt and then draw the gun. Most men will be a bit nervous due to the direction the guns muzzle is pointing in. If you apply all the firearm safety rules then there should be nothing to worry about. Do not touch the trigger when drawing and point the handgun down range to the target and there should be no problems.

4

HOLSTER MATERIALS


In addition to the holster type and carry mode the material of the holster also plays an important part. On the market you will find all types of leather from horse hide, cow hide, shark skin and snake skin and then there are the synthetic holsters. The type of material can affect the guns draw and retention so here we will look at what are the best options.
You get what you pay for, if you want top quality that means you will need to pay but keep in mind that a top quality product may last you a life time. Top quality holsters are made from top quality materials and will always last much longer than some cheapo product. I have always found that buying quality will save you money in the long run.
kydex sheets
Kydex sheets

Leather

Leather holsters have been around for centuries and have withstood the test of time. They last a long time, look good and are comfortable. The properties of leather also tend to be very good at retaining the gun. They can be constructed with the smooth side out such as in OWB holsters. For pocket and some IWB holsters you would want the rough side leather on the outside to give better retention. The leather most commonly used is cowhide or horse hide, both differ slightly making the final holster have slightly different properties depending on the type of leather used. Cowhide is the most used leather. Horsehide differs in that it is easier to scratch and thinner but more rigid. Alligator and snake skin holsters look nice but will not last as long as cowhide. Then you have sharkskin which can be expensive but looks nice, is scuff resistant and is very long lasting. You may find that a new holster has too much grip on the gun and needs to be broken in. Most holsters made in the IWB and OWB styles are made with a thumb strap as an option.

Leather

Leather holsters have been around for centuries and have withstood the test of time. They last a long time, look good and are comfortable. The properties of leather also tend to be very good at retaining the gun.

Synthetics

Synthetic holsters have grown in popularity over the years. And with good reason as they offer many benefits; maintenance free, tough, scratch resistant and can be molded to the exact gun shape allowing for a quick draw and good retention. Other things to consider are that it does not loose its shape, is not affected by sweat and with plastic can be designed in some unique ways that could not be done with other materials. Most of the synthetic holsters on the market have adjustable retention screws allowing the retention to be adjusted to the users preferences, something that could not be done with other materials. There are different types of synthetics and they do not necessarily all give the same performance. Kydex has become the most popular choice for holsters offering a high impact, indestructible material that can mold to any shape. There are many more synthetic materials being used for holsters such as safariLaminate, Accumold, and PatrolTek.

Synthetics

Synthetic holsters have grown in popularity over the years. And with good reason as they offer many benefits; maintenance free, tough, scratch resistant and can be molded to the exact gun shape allowing for a quick draw and good retention.

Leather-Synthetic Hybrids

Some holster makers now have holsters made from a hybrid of synthetic and leather to try and give the ultimate holster. The molded synthetic holster is simply attached to a leather pad which is placed against you skin. Definitely more comfortable than having synthetic against your skin.
crossbreed supertuck holster

Crossbreeds Supertuck was the first hybrid holster to catch on. For comfort it has a leather pad that is placed against your body and a kydex sheath for the gun is attached to the leather pad. This setup provides excellent concealment with a good degree of comfort.

bianchi allusion holster

Bianchi have developed the Allusion range of holsters that has a synthetic holster with leather stitched to the outside. So you get a fast draw from the synthetic plus the comfort and good looks that leather offers.

Nylon

We cant forget nylon, they are real cheap but you will probably be disappointed and end up buying a better quality one. Holsters made from nylon simply don't have enough retention to secure the gun very well. Furthermore, they cannot support the weight of a loaded handgun as there is no structural integrity in the holster. Nylon is used by some manufacturers to line the holster which is a much better way to use it. But if you buy a holster made entirely out of nylon you are wasting money, avoid them!

Breaking in a Leather Holster

If you purchase a leather holster you may find it hard to withdraw and place the gun in the holster. The only way to fix this is work the holster by inserting the gun, moving it around and then withdrawing multiple times. You should find 10-15 times is sufficient. Another variation on this method is called "blocking". The only difference is you place the gun into a plastic bag and then insert it into the holster multiple times and then leave it in the holster for a few hours. After a few hours remove the gun and plastic bag, inserting the gun into the holster should be much easier now.

5

HOLSTER RETENTION SYSTEMS


Retention is the ability of a holster to hold a handgun in place. This can be achieved via friction or mechanical release levers which give varying degrees of retention. Retention gives you some degree of security and can stop an attacker grabbing your gun or the gun falling out of the holster when you bend over.
There is no industry standard for measuring the retention of holsters. The closest to a standard is the Safariland system developed by FBI agent Bill Rogers (retired). The system gives holsters a rating from level I, II, III, or IV. The holsters are tested with a simulated attempt to grab the handgun from the holster that lasts 5 seconds. If the attacker fails to draw the gun within the 5 seconds the holster is given a retention rating of I. Further levels of testing include user actions that are needed to draw the gun such as disabling lock devices, flip levers and hoods.

Retention Levels

1791 holster
Level one holsters like this 1791 simply rely on friction for gun retention. Molding the leather to the gun shape can increase friction and retention.
1Friction - Leather holsters do a reasonable job of retention by creating friction between the handgun and holster. The friction can be improved by molding the holster to a particular make and model of handgun, this increases the contact on the handguns surface areas. A rough inside can also help with friction.

New holsters often have too much friction and the holster will need to be broken in. Over time the leather holster will conform to the shape of the revolver or pistol that is placed in it. You will find that if the gun is pulled from any angle other than the normal angle it will tend to lock itself in place. This is at best a basic retention system but one that has proven to work.

If the leather is of good quality the holster will achieve its optimum retention after the break in period and retain that retention for many years if given occasional leather treatment.
blackhawk serpa cqc

The Blackhawk SERPA CQC is a level 2 retention holster. The screw on the side controls tightness providing passive retention while active retention is provided by the Auto Lock release on the side

2Mechanism - On level 2 holsters you will find an extra mechanical mechanism such as a back strap, hood, thumb or finger operated lever as well as the friction grip level 1 holsters have. Straps are a common retention method and you will nearly always find them on shoulder and ankle holsters. Paddle and OWB holsters often include straps as an option. To provide active retention the strap wraps around the back of the handguns grip thus keeping it secure.

For an accurate example of a level 2 holster we only need to look at the Blackhawk Serpa CQC, a very popular holster among those who carry handguns.  It has a gun lock that will only release once a button is pressed plus tension adjustment screws for level 1 friction. Another level 2 holster I have used on many occasions is Safariland's ALS Paddle holster which has a thumb operated release. You will find it slightly slower than the open top holsters but there is a reassuring click when you re-holster your handgun.

blackhawk duty holster
The Blackhawk Auto Lock Duty Holster is an great example of what a level 3 holster looks like.
3Two Mechanisms - To qualify as a level 3 retention holster two active locking mechanisms are added to the holster while still retaining the level 1 friction test. Once again the Blackhawk Duty Holster is an excellent example of a level 3 holster. This level is mostly used by law enforcement as it is a bit over the top for regular concealed carry.
safariland 6360 holster

The Safariland 6360 holster can be changed from a level 3 holster to a level 4 by adding a century device.

4The average person will have no need to use a level 4 holster. Level 4 basically takes all the security measures in level 3 and then adds on to that. This is beyond the scope of this article which is primarily written for the average concealed carry user.

6

GUN PLACEMENT


Concealment and comfort are determined by the position of your holster in relation to your belt line, body and the angle the holster rests at. Rake (also called cant) angles and the position your holster rides at are built into the holsters design. If your holster feels uncomfortable then try it at a different angle and that may solve the problem.

Holster rake, cant or tilt refers to the angle that a handgun hangs in a holster. A small forward cant is great if you need a bit of extra concealment. This allows the grip to be concealed by the bodies curvature. Usually the grip is the first thing that will print through a shirt but that is mostly eliminated by the forward cant. IWB and OWB holsters can be obtained with just about any cant angle you want. Pocket holsters cant angle will be determined by the position of the pocket you place the holster in. You will find most ankle holsters have a cant of 0 degrees or down vertical (parallel to the leg).

0 Degrees - If the barrel of a gun is pointing vertically down while in a holster then the holster has a cant of 0 degrees. This angle can also be referred to as straight-pull or neutral.

10 - 20 Degrees - This is the preferred holster cant for the FBI with 15 degrees off vertical being the most used. In this position the grip is positioned forward hence it is commonly called "forward-butt". This angle allows for a quick and fast draw and is very popular.

20 - 30 Degrees - Holsters with this cant are on the more extreme end and are mostly used for specialized purposes. An example would be the Gould & Goodrich SOB (Small of the Back) holster. The extreme angle makes it much easier to grab the gun when it is placed on your back.

Holster Ride

Where a gun is positioned relative to the belt line, even, below or above, is called the ride height. Ride height also refers to the triggers position in relation to the belt line. If the trigger is above a belt then it is called high ride, normal ride is when the trigger is level with the belt and low ride when the trigger is below the belt.

High Ride

Trigger is above the belt line.

Normal Ride

Trigger is even with the belt line.

Low Ride

Trigger is below the belt line.
A persons body height and arm length can all affect ride height. Men and women who are short will find a high ride height makes it difficult for them to draw a gun as they will be pulling the gun upwards towards their arm pit. So a low ride holster would give them more room to draw the gun. On the other hand a tall person may find a low ride holster not ideal as it may slow down their draw stroke. There is no one solution fits all when it comes to holster ride. The only way is to try different ride heights and find one that is comfortable and concealable while giving you a quick draw.  The High Noon Holster company has some popular examples of low-riding deep concealment holsters such as the Hidden Ally, Hidden Impact, Hideaway and Mr Softy. They also make high and mid ride holsters with each holsters ride clearly labeled.  Another holster to check out is the Crossbreed Super Tuck which has a variable ride height and cant angle.

Holster Placement

Where you place the holster on your belt can give you additional choices, the holster can be placed at just about any point on your belt. Design features such as OWB or IWB and built in angles like rake or cant will affect the tilt or tuck of a belt holster but placement greatly broadens your choices.

Most users needs are covered by placing the holster at the 3 to 5 o'clock position on the persons strong side. All these variables are going to affect the comfort, concealment and draw speed of a holster.

Magazine holsters should be placed on your weak side with the gun holster on your strong side. This way your weak side hand can be used to can grab the magazines when needed.

galco silhouette holster
The Galco Silhouette provides a good example of a high ride height and butt-forward cant. All these variables will affect the comfort, concealment and draw speed.

7

MAGAZINE HOLSTERS


Your handgun is not much use if you run out of ammunition. So you will need some way to carry extra ammo and that's where a magazine holster will come in handy. Let's look at what is available.

You will find magazine pouches or carriers in all sorts of materials or configurations similar to gun holsters. They mostly are single or double magazine holders with the most common being made from leather or polymer and attaching to the belt. A quality polymer magazine holster will have a tension screw to enable the retention to be adjusted whereas one made from leather will simply rely on friction and need a break-in period just like leather gun holsters. They are usually attached to a belt via paddles, loops or clips. Just about all of them have an open top with no retention strap, they all rely on friction to hold the magazine in place.

TIP

If you are going to be using a magazine holster with loops then to obtain the best rigidity you will need to make sure the slots in the magazine match the width of the belt.

Similar to gun holsters you will find magazine carriers available in inside-the-waistband and outside-the-waistband styles. However, I do not recommend IWB magazine holsters as I have found them to be uncomfortable and slower to access, although I concede they do a very good job of concealing the magazine. You will find a OWB magazine holster much more comfortable and for concealment you will want it to ride tight to your body, so just tighten up your belt a notch.

My favorites are currently the double Kydex pouches made by Blade Tech.  For those that have a Glock handgun then you need look no further than the magazine pouches made by Glock. You will find nothing better for the price, they are fast, concealable, secure and comfortable and all for a bargain price.

double magazine holster

With a double magazine carrier like this one from Blackhawk you will always have extra ammo available if you ever get into a tight spot. This model allows you to adjust the tension with a screw.


galco magazine pouch for shoulder holster
Galco magazine pouch for shoulder holsters.

snagmag holster
The Snagmag looks like a pocket knife from the outside.

galco magazine pocket carrier
Galco Magazine Pocket Carrier

Galco has some great magazine accessories for shoulder holsters. This will allow you to always have a couple of magazines ready under your strong side arm with an added bonus that the magazines help to balance out the weight of your gun on the other side to some degree. Then there are the Pocket magazine holsters and again Galco has a excellent example with their Pocket magazine carrier. They work the same way as a pocket holster does and stop the magazine from printing through your pants while allowing you to draw the magazine quickly.

Snagmag

A fairly new product that has come onto the market is the Snagmag. It looks like a pocket knife from the outside but actually is a polymer magazine holster. It simply clips into your pants pocket and does an excellent job of concealing the holster. If you watch the opposite video you will see how fast you can draw the magazine and start using it, quite impressive.

Speed Loader Pouches

If you have a revolver then a speed loader, speed strips or moon clips will be required. And of course you will need something to carry these devices in. There are a number of options on the market but most are difficult to conceal or use and people often resort to carrying the speed loaders in their pocket. The problem then is you never know what position the speed loader is in or you can accidentally trigger the release and dump all your ammo.

Thankfully, there are a few good options out there. The CD-2 speedloader holder made by Safariland is a clip that attaches to your belt and you can simply just draw the speed loader up and out of the clip. Currently priced at $11 its definitely worth a try. Next we have the North Mountain Speed loader Holder. Originally designed for competition shooters it mounts to your belt with a Blade-Tech Tek Lok and weighs in at a light weight of only 2.9 ounces. Safariland also produce a competition holder. The Safariland model 333 mounts onto your belt and holds up to three different speed loaders.

speed loader demonstration
Speed Loader example

safariland cd 2 speedloader
Safarilands CD-2 speedloader

safariland model 333 speed loader
Safariland's model 333 is designed for competition shooting and holds three speed loaders.
Speed Strip Pouches
A speed strip or cartridge strip basically holds all your rounds in a line. The cartridge is then pushed into the revolvers cylinder one at a time and this is actually faster than you would think. Of course you will need something to carry your speed strip in and with the strip being flat that is not too difficult.
ammunition speed strip demonstration
Speed Strip example

ammunition speed strip

Most speed strips are a similar design to this one from Ultimate Arms Gear.


speed strip pouch

You will need a pouch for your speed strips, this is a handmade one from Gary Cs Leather.

8

HOLSTERS FOR WOMEN


The majority of holsters on the market are designed by and for men. This can present a problem for women who carry and many of the principles in the previous chapters will need to be viewed differently for women to carry in comfort and safely.
Women have a few unique issues when it comes to concealed carry such as clothing styles and body curvature. This is nothing that cannot be overcome but we will need to make a few tweaks here and there to ensure women can carry a handgun safely and effectively. You should treat holsters like clothing in that they need to be tailored to the individuals body shape and height, this is the only way to ensure concealed carry is comfortable and safe. This applies to both males and females.

The Clothing Challenge

There are certain clothing styles that simply do not work for concealed carry. Some that come to mind are tight clothing and thin materials. Women like to be fashionable but you may need to change a few things if you want to carry a handgun so you will need to take this into consideration before you buy your first handgun. You will need to dress around concealed carry rather than trying to cram it into your current clothes in the wardrobe. There will certainly be clothes that you own that can be use with the right holster.

A holster that fits onto a gun belt is probably your best option so you will need to fit a belt into your clothing system, the belt is a necessary part of the support needed for your handgun. This means you will need to work in a pair of slacks or jeans into your wardrobe with perhaps a loose fitting shirt or vest to conceal the holster.

One of the biggest problems trainers see when teaching women is that due to there shorter body they do no have enough room to grip and draw a handgun. Holsters that are riding too high for a persons body height will not allow them to correctly grip and draw the gun.  So jeans that ride lower will offset the shorter body and give enough room in most cases for a woman to grip a belt holstered handgun and draw. 

Women's Belt Holsters

A lot of holsters on the market will not work on a women's strong side due to the angle and shape of a women's hip. In most cases these holsters have been designed for men but there are ways to get around this. You will need to try a holster at different positions on the belt to see where you can eliminate printing and what feels comfortable. A female friend of mine who has a very shapely curvature recently purchased a Sig P232. After trying more than a few holster options she decided that a OWB holster at the 4-o'clock position was the most comfortable. Appendix carry has become a popular option with women who find it very comfortable and concealable with an inside-the-waistband holster placed at the 1-2 o'clock position. A good holster for this position is the Crossbreed IWB Appendix Holster.

crossbreed appendix holster
This IWB holster from Crossbreed is designed for appendix carry.

Women's Shoulder Holster Carry

I mentioned back in chapter 2 that shoulder holsters are best used in specialized situations. This is one of those situations as shoulder holsters seem to work well for women carrying a concealed handgun. Most men do not have the flexibility in their upper body (due to being more muscular) that is needed to draw safely and quickly from a shoulder holster, whereas women do have this flexibility.

Shoulder holsters also keep the handgun raised up above the hip and waist which can cause some problems for women. And another bonus is they work well with some of the clothes women wear. For all these reasons I often recommend shoulder holsters for women.

jackass rig shoulder holster

The Jackass rig was first introduced in 1970 and can be adjusted to a more diagonal carry position than the Miami Classic.

Women's Ankle Holsters

Also worth considering are ankle holsters if you are wearing clothing that does not fit concealed carry. But you should not use ankle holsters as your main defense just as a backup as access to the handgun is difficult from this position. It is best to place the ankle holster on your weak side and on the inside of the leg. I advice you to wear two pairs of socks, one will be placed under the holster to stop any abrasions and the second pair can be used to conceal the holster by pulling the sock over it. When seated the holster can be exposed so the second sock solves that problem. Actually the gun is very accessible when seated so if you drive a lot an ankle holster is a great option.
womens ankle holster

Women's Thigh Band Holsters

Thigh band holsters are very similar to the ankle holster and are a good option if skirts or dresses are being worn. They attach to the thigh in the same way as the ankle holster with an elastic or velcro strap around the thigh concealing the handgun on the inside of the thigh. To stop the thigh band slipping down the leg they usually come with a garter or nylon waist strap. Some of the better thigh band holsters are made by Untertech and Galco.

women's thigh band holster

Thigh band holsters are also available as under shorts.

What Works For Women?

What should women look for in a concealed carry holster? To start we will need a holster that prevents the handgun's grip from protruding into the rib cage and also places the holster in a position that prevents the gun from rubbing up against the hip bone. This is best obtained by carrying the gun slightly behind the hip or slightly forward of the hip.

The height of the holster is also very important. To defend yourself  you need enough room to lift the gun out of the holster quickly and easily. Most women are shorter than men so to achieve this the opening of the holster should sit as low as possible on the belt but also maintain concealability.

Unfortunately there is no perfect holster I can tell you to buy as every person whether male or female is different in their body shape and requirements. However, if you know a few facts then you can minimize buying the wrong holster and find ones that do work for you. To do this you first need to;

  • Decide what characteristics in a holster you need.
  • Base the characteristics on your body type.
  • The type of handgun you wish to conceal.
  • And the type of clothing you will be wearing.

TIP

If you participate in a lot of different activities then you may well find that having a selection of holsters and carry methods works best for you.


9

SPECIALTY HOLSTERS


So far we have covered the commonly known holster types and they will be sufficient for most concealed carry situations. But sometimes you may need a holster for a special situation and there may be just a holster design that meets those requirements. So in this chapter we will take a look at specialty holsters.
Specialty holsters cover a very wide range. We have not covered everything here but we will have a look at the more common ones such as bra holsters, clothing holsters, fanny packs, handbags and purses and there is even a section on the no holster clips, yes you can even eliminate the holster entirely if you wish to. Although I personally would not recommend that, but these clips may solve a particular problem you have so I have included them.

Bra Holsters

The bra holster was finally perfected by Flashbang Holsters. The bra holster is constructed from Kydex to hold the handgun and then is suspended between the two bra cups with a leather loop strap. To draw the handgun you would need to lift your shirt and then pull the gun out of the holster in a downward motion as illustrated below.


bra holster attached to bra
using a bra holster
Drawing the gun from a bra holster.
womens bra holster
Flashbang perfected the bra holster.

Flashbang also make a variation on this holster which is called The Marilyn. It positions the handgun in roughly the same position a shoulder holster would place the gun but it is concealed much better. The holster is attached under the support arm to the inside of the bra.

Clothing Holsters

You can find many clothing options with the holster built in. There are plenty of holster shirts that position the handgun under the arm. They conceal very well but there are a few disadvantages such as a slower draw and no way to re-holster the handgun.

holster shirt
Compression shirt with concealed holster

Then there are tactical vests that have built in pockets for all your gear and in some cases built in holsters. Although they are certainly not concealable and you basically display every thing you are carrying with these vests. But they are useful in certain situations.

tactical vest

Tactical vest with built in holster

No Holster Clips

There are some designs that eliminate the holster altogether and replace it with a clip. Are there any disadvantages? - well some of these clips may take a bit of getting used to if you have been using a regular holster. You cannot have a round in the chamber with the Versacarry. Then there is the issue of no trigger guard. But they are worth a try and not expensive, so lets look at some of these clips.
versacarry clip
The Versacarry is available for most handguns.

Versacarry

One of the first that comes to mind is the Versacarry. It consists of a plastic clip that has a peg  mounted at the bottom. The peg looks as though it is plastic but in fact it is made of metal and then coated with plastic to protect your handgun, it's very strong. The Versacarry is designed to fit inside-the-waistband and then you basically just slide the barrel of your gun over the peg. There is also a small plastic shield that acts as a trigger guard. It is available for a wide range of makes and models of handguns. Due to there being no holster bulk it certainly does a good job of concealing. To add to that it's comfortable and easy to take off due to the belt clip.
desantis clip grip
The DeSantis Clip Grip is only available for the S&W J frame revolver.

DeSantis Clip Grip

Another option is the DeSantis Clip Grip but this is only currently available for a Smith & Wesson J frame revolver. On one side you have a hook that slides over your belt and the revolver is placed inside-the-waistband. However, there is no trigger guard but again it is very simple and concealable.
clipdraw
Another belt clip variation the ClipDraw is available for a wider range of handguns.

ClipDraw

Very similar to the above but the ClipDraw is available for a much wider range of makes and models of handguns. It is basically a metal clip that you attach to the handguns slide or frame, this then clips onto your belt. As with the DeSantis there is no trigger guard on the ClipDraw.

Handbags & Purses

Purses and handbags that are designed for concealed carry are popular with women for off body carry. They are similar to fanny packs in that they have a built in holster with a retention strap. Access to the handgun is through zippers or a slot in the bag or purse. Galco has some top quality handbags available and be sure to check out the stylish offerings from other companies, a few examples follow...

galco del holster bag
Galco Del Holster Bag

vivoi purse
Vivoi concealment purse

Concealed Carrie Aged Leather Briefcase
Men's concealed carry bag

TIP

We advice you not to use purses or bags as your primary carry method. Now and then is okay but do not make it your regular carry method. The risk of your purse or bag being snatched or stolen is just too great.

Fanny Packs

Fanny packs are great if you are into activities like biking or jogging. In these situations a regular belt holster can restrict movement and start chaffing your body due to the sweat from your activity. The other great thing is they not only hold your handgun but a whole lot of other gear such as phone, wallet, ammo etc. Fanny packs have their own built in belt with a retention strap in the holster to prevent the handgun from moving. Some of the more popular models for concealed carry are the Blackhawk Fanny Pack, and the DeSantis Gunny Sack.

blackhawk fanny pack holster
The Blackhawk fanny pack is mostly used by persons engaged in physical activities.

10

HOLSTER MAINTENANCE & SAFETY


To safely carry any handgun a holster is essential. However, just using a holster can create additional risks that you need to be aware of to stay safe.

When it comes to holster safety the first and most important thing to take into consideration is retaining your handgun in the holster. This means you will need a retention strap or some type of latch that will keep the handgun in the holster. Often you will see any handgun model thrown into a holster designed for another specific handgun. This can result in a loose fit and even a retention strap will not help contain the handgun if it is to loose in the holster.

  • Secondly, you must be able to draw the handgun from the holster smoothly and quickly without any fumbling.
  • Thirdly, the holster should let you reinsert your handgun with just the one hand. There should be no need to look or remove the holster just to reinsert a gun. Imagine this situation for a minute. You have just used your gun in self defense but its too difficult to get back into the holster. So the cops show up and there you are holding a gun, well instinct might just take over and they may very well start shooting at you. So it is critically important you re-holster your gun after using it.

Holster Safety Overview

When ever you holster a firearm make sure that your finger is outside the trigger guard and that there are no obstructions. Obstructions like draw strings,a shirt or jacket can sometimes get into the trigger guard and cause the gun to fire a round as it is being re-holstered.

There are some designs of holsters that can be more risky to use than others. For example a shoulder holster that has the gun horizontally positioned will have the guns muzzle pointing to your back. If there is a person standing behind you and the gun is accidentally triggered then there could be lethal consequences for that person and criminal charges for you.

Cross Draw  holsters can also pose a risk. If you are wearing the holster on your weak side then drawing the gun will see the muzzle sweep any persons that may be located on your weak side. Added to this the gun may be easier for an attacker to grab as the butt of the gun would be facing the attacker.  Using this method requires some practice and attention when you are drawing the gun.

Concealed carry purses, and fanny packs are always at risk of being lost, stolen or grabbed from you. To a thief a purse is a prime target as they are known to carry money, wallets or smart phones. For these reasons this method of carry should only be used occasionally and never as your main defense method.

Retention straps go some way in stopping gun grabs but you also need some where safe to store your handgun when not in use, whether that is in your car or home.

Holster Maintenance

If you have a leather gun belt or holster then you will need to occasionally give them a bit of care. If you look after them they can easily last for decades. With no care they will probably start to dry out. Most leather cleaning products are designed to soften the leather which is one thing you do not want. So some caution is advised here as to what cleaning product you use. Personally, I have found saddle soap or Kiwi shoe wax do a great job of cleaning and providing a small amount of moisture without softening the leather. You may also want to try out Galco's leather kit which I can highly recommend. For the best effect rub the Galco leather lotion onto the leather and then leave it overnight. The lotion will rejuvenate most dried out leather but not to the point where it over softens the leather.

galco holster cleaning kit
Galco's holster cleaning kit is highly recommended.

POPULAR HOLSTER BRANDS


galco leather logo
blackhawk holsters logo
bianchi holsters logo
crossbreed holsters logo
alien gear logo

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