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.

Return To Part 1 Of The Holster Finder

Holster Finder - Part 1

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