A good holster can and should be fairly comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, should protect the gun from damage, stop it from discharging, and keep it from being stolen or taken from you. It also allows you quick and easy access to the weapon, if that’s what you really need.
There are several types and different brands of holsters, and not all of them are alike. There are quite a few things to keep in mind when finding the best holster for your needs.
One important factor is to make sure that nothing comes in contact with the trigger. Ever. There should be nothing obstructing the trigger area either while the gun is holstered, or while it is being withdrawn.
Another aspect (besides the full coverage of the trigger) that you should look for is a holster made of good, durable, and sturdy material. If you will be using it a lot, keep in mind the wear and tear that it will naturally incur over time.
Make sure it is suitable for the type of handgun you have. It should fit the gun well and keep it snug and secure. Material should be something sturdy like leather or synthetic leather that will hold up and not tear or come out at the seams.
Good retention for the holster simply means that it fits the gun well and won’t let it fall out or slide around. It should fit snug like a glove.
Concealability is also important. It should fit close to wherever you are wearing it, so parts are not poking out. You don’t want to broadcast the fact that you are packing, or start bumping and hitting people and objects. This will depend on where you are wearing it and your particular body type.
In addition, your skin, body, and the gun itself needs to be protected. You don’t want a rash or welts developing because the gun is rubbing or chaffing you. It can also wear out your clothes if it is touching the sides or rims and cuffs. Plus, you don’t want the gun to be getting rubbed by the stronger or stiffer edges of the holster, which can scratch or damage the finish of the gun.
Positive grip means that you are able to withdraw your weapon and fire with one hand. This is referred to as full combat grip, and if you can’t get there with the holster, you need to find one that will.
Comfort is also import, in particular if you need to wear your gun for extended periods of time. The best way to know if the holster is suitable is to try it on. Try holstering and unholstering a gun, to see if it will work for you. Don’t jump on the first one because it looks good or makes you feel like David Caruso.
When it comes to variety and choice, there are quite a few different types of holsters on the market, made for both men and women. These are known as the IWB, Inside the Waistband; OWB, which is Outside the Waistband; the Belly Band, which goes around your waist line (like a belt or a fanny pack); the Shoulder Holster, which has the strap wrap around the shoulder and the gun resting on or near your rib cage; and the Ankle Holster, which straps around your calf and ankle and is great for a backup gun, for full concealment.
First up, we will look at the IWB, Inside the Waistband
- Provides better concealment than a belt on the outside.
- You can wear lighter or more tight-fitting clothes with the IWB.
- Concealed inside means that you don’t risk showing the holster or gun.
- With the gun and holster on the inside, only the butt of the weapon and holster would be shown.
- The weapon is tight against the body and shape, so you don’t need to have the belt so tight.
- Less profile or outline of the gun, allowing you discretion.
- Some IWB holsters don’t even require a belt because of their light-weight design.
- Held with sturdy metal clips attached to the pant inside the waistband.
- IWB can be worn with un-tucked shirts, great for warmer weather, where a coat or vest wouldn’t be worn
- Don’t interfere with other activities.
- IWB is not always the most comfortable way to carry your gun, which can cause a problem if you need to wear it for long periods of time.
- Because of the comfort issue, many of the IWB holsters are made of soft leather or nylon type of materials, rather than the more rigid materials, which can make it more difficult to re-holster a gun.
- Makes it harder to get a good grip while drawing your gun. This could be important if you work in law enforcement.
- IWB holsters may require slightly bigger clothes, pants, and the bottoms of the shirt.
Best IWB Holsters
Dual clip construction keeps the load balanced and secure on your belt, causing the gun to feel much lighter. The durable polymer outer shell holds the gun, allowing the user easy draw and one-handed re-holstering.
Additional features include strong and efficient spring steel clips, the company’s Cross logo, and a durable leather slab foundation.
The metal belt clips are removable and adjustable. This particular holster is right-handed and fits belts up to 1 3/4.”
Now we will look at the OWB, Over the Waistband, or Belt Holster
- Very comfortable, no need to rub on the skin or dig into hips or rib cage.
- Extra security features available.
- Much easier to draw from.
- Easy to re-holster weapon after it has been drawn.
- Harder to conceal than IWB, hard to cover, and the gun will have outline or print.
- More easily exposed during movement like stretching or bending over.
- Need a really sturdy belt to stop the gun and holster from sagging or stretching out.
- Can be a lot more awkward, sticking out and perhaps bumping into things.
- Can be heavier than IWB holsters (due to materials).
- Can be more difficult to remove and store quickly.
Best OWB Concealed Carry Holsters
In addition, this versatile holster can be worn as a belt-slide or paddle holster. The spring steel flex plate gives added retention, and the retention shells can be interchanged. It also comes with a 30-day test drive policy and lifetime warranty.
This holster is available in right or left-handed models, fits belts up to 1 3/4″ wide, and costs around $50.
Next we will look at the shoulder holsters – here are a few things to look for:
- Underarm carry reduces outline or printing showing.
- Easy to draw gun out.
- Weapon not easily exposed while you are bending or stretching.
- Won’t knock or cause pain or need of adjustment while sitting.
- Great with suits made of light material (pants that may not be sturdy enough to support a holster).
- Usually, the wearer needs an open front jacket to conceal and to access easily.
- Heavier units may cause neck or shoulder pain.
- Can be awkward to re-holster.
- Difficult to remove and store.
Best Shoulder Holsters for CCW
It features a trademarked clover shape Flexalon swivel back plate. It includes holster, harness, ammunition carrier, and a set of system screws. It will fit semiautomatic pistols and double-action revolvers, and is available for right or left-handed users.
The price is typically $80.
The holster is made of premium saddle leather for all parts, including the holster, harness, and ammunition carrier. It is made for right hand draw and semiautomatic pistols, and optional accessories are available.
It comes in tan or black finish and is typically $150.
The back swivel helps straps lay flat for comfort and better concealment.
This is a particularly sleek holster featuring a double ammunition carrier and black non-glare hardware. Made from genuine leather, it fits a variety of gun sizes.
It typically costs around $150.
Belly Belt Holster
This type of holster resembles a fanny pack, and goes around the waist like a belt. Here are a few pros and cons for them:
- Very easy to carry.
- Complete concealment, as it is difficult to expose with the proper clothing and will not show outline or print.
- Can be worn with almost all types of clothing.
- Does not require a belt or jacket for concealment.
- Very easy to draw weapon out.
- Very easy to re-holster drawn weapon.
- Easy to remove and store.
- Not as stylish or cool as some of the other James Bond type of holsters.
- May be obvious to people who know to look for it.
- May cause you to sweat, depending on materials used.
- Makes you look like a tourist, which might add to your undercover look.
Belly and Belt Holsters
Holsters on both sides allow you to carry on the left or right side, or both.
It can be worn in a lot of different ways, including inside the waistband, outside the waistband, across the body, appendix position, behind the hip, small of the back, and even like a shoulder holster.
This holster is water-resistant.
This holster is for left or right-hand usage and is latex free. There are two compartments for choice of firearms – one strong side and one cross draw.
It is available in four sizes.
Easily conceal extra magazines or other items that you may need in the six-inch deep concealed compartment. It comes in small to extra extra large.
We have worked our way down to the ankles – these are used for extra concealment or to carry an extra, emergency gun. Here are a few pros and cons for them:
- Easy and great for concealment.
- With the right pants, it cannot be seen.
- No need to adjust your shirt or holster continually.
- It is great for a backup weapon.
- Hard to get to in a hurry.
- Can become dislodged.
- Isn’t very comfortable.
- Hard to run with it on.
- Can become heavy.
Best Ankle Holsters for Concealed Carry
Other features include sheepskin padding between the holster and your ankle, a reinforced thumb break for quick drawing, and detailed molding for firearm retention. It is made from premium saddle leather on a neoprene band, and can accommodate fat ankles, up to 13″ around.
This holster will fit pistols and double-action revolvers, accommodates right or left-hand draw, and has an option adjustable calf strap (available separately).
Women’s Concealed Carry Holster Choices
There are other types of concealed carry holsters, and those would be for women. These include the Purse Carry, the Bra Carry, the Thigh Carry, the Belly and Corset Carry, and the Ankle Carry.
If you are trying to conceal a gun under smaller clothing (especially with such a different body type), it can be trickier, in particular if you are smaller. The clothing options can be a challenge, as well. If you are in a dress, are wearing clothing without a waistband, your legs are exposed, have tight fitting clothes, or no usable pockets, it can all mean that you need to be very creative to conceal your weapon.
Even on a down time, you have to be aware of the contents of your purse, and that may be a problem if you don’t normally carry a purse. You can’t just drop it on the couch or leave it by the door with your shoes at your friend’s place, in particular if there are children or pets around.
Even at your own home, having guests in the house means that it must be secured at all times. When you are out, you can’t leave it sitting on the seat beside you or leave it unattended, even for a minute. Also, don’t hang it off the back of your chair, where you can’t see it or reach it quickly.
The purse can also cause problems with a gun just loose inside the bag, even if it is in a secure holster. It can still get knocked loose from the holster, get small bits of lint, or other bits of debris inside the barrel and cause all kinds of trouble (like misfiring or not firing), or it can get caught on things in the bag and the trigger can also get caught and fire in the bag.
There are other types of bags, like the waist bag or fanny pack, that are adaptable for the use of a gun and holster. There are other larger bags, as well, that can accommodate the weapon, the extra magazines, flashlights, and any other items that you may need, like handcuffs or tasers.
Of course, these need to be very organized and you need to be able to reach the gun in an instant without fumbling for the right pocket or worrying about stuck zippers or fasteners. There is also the option of getting your hand on the gun inside of the bag and then firing right through the bag itself.
You could also just use a small purse to snuggly fit the gun, like an evening bag.
If it is already there, why not use it? Of course, it has to be done properly and with the right materials. The Kydex clamshell has to be used for secure retention of the gun and protection of the trigger guard, for your own safety and the safety of those around you.
The drawing and reholstering of the weapon must be done with extra care, with it so close to your heart and other vital organs, and the bra must be a very tight fitting and well-made piece of clothing. The bra will likely only allow for a smaller gun, depending on how much extra space there is.
It can be great for easy access and is potentially very close at hand and easily hidden. A couple of major concerns can be the gun’s weight and movement, and you may need to make adjustments to the thigh band to make it more secure to hold the gun in place.
The wide corset types of holsters can be comfortable, and have a wide base to allow movement. They are made for easy gun access and placement. The gun can be placed behind, just below the breast, at the side, lower back, or whatever feels best for the user.
The corset holsters can be uncomfortable if the gun is larger and if the corset is on the body for a long period of time. The corset can also cause the gun to slip or shift out of place, especially if the wearer is active. Some of them can roll up around the bottom or sides, causing discomfort and constant adjustments.
It’s always important to make sure the trigger and trigger guard are well covered and secure. The potential for a dangerous situation is high here.
Some of these types of body corsets can make it very difficult to access the gun, in particular if it has shifted. It may not be easy to draw when you need to.
Some of them may be made with rather light elastic, making it difficult to hold the gun and the holster in place for a long period of time. If the wearer is moving about or very active, then it can shift around to where you do not want it. If you don’t secure it carefully, the corset holster can be seen under the clothing.
The same issues apply here, both with the women’s holster and the one mentioned for the men. It’s great for concealment, or for an extra backup gun, but it can be awkward to reach. The softer holster for the women’s ankle is a wide elastic band that can conceal almost the whole gun, but due to the softer material, it can slip around or fall out completely with any kind of movement, especially if the wearer is running. Also, full pants are needed to cover it.
It is easier to draw the weapon from a seated position or if you are knocked down to the ground, and it is perfect for a smaller caliber gun as a backup and for peace of mind.
There are some great options for buying your holster. Always try it on and make sure it is what you want. Most of the items mentioned have a 30-day return policy, so you can be sure it is what will meet your needs.
Size does matter, as does comfort. It is likely impossible to find the perfect holster for you, but you should be able to come close.
Safety is always important and needs to be number one on your shopping list. The trigger guard is the starting point and if you don’t have that, then it’s not the holster for you, no matter how pretty it is.
Get one that is adjustable for those days that you feel a little bloated. The ease of drawing and re-holstering may be something that is important for you, or maybe it is the overall comfort. Don’t be shy about asking questions, and don’t buy the first one you find.
If price is a factor, then find something within your means that has all the features you need. There are plenty of reasonably priced holsters that have adjustable straps and are built to fit all types of guns.
Ask around, do some homework, look up some forums and buying guides online, and make your decision wisely.
There is no reason that you can’t find a perfectly good holster for your new weapon that will offer you all the safety you need, and still be well within your price range. Take your time and always try them out to see what will work for you.
Practice with it until you are sure it is or isn’t what you are looking for, and that it is something you will be happy with. Choose a holster that will provide all the safety you need for you and your family and won’t cause any harm to you or your shiny new gun.