5 Things To Consider When Choosing A Concealment Holster


holstersThere have never been more choices in how to carry a handgun than there are today. On or off body carry, fanny packs, dayplanners, purses…the list goes on. Today we’re going to focus on belt holsters to carry your concealed weapon.

So you’ve made the decision to carry a concealed weapon in accordance with the laws of your state because you want to take personal responsibility for your safety. You also understand that, as they say, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away. You’ve taken the necessary training, went through the laborious process of choosing your defensive handgun and ammunition, and now you’re ready to jam it in your belt and carry concealed, right?

Not so fast there Sparky.

Hopefully, your CWP instructor covered holsters. Specifically, the need to have one. See, sticking a pistol in your pocket or trouser waistband is a monumentally bad idea for several reasons. The first is that it, well, might fall out. Unlike the movies, dropping a gun in public doesn’t ensure that hilarity will ensue. I can pretty much guarantee you that the reaction will be far different from the shaking of heads and good natured ribbing the movies portray. Think more along the lines of screams and a panicked rush to get away from you. So this brings us to our first thing to consider.

1 – Your Holster Has To Securely Hold Your Weapon

Every good holster has a method of securing your firearm inside of it. Be it simple pressure between your belt and your side, a thumb break strap, or some kind of latch that clips into the trigger guard, there will be some means of ensuring that the gun stays in the holster until you deliberately draw it. Just put a gun in your pocket and it guarantees it will fall out when you sit down. Just stick your gun in your waistband, and it will pick the most inopportune moment (as opposed to an opportune moment? No) to snake down your leg to the floor. Oh yeah, and once it hits the floor, you will kick it and send it skittering amongst the crowd that will surely be around you. A proper holster will also cover the trigger guard to protect the trigger from being operated by accident from something other than your trigger finger.

Now if you have owned a handgun for more than six seconds, you will have learned that there is no one ideal holster for everything. This is never more true than when carrying a concealed weapon. Unless you wear the exact same outfit every day, you are going to need to have holsters that adapt to your manner of dress. Fortunately, with today’s market we are blessed (cursed?) with an incredible array of choices. Inside the waistband, outside the waistband, nylon, leather, kydex, a combination, you name it and you can find it. So, understanding that you absolutely need a holster of some kind, let’s explore our second consideration.


2 – Your Holster Has To Be Concealable

Concealed Carry. That means that as you go throughout your day, nobody can tell you are carrying a weapon. You need to ensure that your weapon stays concealed even when reaching up or bending over. Depending on your jurisdiction’s laws, exposing your weapon, even briefly by accident, can get your permit revoked and end up with you being arrested, neither of which were the optimum outcomes when you planned your day. Depending on how you dress, virtually any holster can be used for concealed carry. Outside the waistband or belt holsters like 1 through 5 in the picture can be concealment holsters if you are wearing a garment that completely covers them. A loose fitting shirt normally does the job. If your environment dictates a neat appearance where your shirt is tucked in, you’ll need to consider an inside the waistband holster like 6 or 7 in the photo. These holsters allow you to carry your gun with your shirt tucked into your pants over it, leaving only the holster belt clips exposed. Women can have an especially difficult time finding a holster that works for them. There are some specialty ones out there made with women in mind. Number 8 in the photo is the FlashBang holster that attaches to a bra strap.

Mission drives the gear, so clothing determines the holster. A variety of holsters is essential if you want to be able to carry concealed through a wide range of clothing options. That being said, let’s move to consideration number 3.

3 – The Holster Should Position The Gun In The Same Place

Wearing different holsters to accommodate your day’s ensemble doesn’t mean your gun should be placed differently. All the holsters I have position my gun’s grips on my strong side hip just above the beltline. You want to avoid having one holster that places your gun in the small of your back, another that is strong side hip, and another that is appendix carry (popularly known as vasectomy carry) because you don’t want to have to try and remember where your gun is when you need it.

Your draw stroke should be a practiced maneuver, one that you can do without thinking. Reaching for your gun strong side hip when it’s being carried small of back will give you a handful of air when you were really, really wanting steel, or Tupperware for you Glock aficionados. Which segues nicely to consideration number 4.

4 – Retention Devices Should Be Standardized

If you opt to have a thumb break retention device on one holster, have it on all of them. Again, you’re looking for consistency in the draw. If none of your holsters have a retention device that you have to defeat prior to drawing your weapon, and you introduce one that does into your lineup, you’re setting yourself up for confusion. I watched a student attempt to rip his belt out of his pants as he tried to draw his gun from a Blackhawk Serpa because he hadn’t practiced defeating the retention device prior to drawing. It was a new holster for him, all his other ones being kydex that secured the weapon by snapping into the trigger guard and requiring nothing more than a healthy tug to draw. While this only resulted in a little (OK, a LOT) of embarrassment for him on the range, in a real world encounter it could prove fatal.

So, once you find holsters that secure your weapon, conceal it effectively, places it in the same spot, and you know how to draw from, the last thing to consider is:

5 – Is It Comfortable

Defining comfort is trying to hit a rolling doughnut when you talk to people – they all have their own interpretation. Admittedly there is nothing really comfortable about the weight and protrusion into your body that carrying concealed entails. So let’s agree that there are varying degrees of discomfort. If a holster isn’t somewhat comfortable, you won’t wear it, and you won’t carry. Personally, NOT having a gun on makes me VERY uncomfortable. I know I’m not prepared to defend myself if I have to when I’m not carrying. (Also, all of my pants are way too loose as the waist sizes are chosen to accommodate my gun.)

Unfortunately, finding a holster that is comfortable for you is going to be a trial and error type thing. I’ve owned holsters that I will attest were designed by demons with the sole purpose of tormenting me when I wore them. I didn’t know what they’d be like until I tried them. When you find one that works, it’s a little slice of heaven. So I won’t attempt to recommend a holster for you, as that would be akin to me picking your spouse.

There are holsters that work quite well out there. I carry, daily, a full size double stack 1911 (because I like being able to say “Please Sir, leave me alone” 15 times if necessary) normally in a leather/kydex hybrid in complete comfort.

In conclusion, when you’re selecting your holster, do your research. Find the ones that incorporate these five things. And carry safe.


The Tactical Pirate

View posts by The Tactical Pirate
President and lead instructor. Follow me on Twitter, and check out our blog.

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