Another one I grabbed from the Book of Faces so it wouldn’t vanish into their memory holes…. -Jack

Because Facebook keeps showing me advertisements for shitty holster companies, here is some advice for your concealed carry rig (I’m talking worn at the waist, strongside or appendix, not whatever goofy esoteric method* you are married to for whatever bizarro hipster reason)-

1. If your holster doesn’t protect the trigger and prevent the trigger from being actuated while holstered, your holster is trash. If it is fabric and you can activate the trigger through the holster, that’s a disaster waiting to happen.

2. If the holster is floppy and closes on itself, so you need to use your other hand to get the gun back in, your holster sucks, and one of these days you will shoot yourself in the hand.

3. If your holster flops around while you do anything even sorta strenuous, your holster is garbage. It needs to stay fixed to your body in about the same position it started the day in, or it’s junk.

4. If you holster doesn’t retain your pistol if you are forced to move fast, and the gun flops out, you are a danger to yourself and others, and one of these days you are going to shoot yourself or some other poor dumb bastard while you reflexively try to catch it.

5. One Size Fits All means it doesn’t fit anything good. Get a holster designed for your specific weapon. The only addendum to this is holsters that are designed to fit around a specific frame mounted flashlight, because those are designed for a specific fit, only in this case it’s the light that its working off of.

6. Avoid cheap garbage holsters with garbage attachments because they’re going to break.

7. Good concealment holsters don’t need thumb breaks. They fit with friction sufficient to hold the gun in if you do a handstand or dunk a basketball, neither of which I can do, but that’s theoretically possible for some of you. 😀

8. Holsters require maintenance too. They get worn out. Screws get loose. Check your stuff periodically.

9. The gun must be secure, but it also must be accessible. If the design is such that you can’t get a good grip on it for the draw, it’s stupid, and it’s going to slow you down unnecessarily. If you have to do stupid contortions to get your hand around it, that’s dumb and pointless.

10. It needs to be comfy enough to wear it so you don’t cry and whine and then leave it home. Quit being a dork and glue some foam on those edges that bug you. My AIWB rigs look like pillows that hold a gun inside because I’m a fat guy who hates stuff rubbing on me.

11. It doesn’t matter if it is leather or kydex, all the same rules apply.

12. Serpas have been banned from a whole bunch of places and courses for a reason. I don’t need to rehash this, and if you disagree I don’t care and don’t feel like arguing with you. The only reason they still get used is Blackhawk is super good at having a variety in stock to ship to gun stores and they’ve got a great mark up. They suck as actual holsters.

13. If you can’t draw while sitting down, your holster is lame. Like that goofy ass lift the giant flap and the pops up above your belt rig FB keeps showing me. That’s just dumb. They had to put a magnet in the new version to keep the guns from falling out, which makes it slightly less unsafe yet still stupid. Just get a normal rig.

14. If you pay attention to this stuff you’ll notice that most of the people who take it real serious and actually practice and train tend to pick from a handful of companies that follow all these. Ironically, those companies aren’t usually advertising their magical super gimmicks to gullible dupes on Facebook.

15. No matter how good your holster is, it’s going to suck if you hang it off a cheap, floppy belt. You want a quality, rigid, non-stretchy belt. Belts that offer clicks or tension adjust are more forgiving than traditional belt holes, as you can adjust better to keep that gun in the comfiest spot.

16. I didn’t name any shitty brands because inevitably when I do, somebody is going to get butt hurt and cry But It Works For Me! and It’s Just As Good! And frankly I don’t have time for your hurt feelings today. If your holster doesn’t fit these basic criteria, you should get something better.  

17. Test your gear. Dry fire with it a whole bunch. Wear it around. Be honest with yourself, and all the shortcomings will become abundantly clear. Don’t tie your self-esteem to your purchases. All gun people have bought stupid shit at one time or another. We all pay the derp tax. Just recognize it, move on, and get something better. Then test that too.

*on your goofy esoteric methods-
Small of the back: is dumb. It is stupidly slow. And it doesn’t actually conceal any better. You just think it does because it is behind you so you can’t see it. Pointless. Zero advantages.

Pocket: Designed for tiny guns, all the holster rules still apply, except it’s main job is to cover the trigger and serve as an anchor so your pocket rocket stays in the same place.  

Ankle: A weird and incredibly slow method that is rarely used now, which I’ve got almost no firsthand knowledge of because I’ve not used it much other than basic demonstrations in CCW classes a long time ago.

Belly Band: Peak 1990s deep concealment technology. Which depending on how crappy the brand is may or may not actually retain the gun, probably collapses, and more than likely needs two hands to holster. An Enigma does the same thing better in every possible way.

Off The Body: Crap like purses, briefcases. Lame. If you ever set it down, congratulations, you just left a loaded gun uncontrolled in public. Also super slow and hard to access.

Gunderpants: Which is my wife’s joke name for any of those athletic shorts that come with a holster. Same rules apply, and they’ll probably fail on the retention, safety, and floppy bits.

Shoulder Holsters: look great in gritty cop shows. Comfy. Suck to actually use. Slow. Requires a bigger covering garment. And nobody ever trains with them because you can’t use them without flagging half the range.

Cross draw: most of the disadvantages of shoulder holsters, only you don’t get to look like a grizzled homicide detective.  

If you’ve got some other weird ass method that I’m not thinking of, ask yourself why you’re the only person who uses this brilliant system, and then just try not to shoot yourself or somebody else. The only times I’ve seen most of these make sense is somebody has an extremely specific role because of their lifestyle, or dudes who carry multiple handguns in different positions because they do weird dangerous shit for a living. Those are bell curve outliers. They probably aren’t you. Quit being weird and get a normal holster.

Also, an addendum. Magnet car holsters are stupid. Your car isn’t a holster. If you carry in a holster that isn’t an uncomfortable piece of shit then you’re not out there manipulating your loaded gun in public to stick it onto your goofy car magnet holster, which would need to weigh about 80 pounds to actually retain that gun in order to not lose it during a crash. Every time I see these ads pop up on here it makes my eye twitch.

WriterDojo S3 Ep14: Worldbuilding with Chuck Gannon
WriterDojo S3 Ep13: Picking the Brain of Dr Rob Hampson

62 thoughts on “Holsters”

  1. #17 explains the not-a-joke about people buying more holsters for the same gun than they do underwear…


    Gotta remember to glue some foam to the holster I’ve got.

    1. I took some velcro and a Dr. Scholls heel insert and made my holster bearable for a few hours in appendix carry to comfortable all day. Best $10 I spent on a gun accessory.

  2. Good list. I will say that I found r/ccw on Reddit to be a very good resource for finding holsters and talking about concealed carry. They were very helpful to me and other newbies wanting to figure out concealed carry. It’s been a while since i went there, but they used to have some sidebar stuff on recommendations for decent brands, would discuss merits of various things, and give you differing perspectives without it turning into flame wars.

  3. Retired cop/firearms instructor. I’ve carried for 41 years. For God’s sake, buy a decent gun and then go ahead be crazy and buy a good quality name brand holster. Train with it. Makes me nuts to see someone with a $700 gun in a crappy Uncle M###s nylon holster.

  4. I disagree with 3: It’s entirely possible to experience 3 with a good holster if your belt or (pant’s) belt loop suck. 13 kinda covers that though.

    Nick Moran (The Chieftain) notes that AFV crews HAVE to use cross draw, or thigh/ankle for practical reasons. That’s a really, really narrow use case and 100% overlap with open carry though.

    Also missed one awful holster: The sleeve holster. As cool as Rally Vincent and Mara Jade make them seem, it’s perhaps THE worst method of carry. I think it may actually be illegal in some places in addition to stupid with how much it flags people.

    1. We had an open carry day in Texas last year. Went into WalMart and there was an older vet, like Iraq 1 older, in a power chair, wearing his M9l Beretta in his M7 tanker holster. Still does when I’ve seen him.

    2. I always laugh at the guy with the tacti-cool thigh rig that is hanging as low enough to double a knee brace. They look goofy and have to suck to run with.

      Lowering the gun below the belt is so that clears your other gear (plate carrier, LBE, chest ring, etc.). The thigh strap is just to keep it from flopping around.

      I was a RO at a public range for years. Some of the stuff I have seen……..

  5. It’s amazing how a good holster & belt combo can make even a big gun ‘disappear’.
    I’ve toted a 1911 regularly under a tshirt in a CCC* Gesalt holster and Mastermind AIWB belt.

    *Custom Carry Concepts, sadly now retired.

  6. I haven’t gotten holsters worked into my Facebook ad feed yet. That said I am endlessly entertained by the random assortment of things they think I will be interested in. Last fall there was a two week stretch where all the ads were for Chinese knock-off Hawaiian shirts, role playing dice, or random Amazon stuff.

  7. With respect to #5, there’s room for clarification.
    One size fits all, fits none.
    But made specifically for your model doesn’t always exist.
    For instance, Ruger sells a model of the Security-9 with a built-in laser, which you simply cannot find a kydex shell for. But you can find good leather for another company’s similarly sized pistol. It requires a bit of break-in, but then fits like a glove. (The employees of your friendly local shop will open packages, test fit, and help you find exactly what you need. Don’t be too proud to ask for help. That’s what they’re there for, and it makes their day.)

    I have a fondness for crossdraw, but you’re right. It’s an edge case for when you’re stuck in a sitting position. (Or on horseback, especially with a longer barrel.)
    I have my rig set up so I have the option of open crossdraw if I’m driving a long way, and then shift to IWB strongside when I get there. 😉 If you want to sit on your steel, you’re more hardcore than I!

    1. You aren’t kidding about that one. They don’t make anything to fit that combo. I got one because the only two they had at the gunstore(that I had to drive like an hour or two to get to cause the local ones didn’t have any) was the laser one and the one with night sights, which while probably more useful cost like 150 dollars more, and I didn’t have a lot of money.

      You can take the laser off, and I didn’t really care to have it that much but it was part of the cost so I hate not to use what I paid for. The one I got for the normal full sized security 9 was kind of jabbing me in my gut, so I got one with like a leather backing to not jab you and kind of this stiff neoprem kind of material I think. It would probably fail jack’s test but it seems to work. If you are interested it’s something like N8 tactical I think.

      1. Check a local gun show. I live in PA and, usually, at Oaks there is a little holster shop in attendance that does custom holsters from kydex. They have templates for common guns, but if you have your pistol with you, they’ll make the shell for you right then and there.

  8. Thank You Larry!

    I love the holster systems/carry review and I am going to pass it on, but now I have to re-think my cross draw preference.

    Mike, MHI Fan

  9. Interesting that this pops up, when Colion Noir just dropped a video about how important it is to use a holster. Apparently there’s a video making the rounds of a guy who shot himself in the groin, and also hit his dog.

    The dog is fine, from what I’ve heard.

  10. I’ve only been carrying for 18 years, and when I started I filled a couple of gallon-size ZipLocs filled with rejected holsters. What works for me is a Don Hume clip-on IWB (strong-side) holster, since where I used to work required me to disarm, and keeping the pistol in the holster meant I didn’t have to manipulate much when I’d lock it away. It stays put through vigorous physical activity.

    Since I’ve carried three different sizes of 1911’s (Govt, Commander, and Officer’s length) I’ve got three different length of exactly the same holster, just varied for barrel/slide length. Manual of arms and draw are identical to all of them.

    But I will say that when I started carrying I was VERY nervous about a negligent discharge with a 1911, since the only way to carry one usefully is cocked/locked/one-up-the-spout, and so all of these holsters are the variant with the thumb-break (Don Hume makes them both ways, with and without). There’s plenty of friction to retain the guns, and the holster mouth is a doubled layer of leather to keep it open for re-holstering, but the retention strap acts like a third safety on top of the thumb and grip safeties, and gives me a lot of peace of mind.

    So I’ll tentatively agree with #7, in that a good holster doesn’t NEED a thumb-break retention strap, but since it doesn’t slow the draw (my thumb pops it right open) or interfere with anything, I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with having one for a single-action pistol carried in Condition 1.

  11. When I was going to college a friend of mine (former Navy Parachute Rigger) modified a calculator case into a belt holster for me. I pretty much use that with a sturdy leather belt when I carry. The weapon is secure. Most people don’t even notice it. If I need the weapon a pull down opens it and a pull up releases the weapon. There’s no worries about what to do when using a restroom and I’ve worn it often enough that I am comfortable with it and don’t have to adjust it every five minutes. It works for me.

  12. Wait, holster? You mean I can’t just cram a Glock in the waistband of my track shorts?! Next, I’ll bet you’re going to start rambling on about you should actually try to get a clean sight picture through the sights, instead of holding it sideways and looking over your wrist!

  13. I can’t wait to get into a discussion with someone about holsters (don’t own a gun because I’m right handed and left eyed and my aim sucks) and pretend these are all my own thoughts from the years of experience this post will allow me to pretend to have.

    I can however quick draw a roofing hammer and spin it around and put it back in my tool belt loop and that should count.

  14. RE: #13: I briefly considered one of those “lift the flap to the moon” holsters (I get flooded with those FB ads, too). Then I read the reviews, both good and bad, to see what people really think of it.

    Turns out, unless you carry a compact and/or ultra-thin single-stack, they just don’t work. You CANNOT use whatever pocket it’s behind (give up my right-front pocket? seriously!?). Plus they don’t conceal larger guns well and are hard to draw. Which makes sense when you think about trying to pull a double-stack full-size pistol, plus the holster, through the gap between your gut and your belt. Ouch!

    If your belt is loose enough to allow that comfortably, it’s loose enough to let your pants drop — and your holster with them. (Watch the video again; all the demonstrations are with single-stack compacts and sub-compacts, and nothing bigger.)

    I could envision a niche case for deep concealment — IF you’re a high-speed-low-drag ultra-deep-cover law enforcement officer — but that’s probably just my imagination and nothing resembling real life. I can’t, however, think of any role the holster could play that isn’t served just as well or better by an existing product.

  15. I never found a decent holster I could afford when I used to carry in AZ. I had to make them. They’re not hard to make (compared to a chair or a table) but they do require some research and use of the brain to get them right. But, with a little effort you can make a nice friction-fit holster that keeps your piece where it belongs, and gives you a decent draw speed.

    Nicest professionally made holster for a 1911 I saw back in the day was made by Tim Sheehan of Goshen Enterprises in Sedona AZ, they also make the HexSight for pistols and shotguns. A very nice bit of gun leather that had a little flap that covered the hammer for carrying cocked-and-locked. Excellent leather work with attention to detail. I’d have had one if I’d had the money back then.

    Now of course I live in Canaduh, and all such conversations are moot. No carry at all. I keep a big flashlight these days.

    1. And I see Trudesceu has banned all handgun sales in Canada now. Welcome to the Canadian Soviet Socialist Republic.

  16. Being a bit of a Luddite who uses a (modified)Smith 3914 for both authorized (private security guard) and EDC, I found early on that nobody was making holsters for a pistol that hadn’t been made in 30+ (?)years. Looking around I discovered that any Glock 26 holster worked fine with a little modification. Note for those in similar situations: kydex softens enough to be worked at 350 degrees for around 15minutes… Just be sure to wear oven mitts when forming it around the gun, heh, heh.
    And for the record I’ve never had a problem with the Blackhawk holster I have. Of course I learned decades before they came on the scene that one lays the trigger finger along the frame above the trigger until one has the finger(and pistol) pointed toward the target – revolvers or pistols.

  17. Leather is a sexual preference, not a holster option.
    O.k. I’ll see myself out.
    But before I go, warfyter fabriclips. Check em out, they clip to the pant instead of the belt, so you can carry tiny guns even with basketball shorts or sweatpants, and it really works.
    Also, please more of these Facebook crossposts.

  18. Two things

    Other than being comfy what the point of the shoulder holsters with all those downsides? I figure there must be some reason since they’re still in use, or is it a work vs enthusiast kinda thing?

    This focuses mostly on pistol holsters. Do you have any interesting insights on stuff like scabbard and other styles holsters for rifles and whatnot?

    1. Shoulder holsters are older tech. Lots of old stuff hangs around from inertia even though there are vastly better options. Though I haven’t actually heard of anyone using one seriously in the real world in the last ten years outside military vehicle crew (who don’t really count)

      1. Interesting. Perhaps with vehicle crews it’s so it doesn’t get in the way of their immediate responsibilities, but they still have it on hand?

    2. The only group I’ve still seen still using shoulder and ankle holsters as a regular carry option are 1: some bush pilots, and 2.) over the road truckers.

      For the pilots who preferred that, it’s because it kept the large caliber bear-deterrent handgun On Body, but out of the way when flying, as the beltline had other survival gear on it. (Very strong rule: in the event of an airplane crash, if you ain’t wearing it, you don’t got it. Emergency loadouts for on-body are a very personal choice, tailored by opinion and experience.)

      For the truckers, I am not one, but when I asked one why (I’m curious that way), he smiled and pointed out that the majority of the situations he’s wanted a gun, he’s been seated and buckled in, and found drawing the gun from the waist to be more difficult than shoulder or ankle.

      That said, I’ve met other truckers who strongly prefer IWB carry, so your mileage (heh) may vary.

      Either way, that definitely falls under the specific to job exception that Larry mentioned above.

  19. “We all pay the derp tax.”

    Great truths so often hide in the most innocent of places.

    (Sniffs and knuckles away a tear.)

  20. We had an open carry day in Texas last year. Went into WalMart and there was an older vet, like Iraq 1 older, in a power chair, wearing his M9 Beretta in his M7 tanker holster. Still does when I’ve seen him.

  21. I don’t suppose anybody could recommend a good concealed holster for a Taurus millennium G2 with a viridian tech C5L?

    1. Specifically? No. General good holster companies I have heard or used:
      Tier 1
      JM Custom Kydex

      There’s a good list of holster companies on r/CCW on reddit.

  22. #17 is why every gun guy I know has “a box of holsters.” One day, the light dawned, and I was able to use that to explain one of the Mysteries of Females to my Calmer Half.

    “Dear, you know The Box Of Holsters? That’s what pants shopping for women is. The only difference is that we can usually try it out in the store and check if the fit is actually good, useful, and comfortable before buying it… but sometimes daily wear reveals that it’s still not useful. And just like you can dial in the exact right holster for your needs for your gun, and then have to start all over when you change your daily carry, or your operational parameters? That’s what gaining or losing 5 pounds does to women and the jeans fit.”

    Ever since then, if I have to go jeans shopping, he just gives me his condolences and sympathies… and if he starts coming home with 3 or 4 new holsters, I just do the same for him.

  23. So is there an advantage to a small of the back holster? I saw a ranch hand with one and the only thing I could think of was that it kept the gun out of the way while he worked.

    1. That’s about the only advantage, as far as I can see. One big downside is if you fall backwards (trip, lose balance, get knocked over, etc.), landing with a gun under your back will be painful at best; the non-zero chance of significant damage to critical anatomical infrastructure (i.e. the spine) shouldn’t be ignored.

      1. It’s also a great way to unknowingly turn a concealed firearm into an open carry firearm.
        A fact you might not be aware of until someone decides “free gun!”
        And retention is pretty lousy as well.

        1. I was at the bottle return one day, and a guy was holding a box of bottles; as he passed, I noticed that his gun (carried at the small of his back) was totally visible, probably from bending over to pick up the box. I had to lean in and surreptitiously whisper/motion that it was visible and he might want to fix his shirt because I knew that in this area, there’s probably better than a 50/50 chance that seeing his gun would have freaked someone out and possibly led to him being reported to someone. It felt like a situation where a woman unknowingly tucks the bottom of her skirt into her waistband after using the restroom. I was just thinking, “You’re lucky it was me who noticed.”

      2. Or if you sit back in a wooden pew . . . Not that I’ve ever heard a “clunk” followed by fast-muffled unchurch comments about his/her/its own stupidity.

  24. There is a great carry option that is sadly only feasible for some fictional characters, and may not be practical for them.

    That is where you open up your chest, and have a battleship ray gun inside, for when you want to incinerate everything in front of you.

    Sure looks awesome.

  25. I have drawer full of holsters instead of a box. Over a period of more than 40 years I have bought quite a few for different guns and most of them are fairly decent holsters from companies like Galco, Bianchi, Safariland and some others. A few years ago, I bought a Milt Sparks SS 2 IWB, and it is the best holster I have ever used. I have bought 5 of them all together for different guns. They conceal well and with a good gun belt I hardly notice I have it on and that is with full size guns both 1911s and Glocks.
    A good gun belt is essential to creating a stable platform for the gun. I like and use Bigfoot gun belts with the steel core. It makes a world of difference from the regular leather belts I used several years ago.

  26. There are also the inner-thigh holsters for women who want to carry while also attending a function where they have to wear a dress. As someone who doesn’t carry, I’m curious: Do you just accept that there are a lot of clothes you can’t wear while carrying safely? I’ve heard that normal holsters are made for a man’s body and don’t work as well for women, to say nothing of the fact that women’s clothes tend to be far more form-fitting than men’s. Is that a factor worth considering at all? Or is this a “Suck it up and wear frumpy clothes if you want to carry” situation?

    1. “Do you just accept that there are a lot of clothes you can’t wear while carrying safely? ”

      No, you accept that there are a lot of clothes you can’t wear because you carry. Program compliance. Life is more important than fashion.

    2. I am completely blanking on the names of any right now, but there are a few companies that have sprung up where women decided they were tired of the options.

      I will also say that the Phlster Engima works REALLY well for many women to appendix carry without a belt. Phlster has some excellent guides on their youtube cannel how to conceal carry around, as well as the best fundamentals of conceal carry mechanics on their sight ( https://www.phlsterholsters.com/the-basics-of-concealment-mechanics/ )

      1. I know that there are such things. Just curious what the opinion on those are, given the strict guidelines laid out in this post. Men and women have different body shapes, so I’m just curious if there are the same “absolutely do this/don’t do that” opinions considering the different body type and clothing options challenges that women face.

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