Nothing is more confusing to me than those who will spend $3,000 on a pistol and put it in a $10 holster. The best pistol in the world can be a liability if it is not properly contained in a quality holster. Back in the day, that meant spending a ton of money on quality leather. This is simply no longer the case. It can certainly still be done—my inventory has a few—but some of my favorite carry holsters are made of Kydex and cost closer to $50 for the holster and the magazine pouch. Competition in the industry has resulted in some fantastic choices for quality carry holsters at very reasonable prices. You really need to make certain you buy a holster that does the job well.


As a working holster, it has a couple of jobs. First, it needs to securely hold the pistol yet allow for a smooth and proper draw under pressure. Unless your profession requires it, there is no need for it to stay in as you hang upside-down or rappel into harms way. But, it needs to stay put when you run, bend over, get in and out of your car, or simply move through life. Preferably, this entire process can be done with one hand. That means no flimsy leather or nylon that requires you to hold it open to reinsert this pistol. It should be rigid enough to go back in the holster safely using only one hand. Forget added straps or contraptions to keep your gun in its holster—this is all about quality construction and fit.

Unless it is a duty holster, there is no need for retention straps. As an officer, you may find yourself fighting for your gun and retention devices may be necessary. As a CCW holder, this should not be an issue. The pistol is supposed to stay concealed until you need it, meaning it should not even be observed until it is out of the holster and pointed at the threat. Keep it in the holster until you need it. So open holsters are fine, and in my case, preferred. You can certainly use a strap if you feel the need; just make certain you practice removing the pistol from the holster. Someone trying to take your pistol away is rare. In fact, it is far more likely that you will need your gun and cannot get it out of the holster.


Secondly, it needs to make carrying your pistol as comfortable as possible. That means no sharp edges or protrusions that dig into you. It needs to hold the handgun in a place where it can be accessed yet still concealed. Flaps or sweatbands that protect the controls from being activated as well as keeping them free of sweat are great on IWB (inside-the-waistband) holsters or any holster that rides very close to your body.


Having the pistol ride at the correct height is critical. If it is an IWB holster, it can be longer and lower because it is inside your pants. That can place it lower in relationship to the beltline. If it is exposed, it should ride higher so less of the muzzle protrudes. Be careful of high-riding pistols or revolvers with short barrels. You may need a strap in this case, as they remain top-heavy. It really is a compromise based on your handgun, your build, and preferred method of carry. All in all, it should hold the pistol securely, keep it accessible, and do so as comfortably as possible. Whether the holster is made of leather, Kydex or a combination, it’s up to you.


Get a proper belt to use with the holster. How well the holster rides against your body is often a product of the belt. With the advent of inserts, carry belts don’t have to that thick anymore. A belt just needs to stay stiff, meaning it does not allow the holster to bend over the belt. It should hold it upright through the draw and back in the holster when needed. In order for that to work, the belt needs to hold it in place and not allow it to move around your body.


Finally, stick to a hip holster for most concealed carry work. All the alternate carry methods seem to present some kind of issue. Shoulder holsters look great on television. Unfortunately, they print easily, bounce around when you run, and generally end up spending more time in the closet than on your shoulders. Nice ones are also very expensive, so don’t spend the money until you are sure. Ankle holsters have their place, but they gather dust and debris, and can be very uncomfortable depending on your ankle. They work great in a car and if you are limited to a suit and tie, but they are difficult to get to quickly at best. Bags and purses are convenient for carry, but problematic unless the bag is never separated from you. Fanny packs tend to scream “I am carrying a gun!” and should be worn with caution. All in all, the best way to carry is on your hip. Here is the most natural place to draw your gun. It’ll stay put and allows you to keep it closer to your body.

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