A recent e-mail from a reader went something like this: “Dave, you review a large number of straight riding or vertical cant holsters. Do you really believe them to be more concealable than those canted?” More concealable? No. Faster? Yes. If holsters with what we call an FBI cant (15 degrees) were faster, then they would be worn by the high-end competitors where speed of draw can mean the difference between winning and losing. Let’s look at the two holster styles for a moment. In order to properly access a canted holster, it must be worn around to the rear of the waistband in the natural hollow of the back. If worn on the side of the body, the angle would be so cock-eyed that you could not get a solid grip on the gun from the holster, something that’s critical in a fight! If the grip is not solid as the gun is drawn from the holster pouch, all kinds of exciting things can happen, such as dropping the gun, throwing the gun or missing the first critical shot on someone who’s trying to kill you. Not good.
By moving the canted holster around to the area above the hip, the gun’s grip becomes more accessible, in addition to making it more concealable. When worn in this area, the gun rests in the natural hollow of the back above the buttocks and below the shoulders, a position that works great for most men and a few very lean women, but can be a bad choice for the shapelier female. In this position on many females, the muzzle gouges the hip and shoves the gun grip into the body, making a solid grip difficult. For men whose clothing is designed to hang from the shoulder, this natural hollow is perfect to drape a jacket or coat over, making it a good place to hide even large handguns. At the same time, hiding a gun here requires the shooter to reach farther around the body, making it slower to accomplish. How much slower? It depends on the shooter. For me it is a complete disaster. Due to a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery, I am not as flexible as I once was, so reaching for a gun in this position requires a lot of upper body movement, i.e., bending forward in order to get my hand on the holstered pistol in a solid shooting grip. This means that in the middle of a fight, I would be bending forward in such a way that I could lose visual contact with my opponent. Not good. Thus, I opt for vertical holsters that ride on the side of my body. Like many things in life, how one carries has to be a compromise between concealability and accessibility.