Concealed Carry

The 10 Best Holsters for Older Shooters

CrossBreed Reckoning Holster

Carrying a concealed handgun for defense is demanding and must have time and forethought attached. The holster must have a balance of speed and access.

The holster should also offer a stable load-bearing platform for handguns. In this report, we are looking at some of the better choices for older shooters.

Older Shooter Problems

Some shooters have problems related to aging that must be addressed. There are two types of older shooters that carry concealed:

  • The first is the shooter that has been carrying a handgun for decades and is very experienced. Perhaps the handgun they have been carrying is a bit heavier for them in their present position or perhaps the rotator cuff is not as fully articulated as it once was.
  • The other shooter is the one that is coming into concealed carry later and has to face daunting decisions without prior experience.

But that shouldn’t stop anyone, no matter what their age, from carrying a handgun for protection. Some people simply must take different steps.

Personal Experience

I am not as young as I once was and many of these adaptations have been beneficial. When it comes to holsters, I suppose I have a bit of experience.

Among the first books I wrote was “Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry,” and I did the “Handgun Leather” column at Handguns magazine for many months.

I have more holsters than I could ever use. I evaluate new holsters on a monthly basis. I have favorites I use every day and I have others that are great designs, but are not the best for me.

With some, I wonder what the maker was thinking. Holsters are a compromise, but within those compromises are very good holsters.

Holster Best Practices

While no holster is perfect, some holsters are versatile. Others are single-purpose holsters. You cannot get by with a single holster, especially if you live in a true four-season climate.

A caution— never carry a handgun without a holster. That is foolish because there is no stability. The handgun must be secure and properly angled for a good purchase as the handgun is drawn.

The handle should be angled into the draw and must be secure during movement or a tussle.

Carrying a concealed handgun may be painful if you have an injury or strained muscles. You have to decide if the appendix, small of the back or kidney position suits your needs best.

As an example, the appendix draw to one side of the belt buckle would be better if the rotator cuff is damaged and your arm cannot move properly to reach for a handgun in the “FBI” position, over the right rear pocket.

The end choice is part of a system, including the belt. A proper gun belt stabilizes the holster and prevents it from flopping around and becoming a nuisance.

By beginning with a good gunbelt and moving to the rest of the system, you will avoid having the box of holsters that I have accumulated, you will have three or four that do the job as needed.

Best Holsters

The Importance of Concealment

A concealed carry holster conceals the handgun from a casual eye. The holster may not conceal the handgun from close contact with others, but will serve to conceal the firearm as you go about your daily business or job, depending on your needs.

The holster certainly won’t survive a frisk, but then again, it does not need to. The holster must retain the handgun. The fit should be good for retention but not impede a rapid draw.

A tug should release the handgun from the holster but brisk movement should not. There can be reasonable compromise in fit but loose, fit ‘em all holsters are not acceptable.

The holster should offer access. As an example, a student was proud of an inside the shirt holster. The soft floppy holster wasn’t held by rigid construction but by body compression.

The holster collapsed after the handgun was drawn. The draw was an awkward spectacle and access was poor.

The holster’s stability not only depends upon the belt, but also a tight fit of the belt loops or the v-hooks to the belt.

If the holster shifts, then it may cause the butt of the gun to print against your clothing or it may not be properly angled when you attempt to draw the handgun.

The holster should be properly designed for concealed carry without any type of excess leather. Bulk is the enemy of concealed carry. A slim but strong holster is important.

The Importance of Comfort

As for comfort, there is an acclimation period for carrying a concealed carry handgun. The holster may not be comfortable but it will be bearable.

Some handguns are slim and easily concealed, some handguns such as the GLOCK and SIG P types have blocky slides that are less comfortable.

The holster’s job isn’t to conceal the handgun or break up the outline, but carry it rigidly and allow a fast presentation. The covering garment conceals the handgun.

Older persons have arthritis and some other types of damage. I have endured two hernias, largely due to exercise and energetic movement. As a result, I am leery of carrying in the appendix position over the repaired areas.

I have not had back issues and continue to carry a handgun in an IWB holster in the kidney position. Shooters that have wrenched their back may find appendix carry superior.

As for the handgun, I prefer a more powerful handgun than a pocket handgun. Some years ago, a federal-level study determined that a handgun over thirty-five ounces became a burden at the end of the day.

There are many handguns that are capable, useful, reliable and accurate enough for personal defense and weigh less than twenty-seven ounces.

After carrying a Government Model 1911 for many years (37 ounces), a Commander .45 (28 ounces) is a great relief. For others, a Taurus G3 or GLOCK 48 is a good choice. The snubnose .38 is also a classic and is still relevant.

Back of Crossbreed holster
Note both the roll-out device and spare magazine carrier of the Reckoning may easily be removed.

Types of Holsters

After moving to draw a handgun from an inside the waistband holster, I find other choices are more comfortable— but they require a covering garment heavier than a pulled out sport shirt.

The standard outside the waistband holster is a great choice. If a covering garment may be worn, the Avenger holster is a great option. The Avenger belt loop cinches the holster in tight to the body.

The crossdraw is another option. A crossdraw holster allows the user to set with the hand resting on the gun butt, yet the handgun remains concealed. When driving, a crossdraw holster is an excellent choice.

Appendix holsters often suffer from rollout, or the gun butt rolling forward, and printing on garments or becoming uncomfortable.

Choose a holster such as the CrossBreed Reckoning with a roll-out block that prevents this tilt and makes for greater comfort and speed.

A high ride holster makes for greater concealment under a covering garment. A lower ride may allow the shooter to quickly draw and grasp the handle.

Another option that is a good choice for winter carry is a shoulder holster. The shoulder holster should never be chosen in an inexpensive version or a holster that does not have good adjustment.

Shoulder holsters are often difficult to properly adjust, but a good quality holster, such as the Galco Jackass, offers plenty of adjustment.

Through trail and error, you will be able to adjust the ride properly and you will have a first-class holster that offers good concealment and all of the draw advantages of the crossdraw, while keeping the weight of the handgun off of the belt line.

Carefully consider your options and take an honest appraisal of your abilities.

The 10 Best Holsters for Older Shooters

Here are my choices of the 10 best holsters for older shooters, but they really could apply to any shooter. Let’s get to it.

1. Versacarry Compound

The Compound holster features a stiff Kydex backing between buffalo hide leather.

This makes for a holster that is comfortable enough on the outside but will not bend or warp. It is available in both IWB and OWB versions.

Versacarry Compound Holster
The Versacarry Compound is among the most useful recent introductions.

2. Galco Stow-N-Go

This is among the more affordable offerings from Galco. I have used a half dozen in various mission profiles.

It isn’t practical to use an expensive holster for each handgun I test, and the Stow-N-Go is a useful holster that performs better than the modest price would suggest.

This inside the waistband holster offers a solid belt clip that is easily attached to the belt and concealment is good.

Galco Sto-N-Go
Galco’s Stow-N-Go is among the best buys on the market.

3. Galco Phoenix

The Phoenix isn’t inexpensive, but it is among the best made and well-designed holsters in the world. This holster may be worn crossdraw or strong side.

The Galco Switchback is a reasonable alternative. Constructed from fabric material, the Switchback is worth your time to investigate. The Phoenix is the maker’s art at its best.

Galco Phoenix Holster
The Galco Phoenix is pure class.

4. DeSantis Speed Scabbard

The DeSantis Speed Scabbard is stitched and molded well. The result is a good, sharp draw. There is also a retention screw to tighten the holster to adjust the draw speed.

A good touch is the three-slot belt loops. This makes for excellent adjustment of the draw angle.

DeSantis Speed Scabbard Holster
The DeSantis Speed Scabbard is a great belt holster with a good mix of speed and retention.

5. Galco Jackass

A shoulder holster I use often is the Galco Jackass, a vertical holster that offers a sharp draw and real comfort when properly adjusted.

The dual magazine carrier offsets the weight of the handgun, making for good balance. During the winter months, this is an option I use often.

Galco Jackass Shoulder Holster
The Jackass offers real security and a fast draw.

6. BLACKHAWK! IWB

BLACKHAWK! inside the waistband holsters are well-made with good material, supple and offer a sharp draw. These holsters have given good service without any problem.

I like the well-designed metal belt clip. The design is a good one for concealed carry.

BLACKHAWK IWB Holster
BLACKHAWK!’s affordable and well designed IWB offers good concealment and comfort.

7. CrossBreed Reckoning

CrossBreed was a pioneer in hybrid holsters composed of rigid Kydex and supple leather backing. The new Reckoning is a high point in this much-copied and seldom-equaled design.

This holster may be worn appendix style and features a well-designed, anti-roll-out device. The belt clips feature a good range of adjustment. The holster also features a detachable magazine pouch.

This is a true system that makes for a readily wearable, easy on and off carry that is still secure. I have used it in the appendix carry position with good results.

If I were to adopt a tuckable holster, this is a viable choice.

CrossBreed Reckoning Holster
CrossBreed has outdone themselves with the advanced design of the Reckoning.

8. The Avenger

We often refer to the Avenger in generic terms, rather than a holster by a particular maker. The Avenger is among the most concealable belt holsters, short of going to an inside the waistband holster.

While the IWB is good for concealed carry, a sharper draw is possible with the Avenger and it is more comfortable.

Older shooters often wear a jacket in warmer temperatures and we may conceal an Avenger type well. The belt loops snug the holster up close to the body.

The example illustrated is by Jeffrey Custom Leather— it doesn’t get any better.

Avenger Holster
This Avenger by Jeffrey Custom Leather is arguably among the best of the breed.

9. Nelson Holsters IWB

James Nelson is among the most original makers I have met. His IWB holster spreads the weight of the handgun out on the holster’s “wings,” alleviating the weight of the handgun considerably.

The holster also features a backing that makes the holster more comfortable against the body.

Nelson IWB Holster
The Nelson IWB features uncommonly good design.

10. 1791 Gunleather Open Top

1791 Gunleather offers a number of interesting holsters including the 4 Way, a holster that allows a number of carry options including crossdraw and small of the back.

The open-top OWB is among my favorites. This holster rides up close and high and offers a good draw. While it isn’t expensive, the design and finish are good.

1791 Open Top Holster
The 1791 Open Top holster is high-quality at an amazing price.

What are some of your favorite holsters and what is your favorite carry position? Has it changed as you’ve gotten older? Let us know in the comments below!

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (22)

  1. Most of the older people I know (yes, I still insist that I’m “young”) can’t carry on the waist at all because their emergency food supply prints the gun so forcefully that they might as well have it on the thigh in a gunslinger rig. I’m surprised the article ignored this by pushing so many waist-located holsters.
    On the bright side, many older folks find themselves more comfortable in the heat, and can get away with shoulder holsters on days when most of us can barely stand a T-shirt.

  2. I drove long logger for 35 years wearing levis/wranglers and a T shirt and suspenders.
    Not much you can do but carry in your lunch box or pocket. This limits size and holsters. I started log-hauling in 1970; tactical wasn’t the word of the day and all these shootings weren’t considered back then. Carried a snub .38 for years.
    Today I carry a Ruger LC9 in a Tuff pocket holster, yes I still wear suspenders. You have to figure what works with how you usually dress and work from there.

    This “old shooter” stuff means you have to understand your limitations, young or old.

  3. For me, a cyclist and cranky Middle Aged man, the tried and true for big pistols are alien gear crossbreed style Holsters, leather IWB with 2 belt clips and plastic shells. I have a RH and LH and alternate. I also love small pistols and thin single clip Holsters like ace case. Very affordable at $15.
    I have an intestinal stoma that gets in the way but I manage with an infinite adjust gun belt and a Texas Stoma Guard.

  4. I carry a Sig 45 & 357. I use inside the wast band method. I have to wear my belt a litter tighter as I am 84 years old and lost weight. I do use the open top holster when it is cool enough for a jacket. Living in Texas the weather decides the method I will use from day to day. I am a ex-fast draw person and know what the angle, comfort,and speed is all about. A lot of the holsters look good but some appear to be a little large for my inside the pants carry. I can only say that any holster that will give you good service,carry more comfortable and your draw easier is well worth the money. Thank you for all of the information and pictures. I have seen a couple I may give consideration.

  5. How are these holsters for left handed people? So few companies take into account us lefties, this is why I don’t hunt with a bolt action rifle. Semi Autos, slide action, or lever action only. I have three bolt action rifles and all three are right handed and I seldom hunt with them. I have the same problems with holsters, left handed holsters are not the easiest things to find.

  6. I am a minimalist. I carry a Kimber Ultra Carry II .45, Bersa Firestorm .380, International Firearms Model D .380, or an original Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38Spl. Among my holsters I prize my Yaqui slide holsters. I also have a couple of specific model firearm holsters in thumb break styles.

  7. I have just experience Sciatic nerve pain on my strong side (right side), the side in which i carry my .40 caliber compact sig p32o, glock 23 and sig. p229, .40. This is my first experience with such pain, I am sixty-nine years old and would like very much to continue to conceal and carry. Could you suggest a holster that would possibly be comfortable enough for me to try,in order for me to continue to carry. Any recommendation would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

  8. Good info, and quality holsters reviewed. But, it seems that few quality holsters are made to accommodate a laser, rail mounted or installed on the trigger guard; which I feel is essential for a concealed firearm, carried for personal protection.

  9. As I gain age on a daily basis I have gone from OWB to a shoulder holster for my EDC. I decided to purchase an Alien Gear shoulder holster for my Glock 27. It is a modular system that allows for customizing to carry a different firearm. It takes about 5 minutes to change over so I can carry my Glock 29 if I feel the need for a wee bit more punch. Lifetime warranty, made in Idaho, excellent product. Comfortable, wide, well padded shoulder harness, Kydex clips for belt attachment. Harness is leather with the exception of some elastic and nylon straps.

  10. I think it would help with so many style holsters is to have a YouTube to show the holsters, different carry positions and what gun is made for each holster!!! Just saying

  11. As i push closer to the half century mark and age takes its toll. I have started moving away from kydex and plastic holsters although i still apreciate Alien gear and their versatility. I use a 1791 as pictured for my full size 1911. A JM4 tactical is perfect for my everyday cary XDe 9mm. Allowing me to conceal carry iwb in any location from cross 11 to 6 depending on what I’m doing and still be comfortable. The magnets really do provide perfect retention

  12. I just turned 65, and while I don’t consider that “old” anymore, I do admit that aging has brought about aches and pains that affect my draw, particularly a rotator cuff that has grown quite painful from athletics in my youth. As it has worsened, I have been forced to move my OWB Mini Scabbard from 4:00 to 3:00…and from there to about 2:30. It is still well concealed by just a t-shirt covering it, and from there I can draw easily and, so far, without pain. BTW, have used the same De Santis Mini Scabbard, every single day for over 4 years. Well built and comfortable, it secures a SCCY 9mm very well with no bounce or wiggle. But, after 4 years, the retention screw is nearly as tight as it will go and the belt loop are showing their age, just as I am. I think it’s time for another…

  13. I carry a Glock 29 SF and am still on the hunt for a concealed holster, so I have tried a custom molded one that didn’t work out, too long and the angle wasn’t quite right, the leather one is better as far as concealment but still have a problem with the angle. Appreciate your article as it will guide me in my next purchase.
    Thanks

  14. It never ceases to amaze me how many supposed “experts,” some who shoot competitively, hype the “appendix carry.” This position inherently violates the 2nd rule of firearms safety…”Never point the firearm at ANYTHING you do NOT want to shoot, destroy, or kill!” To me, anyway, pointing a pistol anywhere near my crotch is a NO-NO! I have been carrying a 1911 since the Army taught me how to use it in 1972. I still, even with stiff shoulder, carry on my hip, not kidney, not cross draw, not small of the back, and NEVER in the “appendix.”

  15. I’m 63 years old. Began carrying a sidearm when I was 19 in the USMC. Those of us old enough, will remember the old flap over US holster that hooked onto a web belt and carried the finest combat handgun ever designed, the 1911A1. When I got out of the Corps, a friend introduced me to what was then referred to as IPSC/USPSA. I guess the IPSC part has been dropped. Anyway from then to now, I’ve accumulated that “box” of holsters and quite a few sidearms. I’ve had a CCW permit in Colorado for 25 years and carry something on my strong side OWB or sometimes FBI every single day. My favorite go to holster maker has always been Galco. While I have always wanted a Milt Sparks, it hasn’t yet happened. That is my experience and with it, I concur with two things in this article. 1st – Your Sunday “go to meetin” dress belt is worthless for carry. Don’t even try. Get yourself a good gun belt. I’ve been using Beltman belts for years with no complaints. 2nd – Comfort is absolutely essential! Learn what works. SOB is definitely out for long road trips in an auto (not so bad on a motorcycle though). I’m one of those guys who refuses to point a muzzle at my junk or femoral artery. So “appendix” isn’t in my vocabulary. I find strong side, straight up and down at 3 o’clock to be most comfortable and…the position from which I can present most rapidly.
    Good informative article. Thanks!

  16. Like the author, I have anywhere from 4-6 holsters for each of my 15 pistols. This is a necessity living in South Florida Where temperatures range from hot to Devil’s butt crack hot, to the occasional dip into the 50’s. My climate, clothing, carry position, and holster material all play factors on which firearm and holster to tote around depending on the situation.

    I have had two back surgeries, hernia surgery, shoulder tears, elbow surgery, and many other sports-related injuries I’ve accumulated over my 42 years. So I’m basically 62 going on 43. With that being said, my years of carrying have slightly altered what I carry, the holsters I use, and the positions I carry in.

    If at work with a dress shirt or polo tucked in, I tend to use a tuckable holster at my 5:00 position(FBI as the author puts it). As long as you are able to pull your shirt up and out quickly, this seems to still be my favorite location as the appendix and small of back don’t work for me very well. This holds true to a crossdraw or shoulder holster unless I’m wearing a jacket in which case I feel most comfortable being able to pull the easiest from a horizontal shoulder holster. Now if you are an avid marksman and know your firearms, you can get away with a much smaller caliber than my standard .45’s. A non-slip pocket holster with flap to conceal the print of the weapon will work just as well if you are a good shot and can put one in the head thus alleviating any worry about stopping power. I don’t care what kind of drugs someone is on….a shot between the eyes with a .380 or a small 9mm will be just as effective as unloading 8 rounds of .45 ACP into the body of someone on PCP. If this option does not suit me, I have a number of ankle holsters to accommodate about 4 of my weapons. You just have to drop on your ass and buy yourself a half a second of extra time to pull and shoot(with a little practice from this position you will see minor response time differences). I’ll put a .38 Special snub nose, my tiny but extremely accurate .380 Sig P238, or a small Walther PPS or Glock 43 on my ankle(I do recommend one with the calve strap for stability and avoidance of travel). This is where I keep my back-up .38 Special snub. I would say to wear it on the inside of your ankle on the opposite leg of your drawing hand unless for some reason you feel more comfortable with it on the outside of your ankle on the same side as your draw hand.

    Now if I am wearing a coat, I’m carrying a .45 in a shoulder holster or OWB in leather only. With an untucked casual shirt…there’s a great holster for every situation. I prefer the .45 ACP round with a 230 grain Hydroshock or the 185 grain Hornady Critical Defense round depending on which firearm I’m using and what it likes to eat the best. But I don’t like carrying anything smaller unless printing or magazine capacity is an issue. While carrying under an untucked shirt there is only one way I go aside from special circumstances….leather OWB with double belt slots. These holsters, though on the higher end, really feel comfortable, allow ease of use, and hold the firearm where you want it usually providing a perfect cant or one that can be adjusted. By far this is my all-around top preference. I prefer to carry one of my 1911’s in .45 ACP usually being my Lightweight Colt Commander XSE but I also enjoy my Springfield XDS .45(.95” wide with a 3.3” barrel). The leather holster also allows me to effectively conceal my Glock 22 .40, H&K P30 .40, and S&W M&P full size .45. I do have a couple of “outside the box” designed holsters which are invaluable while wearing like a basketball type pair of shorts, sweatpants, or anything without a belt. Thunderwear has proved to work well as does the belly strap….but only in those circumstances. Be cautious….you definitely don’t want some millennial nut job snowflake accidentally picking up on your concealment as they have a tendency of turning a fart into a thunderstorm, and that’s just not a situation or argument I care to have. All of these holsters are still working just fine for me but if I ever suspect or feel I am slowing my draw from holster placement, an immediate change of style or position will quickly follow.

    When hunting and concealment is not an issue, I carry a .44 Magnum with 300 grain Hornady polymer-tipped rounds. Depending on the temperature and whether I’m pistol hunting makes the difference of which holster I use. Since it’s a large 6.5” barrel meant for defense or pistol hunting, I usually carry it on my right hip for easy access. If it’s a cold hunt with clothing not requiring a belt or something involving a bib or coverall’s, I switch to my vertical draw shoulder holster(the one pictured above in the article is actually secured horizontally in the picture not vertically on the shoulder holster contradicting the author)….no offense Sir! But with a long gun you just can’t place that thing horizontally like the picture unless you are three feet thick from front to back. This does make for a slightly more difficult pull as it has to be pulled straight upward not forward. There are actually holsters that are a chest cross-draw that hangs from your neck around your shoulder to have it against your chest sideways. I am in the market for one right now.

    I have two “sh_t guns” that I use when fishing as I don’t want to ruin the finish of any of the more expensive firearms. And with these two(.38 special snub or 9mm compact auto), I utilize some less expensive holsters that work well for those situations. When out fishing my uses for them change as I’m less likely to have to defend myself in a life-threatening situation from an attacker aside from “Jaws”. The flappy cheap holsters mentioned in the article work just fine if you have the tension adjusted on your belt and are using the correct size for your firearm. They have never come out still attached to the guns when drawn or pulled out of place. And replacing them just requires a finger to open again sometimes. They will work just fine if used properly.

    I have about 4-6 versatile different type holsters for each of my sidearms depending on the clothing, temperature, use, and needed position of the pistol. I had to do a lot of trial and some error to find out what best suits me in every situation but I probably own roughly 60-70 holsters altogether to accommodate the 15 very different pistols, weather, clothing, and situations I face.

    I agree with about 95% of what was written in this article, but in closing, I must say that a holster is just as important as the firearm inside(when you need to pull, that holster better release and function properly for the individual or you might as well just leave the gun at home). Try and find a gun store with the same blue plastic mock pistol mold as your carry gun and have someone “WITH KNOWLEDGE“ assist you to pick what you need based on your individual physical state, abilities, attire to be worn with it, weather conditions you encounter, and most importantly your ability to draw and re-holster your firearm.

    I have no affiliation with any holster companies so when I tell you that you will need a few different styles for what you plan to carry, there’s nothing in it for me except to know that hopefully I’ve assisted in saving you or someone you love from harm or worse. SPEND THE MONEY, BE PREPARED AND WELL PRACTICED, THINK OF ALL POSSIBILITIES AND SCENARIOS, PRACTICE VIGOROUSLY MAKING THE PISTOL AND EXTENSION OF YOU, AND PURCHASE WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU! It goes back to a simple principal when buying a gun…if you can’t hit what you’re aiming for, the gun is useless. The same goes for holsters….if it doesn’t perform the way you need it to, throw it away as it could be the difference on how soon you meet your maker. Just my two cents on the subject and I hope it helps just one person preserve their life, someone else’s, or a loved one’s.

    Happy shooting everyone and God Bless!

  17. I will not admit to being old, but as I hit my 12th lustrum in 2 1/2 months, it could be the case. Looking in my locker I find all but three of my holsters are already Versa Carry products (two I made myself). All of my magazine carriers (4) are Versa Carry products.

    I originally wasn’t too keen on a holster without a retention device but as my holster “wears in” it fits the gun better and you can shake it upside down and the pistol doesn’t fall out. As far a durability goes, I have my XD in a guardian for EDC. When I got it, since I liked the design and the price was reasonable, I bought two. It’s been almost two years and one is still in the bag brand new, the other has a couple of bumped corners, but all the stitching is good, the leather looks good and it fits the XD like a glove. Probably one of the best investments I have made for my EDC setup.

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