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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!