Gear, Parts and Accessories

Five Alternative Concealed Carry Holsters

Black leather case with elastic holster inside

There are times when carrying a gun on your body in a traditional belt or inside-the-waistband holster is tough or problematic—in cocktail or business attire or while jogging or working out for example. Others may not feel comfortable wearing a gun at all and chose off-body carry in purses, day planners or tucked in the glove compartment of their cars.

Though I agree with the experts—it is best to carry your gun on your body in a holster that covers the trigger and retains the gun securely—the best way to carry is the one that makes you feel comfortable enough to stay armed every single day no matter what you are wearing. Even if you wear your gun on your belt, waistband, ankle, shoulder, underneath your breasts or small of the back, you might run into situations where an alternative way of carrying is beneficial. These five alternative carry holsters help you stay armed when you can’t carry conventionally.

Galco iDefense Tablet E-Reader/Holster

Few companies are making iPad cases with built-in handgun holsters. Cases such as the Galco iDefense are perfect for the office, school, commuting, business meetings or when working outside the office. Galco’s iDefense is made of top-quality leather and has two sections: one for your tablet or E-reader and another separate zippered compartment with a sewn-in elastic holster and elastic magazine holder. The design is made to prop up your Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy or other tablet, Nook or Kindle while keeping your handgun concealed in a different compartment. The iDefense fits medium- to full-sized semiautomatic pistols, so this concealed carry alternative is best for those who prefer carrying a bigger gun. The elastic holster secures your firearm tightly and successfully covers the trigger guard, while allowing for a quick and smooth draw.

The Galco iDefense is the bulkiest alternative holster on this list, measuring 10 inches long and 7.5 inches wide. The iDefense has a single zipper, snap close and removable leather wrist strap. What I find most interesting about the iDefense is how well it works for Southpaws—better than for me who is right-handed. It is definitely on the more expensive side at $143.77; however, you can tell the difference in quality, reflecting the higher price.

Pros: all-in-one, accommodates left-handed shooters well

Cons: bulky, price

UTG Discreet Pistol Case

The UTG discreet nylon pistol case offers no bells and whistles—just one zippered pouch with dual zippers. The zipper heads are wide enough to add a small lock to prevent access to your gun. Inside is an integral holster made of elastic and on the other side of the holster is a sewn-in elastic magazine holder. The pistol case is stitched all the way around and reinforced in two places on the spine of the case. The elastic holster successfully covers the trigger guard and firmly holds the gun in place. It fits subcompact handguns with 3-inch barrels or 2-inch barreled revolvers. It will securely hold popular carry guns such as the Kahr Arms CM9 and CM40, Springfield XD subcompact, Kel-Tec PF9, Ruger LC9, Beretta Nano, SIG P938 and P290, as well as the GLOCK 42. Small, pocket pistols with barrels shorter than three inches will not fit properly.

The exterior dimensions measure 7.5 inches long and 5.25 inches wide. The discreet pistol case will easily fit in a purse, messenger bag, briefcase or carry on. I particularly appreciate the padding on both sides of the case. I have tested pistol cases much more expensive than this one that have just a cardboard insert or nothing at all to protect your firearm. For less than 10 bucks, this pistol case is a secure way to carry your gun when you can’t wear a holster.

Pros: compact, nicely padded

Cons: won’t fit handguns with barrels smaller than 3 inches, slightly flimsy

Roma Leathers Concealment Pistol Organizer

For students and professionals, this concealment pistol organizer is ideal. For $40, the top-grain cowhide leather looks more like it rivals the iDefense in price. The stitching is reinforced all the way around. This day planner/organizer stands out from the rest on this list because the leather holster inside is removable and repositionable to whatever suits you best. Further, the holster has a full thumb break that doubles as a Velcro retention strap. There is also an elastic magazine holder. Its exterior measures 9.5 x 6.25 x 2 inches, and the holster inside fits compact, medium and full-sized handguns—even my tiny Kel-Tec P3AT fits, though not ideally.

You might question the integrity of the Velcro, however, the holster stays put, even when drawing your gun one-handed. A clear plastic 4 x 2-inch ID holder sits on the opposite side of the organizer. Oddly, a Texas concealed carry permit sticks out at the top.

Like the UTG pistol case, the concealment pistol organizer is only a concealed carry alternative and does not function as an actual calendar, phone holder or daily planner. My favorite feature of this case is the integral YKK lockable zippers. The case comes with two keys and a lifetime warranty.

Pros: adjustable thumb break holster, lockable zippers

Cons: not multifunctional, doesn’t fit tiny pocket pistols well

Leather Fanny Pack

Regardless of how I feel about fanny packs as a fashion statement, I understand their usefulness when hiking, biking and exercising. Made of soft pliable leather, Cheaper Than Dirt’s! leather fanny pack has four compartments, a separate cell phone holder and a hide-away net for your water bottle or sports drink. There are two large main compartments, one in front and one in back. The one in back—the one against your body—measures 8 x 6 inches and will fit a handgun 5 inches tall snugly. Pocket guns and sub-compact semiautomatics and revolvers will fit in the medium-sized zippered pocket in the front. My Kel-Tec P3AT .380 fits perfectly in the front middle pocket without jostling around. If you plan to use the middle, or medium-sized pocket in front, a gun taller than 3 inches will not fit.

The cell phone pocket adjacent to the front two smaller and medium-sized compartments has a Velcro closure and securely holds your phone while running and jumping. I tested the fanny pack with the iPhone 5s and HTC Evo 4G LTE. Both fit just fine. However, current iPhone 6 and other popular larger-screened phones will not fit.

The nylon belt adjusts from 20 to 50 inches and has a quick-detach plastic buckle. The front, small pocket holds cash, credit cards, your driver’s license and concealed carry permit. The one drawback to this particular fanny pack is no built-in retention holster. For a fanny pack with an internal holster, you will have to pay at least double this leather fanny pack’s $20 price tag.

Pros: variety of compartments, fits almost any size handgun

Cons: no retention, won’t fit newer large-screened phones

Concealed Carrie Black Leather Satchel

Targeting women who carry a designer Coach or Michael Kors bag, the Concealed Carrie line of purses match these types of designer purses in quality, leather, construction and price. Many women find it difficult to find the right combination of handgun and carry method to feel comfortable every day, so they resort to carrying their guns in their purse. Many scoff at off-body carry for many reasons—one of them being the dangers of dumping your handgun in your purse without any type of trigger cover or retention. The founder and president of Concealed Carrie, Leslie Deets designed the bags so women don’t have to sacrifice fashion for function. Made of distressed leather and aged hardware, the satchel has a separate, zippered compartment accessible from outside and inside the purse, covered with Velcro strips. A removable and adjustable Velcro holster accommodates different sized handguns and can be positioned inside the concealed carry compartment for right- or left-handed shooters.

Also included is an adjustable 41- to 47-inch shoulder strap that allows you to position the purse for cross draw carry. You may also carry the bag like a traditional purse over your shoulder.

Compact and subcompact semiautomatics fit best in the satchel, but it will fit all sizes of handguns. This is my favorite aspect of the Concealed Carrie purses. These purses are a good alternative for women who prefer larger calibers and larger handguns, but find them difficult and uncomfortable to carry on body. Even a full-sized, 6-inch barreled revolver will fit in the Concealed Carrie holster purses! The downsides to the Concealed Carrie line of concealment alternatives is price, and for me personally, the lack of variety in styles.

For a less expensive purse designed for concealed carry, check out Bulldog Cases Trilogy purse. It comes in four different finishes, has an adjustable strap for cross body draw and carry, fanny pack carry or clips directly to your belt loops. The best part is its less than $25 selling price.

Pros: adjustable Velcro holster, variety of handgun fit

Cons: price, lack of variety in styles

Do you ever carry off-body? Which is your preferred method? Tell us in the comment section.


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 (16)

  1. Fortunately I’m at the age where carrying my “equalizer” is more important than how I look to others, so I’ve carried a fanny pack for over 30 years. (Of course if I’m wearing a suit or other clothes with a jacket, a belt holster is best).

  2. Have used a fanny pack and ankle holster for over 20 years. Never a problem with either. If I’m wearing shorts and a tee shirt the fanny pack is the best choice. And I don’t give a crap what anyone thinks about the fanny pack.

  3. As a police academy firearms instructor of several years my only comment is, if it has a zipper FORGET IT FOR DEFENSIVE CARRY!!!! If you ever need it, you will need it NOW. Trying to get a zipper open in a situation where your life is in danger will only get you hurt or killed quicker.

  4. I’ve been using a fanny pack style for a long time. Mine has a holster in the rear section closest to the body. The holster is held in place with a strong Velcro strap that can be accessed from right or left. There is a pull tab on both sides for a quick unzip. There is also an elastic slot for a mag. I carry a 38 special revolver and it fits great. The waist strap is reinforced to avoid a quick snatch and grab. When in crowded situations I hold onto the strap just to feel more secure. There is plenty of room in the other compartments to carry money, id’s/credit cards, phone and other misc needs. If someone calls me antiquated for carrying a fanny pack then they’ve never tried it. A true hands free feel is liberating.

  5. I purchased and use exclusively a concealed carry holster made by a company called “Sneaky Pete”. It is a squareish, made to specific size holster that can be had in ballistic cloth or leather. It covers the gun completely and is held in place with a magnetic flap. It has belt loops and/or clips to wear on your pants. It looks like a large phone case or a small Ipad case. It looks like anything but a holster, I have even worn this into a casino and never raised an eyebrow.
    I am very happy with this product.

    1. I have a Sneaky Pete. Very nice.

      I also have a Bulldog for times when I have to go in deep cover for CC. The Sneaky Pete fits my Kel Tek PF9 and looks like a small tablet carrier, and the Bulldog fits a Kel Tek .32 with CorBon HPs. Yeah, I know, a .32 is a weak round, but sure better than nothing at all.

      The point is, off body carry is a formula for disaster.

  6. Cheaper Than Dirt’s catalog lists a nylon shoulder holster by UTO. Its modular and held together by plastic clasps. I bought 2 and set up the rig to carry 2 Gen 3 S&W semi-auto pistols–one left and one right. Its made with triangular load distributing shoulder pieces. I took the two apart, set up the mag holders to go on my belt. It will take a little stitching to reposition the holsters so they hold the weapons vertically (muzzle down).
    I found just about anything will cover the holsters and mag pouch. Two 10mm pistols will handle just about anything. Now if I could just find a couple of adjustable rear sights. I got used to carrying S&W’s on the job with target hammer, target trigger and adjustable sights.

    Adjustable was an option from S&W 10 yrs ago but the 10mm I found with adjustable rear sights wasn’t for sale and the owner liked his sights adjustable too. Leather would probably be too hot but I’ve never seen one to try out. Maybe Galco could make one! Retired Agent

  7. All these, you have to hold onto. If you have to use your hands for something else, you have to set it down. I would never set my gun down out in public. The satchel reminds me of the woman that received a conceal purse this last Christmas, and was in a store, Wallmart I believe, and had her purse in the cart. Her young child got the gun out while she was not paying attention and shot the mother in the head. I would never use something like this to carry a gun.

    1. I guess the fanny oak you wouldn’t have to set down, but I wouldn’t wear a fanny pak.

    2. That’s correct. Her toddler got the gun out and shot her dead, and this is not an isolated incident. This kind of stuff happens too often, and is not only a tragedy for the [people involved, but gives the antis ammunition to use against us for CC.

  8. One holster that might get honorable mention is from Maxpedition. I believe they make two, one for small and one for large handguns. I carry a S&W 40 in mine on my belt and it is not real conspicuous in this era of electronic devices.

  9. Syzanne,

    First, I look forward to your posts. They are well written and informative.
    Second, I use a padded vest, made in Australia I believe, that carries my .45 on my left side and three extra magazines on the right. Being padded, it conceals the full size semi-auto pistol quite well. Thin vests, in my experience, tend to “print” the outline of the pistol in my case. The pistol in my padded vest is close to my body and the velcro tabs which hold the inside flap closed open readily.
    Third, in colder weather, I wear a coat, somewhat like a tanker’s jacket, from the same manufacturer. Same arrangement. But it has a sheet of plastic next to the outside fabric which completely masks the gun.
    The only problem was the heavy .45 stretched the elastic holster to the point where it did not contain the pistol any longer. Solved that problem with an Uncle Mike’s IWB holster shoved into the elastic and tack stitched in place to hold it securely.
    When the weather unfortunately conspires to rule out an outer garment, I go to my Kahr PM40 and it goes into the front pocket of my trousers and the extra mags stay in the car.
    I have a fanny pack and did carry it for a while, but just thought it looked too conspicuous for a man to be wearing a fanny pack to the WalMart. So, it generally stays home these days.

  10. These all look like finely made products. The problem that I see with them is that they could be victims of a smash and grab type of attack. Thug sees you with something in a nice case, they think probably expensive electronics, etc. one thug bumps you hard from out of nowhere and the other grabs your holster bag.

  11. The biggest problem I have with these solutions (and just about every other solution I have seen) is that blasted zipper. The zipper is very difficult to use (open) in a hurry – when split seconds count. I like the carry options that only use velcro. One rip and the gun is at hand.

    1. Ive been carrying a organizer concealment holster for nearly two years. The only modification I did was to replace the small zipper tab with a nearly 5 inch paracord pull loop. Fast deployment is always fast. Smooth deployment is usually faster. I would agree having to use two hands creates a problem, but thinking before acting is my policy.

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