Concealed Carry

Best Holsters for Big and Tall Shooters

Different firearms and holsters

A couple of my friends are, well, big. They are also, I’m happy to say, good-natured.

Big Ed’s greatest achievement is wrestling a naked man in the middle of a busy highway and getting the fellow — actually a bit larger than Ed’s 240 pounds — into handcuffs.

My friend Kenny sings in a choir with a beautiful tenor voice, and moves pianos and heavy furniture during the week effortlessly. He tips the scales at 320 pounds.

I would suggest that very little isn’t muscle. But, of course, there are others challenged in one way or the other.

I once knew a rather laid-back railroad detective who managed to hide his size well (XXXL) beneath tailored flowing suits. The only gun he could carry, he said, was an Airweight .38.

He didn’t like bulk dragging him down. He wore a thin dress belt. A proper belt and holster would have helped a great deal.

The point is, everyone is different. A mesomorph, endomorph and ectomorph are not all accommodated by the same clothing and concealment gear.

Some folks store fat differently in different places, it isn’t always evenly distributed. Concealed carry demands a hard look at wardrobe and changes when need be.

Your choice in apparel may influence your carry modes. There is room for compromise, but don’t compromise so much you do not have a capable sidearm at the ready.

Outer clothing is an important consideration. As an example, I have a nice Polo shirt that I really like. The problem is the material drapes right over the 1911 I carry on the hip.

A BLACKHAWK! Polo-style shirt, on the other hand, is designed for shooters and carries much differently.

It isn’t possible for most of us to carry a concealed handgun without an inner garment to fight off sharp edges. You don’t want a chafing nuisance.

Galco Holster
Galco offers a wide range of inside-the-waistband holsters. The N3 with a rear belt loop may be among the best choices.

Consideration #1: Quality

The holster should be of good quality. As an example, a chief I once served with was definitely on the large size. He regularly broke cheap paddle holsters.

A Galco paddle is one excellent idea that he should have adopted. Top-quality holsters will work better for longer than cheap holsters. You don’t have to break the bank or go in debt with a custom holster.

BLACKHAWK!, DeSantis, Don Hume, and Galco, among others, offer high-quality gear at a fair price. Sturdy, thick leather rather than thin cuts are best.

Kydex trumps thin plastic gear. A few fabric holsters offer real utility.

Consideration #2: Carry Style

The goal I am primarily interested in is concealed carry. Range holsters are not as difficult a choice. Concealed carry considerations include the drop of the holster.

Drop is simply the degree the holster rides below belt level. Ride is the height above belt level. An inside-the-waistband holster isn’t comfortable for all body types.

A reasonable compromise is a high-riding holster. A good design for those that acclimate to it, is the small-of-the-back holster. A variation is offered by Don Hume Leathergoods.

The DAH holster tilts the handgun off of the beltline, making for greater concealment.

It may be worn either strong-side or small-of-the-back, as the wearer may choose among three belt loops, using two at a time, to control the angle.

A similar theme is the Galco Horizontal Magazine Carrier, which helps avoid printing on the outer garments.

Consideration #3: Concealability

The trick is to choose a holster that rides close to the body and doesn’t roll out from the body, causing a bulge. An option I use from time to time works well in very humid weather.

The belly band holster offers plenty of adjustment. With two holster components, the Galco Wraparound features a wide degree of angle and cant, including crossdraw or even carrying two firearms.

A basic rule of concealed carry is bent with the belly band. I like a holster that allows the pistol to be re-holstered with one hand once the pistol is drawn. The belly band collapses once the pistol is drawn.

Just the same, the premise is valid for concealed carry and among the few options that offers genuine concealment under a pulled-out shirt.

Galco Wraparound Belly Band Holsters
Galco’s Wraparound offers the option of carrying two firearms.

Consideration #4: Access

The inside-the-waistband holster is a challenge for a thin shooter with a service gun, true, but with a rolling hip and typical middle-age spread, we all have to look hard at our choice.

An inside-the-waistband holster that rides high is best for most of us. This type of holster allows a firm grip on the pistol during the draw and limits printing (the outline of the gun on the outer garment) and too much canting.

Among the most attractive holsters for all-around use is a new design from DeSantis. The Variable 13 is a quality leather holster. It features a flat, molded design for good concealment.

The polymer belt loops are reversible for left or right-hand use. The leading edge of the holster features mounting holes that allow adjusting the cant of the holster.

A tall shooter may elect to use a neutral cant, while a shorter shooter will need greater tilt. The holster isn’t supplied with inside-the-waistband clips, but they may be ordered from DeSantis. This is among the most versatile rigs I have used.

Blackhawk! IWB Holster
Blackhawk!’s IWB holsters are well-made quality holsters.

Crossdraw is sometimes profitable for concealed carry. If the covering garment may be worn to drape over the holster, crossdraw offers a sharp draw from the seated or driving position.

DeSantis offers a quality crossdraw holster for the snub-nose .38. The Roscoe is a great choice for concealed carry. For larger revolvers, the Galco Phoenix is a good choice.

Well made and secure, the Phoenix carries a heavy revolver securely. The ride is high, but demands a covering garment. Don Hume Leathergoods offers affordable inside-the-waistband holsters.

They are constructed of quality leather and feature a reinforced holstering welt to allow the handgun to be re-holstered after the draw.

Galco Phoenix Holster
The versatile and well-made Galco Phoenix is a showcase for quality leather.

Conclusion: Best Holsters for Big and Tall Shooters

Choosing the proper holster for your body type is a big decision. Take the time to make a decision on an informed basis.

Perhaps use a fake gun or a triple-checked, unloaded firearm in different positions around the waist to check for proper reach and draw angle.

With good information, tackle the choice and you will find a holster that suits your needs well.

What kind of holster do you prefer? Why? Let us know in the comments section below!

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
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 (4)

  1. For CC, i have used Foxx holsters for years now. The “lil fox” is my preference since it has only one J hook and is easy on/off. They are hybrids with generous sweat guards, and thick horsehide leather mated to the kydex.
    Adjustible cant on all, and ride height on some. With a minimum of DIY, one may easily adjust height on all. Retention is primarily achieved by compression from the belt against the body. However, the kydex may easily be manipilated to increase retention if desired. Reholstering may be done safely one handed with a bit of practice.
    They are very affordable and i have been happy with them.

  2. Being short (5’6″) and we’ll stocky (210) with severe arthritis, concealed carry is difficult. Cross draw seems to work best, but finding holsters is difficult. I do not like appendix and physically cannot do lower back (2 back operations in the last year). I have had some luck with Aliengear for neutral draw hip inside waste, but have to very selective of outer garments which is difficult in the Arizona heat.

  3. Another type holster not mentioned is the inside pocket holster. If properly designed, made from quality materials, and with a front flap that guards against “printing”, it is hard to beat. I have one made for a small 5 shot .38Spl. that is undetectable (really!) very fast, and is very comfortable. I wear it even with lightweight shorts and a tucked in polo shirt in summer. It’s invisable even with this dress combo.

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