Paddle Holsters: To Use or Not To Use?

KT–Mech paddle holster with Glock 19 pistol.

Paddle holsters are very popular due to the comfort and the ease with which you can take them on and off. But they do have drawbacks.

Let’s take a look at the biggest complaint when it comes to paddle holsters, how a modern design may fix it and the deciding factor on choosing the right holster.

The Big Problem with Paddle Holsters

Paddle holsters rely on friction between the paddle and your pants and undergarments to remain in place. Paddle holsters are a compromise between comfort and retention, so they should never be worn open, only concealed.

Undercover or plain-clothes officers who use paddle holsters should only use ones with belt guides or hooks that catch on the belt and help prevent the holster from being detached too easily.

paddle holster
Make sure your paddle holster has belt guides or hooks to prevent it from being detached too easily.

The weak point of the paddle holster is the link between the holster and the paddle.

Early models could literally have the holster ripped away from the paddle in a disarming attempt by a bad guy, leaving the criminal with the gun and holster and the paddle still securely held in the trousers of the person who was wearing the gun.

Modern Designs Are a Different Story

Modern paddle holsters have a reinforced section between the paddle and the holster, and most feature hooks or other devices to help the holster grip onto a belt, preventing the entire thing from being pulled out while drawing the weapon.

For example, BLACKHAWK! SERPA paddle holsters have a plastic tab securing the holster in place.

Others, like the Fobus Roto Paddle Holster, use a small ledge on the outside of the paddle that engages the belt or waistband to prevent the paddle from being inadvertently dislodged.

blackhawk paddle holsters
Modern holsters like the BLACKHAWK SERPA have a plastic tab securing the holster in place, adding to its security.

Are Paddle Holsters Right for You?

Comfort is often a deciding factor for people who carry concealed handguns. If a holster isn’t comfortable, it’s all too easy to just decide to leave your pistol at home.

As everyone knows, a pistol on the nightstand does you no good if you find yourself in an encounter while out and about.

If you decide to go with the comfort of a paddle holster, you should be aware that this holster design is for concealed carry only, as paddle holsters do not have the same retention ability of other types of holsters.

As always, practice using your holster frequently, and most of all, stay safe out there!

Fobus Paddle Holster
The Fobus Roto Paddle Holster uses a small ledge on the outside of the paddle that engages the belt or waistband to prevent the paddle from being inadvertently dislodged.

Do you wear a paddle holster? What’s your opinion? Let us know in the comments below.


Editor’s note: this post was originally published in January 2011. It has been completely updated and revamped for clarity and accuracy.

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 (18)

  1. I don’t know anyone who has to take their gun off and put it back on any more often then they change their pants, so I don’t see this as a selling point for me. Also, I live in the hot and humid South, where even the lightest jacket is uncomfortable (and suspicious-looking, unless you’re at a job interview or funeral), so any kind of outside-the-waistband holster isn’t very practical. IWB and purse carry are pretty much standard for everyone I know.

  2. I disagree with this article, I own a BLACKHAWK SERPA paddle holster and it is open carry only and would never dream of trying to stuff it down my pants, there are holsters designed for conceal carry but not the blackhawk.

  3. A more modern paddle holster is the DeSantis model DS. It comes with both a paddle and belt attachment. I have two of them; one for my Glock 19 and one for my Sig P365. The holster rides tight on my side and conceals great. I am retired LE and I don’t do open carry. The DS paddle is reasonably priced too.

  4. I’ve several Paddles of various manufacture, for various pistols, from low end to high end, sitting in a box under my reloading bench. ‘Nuff said.

  5. A couple of years before this Johnny-come-lately post, I discovered the Fobus line of holsters. Being short at 5’8″ and 168lbs, I found everything from full size 1911s to 9mm Makarovs on my right hip fitted just fine and hid the pieces very well when I dressed appropriately. No holster will conceal very well under tight clothing. For business wear, my Bianchi shoulder rig works great.

  6. The only paddle that I find reliable is the Aker of the last five years or so. (Follow their published advice about ROTATING the paddle in and out of the pants.)
    While I like Fobus holsters, the paddles are unreliable for me, and Galco paddles are both unreliable and uncomfortable.

  7. A paddle holster is not only for concealed carry, and can be carried openly with confidence. You still must be aware of your surroundings.
    A covering garment is always a great idea, but even with a covering garment, most paddle holsters are not as concealable as a belt holster which holds closer to your body.

    If you carry openly, you must always be aware of your surroundings (and some do carry openly often, and others do so in quick trips to town, if they carry openly around their property as some do… in part due to large predatory animals.. yes both four and two legged), and may not take the time to switch holsters, and the holster should have some retention such as a thumb break, but even with one, you should always be aware of your surroundings.

  8. So this is one of those times where a story is reposted from 8 years ago and the comments haven’t been purged from the story.

    1. There is an editor’s note at the bottom of the article that states it is an older post that has been updated and republished.

  9. I think paddle holsters are great at least my Fobus,For those of you who like bigger weapons maybe not,I carry a glock 27 Small but very nice

  10. I’ll stick with my Galco Silohuete high ride belt holster, comfortable, and lays close to side, and you won’t yank it off, have to pop thumbreak, and draw pistol from holster.

  11. The best holster I ever had was a paddle model
    A Rogers holster that alowed me to carry a relativly large revolver either concealed or openly in comfort. It was very secure and fast to use. Unfortunatly Safariland bought his patent and discarded the best features of his design in making I think threir 517 model. I bought one after wearing out my second hand Rogers after over 20 years of constant use. It is not near the holster the Rogers was and is now gathering dust in a closet.

  12. My paddle holster works great, excellent retention. Conceals smaller semi-autos (Baby Glock) fine with a sweater or light jacket. Not ideal for summer carry when lighter garments won’t conceal as easily. Adjustability of the angle is a plus. Can be a pain to take off the belt, sometimes the retention tabs work too well. I’ll trade that vs. the alternative of having it ripped off too easily in a confrontation.

  13. I agree with Mindflayer. The paddle holster doesn’t conceal the gun well enough even with the baggiest of shirts. I have two of these sitting on my garage shelf.

  14. I find that paddle holsters hold the firearm too far away from the body for effective conceal carry. The Serpa is a great retention holster, but you really need a bulky jacket to cover it.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.