Gear, Parts and Accessories

Throwback Thursday: Concealed Carry — Pancake Holsters

Brown DM Bullard pancake holster with black gripped handgun on the hip of a man wearing gray pants and a tan-and-gray striped shirt.

Pancake holsters were initially designed by Roy Baker nearly 60 years ago as a flat-style carry holster that holds a handgun close to the body. Intended to be worn on the belt, either strong side or cross draw, Baker’s three-slot design is incredibly versatile allowing the wearer to position the pistol at differing angles depending on where the holster is worn. Two slot pancake holsters also are manufactured, but unlike three slot designs limit the angle and position at which the pistol can be carried. Most two slot pancake designs position the pistol best when worn on the strong side hip position.

Brown DM Bullard pancake holster with black gripped handgun on the hip of a man wearing gray pants and a tan-and-gray striped shirt.
Made in Texas by a maestro of the hide, the DM Bullard pancake holster is one of the finest available. The tilt illustrated allows concealment of formidable handguns.
Bianchi’s Model 77 Piranha three slot pancake holster. The thumb-break retention strap on both of these models is reinforced for additional stiffness to help ensure an easy, clean and consistent break. Both models also feature custom boning specific to your model handgun which gives the holster enhanced retention. If you choose to go with a leather model that does not have a thumb-break retention strap, make sure that the holster is custom fitted for your particular firearm. Pancake holsters constructed of nylon instead of leather should always fit the pistol snugly and incorporate the use of a thumb-break strap.

How well a pancake holster fits depends largely on your body type, and like all concealed carry holsters, the pancake style is a compromise between comfort and concealability. In general, individuals with larger waistlines will find that pancake holsters suit them more than slimmer individuals. The design of the holster is intended to bring keep the pistol tight against your body, reducing the chance of “printing” and keeping the holster snugly in place.

Pants that fit loosely will cause the holster to sag and the butt of the gun to be angled away from the body. Individuals with slimmer waistlines should look for pancake holsters that have the belt loops up high, bringing the butt of the gun in closer to the body while hanging the pistol barrel lower. Cover garments for these type holsters will need to be slightly longer in order to conceal the lower hanging pistol.

Pancake holsters are not without their drawbacks. First among these is the fact that donning or removing the holster requires that you remove your belt: there is no quick and easy way to take it on and off. Some manufacturers are beginning to make pancake holsters that have snap belt loops which allow the holster to be removed without taking off your belt, but these holsters are not yet readily available.

If you’re uncomfortable wearing IWB holsters and are looking for a different style of carry for your full size, compact, or sub-compact handgun, consider a pancake holster. They are available to fit most pistols and come in a variety of materials and colors.

Do you wear a pancake holster? Is it a two or three hole model? What brand? Share your answers 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 (11)

  1. I’m planning on getting a pancake for my EMP 9 from Wright Leather Works. They look like nice OWB holsters and I don’t think i’d be comfortable with a IWB holster.

  2. I have a DeSantis three slot for my PX4 Storm Compact. I wear it so it has the 15* cant, so the butt doesn’t print. I have a “little” extra….ahem, cushioning….so that helps too. The thumb snap prints more than the gun butt. I also use an AG IWB but I haveto admit, thepancake is more comfortable.

  3. I carry everywhere. From waking up to going to sleep. Carry a Glock 32 (.357 Sig) in waistband in a Galco holster.

  4. I carry almost exclusively in pancake holsters on the hip and sometimes using a belt slide holster. I like the feel of leather and metal and a leather gun belt. My holsters are custom made by Suncoast Leatherworks or Wright Leather Works, so retention is excellent and adjustable. I’m in the category of those who carry a little extra weight so the writer is correct on that count.

  5. After spending thousands of $’s from 2002 until 2015 on a variety of concealment holsters that didn’t work for me, I saw an ad in the NRA mag for the Predator holster by I now have two, one for my Glock 43 and one for my Glock 36. So Predator Glock is my daily carry from dawn to sunset. Happy as a bug in a rug.

  6. Nice post. I learn one thing tougher on totally different blogs everyday. It’ll at all times be stimulating to read content from different writers and apply slightly one thing from their store. I’d want to use some with the content material on my blog whether or not you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a link in your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I carry a S&W M&P .45 in a pancake holster from De Santis and I couldn’t imagine carrying it any other way. It is super comfortable and quick to draw. My girlfriend carries a Taurus 709 in an ankle holster because she wears girl clothes and hip holsters won’t work for her.

  8. I use a Gould & Goodrich 2-slot pancake holster for my S&W model 645. Even though it’s a full sized .45 with a 5″ barrel, this holster carries the pistol nice and snug against my body, making it possible to carry a large frame pistol concealed in comfort.

  9. A .32 Tomcat in a pancake holster works wonders for the concealed carrying citizen. Quite literally, out of sight means out of mind.

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