There are many considerations when choosing everyday carry holsters. Comfort, concealment, a balance of speed and retention, handgun fit, and affordability are large factors.
The holster is an important part of the process when studying concealed carry. If the handgun holster isn’t suitable for the task, then it will be a negative instead of a positive in your balance of skill and gear selection.
The draw stroke is an important part of training. In personal defense, the ability to reholster the handgun is also important. A holster should fit the gun belt tightly and not shift as you move.
You don’t wish to give away the fact that you are armed to the general public. Let’s look at some of the big questions when choosing an EDC holster.
First, the holster should be concealable. This means it should ride close to the body. Belt holsters for hunting, uniformed duty and range work are offset to allow a fast draw.
They work well, but when you don a covering garment they produce a bulge under the garment. A holster that is worn for duty is designed to be worn at the point of the hip, which is the worst point on the belt for concealed carry.
A concealed carry holster (barring appendix or crossdraw carry) is worn behind the hip. The element of surprise is important, and you don’t want anyone to know you are carrying.
The pistol should be angled at the proper degree for a rapid presentation from the holster. For most of us, this means about a fifteen-degree cant forward.
The muzzle will be angled to the rear and the handle forward, allowing the handle to be grasped quickly with a good firing grip.
The holster should be comfortable, relatively so, without sharp edges or design features that conflict with comfort or concealed carry.
The holster should be properly fitted to the handgun, not a roughly-designed universal that accepts several handguns. There are a few exceptions, such as the Alien Gear Universal Fit holster, which does a good job of accommodating handguns in a certain size ranges.
The holster must be a good fit to retain the handgun during normal movement. The balance of speed and retention demand a good, strong tug to release the handgun from the holster.
This makes for good control and a rapid presentation to the threat. The draw should be into the target, straight in line from the holster. If you are fighting or running, then the handgun should not work free from the holster.
A simple jump test, jumping up and down with the holstered handgun (unloaded during the test!), will confirm retention. The holster should be fitted to the handgun and maintain the fit over a long period of time with minimal slop.
Some holsters feature a retention screw to tighten the holster and to allow the user to set their most suitable level of retention. As a rule, you get what you pay for in features.
As for a thumbreak on concealed-carry holsters, only the most advanced shooters will be able to properly use these. They tend to bind in concealed carry, and are not needed with a holster that demonstrates proper retention.
The holster mouth should feature a strong welt that allows the handgun to be reholstered with one hand.
I have cut some slack on this requirement depending on the individual’s need for concealment, but the rule is the holster should not collapse after the handgun is drawn.
Some are better than others — much better. The trigger guard is often used to supply retention by tightly molding the holster to the trigger guard, and that is a good thing, but the trigger guard should be covered by the holster for safety.
Keep your finger off of the trigger during the draw and until you fire. Not when you think you will fire, but when you fire! The draw angle should be suitable for a rapid presentation.
Some holsters are ‘tricky’ in this regard, and the draw angle is compromised depending on the cant or rake of the holster. Be certain to practice until the draw is mastered.
This means at least 250 draws from concealed carry. Use a triple-checked unloaded handgun for practice.
There are anatomical considerations. The mesomorph, ectomorph and endomorph have different considerations. The thinner you are, the less foot print (width of the holster) you may tolerate.
Those with a few extra pounds on the belt line tend to push the holster out on the covering garment. All of these factors should be considered.
If you need a holster right now that fits your handgun — and maybe a couple of handguns — the Alien Gear Grip Tuck Universal inside-the-waistband holster is a good choice.
The Alien Gear holster features a removable belt clip that may be adjusted for angle and drop as well. Galco offers two very interesting holsters for those on a tight budget.
These holsters are affordable, but feature a strong belt clip for inside-the-waistband carry, and a reinforced holstering welt. Moving up a bit in price and features, the Galco Summer Comfort is a classic design for an inside-the-waistband holster.
This holster features a strong, reinforced holstering welt and two belt loops for firm attachment to the gun belt. The tilt is what we used to call the FBI tilt, and is ideal for concealing a serious handgun under a covering garment.
Moving up a bit, is a holster that fits my needs well. The Galco N3 features a single loop that brings the holster in tight against the body. This works well in limiting exposure when carrying a Government Model 1911.
I like this holster a great deal because it is comfortable and offers a fast draw for those that practice. For the many shooters that prefer a modern Kydex holster, Galco offers the Triton, recently updated into the Triton 2.0.
I own more of these than any other Kydex type. They do not collapse after the draw and the “snik” sound they make when they are holstered as the holster retains the pistol is comforting.
Additionally, these holsters are impervious to oil and solvent.
Blackhawk! offers a line of inside-the-waistband holsters with much merit. A key point of the design is that the belt clip is enclosed in the holstering welt and sewn into the holster body.
A holster that I am very impressed with is the R Grizzle City Slicker. This holster features excellent boning (fit achieved by running a smooth bone over the wet leather, filling in the holster to the contour of the handgun) and a pair of well-designed offset belt clips.
This is a great design for those carrying a heavy handgun in concealed carry. These holsters — all inside-the-waistband designs — offer good concealment and feature good to excellent fit to the individual handgun.
For many reasons, some cannot acclimate to inside-the-waistband carry. Try purchasing trousers an inch larger than normal to accommodate the holstered handgun.
Get used to the design by wearing the holster. It should not bruise and chafe. but the holster will be noticeable on the body to the wearer. For those that must use outside-the-waistband holsters, there are options.
If you are able to wear concealment vest and look natural doing so, an OWB holster works well. I have placed a fishing lure on one of my vests and it looks like a fishing vest!
But then, I don’t live downtown and am reasonably close to the earth. As long as legal requirements for concealed carry are met, you are good to go. The Wilson Combat RangeTac is among my favorite range holsters.
This holster offers a good draw angle and carries the pistol comfortably for long-range sessions. It is a great holster if you are able to use a long covering garment.
A holster that offers a high ride (this means it is higher above the belt line that a service-type holster) is the 1791 Gunleather BH2. This holster accommodates several sizes of handguns depending on the size holster you order.
Get a good snug fit and the holster breaks-in to accommodate the handgun. This results in a good fit and a fast draw.
If you are going to use an OWB holster, this high ride, worn behind the hip, offers a natural draw and real utility. Pick up a good gun belt at the same time!
When you choose a holster, the task seems daunting, but take time to study your needs, choose a holster appropriate for your lifestyle and practice.
What is your favorite concealed carry holster? Why? Let us know in the comments below!