With the amazing growth in the issuance of concealed carry permits throughout the United States, many new CC’ers are confronted with the daunting task of choosing a proper holster. Unfortunately, the industry has yet to develop a single holster that will suit all of your needs. Therefore, you can realistically expect to acquire at least two or three holsters for each handgun you carry. This post is intended to be a guide to help you chose the holsters that are right for you and your lifestyle.
Concealed carry methods are dictated heavily by your attire, your physical dimensions, and your daily activities. Keep these factors in mind as you shop around for your holsters. Now lets take a look at some of the common carry methods in a bit more detail…
1) Outside-The-Waistband (OWB)
In my opinion, carrying OWB is the most secure and comfortable way to carry, plus your draw will likely be much faster than other concealment methods. Above, we have an offering from Desantis called the Thumb Break Mini Slide. This is a high quality holster with great retention (active and passive) to keep your gun secure.
The product above is the Galco Concealable Belt Holster. It is a bit more compact than the Desantis and lacks a retention strap, but comfort is top notch. It is lightweight and compact while still maintaining a solid feel. Quality “pancake” holsters like these will keep your gun high and snug for maximum comfort, concealment, and accessibility.
For all of you revolver buff’s out there, you will find some great options for keeping your wheel gun secure. Above we have the Galco Wheelgunner that keeps even the heaviest steel-frame revolver high and snug on your hip. When choosing an OWB concealment holster, high and snug are your two best friends. If the muzzle rides too low, it could poke out the bottom of your concealment garment, exposing you to the prying public. If the holster does not hold the gun snug on your hip, it will flop around as you move, and can even direct the muzzle into your thigh. Needless to say, these factors are not desirable byproducts of an OWB holster. Do some research and take a hard look at the design before selecting your own.
2) Inside-The-Waistband (IWB)
A good IWB holster can offer a very diverse range of uses, from heavy winter wear to lighter summer dress. There are many options to chose from at varying price points. These range from the tuckable, leather Galco Tuck-N-Go above, to the simple, affordable and effective Uncle Mike’s IWB below.
When choosing your IWB holster make sure it allows your gun to ride far enough down in your pants that the gun’s grip does not print excessively through your shirt. However, you don’t want it to ride too low so that you lose the ability to quickly and firmly grasp the weapon. Again, some research and design inspection is necessary to decide what will work best for you. Remember that the IWB holster (or any belt holster for that matter) is only as good as the belt you use to secure it. Choose a belt that is sturdy, durable and is as wide as the holster will allow.
3) Pocket Holsters
Sometimes, weather calls for little more than a tank top over shorts and flip-flops, leaving no room for concealment of anything but the spare tire around your waist. In these situations, you may decide to not only get a pocket holster, but to also get a pocket pistol to go with it. There is nothing fun about having a 25 oz chunk of metal in your pocket. The Desantis Nemesis above will help you stow that J-frame revolver or mouse gun in a front pocket with minimal printing. It also has a nice outer grip surface that will stick to the inside of your pocket while the inner surface allows the gun to slide out with ease.
If you want something in a more traditional material, the Galco Pocket Protector above is a great option. It has a rigid metal plate in the flap to minimize unwanted flexion, and an internal adjustable metal retention insert around the top rim. Again, there are many options from many companies out there. Take some time to figure out what will work best for you.
4) Shoulder Holsters
If you wear a suit or sport jacket for most of the day, you may want to consider a good shoulder holster. My personal favorite is the Galco Miami Classic above. It is made of high quality leather, is adjustable for a great fit, and comes pre-molded for a number of popular guns. The Miami Classic comfortably holds a full-sized duty pistol along with two standard capacity spare mags. It can also be accessorized with different attachments. This is my number one pick for jobs that require a lot of sitting… such as writing articles about gun stuff.
If you cannot afford the Miami Classic, worry not… Galco also offers the affordable Classic Lite. To reduce manufacturing cost, the Classic Lite is made of a softer suede, and is not molded like the Miami Classic. It includes a single spare magazine holder and a thumb break retention strap similar to the Miami Classic. Sure, the Classic Lite won’t make you look as cool as Don Johnson when he skids across the Miami coastline in the heisted power boat of a dead drug lord. Nonetheless, we are talking about CCW here. And if you are doing it correctly, no one should see the holster anyway.
5) Alternative Carry Options
Aside from the standard holsters we covered above, there is a vast number of other options out there if you need to improvise. These range from CCW-specific purses, jackets, fanny packs, undergarments, ankle rigs, chest rigs, backpacks, and brief cases, all with built-in gun compartments. There are literally thousands of creative ways people have invented to carry concealed firearms, so please forgive me if I forget to mention your favorite trick here.
When choosing an alternative carry method, keep one thing in mind… a gun is only useful if it is in your immediate possession when you need it. Therefore, I strongly recommend you consider carrying your gun on your body rather than packing it in some 3rd party accessory. In other words, you might be better served having a little .32 ACP in your waistband that is secure and ready to go, than a big’ol 10mm Auto in a backpack or purse.
In the end, how and where you carry is a personal choice that only you can make. Take your time with it, and don’t hesitate to try several different options. Have fun and stay safe.