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11 Things to Consider When Choosing a Concealed Carry Holster

8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Concealed Carry Holster

8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Concealed Carry Holster

When choosing a concealed carry holster for your pistol, selecting the best holster you can find will add to your overall total self-defense abilities. A holster/pistol combination is part of your concealed carry defensive system. While looking at a quality holster the one factor you should consider last is the cost. Experience has taught me you get what you pay for. There should be no delays to your reactions caused by inappropriate or inadequately fitting equipment. With your life depending on it, you may never get the chance to tell others you should have picked the higher quality model.

Criteria for Selecting Concealed Carry Holsters:

    1. Concealment
      Concealment allows you to have the element of surprise when responding to an attacker who is threatening you with deadly force. Concealment also helps you avoid unfortunate or uncomfortable circumstances where your handgun may be accidentally exposed to the view of people who may immediately call for law enforcement officers because they see a person with a gun.
    2. Drawing
      You should be able to quickly draw your handgun with ease from your concealed holster. The holster should lend itself to allowing you to gain a complete grip on your handgun while still allowing you to release any retention devices. The draw stroke should be a fairly straight-line draw, pointing towards the target, and line up your sights. Please note this may vary for some holsters that are carried in cross draw, appendix, small of the back, or ankle positions.
    3. Comfort
      A holster/pistol combination you are comfortable with is one more likely to carried and less likely to leave at home.
    4. Retention
      When preparing for the possibility of an assailant attacking you with deadly force, it is important to remember most attacks will be sudden, up close, physical confrontations. For this reason, retention must be addressed when selecting a holster.Retention devices will vary from internal devices in the holster to simple thumb breaks that will help you retain your weapon if you are engaged in hand-to-hand confrontation (that has not yet escalated to the need or allowed for the use of your handgun).Holsters that lack a proper fit and no retention device may not retain the weapon properly under strenuous activity such as hand to hand defensive tactics. A poorly fitting holster will cause problems with every day usage as well, which could dislodge the pistol from the holster.Below is a list of retention levels for holsters broken out by levels.Level One consists of a single retention device, such as a strap and thumb break.
      Level Two consist of two retention devices, such as a strap and internal retention device.
      Level Three is available but generally they are not suitable for concealed carry uses.
    5. Exact Fit and Maintains its Form
      A good holster is formed to a specific handgun, and maintains this characteristic in the long term. This will have positive effects on retention and access.
    6. Quality of Workmanship and Materials
      This is where the buyer will see the most variety of differences between manufactures.
    7. Re-Holstering/Re-Enforced Throat
      The mouth of the holster should remain open and rigid when the gun is removed. This is important when re-holstering the weapon with one hand. This will allow you to have your support hand free to do other activities such as: use defensive tactics, escape, administer first aid to your self or others, or pull someone to safety. All concealed carry holsters should allow rapid one-handed drawing and unassisted re-holstering.
    8. Covered trigger guard & Safety
      When looking at a perspective holster, it should cover the trigger guard. Make sure none of the holster material protrudes into the trigger guard, which could depress the trigger. The material should be rigid enough to ensure any object the holster may come into contact with can’t depress the trigger.Another area of consideration on the holster is does the holster design disengage the safeties on the pistol? If the design you are considering does this, it is my opinion you should consider another holster design. The reason being, if you were ever involved in a strenuous activity, such as defending yourself from an assailant a sharp blow or fall could cause the weapon to fire while in the holster.The final area of consideration will depend on the individual who carries the pistol, and where they position the holster. When drawing the pistol does the position of the holster endanger the owner during the draw stroke. Here we need to remember anything the pistol is pointed at while it is loaded could be destroyed.
    9. Removable
      When looking at the holster selected, does it attach and detach from your daily wardrobe easily. If you feel the holster is not easily attached or detached, you may eventually decide to leave it behind.
    10. Clothing
      There are numerous manufactures that direct their product lines at concealed carry holders. The products range from tactical looking clothing for law enforcement and military to a business/professional look. One point to consider when looking at these items is what is preferred versus what is needed to maintain concealment and access. Understanding these choices will vary from person to person. Remember your local weather will have affects on what clothing will be worn during your daily routine.It is important to note if you are using an inside the pants carry or outside the pants belt carry that you pick a belt suited for this purpose. In my years of experience, I have seen people purchase a good pistol and quality holster to attach it to a belt that was not suited for this purpose. The belt should offer good support when drawing, re-holstering, and carrying your pistol, and yet be comfortable to wear every day.In some cases people may choose to change gun size base on the season and the change in wardrobe. This is acceptable as long as you take care in using handgun systems that are similar or train extensively when switching systems.
    11. Women
      Women are confronted with anatomical considerations that differ from men when dealing with concealed carry of handguns. It is a fact that most handguns and accessory designs are based around the needs and anatomical priorities of men. For women, several differences must be considered:
      1. Hand size
        A woman’s hand size is generally smaller than a man’s (Grip size and trigger reach affected and handgun design will be a major consideration)
      2. Armpit to Hip Distance
        The distance from a woman’s armpit to their hip is generally much shorter than a man’s. Belt holsters may need to ride lower for the female shooter to achieve the proper draw stroke.
      3. Hips
        Women naturally have wider hips than men. This will affect the rake and cant of the holsters.
      4. Physical Strength
        Some handgun and holster designs put a less enabled person at a disadvantage. Although training and some techniques can help remedy this there are some designs that are more conducive to the less strong shooters.

Some of the holster manufactures whose holsters I have had good success with are Bianchi, Black Hawk, DeSantis, Galco, and Safariland.

Remember to look for Conceal-Ability, Comfort, Ease and Speed of Access, Retention, and Quality.

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  • Craig7959

    Another important factor “ALWAYS” position your gun in the same spot on your body. Don’t go from a hip holster to a shoulder, to a cross draw type. When seconds count muscle memory needs to take over.  I was a young police officer, first time plain clothes (went out and bought a good shoulder rig) we assisted a uniform unit on a traffic stop.  Subject pulled a gun, I reached to my hip twice, before I realized I had changed to a shoulder rig.  I was lucky no one got shot, but I wasted precious seconds reaching for a gun that wasn’t there.  One of the Officers that worked with me to this day uses me as an example of why to always carry in the same place.  Don’t depend on luck, practice from where you carry the gun and always carry the same place.

  • http://www.facebook.com/doc.pingree Doc Pingree

    Holstering was a bugaboo for me! I now have five, two of which I use regularly. My issue was finding one that I could conceal, but could still reach through my clothing. I carry a KelTech P3AT, which is a little gun and fits into a pocket, but in the pocket it twists and turns and gets sideways easily. Didn’t like that. So I started ordering holsters that looked like a good idea. Only two have worked out. One is a simple pouch that has a belt loop on the back. That would be my preferred carry holster, but I have to thread it onto my belt every time I want to carry. That’s a pain, but worth it under some circumstances. No one can tell what’s in that pouch. Could be a cellphone, camera, pliers…nearly anything. So I gave it more thought. I wanted quick reachability. I opted for a leather holster set up for cross draw. It has a metal clip that just snaps onto the belt. The manufacturer, The Holster Store, set it up with a 15-degree cant so the gun butt is angled for quick grasp. Under a jacket, it’s just perfect. Between the two, I think I’m covered.

  • Mackgreer

    Another consideration is flexibility. I have a shoulder injury that makes tucking in a shirt a difficult and painful procedure. This tightness makes drawing a 4 inch pistol or revolver from a typical strong side holster impossible.  I understand this limitation and use a pocket holster

  • blogengeezer

    Blackhawk style ‘inside the pant’ holsters, the Cordura tends to deform over time and place a drag on weapon draw. The front blade sight eventually wears the lining. I found that the hard plastic pallet straps, as used on shipping large appliances, makes great wear strips, as well as providing a friction free draw/re-holster. Slightly heating with a lighter allows for forming to any shape desired. Location/s and adhesive method is by preference. Be creative :>).

  • raystephens

    I found the tuckable Galco difficult to reholster one-handed. The Crossbreed Mini-Tuck seems, at least for me, to satisfy all of these criteria.

    • Georgiagreenjeans

       I agree! I use the crossbreed for both my Keltecp32 and Ruger SR9c. Highly concealable. Comfortable. Durable. My adult daughter has said…. “mom… did you have that on all day while we were out?” I’m like, “Yep!” She says something like, “wow, I had no idea!” Crossbreed! Yes indeed. Haven’t found one I like any better. :)

    • http://profiles.google.com/scotprim Scott Primeau

      While I agree and use the supertuck for my M&Pc. I must confess I’m more than a little disappointed that they don’t have a size between the super and the mini tuck. So basically I had to choose between a holster that didn’t quite protect my pistol from rust on the tip of the barrel (the mini) or one that is obviously oversize for my compact pistol (the super.) One thing I definitely recommend is to get the combat cut. It makes a huge difference for grip and for ease of drawing.

  • Reconciler-STL

    This is all fine, but everywhere I concider shopping (most, if not all places I’ve found only – because local brick-n-motar shops just don’t stock them all) it’s a final sale because of the custom fit to the handgun.  I’m open to anyone that can show me where to shop otherwise.  I like what I am seeing with High Noon Holsters online, but would like feedback if anyone has any REAL, experiential feedback, not just what you see online yourself – I have eyes too, and thank goodness I have them with a CCW, huh? ;-) 

    • Reconciler-STL

      Correction, I meant “most, if not all places I’ve found online” to shop holsters.

    • 9testas

      I carry a Ruger LCP w/CTC laser in a Desantis quick snap hip holster, It also works with the Kel-Tec P3AT which are identical. It took a about a week to break in, it snaps over your belt and is easily removed without undoing your belt. It has a forward kant that makes it easy to draw while sitting or driving. Thier holsters are made for specific models, so it’s just a matter of seeing what’s avaible. I also use an Uncle Mikes #1 pocket holster when concealment is necessary.

    • 45pocketpistol

       I was going to suggest High Noon Holsters.  I have been wearing their Slide Guard in black cow hide every day for a year.  I love it!  Retention is achieved via the custom fit and adjustable screw (leather stretches a bit with use).  There is no thumb break or internal retention device to slow the draw.  It rides high for easy concealment, and has a forward cant for a quick draw.  Spend the money for the lining.  It adds stiffness and protects your gun.  I really cannot say enough good things about the holster.  May I also recommend the Rock Steady belt?  I tried a couple of belts before this one, but they did not support my gear.  The Rock Steady belt is just that… rock steady!  Get it the same color as the holster and it will aid in concealment (black works best).  Oh, and follow their measuring instructions when ordering the belt, then give yourself an extra inch.

      Let me know if you decide to go this route. You will not be disappointed.

  • joseph gregory

    i have learned a lot, by reading these articles in USC. i told my wife about it. i have her interested. now she is thinkinking about getting her ccw. i have mine. keep up the good work.

  • joseph gregory

    i have theTagua holster. it fits my weapon realy good. its a really snug fit.. no chance of my weapon falling out.

  • Guest

    A big factor as mentioned is being able to get a full, firm grip on the gun as you draw from the holster.  It’s beyond me why anyone would settle for anything less.  Having to take the time to push a soft piece of leather (or horsehide) out of the way creates a struggle and a form of no control.   Holsters designed in such a fashion are a poorly designed holster.  People who purchase such poorly designed holsters should give serious reconsideration to their choice(s).

  • j410

    I would like to say thank you to all of the posters so far,they have gave me a lot to think about.
    I feel that I have met all of Mr Schlueter’s points except one #7.I carry a Judge,the holster that came with the case did not feel right at all….Just to let you know I do not have the experince that a lot of the posters have on this site so I talked with a NRA trained fellow from the area that I live in and we talked about my needs with work,my size and comfort.He told me about a site called Simply Rugged.Well I purchased a inside the pants pancake for the hip.The gun has to come out at times(work rules) but the holster never leaves my side.The grip is easy to cover the draw is easy to pull, sits in so short nobody is going to take it from me.It is so comfortable.I could go on but,if there are any questions about this just ask.
    PS # 7 It is not easy to reholster in the in the pants use.If it has to be pulled who worries about putting it back!!     

    • http://www.facebook.com/matt.schlueter.79 Matt Schlueter

       j410,

      Being able to re-holster is a very important part of concealed carry and should not be dismissed with out taking due consideration.

      The reasons to be able re-holster one handed, cited in my article are important.

      Consider this you were just in a deadly force encounter, and survived by using justified deadly force to defend you life, after surviving this, the police arrive on scene you still have your pistol out pointed at your assailant. The officers begin giving you verbal orders to put down the pistol, but you are suffering from auditory exclusion from the stress of the incident. You fail to follow the directions of the officers, ultimately in this situation they will have little patience for some one with a pistol not following their directions, let alone while you point your pistol at your assailant you have just shot.  At some point the officers may open fire on you due to they consider you a threat, not only to themselves but to the assailant you just stopped from taking your own life.

      Please bear in mind, this is just my opinion based on my experience of what could happen if a situation requiring the use of justifiable deadly force were to occur and the person did not or could not re-holster their pistol. Ideally a person surviving the above encounter would re-holster prior to the officers approaching them.  If you were to be involved in a shooting, re-holstering one handed is a very important skill to have built into your muscle memory. I realize the above is a worst case scenario, but no one can predict how you will react after surviving a deadly force encounter, not even you.

      Matt Schlueter

      • j410

        Matt
        THank you for the reply,it gives me more to think about and work on.

  • MZoe

    THANK YOU for this post, and to everyone leaving comments with additional factors & advice. I have my CCW, but don’t carry because I’m lost in regard to choosing the ‘right’ way… a purse? a pocket holster? belt is out, because I don’t wear them… I’ve been looking for *just* this kind of information. So thank you So very much!!

  • fturner

    I’ve been using the IWB  MaxTuck by White Hat Holsters daily for about a year and find it very comfortable and concealable. Purchased with standard cut but later contacted Tony about a template so I could cut it to the combat cut as I couldn’t get the grip on my M&P40 that I wanted (could have sent it back to Tony and he would have cut it for free). Would reccommend this holster to anyone looking for an IWB holster.

  • rehalfacre

    I’m trying to find the best way I ride a Motorcycle most of the summer and I don’t want my weapon digging into my hip as I ride, so is a shoulder holster under my vest a good way to go? When I’m not on the bike and not wearing the vest is the inside the pants the way to go or is it going to be to much to remember.

  • Samuel

    Matt – good article.

    Something that most articles neglect to mention is armpit to hip distance with women. I’m always amazed of the women who attend my training courses, and bring a holster that is nearly impossible to draw, because the holster dies too high on the woman’s hip.

  • James40

    I’ve recently found Vedder Holsters ComfortTuck holsters and its perfect… I have their ComfortTuck for my xdm and a ComfortTuck mini for my p380. Can’t go wrong with these. I’ve had a Crossbreed mini and the Vedder holsters are just as good quality if not better as I prefer VH leather quality over the crossbreed.