What’s In Your Holster?

What's In Your Holster?
What's In Your Holster?
What's In Your Holster?
What’s In Your Holster?

Every citizen who chooses to carry a firearm for self-defense should have the right tools for the job. The concealed carry handgun is no different than choosing the right tool for the right job. When making the decision to purchase that handgun for self defense remember the accessories and training that go along with the handgun will make a complete weapons system which works for you. When shopping for a handgun, remember the criteria in this section (operational, hand size, preferences, and budget). I recommend a minimum caliber for self-defense of .38 Special and 9mm. Some selection factors would include:

Gun Fit to the hand
Grip size for length and width, trigger to web distance, positioning of components and other ergonomics. Together the shooter should be able to shoot one handed.

For precision slow fire and rapid, multiple, aimed shots in short duration. Part of this will be due to stance and training, but part of it has a lot to do with the design of the handgun, especially versus the caliber and load of ammunition being used. The idea is to get on target fast and stay on target. On handed shooting with defensive ammo loads should be done if possible to evaluate how controllable the handgun would be for a situation.

Point Ability
The handgun must point as an extension of the lower arm. With the handgun high and firm in the hand, and with a locked wrist, you should be able to quickly bring the gun up to eye level and be looking at the sights with little or no adjustments. You should be able to do this one handed and two handed.

For a defensive purposes and optimum distance the handgun must provide acceptable accuracy. Choosing a match grade handgun is not necessary. Most major manufactures produce a wide variety of models, which have high standards of accuracy in their designs of defensive weapons.

A defensive handgun should be reliable out of the box; if the weapon proves to be unreliable it would defeat its purpose even if it met all of the criteria needed for a concealed carry handgun. It generally takes years for a manufacturer to get a model design right so keep this in mind when a new model comes out you are interested in.

Size and Weight
You will have to decide between the size and weight for your need for concealment, defensive needs, and mode you would carry the handgun in. Some handguns are just too light or small to be controlled easily with full power defensive ammunition, while others are so large that they either will expose more easily or will cost the owner extra effort and money to achieve the needed concealment. A heavy gun, if not worn correctly or with the wrong type of equipment, will be difficult to conceal and uncomfortable to carry.

When choosing a defensive handgun you will have a budget in mind. Remember it is easier to take the extra time while shopping and compare all the available models. If possible and you have access to ether borrow or rent a similar model and try shooting it before buying it to see if the weapon fits you and is comfortable to shoot along with meeting the suggested elements for defensive concealed carry. This is no place to cut corners or settle, in the end you do get what you pay for.

For defensive purposes there are some further considerations.

Consider a complete weapons system will include spare magazines or speed loaders, holster(s) with magazine pouch and belt, and other accessories. Your defensive system may increase beyond a handgun to include defensive sprays, tactical flashlight, and other items. Other costs could include prepaid legal self-defense insurance, handgun permits, storage containers, and spare magazines. It is not recommended to buy after market (non-manufacturers) magazines, due to reliability issues. It is possible to spend twice the cost of your defensive handgun in these areas combined.

Remember if you cannot afford to be without proper means of defending yourself, then you cannot afford to have the wrong weapon or be cheap when it comes to acquiring the right tools that may be used to save your life!

Factors on what handguns you may have to choose from may depend on what is legal to own in your state, some states such as CA, MA, NJ, MD, and others may have place restrictions on what you can legally own and poses in a handgun. Some states will have additional safety requirements on the design, and possible limits on magazine capacities.

The following manufactures have been known to produce at least one or more defensive handgun.

Smith & Wesson
Glock USA
Heckler & Koch USA
Beretta USA
Steyr USA
Sigarms USA
Springfield Armory
Kahr Arms

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Sig Sauer P365 9mm Pistol 12 Rd RTT Tacpac, Coyote

The award-winning P365 has redefined the micro-compact pistol category, quickly becoming one of the most coveted firearms in the industry.

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Smith & Wesson M&p Shield Ez 9mm Pistol With Manual Safety, Black - 12436

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 9mm Pistol With Manual Safety, Black

The next evolution of the M&P Shield EZ pistol, the M&P9 Shield EZ encompasses all of the M&P Shield EZ features, now in the powerful 9mm caliber.

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Matt Schlueter is a retired Deputy Sheriff from South Dakota with over 19 years of combined experience in corrections and law enforcement, and held the position of Firearms Instructor and DARE officer with the Sheriffs Office he worked at till his retirement. He is also a NRA Certified Pistol Instructor, and owner/chief instructor of Schlueter Firearms Instruction. Matt’s goal is to provide the best information possible for those who want to further their knowledge and skills in shooting handguns. Matt’s goals also include providing the best training courses possible for students who attended courses he is offering. For those wishing to contact him please visit his website at www.learntwoshoot.com, or www.zwarriortraining.com or you can join him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SchlueterFirearmsInstruction.
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C E Donaldson

What’s in my holster … a Glock 26. But I don’t yet have a CCW for TN and it’s $115 plus the Fire Arms Class. Guess I’ll have NOTHING in my holster until I can take the class.

Glenn Speck

I carry a Springfield Champion Operator most of the time. An incredible handgun.


I have carried an S&W Centennial, .38SPL (original model, with squeeze safety) since they came out. Best carry model ever, especially when you have small children around the house.

El Niño Salvaje

Springfield Armory XD .40 Subcompact


S&W 380 Bodyguard. Fits in my back pocket and you can’t see it even with a tucked shirt. Low power, but laser is nice and very accurate.


The smallest I carry is a Ruger LCP with laser…when wearing shorts, otherwise, I’ll carry a Kahr MK9, or a Glock 19 or a Wilson Professional 1911. It really depends on what I’m wearing as to what I carry.


For Summer time concealed carry, I pack a Taurus PT111 9mm. Its size and weight leaves next to no ‘print’ and I am deadly accurate with it within 25 yards. For Winter carry, I pack a Sig SP2340 .40S&W. I am deadly accurate within 25 yards with it, too.

Eddie Lerma

I carry a Ruger SR40 in my Crossbreed Super Tuck Deluxe

Brian Vance

I carry Glock 27 inside waist band tuck. Or a Ruger sp101 38sp. outside on belt.


I carry a Smith & Wesson .380 Bodyguard in a Sneaky Pete belt clip-on holster. Very pleased with the accuracy, but in bright light you cannot always see the laser.


“you should be able to quickly bring the gun up to eye level and be looking at the sights with little or no adjustments.” I humbly disagree. By far the greater percentage of personal defense situations are 15 feet or less. For shooting at these distances one should learn all you can about “point shooting”. Studies have shown that LEO’s and others with huge train schedules behind them do NOT use fire arm sights during stressful situations. Do your ‘due diligence’ on this subject and learn this on your own. I have 16 years of CCW teaching behind this statement.


“Point Ability” relates to
how the handgun fits the hand related to grip angle and size. If the gun does
not point well when brought up to eye level with one hand, it will not point
well for instinctive point shooting w/o sighting. Point shooting makes greater
demands on gun fit, proper grip, and hand position than shooting with sights. I
have always found that if a handgun does not point quickly and naturally at a
target with sights it will not be effective with instinctive point shooting because the handgun is out of position in the hand.

Edward Brandon

Some Uncle Mikes holster, Ruger P90 DC.

Tom Kirby Jr

You forgot Ruger!!!!!! Ruger has some of the best for price handguns, and many compact versions of their proven full size pistols!! I either use a Walther PPK-S in a Pocket holster or a Ruger SRC9 in a N2 IWB holster. I can accurately fire both in either hand, and practice atleast 1 to 2 times a month.

Dan Ess

Typically a Kahr MK40 or SA EMP 40 in a Blackhawk inside waste band holster. My other two popular options include Bond Arms Snake Slayer IV or Ruger LCP in an Uncle Mike’s #1 waste band holster. In the Bond I carry 3″ 410 #4 Buckshot 9 pellet loads by Federal.


My favorite carry is a Glock 19 in a Super Tuck. Hot weather carry is a lasered S&W 37 in a tuckable waist band or smart carry.


I carry either a S&W M&P shield in 9mm or a taurus PT-740. both are great guns. Very accurate and have NEVER. Failed in anyway. The Taurus has 2250 rounds thru it to include about 200 federal hydro-shock & critical defense. The shield has only had 250 fmj & 100 Remington 115 grain JHP.


I’m surprised that Ruger did not make your list of manufactures known to have produced a defensive handgun. You guys are giving one of them in your concealed carry give away.

Matt Schlueter

Ruger does make some good handguns. At the time I wrote this article I have not had the opportunity to shoot any Ruger handguns I would choose for CCW. Hunting on the other hand they are among of my first choices in revolvers. My favorite being the Black hawk and Super Black Hawk series of single action revolvers.


Michael Forbes

I agree with you Byron. The Ruger LC9, handgun of the year Matt? The Ruger LCR-.357? Two of the best CCW’s in Semi Auto and Revolver? I happen to own both. The LC9 is a great pocket gun. And the LCR-.357 is a pocket cannon. Both are my summer carry weapons and winter back ups for my Winter carry, S&W 4566


ruger makes 2 9mm weapons that would function well in self defense. The LC9 requires some practice with the trigger if you are used to 1911 triggers but is a satisfactory weapon and easy to conceal. The SR9C is also very accurate and though a bit larger, quite concealable for most body types with the right holster system.


My carry guns are Taurus 1911 (.45), Taurus 24/7 (.45) and CZ P06 (.40), CZ 75B (.40) all of which I switch out on various occasions. I usually have one of these on or near me 24/7, 365.

retired leo

I carry either a Sig 239 40 safariland pancake holster or Sig 230 380 w/galco inside holster. Both weapons have worked beautifully. I also own the Ruger LCP, SR9c and LC9. I am sorry to say all three weapons have had malfunctions. I’ve tested them with different ammunition and still same results. So as far as a CCW weapon, they are not my choice. I’m a retired LEO with 33yrs of experience.


Might I suggest you try a Walther PK-380. Very concealable in Summer.

Jarrod Whitmore

I carry a Sig P250 compact 9mm in some cheap IWB holster and cant find a decent holster for it


Thats BS, a .380 is more than enough to protect yourself. Anything greater than a 9mm is ego.


“Anything greater than a 9mm is ego”.

You have to be kidding right? Even the slightest amount of ballistic research reveals this to be laughingly false. While any caliber is capable of killing the larger the sectional density of the bullet the more stopping power is discharged. If you believe that’s not the case. PROVE IT! Post your PROOF right here . . . I’m waiting.

Arc Angel

Busterdog, I am 100% positive that you’ve never been in a CQB pistol gunfight – 100% positive!


That is if you know what you’re doing in the first place. I’ll put my Walther up against anything at 25 yards. When I pump 3hollow points in the problems chest he’s going down. Get good with a 22 and it will qualify as a self defense round.


My favorite CCW is my Colt Officers .45, or my Ruger sp101 .357, but to be perfectly honest, most the time it is too much of a pain to strap on a belt and hide them. I have a NAA mini revolver .22 mag that I can carry around my neck on a chain or just throw in my pocket, and do so every time I head outside, even if just out back in the woods. I am not a bad shot at 10 feet with it either. I use 40 gr full jacketed rounds, since that small a bullet weight needs all the penetration it can get rather than expansion. (in my opinion)
The best gun is the one you actually have on hand I say. Of coarse, I live in backwoods New Hampshire, not a combat zone.

Matt Schlueter

“The best gun is the one you actually have on hand I say” quote from Nathan
Nicely put could not agree more with this

Dan R.

Matt, I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been shooting and carrying weapons for the past 45 years, all you guys and gals new to having a CCW permit need to pay attention to Matt’s list, it will only help you in picking out the right weapon. Everyone is different, and what works for one, will not always work for another. Age, weight, height, hand size, eye sight, all play a big part in choosing the right handgun thats right for you. And if you have already chosen your carry piece, then check it aganst Matt’s list and you just might be looking to trade it in on the right one. After all, what’s your life worth?

Matt Schlueter


Although the .380acp is an adequate personal defense round.

I did not recommend it due to both 9mm & .380 acp can be purchased in similar sized pistols when compared to what is available for concealed carry pistols.

When comparing ballistics on down range energy:

.380acp with a 90gr Speer Gold Dot defensive ammo with 216 ft/lbs of energy at the muzzle and 178 ft/lbs of energy at 50 yards.


9mm with a 115gr Speer Gold Dot defensive ammo with 374 ft/lbs at the muzzle and 293 ft/lbs at 50 yards.

(note data was taken from Speer’s website)

The other factor was .380acp has had supply issues when trying to locate defensive ammo, and training ammo in the past few years.

9mm is more widely produced and increase the chances of being able to locate defensive ammo or training ammo at reasonable prices. This will be to the shooters benefit.

I agree your selection of round will most likely serve you well for your self defense, how ever if I were to select a new CCW pistol today, a .380acp would not be one of them.
Please understand this article and my comments only reflect my opinions, are not criticizing others choices in CCW choices for firearms or equipment.


Taurus 24/7 G2 black with old faithful IWB left hand holster uses 40 cal personal defense JHP 135 gr rounds this weapon shoots quarter size groups at 5 yards and at 25 feet groups inside a dollar bill I love it and has never ever given problems have a few other pistols but all are 40 cal and I use 180 gr full metal jacket bullets. never want the” well if the round was more powerful it would have stopped them” so I make sure of that but agree for sure the best weapon is the one you have on hand great discussion and thanks


My weapon of choice is my Sig 1911c3 carried in a Crossbreed Supertuck holster on a Crossbreed belt in the “3:15” position just off the hip bone. It carries comfortably for me, and conceals easily and completely under a simple t-shirt or polo shirt. I utilize the “tuckable” feature of this combination quite often with the velcro retention clips & velcro lined belt. A simple tug at the covering shirt allows fast access to the weapon, and I practice this draw often to allow muscle memory to make it a natural motion.

As an added suggestion to Mr. Schlueter’s post… Take the time, and make the effort to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!! Not only the operation and manipulation of the weapon(s), but the carry and concealment equipment and garments as well.
Under the stress of a “fight or flight” situation fine motor skills are greatly reduced, and coordination is diminished. This is not the time to realize you can’t access the gun, or you forgot to disengage the safety during the draw stroke, or in the process of drawing the weapon your finger has come to rest directly ON the trigger before you have cleared the holster!! A few hours, and a few hundred repetitions of a successful, smooth and accurate draw, will develop the necessary speed and confidence to allow you to defend yourself and/or others.

I am of the opinion that the fastest reload is a second gun, so I carry a Ruger LCP in a Uncle Mikes pocket holster as back-up. And I am never without a compact, L E D flashlight.

Also, never forget that a single, well-aimed hit is worth more than a thousand rounds that miss the mark. At the range, concentrate on hits. A famous instructor once said “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast”. If you practice being smooth, speed will come automatically. Be patient and be diligent.


I also carry a Ruger SR9c in a DeSantis Cozy Partner. This gun is easily concealed, comfortable to carry, easy to draw, fast to aim and shoot. Love it! I too was surprised to not see it on the list.

Michael Adams

Depending on what I’m doing, where and how far away from home I’m going, what I’m wearing and how long I’m going to be gone, I carry either a Colt 1991-A1, a Bersa Thunder 40 Ultra compact pro, “Fantastic gun, especially for the price” a Taurus stainless .357 snubbie or a Bersa .380. The last is mainly a long drive gun, it goes crossdraw when in the car, it’s not easy to draw from pocket or hip when seatbelted in. Usualy I carry the snubby in pocket and .40 behind hip at 4 o clock. Though if I’m running to the store it’s often just the snubby.

Gimie Itnow

It seems like any time a list is posted, it becomes a list of omission.
For known to produce at least one or more defensive handgun.
What about Bersa, Ruger, & probably dozens more.
It seems that there may be a personal bias here, If so that should be stated.

Josh Damon

Why isn’t Taurus on your list? I carry a PT 709slim and it works great for concealed carry.

Green Mtn. Boy

I like to have either my Ruger SR9c or S&W BodyGuard .38 +p with me. Both loaded wiyh Hornady’s Critical Defense loads.


M&P 9 or 9c in Crossbreed IWB or Raven OWB; Kimber Eclipse 1911 in a Milt Sparks VM2; Various glocks in milt sparks summer specials– Just depends on cover garments and season. Also carry a spare mag and flashlight.

Thomas Connolly, jr

Any particular issue with Taurus? I mean, once you start naming companies, you know you’re going to leave someone off you shouldn’t, and there’s nothing wrong with my snub nose .357 magnum; is there?


Nope, if you pull the trigger and a bullet comes out the business end, it should not matter if it’s a Hi-Point or a Kimber.


I’m currently carrying a Ruger LC9 with “a frickin laser!” I’m still a Bersa Thunder 380 fan especially when loaded with Corbon JHP or Speer Gold Dots.


Good advice, Matt! I’d add that the holster you choose will have alot of impact on whether or not you actually always carry or not. When I was much younger I tried some inexpensive holsters that either didn’t hold up or were just plain uncomfortable. The gun ended up staying in the car more often than not.
Later on I tried a couple of different Milt Sparks IWB holsters and found I could carry a Hi-Power or Sig P220 all day every day comfortably and well concealed. I’ve recently tried Crossbreed with a full sized Glock and it’s very comfortable, concealable, and even tuckable if you like.
These just happen to be the holster makers I’ve moved to but there are a bunch of guys out there that make superb products that will “encourage” you to have your weapon on at all times.
Just a thought from a long time CCW holder.


Bersa UC 45. Small, relatively light, very accurate out of the box, inexpensive, solid gun. Drawback – 7 round magazine.

Arc Angel

I’m an older pistolero; and I’ve been doing this for many years. In my experience there is absolutely no substitute for lots and lots of regular practice with your self-defense handgun. Exact fit doesn’t matter; my generation was raised to pick up whatever gun and shoot it straight. The G-21 that I usually carry is definitely too large for my hand; but, because I use it so much I continue to shoot nice ‘n tight, fast groups with it. I, also, know the owners of lots of polymer frame pistols that DEFINITELY were not 100% reliable right out of the box. These pistols had to be, ‘verified’ and made to perform reliably. (Some pistols will verify easily and within one or two hundred rounds, and others are real, ‘bears’ to get up and running right.) In the past two decades I have never had an EDC pistol that I didn’t have, at least, 300 rounds through BEFORE I hit the street carrying it.
There are PRIMARY carry pistols; and there are SECONDARY carry pistols. It’s important to know the difference between the two. I often practice more with my little secondary Beretta, ‘Alley Cat’ than I do with my larger G-19 and G-21 primaries. It never ceases to amaze me how much more accurately I shoot after spending time practicing with my little 32 ACP, ‘mouse gun’. I like to call my Model 3032, ‘Alley Cat’ a one shot pistol because if I ever have to use it, all 7 rounds are going down the barrel at the same time. Why? Because every handgun below 45 Long Colt ballistics is, in reality, a lousy self-defense weapon. With this in mind I, also, follow Jeff Cooper’s sage advice and always fire a self-defense weapon in series of two or three shots before I stop, look, and decide whether or not to do it all over again.
I do not think it enough to just have a gun in your pocket. A guy with a hammer and saw under his arm may, or may not, know how to build a house. The same thing is true for so very many people I know who like to run around with these adorable little guns in their pockets. There are two ways to carry a self-defense pistol: One is for comfort and convenience; the other is for effect. I always inconvenience myself, and am often slightly uncomfortable because I carry ONLY for effect. My primary self-defense pistols range between 9 x 19mm and 45 ACP. If I knew I were going to a CQB pistol gunfight I’d choose a 45 ACP every time! (Spare me the, ‘I’d bring a machine gun and 40mm grenade launcher’ jokes – OK!)

Dan Ess

I agree, a backup piece is a good idea, although it isn’t necessarily the fastest reload; it depends on where you carry it, which also depends on how you’re dressed where you are going. I could pack a piece in a shoulder holster, one under each arm (shoot with both hands), but I wouldn’t do that without a jacket on. I could pack 1 on each side of center using IWB holsters wearing a shirt untucked, but they’d be very small, like LCP, NAA Guardian or Kahr PM9 size or smaller. A spare mag will be just as easily and quickly accessed with many of todays finer semi-auto’s as a second and likely smaller gun would
be. I always carry two loaded mags.


I carry a S&W M&P 40 in a Max-Tuk by White Hat Holsters. Very comfortable, been wearing it daily now for about a year


Taurus 24/7 DS Pro in .45ACP, blasting Hyrda-Shocks , CCW in a Crossbreed holster and/or a Taurus TCP 738 .380 in a pocket holster.


My CCW is the XD Sub 9MM. I carry outside my waistband due to the fact that I’m a big guy and to carry it inside my waistband would be uncomfortable for me. My holster has a thumb break for secure retention. The XD I bought for carry, was great out of the box and still is. I have full confidence in it working everytime. I’ve put over 1000 rounds through it without a single misfire or jam… I carry it all the time. If I go to mow the lawn, it is on my hip. We also keep a Colt .38 Diamondback always at the ready within our home. My wife also has her CCW permit and her carry is the Walther P380… It fits her hand well and is easy for her to handle… We both practice utilizing snap caps and my wife has become comfortable handling her weapon… We also frequent the gun range and practice shooting at different distances (max approximately 21 ft.). We always re-enforce safety when handling our firearms… That includes the home defense shotgun (Remington 12 ga.)


Thanks for info! I haven’t owned a gun for 18 years and I’m about ready to get involved again. I’ve found a lot of good articles like this online over the last month and so far I’m focused on buying a Glock27 next year, but once I hit the gun stores I’ll give a lot of weight to how a gun fits in my hands. It’s a good thought about the extra costs involved for accesories needed when considering personel and home defense, but I expect I’ll be paying more on accessories than anybody else here, because first I’ll be buying a car to carry me and the gun! Guess I’m getting kind of tired of bicycling and I’m ready to sit in comfort again. So I also have to pick a 4 wheeled holster 🙂