Figuring out which holster to buy can be a daunting task. Sometimes even, there is more than one or even a handful of acceptable options. These are the things I look for in a holster when it comes time to shop around.
The holster has to allow me to carry the gun safely. This means the gun is secure in the holster and the trigger guard area of the holster is well designed. It should cover the trigger guard completely and mitigate the risk of unintentional trigger access.
The holster should also stay open without the gun in it, and shouldn’t have any little dangly bits around the mouth of the holster to get caught up in the trigger guard. This is, at least in part, why kydex holsters are the go-to nowadays. It is relatively easy to produce a holster that meets all these criteria.
Salvatore dives a bit deeper on this specific topic HERE.
Really this one and concealment are tied, as they are both equally important for the most part. While there may be circumstances where we deal with less readily available access so that we can still actually carry a gun, for the most part, we should be working towards more access if we can. This means holsters that don’t ride too low on the belt, or behind the belt. The positioning of the holster on our body should be part of this consideration also. Small of the back holsters or ankle holsters are much less accessible than traditional IWB holsters carried on the hip or especially AIWB holsters. The holster has to be accessible, and it really needs to be accessible from varied positions. If we cannot get to it quickly and reliably, the gun is a lot less useful to us.
Guns staying hidden allows us to carry guns where we otherwise might not. Where maybe it isn’t as socially acceptable, or maybe politically, it is not a popular thing wherever we happen to live. The better a gun conceals, the more likely we are to carry it, and the less it affects our day to day life. Good concealment equals more gun more places but works against the point above, accessibility. Guns that are less accessible are generally better concealed. A good holster will maximize concealment but still allow for good access through careful, thoughtful design. Use of wings, wedges, different styles of belt loops or clips, and their positioning on the holster all come into play with effective concealment.
A gun that cannot be carried comfortably is a gun that doesn’t get carried as much as it should. A quality holster will allow the gun to be carried for extended periods of time, under varied circumstances, without any real discomfort for the person carrying it. I have worn guns concealed for over 24 hours at a time, and it wasn’t that big of a deal because the holsters used were carefully designed and well-executed.
There are a couple of glaring omissions from my list. Maybe the most notable is cost. Cost is rarely a consideration. The cheap solution is usually not the best solution (alternatively, that doesn’t mean the expensive solution is any better), and really we need the best solution here. The holster, just like the gun it carries, is a piece of life-saving equipment, it is not the place to skimp. Do the research, sell a kidney if necessary, and get a good holster. Make sure it is safe, then work on the rest as best you can.