October 15, 2019 8 min read

A handgun is not only an investment in your personal safety. It’s also a financial investment. The best guns deserve the best concealed carry holster that will not only be comfortable to wear, but will also protect your gun.

When choosing your concealed carry holster, it’s important to find one that fits your gun and is easy to maintain. Depending on the material you choose, some holsters may need more upkeep than others. Some holsters may also not fit your particular firearm well, and you will need to make accommodations or choose a holster made specifically for your make and model of gun.

Types of holsters

There are a variety of holsters that can be worn almost anywhere on the body. For example,  many holster manufacturers make bra holsters to make it easier for women to concealed carry even when they’re wearing form-fitting clothing. Some of the most popular styles of holsters include:

  • Inside the waistband, or IWB, holsters
  • Ankle holsters
  • Pocket holsters
  • Shoulder holsters
  • Thigh holsters (mainly for women wearing dresses or skirts)
  • Bra holsters

Belly holsters, back holsters, groin holsters and chest holsters are also available for those who find those methods to be the best way to carry concealed. Some holster manufacturers are creating clothing with integrated holster pockets in the actual cloth material, turning shirts, pants and even underwear into concealed carry holsters. Whether you’re carrying your Glock 17 or your SIG P365 and P239, there are holster options to accommodate your favorite concealed carry firearm.

Open carry holsters are usually carried outside the waistband or OWB. In the wake of recent media stories about mass shootings, more retailers are asking that people not open carry in their stores, even if they have a permit to do so. This means that more people are seeking their concealed carry licenses and looking for the perfect concealed carry holster for their personal protection.

The best way to find which holster style will work best for you is to head down to the range with your concealed carry handgun and try them out. You’ll be able to experiment with your most comfortable carry position, and which style of holster feels most natural to draw from. You’ll also be able to see how your gun feels when you holster and unholster it from different materials, along with the potential for cleaning that comes along with each material.

Your concealed carry handgun should feel like a natural addition to your body, and when you need to use it, you should not hesitate due to discomfort. Finding the right holster for your needs may take some experimenting and patience, but in the end, it may mean the difference between life and death.

Holster Materials

Holster materials

There are three types of materials used for gun holsters: 

  • Leather
  • Nylon
  • Kydex

Leather is the most classic choice for holsters because it’s been used for hundreds of years. With proper care and maintenance, a leather holster can potentially last a lifetime. One of its benefits is the softness of the material doesn’t cause much wear and tear on the surface of the gun. This means an old gun that is carried often may still look brand new, no matter how many times you holster and unholster it.

handgun holster

As with most organic materials, there are a few drawbacks to using leather holsters. New leather is very stiff and it needs a break-in period to begin to mold to both your gun and your body’s shape. Many people who purchase a leather holster are surprised at how difficult it can be to remove and replace the gun into the holster until it’s broken in. It’s wise not to depend on your leather holster for concealed carry emergencies in the beginning because it may be difficult to remove quickly.

Some people break in their leather holsters by using leather lubricants, while others spend time manipulating the leather with their hands and gun until it’s more pliable and the gun can slide in and out easily. Others have found success with placing a thick plastic bag around the barrel of their guns and sliding it into the leather holster overnight. The added space provided by the plastic bag will stretch the leather more effectively.

Another drawback of a leather holster is that it holds moisture. If your holster is going to be against your body, plan on your leather holster absorbing some of your sweat each time. This moisture can corrode or rust your gun over time, so you’ll need to inspect your firearm periodically if your leather holster is absorbing a lot of moisture. If you’re in extremely hot or cold climates, this can cause the leather to crack and break down over time. You will need to dry out your holster after wearing it each time and pay close attention to maintaining your holster to ensure that it doesn’t crack or break.

Nylon holsters became popular in the 1980s because the material is much more flexible than leather, and it requires little-to-no upkeep. Nylon is typically used as a sportswear fabric because it repels moisture away from the body and helps keep an athlete cool, even while they’re active. It’s a very durable material and holds up even under the worst climate conditions.

The primary drawback of nylon is the build-up of grit, dirt and lint which can become trapped in the crevices of the nylon edges and fibers and can ultimately work their way into your gun. Nylon can also break down as time goes on, developing tears and rips in the fabric in the weakened areas where your gun’s barrel sits. Nylon holsters don’t typically last as long as leather holsters which are carefully maintained, so plan on replacing them more often than other holsters.

Kydex holsters are crafted from a special polymer plastic that becomes pliable when exposed to high heat. This allows the Kydex to mold to your specific make and model of handgun, making it a comfortable fit. If your holster needs a snugger fit around your handgun, a little hair dryer heat will allow you some flexibility with the polymer plastic. Kydex holsters repel moisture, so they require very little upkeep in terms of wiping them down after each use. They also are less likely to harbor dirt and lint build-up, which means your gun stays cleaner.

Kydex Holsters Quote

Kydex holsters don’t need a break-in period and are extremely lightweight and comfortable to wear. Most Kydex holsters will last for years–maybe even for a lifetime. These holsters hold up under any climate condition and won’t crack or break down in extreme temperatures or when exposed to water. The primary drawback of Kydex holsters is that because of their plastic, your gun will slide into the material and not have a lot of “give.” Over time, you may notice some wearing down of the finish on your gun in the places where your gun slides against the Kydex. While this will not hurt the performance of your firearm, it may affect its appearance. So, here is our breakdown of 10 guns that deserve the best concealed carry holster.

glock 17

1.) The Glock 17

If you’re looking to conceal carry, you’ve likely heard that a Glock will give you everything you need: a lightweight frame, plenty of ammunition, minimal recoil, an easy trigger pull and, most of all, dependability. Most Glocks are fitted to hold at least nine rounds of ammunition, with the Glock 17 beginning at 17 rounds. Your Glock 17 or another Glock concealed carry handgun is deserving of the best kind of holster that will protect it for years to come. With proper care, the right holster and cleaning, your Glock can be a lifetime investment.

 9mm Smith & Wesson M&P

2.) Smith and Wesson M&P Shield

The Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 9mm handgun is one of the best on the market. The “M&P” stands for “military and police,” and it was designed with law enforcement in mind. When the M&P Shield series was introduced to the public in 2012, it set new standards for lightweight carry, concealability and craftsmanship. The M&P Shield holds nine rounds of ammunition and its loaded weight is only 18.3 oz., making it extremely easy to carry concealed. Smith and Wesson is known for producing some of the most durable and high-quality concealed carry handguns in America.

3.) SIG Sauer P365

The SIG Sauer P365 is a small, micro-compact handgun with a high capacity magazine. Holding either 10+1 or 12+1 rounds, the barrel is just over three inches long and the total weight is 1.8 pounds. It is lightweight, with a smooth trigger pull, and has minimal recoil. The P365 was named the 2019 Handgun of the Year by the NRA’sShooting Illustrated. If this gun is in your arsenal, you’ll need a proper holster to protect it.

4.) SIG Sauer P239

Lightweight, slim and with a decent round capacity, the SIG Sauer P239 boasts a light trigger pull and low recoil for added accuracy. It’s slightly larger than the P365, with a 3.6-inch barrel. However, it weighs about the same as the P365 at around 1.8 pounds. If you’re looking for a gun for your IWB Kydex holster, this SIG Sauer will meet your standards.

5.) Ruger LCP2

Ruger is consistently a go-to brand for a reliable, lightweight handgun at a reasonable price. LCP stands for “lightweight compact pistol,” and it was designed with concealed carry use in mind. The Ruger LCP2 holds 7.380 caliber rounds and weighs in at only 23 oz. when loaded. It’s extremely slim, coming in at just under one full inch at .95. If you’re searching for a gun for your concealed carry holster, the Ruger will be hardly noticeable in the Ruger LCP IWB Kydex holster as you go about your day.

6.) Springfield XD MOD 2.4” Service Model

The Springfield Armory is known for manufacturing consistently durable and reliable firearms. The service model holds a whopping 16 rounds of ammunition, but the loaded weight is only 27.5 oz. It’s slim, lightweight and has a low recoil for added accuracy. Springfield Armory guns are extremely deserving of the best holster to protect it and help it last a lifetime.

sig sauer p320

7.) SIG Sauer P320

Because the SIG Sauer P320 is relatively new to the market, it’s taken some time for people to realize just how useful and versatile it is. The SIG P320 is completely modular in its design, allowing for swapping grips, sizes and calibers to customize it to your perfect fit. The modular aspects of the P320 make it an incredibly accommodating gun for ambidextrous use. Many holsters can accommodate the mixing-and-matching of the size and grips of your P320.

8.) Glock 19

Rising in popularity to surpass its older sister is the Glock 19. The loaded weight of a G19 is only 21.16 oz., yet the standard ammunition clip holds 16 rounds. It’s a little wider than other concealed carry pistols, with a total width of 1.26 inches, but its high ammunition count, coupled with its reliability, durability and low recoil, makes it one of the most popular concealed carry handguns today. Because of the width, it’s essential to find a concealed carry holster that will be comfortable to wear for long periods and fits well with your clothes and body.

9.) HK VP9

The Heckler & Koch VP9 stands for “Volkspistol,” or “the people’s pistol.” It’s ambidextrous, has low recoil and comes with either a 10+1 or 15+1 magazine. It features a light trigger pull and is relatively lightweight to carry. The anti-corrosion finish makes it durable for any climate or landscape. It’s one of the most popular concealed carry handgun choices on the market, and there are a variety of holsters molded to fit this model perfectly.

10.) Ruger EC9

Keeping in line with its reputation for affordability, the Ruger EC9 also features a lightweight design, light trigger pull and minimal recoil. It holds eight rounds of ammunition and only weighs in at 17.2 oz. when loaded. It’s very slim at only .90 of an inch and the barrel length is just over three inches long. It’s a popular and solid choice for a concealed carry handgun.

Final thoughts

Your concealed carry handgun is an investment, not only financially but in your personal safety. It’s critical to choose a concealed carry holster that not only feels comfortable, but will protect your firearm from the elements, moisture and everyday usage. You don’t want rust and corrosion to damage your gun so that when you go to pull it in an emergency one day, it doesn’t fire. Don’t skimp on the holster once you’ve purchased the firearm. Instead, consider the gun, the ammunition and the holster as a package deal.

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10 Guns that Deserve the Best Concealed Carry Holster