Finding and using the right holster, in addition to knowing how to operate your handgun, is an essential part of carrying a concealed firearm.
A comfortable, adequately fitted holster ensures that you can draw and fire your weapon quickly.
There are many different types of holsters available to suit any style of clothing, activity level and draw preference.
Here are some general considerations for choosing a holster and information about the most popular styles.
A good holster strikes a balance between comfort and accessibility. It needs to be comfortable to wear while also providing adequate concealment, securely holding your firearm in place and allowing easy access to the wearer.
Different issues arise when considering concealed carry for women versus concealed carry for men.
Women tend to be smaller and wear a variety of clothing. A woman’s outfit generally hugs her form more snuggly than a man’s clothing, making concealment with certain types of holsters difficult.
Additionally, anatomical differences and cultural fashions affect the type of holster women can wear.
For example, women aren't likely to find shoulder holsters appropriate for routine use as women’s clothing makes shoulder holsters impossible to conceal.
Men wearing a suit, however, can comfortably wear a shoulder rig and keep their gun hidden.
Men are generally taller and broader than women are and wear loose-fitting clothing. The outline of a firearm is easily obscured or hidden on a man's body because there's a less obvious distinction between his waist and hips.
Your activity level will also determine what style holster you find most appropriate.
For example, a holster that works well for your golf game may not be suitable for your pick-up basketball game. Participating in vigorous activities, especially those with sudden changes in speed and direction, require a holster that safely contains your weapon despite rigorous movement.
Styles of Holsters
There's no such thing as a universally perfect holster. Everyone has a preference and not every style fits the type of handgun you may prefer.
Ankle holsters are intended to be worn under the clothes and attach to your leg with Velcro straps wrapped just above the ankle, or just below the knee. Your firearm can be worn on the inside or outside of your leg.
Pros: It's a good option for small firearms or a backup gun. It stays wholly concealed and unlikely to be accidentally revealed.
Cons: You can’t draw a gun quickly from an ankle holster no matter how much you practice.
Inside the Waistband or IWB Holsters
IWB holsters are worn close to your body, tucked under your waistband and underneath your shirt. They attach to your belt or waistband with a clip, J-hook or loop. The grip of the firearm sits just above your waistband. IWB holsters are our bread and butter, specifically because of the ease of concealment without sacrificing draw ability.
Pros: This holster accommodates front, back or side carry.
Cons: It takes up a few extra inches in your waistband so expect to purchase pants, skirts or shorts a size or two larger than usual.
Outside the Waistband or OWB Holsters
OWB holsters are the most traditional style and sometimes referred to as a belt holster. These are the kind police or Old West cowboys use. It attaches to the outside of your waistband via loops that are threaded through your belt. Some have a large paddle that sits between your body and clothing. In either case, the entire firearm is located outside of your pants.
Pros: Belt holsters offer the quickest draw.
Cons: Unless you are wearing a sports coat, jacket or some other kind of clothing that covers your belt, you can’t conceal the gun.
Hybrid holsters are constructed Kydex and a polymer (or sometimes leather). The Kydex encases the gun while the polymer provides a flexible barrier between the handgun and the skin of the wearer.
Hybrid holsters are popular in very humid climates where you tend to sweat a lot.
Many are even tuckable, meaning you can wear them with a tucked-in shirt.
Pros: These are very durable and can last a long time, even if worn every day. Some manufacturers make products with interchangeable shells, also.
Cons: Holsters with leather paddles require an extensive break-in period. Drawing your gun quickly with a tuckable model is difficult.
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