This post was inspired by a similar feature over at epictactical.com: 5 Must Have Concealed Carry Holster Features. The boys at epic came up with the following list: comfort, warm weather suitability, easy access in all postures, compatibility with your current wardrobe and proper gun fit. All true, of course. But only one is important enough to make the rabbi’s top three. In consultation with the gun guru, here are the most important characteristics for a gun holster . . .
1. Buy a holster that fits your gun perfectly
A concealed carry gun holster has two main jobs: keeping the gun secure and allowing a quick, easy and effective draw.
Paging Goldilocks! This search for a “just right” combination of security and accessibility explains the existence of so many holster companies: trial and error keeps them in business. As any CCW carrier will tell you, it’s something you gotta go through.
Although epictactical.com says “Universal Size gun holsters can be a great choice,” the flip side is more often true. It’s best to order a holster made for the specific make, model and barrel length of your carry piece. If you have more than one gun, you’ll need more than one holster.
There’s only one way to test the holster: test the holster. Insert your UNLOADED gun into the rig and run, jump, sit, stand, lean over, ride your bike, etc. Try to dislodge the gun from the holster. Then practice your draw, wearing whatever you wear. Don’t get hung up on speed; not getting hung up on your clothes is more important.
There are dozens of holster variations—inside-the-waist-band, outside-the-waist band, various cants, materials aplenty, etc. The chances of your first choice solution working are practically nil. Buy from a company that has a no-questions-asked returns policy. You will use it.
2. Buy a holster that assures a proper grip
We’ve said this before: your initial grip on the gun must be the same grip you use whilst shooting. In other words, do NOT buy a holster that forces you to adjust your grip in a high-stress self-defense situation. Bobbling a loaded gun is a bad idea even at the best of times.
So assume a pre-draw posture (i.e. crouch) and place your hand on your gun. If you can’t get your hand into the proper position at the moment of contact, if you can’t keep a proper grip all the way through the draw-stroke (until you’re on target), get a new holster. It’s possible to train yourself to adjust to a given design, but instinct trumps adaptation any day of the week and twice on Mondays.
3. Buy a holster that stays open
If you buy a holster that deforms (i.e. crushes flat) after the gun is withdrawn, you double your chances of shooting yourself. You may do so whilst inserting the gun initially, or, more likely, whilst re-holstering the weapon.
Not to steal a line from Barack Obama, but it’s commonsense. How do you use a deformable holster with one hand? And if that second hand is anywhere near the muzzle of a loaded gun, it’s in real danger—especially after a self-defense situation.
While we’re at it, regardless of the holster’s deformability, give serious thought to re-holstering. One of the main reasons I prefer outside-the-waistband carry (Comp-Tac Minotaur): I can re-holster safely without looking, with one hand. No second hand pulling my clothes out of the way.
There are lots of other key variables: the ones mentioned by epictactical.com and others (e.g., the security of the holster’s attachments to the belt loops). Suffice it to say, if a holster fails to provide any of the three must-haves above, don’t bother with the rest. Start again.