Question of the Day: How Do You Choose The Right Holster?

In response to a recent IGOTD post about a moviegoer who’d left his gun behind, reader Sid left the following comment:

A lesson in equipment should be learned by those new to guns. Prior to our 09-10 deployment, my MPs were issued a POS holster for the M9. Handguns falling out of holsters was a daily event. Why the US Army bought and issued a bleeping holster that does not actually hold the gun is beyond me. My Sunday School class and a few members of our church bought Blackhawk Serpa holsters for every member of my platoon that did not have one. Not one issue for a year long deployment. A few of us in the platoon had purchased and tested the holsters . . .

There are some beautiful handcrafted holsters available. And there are some industrially designed highly functional holsters available. But regardless of beauty or design pedigree, a holster that does not HOLD the pistol is bleeping useless. You have to work with your holster for a few days to decide. If your kidneys quit functioning because of the pounding, not a good choice. If the gun falls out while seated or running, also bad. For concealed carry, does it print?

One of the slightly time-consuming responsibilities of being a concealed carry citizen is to ensure your holster functions appropriately.

It can be hard to know if a holster will work for you before plunking down your hard-earned samolians.  As Sid wrote, you may have to work with one for a few days to be sure you have a good one. Since it’s can be a very personal choice, how do you choose the right holster?

32 Responses to Question of the Day: How Do You Choose The Right Holster?

  1. avatarIdahoPete says:

    Shameless plug for an Idaho product: Milt Sparks Holsters.

    High quality, excellent gun retention, comfortable, and they will make one to fit any weird gun/barrel length/sight combo you have.

    Pricey? Yep. Long wait? Yep. Worth it? Yep.

    • avatarSanchanim says:

      Ok now I am really moving to Idaho! lol
      All things aside, think of it this way.. You can spend a little or spend a lot. If you carry always it is like a good pair of shoes. It lasts, and is comfortable, and you use it every day. It pays for itself…

      • avatarIdahoPete says:

        I escaped California in 2004, and have never regretted it. Check out http://www.boisehelpwanted.com for jobs in the Boise region – according to the local rag (Idaho Statesman newspaper) there are lots of software/tech startups in the city that are having a hard time finding qualified people.

        Warning: California transplants may find themselves spending lots of money buying guns that aren’t available in Calif. The other advice I would give is to get Idaho plates on your vehicle ASAP and to never say “Well, in California we used to ….”

    • avatarmchad says:

      Go Idaho! Shout out to any others in Potato Country!

      • avatarjoelT1 says:

        My father was born in California, but raised in Blackfoot, Idaho. Most of his side of the family is still up there. He’d move back there in a heartbeat if he could, he hates the Texas climate, but his work is here, and one more move just isn’t in him. But we’re in a fairly gun friendly state now, so were good in that regard. Now if only we could grow soft green grass…

  2. avatarOK S. says:

    I asked people I know who carry if they have one they particulary like, including policeman friends what they use for personal carry. In my case the vast majority recommended Don Hume.

    I’ve been carrying this one, 100% of the time, for the last several months. It looks nice, has held up well, only took a few weeks to break in, and still retains my pistol when I drop my pants.

    http://www.donhume.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=65_5&products_id=44&zenid=0qu0juk7hb6ppkibn850hah8f4

  3. avatarIsaac says:

    Can’t remember how I did my research, but I bought a Galco IWB tuckable for my glock 26, that was eight years ago, still use both with zero issues.

  4. avatarSaul Feldstein says:

    Holsters are like women, you can never find one that really fits, and when you think you have it bites you in the wrong place.

    The old OSS style shoestring has been my IWB “holster” for years for concealed carry.

    On the hip Fobus paddles molded for the pistol work great. Guess I am stingy.

    • avatarv says:

      so someone else remembers the ‘shoestring’ holster…?
      i made my latest one out of a very soft paracord in dark brown…
      in over 5 years with it I’ve never had a problem…
      simple, adjustable for any pistol/revolver, and cheap…

  5. avatarBill says:

    I love, love, love, LOOOOOVVVVE my Tommy Theis hybrid holster. Sure it’s a Crossbreed, i guess you can say, knock-off. However, it’s a bit cheaper than the Crossbreed, combat cut standard, and free shipping. Holds my Glock 19 with comfort and the right about of tension. Got one for all my other pistols just incase I need to carry them instead.

  6. avatarAccur81 says:

    1. Visit LGS with good customer service.
    2. Load apprropriate empty weapon into holster
    3. Buy holster I like
    4. Return or exchange if I don’t like it
    5. Repeat
    (Only buy expensive custom holster if I really like someone else’s)

  7. avatarRandy Drescher says:

    Safety Speed is a great bargain off Ebay or GB, the quality is superb. I bought a 1911 Tac shoulder Rig from Alessi & the quality was as good as I’ve ever seen. That is a vertical carry & the holster tilts outward. If wearing a coat this is much faster than a strongside. Randy

  8. avatarDon says:

    How do I choose the best holster? Trial and error.

    -D

    • avatarCPO15 says:

      Me too, mostly error. Not so much error with the custom makers though; Lobo, RGrizzard, BearCreek. Bought two Milt Sparks in the ’80s without the mammoth wait; good, but not worth the current wait and ordering hassles.

  9. avatarIn Memphis says:

    I knew right away I wanted an OWB holster and for it to be leather. My Glock no doubt was an investment but I wanted to be able to carry as soon as I could and didnt want to wait for a month or two or more on a custom.

    I would deffinatley invest in a nice custom made holster but at the time needed to be practical and realistic.

    I went for the DeSantis Speed Scabbard. It has the option of no cant or canted (not sure of the angle). I have yet to regret this purchase.

    Edit to Add: Despite its advantages I dont have much interest in kydex or Serpa type holsters for EDC. My next holster purchase will be a Serpa type paddle holster for a simple throw it on in the middle of the night wjen things go bump

  10. avatarscottlac says:

    I have a leather Galco for my 1911 that is almost the same as the one pictured… almost. I have the leather that comes up higher on the inside that stops all that irritation. It also has a thumb break for both retention and to block the hammer when carrying cocked.

  11. avatarMark Chamberlain says:

    Trial and error. I got lucky. I own three holsters for my G27. I have an Uncle Mike’s nylon ankle holster ($20) for backup while on duty (LE), a soft nylon USA Armor holster ($10) for inside the waistband appendix carry untucked shirt. This is the holster I use most of the time when I am off duty carrying concealed. The third holster I have and the one I use the least is a Desantis pocket tuck ($30?) when I appendix carry with a tucked in shirt. By the way, I do carry every day so my choice of holsters does not discourage me from carrying. Total of $60. Not a large amount of money to handle my carry needs.

  12. avatarHinshelworld says:

    I make my own… working with kydex is easy.

  13. avatarLance says:

    Always will and still carry a nice M-12 holster for work!

  14. avatarDamon says:

    i read and read and read for probably 4 months leading up to me ordering my holster and getting my license, checked reviews, scanned forums, etc. finally settled on an Old Faithful IWB.

    its also a crossbreed “knock-off” but it’s fully adjustable for cant and retention strength. i’ve heard lots of people complain about the lack of adjustability with other holsters but mine’s great. it’s just now getting fully broke in after approx 3 weeks so i need to tighten the kydex up a bit but that’s in. and it conceals a fullsize 1911 easily.

    • avatarHanover Fiste says:

      +1 for Old Faitjful. Their prices are great and you can save quite a bit by buying their holster kits. They have always been quite speedy with shipping or any questions I have had.

    • avatarHonest Abe says:

      I have an old faithful, good quality but because the kydex is thicker than other similar hybrid holsters the moulding to the gun is not as good…not a part of the kydex provides any retention whatsoever, in order for retention my belt has to be pretty tight and uncomfortable.

  15. avatarJason says:

    The only one that I bought that I absolutely hated was a FIST holster. I got the universal one and it was one ugly piece of kydex with the holes drilled in a seemingly haphazard manner. There so many small screws and Chicago nuts that it was a major pain to configure. The ridgid kydex belt loops weren’t oriented correctly and was a pain to thread the belt through. I put this thing on eBay with no takers so I threw it in the trash.
    On the plus side I love the work of DM Bullard. He makes some great leather holsters.
    I also just ordered a supertuck so hopefully that lives up to all the great reviews.

  16. avatarHanover Fiste says:

    Trial and error (with good advice first) is really the only way.

    The best advice I have is to give your holster (especially IWB) some time to break in. My first day with my new holster from Old Faithful had me really questioning my choice. Within two days the leather began to conform and it got MUCH more comfortable. It has gotten even better since.

    Also an undershirt between me and my holster helps with all day wear.

    • avatarCameron S. says:

      +1 on the undershirt deal. I would NEVER carry IWB without one. You don’t want sweat on your gun, and you don’t want leather/kydex chafing your skin. A wife-beater under at a minimum if you just want to wear a T-shirt.

  17. avatarCameron S. says:

    I heavily rely on internet reviews. I’ll make sure to watch a few videos and read any shopping site’s customer reviews and possibly articles on sites such as this before “pulling the trigger” on ANYTHING gun related.

    Currently I’m breaking in a DeSantis Sof-Tuck. It fits my LCP well and is comfortable and insanely concealable. I’m now an AIWB convert. And on top of everything, the holster ran me all of $25. Let’s see how it holds up.

  18. avatarOODAloop says:

    I’ll give you two good plugs. One IWB, the other kydex OWB.
    For IWB you should look at http://www.adamsholsters.com. It took a while to find a top-notch, high quality leather holster and Luke Adams makes a great one. I’ve got my share of holsters (a box of ‘em!) but got a recc. from a friend and contacted Luke. He’s very flexible in designing what you want, offers wide variety of materials and make a very high quality product. The holster holds tight and has a good cant to hide a larger frame and quite stiff to accomodate one-handed reholstering. The only disadvantage is that he’s starting to become popular and now has a 14 week lead time. If you can wait, he does a great job.

    As to OWB, look up http://www.aholster.com. Alan Miller makes one that “has everything you need, and nothing you don’t.” Made out of kydex and designed to be worn OWB, They put a good curve into it to shape to your waist, it has excellent retention for your pistol and with the rubber belt straps they have, the holster will not move once in place. Doing a combat handgun class? This would definitely be a great holster because it sits high on the belt but has a low profile so as to not get in the way during quick draws. It’s stiff enough to practice one-hand slide racking off the edge (or just get the Shootrite version with the sight hook) and they generally ship within a week or so.

    Best of luck. We could all use a bit of help in this area.

    • avatarOakieDoc says:

      +1 for Aholster. I carry several different guns, and I own an Aholster for each of them–great products!

  19. Usually my procedure goes something allong these lines:

    Buy something made of dead cow,
    From Galco,

  20. avatarCarlosT says:

    I’ve been using the Blade-Tech Partial Eclipse: http://www.blade-tech.com/Partial-Eclipse-Holster-pr-1334.html

    It’s based on the yaqui slide concept, so it’s very minimalist in design, but it’s made out of molded kydex and the trigger guard clicks into place, providing retention. You can adjust that retention via an tensioning screw. Also the yaqui slide design means that if you own more than one variant of the same line of gun you may be able to carry them with this holster.

    If you carry OWB and like (or at least don’t mind) kydex, this holster is worth a look.

  21. Buy a quality holster. Yes, it’s expensive. Be prepared to buy several, when you find the first one doesn’t work out right for you. By the time you find one that’s right, you’ll have a box of discarded holsters in your basement. I don’t know any alternative but trial and error. However, what you don’t like might fit someone else very well. Be prepared to sell your discards at a discount. At least you’ll get some of your money back.

  22. avatarRB2001 says:

    The most discouaging thing I found when doing holster research was how many times I heard that I should plan on a drawer full of holsters before I get one that works for me. I like to learn from mistakes, I just don’t think they have to be my own. So I tried something different.

    This may sound weird, but before I even purchased my first gun or its holster, took to carrying an airsoft gun, unloaded of course. While I waited for my CCW course I carried it on an off to see where I like my gun and how if fit my lifestsyle. I finally learned that for me flexibility is key. I can move from untuck button shirts to shirt and tie to running gear in a single day. I needed to something to accomodate this. Carrying a toy gun wan’t perfect, but it showed me what worked for me. I could tweak out my choices to a more narrow list.

    I also read reviews and comments about holsters. In fact my appearance at this web-site was in search of critical reviews of some holster concepts I found really cool. It was the comments that led me away from AIWB holsters and possibly saved my Femeral Artery and thus my life. I also figured Kydex style was just not going to work. Wrapping a hard polymer around a hard steel gun didn’t thrill me.

    After all this, I chose a Sticky Holster. It was my first holster and the only one I use. It really works well. I read the reviews here and agree that reholstering is a downside, but it is minor. Given that this will go from IWB to pocket to an off body Maxpedition belt pouch with zero reconfigurations is awesome. The fact that is stays IWB even when jogging still amazes me. That my first holster purchased is my only holster just makes me grin mischeviously.

    I should also say that I wore my actual gun for nearly 2 months before loading it. I carried an empty weapon till I became comfortable with how I wore it. I learned that there is not perfect holster because even when sitting, you will find different issues with diffrent seats. Sometimes we give up on the holster to soon and don’t allow ourselves time to adjust. Committment to your carry method is very valuable.

    Also, my Maxpedition off-body is an exception. Sometimes I go into customer’s offices and feel a more concealed option is needed. the pouch stays on me, but it is my secondary carry.

    In summary I did these things:

    1. Try carrying an analgue of your weapon for a while without a holster and just see what feels the best for you.
    2. Research! TTAG is a great place for real reviews.
    3. Discipline. Take time an learn how your holster fits you.
    4. Make your choice and then commit to it. Don’t just give up at the first small disadvantage give yourself some time to learn how to wear it well.

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