Recently, TTAG asked their Armed Intelligentsia, “How Do You Carry Your Gun?” As I read Robert’s post – and the responses from the AI – I began running through my carry setups in my head. By the time I finished scanning the comments (94 of them, at last count), I came to the conclusion that the search for the perfect carry setup is a lifelong endeavor that may never be completed with 100% satisfaction.

Holsters are to gun guys what shoes are to fashion-conscious gals. As I sit her writing this, there are eight holsters next to me for a total of only three guns. Why so many? Well, just like shoes in the closet, the response is the same: each one serves a different purpose.

Here’s the rundown of guns and holsters that regularly make an appearance in my EDC:

GLOCK 19
I started out carrying my G19 in a Galco Tuck-N-Go, an all-leather IWB holster with a reinforced mouth and a plastic attachment to the belt. It’s a minimalist setup that I thought I would like because of that. Turns out, I didn’t find it as great as I had hoped. Now, that’s not to say it isn’t a good product; I’ve yet to find a Galco holster that’s junk. My problem is that there’s minimal distribution of weight and the singular attachment point causes the gun to move around a bit more than I’d care for.

Next, I have a Safariland 7390 ALS OWB holster with an optional ALS Guard. This is an incredibly comfortable setup to wear that is very secure. The ALS latch is intuitive to use and offers great retention with fast deployment. The optional ALS Guard is a lever that covers the ALS latch for extra security. I found it nice when I’m on horseback to have that extra bit of retention. The only downside to this setup is that the 7390 is a duty holster, which means it isn’t small or concealable at all. It’s also awkward in certain chairs and car seats, depending on the contour of both.

I then decided to pick up a custom-molded Kydex OWB holster at a local gun show. I couldn’t pass up the $10 discount for being an exhibitor and the option to customize it by getting a “Don’t Tread On Me” design put on the holster. The molding is top-notch. The gun fits like a glove and can be turned upside-down and shook, all while retaining the gun. I like this OWB option a lot.

Finally, I got a Crossbreed SuperTuck Deluxe IWB holster. To look at it, you’d think it would be an uncomfortable, unwieldy beast – something you certainly wouldn’t want to try and cram in your waistband. Instead, it’s the most comfortable IWB holster I’ve ever used – period. The contoured leather and wide design distribute the G19’s weight and the gun feels like it disappears in the holster. I rode comfortably on horseback with it and even took a nap on the couch with it.

SMITH & WESSON 638
When I bought my snubby revolver 5 years ago, I picked up an open-top OWB holster by Masters at the same time. It’s a small, unobtrusive holster for a gun of the same description. I wear it frequently and it’s a very comfortable minimalist setup. With the right t-shirt, the gun disappears on my waistband.

I then decided to try out pocket carry. I picked up a cheap, black synthetic one at Wal-Mart 3 years ago and have carried my 638 in it more than any other gun or holster setup. I will say, though, that it’s about time to get a new one. The edge of the holster below the barrel and in front of the trigger guard is losing its rigidity, causing it to shift slightly in my pocket. No matter – for $10, I certainly got my money’s worth and will buy a new one shortly.

I had been searching for an IWB snubby holster and finally came across one in a discount bin. Made by Shado of South Africa, it is a sturdy, leather holster with a reinforced mouth. The gun fits very well in the holster, but it isn’t without faults. The attachment to a belt is accomplished by looping the leather strap under your belt and securing it at the top with two snaps. It works, but the snaps aren’t the most secure thing in the world. In the end, it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but for a $5 discount bin find, I can’t really complain.

COLT 1911
I just picked this gun up a week ago, so I’ve only got one holster for it. I’m using an OWB belt-slide rig made by MTR Holsters. It’s very well molded and hand stitched, providing a great fit. Since it’s just a belt slide piece, the holster is minimal in terms of material and adds very little weight to the already-beefy 1911. So far, I really enjoy it and don’t anticipate getting an IWB for it. I’m fairly certain that’s more gun than I’d like to fit in my waistband.

CONCLUSION
So there you have it. Eight holsters for three guns. Each one has a different purpose. Some worked out well; others, not so much. At times, your style changes and it necessitates a new holster. Or, you get an itch to buy another gun, but can’t really afford to spend that kind of money. Instead, a new holster can scratch that itch for a time.

Whatever the reason may be, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever find the one perfect gun and one perfect holster in which to carry it. That’s not a bad thing. After all, variety is the spice of life.

Recommended For You

42 Responses to In Search of the Perfect Holster

    • I carry my Ruger Alaskan in a Gallo leather chest rig. It’s a fast r-hand draw, but lefthand takes some work.

      When I want to be more discrete, I carry in a Hill People Recon Kit Bag strapped to my chest. That way nobody knows I’m packing. Not even the bears.

      • The HPG kit bag is by far the best solution I’ve found for carrying in the wilderness. It has room for helpful gear (map, pocket knife, compass, etc) and keeps the gun from moving around too much while I hike.
        Way better than trying to get a belt or shoulder holster to work with a backpack.
        It’s comfy enough that I’d carry with it in town if I wouldn’t look (more) like a total dork.

  1. For me, my solutions at this point, are a pocket holster when I need to be very agile and a conceal-carry vest when I don’t.

    I don’t even remember what brand my pocket holster is. I just know it covers my trigger and keeps most of the dust and lint out.

    I love my vest though. I can carry almost any of my full-sized pistols, including my Five-seveN and Governor simultaneously.

    It won’t accommodate my M686 or M69 though 🙁

    A

  2. I have 4 pistols and nine holsters. I tried IWM, OWB, leather, Kydex, leather & Kydex. The Aliengear lasted one day.

    The 642 rides IWB in a solid Kydex by Santis and is absolutely invisible. The Ruger LC9s likes a Remora for either pocket or IWB. The Ruger SR9c is my EDC and I carry it in an extremely minimalist Bladetech IWB Kydex unless I want to open carry in which case I have a Blackhawk retention holster. The 686 – Comp-Tac Kydex OWB.

    The other 5 holsters sit in a box somewhere and are only a reminder that just cause something looks great doesn’t mean it will do what you want or need.

    • “…a reminder that just cause something looks great doesn’t mean it will do what you want or need.”

      Amen! I remember my last girlfriend…
      Oh wait, we’re talking about holsters. Right.

      • Guardiano,

        I ditched my AlienGear in one day because I like to carry my handgun at the 3 O’clock position (on my hip) and the front, lower edge of the holster really digs into my leg when I sit down.

        I suppose it would probably work really well for carrying at the 4 O’clock position all the way to 6 O’clock position (small of your back).

        • Ah, ok, that makes sense. I did also try 3 o’clock for a while and I didn’t like it, both because I find it uncomfortable (pinched nerves from 8 years active duty infantry get more pinched) and because it seems too conspicuous bulging out of my hip. So I carry it at 4 o’clock, and as you assume, it is very comfortable riding there and also almost impossible to spot.

        • ^^^This.

          Also, I didn’t really like the feel of the leather against my skin when ai tried to wear it inside a T-shirt.

  3. My OWB edc is a safariland ALS. Safariland is probably the best bang for the buck in terms of belt holsters and they fit almost every gun made.

    My IWB edc is a n82tactical (pronounced nate squared tactical) classic. It is super affordable and fits a wide variety of guns.

    Both of these are under 50 bucks and excellently made. You cannot go wrong.

  4. “Holsters are to gun guys what shoes are to fashion-conscious gals”

    Then I am not a gun guy. I would say that holsters are to gun guys as shoes are to gun guys.
    I have four different holsters for my Glock 19 and that ignores the ambi Uncle Mike’s I no longer use.
    The first holster to replace that Uncle Mike’s was a leather Frontline IWB that is still my “go to” holster. It is the only one I appendix carry because of the zero cant. It’s the one that I wear when driving. It’s the one that sits on the night stand covering the trigger of my Glock.
    Soon after that, I made my own thigh rig out of two Blackhawk slide holsters. You’ve all seen my video of it in action. I still use it for deep concealment with cargo pants.
    Then I bought a Blackhawk OWB retention holster for my older son when he bought a Glock 22. He doesn’t carry so he didn’t want it. It fits my Glock 19 so I use it for open carry.
    My fourth and second most used holster is a Cross Breed Super Tuck. Besides the OWB holster, this one is easiest to draw from. It is worn every night we go out, roughly three times a week.
    Fashion has nothing to do with it. Each one has a specific purpose. Much like my footwear.

  5. The Galco Nemesis pocket holster or other that stays in your pocket when you draw is “prefect” for the small pocket pistol. If you look at holsters that have stayed in production for the last 30-40 years, the Askins Avenger or generic scabbard belt holster is numero uno.

  6. My Kimber TLE has been in a Tucker Gun Leather “The Answer” for going on almost 10 years. Best holster ever. I own three others, but “The Answer” get’s 95% of my time. It is an IWB leather/Kydex holster.

  7. It is a lifelong pursuit. Bodies change. Needs change. Guns change. Example: I didn’t care for my OWB kydex holster by Blue Ridge Holsters. It’s of excellent quality; it just rode too high. When I went to the symphony a few weeks ago I found all my “nice” pants had gotten a bit tight during the winter. The “high rise” Blue Ridge holster allowed me to carry my LC9s under a sweater fully concealed. Now I have a new carry setup.

    I probably have a minimum of three holsters per carry gun. I always get a Remora as a pocket/IWB option, a single clip IWB and an OWB.

  8. I use different holsters for different carry modes with my Glock 23: a Remora for the pocket or deep concealment in the office, a Fobus for winter carry where I might have to leave the gun in the car at the gym or at a government building, a Galco for normal IWB… will have to try the Crossbreed but it doesn’t look like I can take it on and off quickly in places where carry is banned by law in my state—the Fobus fits that niche well.

    • The Cross Breed comes off easy enough but the problem is there is zero retention.
      If you have to check your gun, it would be best to just unload it and not leave the holster with the gun. They will become separated. At least that is how my Cross Breed is.

  9. I alternate carry between a Sig M11a1 and a Heckler & Koch P7 PSP. Both ride in IWB leather holsters from Milt Sparks. A little pricey compared to a lot of other choices, but comfort, retention, ease of draw and reholstering are well worth it to me.

  10. I have an Urban Carry which I really like for sub compact and small compact guns. It’s really concealed and just as comfortable as pocket carry, but easier to access when standing. When I put a larger compact in it though (which it says it’s rated for), it looks like I have a chubby.

    I have an Alien Gear and it’s my preferred holster for mid to large size. I like that I can adjust height and cant. I did have to tinker with it for a few weeks to find what worked best.

    My OWB carry, I don’t bother to try to conceal and I’ve never been super picky about it so long as the retention and access are good.

  11. As a southpaw I basically have to special order a holster I want to try out because unless it’s for a Glock then the LGS in my area won’t have one I can even try. I’ve tried to test with the right hand versions but it never felt right so, I order, wait then if it doesn’t work for me it’s back to square one. it’s not like there is a huge secondary market for left-handed holsters so I generally just keep them in a box (plastic totes actually) or I take them to a local Gun shop and they drop them in the box of misfit toys 🙂 that you might find what you are looking for but you have to dig.

    I’ve dug in the box my self before and found a Holster I wanted to try for a weapon I already own, I picked it up even though the thing was blinding Neon Pink. good thing I didn’t like it because I couldn’t find out who made it and Pink that you can see from orbit is not my idea of discreet for carry.

      • Unfortunately I have three for the J-frame but they are in regular rotation. for OWB I use a Bianchi Model 56 product number 4211 for inside the waistband I have a crossbreed Supertuck I had to heat up a bit to get the retention I wanted and a cheap TAGUA IWB/OWB/Cross-Draw. I was surprised that a $25 TAGUA holster could work so well. especially the cross draw for when I’m going to be in the car for hours on end.

        I also have oneComp-Tac MTAC Holster holster left for an XDM 45 compact that I found fits my S&W99 in 45 ACP so that one’s staying as well. I just started buying hybrid Kydex/Leather holsters So I can swap out the Kydex shells without having to buy a completely new holster. I can basically get the ride height/Cant can attachment style I want and then try to find or make a shell that fits.

  12. I’m like the rest of you, lots of holsters and only a few used. I’ve found IWB at 11 o’clock (2 o’clock for righties) in a 15% cant leather holster to be the best. Flexes when I flex (versus kydex), no frame butt exposure issues, and lets me carry in “less than permissive” environments. If you’re looking for a top-notch holster crafter, look at Adams Holster. Luke, the owner, will work with you on what you’re looking for and produces absolutely awesome gear. I have his holsters for a 1911 EMP, 1911 Dan Wesson CCO, Glcok 19 and S&W M&P 9c. All carry very comfortably. Also, he has a proprietary spring retention clip on his holsters that make them easy on/off yet grip your belt and won’t let go unless you want them to.

  13. I’ve tried dozens of holster styles, (several holsters for each style) IWB, OWB, AIWB, ankle, crossdraw, but I primarily pocket carry. ive also settled on OWB over IWB when I feel like carrying a second gun, and Ankle carry when necessary.

    One day I’d like to try a smart carry. Looks like a lot of the advantages of pocket carry with the added bonus of carrying a little more gun.

    • I love the SmartCarry. It’s not my first choice in holster but when needed it will carry a 1911 concealed when I cannot wear a belt or an overshirt.

  14. For concealed carry, Blade tec nano. My first ccw a S&W M&P 40c I have 7 different holsters I’ve tried, 2get used regularly now, galco millennium if I’m carrying it right side, Blade tec nano if left-handed. My other ccw is a M&P 40pro 5″ Bbl. With the nano I can forget it’s with me, very comfortable.

  15. I protest and I repeat – I have found “(not only) the one perfect gun and one perfect holster in which to carry it.” = a bum bag AEGIS (Czech made) for concealed carry not only of a compact (CZ P-07), but even for a full-sized CZ P-09.
    Maybe it is not a “holster” in precise meaning of that word, but it is a SOLUTION.

  16. Back in the day (here we go again!) I had a black DeSantis Gunny Sack fanny pack. Anything from my old Smith 640 to my 1911 would ride in it and nobody ever challenged me about carrying a gun even at events where I had to walk past so called security people. Since fanny packs have gone out of fashion my usual off duty “sort of concealed carry mode” these days is an El Paso Saddlery OWB leather thumb break for my Kimber Officer’s frame 1911 or an Azula – cheap South African leather – OWB for my very old school Charter Arms .44 Bulldog. I wear both with a heavy leather basket weave Texas Ranger style belt. I usually wear a windbreaker or untucked shirt. If I’m in hot weather stealth carry mode a Ruger LCP rides in my pants cargo pocket in a leather or nylon pocket holster. I even wear cargo pants to church. I’m 5’8″ and weigh about 200 – there’s a definite late middle age spread there – and for some reason inside waist band carry just doesn’t work for me.

  17. Holsters are to gun guys what bicycle seats are to bicycle guys, where one man’s BarcaLounger is another man’s jackhammer.

  18. I have a number of holsters dating back to the 1960s and 70s (the days when Bianchi made holsters fitted to specific weapons). A thumb break swivel for my .357 S&W Mod 19 which was perfect for patrol or desk duty, which can be locked in position for walking a beat (in the 70s we had to drive for an hour and park and walk for 20 minutes).

    I have a high ride Safariland OWB thumb break for my FI Inc Mod D pistol.

    A Bianchi holster, which John Bianchi submitted to the military as a replacement 1911 holster, that’s ambidextrous, has a flap that can be removed or rotated forward.

    I’m kinda old school and prefer real leather to Kydex, etc. I am attached to the Yaqui holster (they even have one with a thumb break) for a minimalist holster.

    Lately, I’ve been trying out a 511 vest with ccw pockets. I also have a couple of flight jackets which are similarly designed though they were not intended for that purpose. I rather like where they position my carry weapon as opposed to having to lift up/push clothing aside.

  19. Belt slides work very well for OWB, but my complaint about them is two-fold. First, they do not completely cover the gun, and being the kind of guy who cuts corners and bangs into things, I prefer to have my gun barrel completely enclosed. Second–and this is from my experience with a single holster, by front site likes to catch on the bottom edge of the holster. So instead, for OWB, I opt for pancakes. There are dozens of people who make them, and in low ride and high rise models. The prices of a well-made leather holster has risen to around $100 bucks, plus or minus $10 in the last couple of years, so they are not cheap alternatives. My least favorite alternative to date was a Galco tunnel holster, where the belt goes through a slot at the back of the holster and then through a tunnel behind the gun. It completely failed to keep a 1911 tight against my side. I finally just ditched in the garbage.

    For IWB, my experience has been that single clips or straps do not work well for heavy handguns, such as 1911s. The gun will move around a lot, particularly with straps. For large frame guns, you should have two, preferably widely spaced attachment points. Smaller guns do just fine with single clips. I have one with a single metal clip and a 15 degree cant for a Kahr CW9 from High Noon that snuggles down just right behind my hips bone and is very comfortable and virtually invisible.

  20. If you carry concealed under a shirt, vest, or jacket, the “Pro Carry Belt Ride” custom leather holster from The Holster Store of St. Cloud FL (www.theholsterstore.net ) is a real bargain at $29.95. The Pro Carry Belt Ride is similar in design to the Askins Avenger style and constructed of stiff thick top quality cow hide wet fitted to secure a specific model handgun from a list of hundreds of handguns the company builds custom holsters for. The holsters options are black or brown, right or left hand, with an unnecessary slide guard option for another 10 bucks. I’ve carried my Pro Carry Belt Ride for a Kahr CM9 almost daily for a couple of years and it shows little to no sign of wear or breakdown and is obviously built to last. Other holsters offered by The Holster Store seem a little over priced in my opinion, but the Pro Carry Belt Ride is a quality secure OTW custom leather holster priced at a third or half of what similar custom leather holsters sell for. If anyone knows of a better quality holster for a lower price, please let me know.

  21. When I first saw the picture, I thought this was one of those “Everyday Carry Pocket Dump” features.
    Made me wonder where the guy lived!

  22. The simple solution I have come up with is buy everything that is left handed and that is discounted sharply. YMMV being a righty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *