Choosing a holster that isn’t just comfortable and well-made but is right for you – and properly made – is a process. It requires not only deciding how you want to carry your handgun, but knowing the ins and outs of drawing and re-holstering. It requires understanding what makes a holster safe and secure.
So although this is supposed to be a list of GLOCK 17 and GLOCK 19 holsters, we’re going to hit the pause button and run through some of the basics of holster selection.
What you want from your holster — whether it’s a concealed carry holster or for open carry — is good retention, coverage of the trigger guard, and secure placement. Your holster shouldn’t shift, slide, or come flying out of your pants when you draw your gun. How well these things are covered depends not only on the design of the holster, but also on the material from which it’s made. Remember, we are discussing on-body carry here.
For the sake of brevity we’re going to hit the high points rather than delving into all the minutiae of good holster material. There are quite a few options on the market today: Kydex, leather, hybrids, nylon…the list goes on. Each has its pros and cons, but some have pitfalls serious enough that you should think twice before spending your hard-earned dollars on them.
Whatever material you choose it’s highly preferable that it be molded to your gun’s model. Holsters without a precise shape don’t provide the retention or safety you need. That rules out nylon and other cloth holsters right off the bat because rather than being specifically-created designs, they tend to be pouches with stitched seams in varying shapes. Sometimes that shape is roughly the outline of your gun; sometimes that shape is a literal pouch. What those holsters do not do is securely retain your firearm or protect the trigger guard (among other things).
Of course, just because a holster is leather doesn’t mean it’s immediately a fantastic choice. For example there are things like the Urban Carry G2, an IWB bag/pouch/pocket of questionable design that’s both unsafe and a bit ridiculous. And if it’s made of soft leather, there’s little to no retention. And as the leather becomes worn out it can scrunch down into the trigger guard during holstering and cause an ND (yes, it happens).
Hybrids need to be mentioned as well. Although there are some great hybrid holsters out there, they have a few downsides, the most obvious of which is the way they crack, break, and generally fall apart over time. Because inexpensive hybrids are made of two different materials pinned together, the failure points tend to be cracking around those connecting points, rendering the holster unusable as it comes loose from its backing.
Am I saying you can never use a hybrid? Of course not, it’s your life and your gun, so use what you choose. I’m saying their shelf life is shorter and if I were to grade holster materials on a scale, hybrids would be down the list below Kydex and well-made leather.
Select a holster that’s molded to your gun’s shape. It should retain your firearm securely so you can bend over, run, and do whatever you want without risk of the gun falling out. No wiggling, shifting, or slipping allowed.
The holster should fully cover your gun’s trigger guard; covering the muzzle (or not) tends to be a matter of personal preference.
There should be a sight channel so the gun’s sights don’t snag during the drawstroke. It must not interfere with the controls, meaning the safety, mag release, whatever should not be activated by pressure from the holster.
Finally, the mouth of the holster must remain open after the drawstroke. This means a reinforced mouth on leather holsters and a solid design on Kydex models so the gun can be re-holstered without flagging your off hand or otherwise needing to pry it open so the gun goes back in.
For some time now I’ve been using the PHLSTR Glock Classic Holster with both Gen 3 and Gen 5 GLOCK 17s. The Classic is a Kydex holster designed for AIWB carry and features a raised teardrop to angle the muzzle away from your body. As a long-time AIWB carrier I’ve been pleased with it, to say the least.
Even with the additional width of the teardrop I haven’t had any issues concealing my GLOCKs, not even while wearing form-fitting shirts and skinny jeans. The Classic has a single loop which does hold the gun firmly in place; the holster hasn’t slipped or shifted. The teardrop is an awesome feature and holds the muzzle away from my body enough to make concerns of unwanted holes negligible. It’s a vast improvement over many, if not most, AIWB holsters I’ve used over the years.
I’ve run through a variety of drills while using this holster including Mas Ayoob’s MAG-40 qualification and have had no issues whatsoever. The Classic stays in place and my drawstroke is smooth and uninterrupted; the holster’s stiff, open mouth makes re-holstering easy. The PHLSTR GLOCK Classic has earned a permanent place in my carry rotation. I look forward to what founder Jon Hauptman plans to do in 2019.
MSRP $74.99. Check out PHLSTR’s lineup here.
Bear with me on some of these images; I’ve had my GLOCK 17s and 19s off at Cerakote and do not have the photos I wish I did for this piece. Taking close-ups of my holstered guns hasn’t been a constant past-time of mine. I have, however, used all of these holsters at length.
Galco is a favorite company of mine. They make a variety of great holsters that suit many of my needs for concealed carry, open carry, and hunting. The Combat Master belt holster is a stiff leather OWB pancake design I have for several guns – the GLOCK 19, Ruger SR1911, and Nighthawk Custom Mongoose – and one I have used during classes.
It retains the gun firmly, allows for a smooth drawstroke, and the mouth remains open for re-holstering. The butt-forward cant of the holster is not adjustable which can be frustrating if it does not suit your preferences but it has worked well for me thus far.
I’ve spent time doing a number of timed drills using the Galco Combat Master belt holster and have been pleased with the holster’s performance. Even when I paired it with a sub-par belt – I managed to break the clasp on my own belt and ended up borrowing one – it stayed put (the loops fit up to a 1 3/4-inch belt).
This is a leather holster molded to your gun’s model with double-stitched seams. It meets my criteria and the pile of Combat Masters in my “holsters I love” box speaks to how much I like it. Heck, getting the same holster, but for different models of guns says something. This is a belt holster suited to open carry; concealed carry requires an untucked, long cover garment.
MSRP $92.00. Check it out here.
This is one of those times I did take a quick holstered-gun photo with my cell phone. Blade-Tech is probably the one manufacturer that could give Galco some solid competition regarding which company’s holsters are featured most prominently in my holsters-I-actually-use collection.
The Blade-Tech Signature Holster is a Kydex precision-molded OWB holster of simple design that gets the job done safely and securely. In the above picture I was running not one of my own GLOCKs, but one belonging to Mas Ayoob – it’s a long story involving multiple review guns failing entirely during a trip – and his holster, too. I have the same holster and gun myself, but in this case they were far away and I was extremely grateful for the use of a reliable pistol and good holster.
The Blade-Tech Signature Holster comes with a TEK-LOK attachment to mount the holster to your belt not only snugly but locked down tight. TEK-LOK has a secondary locking mechanism and is impressively secure (it’s Blade-Tech’s design, too).
This is a simple, streamlined holster that has functioned well during high-round-count classes and classes requiring seemingly endless drawing and re-holstering. I recommend looking at all of the company’s offering and choosing the design that appeals to you. For example, I also like the Total Eclipse and the Klipt, the latter of which is designed for inside the waistband carry. If you dislike closed belt loops, try the Klipt.
MSRP $34.99. Check it out here.
This one’s a leather holster of different design although it is still a favorite. The DeSantis Cozy Partner is a one-piece stitched design with a closed muzzle and reinforced wings, among other features. As you can see it’s an IWB holster. It’s been a good holster for me; I carry AIWB almost exclusively, but sometimes carry IWB, too. Carrying one of my GLOCKs concealed is always like old home week since my first gun years ago was a GLOCK, but the Cozy Partner is a much better holster than the shall-remain-nameless thing I naively used in my early days of concealed carry.
The DeSantis Cozy Partner is molded to the shape of the GLOCK and has two closed loops which I like because it seems to stay in place more securely than many single-loop designs (yes, there are exceptions). It fits me comfortably and the wings on either side of the gun do a good job of preventing slippage, something I know is true because I’ve used this holster while practicing standing, kneeling, and prone drills one after the other.
It also has a single point tension screw which seems to remain at the tension it’s set at, allowing for slightly customized retention levels. It also has a heavily reinforced mouth. Let’s just say the mouth of this holster stays open reliably after you draw. There’s also a sweat guard to protect the gun from contact with your skin. Of all the holster I’ve listed this one has provided the most complete coverage. If you want your gun fully enclosed and guarded from sweat, this is the holster for you.
MSRP $81.99. Check it out here.
If you’re set on using a hybrid holster take a look at CrossBreed. Their newest holster is the Reckoning, one I’ve had for a few months now. It has multiple adjustable tension points – truss screws – so you can tighten the Kydex holster to the leather backer. That’s also a retention device under the trigger guard. According to the company it’s made for IWB, AIWB, and cross-draw carry and can also be used for OWB if you get the hardware to make it possible. I’ve used it with my GLOCK for appendix carry.
The CrossBreed Reckoning has stellar retention; there’s no denying it cradles my gun rather impressively. In fact, I have been pleased enough with the holster’s retention to do some yoga poses while wearing it…poses that require inversion and/or rotating my entire body over.
No matter what I did the gun stayed put and the holster itself did not slip. The dog thought I was crazy but it was worth it (you can tell the holster is there in this image):
This hybrid holster performs well right off which is really no surprise. Despite my hesitation with hybrids for long-term use I’ve had solid success with CrossBreed over the years while testing review guns.
The Reckoning concealment holster rides higher on its metal clips than some of my other AIWB holsters so if you dislike having a holster that holds your carry gun high above your belt, you’ve been warned. On the other hand it does fit my reach well when drawing so I can’t complain. The Kydex pocket remains open for re-holstering and the steel belt clips stay in place during use.
MSRP $64.95. Check it out here.
What gun holsters do you prefer and how many have you gone through over the years?