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In the video below, The Range at Austin‘s resident gun guru and TTAG contributor Jeff Gonzales takes newbies through the holster selection process. There’s a question about holster selection that Jeff fails to address . . .

How many holsters a gun schlepper has to try before he or she finds a carry system that works.

This trial-and-error journey is frustrating, leading to shoe boxes filled with abandoned holsters. Which is great for the holster industry and expensive and annoying for the gun owner.

But whatchugonnado? Even if you try-before-you-buy, walking around a gun store is not the same as carrying your gun all day.

How many holsters do you have malingering around the house, doing nothing to justify their cost? How many do you have that you actually use? What type and brand?

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  1. How many holsters? Ha! I’ve had as many holsters as I’ve had shoes in my life. I buy and sell them almost compulsively. I even buy holsters on speculation (for possible future guns)! I have a box full of orphans still.

    I still use a wide variety of field carry holstersn having never arrived at the perfect solution.

    For concealed carry, I have used only Milt Sparks holsters and mag carriers for years. You cannot beat real quality leather.

    • Milt Sparks is one of the best for leather. However, leather requires break-in, and is a slower draw than Kydex.

      Kydex can be uncomfortable if not made right and can be very noisy depending on how it is designed.

      I find to be relatively quiet and comfortable. They are one of the few makes who offer a wide choice of cant. I carry their IWB with a 30degree cant.

      The 30 degree is more radical than most makers offer, but it offers great concealability

      • I have never found that a properly fitted leather holster required break-in. Well, perhaps, in the case of belt loops with snaps, they do improve with use…

    • “We are currently quoting 12-18 weeks on delivery!”

      3 to 4.5 month wait? Minimum of $100? I think I’ll stick to Kydex.

      My fav hoster ever was made by a local guy in his garage (cottage industry) and charged me $35. It’s the best cant adjustable IWB I’ve ever had for attaching, removing, deploying and re-holstering.

    • Yep, Milt Sparks Summer Special for the past 8 years…….tried too many to count until I got the Sparks. Their website does state 12-18 weeks for delivery but you may be able to find common fits (Glock, 1911, etc) on them through Brownell’s….or at least you used to be able to.

  2. I have determined that many holster makers don’t carry. If they did, they would know that their holsters suck.

    I find that many people recommending holsters have no idea how to properly draw. Their holster, that they love, actually impinges their draw, but they don’t know it.

    I stopped taking advice from other shooters on holsters as most have not compared enough different holsters to understand how one might be better than another.

  3. My favorite holster for my favorite carry gun is a kydex holster I made myself (I did buy the clip/not magazine). But, yeah I have gone through a couple of dozen less than ideal holsters over the last couple of dozen years.

  4. I started with and stuck with one brand/type of holster..StealthGear Ventcore IWB. One for each carry gun I own (5 now). They are pricey, but I see them as ‘buy-once, cry-once’ kind of things. I love them and have never regretted those purchases.

    • +6 on Stealth Gear

      I started off with Comp-Tac a while back. I still prefer Comp-Tac C-clips, but I still rock an old Comp-tac belt that fits ’em. I’ve put those on a Stealth Gear Holster and it worked out fine.

      Otherwise, SG Ventcore all the way. Best possible material for being against your skin, kydex fit and retention, and lots of adjustment for ride height & cant.

      I can’t speak for SG’s newer rubbery-backed holsters. But a Ventcore holster on a Kydex reinforced Comp-Tac belt has worked well for me. You can’t leave a good belt out of the equation. At least not in my experience.

    • Same here – I wear a SG ventcore IWB mini all the time (it’s not as wide as the standard). My only complaint is the front serrations on my slide eat it up inside. Mine holds my CZ SP-01 Shadow (relatively heavy vs. tupperware guns) on a stiff gun belt so comfortably I sometimes reach to make sure I’m actually carrying. I can (and do) sleep with it on all the time, though not intentionally. I see no reason to even try anything else.

    • I wore the Stealthgear IWB for years. If you’re going to carry it you need to use at least one of the under the belt J-Hooks. The over the belt clips will fail and you will draw your holster — If you train with your this setup then you already know this. On the flip side of that coin, If you do use the J-Hooks all of the weight of the gun/holster is on the waist-band of your jeans instead of the purpose built gun belt. I still have my OWB Stealthgear holster but, after a couple years of product testing, the IWB ventcore’s have been sold on Armslist.
      I carry a Tulster Holster w/ pull-the-dot snaps for IWB — small footprint, great retention, vacuum bonded kydex & built in my home town Tulsa.

  5. I started with Serpa, looked like I had a loaf of bread under my shirt, then went to Crossbreed and decided IWB sucked for me, then a Garrett STX 2.0 OWB, which was great, but only level 1 retention.
    Friend and fellow firearms instructor started making holsters. Unbelievable tight to body and for $ 55.00 is the best holster I’ve worn. Have ended my journey of looking for the perfect holster. Carry Sig P226.

    • Same here I sold all my other holsters and now buy light tucks. The steel clip is awesome. Been wearing my Glock 43 for a year and shows no wear. The plastic clips on other would stretch or break after 6 months. Leather retains to much moisture for iwb carry.

  6. Method of carrying factors in too…

    With appendix carry, there is a lot of detail that goes into making a holster that works well for you and your body type and mode of dress.

    I tried a lot of options before discovering JM Custom Kydex – now they are all I use.

  7. eight. if the colt detective “hip grip” panels count as one. and i’ve never actually used the floppy suede one for the p380; mexican carried that thing, hated it, only one i’ve ever sold.
    el paso for the mkll, but that’s for the range.
    my favorite is an r. grizzle, but it’s not tuckable. so the go to has become seconds from crossbreed all in the “freedom carry” config. adjustable cant, single clip placed arrears to help pull things in tight, and hair dryer adjustable retention.
    the ppk design is fine for any clone (pa63 for sure) like the bersa reviewed above, just don’t get the “makarov” as it will be too loose.

  8. The next time the local range / club hosts a gun show, I’m going to suggest a “holster xchange” table.

    • Man, that’s actually a great idea! That could even give people who aren’t necessarily in the market to buy something another good reason to go to a gun show.

  9. Remora and Sticky for appendix carry. IWB on my hip is murder on my back, so I am using a BladeTech for the G23, and leather snap retention holsters for everything else. I tried the serpa and a couple of other OWBs before settling on what my current choices.

  10. Too many to count. These days each of my carry guns has an IWB, OWB and a shoulder holster then of course there’s all the discards that didn’t work. It’s exhausting and expensive but once you’re done it’s pretty well worth it.

    Generally these days I have a go-to brand for each type-o-holster regardless of gun. For shoulder holsters, unfortunately, that’s mostly custom work out of Europe. The price isn’t terrible but the lead times make you want to cry.

  11. Ive gone through 40 or 50 holsters in the last 25 years.
    Belt strong side when I lived in NY.
    I use now almost exclusively Black Arch IWB for my 6 or 7 carry guns.
    No jacket wearing here in Florida. Just T-shirts.

  12. I’ve had a lot of holsters. Some good, some bad and some great. They are a personalized device that might work great for some people and not others. I carry my IWB from Greymansolutions 90% of the time with a G26 and spare mag. I have about 4 others that fill special niches for tactical, hunting, an extra handgun, working out and long range vehicular tactical in both my G26 and G17. I plan on one more for dress occasions in which its slacks and tucked shirt but no vest or jacket.

  13. 3rd time was the charm for me – Tuckable IWB Kydex with Utili-clip3 from Concealment Express – Multiple height adjustments, 15 Deg. adjustable, multiple mount options. Surprisingly comfortable appendix carry for a double stack 9mm compact that I carry from 6am to 9pm every day – Driving, sitting at a desk, running around a facility. Really happy. Disturbed me how uncomfortable a leather holster can be, and the cheaper fabric ones are useless if not just dangerous. I sometimes use a Hi-Noon Holsters Hidden Ally tuckable but the belt clip will tack a finger off and I don’t always want a belt. I use a Mr. Softy leather IWB also from High Noon Holsters when I carry my Colt Mustang .380 – It’s already so small that the Holster hardly makes a difference, I just prefer to carry a 9.

  14. Mitch Rosen leather and Norcal Kydex for IWB, Blue Ridge OWB kydex. Two of those companies no longer exist.
    For my snubbie, Sideguard IWB leather and Old Faithful hybrid. One of those companies no longer exists.
    Been through probably 40 holsters, including for guns I sold. (BTW, most of those holster makers no longer exist .)

  15. “How many holsters a gun schlepper has to try before he or she finds a carry system that works.”

    The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

  16. Got a dresser drawer full of brand name holsters I don’t use. Big investment wasted. For my two EDC I like cheap generic leather or nylon holsters.

  17. same here. too many. best ones are crossbreed iwb, but can’t take the weight around the waist anymore. saw an ad for a leather shoulder holster that had a strap in the back about kidney level and no tie downs. anyone help me?

  18. I have a kydex IWB with two clips and the ability to tuck a shirt in which I keep for occasions where shirt tucking is necessary.

    I have another Tulster IWB kydex for normal EDC.

    • +1 for Tulster.
      Owner Justin Courtney is a competitive shooter and trains here in Tulsa. Makes a great holster with high end processes. He’s not bending kydex by hand with wood clamps — these are vacuum bonded rigs with amazing retention and trimmed precisely to minimize footprint. Uses a standard 1.5″ clip or opt for the pull-the-dot snaps. The black carbon fiber is made of Boltron if that’s your thing — Great holster and a good dude.

  19. I have only one holster for my EDC- a Crossbreed Supertuck Deluxe, with the horsehide upgrade. It carries my Glock 17 wonderfully. Been carrying almost every day (who wants to put on a belt when you’re sick?) for 4 years, and paired with the Wilderness Tactical instructor belt, it’s so comfortable its ridiculous.

  20. My go-to holster is from Aliengear. Comfy, modular and lots of left hand options.

    However, I often carry a big-ish revolver, either a Ruger GP100 Wiley Clapp 3 inch or a S&W 627 PC, the 2 inch snubbie.

    For those two I went to Privateer Leather. Wes Dahl makes an awesome, custom fitted holster, not cheap, but should last forever. And Wes is friends with author/gun guy Larry Corriea and has Larry’s permission to use the Green Smiley Face Monster image from Monster Hunter International. Can’t beat that for cool.

  21. The hardest time I had was finding a holster for a 1911 that actually kept the pistol tight. A couple of name brand and a Sideguard, none worked. Ended up with a High Noon DownUnder IWB which is rough side out, smooth side in, single clip. The High Noon clips are monsters; very stiff with nothing to get your finger under, so very hard to get on or off or adjust. but once there, they work very well. I have another for my Kahr that is my EDC. For the Kahr I also have a Kirkpatrick Leather OWB pancake that is very comfortable (just less concealing). I do have a Remora that is pocketable, but that is no longer in use.
    None of my revolvers are CCWs; so for those I have four different “Western” custom holsters (Purdy Gear, H&H, Kirkpatrick and Wolf Ears–although I think the Wolf Ears guy passed) and a couple of belts, plus a Mike’s that I bought not to carry anything but just as storage protection (heh, for $10 it is great). The Purdy Gear was the most expensive and the longest wait, but the highest quality as well. A hand carved “Sacramento” 49er holster for a 7 1/2″ Colt percussion pistol and a custom belt with a Civil War style cavalry buckle. Truly a work of art.

  22. Huh. I must be weird. I’ve bought one IWB and one OWB holster for each of my larger carry guns, an IWB and a pocket holster for my subcompact, and an OWB for my 1911. All have been more than satisfactory on the first try. All the holsters in my drawer are in constant use.

  23. I went through one before I found what worked. First one was a galco summer, G26, and it moved around too much around my belt.

    Looked at crossbreed-style and ended up with White Hat Holsters from TX. Amazing stuff, horse hide, kydex. Kydex is replaceable via Chicago screws so you can use the same backing for multiple guns if you so choose. Complete lifetime warranty, and the owner has gone above and beyond for helping with the smallest things, and he makes it absolutely worth buying.

  24. I own lots of holsters. Milt Sparks, Kramer, Blade Tech, Mitch Rosen, Galco, El Paso Saddlery, etc. Buy quality, you’re betting your life on it. I just ordered over $400 worth of leather from El Paso and considered it a bargain.

    • Expensive does not always equal quality product. You can buy a garbage kydex holster for about the same as a great quality kydex holster… Quality leather makes a statement about the man. It says I’m old school and proud of it & don’t like the look/ feel of the plastic holsters. Generally these are the same guys that will not buy/ carry a “plastic” gun (Glock…) and carry a 1911, CZ, or the like. I would like to have a Milt Sparks Summer Special 2 for my G19, but its more of a want than a need. My Tulster does the job perfectly for half the price.

  25. Two, counting the one I use now, only because I changed guns (gave the LC9 to a relative that has shot enough revolvers they can hit something with such a long trigger. LC9S has improved it though.). They’re both the same style: DeSantis intruder, worn 2:30-4 depending on what I’m doing. May have been overkill for something as tiny as an LC9, but works well with my current full size handgun.

  26. Apex Tactical Apollo AIWB kydex. Due to a shoulder problem appendix carry is my only
    option and Apex Tactical is my go to.

  27. More of the same boring ass subjects? What holster, what caliber, what firearm-for beginner, 9mm vs .40-.357 Sig etc. God, how many times do we have to trudge through the same dull BS?

    It all depends on the person and the intended us. As have said countless times, it’s far more important to get training, practice and carry. It makes little difference what caliber really as long as you can hit your target. You can carry a snub-nose .38 and if you possess a clean quick draw and can hit your target, chances of surviving an DGU encounter are almost assured.

    What irks me the most are the people who want a gun, so they run out and get a carry permit, depending on jurisdiction, buy a gun, but it sits in the drawer at home because they won’t go to a class and know a big fat NOTHING about their gun. I know two folks who did it. My neighbor and another friend. Both with permits and a handgun of some various make and they’ve never fired the thing let alone carried it.

    So when the question pops up as to what holster, caliber, make/model etc. I couldn’t hardly give a flying bat crap. Practice and carry it…THAT is what’s going to make the difference.

  28. Lots of holsters.

    My preferred holster is the DeSantis Mini-scabbard. I carry a P225 in the winter and a P290RS in the summer.

    I wish they would make a mini-scabbard for the P226R.

    I always have my S&W 649 in my left, front pocket in a Mika pocket holster.


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