In this report I will discusses holster options for your everyday carry. As with everything connected with your everyday carry, holster preference and comfort is a personal choice. Just as with gun choice, there are “experts” who will tell you that you must use this type or brand of holster. While it may be worth the time to listen to them, you must make the decision based on a number of criteria which I will try to cover in this report.
Certain criteria must be taken into consideration when you chose a concealed carry holster. The intent of concealed carry is to prevent people from knowing that you are carrying a gun in the first place. Your carry method should not allow your gun to “print.” Printing is where people around you can see the gun through your outside garment. This does not mean that your outside garment is sheer and that they can literally see it, but rather the gun bulges out leaving a tale-tale protrusion that can obviously be seen as a gun. One criterion that all holsters must meet is that the trigger guard must be covered. This prevents you from getting your finger on the trigger prematurely. Another criterion for any quality holster is that the mouth is rigid and does not collapse when the gun is out. You must be able to easily replace the gun in the holster without fumbling around opening the holster mouth. Primarily criteria for choosing a holster are:
- Carry method
- Comfort vs Concealability
Carry Method: There are many ways to concealed carry.
- Strong side hip holster carry is one of the most prominent carry methods. Within this category there is the inside-the-waistband method and the outside-the-waistband method. The inside method tends to be less visible in that it is less likely to print. However, you will normally need a size larger waistband to accommodate this holster. Using the outside-the-waistband holster will normally require a larger shirt or jacket to hide your gun.
- The strong side hip holster is inconvenient to access while sitting.
- Cross draw is a favorite for people who are driving or spend a lot of time sitting. It is easy to unobtrusively access a cross draw gun/holster. Like the strong side hip holster, cross draw holsters come in inside-the-waistband and outside-the-waistband varieties.
- One main drawback of a cross draw holster is that as soon as you pull the gun out of the holster you are likely to be pointing the gun, or muzzling, someone or something that is not a target. To get on target you have to sweep the muzzle to get on target. This could create a dangerous situation in a stressful event.
- The small-of-the-back holster is a favorite for people who spend a lot of their time on their feet and wear clothing that is adequate to cover the gun/holster. But when you sit down in a normal chair, the gun/holster combination can press into your back to create a very uncomfortable lump at the base of your spine.
- This method of carry has the same drawback as the cross draw in that as soon as you pull the gun out of the holster you are surely muzzling someone or something that is not a target.
- Shoulder holsters are good for comfort as long as the gun is not too heavy. There are three primary shoulder holsters configurations available. One holds the gun upside down and the other holds the gun horizontal with the barrel pointing straight behind you. There are some manufacturers who are making shoulder holsters that have the gun upright with the barrel pointing down. Depending on the configuration, these take a great deal of practice to be able to use efficiently.
- There are some drawbacks to the shoulder holster. Having a heavy full-sized gun hanging from your shoulder all day can become tiresome. Also, the straps across the back can often be seen through the normal shirt. This type of holster normally requires a heaver outer garment like a suit coat or heavy sweater. This is where your imagination can help. Once again, the shoulder holster has the same drawback as the cross draw holster.
- Pocket holsters are handy if you are wearing pants with large, fairly roomy pockets. Pocket holsters normally are constructed of material on the outside of the holster that creates friction between it and the pocket. It may be tempting to just stuff the gun in your pocket when you are running out to the store but this temptation should be resisted. The two advantages to using a pocket holster instead of just shoving it in your pocket are 1) the holster holds the gun in a good position to easily grasp it, and 2) the holster helps prevent printing.
- This method of carry limits the size of gun you can carry without printing or constantly having to hike up your pants.
- Off-body carry is very common for women who chose to carry in their purse. There is a certain comfort aspect to this method since the gun is not on their body and forcing them to dress accordingly. There are a number of manufacturers making excellent concealed carry purses that are stylish and do not scream “Concealed Carry.” However, if you chose to carry in your purse you have to be very careful to not lose control of your purse, and therefore your gun. When you go to a meeting or another event you must keep your purse with you at all times. If you get up to go to the restroom or a breakout session and forget to take your purse with you, you have just lost control of your gun and available to any malefactor that wants to help himself to your stuff. Use of a concealed carry purse requires mastering certain techniques to access safely.
- Another potential off-body carry is the fanny pack. This is a very convenient carry method while engaged in some sporting activities such as biking. It also allows you to dress in lighter clothing without a concealment garment. The potential problem with the fanny pack is when you, for some reason, remove the fanny pack such as when you visit the restroom. Beware of hanging it on the hook in the stall and forgetting to retrieve it when you leave. Once again, you have just lost control of your gun.
Comfort: This may sound like a no-brainer but there are some holsters on the market that are completely comfortable to one shooter and the same holster is absolutely painful for another. For instance, some people much prefer the small-of-the-back design as they spend a lot of time on their feet. If at all possible, try a variety of holsters and carry methods before settling on one style. Given that we do not all dress the same each time we venture beyond our front door, you should investigate several styles of holster to suit your lifestyle.
You must also balance the comfort of carrying your choice of personal protection gun with the concealability of your chosen carry method. Whatever your personal comfort level, remember; concealed means concealed. There are some locales that will charge you if your concealed carry gun prints.
Price: There is a wide price range for concealed carry holsters. You can find the really inexpensive holsters made of nylon that can be very comfortable until you draw your gun and try to get it back into your comfortable piece of nylon. There are many good manufactures out there available to supply your needs within your budget. Typically, the Kydex holsters will be less expensive and, for the most part, very reliable. The main drawbacks are that they are a bit noisy when you draw your gun and being very stiff they can be a bit uncomfortable in the inside-the-waistband configuration. Quality leather holsters tend to be a bit more spendy but they overcome the drawbacks of the Kydex variety. There is also a blend of leather and Kydex that is very popular and reasonably priced.
Security: This is where you have to balance your ability to readily access your gun while denying some malefactor the ability to take it away from you. Security of your chosen carry holster is a combination of the holster itself and your chosen mode of dress.
Quality leather holsters will have a tensioning screw that enables you to make the holster tighter around your gun. This is where your personal preference and comfort in drawing comes in.
There are some Kydex (high tech plastic) holsters that have a release button that is activated by your index finger naturally, enabling you to draw your gun. Some training organizations have banned this type of holster because of the ease with which you can move your finger to the trigger, thereby causing a negligent discharge before the gun is on target. There are also some Kydex holsters that require you to drive your thumb down on the holster to release a security latch. These are used by a number of law enforcement departments. This type of holster is very secure but requires a more practice to become competent in its use. Quality Kydex holsters will also have a tensioning screw. I have never heard of a Kydex holster wearing out.
Accessibility: If you cannot readily access your concealed carry gun it may be of little or no use in a personal defense situation. For instance, one popular carry method that is very concealable is the belly band. This is just what it sounds like, a wide elastic band that wraps around your midsection under your outer clothing and has a “holster” and maybe a pouch for a spare magazine. While this is very secure and concealable, it can be a real challenge to access. While this is normally very affordable and concealable, I do not recommend this type of carry due to its accessibility challenge. Whatever you chose, take this into consideration.
Conclusion: As with all aspects of concealed carry, your personal preference will rule the issue. One thing is sure, if you take carrying seriously, over time you will build up a box full of many different types/styles of holsters that you have tried but have chosen not to use. Or you may have several holsters that you use for different occasions or purposes. This latter case really lends versatility to your carry method.
Carrying concealed is not just a matter of strapping on your personal protection gun and walking out the door. As with anything you do in life, you must become proficient in the use of your chosen holster. For more information about advanced training options, contact Falcon Personal Security.