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1911 Holsters Guide - How To Choose The Correct One

1911 in a black leather holster 1911 in a black leather holster 1911 in a black leather holster


When John Browning was designing his first M1911 pistol, he’d hardly realised that the pistol was soon to become the biggest American classic. And although more than a hundred years have passed since its introduction, the full size 1911 is still the world’s most popular handgun.

The 1911 still remains the main sidearm of many law enforcement agencies and military organizations all over the world. When it comes to the general public, there isn’t a single soul who wouldn’t have heard about it when it comes to the general public. All the major firearms manufacturers even produce their own line of 911s. And don’t get me even started on the vast aftermarket options available for this iconic firearm.

Talking about the aftermarket, the most crucial thing when it comes to open or concealed carry of your this quintessential American handgun is selecting the right holster for it. Thus, without further ado, let’s have a look at how to pick the best 1911 holster, what features such a holster must posses and what the best 1911 holsters are.


How to pick the best 1911 holster?


There are many things to take into consideration when choosing the right 1911 holster. Such a holster must definitely fit well and it needs to provide sufficient level of retention. To achieve the best possible fit, the holster should be molded on an exact replica of the pistol. If you get a holster built this way, you can be sure it will offer a high enough natural retention. However, increasing the level of retention is never a bad idea when talking about bigger guns, which is why the best 1911 holsters come with a thumb break or other retention enhancing devices.

Secondly, but not less importantly, your new holster needs to be as comfortable as it gets. How much comfort a holster provides often falls down to the material it's made of. This is why I believe the most comfortable 1911 holsters are made of leather. Leather is not only comfortable, but it's also easier to mold, thus providing much better fit than nylon or kydex. Moreover, a handgun as classy as the 1911 will look even better when carried in a stylish leather holster.

Even though I'm only mentioning it now, I believe that safety always comes first, especially when talking about a gun with such immense firepower as the .45 caliber 1911 is. That's why you definitely want to get a holster that not only offers enough retention, but also completely covers the pistol's trigger guard. And as you most probably carry the pistol for personal defense purposes, you also want a holster that makes your gun easily accessible and allows for a quick draw.

And then there's the level of concealment your holster offers and the carry style it comes in. The most popular types of 1911 holsters are definitely outside the waistband (OWB), inside the waistband (IWB) and shoulder holsters. While IWB and shoulder holsters are definitely better for concealed carry, OWB holsters provide higher carry comfort and make a better option in the states where open carry is allowed.


The Best 1911 OWB Holsters

If the CCW laws in your state allow you to open carry, then I’d definitely suggest you to rock your 1911 in a well-fitting OWB holster. These holsters offer great retention, quick draw, and also a high carry comfort, which is very important when considering how heavy a full-size pistol such as the 1911 is. These holsters have one major drawback - not all of them are suitable for everyday concealed carry. However, if you pick an OWB holster that has a relatively low profile and rides higher on your belt, you can also carry your 1911 concealed. Just don't forget to pick the right attire and cover garments. So, let's have a look at what the best available 1911 OWB holsters are.


#1 - Comfortable 1911 OWB holster

This holster is ideal for 1911 OWB carry. Made of premium Italian leather, it's super comfortable. The leather covers almost the entire trigger guard, which in combination with the thumb break makes carrying very safe. Moreover, it offers a great fit and retention as the holster is molded on the replica of your 1911. And even though it's carried OWB, the pancake designs gives the holster a very low profile, which allows for easy concealment.


#2 - 1911 belt side leather holster

This OWB holster is ideal for 1911 open carry. It covers the entire trigger guard of your pistol and it comes with a steel-reinforced thumb break, resulting in high safety and retention. The holster is thermo-molded on a 1911 replica, which delivers a perfect, glove-like fit. And although the entire barrel of your 1911 is covered, the holster leaves an opening where the trigger guard is, which is meant to speed up drawing and re-holstering.


#3 - 1911 high ride OWB holster

This is one of the best 1911 OWB holsters for concealed carry. The holster rides high on your belt, which means it's easy to cover it with a jacker or a button-up shirt. The high ride feature also makes it an ideal holster for driving. Just like the ones before, this holster also features a thumb break strap, which makes your 1911 very secure inside the holster. It's entirely made of premium Italian leather and thanks to the molding techniques applied, the holster fits this pistol like a glove.


#4 - Open Top 1911 OWB Holster

This OWB holster comes in the popular pancake style, which keeps it low profile and makes your 1911 easier to conceal. It also features an open-top design, making your pistol easily accessible and its draw very quick. The holster comes with 2 evenly spread belt slots, which secures great balance of your pistol on the belt. The holster comes with a perfect fit as the genuine Italian leather it's made of is wet-molded on the exact replica of a full size 1911. The entire holster is double-stitched, which makes it extremely durable.


The best 1911 iwb holster

If you’re looking for concealed carrying of your 1911, then IWB holsters and appendix holsters are your best choice. These holsters are ideal for deep concealment even of full-size handguns, but I’d definitely get one with a sweat guard. However, they might not be the most comfortable option. The exposed hammer and beavertail of your pistol could dig into your stomach or side and the 5-inch barrel further down your pants than in case of smaller guns. Moreover, carrying your pistol this way will also put a lot of weight on the waistband, which is why it’s smart to get a really solid gun belt. Despite these issues, IWB holsters are still the best and easiest option for 1911 concealed carry.


#5 - Open Top 1911 IWB Holster

This 1911 IWB holster is excellent for 1911 concealed carry. The open-top design makes your pistol easily accessible and although it leaves the hammer and beavertail exposed, it's not a real problem as it's very easy to hide with just a shirt. The holster comes with 2 evenly spread belt loops, which makes the attachment very quick and easy (you don't even have to take your belt off). The holster offers a very high natural retention as it's molded on the exact replica of your 1911. All of this makes it the best 1911 holster for deep concealed carry.


The best 1911 shoulder holster

And if you’re looking for something classy, then I’d suggest a 1911 shoulder holster. This carry style is also suitable particularly for full-size handguns. With a vertical orientation, your 1911 hugs close to your body, which makes its concealment much easier, especially when the rig comes with belt hooks. However, as a fully loaded 1911 is quite heavy, make sure you get a shoulder rig that distributes the weight evenly across your body.


#6 - Vertical 1911 Roto Shoulder Holster

This shoulder holster system is ideal for 1911 concealed carry. The pistol is carried in the vertical position, which makes it hug your side and easy to concealed even if your shirt or jacket isn't buttoned-up. The roto features allows for horizontal draw and the quick release strap makes your pistol very secure inside the holster. The rig comes entirely assembled and it also features a double mag pouch so that you can carry as much 1911 ammo as you need.


Conclusion - choose your 1911 holster wisely


If you want to truly enjoy this great American classic, choosing the right 1911 holster for it is a very important step. You need to make sure the holster boasts all the important qualities that make a great everyday carry holster - high safety, strong retention, perfect fit, accessibility, draw speed and premium material. At Craft Holsters, we offer 1911 holsters just like that. All the ones on the list above are made of fine Italian leather that's molded on the replica of this pistol, which delivers a glove-like fit.

If you're looking for open carry, then pick from a vast range of our 1911 OWB holsters. If on the other hand you'd like to carry your 1911 fully concealed, then get one of our 1911 IWB holsters or 1911 shoulder holsters. Any of these are a great choice for 1911 concealed carry.


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