Choosing the best concealed carry holster can be quite difficult and daunting. The CCW market never stops evolving and you can now choose from more carry guns than ever before. The best examples of what's how on the carry market right now are the Springfield Hellcat and SIG P365 (with all their variations), or the recently introduced Kimber R7 Mako.
The constant evolution, and to be honest, abudance of concealed carry guns means holsters makers have to keep evolving too and constantly update their offer. Why? Well, the last thing you want when it comes to concealed carry is a holster that doesn't fit your gun like a glove. And you also need to know how to choose a concealed carry holster.
If that's why you're here. then this guide is just for you. Today, we'll take a look at the best leather holsters for concealed carry and I'll also tell you a thing or two about everyday concealed carry.
What to look for in a concealed carry holster?
First of all, if you're asking yourself if you need a holster for concealed carry, stop. I mean, can you conceal carry without a holster? Sure thing, but you're putting your own life at risk. A well-made holster is the most essential thing to safe concealed carry.
Thankfully, you can now choose from more types and styles of holsters than ever before. However, not all of the available holsters are ideal for concealed carry, some of them might be even dangerous. Luckily, understanding what makes a great CCW holster isn’t as difficult as you might think.
Even if a particular holster is perfectly made, contours to every curve of your body, doesn’t stick into your gut or is very light and breathable, as long as it doesn’t feel right the moment you put it on, it’s just not worth your time and dime. After all, you don’t want to invest into something that ends up concealed in your chest of drawers, right?
Before I'll show you the very best CCW holsters, let's clear one thing off the table. If you're a casual gun owner or only carry for personal proteciton, get a concealed carry holster made of leather. The reason is simple - leather concealed carry holsters are comfortable, they look good, and, most importantly, if they're custom made (which they should be), they provide a great fit and high natural retention.
Now that you know what the best material for concealed carry holsters is, let's quickly look at the main benefits concealed carry holsters that are custom molded (built on the replica of your gun):
- High carry comfort
- Complete trigger coverage
- Sturdy and durable material
- Good concealability
- Perfect fit and high retention
- Firearm and skin protection
- A good and full grip on the firearm
- Quick draw and re-holstering
What is the best carry style and the best concealed carry holster?
Many people think concealed carry holsters are only the ones carried inside the waistband. Despite it’s often the case, holsters for CCW can’t be associated exclusively with IWB and appendix carry. Other popular styles of holsters for concealed carry are these:
- OWB holsters (yes, they are)
- Ankle holster
- Shoulder holsters
- Belly bands
- Pocket holsters
- Concealment bags (check out our Guide to off-body concealed carry)
Best inside the waistband concealed carry holsters
IWB holsters, also known as inside the waistband, are the most ideal option for concealing a firearm. They are great for CCW as they are carried between your pants and your underwear. Another advantage is that they keep your gun close to your body. Inside the waistband holsters are most frequently attached to the 1 o’clock or 4 o’clock position on the waistline. Those carried in the former position are also known as appendix concealed carry holsters. And here are 3 IWB and appendix holsters that I believe deserve the tag “the best IWB holsters for concealed carry”.
This is one of the best-looking leather concealed carry holsters for inside the waistband carry. Its open-top design provides quick access to your carry gun. The sweet spot of this concealed carry IWB holster is the double-stitching, which holds together all the important parts of the holster. There's also a partial sweat guard, which is an important feature when it comes to carrying inside your pants as it helps prevent your gun's finish from sweat and your skin from abrasion. As it's a strong-side holster, it works best attached to the 3 or 4 o'clock position.
This leather CCW holster is an excellent choice for appendix concealed carry. It's an equally great match for tiny carry guns such as the M&P Shield Plus, but it's also one of the best concealed carry holsters for Glock 19 and other mid-sized guns. This AIWB concealed holster features a steel clip, which makes its attachment super quick and easy. It's also equipped with a reinforced thumb break strap, which means it won't collapse even after years of constant concealed carry use. Just like most appendix holsters, it works best attached to the 1 o'clock position.
If you don't like to carry too many things on your belt, then try this concealed appendix holster with concealed magazine holder. The holster is reinforced with an extra layer of leather, which prevents it from collapsing upon draw and reholstering. The reinforced part also houses a steel clip, which allows for easy attachment. The holster features an open-top, quick draw design and a protective sweat guard. Thanks to the mag holder, this is a great choice especially for low capacity carry guns such as Glock 43.
Best Belly band holsters for concealed carry
Not much explanation is needed here, a belly band holster is simply a band that's carried wrapped around one's belly. These holsters are an excellent CCW choice for those who don't like belts or concealed carrying in the waistline position. Just like IWB holsters, a great concealed carry belly band holster should fully cover your gun's trigger. Belly bands are super easy to conceal, just don't overdo it with the number of covering layers as it might get a bit too sweaty.
This is one of the best belly band holster for everyday concealed carry. The entire belly band is made of soft and elastic material, resulting in tight yet comfortable gun carry. The belly band consists of multiple compartments - one of you gun, another for two spare clips, and the last one for other personal belongings. Your gun is secured in the holster by an elastic spring and the rest of your EDC by Velcro closing flaps. A belly band like this one is a great choice for female shooters who carry guns such as J-frame revolvers or Walther PDP F-Series.
best shoulder holsters for concealed carry
When it comes to concealed carry, shoulder holsters also come with a couple of problems. Concealed carrying in a shoulder holster isn't possible without a jacket and when it comes to horizontal rigs, you're often muzzling the people behind you. However, if you go for a well-fitting shoulder rig, made for your exact handgun, then you can surely conceal carry in a shoulder holster (especially those vertically-oriented). If you often wear a jacket or coat, concealed carrying in a shoulder holster is actually your best option. It's also a proven CCW carry style for colder months and climates. Last but not least, many undercover and off-duty police officers like to carry this way.
What's the best shoulder holster for concealed carry? Well, I'll show it to you now, but just in case you'd like to explore the world of CCW shoulder rigs, check out our recent Guide to shoulder holsters.
If you don't think shoulder holsters are good for concealed carry, this Vertical Roto Rig will prove you wrong. Carried in a vertical position, your gun and holster will contour your body well and neither the muzzle nor the grip part of your gun will stick out (as they would in a horizontal holster, especially with guns such as a full-size 1911). The roto feature is a highlight of this rig as it allows you to draw your gun in a horizontal position, which makes it quick and convenient. If you're looking for the best shoulder holster for concealed carry, this is it.
Best concealed carry ankle holsters
Ankle holsters are an excellent method for deep concealed carry. It's also a great carry style for your backup gun. Unless you're wearing tight pants, there's no printing and your gun remains fully concealed. When concealed carrying in an ankle holster, however, your gun is harder to reach and you might feel slight discomfort and risk losing some leg hair. In spite of it, they are still a viable CCW option and here's a tip for a great concealed carry ankle holster.
This ankle holster is ideal for deep concealed carry of your secondary gun. It's made of high-quality cordura material and it will sit on your leg with great stability thanks to the two adjustable Velcro straps. The holster features a removable thumb break strap, which increases its retention and safety. The holster is custom fitted to your handgun and it's available for both right and left-handed shooters. Simply put, it's one of the best concealed carry ankle holsters out there.
Best owb concealed carry holsters
Let's wrap our CCW guide with the most unlike style for concealed carry - OWB holsters. While outside the waistband holsters don't offer as much concealment as IWB holsters, there's still some that will help you understand that concealed carry in owb holsters actually is quite possible. Compared to IWB holsters, the best OWB holsters for concealed carry deliver much more comfort. You've also got easier access to your firearm and better grip on it. And if an OWB holster comes with a low profile and rides high on the belt, it also becomes rather easy to conceal. And if you've read our recent OWB holsters guide, you already know what the best concealed carry OWB holster is.
This custom leather holster has got everything a great OWB concealed carry holster needs. First and foremost, the holster rides high on the belt, which makes it easy to conceal. This also makes it a viable car concealed carry option. It comes with a thumb break strap, which secures the firearm and prevents it from falling out. The leather conceals the entire trigger, but it's also cut out to allow for quick draw and re-holstering. The holster features an open-bottom design, allowing for minor muzzle attachments.
Qualities of a great concealed carry holster
The rule of the thumb is that your new concealed carry holster must feel right. And if you've just got a holster that doesn't, you should return it immediately. But even if it does, it doesn't automatically make it the best CCW holster. Thus, before you make your choice, consider the following areas:
- Trigger coverage - Make sure the holster covers the entire trigger of your gun and as much of the trigger guard area as possible. You don't want to risk any accidental discharge, do you?
- Holster material - Your CCW holster can't be flimsy and it should therefore be made of sturdy material. Both leather and kydex offer sufficient sturdiness and they retain their shape even after years of use.
- Concealability - This one might seem obvious. The more a particular holster conceals your gun, the better. And unless you've got an open carry permit, you want as much concealment as possible. However, even if a holster conceals your gun completely, it doesn't mean it's your best CCW choice. You need take many more things into account and ultimately try and find balance between concealment and comfort.
- Fit and retention - The best concealed carry holster must fit your gun like a glove. Great fit also results in high retention. A holster's retention can be further enhanced by a number of different retention devices such as a thumb break strap or tension screws.
- Gun and skin protection - Most CCW holsters are in direct contact with your skin. That's why you need to get one that protects both you and your gun. Leather holsters are the most comfortable ones, but if it gets hot, they might make you sweat a lot. To prevent your gun's finish from sweat, it's best if your concealed carry leather holster comes with at least a partial sweat guard. At the same time, the sweat guard will protect your skin from abrasion.
- Easy access and full grip - You carry your gun for protection, right? And as you never know where danger lurks, your holster should offer quick and easy access to your gun. At the same time, the best concealed carry holster needs to allow full combat grip (this means you can draw, deactivate safeties, and shoot with just 1 hand). If it doesn't, I'm afraid you'll have to look for a new one.
Concealed carry isn't all about IWB and appendix holsters and pretty much any carry style can be utilized for concealed carry. And (to some surprisingly), it's not all about concealment. Your new CCW holster should offer more than that and ideally come with all the qualities listed above. And you'll have to practice the CCW draw and re-holstering as often as you can. Your life might depend on it.
Do you want to find out more about concealed carry? Then you shoud check our these articles:
- Concealed Carry In Your Car - You can find the best concealed carry holster for driving here.
- Summer Concealed Carry - Contains the list of best concealed carry holsters for summer
- Off-body Concealed Carry Guide - Containst the list of the best off-body concealed carry choices
- 10 CCW mistakes - You want to avoid these mistakes when concealed carrying
- SIG P365 review - Read this if you want to find out what makes the SIG the best concealed carry gun and what the best concealed carry holster for P365 is.
- Concealed Carry for Hunters - Wanna make sure you go right about concealed carry when hunting? Then check out this guide full of tips & tricks for anyone who wants to conceal carry in nature.