The Ultimate Guide To The Best Concealed Carry Holsters [2021 Edition]
Choosing the best concealed carry holster can be quite difficult and daunting. The CCW market offers more concealed carry options than ever before. But beware, not every holster labelled concealed really is suitable for CCW carry. So, it’s important you pick a holster that’s really meant for concealed carrying of your gun. Are you not sure how to do that? This guide will help you find the answer to how to choose the best concealed carry holster.
What to look for in a concealed carry holster?
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, if it doesn’t feel right the moment you put it on, it’s just not worth a dime. After all, you don’t want to invest in something that ends up concealed in a chest of drawers
Besides from being comfortable, an ideal holster for concealed carry should come with these qualities:
- 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 holsters types are best for concealed carry?
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 (which you can find more about here)
Best IWB concealed carry holsters
IWB holster, also known as inside the waistband holster, 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 holsters. And here are 3 IWB and appendix holsters that I believe deserve the tag “best IWB concealed carry”.
This holster rightfully deserve no.1 spot on our list as it was designed specifically for everyday concealed carry. It works as a great IWB or appendix holster, offering everything an ideal CCW holster should. The leather is very sturdy and it covers almost the entire trigger guard. The open-top design results in a quick draw and easy re-holstering, plus it offers full grip on the gun. The body shield protects both the skin and gun's finish. On top of that, the tuckable design allows for deep concealment - you can tuck a layer of garment into the holster, rendering your gun almost invisible.
This is yet another excellent CCW holster. It's designed for IWB and AIWB concealed carry as it works best if carried in the 1 or 4 o'clock waistline position. Thanks to the steel-reinforced thumb break, this holster offers excellent retention. The holster is wet-molded on the exact replica of your pistol or revolver, which results in perfect, glove-like fit. And as the holster features a steel clip, its attachement to one's pants or belt is super quick and convenient.
No. 3 on our list is a perfect concealed carry set, including an AIWB holster and clip 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 the steel clip, which allows for easy attachment of the holster to one's waistline. The holster features an open-top design for quick draw and it's also equipped with a sweat guard, protecting both the skin and gun's finish. The extremely slim profile makes this one of the best everyday concealed carry sets.
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. This CCW belly band is available in up to XXL size and it can be made for pistols and revolvers of virtually any size.
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, in our recent guide to shoulder holsters, it's mentioned that shoulder holsters are still a viable option for everyday concealed carry (mainly when it comes to the ones aligned vertically). 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. But what's the best concealed carry shoulder holster? Well, I believe I've got the answer.
Vertical shoulder rigs are a great concealed carry choice. As the gun is in vertical position, its muzzle doesn't point at anyone behind you. They are a bit more difficult to draw from, which is why I'm introducing this specific rig to you. The roto feature allows you to draw your gun in a horizontal position, which makes it quick and convenient. Moreover, the system features a double ammo pouch, so you don't have to carry spare mag holders that would otherwise consume space on your belt. If you adjust the rig well, it will instantly become the most comfortable concealed carry holster.
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 - OWB holsters. While outside the waistband holsters don't offer nearly as much concealment as IWB holsters. However, carrying your gun OWB style is definitely more comfortable. 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. 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. All in all, this is the best OWB holster for concealed gun carry.
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 shoulder 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.