As you may well know, searching for the best holster for your gun might take hours on end. It's time that you could spend in a completely different way, for example by testing out your new carry gun at the range.
So, in order to rid you of the troublesome chore of finding the right holster for your semi auto or revolver, I've put together quite a comprehensive holster guide (at least I hope so!).
Not sure which carry style to choose? Well, this guide includes a list of the most popular holster styles, outlining both their pros and cons. And if you decide which way you want to carry your gun, each section comes with 2 best selling holsters as far as the particular carry style goes.
So, if you want to find out which carry style suits you best and which holster to get, read on, it'll only take a while to choose your new custom holster. And that's a promise!
#1 - Inside the waistband holsters
Inside the waistband holsters (simply known as IWB holsters) are probably the best and most popular holster style for everyday concealed carry. Just like the name suggests, IWB holsters are carried inside one's pants, which means they completely conceal your hadngun. This feature makes them an ideal choice for gun owners who live in states with strict CCW laws.
These holsters are sometimes also called appendix holsters, as many of them allow for both strong side carry (3 o'clock) as well as appendix carry (1 o'clock). Apart from super easy concealment, IWB holsters also offer high retention and prevent anyone from snatching your gun away. This style is ideal mainly for those who like to carry concealed and own carry guns such as SIG P365, Glock 43 or Springfield Hellcat. A disadvantage of holsters carried IWB style is that they aren't really ideal for full-sized handguns. Carrying a 5 inch semi auto or perhaps an 8 inch Judge inside one's pants might result in a significant discomfort.
Do you like concealed carry holsters? Well, let's now have a look at 2 best IWB holsters that will meet your needs no matter how demanding you are.
This might be the best concealed carry holster in the entire guide. This leather IWB holster features an open-top design, which results in easy access and a very quick draw. Even though it's got no leather safety strap, the holster is molded on a replica of your gun, which grants it perfect fit and high retention. If you need a CCW holster that not only conceals well, but also allows you to draw quickly, then you need this holster.
This is a great example of an IWB holster that can also be carried in the appendix position (1 o'clock belt position). This leather appendix holster comes with a steel clip, which makes its attachment very quick and convenient. This 2 in 1 holster is also equipped with a leather safety strap, which makes enhances the holster's retention. If you look for a versatile IWB holster, you've just found it.
#2 - outside the waistband holsters
While IWBs are mainly meant for deep concealed carry, outside the waistband holsters (simply known as OWB) are designed for open carry purposes. As OWB holsters are carried outside one's pants, they deliver great carry comfort and are an excellent choice for anyone who lives in a state allowing for open carry. There's also a specific group of OWB holsters known as duty holsters, which are ideal for Law Enforcement or military professionals.
Sometimes refered to as strong side holsters or hip holsters, this type of holsters is excellent anyone who carries mid-sized guns such as the Glock 19 or full-sized 1911s. One negative of OWB holsters is that they can be quite difficult to conceal. However, there are types of OWBs that aren't that tricky to hide, known as pancake holsters.
The first open carry holster on our list comes in an open-top design. Thanks to the pancake-like construction, this leather OWB holster boasts a very slim and low profile, which makes it easier to conceal than most outside waistband holsters. This hip holster is meant for anyone who prefers high carry comfort and easy access to their gun. On top of all these features, this leather OWB pancake holster comes with a partial sweat guard.
I hope this holster won't give you diabetes as it's another sweet looking pancake on our. Unlike the previous one, this leather OWB holster features a leather safety strap, securing your gun inside the holster and enhancing its retention. This holster offers multiple carry positions, giving you an option to use it as a cross-draw holster. Thanks to its construction, this leather pancake holster also isn't too hard to hide.
#3 - shoulder holsters
Even though shoulder holsters have started falling out of use, they're still very classy and, most importantly, they do their job. It's true that in summer they can't be used for concealed carry, however, when colder months kick in, they become one of the best CCW holster styles.
A huge benefit of shoulder holster is that they are ideal for drivers or on-duty professionals and that they allow for multiple carry positions. While horizontal shoulder rigs are better for smaller guns, shoulder holster systems with vertical carry position concealed even the biggest guns. This carry style probably isn't best for those suffering from shoulder pain. On the other hand, if you get a shoulder holster system, you'll also be able to carry lots of spare ammo, housed inside magazine pouches used as counterweight.
If you're looking for a great looking and very comfortable way of carry, then leather shoulder holsters might be your best option. And in case you end up getting one of our shoulder holster bestsellers below or simply want to learn more about the benefits of shoulder holsters, don't forget to check out our shoulder holster guide, available here.
Shoulder holster bestsellers
The shoulder holster for horizontal carry is ideal mainly for compact to mid-sized handguns. This leather shoulder holster features a thumb break strap, increasing the security of your handgun. The system also includes a counterbalance magazine pouch and it can be also used as regular belt holster. Want some Miami Vice vibes? Then get this holster.
This leather shoulder holster is meant for vertical carry and it's an ideal way how to conceal bigger pistols, especially in winter. This shoulder system also comes with a counterbalance pouch for 2 mags or speed loaders. The holster features a roto system, allowing you to draw your gun in a more convenient horizontal position. If you need a highly functional shoulder holster, get this one.
#4 - Cross-draw holsters
There's no doubt that cross-draw holsters are the best carry style for anyone who spends hours on end driving or has an office job. Cross draw holsters are also a great choice for anyone who experiences shoulder pain or is after a surgery (as far as their dominant arm goes). They are also quite popular among older shooters and hunters, and they come with a significant Old West vibe.
Unfortunately, these holsters don't really offer many more benefits than that. Cross body holsters are considered outfashioned by most shooters, which is why not that many holster makers make them anymore. However, if your cross-draw holster is well made or perhaps offers some alternative carry positions, it's still worth a try.
Cross Draw bestsellers
This across body holster is a great choice for drivers or "white collars". However, as it comes with a leather strap, it's also a great holster for hunters who carry even the biggest revolvers available, which calls for as much retention as possible. This leather cross draw holster features 2 evently spaced belt slots, which improves stability on the belt, no matter the size of your gun.
While listed under cross draw holsters, this piece of leather is actually much more than that. The multiple slots for belt attachment on the back part of the holster allow you to use it as a standard OWB holster, but it can be also used as an SOB holster. When used for cross body carry, this leather holster offers excellent drawing angle. If you're looking for a versatile and flexible leather holster, pick this cross-draw.
#5 - small of the back holsters
Talking about popularity of holster styles, small of the back carry (often called SOB) would probably come in last. There aren't really many gun owners who'd choose middle of back holsters as their main carry option, however, some shooters can still appreciate their benefits. One of such benefits is that they come in both palm in and palm out design, which is not the case with most other carry options.
A great advantage of SOB holsters is that they can't be spotted by anyone who's standing in front of you. On the other hand, just like some shoulder holsters, drawing from a small of back holster makes you muzzle those standing behind you. For some, drawing this way might also be quite painful and this holster style isn't the most ideal one if you set out on a hike (falling on your back could even get you paralyzed).
Small of the back bestsellers
This leather SOB holster comes with a palm in design and even though it doesn't feature a safety strap, the way its molded results in a very high natural retention. The holster is sometimes also called grizzly, which might give you an idea who it's ideal for - big guys. This SOB holster is equipped with a belt slot and belt tunnel, which gives it excellent stability on your belt. The top side of the holster also comes with a strenghtened leather, preventing the opening from falling apart.
Yes, I've already mentioned this holster. While it was previously listed under cross-draws, it can also be used as a middle of back holster. Apart from these 2 positions, you can also use it as a dominant side holster. When used as an SOB holster, it offers a palm in draw. The holster also comes with a retention strap, making your gun extremely secure, which is much needed when it comes to the SOB carry style.
#6 - Light and laser bearing holsters
Talking about the most popular holster styles, we sure can't omit light bearing holsters. Why? Because tactical lights and lasers are without a doubt some of the most popular aftermarket handgun accessories. And that's exactly the reason why I have to show you these two holsters for guns with light and/or laser.
And just in case you'd like to have more light bearing holsters to choose from, check out our recent list of best light holsters, available here.
Light holster bestsellers
This outside waistband light holster is ideal for anyone who prefers open carry and likes to attach a Streamlight, OLIGHT, SureFire or any other popular tac ligh onto their pistol. This leather light bearing holster is best carried in the 3 or 4 o'clock belt position as it comes with a slightly forward leaning cant. The leather covers your entire gun and light and the steel-reinforced strap delivers great retention and durability.
If you're a fan of shoulder carry and tactical lights, this holster is just made for you. The leather light holster is designed for horizontal shoulder carry. The system also features a counterbalance magazine pouch, which makes it even more tactical. No matter the size of your gun and attachment, this leather shoulder holster for guns with lights is a great choice.
other holster styles
No, the world of holsters isn't restricted to the carry styles and holster designs mentioned above. There are plenty of other ways how to carry your gun, each offering some pros and cons.
When it comes to tactical carry, drop leg holsters are the obvious choice. In case you're an on-duty professional, duty holsters might be your best choice. And if you're tired of taking constantly having to take your belt off, you should consider getting yourself a paddle holster, offering quick and simple attachment.
The world of concealed carry doesn't end with IWB and appendix holsters. A great alternative way how to conceal your gun are belly band holsters or even ankle holsters, provided your back isn't giving you much trouble. And if you'd like to try out something completely different, there's always plenty of off-body carry options available, the most popular being concealed carry bags and even concealed carry purse holsters, ideal mainly for female shooters.
Conclusion - choosing the best holster for your gun
Which holster is the best options for your handgun? Well, as I don't really know what your gun model is and what purpose you use it for most often, I can hardly tell you which holster to buy.
However, I can still give you some advice. First of all, no matter what your pistol is, your new holster should fit it like a glove. Luckily, all of the holsters featured in this guide are made just like that. Secondly, the construction of your next holster should meet your gun's purpose. If you're only allowed to carry concealed, you should go for concealed carry holsters that are really easy to hide and don't cause any discomfort even when carried inside your pants.
On the other hand, if you live in an open carry state, it's more comfortable to carry OWB style or to strap on a neat shoulder holster system. I could go on for ages as each and every holster comes with a handful of different benefits, provided it's custom made to match the exact specs of your automatic or wheel gun.
I hope this guide has helped you decide on which holster to go for next. However, in case you haven't found your favorite, just hit that button below and explore the rest of the world of unique and custom made holsters.
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