The holster world is absolutely massive. It’s massive, and that’s great! More holsters mean more options, and more options mean there is a perfect holster out there for everyone.
There is no one perfect concealed carry holster for everyone. Holsters are like shoes in a lot of ways. There are perfect ones for certain people, for certain styles of dress, and for different situations.
Finding the best concealed carry holster for you may mean finding multiple holsters. Regardless of how many holsters you want, or need, we are here for you. We are going to guide you through the decision-making process and give you the proper means to find high quality, comfortable holsters.
The Importance of a Proper CCW Holster
A proper holster is going to do a number of things for you. You want a quality holster for some reasons. One of the first is for safety’s sake.
You want a holster that will protect your gun and will ensure the gun doesn't fire while holstered. A holster designed for concealed carry also needs to be easy to conceal. If someone is seeing the giant bulge on your hip what’s really the point of carrying a concealed handgun?
The Basics of A Quality Holster
The biggest built-in safety feature to any holster is trigger coverage. The trigger needs to remain covered while the gun is being carried. This prevents anything from accidentally entering the trigger guard through your day to day adventures. Even if your gun has a manual safety you should never rely on it to fully prevent negligent discharges.
Some companies like to claim a speed advantage with their holsters, but I give zero credit to this. The coverage of the trigger on the gun has never stopped me, or thousands of professionals, from rapidly drawing and engaging with their firearms.
Holsters protect your gun from you and protect you from your gun. A quality holster will position and encapsulate the weapon in a way to keep you and your body from making little if any contact with the gun. This protects you from being rubbed raw and protects your firearm from being exposed to sweat and flesh. Sweat has salt, and salt can cause corrosion.
Also, some styles of holsters will need to protect your gun from your clothing as well. Clothing will rub a gun raw and will do so quickly. Holsters also need to give a layer of protection to the gun in case its bumped, knocked around, or meets any other kind of unfortunate plight in our rough world.
Draw and Grip
You’ll need to be capable of drawing and firing the gun with speed, confidence and of course safely. This means the gun’s grip needs to be presented to your hand with ease. You should be able to establish a firm, and comfortable grip on the gun when you go to draw your firearm.
If you can't establish a solid grip on your firearm, then your holster is somewhat useless. This is a must-have for a defensive firearm. Consider your ability to draw the firearm in a safe and effective manner.
What to Avoid?
Before we go deep into the anatomy of a holster lets go ahead and talk about what we should avoid. If you read just one section of this article, it should be this one. At least if you avoid the worst of the worst, you’ll have something close to quality.
The first thing you should avoid is cheap, universal nylon holsters. These bulky holsters that cost 5 to 10 dollars at your local big box store are often complete and total junk. These holsters advertise themselves as universal holsters, but that translates into fits every gun poorly.
These holsters are garbage, they offer poor retention, poor presentation, are rarely safe, and won’t last very long. They are also pretty terrible at being concealed due to their bulk. These are best suited for airsoft guns, and that’s about it.
Any holster that is made primarily of nylon advertises itself as universal, and uses velcro to secure anything is likely a sign of a poorly made holster.
Retention devices are the what a holster uses to keep the gun in the holster. These are important because life is unpredictable. A retention device keeps the gun from leaving the holster should you trip or fall, or somehow find yourself upside down.
The importance of these devices varies on the type of holster you are planning to use. For example, a shoulder or ankle holster must have a retention device of some kind, or you run the risk of losing your gun in just day to day life.
Retention devices come in two varieties, passive and active.
Active retention devices are systems in place that requires the carrier to act to defeat the device. These devices are varied and are used in different ways for different guns.
The thumb strap is the classic active retention device. It's a simple system that does work when done correctly. A thumb strap goes over the rear of the gun and simply holds it in place with physical force. The thumb strap is connected to the holster with a button, and a proper model should be able to be defeated when the grip of the gun is grabbed.
Thumb Straps are common on OWB holsters, as well as ankle and shoulder holsters. They are most popular on leather holsters.
Thumb Press Release
A thumb press release is a locking device that uses an internal lock to hold the weapon in place. To draw the weapon, the shooter establishes a firing grip on the weapon and presses the thumb release downward. Once the release is pressed, the user can draw their gun.
A button release also uses an internal locking system that keeps the weapon in place. The button the system uses is often placed in the same area where your trigger finger falls. The trigger finger holds the button release down, and the user draws their gun.
The hood system is only popular on Safariland holsters, but Safariland is so prevalent it should be mentioned. The hood locks over the gun and acts as a modern thumb strap in many ways. The hood is defeated by the user pressing the gun downward slightly and flicking the hood system forward via the thumb.
Passive retention holsters are designed so that the gun is retained, but the user can draw without having to defeat a device. These are a bit more common on concealable holsters.
A friction fit is the most common passive retention device. Friction fit can be set by the user, or automatic from the factory. A friction fit is typically an area of the holster that's tight and wraps around the trigger guard. An adjustable friction fit holster will have a small screw the user can adjust to tighten or loosen the friction fit.
With so many varied holsters on the market, you’ll need to be able to decide what works best for you. Different materials offer different advantages and are designed for different ways to carry guns.
Polymer materials like Kydex and Bolatron are extremely popular in the modern holster market. They offer users a quick draw, substantial firearm protection, and they can thin and light. Polymer holsters are easily molded for specific guns and often customizable.
Leather holsters are classic designs and can be used for any holster out there. Leather is a soft material that doesn’t rub or chafe the body when carried tight to the body. Leather materials can be molded to specific guns, and worn in a wide variety of ways. The malleable nature of the material makes it easy to wear tight to the body.
Hybrids of both leather and polymer exist and are often a leather backing with a Kydex shell molded to the gun. These are most commonly made for IWB style carry, but OWB models do exist. They do combine the best of both worlds in some ways. These holsters are often most comfortable, easy to carry but also somewhat large.
How to Choose the Right Holster for You!
I mentioned previously that holsters are like shoes, you have different shoes for different events. This is true of holsters, and your daily lifestyle should be a factor when you consider a concealed carry holster.
What is your lifestyle like? On a day to day basis, what do you find yourself doing the most? At work are you mostly sitting, or are you mostly standing? Do you drive a lot? These are all factors to consider when choosing the best-concealed carry holster for you.
If you find yourself standing often then an Appendix, an IWB, or an OWB holster will likely be the best option for both concealment, comfort and an easy draw.
Folks who are often sitting in office chairs may consider an OWB option for speed and concealment.
People who are constantly driving for their job may want to consider a shoulder holster, or even possibly an ankle holster. These will be comfortable to wear and are easy to draw from inside a vehicle.
Style of Dress
You’ll also have to figure out how to carry a gun around your style of dress. Carrying concealed with a tucked in shirt and an OWB holster is never going to work. Some IWB holsters are specifically designed for wearing with a tucked in shirt.
Those wearing simple shirts and shirt dress may want to consider an appendix carry holster. People wearing semi-formal clothes may be best suited with a pocket holster.
These are just a few examples of different lifestyles and styles of dress. My intent is to show you a few examples and for you to start considering how you can carry and how your lifestyle will affect it.
Best Shoulder Holster
Gould and Goodrich Gold Line
Shoulder carry is a personal favorite and one I use extensively on long drives. It’s superbly comfortable but does require a cover garment to conceal properly. To find the right shoulder holster you need to find one that is comfortable, and adjustable. I prefer a good leather rig. My personal favorite is the Gould and Goodrich Gold Line Shoulder Holster.
The Gold Line is made from vegetable tanned leather for durability and water resistant. This soft leather is also pretty comfortable against the skin and ultra soft. Each Gold Line is specifically molded for a certain type of gun; my specific model is for the Glock 17.
I find it to be incredibly comfortable, and ultra easy to adjust. I’m a big guy, and it had more than enough room for me to fit in. Carrying a large gun like the Glock 17 concealed can be a bit of a challenge, but the Gold Line is a fantastic holster for large guns. Not only can I comfortably conceal my Glock 17 I can also carry two spare mags with the included carrier.
Best Belly Band Holster
Belly Band Holster For Concealed Carry
Belly bands are one of the best ways to conceal if you are a smaller person, or are restricted to a more formal dress style. These holsters are made from soft and pliable materials that are often sweat resistant and super soft. One of the best comes from Concealed Carrier Inc.
Their Belly Band holster is an all in one system designed for deep and comfortable concealment. This is a one size fits all design that fits up to a 44-inch belly. The Belly Band can handle nearly any normal gun on the market. Compact guns are of course a bit easier to carry concealed, but if you feel the need to go bigger, it is possible.
You can also move the holster inside or outside the waistband, or even adjust the height based on your body type and style of dress. The gun itself can sit in nearly any position you desire. If you wanted to, you can wear the gun under your shoulder, almost like a shoulder holster.
The holster is made from an ultra comfortable and soft neoprene material that stretches and shrinks as needed. Outside of the holster, you have a spare pouch for an extra mag, flashlight, or more. It’s also superbly affordable.
For more belly band holsters review, click here
Best Appendix Carry Holster
Blade Tech Industries Inside the Waistband Klipt Appendix Holster
Appendix carry has been around for some time but fell out of favor. However, as this industry usually works its back with a vengeance. Appendix, or AIWB carry, is a comfortable concealed that's a fast drawing option for modern concealed carry. Appendix holsters are everywhere, but one company that rocks and rolls is the Blade Tech Klipt appendix holster.
The Klipt is a polymer holster with a single belt clip for a low profile, minimalist design. The Klipt fits all body types, including women with smaller frames. It positions the gun low enough to be concealed, but high enough to grab.
The Klipt is designed for a wide variety of different guns, and each model is custom molded for the guns. The Klipt is a comfortable option, and the polymer design makes it nice and rigid. The holster doesn’t collapse when the gun is drawn, and this allows for quick and easy reholstering when necessary. The Klipt also uses passive retention, and you hear a nice satisfying click when you holster your gun.
Best IWB Holster
StealthGear USA SG-REVOLUTION IWB Mini Hybrid Holster
IWB typically refers strongside carry. AIWB is IWB, but IWB refers to a very particular means of carrying. IWB does offer substantial concealment and comfort for the end user. It’s also really easy to conceal under lighter weight clothes. IWB holsters are fantastic for daily carry. My choice would be the StealthGear Revolution IWB holster.
This hybrid holster uses a Kydex shell to protect your gun, and that kydex shell is molded to your specific gun. The Revolution is designed for a massive amount of different guns, so there is plenty of options for most gun owners. The rear section is made from a flexible layer of proprietary polymer material that's cut for breathability. This helps you prevent sweat build up. It’s also soft and suede-like in feeling.
The StealthGear Revolution is super flexible and allows to adjust height and cant as necessary. The Revolution is super light and disappears under a pair of pants and a shirt. The Revolution is extremely well made and is backed by a great warranty. The Revolution is an outstanding holster that’s a perfect blend of comfort and concealability.
Find more options about IWB holster here
Best OWB Holster
Alien Gear Cloak Mod OWB Paddle Holster
OWB, or Outside the Waistband, is a very traditional method of carrying. The holster rides outside your waistband and connects to your belt. OWB is a classic means of carrying that is extremely comfortable and allows you to easily draw your gun in a rapid manner. My choice of holster for OWB carry is the Cloak Mod from Alien Gear.
This gun is designed for concealed carry, which can be tricky when it comes to OWB holsters. The Cloak Mod can be used with a paddle that fits between your pants and your body or a standard belt clip. The Cloak Mod is made almost entirely from a polymer but also features a spring steel flexplate for retention.
In terms of retention, this is a passive retention device and is quite firm. It won’t let the gun go, and it keeps it nice and tight. The retention can be adjusted with different retention shell screws and rubber washers. You can add or remove washers to adjust the retention. It’s simple and effective.
The holster clings tight to your body and disappears under a shirt, jacket, or hoodie. Alien Gear holsters are all made in the United States, and they offer a lifetime warranty on all their holsters.
More about OWB Holster review here
Best Ankle Holster
Galco AG800B Black Right Hand Ankle Glove (Ankle Holster) For Glock 43
Ankle carry can be tricky. You need to find the right mix of gun and holster to do it properly. The gun itself must be small enough to conceal, and the holster needs to be strong enough to support it. Ankle Carry isn't for everyone, but with the right holster, you can make it work.
The best ankle holster out there is the Galco Ankle Glove. The moniker of Glove doesn’t make sense...until you wear it. It certainly fits like a glove. The Galco Ankle Glove is made from durable and comfortable Neoprene. This sweat resistant material stretches nicely and is quite comfortable. The inside of the Ankle Glove is outfitted with sheepskin padding for increased comfort.
The holster itself goes back to Galco’s roots, leather. The holster is made from Premium steerhide and is extremely durable. The holster features an active retention device that comes down to a simple thumb snap. The Ankle Glove is an outstanding deep cover option for concealed carry.
Best Drop Leg Holster
BLACKHAWK! SERPA Level 2 Tactical Holster- Matte Finish
Drop legs aren’t exactly concealed carry holsters, but lots of people like them so we’ll end our suggestions with one of my favorite drop leg systems, the Blackhawk Serpa drop leg holster. This is an excellent holster that's even employed by the United States military. The Blackhawk Serpa is a level 2 retention holster that allows you to easily and quickly draw your firearm.
This leg rig is modular and allows you to easily attach magazine pouches, flashlight pouches, and more to the platform itself. The Serpa is an all polymer holster that utilizes rubberized leg straps for comfort and to prevent binding and chafing.
The Serpa holster as a platform is modular, so you purchase the leg rig and then take one holster off to exchange it for another. The Serpa is the holster to beat when it comes to modular leg rig systems. With a little training, you’ll be shocked at how fast you can draw your gun from this rig. Carry in comfort and with modern tactical style with the Serpa drop leg holster.
Specific Holster Choices
Best Glock 19 Holster
Alien Gear Holsters ShapeShift Starter Kit
The Glock 19 is one of the most popular guns in the world. Its size is often said to be perfect for both duty and concealed carry. The Glock 19 is used by civilian concealed carriers, police forces around the world, and even special units of the United States Marine Corps. With such a versatile gun you need a versatile holster.
For this, I’m not going with one holster, but an all in one holster kit. The Shapeshift Starter kit from Alien Gear is four holsters in one. You start with a simple shell and then attach it to different backings. These backings convert the holster into some different types of holsters. The Shapeshift starter kit comes with an option for IWB carry, AIWB, Paddle OWB, and a concealed carry belt slide.
Moving the shell from backing to the backing is very simple and can be done in a few minutes. The Shapeshift gives you whatever option you need for concealed carry on demand. The comfort level is amazing, and the holster is designed to be either passive or active. The end user can add a retention device if they decide they need one.
Also, this isn’t the only thing you can do with the Shapeshift system. They have a drop leg platform, an ankle holster, a backpack attachment, a MOLLE attachment, and soon they are going to have a shoulder rig. This could be the last holster you ever need.
To see more IWB holsters for Glock 19, take a look at this page.
Best 1911 Holster
Galco Combat Master Belt Holster for 1911
The 1911 is a classic American gun. It’s served its country for decades and remains a favorite choice of professional shooters, concealed carriers and gun enthusiasts in general. As such a classic gun you have an absolute ton of different holster options out there. I like to keep it old school with my 1911 holster though and go with the tried and true Galco Combat Master.
This OWB holster is made from leather and molded for the 1911 platform. The 1911 is a big gun, but it’s svelte and thin. Concealing it isn't too difficult, and with the combat master, it is surprisingly simple. The Combat Master clings tight to the body and makes it very easy to conceal without much effort. The holster features a slight forward cant for a fast draw. It’s also an open top design, so nothing gets between you and your gun.
Galco’s classic leather design fits the classic feel and looks of the 1911 handgun. This holster is tough, rugged, and dependable. It will last for decades with proper care. Galco is trusted by professionals and civilians alike worldwide for a reason. They work.
Best Glock 43 Holster
Tulster Glock 43 Holster IWB Profile Holster
The Glock 43 is Glock’s first entry into the single stack 9mm department. The gun was the one Glock fans have been waiting on forever. It’s an extremely reliable and compact gun that’s perfect for concealed carry. The Tulster holster is easily one of the best Glock 43 holsters on the market. It’s designed from the ground up to be a dependable, hard-working holster that excels in comfort and concealment.
The Tulster can be worn traditional strong side IWB, or in an AIWB configuration. The single center clip design allows comfortable carry in a variety of positions. The holster uses a passive retention device and has a nice and loud click that lets you know your gun is holstered securely. The clip is also really nice and easy to put on and allows you to instantly take the gun off when necessary.
The Tulster has adjustable cant for comfort and draw speed. The full sweat shield keeps your protected from corrosion and you protected from being rubbed raw. The Tulster is the perfect baby Glock holster.
Best IWB Holster for the Glock 26
Bianchi 100 Professional Hip Holster - Size:10A-Glock 26 27 (Tan)
The Glock 26 is the double stack 9mm baby Glock, and it's been one of the most popular concealed carry guns out there. This tiny titan packs ten rounds of 9mm in a compact package. Carrying one is simple, and right now we are going to look at the best IWB holster for the Glock 26. I’m going with the Bianchi Professional Hip Holster.
This mini leather iwb holster is a very simple design, but its robust in nature. Leather IWB holsters are the classic option for IWB carry. This holster is molded to fit the Glock 26 and can be worn as either an appendix holster or standard IWB holster. It features a high backing sweat guard that protects the gun from you and protects you from the gun.
The Bianchi Professional uses a single heavy duty spring steel belt clip. This strong clip is rugged, dependable, and simple. This extremely comfortable holster is made entirely from leather and is soft and supple against the skin. It's great for all-day carry and offers a simple but dependable option.
Best M&P Shield Holster
Bravo Concealment Outside the WaistBand BCA Gun Holster
The Shield hit the market when it was clamoring for a single stack 9mm, polymer frame pistol from a reputable company. The gun was extremely hard to get for a long time, and it remains a popular choice for concealed carry. Its popularity has spurred dozens of different holster options. My go to for the Shield has to be Bravo Concealments OWB holster.
The Bravo Concealment OWB holster is a super slim Kydex holster designed to be held tight to the body for extreme concealment. The holster’s polymer frame is only .08 inches thick. It’s remarkably light and easy to wear. The molded design ensures your gun fits and is secure no matter what. The handle sits far enough away from the body for an easy and intuitive draw.
The Bravo Concealment holster has a slight ten-degree cant that makes it quite ergonomic behind the hip wear. It’s easy to reach, easy draw, and incredibly comfortable. The Bravo Concealment holster is also backed by a lifetime warranty.
We live in a great time to conceal carry a gun. The holster options are near endless, and you can have options for any event, and any style of dress. The key to carrying a gun concealed every day is to have multiple holsters. Don’t limit yourself to a single holster; multiple holsters give you multiple options. The best concealed carry holster is the one you need is that particular situation.