There are few carry positions as controversial as carrying in the small of your back. There are limitations to carry in this location that should be considered. But most importantly, you are going to need the best small of back holster if you want to carry this way.
I have no interest in getting into a pro/con debate on this topic. I carried this way when I started carrying many years ago. I no longer use this method for reasons discussed below.
Just because I no longer do, I will not rule it out as a carry method. For some people, physical limitations may prevent them from carrying an IWB or Appendix concealed carry holster. Because they cannot carry in a conventional location doesn’t mean they should not be able to carry at all.
We do need to explore the limitations of this method of carrying so those that choose to do so have the best understand and combat the negatives. This is a non-judgmental exploration of facts. Small of back carry has been used since the advent of firearms and will continue to be used.
Table of Contents
- Small of Back Carry Considerations
- How to Choose SOB Holsters?
- Top 5 Best Small of Back Holsters Review
- Final Thoughts
Small of Back Carry Considerations
For those who have read the forums and followed concealed carry long enough, you know the main argument brought up for small of back carry is injury. This is a pure speculation. Rarely does anyone fall flat on their back in a way that would cause their pistol to injure their spine.
The possibility exists but the chances are small. Falling directly on your side with an IWB holster could cause hip damage. Of all the reasons you may not want to carry small of back, this is not one of them.
Instead, access to your firearm is probably the most prevalent issue. Anything pressed against your back can cause issues with getting your firearm into the fight. The possibilities are numerous but there are a few noteworthy examples.
The most common problem will be when sitting. In a SoB holster, getting your gun from between you and the seat of your car or a chair can be slow and difficult. A slow draw can be a problem.
If you end up laying on your back, this issue is expounded. It is nearly impossible to draw SoB when all of your weight, and possibly an attackers weight, is right on top of you. Try this sometime with an unloaded weapon to see.
If you are grabbed from behind, this could be the worst case. Drawing when restrained is always risky and difficult. Small of back carry can make it harder.
Draw & Re-holster
Small of Back is the hardest location short of the ankle to deploy a weapon quickly. It can be harder to get an appropriate grip on your pistol to begin with. Then you will have to move it completely around your body before beginning to bring it to bare.
Because of the circular motion of the draw stroke, muzzle awareness becomes a very important task. You can’t just sweep your gun in an ark. It must come to your side before you can begin to point the weapon. Doing otherwise is irresponsible and unsafe.
When re-holstering, you are blind as to where your holster is. Getting the weapon aligned correctly and making sure the trigger is not accidentally pressed are the two major concerns. Having a good holster will help
How to Choose SOB Holsters?
All good holsters have a common set of traits that are important to have. If you carry a small of back holster, these traits become mandatory. The gun is out of sight making many tasks more difficult.
Having a holster that keeps your weapon secure is always good but if you carry on your back, your holster must have great retention. It should be held firmly but draw smoothly. Exerting pressure to draw from a SoB holster is already difficult.
As a part of retention, you holster should not have any retention mechanism. Because you will be carrying a holster of this style inside pants, the ability to access a release mechanism will be highly restricted.
Because you will be holstering blind, having a holster that is reinforced around the throat to keep the holster open when it is empty is vital. Otherwise, you will likely have to remove the holster to place your firearm back into it. This is just a pain.
On a similar note, you should not have any part of the holster mouth that can snag your trigger. No one needs an extra hole in their rear.
Very few holsters are designed specifically for SoB carry. This is easily overcome by getting an IWB holster designed to carry with your off hand. This can easily be used for a small of back holster
Whatever holster you use, it should attach firmly to your belt or waistband. Because the holster will have less pressure on it when on your back, you need to make sure it will stay put when you draw.
The holster should also completely cover the trigger of your pistol. This avoids any issues with snagging the trigger or pulling it on the draw. Both of these are common issues for those who haven’t practiced their draw stroke.
Either leather or Kydex are acceptable materials for a good holster, no matter how you carry it. Both are good options for small of back carry. Leather will be a more comfortable option while Kydex has more retention.
DO NOT buy holsters made of nylon, neoprene, or any other soft material. These do not hold their shape and are inadequate for the purpose. Whenever possible make sure a hard-bodied holster is designed specifically for your pistol.
Top 5 Best Small of Back Holsters Review
1 Gould & Goodrich Back Holster
The low slung design of the G&G back holster is very reminiscent of the Galco SoB holster which has been a favorite for years. However, the G&G costs a fraction of the price and has the same quality and fit. This is a great holster for the money and quite comfortable to carry.
With models able to fit a variety of Glock pistols all the way from the Glock 19 to the Glock 27, this is a great holster for those firearms. Other holster models to exist for different makes and models of automatic pistols. All of which work very well no matter the weight and size of your gun.
This holster has excellent molding for retention and a reinforced throat. This means that the throat will stay clear for re-holstering, this meets the criteria a holster should. The fit and finish are great, leaving you with quite a handsome holster.
Made of full grain veggie tanned leather for long-lasting durability, with a little care this is a holster that will last a lifetime. If you can find one for your pistol, this is a prime choice for small of back carry. The price isn’t bad either.
2 CYA Supply Co. IWB Holster - Left Handed
If Kydex is more your style, you can use any IWB that has a 0-degree cant as a small of back holster. The CYA is one of the highest rated and most popular options that can be used in this fashion. Available for your M&P Shield, most Glocks including the Glock 43, Springfield XDS, and a variety of other makes and models, you should be covered.
Kydex is generally not the most comfortable SoB holster carried IWB but they are effective. With amazing retention that is adjustable and a sold body, this holster does what you need it to.
3 Concealed Carrier IWB Holster
Another option for a SoB holster that was designed as an IWB holster, the Concealed Carrier offers a smoother design. This holster can be carried with more comfort than most. This is dedicated Shield holster which is on the small side and only adds to the ease of carrying this in SoB.
When the adjustable cant of this holster is set to 0 degrees, it makes a decent carry holster. Just remember to get the opposite hand you would normally use if you want to carry it small of back. Or, for the price, get one of each hand to have all of your bases covered.
Made of a rigid Kydex, retention is very good and the holster will hold its shape no matter what. The belt clip is secure so it won’t easily come off your belt. It may not have the comfort of a true SoB holster but it will serve the purpose well!
With a full 100% money back guarantee, these holsters are a very good deal. They do have a small blemish where the cut out is for your mag release. Moving forward, I would expect to see this corrected but it is a small and purely cosmetic issue.
4 DeSantis Small of Back Holster – 1911
If you carry a 1911 and are looking for better concealability, you should check out the DeSantis SOB holster. This standard ‘Butt Up’ carry holster is attractive and secure. Easily one of the best holsters on the market made by one of the best companies.
The only reason it rates so low on this list is the difficult attaining them for some of the more popular firearms like the Glock 23 or Glock 26. Otherwise, they very well could have held the number one spot. Keep an eye around for the more popular makes and models, this is a holster you need to snatch up when you can.
With perfect molding, retention is amazing. It may take some time to trust the somewhat awkward position but it is not a matter you should worry about. The throat is hardened to prevent any holstering issues and the gun is held in a very safe position.
DeSantis makes amazing holsters, to begin with. This is a thoughtful holster in its design. Fitting a 1911 is trickier due to variety. To accommodate this, it does have an adjustable tension device that may not be on this holster for some firearms.
5 Advanced Performance Shooting ASOB
What may actually be the second best holster on this list comes in last for one reason only. The APS ASOB is not a true Small of Back holster. Instead, this is carried behind the back but slightly off center. This negates some of the issues with re-holster and draw operations.
At its core, it is a standard Kydex holster. It is nearly unbreakable and has great retention. Available for most every make and model, you should be able to find one for you.
The first few times you carry in this position may feel awkward but once you get accustomed to it, you may prefer this to standard SoB carry. It is quite comfortable in most cases though sitting in a car can be a little strange.
Made in the USA, this is a good holster to try. If you carry SoB because no other position is comfortable for you, this is a great alternative. It could make carrying more comfortable and safer in general. Drawing from a sitting or prone position is far easier.
Though it is not often a preferred position to carry, if you must carry SoB these holsters should serve you well. Holster selection is always an important decision but for SoB carries, it is even more so. You owe it to yourself and those you carry because of to make sure you have a functional holster should you ever need it.
These best small of back holsters were picked for that functionality. They carry as safe and secure as any holster on the market and add in comfort where they can. Especially if you carry a full-sized or heavy pistol.