Carrying a gun around only makes sense if it is for the right reasons. Without dabbling into such matters, our primary task is to explore all the options when it comes to holsters. Our team has done a great job composing trustworthy buying guides to comprise as many choices as possible.
We have done all the research for you and have gathered plenty of information which you will surely find useful if you are out there looking for the best concealed carry holster. Before you head out to our individual posts, you might want to get some theoretical information out of the way.
Since we want to make you familiar with as many general aspects related to holsters as possible, below we will mention some key differences, facts as well as tips regarding the most popular holster types on the market. So stick around and become educated on the matters.
The Main Differentiation
When it comes to the types of holsters, there are about 7 of them worth mentioning. However, it may be argued that 5 of them branch off the 2 major holster types – OWB and IWB. So the next time you see a flashy title saying TOP 10 concealed carry holsters, make sure you understand which of the 2 main types you will get to see in there.
OWB – Outside the Waistband Holsters
The name obviously suggests the nature of this type of holster. Such a product resides on the outside of your belt, and the whole body of the holster and the gun inside it is exposed if not concealed by your clothing.
There are many great benefits of OWB holsters but we will also outline a couple of drawbacks.
- Easier to draw – you will have more direct access to your weapon when you decide to go with an OWB holster. Such a product is typically used by police officers or in the military. This is because such personnel does not need to hide their weapon. On the contrary, policemen might need to use their guns at any moment, and they need to be able to draw quickly.
- Concealment is actually not that hard – OWB holsters, in general, are not considered to be convenient when it comes to hiding your firearm. This is a misinterpretation of sorts because your outfit may actually very much help in that endeavor. If you wear the right jacket, you should be able to get all the benefits from an OWB carry and still remain stealth.
- It’s more convenient when it comes to pants – since we mentioned clothing above, it is only fair if we pointed out the fact that you do not need to worry about the waistline of your pants. Since your holster will remain on the outside, you can wear your proper size pants. No need to go for 1 size larger pants at all.
- You don’t need to hide everywhere – If you find yourself mainly spending time in your own property – be it a farm, ranch, mansion, etc. then you can openly carry your gun around. There are no restrictions when it comes to bringing a firearm along when you remain inside your property. In fact, many farmers looking to protect their property find such holsters convenient.
Surely, by now you have realized what exactly you can get from possessing an OWB holster and what you will end up lacking. When you buy such a unit, you pretty much exchange concealment for convenience. However, obviously, there are ways to get both.
IWB – Inside the Waistband Holsters
The content of this following section is probably going to surprise nobody. You can already sense that the best IWB holsters available are nothing more than the opposite of the OWB ones. While this is somewhat correct, there are some similarities which we will need to point out.
- Nobody will find out you are armed– the main point of having an IWB holster is to be able to walk freely with a gun tucked in there regardless of the area. Basically, any type of shirt will do. Just the handle of the weapon is likely to remain above your waistline, but since the whole body of the gun will be hidden on the inside of your belt, you can easily cover up the rest with the appropriate garment.
- You will sacrifice your comfort – this is definitely not the most convenient way to walk around. The holster will somewhat impair you from making strides freely. Sure enough, the most excellent representatives of this type will let you exercise and run, but it’s still not optimal. What you can do to ease your challenges is to get a larger pair of pants. Yes, it is quite inconvenient to buy pants specifically for your IWB holster especially given the fact that they won’t be your standard size.
- Re-holstering is tough – since the holster is located somewhere between your waist, leg and the pants, you might struggle to put the gun away once you draw it out.
- Even drawing might be an ordeal – not that it’s so hard, but getting a good grip when drawing from an IWB holster can be tricky. You really need to pick the most suitable holster for your body structure and size.
- Having a belt is not a necessity – what is really cool about some IWB holsters is the fact that they have clips and do not require to be attached to a belt.
You will find out more about IWB holsters if you check out our buying guide on the matter. In all fairness, the most ergonomic units of this type should allow you to perform all your regular activities while having the gun tucked in there.
The Other Holster Types
The most comfortable concealed carry holsters cannot be simply divided into 2 groups. Our team has taken the time to analyze and test 5 more types which present you with many new possibilities when it comes to concealed carry.
We will share a few words about them but will leave the specifics for our extensive buying guides. There you can find details regarding each type and will decide if one of them is the right choice for your needs.
- Appendix Carry Holsters
- Shoulder Holsters
- Belly Band Holsters
- Ankle Holsters
- Pocket Holsters
This is somewhat a controversial type of a holster because some folks believe there are many dangers associated with it. While it is true that the position of your gun and the direction of the barrel is somewhat delicate, anything can be overcome with proper training. If you pay close attention to your arm and holster, you will be out of harm’s way.
Utilizing a good appendix carry holster is perhaps the fastest way to draw a gun. This is due to the position of the firearm on your belt. It is important to note that almost all appendix carry holsters are actually IWB holsters. They are also known as AIWB holsters.
- Quickdraw – the location of the gun favors the natural position of one’s arms and hands
- Good retention – again, thanks to the place of your weapon, you have more control over it. It is tough for someone to snatch it away because the gun is basically in front of you and not on your sides or your back.
- You won’t hurt your back if you fall – because the weapon is not on your backside, if you happen to fall back you will not injure your kidneys.
- Body shape matters – no, not the body of the gun – your body shape matters. People who aren’t exactly fit will struggle to carry a weapon at the appendix position under that belly of theirs.
- Can’t have a large gun – guns worn at the AIWB position are usually lighter and smaller than others.
These holsters represent an exciting option and definitely one worth taking a look at. Some people argue that such holsters are not the most appropriate ones and that you see them mainly in action movies. While there is some truth to that, there are plenty of advantages when it comes to shoulder rigs.
- Easy to conceal when the weather’s bad – all you need is an overcoat or a jacket to hide your holster. With belt holsters, you have to go through some layers of clothes before reaching your gun.
- Excellent when sitting – this is perhaps the most significant advantage of shoulder holsters. In case you are driving or just relaxing, it should be reasonably comfortable for you to reach and draw your weapon.
- Weight distribution – your waist area will not be heavily loaded with guns, magazines, ammo, etc. Instead, you can have your gun under your armpit and stack up some other things on your belt.
- Reaching for your weapon doesn’t need to be visible – you can only cross your arms if you think you will need to go for the draw. Your palm will be right on the handle of the gun.
- Ineffective if you are pinned – in if you find yourself in a power struggle with an adversary, you might never be able to draw your gun. The same goes if your chest is pinned on the ground or against a wall.
- Not the quickest draw – the natural position of your hands is not related to reaching across your body and under your shoulder
- You can’t wear just a shirt to carry – you will always need some sort of an additional garment such as a jacket or a coat in order to hide the whole rig.
Belly Band Holsters
Needless to say, this type of holsters is an efficient one for those of you who carry many security supplies at the same. The best belly band holsters are usually used by officers on duty or people who spend a lot of time in the wilderness. This is why you will find 2 main types of belly band holsters:
- Duty holsters
- Tactical holsters
The common thing between all of them is the material they are made of. Very rarely you will see a belly band holster made out of anything else but nylon. This is because Velcro is typically used to hold the band together.
- Flexibility – belly band holsters will fit waists of all sizes. This is because the fabric of the rig is stretchable. With a simply Velcro patch, you can hold the band in place.
- Organization – thank the many “pockets” and compartments, you can carry around an impressive number of supplies. You can tuck in a knife, a flashlight, an ammo pouch and many more along with your gun in the belly band holster.
- Positions – you decide where exactly your gun will stay. By simply rotating the holster around your waist, you can achieve optimal positioning of your weapon. This will let you draw quickly.
- Plenty of load – if you cram a lot of things in there, the holster will get quite heavy. This might impair your ability to move quickly, run or jump.
- Larger shirts are typically required – since there will be a band completely circling your waistline, you might want to wear a larger sized shirt or a jacket on top. This is to hide any lumps that the band will make on your clothes thus giving away your low profile.
There is one representative of the holster family who really provides you with niche assistance. It is true that these holsters are typically the least popular ones, but this is because civilians rarely use them.
The main reason for this is that ankle holsters typically serve best when used to conceal a secondary weapon. Here are a couple of more points worth mentioning, though:
- Concealment is king – this is definitely the best feature of every ankle holster. There is almost no way anyone will find out that you are armed. Wearing even the most basic jeans will be just fine. Ankle holsters will not give you away at all.
- Useful when sitting – if you need to draw from a sitting position, the ankle holster will be of great help. Furthermore, people are unlikely to realize that you are actually reaching for a weapon when you bend down.
- Slow to draw – an ankle holster, unfortunately, will give you the most gradual draw of them all. What’s more, you need to transfer all your weight on your strong leg as you lift up your holster leg to draw. If you are standing up, you will not be able to make a quick and almost invisible draw
- Not for primary guns – because of what we mentioned in the previous point, you cannot rely on ankle holsters to carry your primary weapon. This is an excellent spot for your back-up one, but that’s it.
- Smaller guns only – The area around the ankle is not very broad. You can’t have a huge gun tucked down there because it will also alter the way you walk. Secondary, small weapons are the way to go in that case.
The name really says it all. But why do we need a holster if the gun will be in our pocket? Well, because of safety, of course. With a holster, the trigger is covered, and the weapon is protected. Here’s some concise info which might sway you one way or the other. Still, we recommend that you first pay respects to our pocket holsters reviews and buying guide and only then decide if you want one or not.
- Wear whatever you want – almost anything is okay to wear with a pocket holster. You do not need to think about the size of your garments at all. Your clothes will not need to cover anything around your waist or ankles.
- Easy to carry – as long as you have pockets (and who doesn’t) you will be just fine. You will feel no discomfort as you walk around with your gun and your movement will not be impaired.
- Concealment is not an issue – there’s absolutely no chance anyone will know you are armed. This is especially true if you have your hands in your pockets as well.
- You need a smaller gun – it goes without saying that you can’t stick a huge weapon inside your pockets
- Not the fastest draw – this is mainly because you will struggle to get a good grip on the gun.
But Wait, There’s Always More!
Even though we went through the most popular universal holsters, our team has also covered model specific products especially for you. For instance, if you are a Glock owner, we got good news for you.
As you go through our material, you will get information regarding materials, fabrics, tips, pros & cons and many more. Make your educated choice only after you’ve learned all about holsters.