Last Update on by
Alien Gear ShapeShift
CYA Supply CO
- 1 What Is The Best Concealed Carry Holster?
- 1.1 1. Foxx Holsters
- 1.2 2. TENICOR Arx
- 1.3 3. Concealment Express
- 1.4 4. CYA Supply Co.
- 1.5 5. BLACKHAWK! SERPA CQC
- 1.6 6. Topmeet Upgraded
- 1.7 7. Alien Gear ShapeShift Pack
- 1.8 8. GUNLEATHER 1791 – Glock 19
- 1.9 9. Galco Vertical Shoulder
- 1.10 10. Galco Classic Lite
- 2 Why Have a Good Concealed Carry Holster?
- 3 How To Keep A Gun Safe?
- 4 What Makes a Great Concealed Carry Holster?
- 5 What Are The Different Types of Concealed Carry Holsters?
- 5.1 Holster Designs
- 5.2 Holster Belt Clips And Attachments
- 5.3 Belt Clips
- 5.4 Belt Loops
- 5.5 Belt Channels
- 5.6 Belt Tunnels
- 5.7 Active Or Passive Retention?
- 5.8 IWB Holsters
- 5.9 Appendix Carry Holsters
- 5.10 OWB Concealed Carry Holsters For Concealed Carry
- 5.11 Shoulder Holster
- 5.12 Ankle Concealed Carry Holsters
- 5.13 Pocket Concealed Carry Holsters
- 6 Final Words
We live in a very dangerous era, one where you don’t even know what can happen in the culdesac, in your own neighborhood. And what is the best way to protect yourself from the dangers of the outside world – a firearm?
While you may think that we went from zero to eleven a little bit too fast, but hear me out. All CCW gear isn’t just for shooting nonsensically. It’s a way to protect not only you but your family, too.
But carrying a gun around your hip like a cowboy from the old wild west isn’t a very good idea now, is it? You don’t want any unnecessary attention drawn to.you because we’ll, you may not be the only loose cannon around, and you never know who may shoot you just because they saw a gun around your belt.
What Is The Best Concealed Carry Holster?
The best idea here is to take a page from the book of the police officers and try to carry your gear in the most discrete way possible or to pull off what they call a concealed carry of a weapon, for short CCW.
But doing so isn’t a simple job either. It requires putting in some real thought behind what belt type of concealed carry holster you will be ultimately choosing. They are made from different materials for different ways to be carried, and at first, it may sound like too much to take in, but don’t worry, I’ve got your back.
Down here, I’ve put a pretty good article explaining the reasons why you should have the best concealed carry holsters with you, how to identify the best one for you, and even some samples of the best concealed carry holsters on the market right now. So, what are you waiting for, let’s jump right in?
1. Foxx Holsters
1. Handcrafted and Initialed
2. Vegetable Tanned Leather Made
3. Modular Hybrid Design
4. Adjusting Features
Here we have one of the most terrific IWB concealed carry holsters on the market right now in the form of the Foxx Hybrid Holster. Each one of the holsters is handcrafted with a great amount of craftsmanship and initialed on the back after passing a thorough quality inspection! This hybrid-style holster is made from top-grade 9 oz. Vegetable Tanned leather and .060 Kydex. Black Spring Steel Belt clips that can be adjusted for ride height and Forward cant, so firing it to your liking won’t be very much of a hassle.
Because of its modular hybrid design, the quality leather’s outer shelf can be combined with a Kydex core made for each gun specifically. They all have muzzle protection and are made from the most durable Kydex sheets.
Concealing it is a painfully easy process. You just tuck it into your pants in the range of five and three ‘o clock, and you are ready to go. And because of its hybrid nature, the holster is surprisingly comfortable.
If you are looking for the best IWB holster, this one is a pretty excellent contender, so consider this CCW gear, trust me.
- Each one of the holsters is handmade with a lot of effort put into it, and it goes to sell only after a very extensive quality checking process where it is initialed for meeting the company’s high standards
- It is an IWB holster, so concealing it won’t be that hard of a process, and combined with its hybrid nature, changing it to the gun you will be carrying will be as putting it under your shirt
- The holster uses some quality materials to protect its well-known brand name, with the likes of top-grade 9 oz. Vegetable Tanned leather and .060 Kydex. Black Spring Steel Belt clips, for even more adjustability
- While the belt is pretty well constructed and is made to fit most type of people if you are a little bit too short or tall than average, it will either dig into your leg, or it will slide up constantly
- The belt clips are made out of quality material, but they are so uncomfortable to wear and misplaced that you’d be better changing them with plastic ones, which are a whole 1/4 of the price of the holster
2. TENICOR Arx
- Passive Retention
2. Active Retention Screw
3. Lifetime Warranty
4. Made in the USA
If you aren’t that big of a fan of natural materials like leather, Kydex is the way to go when you search for a synthetic alternative to your holster.
For products made in the USA, it’s quality is astonishing. With a low profile and simplified design, attaching it to any heavy-duty tactical belt will be as easy as pie.
While the passive retention that the holster offers is astonishing for a Kydex core, the active retention screw really helps you to adjust it to your guns exact dimensions.
And even if something happens, the lifetime warranty that the company offers means that if the holster breaks, they will replace it immediately.
- This holster is made with the highest of quality synthetic materials, Kydex more specifically, and if you aren’t that big of a fan of natural materials like leather, Kydex is the way to go
- While some countries out there make quality products, like the german saloons and the Italian pasta, but nothing beats a thing that is made right here in the good old USA, and that includes our house-made gun holsters
- Even though the holster has enough passive retention to go without any active one, the one that is included and its adjustment screws make the whole package even more customizable and overall better
- While Raw carbon fiber looks very good on cars, the raw Kydex that you can find here not only makes it look like cheap plastic, because it lacks any polish or treatment, it also feels very cheap
- The retention here is good, and that’s what we want, right? Well, most of the time it is the best thing to have more retention, here there is too much retention without any give for holstering and reholstering
3. Concealment Express
1. Simple Design
2. Appendix, Hip and Ankle style
3. Rigidity and Strength
4. Great Price
Another great Kydex holster is the one offered from Concealed Express, and they’re minimalistic named IWB Kydex Holster.
Like it’s counterpart from senior, the Kydex sheets use in the core of the holster give it an unimaginable level of rigidity and strength.
The holster’s simple design allows it to be very flexible, too, allowing you to wear it not only Appendix but also Hip and Ankle style, too.
So if you are looking for an alternative to the above-mentioned Kydex IWB concealed carry holster, this one is also an excellent option for any customer looking to protect and conceal his gear.
- The simple design of the holster not only gives it a very nice and pleasant minimalistic look but also gives it the needed flexibility to be worn not only on the hip but also Apendix and Ankle style, too
- Rather than being made by a single sheet of Kydex, it is made by layering a lot of thinner sheets, giving it a lot more strength and rigidity, but also make it much more flexible and thus less fragile
- While this isn’t the objectively best Kydex holster that you can find on the market right now if, for some reason, you want something not only different but cheaper, this is an excellent choice
- While if you like to carry your pistol with the safety off, this holster is a very good model, if you want the extra safety switch, this model isn’t at all for you
- The edges of the holster and its whole form factor make it very uncomfortable to wear when you have the gun out, and if you need to bend over to pick up something, you will definitely not have a very good time
4. CYA Supply Co.
1. Lightweight & Easy to Use
2. Passive and Active Retention
3. Solid Security Click
4. Made in The USA
Another American made a holster. The CYA IWB holsters are quality products for any customer looking for a lightweight and easy to use a holster that is also made from some pretty high-end materials and has an amazing level of passive and active retention.
It has two adjustable screws, allowing you to set the retention to your liking. It has a nice and satisfyingly solid click when you place the gun in the holster, and it’s very secure. But that’s not the only adjustable part, because you can also change the degree of the can’t go without much of an effort.
The wide belt channels won’t give you any problem, no matter the gun belt you have chosen to buy. The holster is also specifically made not to be a liability to any of your aftermarket sights, allowing you to use them even if you needed a quick draw.
Suffice it to say – if you are in the search for a premium hybrid holster, I think this piece of gear may be the one for you.
- The CYA IWB holsters are quality products for any customer looking for a lightweight and easy to use a holster, and on top of that it is made right here in the USA
- This very good looking IWB holster is also made from some pretty high-end materials and has an amazing level of passive and active retention, making it a must-have choice for anyone that wants something that is as good as it is functional
- It also has two adjustable screws, allowing you to set the retention to your liking and with a very nice and satisfyingly solid click when you place the gun in the holster, and it’s very secure.
- The only major problem that this holster has is the fact that its retention is so good that there will be many cases where you need to pull out your gun quickly and swiftly to get the upper hand, but you won’t be able to
5. BLACKHAWK! SERPA CQC
1. SERPA Auto Lock release
2. Speed-Cut Design
3. Passive Retention Detent
4. Audible Click Upon Reholster
We’ve looked at a wider category of the holster right up until now, but next, we will be focusing on something a little bit more specific. While all of the other holsters can be used in a close combat scenario, this model from Blackhawk offers some features that make it one of the best CQC concealed carry holsters on the market.
It features the company’s patented SERPA Auto Lock release, delivering a smooth draw cycle, easy reholster, and amazing weapon security, all wrapped in a neat little package. The speed-cut design will give a rapid draw, target acquisition, and reholster.
Retention is also taken care of with the included passive retention detent adjustment screw and the immediate retention and audible click upon reholster for security.
The belt loops are wide and strong, allowing you to adapt it to every gun belt possible. Suffice it to say – if you aren’t on only for the shooting and you aren’t afraid of getting your hands dirty, this CQC holster will be a perfect choice for you.
- While all of the other holsters can be used in a close combat scenario, this model from Blackhawk offers some features that make it one of the best CQC concealed carry holsters on the market.
- It features the company’s patented SERPA Auto Lock release, delivering a smooth draw cycle, easy reholster, and amazing weapon security, all wrapped in a neat little package
- Retention is also taken care of with the included passive retention detent adjustment screw, and the immediate retention and audible click upon reholster for security and the belt loops are wide and strong, allowing you to adapt it to every gun belt possible
- While it is advertised with multiple functions and good active retention, the holster has a huge problem of being constantly delivered with missing parts or broken edges
- The main problem though is that even when a product has broken or missing parts there is some sort of customer support to help you restore or refund your product, while Blackhawks’ isn’t that great
6. Topmeet Upgraded
1. Neoprene with Padded Insides
2. Breathable Holes
3. Pouch for Magazines
4. Velcro Strap
Now, most of the holsters here, be they CQC or not, hybrid or pancake style, they can be attached to belts all over your body, making them not fall into one specific category.
But if you intend to carry a small gun with you, you will need a dedicated ankle holster that can store your guns safely underneath your clothing, while still giving you easy access to it.
This IWB holster is made out of neoprene with padded insides and breathable holes to make the holster not only practice but comfortable too.
It also has a dedicated pouch for magazines, so your gun can have a little bit more ammunition without much of an effort.
The velcro strap allows tightening the holster around your neck as much as possible, giving you all the passive retention you can want. Also, while it not maybe that important, it comes in a variety of colors, too, if that is a factor for you.
So, when looking for a holster that will be sitting discretely down by your ankle, you may choose this model over hee many other products that claim to offer so much more. It’s at a reasonable price, and it’s comfortable, durable, skin tight so it won’t be noticed trough your clothing, what more can you want.
- If you intend to carry a small gun with you, you will need a dedicated ankle holster that can store your guns safely underneath your clothing, while still giving you easy access to it, which is exactly what this one offers
- The velcro strap allows tightening the holster around your neck as much as possible, giving you all the passive retention you can want. Also, while it not maybe that important, it comes in a variety of colors, too, if that is a factor for you
- This IWB holster is made out of neoprene with padded insides and breathable holes to make the holster not only practice but comfortable too, and it also has a dedicated pouch for magazines, so your gun can have a little bit more ammunition without much of an effort
- While the holster itself is pretty well built, it is constructed in such a way that even a person who doesn’t have a single clue about concealed carry or printing can easily notice it
- The stitching on the holster part is so rough and unpolished that after prolonged use the nylon strands can cause a very rough burn to your skin, making wearing it uncomfortable
7. Alien Gear ShapeShift Pack
1. Modular Holster Kit
2. No Tools Adjustment
3. Cool Design
4. Made in the USA
Well, you may have gotten it by the name from now, but we have our first modular holster kit, the Alien Gear ShapeShift. This piece of gear is the complete package. It’s a holster that has a number of different combinations, meaning that it can adapt to every situation you may need it for and that for a holster is a pretty good characteristic. While it’s not an IWB model, here, the OWB setup isn’t to its detriment.
The adjustment here is made without any tools, so on-field changes to the cant or the ride hide will be as easy as tucking the holster in.
The four modules to the holster are the most common, and in my opinion, the best types of holsters right now, IWB, Appendix, Paddle, and Belt Slide.
Made right here in the USA, this holster is the best option for any customer looking for modular gear that can be adapted to the costumer’s liking.
- This piece of gear is the complete package, being a holster that has a number of different combinations, meaning that it can adapt to every situation you may need it for and that for a holster is a pretty good characteristic
- While it’s not an IWB model, here, the OWB setup isn’t to its detriment, and just the opposite, it can be concealed even better than some more budget IWB choices
- The adjustment here is made without any tools, so on-field changes to the cant or the ride hide will be as easy as tucking the holster in, with the four holsters corresponding to the four most common types.
- While for smaller guns this hybrid model is a very good choice and one of the best OWB holsters on the market, for large and medium-sized guns do not even bother with it
- The single attachments feel very cheap, and the base is decent even though, but they end up feeling like an afterthought, and overall the whole product isn’t worth the price
8. GUNLEATHER 1791 – Glock 19
1. High Quality Materials
2. Different Colors
3. Lifetime Warranty
4. Good Price
Another OWB piece of gear, the Gun leather Glock 19 holster, offers an amazing piece of craftsmanship put into the quality leather core of the holster that will assure the gun, and you are safe.
It’s made using only the highest of quality materials and for an OWB holster, it sure offers some concealment, even better one than some IWB ones. To be honest, there isn’t anything that special about the holsters but it’s quality shines bright enough that there aren’t any huge flaws either.
Available in four different colors and for a large array of weapons, with the lifetime that the company offers this is a great alternative to the more expensive offering from Alien Gear.
- This OWB piece of gear, the Gun leather Glock 19 holster, offers an amazing piece of craftsmanship put into the quality leather core of the holster that will assure the gun, and you are safe.
- Available in four different colors and for a large array of weapons, with the lifetime that the company offers this is a great alternative to the more expensive offering from Alien Gear
- It’s made using only the highest of quality materials, and for an OWB holster, it sure offers some concealment, even better one than some IWB ones, laking any major flaws.
- The holster is amazingly tight and even following the manufacturer’s instruction to break in the holster, inserting your gun wrapped in a freezer bag for 15 minutes, had little effect
9. Galco Vertical Shoulder
1. Quality Leather
2. Proven Design
3. Four Points of Spider Harness
4. Fully Modular
We looked at a variety of IWB and OWB holsters, but bow let’s look at a little bit of different setup, a holster that is reliant more on vertical stability than on horizontal one, the Galco Vertical Shoulder Holster.
It’s made from quality leather, protected with layers of vegetable oil to not crack up over time. It’s a proven design, tested by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan in real combat experience and for sport hunting, so you know it’s going to be good for concealed carry.
A key component of this patented shoulder holster system is its spider harness. All four points of the spider harness can pivot independently and are connected by our clover shape, trademarked Flexion swivel backplate.
This, along with the company’s patented swivel connector, which perfectly fits and lasting comfort for virtually all body sizes and shapes. The vertical Shoulder holster system consists of holster, harness, ammo carrier, and a set of system screws. Fully modular, you can customize it in any you want.
Suffice it to say, on this price, and this is the best vertical concealed carry gun holster in the market right now.
- It’s made from quality leather, protected with layers of vegetable oil to not crack up over time and being a proved design, tested by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan in real combat experience and for sport hunting, you know it’s going to be good for concealed carry
- Its key component, its spider harness allows all four of its point pivot independently and are connected by our clover shape, trademarked Flexion swivel backplate, giving a whole another level of comfort
- The vertical Shoulder holster system consists of holster, harness, ammo carrier, and a set of system screws, and because it is fully modular, you can customize it in any way you want.
- It relies only on the snaps of the band that goes around the trigger guard, so anything bigger like 1911 is bound to fall out during normal use even with a little bit more movement than usual
- A huge problem of this holster is the fact that even with its high price, the holster doesn’t come with any tie-downs, and as a result, when you pull out the gun during a pinch you will pull out the holster, too
10. Galco Classic Lite
1. Proven Design
2. Lighter Materials
3. Low Budget
4. Good Features
The last from our products in our list a concealed carry holster more orientated to a customer who is looking for something practical like a vertical Gear setup but doesn’t have the money to buy something expensive like the normal offering from Galco.
So, for these types of people, Galco offers a so-called light version of their classic vertical shoulder strap.
And while yes, it cuts some corners like material quality and features, it also reduces the price a whole lot, so for someone on a budget, you really can’t go wrong if you choose this piece of gear.
- This holster has all of the advantages of the model that we covered in number nine, at a lower price with the only major corners cut being the materials and some basic features that weren’t even that good, in some ways, it is even better
- While it greatly reduces the price of its big brother, it doesn’t try to fix any of its glaring issues, but it manages to even worsen its glaring flaws and already just decent enough quality
Why Have a Good Concealed Carry Holster?
The best concealed carry holsters are an essential part of carrying CCW gear with you, and it doesn’t take much to prove it to you, just look at these for reasons.
- It protects and holds your gear safe.
- It makes sure to prevent the weapon from accidental discharge and gives additional grip.
- It also provides a much quicker way to access, check on, and draw your gun.
- It hides the gun from the seeing eyes of the public, while also protecting it from getting lost or stolen.
How To Keep A Gun Safe?
Now let’s rephrase the question a little bit and ask not why you need the best concealed carry holster, but what makes a well-concealed carry holster. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and put forward first and foremost the concept of safety. The rules for keeping a gun safe with you aren’t that complicated, and you may even know them, but let’s go through them just for sure.
First, you should treat every weapon like it’s loaded.
Goofing around just because there is no magazine in your pistol isn’t just plain stupid, it’s also very dangerous to believe it or not.
Second, don’t point your gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy.
Guns shouldn’t ever be used for intimidation if you don’t intend to pull the trigger at all, because anyone can beat the handgun from your hand at any time, or you can shoot by accident, so pull it out only if you are ready to take the consequences.
Third, keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you intend to fire.
If you are ready to take the plunge and fire, put your finger on the trigger only at the moment when you will pull it.
Last but definitely not least, know your target and what’s behind it.
You should be very well informed at what exactly you are shooting, and why exactly you are shooting at it, because if you aren’t ready to act, they will react, and you will be dead in no time.
While all of them are really important to keep yourself safe from such a dangerous thing as a handgun, for now, let’s focus on the third one, because it can be the most deadly one.
I should stress this enough, and nut nothing should touch the trigger, to include clothing or any part of the concealed carry holster itself. Your trigger could accidentally get pulled and cause a discharge, and well, that obviously isn’t the best thing that can happen, is it?
And the last thing you’re ever going to want is for your gun to go off unintentionally. Not like it hasn’t happened before, guns can go off even inside a holster if something catches the trigger.
Therefore, it is super important that you learn how to safely re-holster your handgun to make certain you know how to do it. And let’s be honest, it’s not a western duel that you are participating in, so speed – drawing isn’t going to win you any fights. Take your time and pull in and out your gun slowly and carefully, trust me.
The bottom line is always to make sure that not a single thing is near the trigger when you put it in the holster, you can’t risk your life just because you were trying to put in your gun too quick.
What Makes a Great Concealed Carry Holster?
As I’ve mentioned earlier, there are many different types of concealed carry holsters on the market right now, but now of them are good enough to be considered safe or even useful. Before we look at the type, though, let’s look at what factors make a well-concealed carry holster.
When you pick out a concealed carry holster, you should always check for these things:
- Total trigger coverage
- Sturdy material
- Good retention
- Good concealability
- Handgun protection
- Skin/body protection
- Positive grip
So, they aren’t that many now, are they? But let’s look at each of them a little bit closer to help you distinguish a well-concealed carry holster from a bad one.
Trigger and Material
There are a lot of concealed carry holsters on the market where the trigger is not covered or is covered by a flimsy material. So to make sure that you’re as safe as possible, it’s best to have a concealed carry holster that is made of a sturdy material that covers the trigger. You want to do all you can to prevent the possibility of discharge.
Kydex and treated leather are two very sturdy materials, both doing an excellent job protecting the trigger. Kydex is nothing more than a polymer composite material, in the shape of your gun, that also has some positive factors that I’m not going to bore you with right now. You just need to that isn’t durable and strong, nothing more.
Some concealed carry holsters will have both materials in the form of a Kydex shell on top of a leather backing. There are countless companies making the best quality concealed carry holsters out of this material. You can’t go wrong here.
Retention may sound a little bit complicated, but it is actually a very simple concept – it’s to what extent your gun stays put and doesn’t move around. The best way to test how good a concealed carry holster is in that category is to put your gear into it and turn it upside down. If it comes out, you either need to adjust the retention, which is done by a little screw, or you simply need to choose a different type of concealed carry holster, Suffice it to say, the holster needs to be strong enough that the gun stays still until you pull it out on purpose, that’s really all there is to it.
Unless you’re carrying openly, which in most cases you won’t be doing, you’ll want your gear to be safely tucked in somewhere where it cannot be seen, but with easy access, too.
Inside the Waistband Holsters or IWB holster for short, offer a much better way to conceal your weapon than the OWB, otherwise known as Outside the WaistBand, which we will also look at in just a moment.
And, as far as IWB holsters are concerned, generally speaking, appendix IWB offers the most concealment. Think of appendix carry as starting directly in front of your belly button and ending on your pelvic bone, where it’s namesake is located.
Do note that what I’ve said above is just a general best way for most people, but everybody’s built different from one another, so experiment a little bit to make a search what is the best balance between concealment and being comfortable for you.
The main reason why you are using a concealed carry holster is to have something that will protect the gun from you and you from the gun, while also giving you a quick way to access and draw. But be careful with harder materials, because some of them can rub off the finish of your firearm or even your skin. Well, it may not sound like a big deal in wearing it every day you will start to feel not comfortable, so be wary.
Another place where abrasion can occur is in the clippings of the concealed carry holster. The metal ones are much harder than the plastic clippings, so they will even tear huge wholes in your shirt over time. Their softer counterparts, may not be so strong, but they are definitely more gentle to your clothing.
This is maybe one of the most important factors. If your concealed carry holster doesn’t afford you the ability to have a FULL combat grip on your gun when it is drawn, you need a different concealed carry holster. Meaning you’ve got a high grip that can deactivate safeties and can shoot one-handed.
You should be able to draw and fire, from any position, to include directly off-body if an attacker is on top of you. I’d even suggest a holster/position where you can reach with your weak hand as well.
What Are The Different Types of Concealed Carry Holsters?
There are just a few general types of concealed carry holsters out there, and they are IWB holsters, OWB holsters, Appendix holsters, shoulder holsters, Ankle holsters, and Pocket holsters. But before we look at the gear itself, let’s look at the two general categories that they all fall into.
They are pancake and hybrid holster, simple to remember, but very important not to forget.
Pancake concealed carry holsters, which are made by attaching two layers of some material to create a pouch the holster sits in, often molded for the exact make and model pistol or at least so close that it fits only a few different guns. Typical materials are leather – which is block-formed and fits the gun – and polymer, such as glass-filled nylon or Kydex that’s custom-molded for the gun in most cases. There are also pancake holsters made of some sort of durable cloth, such as woven nylon.
Hybrid concealed carry holsters, the other dominant form, are made by attaching a retention shell – usually molded for a specific make and model firearm – to a holster base platform. Leather is a popular holster base for hybrid holsters, but leather hybrid holsters have given way to other materials, including layered hybrid holster designs that tend to be much more comfortable.
Holster Belt Clips And Attachments
The belts clips and the attachments very a lot, not only by the manufacturer but also by holster design. But like all things, they can be divided into distinct categories, four to be exact. They are belt clips, loops, belt channels, and belt tunnels.
Belt clips are most common, being installed on most IWB and appendix concealed carry holsters. They slide over the belt or over the waistline of the trousers. Older designs were simple metal clips, usually steel or other strong metals. Polymer clips are a better alternative though, as we touched upon above, because not only are they usually stronger and less prone to bending, but they are also more gentle to your clothing.
Loops are found on some OWB concealed carry holsters, though they are installed on the back of the holster. Often enough, OWB holsters will have hard plastic loops on the back of the holster or directly on the sides.
Belt channels are also cut through the back, threading the belt through and behind the holster, holding it close and tight. This is common in older OWB designs, similar to those that are scabbard style. Some modern hybrid concealed carry holsters are made with belt channels cut into the leather, giving you wider options of how to carry it.
Belt tunnels are basically large loops but are more or less exclusive to OWB holsters. Leather holsters will have a strap sewn on the back of the holster that the belt is threaded through. Concealed Carry holsters made of hard plastic will have a tunnel on the back, likewise made of plastic.
Active Or Passive Retention?
Retention, how the gun is held in the holster, comes in two flavors: active and passive. Active retention means some sort of device, like a thumb break, hammer loop, or trigger guard lock, that has to be deactivated to draw the pistol. Passive retention fits the holster holding the gun in place. Some concealed carry holsters have adjustable passive retention, which lets you tighten or loosen it at. The best concealed carry holster has sufficient passive retention to work well. Active retention can be good, and in some cases is desirable, but should only be worn if the wearer desires, because it is actually designed for officer gear, not for civilian carrying.
Now that we have the accessories out of our way let’s look at the main dish, the complete list of all of the available types of holsters.
IWB holsters are worn inside the waistband, which makes them the easiest to conceal and carry on a daily basis.
Granted, there are many designs for an IWB holster. Some are very easy to put on, easily sliding inside the waistband, over the belt in seconds. Others, though, require a little bit more fiddling around to get them right.
IWB holsters are incredibly intuitive and easy to pull off, to such an extent that the gun is almost invisible to the naked point, which is, of course, the reason why you are using such a method of carrying the holster in the first hand. You are bound to experiment a little bit with the position of the holster and how it sits on your body to search the right combination of being comfortable and being concealed.
IWB holsters can be made both in the pancake or hybrid fashion and from many different materials. Some of them are as simple as a thick nylon cloth pouch with a textured outer surface and a metal clip, while others are a little bit more sophisticated, like a hybrid design with a comfortable backer and adjustable belt clips. You can attach all sorts of accessories, so the design is somewhat modular.
Additionally, being comfortable is of uttermost importance. Hybrid holsters are very popular in this respect, as a soft backing to the holster base makes for an easier carry. While you can always opt to wear a second undershirt, you should definitely try to find the most comfortable model for you first, and then try with the second cloth.
As to materials, leather makes for a strong holster, but leather also isn’t the best material if you intend to keep cool. Rough-out leather, rawhide, and suede can be good substitutes, but after wearing them for a bit, they get all soaked up in a sweat and start to smell, so I’m really not a big fan of them. Synthetic materials like Kydex or other polymers are also pretty comfortable, but most of the time, you may need to wear an undershirt if you want to achieve the highest level of being comfortable. The best products out there have soft padding absorbs sweat, and you can remove it easily and just wash off the smell.
Appendix Carry Holsters
Though they can be considered a subcategory of the IWB holsters, appendix carry holsters a complete category on its own. They are designed to be carried in the so-called “appendix position” on the front of the waistband and are generally much smaller.
They are offered in the same configurations, meaning pancake or hybrid. Many appendix holsters have just a single belt clip. They are much more quickly donned as well, usually sliding easily onto the waistband, anchoring to the belt with greater ease than a traditional winged IWB. For this exact reason, people buy them even if they aren’t going to wear it in the Appendix method.
As we’ve touched upon several times in this article, because of people’s different body types, the Appendix style holster, may not be the perfect solution for you, because while they do fit a glove, they do this only if they actually fit you.
But don’t worry if you do end up abandoning this style of Concealed holster, most big companies that actually offer quality products offer a thirty-day free return policy, so experiment without worrying about losing your money.
OWB Concealed Carry Holsters For Concealed Carry
OWB holster is the exact opposite of IWB ones, obviously. They are designed to the worn outside of the hip. Some are easily concealed, others are not. Typically, that is determined by two things, how high is the beltline and how close and snug are they to your body.
The higher the gun rides, the less it protrudes past the beltline, so covering it will be a whole lot easier. The tighter to the body a gun rides, the less it “sticks out,” thus avoiding unnecessary printing on your clothing.
The amount of covering up, you will actually go to need, is hugely dependent on you and your gun, because not all pistols are created equal, just like people.
The OWB method for concealed carry holsters is made from a variety of materials but generally comes in either pancake or hybrid designs, with the latter being on the rarer side. Belt loops behind or to the side of the holster are common, though tunnels and belt channel slots cut into the holster aren’t a rare occurrence either.
There are also paddle concealed carry holsters, which put a hard plastic or leather paddle inside the waistband or under the belt. Some are concealable. Others are not; it depends on the design of the OWB holster, but you always want the latter ones.
Most OWB holsters are specifically designed around the shape of a certain gun, so the passive retention will be enough to keep it still, with the need for a thumb break or any other active device to carry your gear well.
Some OWB holsters are also modular, so they can be converted to IWB use as well as OWB use. From time to time, a quick change of hardware is needed, and this is a great addition to have.
You’ll either like the concealed carry shoulder holster method or not. A lot of people just buy the holster, thinking it’s the perfect choice for them just to toss it away in a drawer somewhere and never use it again. But if you are a fan of them, boy are you in for a treat.
A shoulder holster consists of a holster body and a strapping harness that suspends the holster when the straps are put on the shoulders. Typically they are made of leather, though some are made out of either something else or, in the best case, a combination of the two for better comfort.
How the straps are put together, though, does really matter. If they are stitches together, they should be tailor-made to the costumer’s body. Otherwise, you want an adjustable strap.
Make sure to consider the gun that you’ll be carrying. The reason this matter is that some orient the gun horizontally, and others more of the vertical shoulder holster type. If you are going to carry a full-size pistol, the latter is your only viable option. Not only do you avoid putting in danger anyone around you, but you also avoid the annoying feeling in your armpit.
The retention of these type of concealed carry holsters usually come from a thumb break, but the belt loops that go trough it also really contribute to keeping the gun safe and sound.
For concealment, something like a jacket is a necessity for a shoulder holster, but depending on what you are carrying, you may need something thinner, like a button-up, or a thicker jacket for a gun like a full-sized pistol.
In warm weather, though, this is a whole different story. Leather and most synthetic materials really do take up a lot of heat, resulting in some uncomfortable amount of sweat. My advice is just to wait to use a shoulder holster only after the summer ends.
Ankle Concealed Carry Holsters
Ankle holsters affix your gun to your ankle or thigh, which well it may not sound like the best option for concealed carry. For smaller guns, it is actually perfect. In the past, most cops wore ankle holsters to conceal a backup gun, and some still do it even today.
The stereotype is that the ankle carry method is only for subcompact or micro pistols, and well, it’s a stereotype for a reason. Something like a Glock is a no go. It’s just too big.
The classic ankle holster is a leather strap with velcro, though plenty is out there made of nylon and other synthetic materials. You holster the gun, cinch down the wrap, and off you go. Anything bigger than a tiny gun will bounce around uncontrollably, and even most of the smaller models will move, even if it is going to be much less.
A few have been devised over the years with a garter system for support, though it doesn’t really help with the stability that much.
A good ankle holster is at minimum horizontally stable, and ideally will be vertically stable as well. An ankle holster that is able to balance both of these wells will be a stable enough piece of gear to handle something more than a micro gun.
You should choose some softer materials, as hard leather or nylon can chafe the wearer. Ankle concealed carry holsters are liable to get quite warm, so some sort of sweat-wicking material would make it a whole lot easier. It also helps if the holster has an adjustable ride hight because if you do decide Boots, you will need it.
These holsters are usually made to be used for a whole variety of guns or are even universal, so passive retention is a no go. You will need active one in the form of a thumb break to hold.your gun steady throughout the whole day.
Pocket Concealed Carry Holsters
If you do need to carry your gun in your pocket, it shouldn’t be done without protection from a pocket holster because you will be surprised how often accidents happen just because someone thought they can be a badass and just put their pistol in their pants.
This is especially important because the most popular pocket guns are often lightweight micro-poly striker guns, and all it takes is for the handgun to move around in a certain position, resulting in an accidental discharge, and no one wants that.
Pocket holsters are usually nothing more than a pouch made out of leather or other synthetic fabrics. This type of carrying method often has a stabilizing wing of some sort of a clip that helps anchor the pocket holsters until the pistol needs to be drawn.
Like any other gear, a pocket holster should fit your pistol like a glove giving it the maximum amount of attention you can get. And while it doesn’t stick to your skin like some of the other types of holsters, it manages not to appear trough clothing just as good.
Concealed carry holsters are the second most important thing after choosing a good gun belt when carrying any CCW. And you know, it’s a jungle of different options, types accessories and all out there and you can easily get lost.
And I really hope this article helped you out even a little bit because let me tell you, even I made some questionable purchases at first. It should not just be one that can conceal your gear properly but also one that is strong, durable, comfortable, and easy to access and draw from.
The ten holsters we looked at in reviews above really can be considered one of if not the best products in their respective categories, but to be frank, not one of them is perfect.
There is neither a perfect material nor a perfect form factor, and you should try to mix and fit all of the variable factors of a CCW holster to get one that is almost tailor-made for you. I just laid out the basic ingredients, and your job is to combine and spice the whole meal to your liking.
Whatever you may choose in the end, you should never be left out without a holster if you intend to carry a gun for protection, because while the firearm protects you, you will also need something to protect you from the handgun and that is exactly the holster’s job. If it can do it right, it is already the best piece of gear for you.