5 Things You Must Know About Concealed Carry Holsters

The inside-the-waistband (IWB) option reduces visibility of concealed carry holsters.

The inside-the-waistband (IWB) option reduces visibility of concealed carry holsters.

You’ve got your CCW handgun, but before you start packing here are five things about concealed carry holsters you need to be aware of before you go armed.

Concealed Carry Holsters: Plan on Them Not Feeling Right…Yet

D.M. Bullard’s exotic holster is a beauty,  but also note the reinforced belt loops and  double stitching. It is made to last and withstand  the many repetitions needed to achieve real speed  and smoothness in practice.

D.M. Bullard’s exotic holster is a beauty,
but also note the reinforced belt loops and
double stitching. It is made to last and withstand
the many repetitions needed to achieve real speed
and smoothness in practice.

Some effort is required to find the right concealed carry holster, but no matter what the choice, there is always an acclimation period.

Some handguns are more ergonomic than others, but few are completely devoid of sharp edges.

Don’t Spend All Your Money but Don’t Buy Junk

A quality concealed carry holster goes a long way toward making carrying a defensive handgun bearable. There are many choices, and some are readily available. Blackhawk, DeSantis, and Galco are among the best-known and most reliable mass-produced holsters.

There are fine concealed carry holsters that are custom made and that might be said to be examples of the maker’s art. These are not inexpensive and often take weeks, if not months, to obtain.

Still, while the concepts of inexpensive and high quality don’t always go together, there are good holsters offering a balance of value and cost.

Kydex is as Good as Leather

Leather is attractive, but these days, Kydex, a thermoplastic resin, is a more popular concealed carry holster material. (Do not confuse Kydex with ordinary cheap plastic, which isn’t durable enough for the rigors of concealed carry.)

There are tradeoffs inherent in Kydex, but there are also advantages. One of the biggest pluses is that the material is maintenance-free and impervious to solvents or moisture.

A tradeoff, if it can be called one, is that a leather holster maintains security on the long bearing surfaces of the pistol, while the Kydex holster keeps its grip primarily on the muzzle and trigger guard area. Of the downsides? Some say Kydex will wear the finish off a pistol quickly, but so does properly fitted leather.

Pick a Manageable, Accurate Caliber

The Ted Blocker crossdraw has earned the “classic” title, because it continues to work well with modern handguns. With practice, it is versatile and fast into action.

The Ted Blocker crossdraw has earned the “classic” title, because it continues to work well with modern handguns. With practice, it is versatile and fast into action.

My choice in defensive handguns is based on many years of practical experience. Having been in the wrong place at the wrong time more than once, and having written quite a few reports concerning shootings and other mayhem, I am aware of the relative wound potential of different handguns.

I prefer the .45 ACP and the .357 Magnum. The .38 Special and 9mm+P are also realistic minimum calibers. I’ll always lean towards one that is manageable and accurate.

Examine Your Wardrobe

Concealing a serious defensive handgun under lightweight garments can be problematic. If the handgun is short and compact, an outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster under a sport shirt will work fine, but, for most of us, the inside-the-waistband holster (IWB) is superior.

Your covering garment is important. I have adopted a Kakadu sport shirt for much of my concealment needs. This shirt is made of Gravel canvas and has a leather collar. I admit it is stylish, but it also conceals a holster well without printing the outline of it for the world to see.

Editor’s Note: This article on concealed carry holsters is excerpted from Gun Digest 2014, the world’s foremost annual book about firearms.


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3 thoughts on “5 Things You Must Know About Concealed Carry Holsters

  1. bigsilver45

    Back in the 70s and 80s, when I worked as a police officer, I used inverted class he’ll shoulder holsters made by safari land and bianchi. One was for my S&W mod 36. The other for mod 28. Both worked well and we’re very reliable. I wish. someone
    manufactured such holsters today.

  2. rabrooks

    Nice article. The one folks forget to talk about is the BELT! I got a Fobus paddle for my 1911 family. It was fine for wearing with the standard belt. Chewed them up a bit, but stayed put. It stuck out and flopped around a bit too much while carrying my Officer’s model. So I looked for something new. I went with the Galco “Super-Tuk”. I lucked-up again. After a while, I could take a nap with the thing on. However, all my regular belts were in taters. What is a heavy regular belt, is minimal when carrying a holster. Most belts aren’t made for holding up your pants, sidearm and maybe extra ammo. Now I’m on the belt quest. They can get expensive, and have features I never considered. Well, more learning to do.

    1. gmaugie007

      i got my first belt from saddlebackleather.com just a couple of months ago. AWESOME! yes, i paid more for it than for a couple or so belts from a department store. i have no doubt, though, that it’s gonna last for a long, long time. “they’ll fight over it when you die.”

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