Holsters for Self Defense: A Guide to Carrying Concealed

Discussion in 'CCW' started by ammodotcom, Sep 24, 2020.

  1. ammodotcom

    ammodotcom G&G Evangelist


    You’ve made the decision to carry a firearm. Maybe you’ve already picked out your gun, and maybe you’ve already shot it. Now, it’s time to wear it. But it can be confusing knowing where to start.

    After all, there are holsters that clip on the outside of your pants, ones that fit on the inside of your ankle, and even ones that go in your pocket. How are you supposed to know which one is right for you and your gun?

    This guide will walk you through the benefits of wearing a holster and how to choose which ones will best fit your lifestyle and weapon.

    What’s Your Carry Purpose?

    People carry guns for different reasons, and the holster you choose depends on your purpose for having the gun in the first place. That means while the man living on a 5,000-acre ranch may not care about concealing his 9mm when he rides to check the fence, the woman who lives in Detroit and walks home from work in the dark does care about concealment.

    Keep this in mind as you talk about concealed carry with your friends and family. When you’re looking for a holster to be used for self defense, it’s going to be different than the ones people wear at the range or shooting club. It’s going to be different than what police and security guards use, and it very well may be different than what your next door neighbor wears. And that’s okay – as long as it works for you and your gun.

    Characteristics of Good Self-Defense Holsters

    When carrying your self-defense firearm, there are a few things that all good holsters have in common. Regardless of whether you’re carrying a Beretta Pico at your hip or a 9mm Glock under your arm, these are the traits you want to look for in a self-defense holster:

    • It fits snug against your body. Not only will an ill-fitting holster be uncomfortable, but it can draw attention if it’s bouncing around, which is not what you want.

    • It holds the firearm tight. If your gun isn’t tight in its holster, it becomes a risk during a physical altercation. If you’re fighting someone, thrown to the floor, or even running away, you need to be sure your firearm is going to stay put.

    • It’s able to be carried concealed. If you want to use a gun for self defense, it’s always best to wear it concealed. You don’t want to draw unwanted trouble or make people feel uncomfortable because they can see your weapon.

    • It has a smooth presentation. A good holster allows you to easily draw your gun out of the holster and return it without issue. If you have to fumble with the straps or it takes two hands to remove it, it’s no good for self defense (where every second counts). The quicker you can get it out and ready to aim, the better.

    • It protects your gun. Your holster should offer a level of protection from both the outside elements and your body. Rain and sweat can do damage to a firearm, but with the right holster, both can easily be avoided.

    Comfort and Function

    Along these same lines, a holster needs to be comfortable and functionable. If it’s not, there’s no way you’re going to wear it on a regular basis. Here are some of the things to keep in mind as you determine what kind of holster you should choose.

    • Using a holster that’s on your body is always better than one off the body. That means an in-the-waistband holster should be chosen over a concealed-carry purse, and a hip holster over a specialized concealed-carry jacket. When your firearm is on your body, it’s safer, easier to reach, and has less chance of falling into the wrong hands.

    • For most people, a holster at the waist or hip tends to be the most efficient. It’s always within reach of your dominate hand and makes it more difficult for someone to remove it from your person.

    • Don’t just buy a holster, try it on. Wear it around the store. Do some jumping jacks. Bend down like you’re grabbing something off the bottom shelf at the grocery store. Do what you do every day and see how it feels. Does it stay in place? Does it jab you in the ribs? Does the holster print on your back every time you bend over? These are things you can only know by trying one on and moving around.

    • One may not be enough. This is especially true for those who wear a variety of clothing. There are men who need something that can be worn with a business suit, a pair of jeans, and clothes from the gym, and women who need a holster for dresses, work clothes, and going out with friends. That’s okay – you don’t wear the same pair of shoes for every occasion, and you don’t need to wear the same holster either.

    • One made specifically for your gun is best. While there’s thousands of universal holsters out there, the fact remains that the best-fitting holster is one that is made for your specific make and model of gun. It’s going to firmly hold it, keep it snug, and fit like a glove.

    Continue reading Holsters for Self Defense: A Guide to Carrying Concealed at Ammo.com.
    Ranger4, BigEd63, TXplt and 3 others like this.
  2. redcaddy51

    redcaddy51 G&G Evangelist

    I think, like most folks that carry everyday, we end up with a cardboard box full of holsterts that we have worn out or just fallen out of love with. The ones I call the save/trade box.

    Picking a comfortable holster is a bit like picking a small boat fishing partner. Yer gonna be in a small space, together, for a long time.

    Each holster you pick will, of necessity, be exactly right for one situation, at best two.
    My "coat and tie" business carry is very different from my "business casual" carry. I don't try to make one style work for all situations. I still use a fanny pack on my morning walk in sweats. (I'm old, so I don't run for a bus...)

    For me the first look is to accessibility, then security, then concealment.

    When I was working, I carried in the office, the field, recreation, errands, family outings and such, in short, everywhere. I also had 5 or 6 different guns in seasonal rotation as well. Its HOT and humud down here so I dress accordingly. This too has an impact on carry gear. Sometimes, I even carry off body.

    My last bit of advise is to always buy the best quality you can afford, good ain't cheap and cheap is very seldom good in the long pull.

    Ranger4, K75RT, BigEd63 and 7 others like this.

  3. mitchr

    mitchr G&G Evangelist

    All good points, but I'd add one other suggestion, the belt. This particularly applies to OWB carry, but could help the comfort level of IWB carry. Most holsters I've seen are made to accept 1-1/2"-1-3/4" wide belts, 1/4" thick. A 1", thin dress belt will not hold the holster as it is intended. A good, suitable belt can cost as much as the holster, but it is the "foundation" for comfortable carry.
    Ranger4, 455rocket, blaster and 5 others like this.
  4. Jaison

    Jaison G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    Agreed. +1.
    455rocket, TXplt, ammodotcom and 2 others like this.
  5. animalspooker

    animalspooker G&G Evangelist

    A pallet of holsters may be more appropriate.
    Ranger4, K75RT, BigEd63 and 6 others like this.
  6. ammodotcom

    ammodotcom G&G Evangelist

    I think gun belts may just be worthy of their own article. I know I've been bad wearing belts that can barely hold my pants up, let alone a revolver.
    ChaZam, neophyte, TXplt and 1 other person like this.
  7. animalspooker

    animalspooker G&G Evangelist

    How's the belly banders working out. I could see wearing it in the winter, but summer is tough on us fat boys!
    K75RT and neophyte like this.
  8. mitchr

    mitchr G&G Evangelist


    Yeah, I went that route, also. Even tried the cheapy nylon holster.:oops: There are some decently priced holsters out there, but you really need to try them on, as you say. If you really know the on-line source & they have a liberal return policy, may be okay, but I find most products do not measure up to their pics on the 'net & that doesn't apply to just holsters.:rolleyes:
    neophyte and TXplt like this.
  9. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor

    The box full of disused holsters is called my "education fund."

    It was cheaper and of more value than going to some BS college course so's that's how I rationalize it.

    What do I use now ?

    Mostly (when I have a choice in dress) it's a Simply Rugged OWB pancake of some sort (revolver or autoloader) with matching Real Man's belt. These are great. I OC on the farm with them and untuck a shirt going out into town.

    When more concealment is necessary it's a Sticky holster for the Sig P365 which works in the pocket or AIWB. A DeSantis Nemesis works fine for this purpose as well; they're both kinda the same thing. Sticky/Remora/Nemesis. Personal preference. And they can be had for the small autoloaders or J-frame/LCRs.

    If I have the G43/G43x/Shield the SOB tactical rig works well for AIWB. They have either a condom holster or the basic minimalist clip which works fine.

    The VP-40 usually gets the Simply Rugged treatment if I carry it but if I HAVE to have an IWB option it's the Ventcore rig.

    If it's a Glock 20 or 17 with RMR, it usually needs a Kydex OWB cut specifically for the gun.
    neophyte likes this.
  10. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor

    The "Simply Rugged" belts are a bit pricey, but last for a VERY long time and I've found them outstanding. They match their holsters well.
    neophyte likes this.
  11. Jim Bridger

    Jim Bridger G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    It makes little difference about your "Gun Belt" rigging. It is important to have a loaded handgun when needed. :usa2:
    K75RT and blaster like this.
  12. mitchr

    mitchr G&G Evangelist


    Yeah, I've heard the "gun should be comforting, not comfortable" saying. 'Course comfortable doesn't hurt anything. The muzzle digging into your groin, because you have the wrong belt, isn't very comforting.:p
    455rocket likes this.
  13. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor

    Meh...I beg to differ.

    Carry for conditions encountered I believe very important. To me, the most significant challenge is in getting the tool from where it's being carried to where it can be helpful. Drawing from pocket carry is very difficult if sitting down; AIWB is often a good choice (if dress permits) for most all conditions, and if carried IWB, WHERE it's carried and the user is proficient becomes (I believe) very important (especially if an outer garment needs to be cleared which is usually). This can be particularly significant if the gun is behind the 3/9 line which seems to be difficult for many to get out efficiently and rapidly (but is a common method of carry).

    If given my druthers, SSD or AIWB is what I really like and train more than anything to. An OWB pancake on a decent belt is concealable and CAN well conceal things up to an including a VP-40 or G17 size gun (so the -19/23 size aren't a problem).

    Pocket carry is kind of my 'lazy man' carry where I at least have something (and train to this). But it's one of the harder setups to employ out of. The sleek lines of the SAS 365 help, but it's more out of deference of having something in the first place vs. not having something at all when a quick stop is made somewheres.

    So to me a secure, concealable, and 'employable' carry rig is really really important. Part of this for the OWB is how it's secured to the pants (via a decent belt).

    Having the gun in the first place I agree to be very important. But a secure carry rig that lets you (with training) get it into action I believe equally important.
  14. mitchr

    mitchr G&G Evangelist


    That is one of the reasons I decided on cross draw. I found it easier to draw from cover than when I carried at the 3 or 4 o'clock position. In fact, I often only buttoned the lower couple buttons when using an untucked shirt for cover, or only zipped my jacket up a couple inches, merely insuring I wouldn't accidentally expose my pistol. I'd just reach thru the opening to draw. Also, a lot easier to get to when sitting down. When Texas adopted open carry, removing the penalty for exposure, I even stopped doing that, because no worry if it is accidentally exposed.
  15. big shrek

    big shrek G&G Evangelist

    Try a "Thunderwear" holster.
    Amazon has a nice easy return for different size or refund policy.

    It is my go-to CC holster for anything larger than a pocket pistol.
    Comfy. Totally concealed. Fast access.
    Not even your boss will know you have a gun on unless he gropes you.
    TXplt and neophyte like this.
  16. ChaZam

    ChaZam G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    Just scrolling down through the comments about holsters and then the mention of suitable belts causes me to mention this...
    Maybe consider overalls, coveralls, jumpsuits, or suspenders. All of those are surefire solutions for someone with a bit of a gut and not enough butt to hold their pants up with a good belt, even without factoring in the additional weight of a holster, firearm, ammo, extra magazine.Some of you would be amazed at what all I can carry in the bib overalls that I wear a lot now days.
    TXplt, neophyte and Jaison like this.
  17. Junction15

    Junction15 G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    Good point on 'holding up' the pants. For me, a good fitting pair of pants makes a huge difference in keeping the holster & gun comfortably in place. If they don't fit me right, I have to cinch my belt tighter and that is not comfortable for wearing all day- no matter if it's IWB or OWB holster wear. Even a good, reinforced gun belt will work it's way down. Hitching the pants up, even subconsciously is a "tell" that someone could be carrying, or shoplifting. It draws the attention of people looking for that.
    neophyte and ChaZam like this.
  18. Jim Bridger

    Jim Bridger G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    The "Quick Draw", on a dusty street in Dodge City was entertaining.:):) That said, the only modern day fast draw is for an IPSC competition. :D:D
    noelekal likes this.
  19. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor

    It's gotta be quick enough though given the circumstances and I'd highly recommend training to this.
    Jaison and neophyte like this.
  20. Jim Bridger

    Jim Bridger G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    I was on the IPSC combat shooting circuit for may years. I never knew of a police officer who was trained to use a fast draw.
    The training is directed to safety and directed shooting. Thanks for your respectful comments as always.:usa2:
    Ranger4 and TXplt like this.