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Browning have created several firearms of world renown, with their universally recognised machine guns, an extensive range of classic pistols and sport and hunting firearms from rifles to shotguns.
The Browning Hi Power pistol is iconic, favoured by sport shooters, aesthetes and aficionados alike, and boasts a 13 round magazine capacity, almost double that of notable contemporary semi-automatic handguns such as the Luger or Colt’s M1911 model. Browning also produce the classic 1911 semi-automatic model.
Their rifles are favoured by hunters, while the .50 calibre Browning machine guns have been a staple of the British and American militaries since the Second World War, used on vehicles, aircraft and watercraft. It continues to be the staple machine gun of NATO militaries.
Blackhawk have a range of Hi Power compatible holsters, perhaps most notably the Inside the Waistband (IWB) budget option with nylon lining, with or without the retention strap. This model is reputable and available for all Browning sizes and calibres.
They also offer a popular service-friendly duty hip holster with thumb break. However – unusually among major manufacturers – Browning produce their own holsters: the company offers a range of quality holster types suitable for duty or concealed carry, with either duty-friendly double retention to release the bindings or ‘quick draw’ leather slide action. Their holsters are available in polymer, nylon and leather, for shoulder, belt and SOB alike.
Fobus IWB or Outside the Waistband (OWB) holsters can be used for Browning semi-automatics, with innumerable manufacturers offering these and comfortable shoulder or hunting holsters compatible with the popular Browning models in each calibre. A high gloss or leather shoulder holster for the Hi Power or 1911 would be ideal both aesthetically and for comfort.
Italian giants Beretta offer a good looking and stylish gun. Their pistols have been widely used by militaries, police agencies, security services and civilian entities alike, with perhaps their most famous model being the M9 semi-automatic. The most common complaint of the armourer or gun dilettante with regards to Berettas is that of durability.
Over time, Berettas are known to inordinately jam and break, which brings to mind the first meeting between the iconic James Bond and his superior ‘M’ in Dr No, during which M castigates Bond’s Beretta 418 for jamming at a critical moment, with severe consequences for 007! In the novels and films, this gun was replaced by the Walther PPK.
For the Beretta models, Kydex shoulder or height-adjustable belt slide holsters are favoured for concealment and cosmetic factors while ensuring its owner can be quick on the draw. Blackhawk, DeSantis, Fobus and the other industry leaders all produce holsters that cater to this popular pistol type.
However, unlike several major firearms manufacturers, Beretta produce their own holsters, both in compact and full-size, in polymer and leather, for concealed carry or competitions, available for all models of Beretta pistol, for right and left-handed owners and designed for the shoulder or hip, inside or outside the waistband, ankle and small of back.
Česká Zbrojovka are Czech firearms manufacturers whose highly influential vz 52. roller locked automatic pistol won great acclaim.
Their semi-automatic pistols have been widely copied and CZ are considered revolutionary small arms manufacturers with regards to the evolution of pistols; with one model, CZ-USA boldly announced they were in the process of ‘improving perfection’.
Their popularity with recreational shooters is rising.
Built to withstand tough, cold climates and remain reliable in the hands of soldiers, CZ handguns are well-balanced and retain a high level of accuracy over time in comparison to other service pistols.
IWB paddle or ‘pancake’ holsters are good for the larger calibre CZ pistols. Users have reported the safety catch can be tough to operate for those with smaller sized hands, and a thumb release leather slide holster for quick draw seems to suit these pistols well. They fit the same holsters as the Beretta 92FS. Kydex, carbon fibre or polymer holsters with a good trigger guard are recommended, as one reported drawback to these handguns is a trigger of suspect quality.
Kahr is a company specialising in compact handguns. They produce concealed carry IWB, ankle and pocket holsters for their specific semi-automatic handgun types in both leather and nylon, and in a variety of colours.
These Kahr holsters are of optimal suitability for Kahr handguns, though they are compatible with most concealed carry holsters on the market. Appendix carry (IWB), an OWB belt holster or pocket carry is optimal for the lighter models.
Kahr’s smaller semi-automatic models are ideal for those wishing to use ankle holsters for concealment. Urban Carry’s innovative ‘below the waistband’ holster type might suit the sub-compact or compact Kahr handgun best.
There are different trains of thought with regards to Kahr handguns of both ‘compact’ and ‘subcompact’ variety. These smaller arms are said to be good pocket carry pistols, with the attention to detail in manufacturing resulting in high quality semi-automatic handguns favoured for concealed carry and home defence.
However, the guns require at least a 200-300 round break-in, and reports of malfunctioning pistols have been widely circulated. Kahr weapons are not used in any military or policing capacity in the western world.
Glocks are indisputably the AK-47 of the pistol world. Reliable, trustworthy and well-crafted; Glocks are widely used by western police agencies, militaries and security services and these polymer-framed, recoil-operated semi-automatic handguns are considered a high-water mark, as good as a service pistol as can be found. Some recreational shooters may prefer more aesthetic models, but for reliability and performance, the Glock is hard to beat.
Glock pistols came into prominence after consistently high performance in a series of in-house tests, after which the Austrian and military adopted it as their go-to handgun. They are popular for recreational and competitive shooting. However, Glock do not make their own holsters, and the favoured holster for these pistol types might be a polymer or carbon fibre concealed carry or shoulder holster. For service use, Safariland offer tactical leg and drop leg options held in high esteem as regards their comfort and functionality.
Blackhawk have a staggering fifty-one Glock compatible holsters in all forms and for all sizes and calibres. There are numerous shoulder, ankle, small-of-back (SOB), concealed carry IWB or OWB holsters available for the Glock series, being that this is the most popular pistol type in the world today, and as such there are countless options, of which the Model 38 Bianchi pistol pocket (an IWB carry rig with clip) is a notable one for the Glock 19, as is the Model 5 Black Widow for the Glock 17. Blackhawk and Uncle Mike’s Glock holsters are widely used. Each Glock has its own holster relative to its specifications, full size and compact alike.
Ruger is a major American manufacturer, ranked the foremost firearms maker from 2008-2011 and the highest seller of handguns from 2009-2012.
Ruger makes a range of pistols of centrefire and rimfire variety, the latter of which have a long cylindrical barrel design similar to that of the iconic German handgun, the Luger. The similarly named ‘Ruger’ (from Sturm, Ruger & Co.) produces semi-automatics of high quality and dominates the .22 market with its Lugerlike MK I and MKII, which has now been supplanted by the later MKIII.
Ruger also have a range of durable single and double action revolvers, similar to the Colt series.
Sturm, Ruger & Co. do not produce their own range of holsters for each model type. The ‘Pro Carry’ range of holsters is made for each Ruger pistol currently on the market, of kydex shell with steel clips and leather straps, nylon or polymer.
Blackhawk, Detroit Concealment and Safariland offer top of the range alternatives. There are innumerable IWB or OWB holsters available for each model of Ruger semi-automatic; each of them tailored for every calibre and size. Double retention shoulder or OWB holsters of Kydex or polymer are preferable for the MKIII or any descendent of the Ruger Standard pistol.
Kel Tec is a smaller firearms manufacturer that produces a range of quality polymer-frame semi-automatic handguns. Some of their pistols are reputed to be exceptionally crafted, of unique and innovative design, the company’s customer service is excellent and several Kel Tec handguns are even considered among the foremost concealed carry firearms available on the market today.
This high praise is offset against reports of lack of durability, notably harsh recoil, slow production of guns and even exploding frames. Yet the consensus is generally favourable. What is inarguable is that Kel Tec pistols are in high demand.
There are a wide range of holsters available for Kel Tec semi-automatics; IWB leather strap holsters are a suitable choice for concealed carry. DeSantis and others make excellent waistband attachable holsters compatible with the Kel Tec range of pistols. Kydex shell IWB, OWB and SOB holsters are preferred for this high quality semi-auto.
Kimber produce a range of the classic 1911 style semi-automatic pistols and, while sufficiently esteemed as to be used by American SWAT teams, they are a famously good looking handgun.
This is one for the recreational shooter. The M1911 model is another famous and popular design from these American manufacturers.
Other pistol types include the Ultra Series and the Custom Full-size models, the latter of which boast more stopping power and accuracy. From the iconic 1911 to the sub-compact Solo or pocket-sized Micro, Kimber guns are made with regards to craftsmanship and are a favourite of the aesthete.
The Pro Carry ‘pancake style’ rig is optimal for a smooth drawing action, and holsters for small of back, IWB/OWB or appendix style carry are available. For the Micro, a DeSantis ‘Nemesis’ or one of the influential Sticky pocket holsters would be preferable; the 1911 model more suited to shoulder or OWB depending on preference and circumstance. As Kimbers are a notably well-designed gun, aesthetically-minded owners might consider high gloss or white leather shoulder holsters for maximum effect!
The Smith & Wesson M&P (Military & Police) is a powerful striker fired semi-automatic pistol with a polymer-frame reinforced by stainless steel chassis. This, as the name suggests, was introduced for military and police usage by New York-based company Smith & Wesson in 2005.
It is considered a comfortable handgun to fire, and since its introduction to the market Smith & Wesson have released many variants, in .22, .380, .40 and .45 calibre and full size, sub-compact and compact. Used by the Spanish Transport Police and the Italian Ministry of the Interior, M&P models were ordered for use by Belgium’s police but following operational problems with regards to jamming, the Belgian police sent back 6,000 pistols for repair.
Despite this, they are used internationally by various governmental and policing agencies.
A high ride OWB belt slide for the full-size M&P is good for concealed or open carry, as is the Kydex shell option with steel clip and height adjustment capabilities. There are numerous
Sig Sauer has been through several incarnations since its Swiss-German founding. The current company that produces handguns has a range of Ps, MKs and pocket pistols including the ‘Mosquito’ model. Used by law enforcement agencies and recreational shooters alike, Sig Sauer offers quality 9mm smoothly operating striker-fired semi-autos and pistols with more stopping power such as the Sig Sauer P229, as used by the US Secret Service and the P320. One benefit is the small, medium and large grip size frames which cater to just about any hand size.
For the more compact Sig Sauer models, the Pro Carry alligator-embossed belt ride for 1-3/4 belts offers a comfortable concealed carry. For the full size model, any number of shoulder, small of back or inside the waistband options can be found in nylon or kydex shell with steel clips or leather straps from Blackhawk, Galco and the industry leading names.
Classic pistols for service and sport. The American company that specialised in Civil War era revolvers tried to supplant the Colt 1911A1 as the US Army’s standard issue semi-automatic pistol in the 1930s with their own Walther P38-inspired ‘Smith & Wesson Model 39’.
While they failed in the attempt, the M39 – now on the market in its third generation form – was distributed to the civilian shooting market and became an extremely popular concealed carry .45 calibre pistol.
Steel clip belt attachments for IWB or OWB carry is suggested for the full size third generation Smith & Wesson semi-automatic models, which are sturdy but sufficiently light to sit well in a leather hip holster.
Carry rigs are available with close-fitting loops, or spaced for more even weight distribution of the handgun and square trigger guard. As Smith & Wesson handguns are used in military and policing service, double retention kydex shell holsters are recommended with ‘snap and twist’ release action for safety.
This Floridian company is fairly new to the market, headquartered in northwest Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Their most notable handgun was the SCCY CPX-1 locked breech double action semi-automatic pistol, until it was superseded by the CPX-2.
The latter incarnation enjoys great success in the United States of America as one of the more popular recent concealed carry and home defence weapons. Of all sub-compact semi-automatics in recent years, the CPX-2 has earned highly positive reviews for its action, weight and relative power, given that it is light and small enough to conceal with ease. Laser sighting can be attached, and the gun’s action is fast, powerful and accurate.
The SCCY CPX series is suitable for Pro Carry leather or kydex holsters in belt ride, small of back, appendix, IWB or OWB form and with thumb release ‘quick draw’ capability. Commendable handgun for concealed carry.
Polarising in the extreme, Taurus semi-automatic pistols are widely used, for the most part now by recreational shooters. The Brazilian company produced its first revolver in the annum dramatis of Operation Barbarossa, the 1941 Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, one year before Brazil itself declared war against Hitler’s Germany.
Since then, Taurus (named after the bull) have gone on to produce semi-automatic pistols that are loved and castigated in equal (and unequalled) measure! Taurus once shared a parent company – and brief manufacturing symbiosis – with Smith & Wesson, though after seven years ownership changed hands and all ties were severed.
They also bought Brazilian factories and workers from Italians Beretta, and several handgun designs bear stylistic similarities to the pistols produced by both. Somewhat more notoriously, one million handguns had to be recalled by Taurus due to ‘safety defects’, dating from 1997-2013, with a resulting loss of $39,000,000.
An OWB, IWB or leather crossdraw from Galco, Raven Concealment or Safariland is fine for the full size Taurus semi-automatic, according to preference.
The classic British handgun favoured by fictional secret agents: a Walther PPK is a must-have for any serious James Bond fan and gun aficionado. Furthermore, it is said to be one of the kings of concealed carry firearms. It could be argued that Walther handguns have declined in prestige, but the craftsmanship remains superb and these polymer framed pistols pack a punch.
While the P38 or PPK remain the ‘classic’ model, there are no less than four Walther 9mm polymer semi-autos, including the vaunted PPX. Also, Walther’s newer PPQ designs have earned solid reviews and are said to have ‘made a splash’. PPQ stands for ‘Police Pistol Quick Defence’ and as the name suggests, is in service use with police and security agencies.
That said, in some quarters Walther semi-autos are considered THE concealed carry pistol, and for self-and-home defence, recreational use or purely its aesthetic appeal, it is hard to go wrong with a Walther.
A high gloss or fine leather shoulder holster is no more than the Walther deserves.
The customisable Pro Carry LT with optional slide guard is custom designed to fit the Walther PPK for optimal comfort and concealed carry. Blackhawk offers various IWB, OWB, hip, shoulder and drop leg holster options for thirteen Walther semi-automatic pistol types, though not the PPQ. Ankle, height-adjustable belt slide or small of back holders work well with this weapon, ideal for concealed carry and packing a powerful punch.
Springfield are known for military service assault rifles, but their XD polymer pistol series is seen as a reasonable alternative to some of the Glock models.
The Springfield XDm could be holstered in the horizontal ‘double retention’ fine leather rig of a metropolitan murder detective just as easily as it could adorn the gun cabinet of a recreational aficionado. The XD-9 sub-compact semi-automatic is considered a quality concealed carry handgun, at .40 calibre, 13 round magazine striker-fire with polymer frame and the forged steel slide, a comfortable adhesive grip and no snag trigger guard. Recreational and sport shooters report unerring accuracy from the Springfield semi-automatics, in particular the XD Mod 2.
These are well-made and reputable guns for service or sport.
Suitable for comfortable, snug IWB customised holsters and appendix OWB attachable rigs. Blackhawk, Fobus, DeSantis, Uncle Mike’s and more provide high quality holsters suitable for Springfield semi-automatics.
The 1911 is a classic semi-automatic choice with a plethora of pistol holsters of OWB and IWB variety on the market. Blackhawk offers several, perhaps most notably the SERPA concealment holster which has a passive retention detent adjustment screw and auto lock release, an immediate retention and audible click upon re-holster for security and which includes a belt loop and paddle platform. Another Blackhawk 1911 holster type is the SERPA CQC Sportster, equally good for hunting, recreational shooting and a day on the range.
It was the SERPA range that helped establish Blackhawk as an industry leader in providing for military, law enforcement and civilian shooters alike with high quality holsters.
Fobus also offers a range of 1911 compatible, high quality holsters, the best of which is said to be the ‘Standard Holster RH Paddle C21, which attaches via a rubberised paddle and has a steel reinforced rivet attachment. This model is secure, yet good for a rapid draw. Galco, DeSantis and all major manufacturers of semi-automatic holsters will cater to the 1911 model and the noteworthy .38, .45 and .50 calibre pistol.
The 9mm Parabellum pistol is a staple of concealed carry weaponry, and there is a multitude of options available for holsters. Those manufactured by Uncle Mike’s are reputed to be excellent in terms of comfort and security, made with a suede-like exterior, nylon lining and inner moisture barrier to protect the pistol from perspiration.
Uncle Mike’s boasts a range of options compatible with the major semi-auto and automatic firearms of all calibres and stripes. Sticky holsters also provide a range of reputable Inside the Waistband holsters favoured by 9mm concealed carry handgun owners.
Their IWB and pocket holsters alike are known for reliability and durability, well-made with outside skin of non-slip material (usually kydex or nylon) and inner closed cell foam. The vaunted design means that not only will the inner lining grip for security, over time and with body heat the holster will conform to the particular gun it holds.
For concealed carry, Blackhawk’s IWB range or Uncle Mike’s pocket or carry rigs are optimal for the 9mm weapon. A notable Blackhawk option is the Omega VI Elite Holster, with a drop leg platform and quick release belt mount, elastic rubberised leg straps and a three point breakaway system. The retention strap is optional.
An undisputed industry leader, Blackhawk are a beloved brand and go-to option for concealed carry handgun owners across the length and breadth of the United States.
The SERPA and SERPA CQC Sportster types are a most popular holster type for recreation, service and sport, with 3-slot pancake rigs, sturdy yet lightweight hip holsters with thumb break, shoulder rigs and IWB and OWB options with immediate retention or the option of no retention strap.
Blackhawk offer the Omega range of secure drop leg options with elastic rubberised leg straps, a removable retention strap and a front pouch for an extra magazine or knife. The company offers a wide range holsters fit to the specifications for thirteen Walther semi-automatic pistol types, twenty Brownings and a whopping forty nine Berettas and fifty one Glocks, et al.
They provide extensively for each of the major semi-automatic handgun types on the market today.
Not for nothing is Blackhawk an industry leader and pioneer of pistol holsters.
DeSantis are a large company that provide high quality holsters for all semi-automatic handgun types. The ‘Cozy Partner’ type is a holster of fine brown leather craftsmanship, with split belt loop, providing IWB comfort and ideal for full size semi-autos and automatics, and the OWB synthetic and leather options with retention snaps are as secure and sturdy as can be found for smaller handguns and revolvers.
DeSantis boast a range of high quality and reasonably priced holsters for IWB and hip, and their ‘Nemesis’ pocket holsters for compact models earn mostly positive reviews and come recommended.
Perhaps not the holster brand for service and tactical operators, but in terms of concealed carry firearms DeSantis are as good and well-priced as can be found on the market.
Urban Carry offers a range of holsters, perhaps most interestingly the innovative ‘G2 Urban Carry holster’. Neither Inside nor Outside the Waistband, G2 is marketed as a ‘Below the Waistband’ handgun holder and as far as appendix carry holsters go, it is said to be one of or even the very best of the bunch.
This holster comes with a belt clip; the gun slide rests in the leather piece and hangs beneath the waistline. Simply pull the leather flap that covers the weapon and the gun is good to draw.
Magnets hold the handgun in place, and the stitching and craftsmanship is superb. The leather flap serves to disguise the piece as something more akin to a cell phone, and while the magnet holds the gun in place, it is not strong enough to affect the quickness of draw.
The G2 Urban Carry has earned rave reviews as a highly reliable holster – one of which claimed optimal comfort and subtlety even when tested with skinny jeans!Urban Carry holsters are popular with Glock, Beretta and Walther handgun types, and their smaller range is suitable for subcompact models of Ruger, Taurus, Colt, Kimber, Smith & Wesson .380 and Kahr pistols. They offer medium, large and extra large for each holster type. The extra large is suitable for the big, ugly, chunky yet powerful pistol the Glock 21.
Fobus is an Israeli manufacturer specialising in polymer-based holsters. Their stated aims were to create durable holsters offering passive retention and rapid deployment, and their innovative style was first demonstrated when Fobus were first to create custom-moulded injected polymer holsters.
Favoured by Glock owners and thus, suitable for service and security use, their duty-friendly holsters are secure yet offer unparalleled quickness of draw. The Fobus GL4 Paddle holster works well with such models as the Glock 30S, and both holstering and drawing is fast and easy.
Fobus do not enjoy universal popularity amongst civilian and service owners of handguns. Concealed carry is more difficult with many of the Fobus holster types, and a lack of serious retention and positioning the firearm away from the body are cited reasons for using other brands. That said, Fobus holsters are performance driven and widely used across the world by law enforcement agencies, militaries and crack anti-terrorism teams. Fobus are a considered industry leader in open carry holsters.
Safariland offer a range of secure holsters that boast an ease of firearm accessibility while not compromising the security of the holder. The appeal of the Safariland handgun holster would be in its Automatic Locking System, which rates ‘level 2’ or ‘level 3’ on their safety and retention barometer.
The release system is considered safe, relative to other noteworthy holster types, as the Safariland system for (say) the ALS type involves the placing of the release lever on the inside, with a well-designed locking mechanism that sees the handgun latched into the breach. An internal suede lining protects the pistol, which is held securely in place.
Praise of Safariland designs are offset by criticisms regarding the trigger guard not being fully enclosed on some models, and the vaunted ‘ease of accessibility’ i.e. quick draw capability actually being less than that of a (say) Blackhawk SERPA or Urban Carry. Critics report that removing the retention screw completely alleviates the tension and difficulty of draw, somewhat, without compromising the holster’s integrity.
That said, Safariland’s duty holsters, such as the 6360 and 6365 ALS models, designed mainly for Glocks and other such firearms, are Level 3 Passive Retention and as such, secure against hostile seizures, and considered fine service-friendly handgun holsters. Safariland’s Glock compatible tactical leg and drop leg service holsters are also held in high esteem with regard to comfort and functionality.
• Safariland Leg Holster
Uncle Mike’s are a manufacturer whose budget priced holsters are highly regarded in terms of comfort and security and favoured for the 9mm recreational or home defence owner. Their holsters are made with a suede-like exterior, nylon lining and inner moisture barrier to protect the pistol from perspiration. The tactical kydex open top hip holster is good for quick draw, though perhaps not sufficiently secure in terms of retention to be suitable for service use. Uncle Mike’s boast a range of extremely affordable options that are compatible with the major handguns of all calibres and stripes.
Negative reviews have been circulated regarding the performance of Uncle Mike’s budget range Inside the Waistband holsters for compact and sub-compact semi-autos, with users reporting shoddy workmanship and a rapidly diminishing durability. Others claimed their holsters had simply fallen off! Alternatives in a similar price range would include holsters from Galco, the DeSantis Tuck type or the Crossbreed Super Tuck, which is considered far more suitable for the 1911 semi-auto.
Sticky holsters are considered an innovative manufacturer of high quality holsters and, being a favourite of women, have a particular cross-gender appeal due to their perceived comfort.
Sticky provide a range of reputable Inside the Waistband holsters favoured by 9mm concealed carry handgun owners. Sub-compact and compact guns work well with the Sticky brand. Their IWB and pocket holsters alike are known for reliability and durability as they are made with an outside skin of non-slip kydex or nylon and inner closed cell foam.
This enhances the inner lining grip for security, and this allied with the owner’s body heat means the Sticky holster will better conform to the gun it holds.
As a ‘no clip, no slip, slip in holster’, Sticky are said to be of unparalleled quality. Though not reinforced, the design grips the gun well, and anything from a smaller Kahr or Kel Tec to a 1911 or larger Beretta model works well with the Sticky brand.
Their ambidextrous and budget priced designs are likely to be love or hate; as open top designs they are less secure than those of other brands, one cannot re-holster one-handed and they’re certainly not the correct holster for military or policing duties, but for comfortable IWB or OWB quick draw concealed carry holsters, Sticky are a solid choice for a handgun.
Ankle holsters are a favoured back-up concealed carry method of the practised American detective! Suitable for smaller compact or sub-compact pistols and double action revolvers, ankle holsters are among the most subtle methods of carrying a firearm without attracting undue attention. With obvious drawbacks, such as the difficulty of quick draw whilst in a standing position and the possible necessity in action of drawing while moving off-line, ankle holsters are not for everyone, but it is often the preferred choice for a back-up gun. Urban Carry, Blacksmith and DeSantis all make high functioning ankle holsters. The Galco Ankle Glove is a noteworthy model for the Walther PPK, as seen in the Bond films, and Falco also offer a PPK-friendly ankle holster of their own.
Ankle holsters are perfect for Kahr pistols and the smaller calibres of Berettas and CZs, Walthers PPK and PPS, the Ruger LCP and of course, the Glock 42.
The belly band is a wraparound band that holsters the handgun against the body. As far as concealed carry goes, provided you wear baggy clothing it should be effective for concealment. As the material is generally neoprene, this carrying method is comfortable and unobtrusive. A notable model is the ComfortTac Ultimate Belly Band holster which fits for anything up to 46” around, and is suitable for semi-automatics from full size to compact. The positioning of the gun is adjustable; back, belly, right side, et cetera.
Other notable models include the AlphaHolster Abdominal Band, the Defender Concealment Belly Band holster, with additional magazine, knife or pistol pouches, the UnderTech Undercover Original belly band, the Active ProGear Concealment Belly Band holster, the Second Generation Crotch Carry holster (which is elastic, ambidextrous and has a detachable velcro strap) and the Vedder Four Way, suitable for 33-38”. All these models are reputable, and any would suffice for a handgun owner wishing to use this holster type.
Belt clip holsters are IWB holsters that are secured to the belt via a polymer or metal clip attached to the holster. There are some that are OWB, but almost always it refers to IWB. Belt clip OWB holsters are not very secure. They are designed to be easy to take on and off quickly. Make sure that any clip holster you use comes with a very sturdy and durable clip, in order to ensure the holster will not come out as well when you draw the gun. One of the best aspects of belt clip holsters is how they can be easily worn anywhere on the waistband: appendix, strong side hip, small of back, or cross draw.
It is imperative, especially for the civilian recreational or self-defence gun owner, to have a concealed carry holster for their firearm. It’s simply neither prudent nor practical in most parts of the world to openly brandish your weapon, and concealment is key for the non-ostentatious wielding of a weapon that could one day save your life, or somebody else’s.
Blackhawk offer a fine range of industry leading concealed carry holsters. Urban Carry are an innovative market leader in terms of their well-regarded G2 Appendix carry and variety of Inside and Outside Waistband concealed carry designs.
Fobus and many more major companies offer everything from service-friendly duty hip and fine leather shoulder holsters to ‘back-up’ ankle holsters, neoprene belly bands and horizontal carry rigs. Each pistol type, size, calibre and brand have their own holsters most suitable to the specifics of each handgun, and each owner will undoubtedly have differing preferences according to their wants and needs.
The crossdraw holster tends to have a slight forward cant, with belt loops and for gun positioning in the ‘appendix carry’ style. In terms of Inside the Waistband concealed carry, crossdraw holsters are considered perfectly valid particularly for civilian shooters from colder northern climes, where the handgun can be drawn rapidly by virtue of being accessed quickly from under the jacket, rather than the clothing garment in question being swept aside for the normal strong draw holster.
The downside to this is that a crossdraw holster could mean that your weapon is in range of the attacker, which would necessitate creating distance between yourself and the offending assailant. Law enforcement agencies of yesteryear were known to mandate a crossdraw holster for their officers, which one assumes was unnecessarily cumbersome given the nature of quick draw open carry hip holsters or even the more practical kydex duty shoulder holsters on offer from Blackhawk, et al.
DeSantis and Galco are known for their high class crossdraw holster designs.
Drop leg or thigh holsters are an old favourite of policemen and prostitutes alike, and anyone else liable to face an abnormally high risk of physical harm in their everyday interactions. However, while some marksmen swear by them, the drop leg and thigh holsters present certain practical problems, particularly for the civilian shooter.
The handgun carrier is at an increased risk of hostile seizure given that if the holster is not covered – if it is, that presents its own practical problem – then it presents nothing short of a wide-open target and a plethora of retention and grab problems. It can also have a tendency to snag. That said, those disposed to open carry or in military or security service in a position where the likelihood of use is high would view this holster type more favourable, given that it also offers the potential for rapid draw under pressure. In military, anti-terrorist or armed policing situations, wearing body armour makes hip holsters untenable, and the drop leg or thigh carry rig is the best alternative.
DeSantis, Galco, Condor, Blade-Tech and Blackhawk are all makers of noteworthy and reputable drop leg and thigh holsters. Those manufactured by Safariland are held in high esteem with regards to comfort and functionality.
The holster shirt was designed for civilian and off-duty use, rather than military and policing, and offers quick draw capabilities in a covert and comfortable concealed carry style. While they certainly aren’t infallible, a holster shirt made of durable fabric with suitable pockets for concealed carry can be a most comfortable and efficient method of covertly keeping your firearm on your person in a subtle and safe manner.
The well-designed holster shirt should provide fabric pockets for extra magazines, an outer mesh fabric to disrupt the outline of the firearm for maximum subtlety, an integrated shoulder yoke to evenly distribute weight, and an exquisite ease of accessibility for lightning-fast drawing of the handgun.
UnderTech, Woolrich, Blackhawk, Kramer and Kangaroo Carry all offer a high quality holster shirt fit for most semi-automatic pistol types. UnderTech also offer women’s specific holster shirts in a variety of colours.
Favoured by soldiers and armourers alike, Kydex shell holsters offer a sturdier, well-reinforced semi-automatic pistol holder perfect for security and comfort alike.
Also, while leather may smell good and be the apple of the eye of some gun aficionados and purists, holsters made from this material require a break-in period and it suffers from a sensitivity to temperature and moisture.
Kydex, on the other hand, does not share these flaws.
Kydex is not susceptible to damage from either moisture or temperature, it doesn’t require much maintenance – other than the occasional clean – and it is both waterproof and scratch resistant. In short, Kydex holsters remain sturdy, are more durable and continue to operate at the same level of performance and reliability long after your leather holster is tarnished and useless.
The best Kydex holsters are reputedly those of Blackhawk, Comp-Tac, Concealment Express, Galco, Tulster, CYA Supply Company, Detroit Concealment, Bravo Concealment, Raven Concealment and Safariland, whose Kydex paddle rigs are superb.
MOLLE stands for ‘Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment’ and is in the form of a vest or pack that uses rows of heavy duty nylon stitching to create pouches for accessories and gear. MOLLE holsters are specially designed Special Operations gear that are compatible with this heavy duty pack and come in a variety of forms, often with velcro strap release for handgun draw, and can work in conjunction with other modular gear and platforms.
The well-made MOLLE holster, such as those of DeSantis can attach to any modular platform or vest, can hold the handgun with or without the silencer attached and are available in foliage digital camo or black.
DeSantis, Red Rock, Blackhawk and Condor all offer police, SWAT and military service-friendly MOLLE compatible holsters.
The paddle holster secures the handgun to the body via a concave (or “pancake”) shaped piece of Kydex or leather – preferably Kydex. This is one of the best and most effective and popular style of Inside the Waistband holsters and a favourite of civilian concealed carry.
Some of the more notable names in this holster category are the industry leading Blackhawk SHERPA types and the Fobus Standard Holster RH Paddle C21, with its rubberised paddle attachment and steel reinforced rivet.
Both are suitable for the larger, full size semi-automatic handguns such as the classic 1911 and the iconic Browning Hi Power. This is a sturdy IWB holster type that offers security, high level retention yet does not detract all-too-much from quick draw capabilities.
In recent years, Inside the Waistband holsters have been in vogue, and have now overtaken OWB, hip and crossdraw holster types as the first and foremost concealed carry method for civilians on the American market.
IWB holsters allow for ease of accessibility yet, with their tuck option and riding between trousers and undergarments, they offer covert subtlety and comfort alike.
Due to the nature of IWB concealment, this holster type generally allows for level one retention which, in other words, means rapid draw capabilities for your handgun.
The carrier can withdraw it in an instant, and more likely than not, re-holster it with one hand just as quickly. There are innumerable Inside Waistband options for the handgun carrier, but those made of Kydex or multi-material – generally fine leather with a Kydex shell – with the weapon positioned from three to five o’clock for the right-handed person and nine to seven o’clock for the lefty are optimal. Notable names include Fobus, Blackhawk, Urban Carry, Galco and limitless others with high quality options available.
The classic option for the purist. While leather is degradable and susceptible to the caprice of temperature and moisture, the smell, touch and feel of fine leather is unparalleled to many gun owners who would not wish to convert to the more durable Kydex made designs. Current consensus may say otherwise, but leather reigned supreme in the handgun holster department for two centuries and for many, that is never likely to change.
For the aesthete, nothing can beat the shoulder holster, and for a particularly good looking and stylish gun, a double shoulder rig of high gloss fine white leather is optimal for considerations of the cosmetic and of comfort alike. With a pair of Berettas or Walther PPK’s in leather shoulder rigs you’re about as sharp as the handgun carrier gets.
While certain holster types are suitable for drawing on either side, notably the neoprene Belly Band designs, most left-handed shooters would require a specifically left hand gun holster. Major manufacturers such as Blackhawk offer their custom moulds for either hand, and the other industry leaders generally offer their products with the left hand option.
Ambidextrous holsters are not limited to the varied styles of abdominal bands. The DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster types are ambidextrous and considered the best of that holster type for the smaller size handguns. When recommending an ambidextrous handgun holster, however, it is hard to look beyond the Blackhawk SERPA models, in particular the Sportster. These designs also offer magazine pouches, belt attachments and good retention with rapid draw capabilities. Not for nothing are they a consensus industry leader.
Pocket holsters are popular for the compact and sub-compact semi-automatic handgun types such as the Kahr pistols or smaller calibre Berettas, Glocks and Walthers, the Sig Sauer Mosquito model, the Kimber Micro or the Ruger LCP.
There is no shortage of high quality holsters for the pocket pistol on today’s thriving market. The design of a finely crafted pocket holster should allow you to get a good grip on the gun and have immediate quick draw capability. Uncle Mike’s has a good range of pocket holsters, as do all the major manufacturers. DeSantis’ ambidextrous Nemesis pocket holster earns generally positive reviews for its comfort, reliability and durability, and of course, the innovative Sticky holsters for pocket-size pistols are supposedly top of the range!
Over the Waistband holsters may be less in vogue than in previous epochs, given the emergent popularity of IWB holster types, but there is no shortage of adherents clinging steadfast to the belief that OWB is the most efficient, effective and by far the preferable method of concealed carry with a modern handgun.
A superior grip is perceived as a major advantage of the OWB holster. The first grip should, ideally, be your only grip, and the process of withdrawal, aiming and firing should not be unduly hampered by any clumsiness of extraction. With OWB holsters the gun is not pressed between the material and body, it simply sits in its holder ready for rapid draw. You can locate the trigger with greater ease, and the same is true of re-holstering. Comfort and convenience are enhanced with the OWB holster, and while it is on the surface less subtle than the IWB method, if you can do it, perhaps you should!
The classic shoulder holsters are the tried and tested favourite of the fictional detective, security agent and shamus, and with those for whom concealment is not necessarily paramount, it offers great comfort and accessibility for a quick draw should the occasion call for it.
Nothing is as stylish as a high gloss or fine leather shoulder holster for a handgun of superb craftsmanship. That said, in real life due to practical considerations, the shoulder holster is apparently going out of style in American police departments, and as regards military, anti-terrorist or heavily armed crack rescue or assault units, the attachable hip or MOLLE compatible holsters are preferred or even necessary. For the civilian who can, or the police officer that prefers a comfortable holster that never actually requires removal, the shoulder holster is an attractive, convenient or even luxury option.
The small of back holster, or six o’clock carry is an especially covert means of concealed carry, yet it is not one that is generally favoured over the more popular Inside or Outside the Waistband three-to-five (or nine-to-seven) o’clock gun positioning favoured by those for whom speed of draw is of the utmost importance when choosing a preferred carry method.
Well-designed SOB holsters, however, are versatile and offer adjustable carry depth. It must be noted that in drawing the handgun from a small of back holster, you are unlikely to withdraw the gun with a good grip. This disadvantage in the extraction process negatively affects the aim, and necessitates a full swing of the arm out and away from the body due to the initial mechanics of the shoulder rotation. This does not seem to deter gun owners from SOB concealed carry, and most of the major manufacturers offer an adjustable or ambidextrous small of back holster. Notable SOB holsters include the Pro Tech Concealed and the Blackhawk Check Your Six.