Despite an opinion shared by some carefree people, buying a gun is the beginning of a whole new journey, not a one-time purchase that won’t bring any further expenses. And it’s not only about learning to shoot or buying ammo – firearm maintenance becomes a routine. That is if you want your gun to serve you faithfully. Maintaining a hunting rifle you occasionally use is one thing, but how does one look after a self-defense handgun? Even if you don’t use it frequently, a handgun follows you wherever you go and thus is more prone to external influence. To keep your gun protected, you need a holster.
Some people make the mistake of buying a random holster as an afterthought because they didn’t consider it to be worth their time. But one should never underestimate the importance of a fitting holster. After all, the gun is only useful if you can get it into action swiftly enough. And that depends on how reliable your holster is. By the way, it will be very challenging for you to carry a handgun discreetly without a holster unless you have a pocket dimension in your sleeve. As you can see, a holster is a multifunctional attribute the lack of which brings more troubles than one can effectively solve.
How To Choose The Best Gun Holster?
The best gun holster is the one that fits both you and your handgun. It is durable, comfortable to wear, houses your gun perfectly, and doesn’t impede your movements. There are many types of holsters according to carry style, material, and retention methods. Each one of them may turn out to be perfect for you. There is only one way to know for sure – try them firsthand. That we cannot help you with, unless you happen to live in North Richland Hills and can drop by our sporting goods store. However, we can tell you what to look for when choosing a holster and which types are more suitable for particular situations.
Carry styles are more a matter of preference than functionality. What feels comfortable for some people may feel awkward for others. Looking at pictures and reading words won’t give you the sensation of it, but at least you’ll know what your options are.
Inside The Waistband Holsters
Very popular with those who subscribe to the concealed coalition. WB holsters attach to your belt with either loops or clips. These holsters allow you to securely keep your medium-sized handgun on the inner side of the pants. Even though this is the holster for concealed carry, there are a few downsides to this wear style. You might need to buy larger pants so that the holster won’t press against you too much. You won’t get rid of the feeling there is something in your pants because, well, there is. Finally, since this is the closest a holster can be to your body (maybe except for the bra holster), it becomes susceptible to perspiration. You will also feel the holster with your very skin, so choose the holster material carefully.
Outside The Waistband Holsters
These holsters are a more common choice for those who carry firearms openly: police officers, law enforcers, military personnel, and certain civilians. Since they are worn outside of your belt, they are more difficult to conceal than IWB ones. It is still quite possible to do so, you’ll just need a jacket or a long, untackled shirt. OWB holsters make up for more challenging concealment by being more comfortable to wear. They are also preferable for revolvers and bigger semi-automatic pistols. Such holsters usually have wide wings to obscure the silhouette of your gun and reduce its printing on your jacket or shirt.
That is another wear style that can boast increased comfort. These holsters feature a set of harnesses connected by a rear strap. The whole construction distributes the weight of the firearm across the shoulders, making the wearing more comfortable. The holster itself may be positioned in three arrangements: with the barrel pointing downwards, upwards, or behind the wearer. As a rule, a magazine carrier is located on the second ‘holsterless’ harness, which further increases the functionality range of the holster. Another indisputable advantage of this wear style is its application in static positions. Drawing your gun from a waistband or pocket holster is very uncomfortable when you are driving, fastened by a seatbelt. But shoulder holsters solve this problem. Easy to conceal under an open jacket and suitable for long-time wear, these holsters are a great option for those who value comfort. And outer clothing.
Even though a pocket is normally not the best place to store your gun, a pocket holster saves the situation. The obvious restriction for this type of holster is gun size: it should be small enough to fit into your pocket. Holsters won’t magically shrink your handgun to cram it inside, so choose wisely. Pocket holsters might be handy when the weather warms up, and wearing extra layers is no longer an option. But you might want to choose pants that sit loosely – tight jeans should not be your first choice.
Belly Band Holsters
If you have a grudge against belts, you might want to consider a belly band holster. It is basically a wide elastic band with a holster already attached. Such holsters are usually worn under untucked shirts. The holster placement in such accessories is as varied as it can be: the holster can be located anywhere from the beltline to under your armpit. Belly band holsters take all stars in concealment but lose many in comfort. To keep the firearm in place, belly bands sit very tightly. Not the best choice if you plan on wearing it for extended periods.
Rarely used for primary weapons, ankle holsters are great for housing smaller secondary firearms. Not that we encourage you to walk armed to the teeth, but having a backup gun can be an ace up your sleeve or, to be more precise, your pant leg. This is a more regular choice for police and law enforcement officers. These holsters are not without their cons. They are bouncing too much when physical activity is involved and don’t allow for a fast draw. Once again, they shine as secondary weapon holsters. For your main self-defense handgun, we recommend choosing something from the already mentioned types.
Holster material has a direct impact on its durability and protective properties. The options are not that abundant, not that they should be. There are several basic materials for gun holsters.
Being the traditional holster material, leather remains popular with manufacturers and consumers. This material is hard-wearing, versatile, and very presentable. Leather holsters make for good concealed carry options since leather is flexible and, with wear, becomes even more comfortable.
Such beauty is maintenance-heavy, though. Scratches and stains won’t influence the holster’s protective qualities but would affect its appearance. Moreover, the leather may collect moisture from perspirations and precipitations. And a moist leather holster is hardly a good place for a handgun. That’s why it is crucial to maintain your holster in good condition. The same goes for your firearm. And everything you value, basically.
The Kydex is an acrylic thermoplastic material known for its rigidity, formability, toughness, and chemical resistance. A great option for a handgun holster. Like other molded plastics, Kydex is a low-maintenance material that doesn’t absorb water and dirt and can be easily cleaned. However, Kydex holsters are not the best choice for concealed carry. They are bulker and thus more visible. But if you value protection over concealment, this is the material for you.
Injection Molded Polymer
The injection-molded polymer is a competitor of Kydex, even though the former involves a more complicated creation process. Polymer holsters are less vulnerable to heat exposure, but other characteristics are on par with Kydex. The question here is which one you found more comfortable to wear and touch.
Another way to ensure the safety of your handgun is to not let it fall from the holster. It might sound ridiculous, but you may find yourself in different situations, when a handgun might slip from a holster, or when somebody might want to snatch it from you. This is less relevant for concealed carry holsters, but security tolerates no ‘buts’.
Many holsters have no additional retention means and rely fully on friction between the gun and the holster. Such a choice is reasonable for concealed carry holsters since nobody would try to grab it, and having additional retention systems would make the draw more time-consuming. Some holsters have a retention screw that can alter the level of friction. But if you carry your firearm openly, this safety measure alone is insufficient.
The flap covers the butt of your weapon and helps keep it in place. It is the attribute of traditional military holsters that prevents your handgun from falling out and provides additional protection from water and dirt. The obvious drawback is the draw speed since you need to make more hand manipulations. These holsters are hardly the best choice for civilian carry but are great for use in the field.
A lighter version of the flap, the strap can be released with only a thumb swipe. This retention method offers a higher draw speed while excellently protecting your firearm from falling out. However, such holsters cannot prevent anyone from snatching your firearm – they can lift the strap as easily as you.
Trigger Guard Lock
A modern solution to the retention problem, this method features a hook that locks into the trigger guard and unlocks once the button on the outside of the holster is pressed. Even if you find yourself upside down, your handgun won’t slip out.
The majority of holsters for civilian use rely on friction, though some feature one of the additional methods listed above. The more means of retaining your holster has, the more difficult it is for a gun to leave the holster without your consent. But draw speed is at stake, so choose wisely.
As you can see, the recipe for the best gun holster is quite volatile. We’ve only listed the ingredients you can mix, but the final combination is up to you. A good holster keeps you and your gun safe, so don’t skimp on it.