Women, many of whom are short-waisted, benefit from dropped and offset holsters because carrying the gun lower on the torso moves the grips of the gun out and away from the ribcage and positions the barrel of the gun below the hipbone. Both the ribcage and the hip’s wide crest are areas of considerable holster discomfort.
In addition, lowering the holster alleviates the struggle to draw, which is difficult when you have trouble raising the muzzle above the mouth of the holster. Owing to women’s generally shorter torsos, this is a bigger problem for female shooters than it is for men.
Ask a man of average build to stand next to a woman of identical height, and in most cases the man’s torso will be longer than the woman’s; more of her height comes from her legs. This general characteristic is exaggerated with the petite, short-waisted figure.
When a short-waisted woman draws from a mid- or high-ride holster, the lift required to clear leather (a colloquialism meaning to draw the muzzle above the mouth of the holster) will typically entail lifting her elbow above shoulder height.
On the range, you’ll see all kinds of funny contortions like dropping the hip forward, twisting the torso or elaborately bending the wrist to achieve enough lift to yank the gun out of the holster.
Unfortunately, all these contortions are slower than a straight lift out of the holster, as may be accomplished if the rig fits perfectly on the shooter’s body. In response, the industry brought us the “dropped” element in the dropped and offset holster.
While few holsters will be as comfortable as a dropped and offset design, the comfort comes at a price. First, concealment is severely compromised, by both riding low on the hip and by extending the grips a couple of inches beyond the hip.
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Next, attaching the holster to an elongated shank creates a fulcrum, increasing odds that the holster will move up with the gun during the draw, described as “following.” When this happens, the holster feels as though it is stuck on the gun. This is not true of all the dropped and offset rigs, but is a drawback of which to be aware.
Canting the holster severely on the belt, orienting the muzzle either to the front or to the back, eases the drawing problems the dropped and offset design tries to alleviate, but without its inherent lack of concealment as the gun and holster are allowed to snug in close to the body.
Drawing a gun from a deeply angled holster does require some degree of wrist flexibility, as well as top quality holster design for good retention. Still, a canted holster goes a long way toward increasing ease of draw, wearing comfort and concealability. A high-end example of this holster design is Mitch Rosen’s American Rear Guard.