We’ve gathered together the best concealed carry holsters of every style around today.
Top Concealed Carry Holster Options:
- OWB Holster: Galco Combat Master Belt Holster
- IWB Holster: Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5
- Appendix Carry Holster: Concealment Express IWB Kydex
- Cross Draw Holster: Wright Regulator Cross Draw Holster
- Shoulder Holster: Alien Gear ShapeShift Shoulder Holster
- Belly Band Holster: Crossbreed Belly Band Holster
- Ankle Holster: Uncle Mike’s Ankle Holster
- Pocket Holster: Crossbreed Pocket Rocket
Choosing the best concealed carry holster, never has there been a more difficult process. A particular holster may be perfectly made, designed to mold to every curve and crevice of the human body, light as a feather, and breathable as mountain air. The difficulty is, if it doesn’t feel right when you have it on your person it’s not worth a penny.
Luckily, the holster market is nearly limitless. If you can conceive of a potential way to carry a handgun, there’s somebody out there stitching one together. All you need to do is to find it.
Daunting, to say the least, but hopefully we’ll clear some of the fog. We’ll look into what makes a good concealed carry holster, what types are available and some recommendations of the top models out there today. From there, you should find yourself armed with enough knowledge to hunt down the best concealed carry holster to fit your needs and enhance your experience.
What Makes A Good Holster?
Regardless of the style of holster you opt for, each one should be capable of a few basic functions. Obviously, this being a CCW holster, concealability is among the assets of which you’ll search. Beyond that, there are a number of safety and other considerations you’ll need to take into account. Let’s go through them.
Fit: Holster fits both your gun and your body
Retention: Holds gun firmly in place, without any worry about it slipping out.
Concealable: Reiterate, it must enhance the ability to conceal a handgun on your person.
Protects Handgun: You’ll sweat, so your holster must provide a barrier from moisture.
Protects You: Must cover the trigger completely to avoid a negligent discharge while holstered.
Enhances Draw: Holster must allow a full combat grip on your draw; cleanly works with the rest of your attire.
Enhances Re-holstering: The holster mouth doesn’t collapse after drawing, allowing a clean and quick re-holster.
Comfort: Simply, if it doesn’t feel right on your person, you won’t wear it, pretty much blowing the whole carrying thing to hell.
Funny as it may sound, it’s not all the holster’s job to get it right. You’ve got to meet the piece of gear halfway in some respects. By this I mean, you need to put some hard and heavy thought into the cloths you wear, whether or not you’ll invest in a new wardrobe, the lifestyle you live, the type of gun you plan to carry and your proficiency with it.
If you do, you’ll go a long way in figuring out what the best concealed carry holster is for your particular circumstances.
An example. Say you drive for a living, an inside-the-waistband holster – particularly those carried past the 3 o’clock position, might prove an uncomfortable choice. Furthermore, it could hinder a draw when on the job. Neither ideal.
Or if you wear shorts and a T-shirt all the time, it all but precludes an out-side-the-waistband holster. Additionally, a full-sized 1911 might not top the list as your preferred defensive handgun choice. Absolutely, you can conceal this style of pistol under this type of garb, but your options are severely limited in how you do so.
Also, your risk profile can play a role in how you carry. By risk profile I mean the likelihood you’ll become involved in a lethal-force event. Certainly, this is not a set-in-stone guideline and depending on how much and where you travel in a day it can change. Evaluating this variable, however, goes a long way in finding the holster best suited for you. A small urban business owner who walks his till daily to deposit has much different needs and concerns from somebody who telecommutes to work every day from the comfort of their own home.
For more information on concealed carry holsters check out:
- 5 Things You Must Know About A Concealed Carry Holster
- Buckling Up The Basics Of Gun Belts
- Concealed Carry 101: Holsters for Women
- 7 Pocket Holster Options For Easy Everyday Carry
- The Shoulder Holster And Its Carry Angle
- Pros And Cons Of The Appendix Carry Holster
The key to all these factors is flexibility, not simply in the holster you choose, but the gun you carry and how you conceal it. This shouldn’t mean you compromise. But something as simple the willingness to add an additional layer of clothing or the position in which you plan to carry your gun can make all the difference.
Styles Of Concealed Carry Holsters
There are a few other specialty holsters out there, but for the most part these are the most popular concealed carry options available:
- OWB Holster
- IWB Holster
- Appendix Carry Holster
- Cross Draw Holster
- Shoulder Holster
- Belly Band Holster
- Ankle Holster
- Pocket Holster
Certainly, somewhere in this mass, there has to be the perfect one for you.
Attaching to your gun belt on the outside of the pants, the outside-the-waistband holster is one of the most comfortable ways to carry. Outside perhaps the confines of a car’s bucket seat, an OWB Holster won’t dig into your side. Additionally, when made of good leather or Kydex (a type of plastic) it is among the easiest concealed carry holsters to draw from. The grip is clearly presented allowing you to get your entire hand around it with little or no impediment.
The downside, OWB holsters are more difficult to conceal. If you go this route plan on an additional layer of clothing, such as a jacket or second shirt. Furthermore, make certain the clothing covers the entirety of the gun and holster. You don’t want to “make” yourself (inadvertantly disclose you’re armed) by simply bending over to pick something off the floor.
Top OWB Holster
Galco Combat Master Belt Holster
Galco’s tough to beat, especially this classic pancake design. It flattens tight against the body, while providing plenty of room to access a handgun. Tough as iron, the steerhide is durable and has a long lifespan. It’s damn good looking to boot. MSRP: $92
Kissing cousin to the OWB holster, the inside-the-waistband holster is perhaps the most prolific carry method today. As its name suggests, the holster is carried on the inside of the pants and close to your body. This intimate position reduces printing (when the outline of a gun is visible through clothing), thus is a highly concealable method.
IWB holsters come in many styles and systems, from multi-material hybrid holsters to simple leather models. How particular models attach can also vary, but a majority nowadays utilize clips and loops that attach over the pants to a belt.
Clandestine, the IWB holster has a few wrinkles that you must consider before going this route. Given their position, they tend to be more difficult to draw from and require a fair amount of practice to perfect. They turn up the heat in the hotter months, given they directly contact the skin. And finding a comfortable model takes effort and patients.
Top IWB Holster Options
Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5
The Cloak Tuck is a rarity in IWB Holsters – comfortable. Breathable perforated neoprene backing keeps the holster cool against your body, and ideal for hot-weather carry. Adjustable cant, ride and retention make it among the most flexible options on the market. Tack on Alien Gear’s excellent customer service and you’ve got a winner. MSRP: $49.98
Essentially an OWB or IWB holster that is generally slimmer in overall dimensions, making it easier to carry a gun in the front of your person. In recent years, appendix carry has become somewhat controversial. Some instructors refuse to teach the style of carry, due to safety concerns, namely the tendency to contentiously muzzle sweep some part of the body. This is especially true if you happen to be … ahem … a man. Additionally, it’s not generally considered the most comfortable way to carry, particularly among the heftier armed citizens.
Still, an appendix carry holster fills a niche for certain shooters. It facilitates a fast draw for righties and lefties when seated, say driving. It guards against a gun grab executed from the rear. And, at least among the slender, it tends to conceal nicely.
Top Appendix Carry Holster Options
Concealment Express IWB Kydex
Not exclusively for appendix carry – it will perform in nearly any position – the holster is an excellent option up front. It presents plenty of your handgun’s grip making a draw intuitive, while still keeping it low enough to conceal. Adjustable cant and retention give you the ability to fine-tune the holster to your preferences. MSRP: $34.95
Again, most IWB and OWB holster can fit the bill. But in recent years outside-the-waistband cross-draw holster models have gained popularity. Typically slim options with a lot of play in the cant (how much the gun is angled) are favored, reducing muzzle sweeps common in appendix holsters. Cross-draw holsters are carried support side (weak side), away from the dominant hand in the 1 or 2 o’clock position. As the name implies, a draw is executed by reaching across the body.
The style of carry proves useful for those seated for long periods, giving unimpeded access for both right and left-handers. However, it suffers the same drawbacks as appendix holsters, in they’re more difficult to conceal. More so, given they’re right up front.
Top Cross Draw Holster Options
Wright Leather Works Regulator Cross Draw Holster
Lacking some of the adjustment found in other models, the Regulator more than makes up for it in concealability, performance and quality. Holding the handgun high and tight against the body, the holster greatly reduces the likelihood of printing while providing excellent access. Built from rich, fine-grained leather, it also might be among one of the best looking holsters on the list. MSRP: $88
Technically a cross draw method, shoulder holsters are worth a few words on their own. Contrary to every James Bond flick and TV detective show you’ve ever watched, they are not the most popular concealed carry holster. In fact, they’re rare.
Shoulder holster rigs are typically constructed of leather and consist of harness straps that go over the shoulder and support the gun. Generally they are configured to hold a handgun in a vertical or horizontal position and some are adjustable between the two.
This style of holster can be tricky to conceal, a bulky jacket is advisable to avoid printing. And poorly designed ones are uncomfortable; the key is to find one with wide straps that distribute weight. The great advantage of the shoulder holster, they’re a snap to draw from sitting.
Top Shoulder Holster Options
Alien Gear ShapeShift Shoulder Holster
Padded in all the right places, one of Alien Gear’s newest holsters vies to be among the most comfortable shoulder rigs around. Padded straps are the secret, along with plenty of adjustment to get the perfect fit. Boasting Level III retention with a quick-access strap, the holster removes the concerns of a gun drop. Built with stability in mind, the light system keeps everything in place. It’s also compatible with all the company’s other ShapesShift products – so it’s more than just a shoulder holster. MSRP: $133
A deep concealment method, the belly band holster is an elastic band, usually with holster pockets sewn into it to retain a handgun. Generally speaking, most are dynamite at concealing a gun, given how close it keeps one to the body.
A favored method of carry by women, belly band holsters are also excellent at keeping a gun handy while undertaking an athletic endeavor, such as jogging or biking. In most cases, a belly band eliminates all concerns of a gun drop.
They are also extremely flexible, positioning a gun nearly anywhere on the torso – armpit, waistline, small of the back, etc.
They have their drawbacks, though. Given belly bands hold a gun so close, they are not exactly quick-draw rigs. Getting a gun re-holstered in many can also tend to prove a task. Additionally, small guns are better suited to the system.
Top Belly Band Holster Options
Crossbreed Belly Band Holster
A Kydex shell integral, Crossbreed’s Belly Band makes re-holstering as simple as drawing. The modular design has an additional length of band, providing additional support for heavier firearms. Extra pouches allow you further space to carry a flashlight, extra magazines, accessories, even a wallet. MSRP: $70
Working best with small semi-auto pistols and snubby revolvers, ankle holsters are a favored method to carry a backup gun. Generally not a first choice for primary carry, they have a big disadvantage requiring you to bend down and pull up your pant leg to access the gun. Still, if it’s the only feasible method to carry your primary defensive handgun, it’s better than not being armed.
Top Ankle Holster Options
Uncle Mike’s Ankle Holster
An excellent option to conceal small- to medium-framed handguns, the sturdy ankle holster keeps a defensive firearm at the ready. Wrap-around design with removable calf loop provides excellent support, even when on the move. Level III retention ensures a gun doesn’t come out until it’s needed. MSRP: $42.95
Concealed Carrier Ankle Holster
An update to an age-old method of carrying a gun, the pocket holster is simple and essential to utilizing this facet of your clothing. Concealment-wise, the holster breaks up the outline of a small pistol or revolver, making it appear little more than a wallet. More importantly, it provides a level of safety, keeping the trigger covered. Remember, that’s one of the essential functions of a holster. You should never carry a gun in your pocket without a holster.
Again, gun size is an issue. Pocket holsters are not fit for full-sized pistols. Furthermore, clothing is also a concern. Tight-fitting pants won’t fit the bill, making a timely draw all but impossible.
Top Pocket Holster Options
Crossbreed Pocket Rocket
A hybrid design, the Pocket Rocket takes pocket carry to the next level. The sturdy leather paddle reduces a small gun’s outline to little more than a wallet, while rugged Kydex holds it in place until needed. A bonus, it is a breeze to re-holster in. MSRP: $33
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