What Is The Best Concealed Carry Holster?
Top Concealed Carry Holster Options:
- Best OWB Holster: Galco Combat Master Belt Holster
- Best IWB Holster: Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5
- Best Appendix Carry Holster: Concealment Express IWB Kydex
- Best Cross Draw Holster: Wright Regulator Cross Draw Holster
- Best Shoulder Holster: Alien Gear ShapeShift Shoulder Holster
- Best Belly Band Holster: Crossbreed Belly Band Holster
- Best Ankle Holster: Uncle Mike’s Ankle Holster
- Best Pocket Holster: Crossbreed Pocket Rocket
When it comes to choosing the best concealed carry holster, the process has never been more difficult. 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 wear it, 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 together a CCW holster that'll work. All you need to do is to find it.
Here 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 Concealment Holster?
Regardless of the style of handgun holster you opt for, it should be capable of a few basic functions. Obviously, if you want the best concealed carry holster, concealability is chief among the attributes you’ll need. 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. 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 the best concealed carry holster 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.
The Best Concealed Carry Holster Styles
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
Runner-Up: Kryptek Typhon Kydex OWB
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 patience.
Top IWB Holster: Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5
Runner-Up: We The People Holsters Custom Kydex IWB
Appendix Carry Holster
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: Concealment Express IWB Kydex
Runner-Up: L.A.G. MK 2 AIWB
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: Wright Regulator Cross Draw Holster
Runner-Up: DeSantis’ Sky Cop
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: Alien Gear ShapeShift
Runner-Up: Galco’s VHS Shoulder System
Belly Band Holster
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: Crossbreed Belly Band
Runner-Up: ComfortTac Belly Band
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: Uncle Mike’s Ankle Holster
Runner-Up: Blackhawk Nylon 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 the best concealed carry holster for the application.
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.
Pocket Holsters: Crossbreed Pocket Rocket
Runner-Up: Clinger Holsters Comfort Cling
Choices Abound for the Best Concealed Carry Holster
Competition among today's CCW holster makers has given armed citizens a plethora of choices for nearly every conceivable handgun, clothing choice and lifestyle. No matter what situation you need to prepare for, the best concealed carry holster is but a mouse click away.
NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Storm Tactical Printable Target Pack62 Printable MOA Targets with DOT Drills - Rifle Range in YARDS This impressive target pack from our friends at Storm Tactical contains 62 printable targets for rifle and handgun range use. Target grids and bullseye sizes are in MOA. Ideal for long-range shooting!
Subscribe to the Gun Digest email newsletter and we'll send your print-at-home target pack right away. Just enter your email address below.
I couldn’t agree more with the OWB and IWB choices. I own both and primarily use the Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5 everyday. Every now and then I have to check and see if I grabbed my gun before I walked out the door. I started off years ago with the Combat Master, but found I was futzing with it too much to make sure it was concealed. I only wear it now when concealment isn’t really a concern. Never tried the other methods.
These are just the opinion of this media. There are many outstanding holsters out there. The best holster for you is the one that works best for you. None of the mentioned holsters are in my collection and I have a lot of holsters.
YIKES – who edits these articles? I won’t necessarily disagree with any of the choices but seriously – what do recipients of medical care (patients) have to do with someone exhibiting long standing commitment to excellence (patience)?
Being an old disabled vet I have a fair amount of time on my hands and would be happy to properly edit such articles – for reasonable consideration of course.
It seems that every holster review I see somehow misses Vedder Holsters of central Florida. They offer multiple carry options, are well built, and customer service is outstanding. Their holsters are sized perfectly for folks looking for smaller carry options. You’re doing your readers a disservice by leaving out a great homegrown company.