You’re in the market for a holster? Good. We’ll assume that you’ve read Part 1 of this series, which explains the various types of holsters there are today, and Part 2, which looks at how various holster types may—or may not—be suitable in various real-life threat scenarios.
Now you’re ready to pick the best holster for you. As you look at individual models, remember that there are three things your holster MUST do:
- It must secure your gun, ensuring it stays in your possession at all times.
- It must protect the trigger, minimizing the chance of inadvertent trigger contact from hands or foreign objects.
- It must present your gun in a consistent position and safe orientation so you can draw the gun effectively while under stress.
Before we get into specific features and attributes, we ought to talk about the big rule of thumb: Avoid the temptation to skimp by picking an inexpensive holster. I know, holsters aren’t glamorous, and spending big coin on a holster isn’t nearly as satisfying as blowing a bunch of C notes on a really sweet gun. However, you need to spend as if your life depends on it, because it just might. Don’t be shy about spending $50 to $100 (or more) to get a quality holster. Yes, it’s worth it. While you’re at it, be sure to buy a real gun belt. A holster is only as good as the belt it’s attached to, so get one designed for carry. Even thick and wide department store belts won’t cut it—they’ll get soft over time and allow your holster to flop around.
There are so many “types” of concealed carry styles that trying to cover the specific pros and cons of each would give the phone book a run for its money in terms of page count. Instead, let’s talk about various features to look for when evaluating a holster of any kind. Many holster attributes apply to different style of holsters, so we should be able to cover the important stuff more efficiently.
Here are the six features to check for as you search for your holster:
1. Proper Material
You’ll find holsters made from leather, Kydex (thermoplastic), injection molded plastics, hybrid styles that blend leather and Kydex, and softer materials like suede and flexible nylon.
In my opinion, the choice between leather and nylon boils down to personal preference – there are plenty of truly outstanding holsters made from each of those materials. Leather might be more comfortable, but Kydex is immune to moisture and sweat. Kydex is also lighter and thinner, so if you’re carrying inside the waistband, the overall width of gun and holster might be smaller and more manageable. Then again, Kydex against raw skin is not the most pleasant sensation. They don’t make boxer shorts out of Kydex for a reason. As you’ll see by the photos here, I use leather, Kydex, and a combination of the two, so it’s really a personal preference decision.
Be aware that genuine Kydex comes in sheets that are carefully shaped and molded to a specific gun model. This differs from injection-molded designs, in which other (usually lower quality) types of plastics are melted and poured into a mold. This method also produces exact fits, but is likely not as tough and durable as Kydex. Injection molding offers lower cost, but at a “price,” so to speak. Details matter.
I’m not at all a fan of those soft one-size-fits-many holsters. You’ll see these everywhere for $15 or so. On paper, these sound great. They’re super-comfortable and, therefore, appealing to new(er) concealed carriers. But this approach partially violates all three of those requirements for what a holster must do. Most also have lousy attachment clips that just slip over your pants or belt and tend to come out with the gun during a vigorous draw. Also, as we’ll talk about next, they require two hands to reholster your gun. As for the one-size-fits-many design, this approach partially violates all three of the requirements for what a holster must do.