Types of concealed carry holsters
The world of holsters can be confusing. There are terms like CC, CCW, OWB and IWB. The fact of the matter is holster choices aren’t that complicated. It all starts with knowing exactly what you’ll be using your holster for and which one is the best choice for you.
In today’s post at Cool Prepper Gear, we’re going to explore holsters and help you choose one that is the best fit for your shooting or self defense needs.
What holsters are designed for
Holsters are made to offer protection to your gun, allow for quick draw and maintain its retention. Quick access is one of the most important factors in holsters design. Security forces and concealed carry options have a strong preference for smooth edges and seamless draw of their weapon.
For more defensive purposes, holsters may have a safety clip that protects it from being taken out by an assailant or having it stolen. It also protects when running or other situations where your weapon may become easily dislodged.
Holster design emphasizes the ability of the same hand to take out the weapon and fire it quickly. Putting the weapon back into place is also an important consideration especially for law enforcement scenarios where officers need to switch both hands to control a suspect or use handcuffs. The internal components of the holster are made of a harder substance like metal to retain its contours.
Why use a concealed carry holster?
In the world of firearms, having a holster is pretty important. The gun holster serves as an important piece of equipment that ensures you can keep your gun close by, readily access it when needed and protect yourself and those around you.
While some individuals, such as uniformed policemen or other law enforcement officials, carry their guns in visible holsters, some people who do not have that luxury: undercover cops and agents, plainclothes detectives and even civilians licensed to carry.
These individuals constitute what is known as the concealed carry community; they carry their weapon in a way that conceals or hides it from public view. This is where the concealed carry holsters come into play.
Basically, a concealed carry holster is a type of gun holster that is designed to effectively provide a secure storage for your gun, and the same time ensure that apart from you, no one else is aware of the fact that you are carrying.
Qualities to look for in a concealed carry holster
Before deciding on purchasing just any holster claiming to be for concealed carry, there are some key features you must look out for:
A good concealed carry holster does not print: If the outline of the weapon being carried is clearly or partially visible through your clothes, then the gun is said to print. Printing is a huge no-no when it comes to concealed carry because it negates the whole purpose of concealment. Thus, a concealed carry holster should not print on your clothes; its outline must not be visible.
It must provide easy accessibility to your gun: The whole point of having your gun close by is so that you can access it quickly and easily whenever the situation demands. Your holster must be designed in such a way that you can quickly draw your pistol and address the situation.
It must provide easy re-holstering: When all is said and done, you would have to put the gun back into the holster. A holster that allows you to re-holster with one hand is infinitely preferable to one that requires both hands.
It must provide an adequate level of comfort: The issue of comfort cannot be overlooked when it comes to concealed carry. 8 out of 10 people carry their weapons with them all the time. You should be able to wear your holster for an extended period of time with little or no discomfort.
It must be made using quality materials: This might probably be the most important quality of all. A poorly constructed holster is an invitation to danger and a safety hazard. A good concealed carry holster should be made from any or a combination of these three materials: leather, ballistic nylon and the more recent Kydex which is a molded plastic adds an extra level of protection and security.
Different holsters by style
Below we will discuss each kind of holster and their intended use scenarios.
OWB or Outside the Waistband
The most popular form of holster used by civilian police forces and private military contractors the OWB holster is the top choice for people with open carry permits. The holster is able to attach high and very snug to the body. It sits at roughly a four o’clock position which works well when being hidden with a sweater or coat.
IWB Inside the Waistband Holsters
IWB stands for Inside the Waist Band. Thus, this type of holsters are worn inside the waistband, specifically in the space between your trousers and your underwear. This holster must have an attachment point for securing it to your pants. The IWB holster is the standard holster for concealed carry, as it offers one of the best concealment you can find in the holster world.
A typical IWB holster can only be worn on the sides or at the back to achieve the desired concealment level. A more popular variation of the IWB is the Appendix IWB (AIWB) which allows users to carry their guns in front of their pants.
The biggest advantage of this holster type is the fact that you can keep your gun really close and very well concealed with little to no printing. The downside of using the IWB holster is that you would have to practice regularly to be able to achieve a balanced grip on your weapon upon drawing it out of the holster. To read more about IWB holsters visit solidgear.net
Below the Waistband BWB
This holster design sits below the waistline and is very concealed. Often times they are hard to detect visually and are the top choice for Urban Carry Holsters which is a specific style of holster.
Similar to how a book bag would work, a shoulder holster has two straps which connect at the back. The idea is that the gun can be positioned in three different areas with the gun being pointed vertical, horizontal or downwards. The advantage of these is that weight can be distributed better and there is an added element of concealment.
This works like a shoulder holster but in this design, there is a singular band that goes over the shoulder while the other connects around the chest. This was made popular in WW2 and if you’ve seen movies like Fury or Saving Private Ryan you’ll see Marine commanders often using these. They offer a bit more flexibility of movement and a quick draw time.
Belly Band Holster
Everyone’s not the same, and while some people are quite comfortable with the design of the IWB holster, others are not. Situations could also arise where carrying your regular IWB holster would be virtually impossible. In either case, the belly band holster is usually the answer to your prayer. There are several variations but the underlying concept is an elastic band cinched with Velcro that is designed to fit around your torso.
The belly band holster is quite adept at concealing your weapon. It is usually designed with spaces which can serve as pockets for storing extra ammo. Since the band is elastic, it can be used for all gun types and saves you the cost of purchasing different holsters for different guns.
This holster type is not without its disadvantages though. Its comfort level comes into question as the band must be secured tightly to your body the entire time. It doesn’t offer users the option of single-handedly re-holstering their weapons: you have to use both hands to put your gun back into the holster. The location of the holster on the body ensures that it would get soaked with sweat by the end of the day.
Thigh holsters are one of the most original designs. Think of a any Western gunslinger with his firearm hanging by his side and you have a thigh holster. They were built to hang low on the leg halfway up from the knee to the hip for faster draw. The original design was also used widely by the US cavalry.
These fit onto a vest that allows for faster draw of weapons in places where your hands range of movement is restricted. Think of being in a car unable to pull a firearm from your waist, instead a chest holster allows you to pull it directly from your centermass. This are also an integral component in all chest rigs.
Using two pieces of material or metal the gun is placed on the belt near the back. This allows for extremely effective concealment. The pancake holster is also a common holster used for backup pistols.
The Ankle Holster
While the IWB and belly band holsters are great choices for your primary weapon, the ankle holster’s design and location makes it a poor choice for such purposes. However, it comes in handy for concealing your secondary or back-up weapon. It offers great concealment as it rarely prints. In the event where for any number of reasons, your primary weapon can no longer be used, the gun well hidden around your ankle might very well be your saving grace. For those whose choice of holsters are limited by their clothing or profession, the ankle holster can serve as the only concealment option for their primary weapon.
This holster type is not for everyone though. Some shooters can’t bend or squat easily and drawing from their ankle would be a counter-productive effort in the face of danger. You must also be very careful when sitting to ensure your pant legs don’t rise up to a point where your weapon would be exposed. If you are going to run a lot, then the ankle holster might not be a very good option, as the gun could bounce around if not properly secured to the holster.
Final Thoughts on the best gun holster for you
In truth there is no perfect holster as each one serves its own unique function and application. Depending on your goals you’ll have a different holster for each situation. If you’re looking for concealment and self defense than any of holster designed for Urban Carry will be a prime choice. However, if you’re just headed to the range then any belt friendly holster will do the trick.
Regardless of what brand you get, when it comes to firearms it’s always important to test your weapons and gear thoroughly. This includes not only your pistol or rifle but your carrying case, tactical bag and all other gear. Safety comes from good preparation first and foremost.
The editor of Cool Prepper Gear, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.