So you've obtained your concealed carry permit and a handgun that you are completely comfortable with, the next highly important step before you are ready to begin carrying your firearm is to purchase a quality holster.
Having the right holster will allow you to easily conceal your weapon in a way that is comfortable and easy to access. Without the right holster, carrying your weapon may become such a hassle that you neglect to carry it at all.
In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about the best concealed carry holsters, including the types of holsters that are available, which holsters are best for various situations, and how to choose the holster that is right for you.
The Best Holsters for Concealed Carry
There are several different types of concealed carry holsters available, each with their own set of advantages. The most common types of holsters are:
Inside the Waistband (IWB) Holsters: Inside the waistband (IWB)/ Concealed Carry Holsters allow you to conceal your firearm within the waistband of your pants; but will rest the weapon against your hip, leaving the handle of the gun slightly exposed.
IWB holsters offer excellent concealment, as the majority of the firearm will be covered by the waistband of your pants. However, IWB holsters are not quite as comfortable as other options as they compress the weapon against the side of your hip. IWB holsters also do not allow for quite as quick a draw as options such OWB holsters since only a small portion of the firearm's handle is exposed for you to grab.
Open Carry & Outside the Waistband (OWB) Holsters attach to your belt/pants and rest against your hip outside of your waistband. These holsters are more comfortable than IWB holsters since the gun is not being compressed into your hip by the fabric of your waistband. OWB holsters also allow for a quicker draw since the entire handle of the firearm is exposed and is not being pressed tight against your body.
The drawback of OWB holsters is the fact that they are not intended to be concealed. Since you won't be concealing the weapon inside the waistband of your pants with an OWB holster, you will have to rely on your shirt or jacket to conceal the weapon.
With that said, what OWB holsters lack in concealment they make up for in comfort and ease-of-access, and OWB holsters remain the most commonly used holster today.
Drop Leg Thigh Holsters: Drop leg thigh holsters are a type of OWB holster that positions your weapon on your mid-thigh as opposed to your hip. Since your thigh has more padding than your hip and doesn't pivot when you move, this is one of the most comfortable places to carry a weapon. The only issue with drop leg thigh holsters is the fact that they are impossible to conceal. Unless you are wearing a long overcoat, chances are your shirt or jacket isn't going to extend down far enough to cover a weapon in a drop leg thigh holster. For this reason, drop leg thigh holsters are used almost exclusively by people who open carry their firearm.
Shoulder Holsters: Shoulder holsters use straps that wrap around your shoulders and midsection to secure your firearm against the side of your body, usually above your hip in a cross-draw position. One advantage of shoulder holsters is the fact that they distribute the weight of the gun across your entire upper body & are also able to keep the firearm from digging into your side as you move. A final advantage of shoulder holsters is the fact that they can be put on quickly and easily.
In order to conceal a weapon that is in a shoulder holster, you will need to be wearing a coat/jacket. That coat will also probably need to be zipped or buttoned up to keep the straps of the holster from being exposed, meaning that you will have to unbutton or unzip your coat before you are able to draw your firearm.
Ankle Holsters: Ankle holsters strap to the side of your leg just above your ankle and are concealed using the bottom of your pants leg. These holsters provide excellent concealment since the weapon is completely covered and very few people will ever look down at your ankles for any extended period of time. For people who spend a lot of time in close proximity to others, ankle holsters allow them to avoid the bulge that is often a giveaway that they are carrying a firearm.
There are a couple of drawbacks to ankle holsters, though. For one, while ankle holsters are relatively comfortable, having that extra weight above just one of your feet will take a little getting used to especially if it’s a larger firearm or the height of your footwear (nothing taller than 6” for our design). However, the biggest drawback of ankle holsters comes into play when you go to draw your weapon. Drawing a firearm from an ankle holster amounts to the most awkward draw of any holster type. The movement required isn't exactly fluid or natural, and what's worse is that it may cause you to look down and drop your guard rather than keeping your eyes on the threat.
With that said, if you want a holster that provides maximum concealment no matter what outfit you are wearing (so long as it consists of pants instead of shorts) ankle holsters are a good option to consider.
Which Holster Should I Choose?
At the end of the day, the holster you choose ultimately comes down to your own preferences and the situations in which you will be carrying your firearm. Consider the three qualities that a holster should exhibit - concealment, comfort, and speed of draw - and decide which of these qualities is most important to you.