We are frequently asked what holsters we recommend for carrying a firearm concealed. This is a loaded question, no pun intended. Much like our philosophy of no single gun meeting every need for every person, the same goes for holsters. These are simply our favorite solutions that work for us. Your experience may vary.
Our personal preference is for inside the waistband (IWB) holsters worn at the 3:30 to 5:00 position (assuming you are right handed and your nose is the 12:00 position). If you are left handed, it would be at the 7:00 to 8:30. We prefer IWB holsters because they offer several advantages. First, the majority of the gun’s barrel will be inside your pants making it harder for you to accidentally show the world that you are armed if your shirt gets lifted up (sometimes called “brandishing”). This can happen very easily if you’re not careful-think about the top or bottom shelves of the grocery store or if you are somebody who does a lot of bending in your daily routine. Second, your belt (and you will need to wear a sturdy belt if you’re going to carry a gun on your waistline) will hold the gun close to your body, minimizing the outline of the gun that can be seen under your shirt. Being able to see the outline of a gun through clothing is called “printing”, and in some states is actually illegal. Third, many IWB holsters are made so you can tuck your shirt over the gun leaving just a clip or two showing. This is good if your life does not permit untucked shirts or a jacket all the time. The drawbacks to IWB carry include the gun being closer to your body which makes it tougher (but by no means impossible) to carry comfortably for extended periods. Another drawback is moisture, i.e. sweat. Many IWB holsters tend to accumulate sweat which makes you uncomfortable and is not good for your firearm. We prefer IWB models that offer some sort of ventilation, especially if the gun/holster will be touching bare skin.
Another good option for concealed carry is to pocket carry a gun. While pocket carry is not ideal, it may allow you to carry a firearm when you would not otherwise be able (or willing) to carry IWB. There are several positives to pocket carry. First, it is very easy. Simply put your gun in a pocket holster and put it in your pocket. Yes, you need to use a pocket holster that covers the trigger if you’re going to carry in your pocket to help prevent an unintentional discharge. Another thing many pocket holsters are designed to do is to camouflage the outline of the gun so it doesn’t look like a gun under your clothing. Second, pocket carry is very comfortable, even in warm temperatures. There’s no gun or holster against bare skin and no unusual feeling. Think about it. We’re all used to having stuff in our pockets, but having something stuck to our side is another matter. Finally, the ability to have your hand on your gun without letting everyone know you have a gun is a considerable tactical advantage-half of your draw is already complete! Now, for the disadvantages. Carrying anything bigger than a snub nosed revolver or a small single stack .380 or micro 9mm is basically out of the question. Second, if you are not able to have your hand on your gun before needing to draw it, you will be slower with a pocket gun. You also need to carefully practice drawing from your pocket. Unlike holsters attached to your belt, a pocket holster isn’t attached to anything. It is very easy to pull the gun AND the holster out together. It takes practice to draw just the gun and not the holster.
Lastly, if you are female, we offer another suggestion to you. Women’s clothing tends to have less pockets and be more form fitting than men’s clothing. That makes IWB and pocket carry challenging. Fortunately, there are manufacturers that produce very functional holsters that can be worn either under the bra or to the side of the bra. I’m a guy, but women who use these holsters have told me that they are quite comfortable and I can tell you that they conceal VERY well. Like pocket carry, you will be limited to smaller guns, especially if you have a smaller chest, but they allow you to carry when you otherwise might not have been able to. Checkout www.flashbangstore.com to get an idea of what we’re talking about here.
While the above are our preferred methods, you need to see what works for you. There are many other types of holsters out there, and they aren’t better or worse than what we prefer. What we will say is that you get what you pay for with holsters. Having said that, we offer the following list of manufacturers and their websites for you to consider and why.
Stealthgear: These are our favorite IWB holsters because they are light, washable, offer ventilation, fit very well, and are adjustable for ride height and cant. Ride height means how much of the gun is above or below the belt and cant refers to the tilt of the muzzle forward or rearward. They offer two lines of holsters, the Ventcore and the Revolution. The Ventcore is more expensive, but worth the extra in our opinion due to improved comfort. Use discount code “CCW10” for 10% off your order at stealthgearusa.com
Aliengear: Not quite as comfortable as a Stealthgear, but less expensive. These offer all the adjustability and other advantages of a Stealthgear, EXCEPT ventilation; however, Aliengear has added models with ventilation holes recently. That’s a big one to look for though. Aliengear IWB holsters are quite comfortable, but not all models have the ventilation holes that a Stealthgear does. A solid holster with a solid warranty, especially if the holster will not be worn against bare skin. aliengearholsters.com
Wright Leather Works: WLW makes many beautiful custom holsters, but we particularly like the Banshee model. The Banshee is an adjustable IWB holster much like the Stealthgear and the Aliengear, but constructed of premium leather. Why leather? Some folks just like leather. Sometimes, if you are concerned about minimizing “holster wear” you might want leather. “Holster wear” is the damage that is done to a gun’s finish while it is being carried in a holster and when drawn and re-holstered. Holster wear is unavoidable, but leather is usually more forgiving to the finish than kydex or other plastics. Ventilation isn’t great against bare skin, but if you need or want leather, these are great. wrightleatherworks.com
Crossbreed Holsters/Belts: Crossbreed holsters bridge the gap between a full synthetic holster and a leather one. The part of the holster that is against the body is made of leather while the other side is made of kydex plastic. These are quite comfortable and adjustable for ride and cant. While their holsters are very nice, their leather belts are the best value on the market if you want to carry a gun on your waistband. Crossbreed belts are quite strong, available in several colors and buckle styles, and different widths. They are our preferred belt for concealed carry. crossbreedholsters.com
DeSantis: Specifically, the Nemesis or Super Fly models. These are synthetic pocket holsters that are pretty sticky on the outside and slick on the inside. This makes it easier for the gun to be drawn out of the holster and harder for the holster to come out of the pocket with the gun. Another advantage-they’re usually around $25. desantisholster.com
Sticky Holsters: We recently came across these unique holsters and now use them. They are made from an incredibly sticky rubber on the outside and nylon fabric on the inside. The manufacturer claims you can carry a gun in your waistband using one of their holsters without securing it to your belt. We don’t recommend that, but they work great as pocket holsters. Again, about $25.
General Holster Advice
As mentioned earlier, you generally get what you pay for when it comes to holsters. Yes, you can get a holster from Wal-Mart that your gun might fit into, but it’s more than that. Cheap holsters rarely perform well in actual use. Use one long enough, and their shortcomings will become evident. It is usually best to “buy once, cry once” meaning that one often ends up buying several cheap holsters before coming to the conclusion that they should have bought the quality holster in the first place. The most important features in a holster include comfort, concealability, and weapon retention. Of course, weapon retention is most important. Nobody wants to have their gun fall on to the floor in the middle of the supermarket. But, the next most important feature is comfort. If you can’t stand wearing the holster, then you will be wasting your money. Concealability is important, but you may be able to “dress around the gun” somewhat. That means that you can wear different, layered, or looser clothes to help conceal your gun.