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Best Concealed Carry Holsters

Best Concealed Carry Holsters

With more US states and jurisdictions permitting legal concealed carry of firearms, there has been an explosion in sales of CCW style handguns (concealed carry weapon) over the past few years. But having a suitable firearm and the legal right to carry it are just part of the equation. You also need a good holster that makes it convenient, comfortable, and safe to carry your gun… otherwise, you simply won’t carry it.

Let’s go over some basics on what makes a good CCW holster, what different types of holsters are available, and some factors to consider when choosing the best-concealed carry holster for you in your situation.

What makes a good holster?

In the most simple terms, an ideal concealed carry holster will perform two primary functions. First, it should keep your gun concealed, secure, and ready for rapid access if needed. Second, it should minimize the discomfort and inconvenience of carrying a gun, so that you actually carry it every day. After all, if you’re out and about, your CCW firearm doesn’t do you any good if it’s sitting in your safe at home.

This may sound relatively simple, but anyone who has spent some time wearing a few holsters will tell you that there are a lot of nuances and personal preferences that come into play. This is why there are so many different types, styles, materials, and manufacturers of concealed carry holsters… and why most “gun people” have a “holster drawer” full of old, unused holsters that they just didn’t like.

It’s likely that the first CCW holster you buy might not be the last you buy. There are so many variations in body type, tolerance to discomfort, skin allergies, styles of dress, and desired firearm and method of carry that it’s literally impossible to tell someone what is the best for them. But we can provide some options and info to consider, so you can hopefully make a solid choice and minimize spending over and over trying to find a suitable holster.

Different types of holsters

In order for you to determine what type of holster might be the best for you, we’ll need to go over the main types or designs of holsters. Here are the main categories today along with some of our favorite examples:

OWB (outside the waistband)

OWB holsters are the “traditional” option, where the holster body rides outside your pants on your beltline, usually on your “dominant side” between the 2-o’clock and 5-o’clock position for right-handers. (If you view your body from above, with the front of your belt at the 12 o’clock position, 3 o’clock will be the rightmost point of the “clock.”) OWB holsters are usually either secured by threading your belt through built-in slots or loops on the holster, or by inserting an integral holster “paddle” between your body and your outer garment/belt. OWB holsters generally are easier to draw from than other types but are more difficult to conceal, as they require a cover garment like a jacket, vest, or untucked shirt. The Milt Sparks 55BN is an example of an excellent leather OWB holster.

Milt Sparks 55BN photo credit Milt Sparks Holsters

IWB (inside the waistband)

IWB holsters became very popular in the latter half of the 20th century for CCW purposes. In this design, the holster rides between your outer garment and your body, and is typically secured to a belt with loops or clips. Some IWB holsters are “tuckable,” meaning you can tuck your shirt or cover garment between the holster and the belt clip for enhanced concealment. IWB holsters are typically worn in the same position on the belt as OWB holsters, with the exception of “appendix” holsters mentioned below. IWB holsters are generally easier to conceal than OWB types, but reholstering safely can be an issue, and sometimes access to the gun can be slower. The DeSantis Sof-Tuk is an example of an affordable, tuckable IWB holster.

DeSantis Sof-Tuk photo credit DeSantis Holsters

AIWB (appendix inside the waistband)

LAS Concealment Ronin appendix holster photo credit LAS ConcealmentAIWB carry has become extremely popular with CCW permit holders over the past few years. “Appendix” carry means the holster is positioned much further forward than a typical IWB holster, at around 1 o’clock (near the person’s appendix, hence the name) or even 12 o’clock position on the belt. Advocates prefer the comfort and enhanced concealability, as well as the rapid access to the gun, holster, and any included spare magazine pouches with both hands. With practice, drawing from a good AIWB rig can be extremely fast. The primary downside of AIWB carry is the potential danger of an unintended discharge into your groin or femoral artery if you don’t reholster slowly and carefully each time and ensure nothing enters the trigger guard. Here’s a good video covering the issues. A firearm with a manual safety or safety/decocker can be a partial solution here. The LAS Concealment Ronin is an excellent example of an AIWB holster/mag pouch rig.

Generally, the lighter and smaller the gun, the easier it will be to carry all day. However, this also means the gun will be harder and potentially more painful to shoot when practicing and if you ever need to use it to defend your life. You will need to determine what compromises you’re willing to make here.

Benefits of a good gun holster

Let’s go over some of the primary benefits of a good CCW holster.

Protects the gun itself

A good holster will help protect the firearm’s finish and mechanisms from wear and damage and keep lint, dust, and debris out of the action. It won’t accelerate rust or corrosion or retain excess moisture.

Enhances safety

A good CCW holster will provide a good balance of firearm retention (so it doesn’t fall out as you move around) and ease of draw (so the gun comes out smoothly when you intentionally remove it when needed). Additionally, a well-designed holster will conform to the shape and curves of your firearm, including any safety mechanisms, and help prevent them from disengaging as you move, bend, etc. Of course, any holster intended for CCW should also absolutely prevent the trigger from being moved while the gun is holstered.

Enables a rapid draw stroke

Of course, the point of carrying a firearm for defense is to enable you to defend your life (or others) from lethal threats. If you can’t access and present your gun in an efficient, smooth, and rapid manner, it’s not going to do you much good. Your holster choice should allow quick and safe drawing of your firearm, and you should practice regularly.

Provides effective concealment

Concealed means concealed, and in some jurisdictions, you can be fined or prosecuted for allowing your CCW firearm to be exposed to the general public. A good CCW holster will be designed to maximize concealment, minimize “printing” during typical movement, and keep your firearm hidden until you need it.

Comfortably supports the weight of the gun and any spare ammunition

A good holster (and belt/support method) will help reduce fatigue and irritation by properly supporting the firearm and any spare mags or speedloaders you choose to carry, and won’t abrade your skin if it contacts it. This can make a huge difference in your decision to wear your gun every day. You could even argue that a good, comfortable CCW holster is almost more important than the gun since an uncomfortable method of carrying will have you leaving your handgun at home more often than not.

Keep your CCW handgun and holster secure in a Liberty Safe

Whatever holster or carry rig you choose, make sure to keep all your firearms securely locked up when not in use. The best way is with one of Liberty’s home safes or handgun vaults. Check them out online, or see a dealer near you.


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