You’ve purchased a pistol for everyday carry, have been trained on how to safely and responsibly operate that pistol and you’ve made the decision to carry. Congratulations! The question now is, what type of holster should you purchase and how should you wear it?
First, consider your plans. Make sure you are planning to carry where it is legal to do so, and make sure to choose a holster that allows you access to the firearm easily while achieving your concealment goals. This often comes down to evaluating the combination of your clothing selection and your chosen activities. You may also decide to carry a backup gun in the event that your primary weapon has become compromised or inaccessible due to the particular situation. Also, purchasing two or more holsters will give you a comprehensive solution to carry your pistol in almost any situation.
And no matter what you carry or how you choose to carry, the most important aspect of concealed carry training is the development of a proper defensive mindset. According to Scott Reidy, Chief Training Officer at SIG SAUER Academy, “One of the most common comments from students who attend our concealed carry classes is that they didn’t realize everything that goes into carrying a concealed firearm.” So, what are your best options for carrying a pistol and how do they work? Here are five holster styles, each offering their own separate benefits for comfort and concealability.
The waistband is the most popular location for carrying a concealed firearm and is typically the best option for maximizing comfort and concealability. You’ll first want to start by choosing between inside or outside the waistband, based on your level of comfort and also on your outfit. On hotter days when you may be wearing a t-shirt, for example, an inside the waistband (IWB) holster will likely be the best choice in order to prevent “printing,” or publicly displaying the outline of your pistol beneath your clothing. On colder days when longer and heavier clothing can conceal the pistol better, you may want to choose an outside the waistband (OWB) holster. In addition to location, you should also decide on the material of the holster. As a general rule of thumb, leather tends to flex better while polymer tends to be more durable but there are certainly exceptions to the rule.
Just because your clothing or your chosen activity may seem to prohibit carrying a concealed firearm doesn’t mean you need to forego concealed carry. Belly bands are the best way to carry your pistol and other items when traditional carry options are not possible. For example, if you are planning to go for a run or a workout, or plan to wear loose-fitting or non-waistband clothing, the belly band is a great choice. This will allow you to conceal not only your pistol or pistols but also additional magazines, a flashlight, and other self-defense items around your midsection.
Carrying a pistol in an ankle holster is another great alternative when traditional carry positions are unavailable or you want to have a backup gun. Ankle holsters are traditionally placed on the inside of your weak side leg, meaning if you’re a right-handed shooter, the holster should be secured so that you can draw from the inside of your left ankle. A wide neoprene ankle holster is a great option with hook-and-loop closures for comfort and security. Drawing from any holster requires practice and the use of an ankle holster is no exception as the movements will require a different approach than traditional pistol draws from the waistband.
Pocket holsters are great options for situations where concealed carrying in other positions is either unsuitable or unwanted. Pocket holsters are also designed for smaller guns and for this reason, they also work well when you choose to carry a backup gun. A pocket holster should ideally feature a rubberized exterior design and/or a hook so that it stays in your pocket when drawing your firearm in addition to a smooth padded nylon lining to keep the pistol protected and discreet.
The chest holster is the most visible way to carry your pistol and for this reason, you will want to consider where and when you use it. Hunters and backpackers who find themselves alone for long stretches of time in the wilderness while wearing bulky clothing with heavy backpacks tend to gravitate towards the chest harnesses. All that extra gear can often hinder access to your firearm when holstered traditionally or packed away in off-body carry. If and when a draw is needed in these situations, the chest holster offers quick access without interference from your gear.