What Holster is the Best?
In perusing the internet and frequently being asked in person; What is the best holster in which to carry a concealed firearm in, I decided to provide my answer to the question here.
The question itsself is reminicent of the age old query as to what is the best caliber to hunt whitetail deer with. The short answer is that there is no one best holster for everyone and this article will certainly not put the subject to rest. I just feel the need to offer my thoughts and experience for fodder in the debate. People that tell a neophyte at concealed carry to get XXXX brand 1234 model holster and that is all you ever need are doing a severe disservice to that person. If there were one "best for all holster" the point would be moot as there would only be one holster on the market and the question would not need to be asked.
It is old news to many of us that there are many different types of holsters that can be worn on various parts of the body. Speaking of body the different shapes and sizes of the human body will dictate what holster is the best or most comfortable for any given person as well.
Inside the Waistband
By far the most popular at this time seems to be the "inside the waistband" (IWB) type that is worn either near or on the hip on the carriers strong side (right side for right handed people, left side for left handed people).
Granted this type of holster generally offers the best form of concealment for a sidearm and several models are made in this style.
Not everyone is comfortable with something between their body and their trousers though and that is just a fact of life.
Outside the Waistband
This brings us too the "outside the waistband holsters" (OWB) that ride on the wearers belt. Yes these holsters require more thought to conceal consistantly, but are by far more comfortable for some people.
The advantage of carrying a sidearm at belt level on the wearers strong side is accessability. In general the wearers hand is never far from the pistol for the purposes of drawing or protecting it. The strong side hip position is probably the most natural of all the types.
Another type of either IWB or OWB holster is the crossdraw. It too is worn on the belt, but instead of being on the users strong side it is worn between the bodies front centerline and offside (weakside) hip. Of the holsters discussed so far the crossdraw is probaly the hardest to keep consistanly concealed, although there is a holster called the Pager Pal that seems to have rectified this dillema.
There are those that feel the crossdraw is not an effective method of carry and that it unneccesarily lends itsself to exposing the sidearm to be easily taken from the wearer. Many people that spend their days either seated in an automobile or desk chair do prefer a cross draw as it can be, depending on firearm size and barrel length, quite comfortable for this sedimentary activity.
Small of the Back
There is also a minority of people that carry a concealed sidearm that prefer "small of the back" (SOB) carry. SOB carry is just that, the sidearm is worn in the curve of the spine. There are a number of holsters that can be worn either IWB or OWB that accomplish this, but it has been my experience that this type of holster is the hardest to consistantly keep concealed especially if the person wearing it is actively bending stooping or kneeling. As a drawback it is also the hardest to draw from when in a seated position; as in a car seat or armed chair.
Shoulder holsters are either loved or hated by the minions that carry on a daily basis. As with waistband holsters there are generally two types of shoulder rigs. One secures the sidearm in a verticle postion down the wearers side, and the other holds the pistol horizontally under the wearers weak arm.
Many consider shoulderholsters uncomfortable and in some instances unsafe. Uncomfortable because the harness encompasses the entire upper body and fastens to the belt on one or both sides. Unsafe because the notion is that with the horizontal holster the sidearm is pointed at who ever is standing behind the wearer.
A growing trend in the carry of small easily concealable firearms is the "pocket carry". One should never just "stick a gun" in a pants pocket as there is too much chance for an unwanted discharge. Pocket holsters are designed to keep the sidearm in an upright position and cover the trigger guard. It should be noted that when using this method only the firearm and the holster be carried in the chosen pocket, find another place to carry keys, coins etc..
Ankle holsters are simply what the name implies; a holster worn on the ankle that is covered by the pants leg. Many people that spend a lot of time sitting either in an automobile or at a desk prefer this method as it is easily accessable when sitting.
Fanny pack holsters have had a rise in popularity in the past several years and again the name says it all. Many companies that have made traditional holsters for years offer a fannypack holster for those that prefer this method. Any number of people that use a fannypack like this method because they can carry the sidearm, extra ammo, a knife, a flashlight and other items in the same container.
For some people, because of employment or other reasons require a holster that gives them what is refered to as "deep cover". It is necessary that they wear a sidearm but it must be totally hidden ALL of time and products like Smart Carry or Thunder Wear provide that level of concealment. These holsters generally position the sidearm on the bodies centerline behind the zipper of the wearers trousers.
The major drawback that many find with these systems is the amount of time it takes to access the sidearm if/when it is needed. They do provide the concealment that the people who use them require though.
Off Body Carry
To this point I have refrained from offering an opinion on the methods I have described and have only noted some of the postives and or negatives that have been expressed about each them. The type of holster and where one wears it on their body is a personal choice depending on the body shape, size, activity and level of comfort desired. One last way that some people insist on carrying is called "off body carry". This describes a sidearm that is carried in a purse, or the ever popular day planner and I will present my own very biased opinion on this type of carry.
From my own perspective I disdain this type of carry and would caution against ever considering it. Using this method it is just to easy to leave the purse or planner laying somewhere or have it stolen from your very grasp. Now the "bad guy" has both your valuables and your firearm. When using the purse or day planner type method a person does not have the full and complete control that is neccesary for a responsibly firearm owner to have.
Other than rendering an opinion on "off body carry" I will seldom reccommend a specific style of holster or method of carry. There is just to many variables between human beings, even those of essentially the same size and body type. Firearms owners that are new to concealed carry need to be exposed to as many different types of holsters and ways to carry as possible. In the end it is a personal decision that everyone has to make for their own comfort and security.
NOTE All pictures were shamellesly link from on-line sites with no effort to reccommend one product over another. They were chosen simply to illustrate the method being described and should not be construed as an endorsement of any product.