Choosing the right holster for your preferences and for your particular handgun is more important than you may think it is. The right holster will keep your gun – and much more importantly, you – safe.
It may sound obvious, but make sure the holster you’re looking at fits the size of handgun you have. They are not one-size-fits all, and you’ll want your pistol to fit snugly inside the holster without being too tight that you can’t remove it when its needed.
How You’ll Carry
Consider where you want to carry your gun when deciding on a holster. Belt, shoulder, and pocket holsters are all options. Think about whether you’d prefer to wear your handgun inside or outside the pants if you’re using a belt holster. Bedside holsters that attach to a nightstand are a non-carry holster option. Be sure to also get the right holster to match your hand dominance, or get an ambidextrous one.
If you’re carrying inside your pocket, you’ll want a holster that hides the outline of your pistol so that it’s not obvious you have it in your pocket. If you choose to carry your gun in your purse, a pocket holster can be a good option as it will protect the pistol from scratching against other items in your bag. You may also want a tackier material than leather – one with more elasticity – if you’ll be holstering your gun in your pocket or inside a bag. Just remember that if you carry in a bag that any time you are separated from your bag, you’ll also be separated from your pistol.
If you’re going to attach a holster to a belt, consider getting one with a reversible belt loop. This will allow you to wear the holster either inside or outside the waistband. You may need to add an inch or two to your pant waist size if wearing on the inside, depending on how tight they usually fit. Give it a try before making a final decision so you’re sure you like the fit and comfort. You may want an undershirt, as well, so the holster isn’t rubbing against your skin.
When clipping your holster to your belt, get one with a steel or other non-slip band so the holster will remain in place when you reach to remove the gun. Consider the position you want the gun to sit at and how you’ll have to remove it from the holster. Cross draw is also an option for holster position. Be sure to practice drawing so you know what’s most comfortable.
If you consider holstering your gun to your ankle, be sure the one you purchase has enough padding that it won’t cut into your leg. You’ll want to be able to tighten the holster so it’s secure but not overly uncomfortable. Just remember that wearing your gun on your ankle means it’ll take more time to access it.
Wearing your handgun on your upper leg or in a hidden pocket inside your clothing are also options, but they make also not be as quickly accessible as a side carry.
What your holster is made of and how it’s designed will affect usability, as well. Leather, nylon, and thermoplastic are available materials. Leather will shape to the gun over time. Thermoplastics may warp if left in the sun for too long, but otherwise shouldn’t cause problems. Nylon is good for wicking water or sweat away, and provides a tackier material. Open-top holsters work fine for most people, but one with a thumb-break snap will add some security so your gun won’t slip out.
Regardless of what you decide, remember the importance of finding the right holster that fits your needs if you are planning to carry your handgun at all.